Top positive review
Unparalleled expression, in a very portable form.
Reviewed in the United States on September 11, 2017
When it comes to expression, nothing I've tried beats the Seaboard. If you haven't experienced a Seaboard before, it can be a little weird and awkward at first, but once you realize the potential this things has, you can't wait to explore all the possibilities. Rather than keys, it has a soft silicone membrane shaped like keys, and unlike other experimental expressive keyboards I own this one is highly accurate in all dimensions. It is in fact more accurate to strike velocity and after touch than my Akai Max 49, Korg MicroKey 61, QuNexus and my CME Xkey 37. That says a lot.
I owned the Roli Seaboard Rise 49 for about 3 months before this little guy was announced, so I already knew what to expect, but the Rise 49 doesn't fall under my definition of portable, so it never leaves my studio. This little guy fits perfectly in my every day bag along with my iPad, and on days I don't wanna deal with traffic I just go to a beautiful park and make music after work for an hour or two.
I highly advice that you buy the Roli Touch Block along with this Seaboard, as it allows instant tactile control of all 5 touch dimensions, sensitivity lock, and a slide/keyboard switch, which I think is crucial.
1. Tons of expression, this instrument is truly inspiring.
2. PC and MAC compatibility and high level of customization through Roli Dashboard.
3. Equator Player patches sound incredible.
4. iOS Bluetooth compatible, just turn on, pair, and play wireless.
5. 10 hour battery life is fantastic.
NEUTRAL: (Both Pro and Con)
1. Cost: It's pricier than your average 25 key portable MIDI keyboard, but what you get is totally worth the money.
2. MPE (Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression) compatibility is yet not implemented in a lot of DAWs, and only compatible with a few Synths. It's a little difficult to get it working with Ableton, but it works. With plugin synths where MPE is not compatible, you can turn it off, or make tweaks with Roli Dashboard to make your own version of it, but this is not easy to do for the inexperienced.
3. iOS App Compatibility is limited, I can't get this to work with synths like Sunrizer, and iM1, but works fine with others like Animoog, Thor, Model 15, GeoShred. Other synths work but get weird results, Poseidon recognizes it, but modulates the frequency of all patches in a way that makes them unplayable. This is a neutral point because it's not all the devices fault, the manufacturers of the Synths should update to include compatibility, or allow MIDI editing so modulation can be corrected. I just don't want you to buy this thing and expect it to work with everything, it doesn't. Adaptation will take time, this is new technology.
4. You lose a key. I think pretty much all 2 octave MIDI controllers have 25 keys (2 octaves + 1 more C note at the end.) The Seaboard Block has 24 keys, no C note at the end. I sometimes get a little frustrated by this, and do miss that last note. This is obviously a Con, but I'm putting it here in the neutral category because if they added that last C note, you'd end up with a retarded keyboard if you stacked 2 Seaboard Blocks or more. Think about it, I'd be hilariously bad. (A# B C C C#) LOL!
1. The soft silicone surface attracts dust, I honestly don't mind, but it is a noticeable thing.
2. Can't physically be connect directly to iPad without a powered hub in the middle, although this is more a limitation of iOS than the Seaboard. However, Bluetooth works really well, and the lag, while noticeable to me, doesn't really affect me playing it at all. I only notice the lag because I have experience testing latency, most people won't be able to tell at all.
3. Comes with Equator Player instead of the full version of Equator.
4. UPDATED: THIS ISSUE WAS FIXED, IAA IS NOW A THING. ME LOVE YOU LONG TIME ROLI.
(LEAVING THIS FOR REFERENCE: Roli Noise, the free iOS app with all the amazing sounds, does not have AB (AudioBus) or IAA (Inter App Audio) compatibility. Meaning you can't record anything you play outside of their app, nor import anything into it. No Garage Band, no Auria Pro, no Cubasis, no nothing. This is honestly a bit infuriating for me because it breaks my mobile workflow, and Noise has such amazing sounds that I would love to be able to include in the songs I make on my iPad. C'mon Roli, this is really important for iOS musicians, fix it so I can remove this CON and love you long time.)
I can't recommend this to a complete beginner (unless you're very tech savvy or willing to spend time learning and experimenting), but this is a solid creative musical instrument to intermediate or experienced musicians.
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