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My experiences with ROLI Seaboard Rise

Roli Seaboard Rise

This week, I had the pleasure to test a Roli Seaboard. Here are some of my findings.

Plus:

  • Most sensitive ‘keyboard’ interface I’ve ever touched. Superior polyphonic, after touch pressure, sliding and gliding. If I compare this to touch interfaces on for instance iPad, this is so much more musical!
  • Very interesting for creating, modifying sounds, sound design, ambiences, etc.
  • It is very flat. If this is on your desk, you hardly have to lift your arm, which is rather nice from an ergonomic perspective.
  • This thing looks fantastic and the build quality is truly superior to any MIDI keyboard I’ve ever played.
  • Very silent interaction. No rattling keys or clicking knobs.
  • Easy to integrate. This is a MIDI (over USB/Bluetooth) controller, so it’ll work like it’s supposed to.

Minus:

  • This is not a keyboard for PIANO or ORGAN playing. The silicone rubber introduces friction and you’re not going to enjoy playing your fast Jimmy Smith licks on a piece of silicone.
  • Pitch bend range in many VST synths is not adjustable. The default usually is set to 2 semitones, which is far from ideal. If it’s set to 2 semitones, sliding a note to a different key will not correspond to the position on the keyboard. A deal-breaker.
  • It is a dust collector. Rubber loves dust. Keep your studio clean! Also, the rubber underneath the Seaboard has to be kept clean, since the Seaboard will move when you glide over the keys.
  • This reminds me a bit of playing an Ashbory bass. The rubber surface feels a bit rough. The Ashbory is played with talc, I wonder if this also improves the feeling of the Seaboard.
  • Even the Seaboard 25 is heavy to carry.

Interesting:

  • You have to learn how to play it, and also how to integrate it in your DAW. You’ll probably frown when you first play it. Chances are you’ll love it after two days.
  • This is not a piano keyboard controller. It’s a new and different way of controlling and shaping sound in a DAW. Playing the Seaboard is like playing octopuses. Playing octopuses is interesting and inspiring. Is this why it’s called the Seaboard?

Here is a video demonstrating my first experiences with the Seaboard.