Seaboard Grand - Touchy, Feely, Multi-Dimensional Controller

Ribbed for extra expression   05-Mar-13

Introducing the Seaboard from ROLI on Vimeo.

Here's something a little different, the ROLI Seaboard GRAND - its a controller with note, polyphonic pressure,polyphonic X and Y position control ouput too. The look is a monolithic design with a sort of spongy, single piece, ribbed keyboard layout.

We had a preview of it yesterday, where we were shown how expressive it can be.  London based ROLI are making some bold claims about the Seaboard and have grand plans - but it does have a familiar theme - its not dissimilar to the Haken Continuum in that it outputs massive amounts of expressive data. And we've seen this concept before albeit in a more bizzarre form - remember the Eigenharp anyone?

The Seaboard however does have a more familiar keyboard layout and is therefore easier to play - although it does take a little getting used to - the left right pitch modulation means sloppy playing will be rewarded with sloppy pitching as I found to my embarrassment in a short hands on session yesterday. But it is possible to get the feel for it with a little practice as we were shown by the demonstrator.

The 88 note Seaboard GRAND gets its first public outing at SXSW where it will get no doubt get a jolly good poking from Mr J Rudess - we know he is a massive fan of the Continuum so is no stranger to the dark arts of poly pitch bend. But there is an interesting question - what exactly can you play with the Seaboard? Not many instruments are able to accept poly aftertouch, let alone poly pitch bend and other data. ROLI are working on that, the solution is threefold:

They are working with big name software instrument developers to enable multi-instance voicing - some plugs have the ability to be multi-timbral this would give you voices all on the same sound (or not if you prefer) to allow individual pitch bend manipulation of individual voices etc.

Additionally, they are working on a custom translation layer that will let you interface the Seaboard with your own software instrument choices. Thirdly there are plans to include an on board synthesis engine to allow stand alone operation. Details are not forthcoming though so we can't guess at the DSP power or synthesis types we are likely to see.

What we witnessed was certainly expressive and while mainly limited to acoustic type emulation - I can see a great potential there for expressive playing of electronic instruments too - indeed it would be great to see a CV interface for this to control modular analog gear - the resolution and expression could be put to good use there.

The first run of Seaboard GRAND models are available to preorder from April 2013 - we understand that there are a few of the electronic glitterati showing interest - but you'll have to be quick, there are only 88 being made of this flagship model.

We hope that for the rest of us, this technology will filter down to a more mainstream, affordable version.


More From: ROLI
Even more news...

9 Comments... Comments are closed while we transition to Disqus

Chris    Said...


06-Mar-13 09:06 AM

loneraver    Said...

Jordan Rudess? Jordan Rudess???

Ok, I think we are safe for the time being.

06-Mar-13 03:43 PM

Controller_bored    Said...

Yes yeas, all very interesting; but like other similar products like the Haken Continuum, this is just someone's pet-hobby, and the price will remain outrageously high, out of the reach of 99.99% of musicians and basically make no difference to the world of music.

Is Sonicstate interested in promoting individual pet-hobbies these days?? If so I've lots of friends with intriguing ideas for you.

It'd be great if developers like this would keep their 'hobbies' to themselves until the have secured marketing research and established a production / distribution capability on their own or in cooperation with someone like Yamaha or the like to make this cost effective and therefore accessible to real musicians and not the occasional millionaire.

As it stands, this is all very interesting, but if it never, ever amounts to anything, as is likely to be the place, it isn't 'real' in any true sense, and is basically pointless and wasting space here.

11-Mar-13 07:39 AM

Porkypine    Said...

Controller_bored: I think it's cool people bring innovative ideas to the market. Maybe bigger companies like Yamaha, Korg etc will notice these innovations. As for the price, I definitively agree with you it would probably be WAY TO EXPENSIVE for real musicians. Which sucks.

13-Mar-13 02:41 PM

Twitchy    Said...

Wait a minute!!! What does, "..out of the reach of 99.99% of musicians" mean. You mean you play a couple of Korg or Yamaha workstations with samples and 'you're' a real musician?

Or wait, maybe you have a few plugin's and VST's and suddenly you're a real musician?

What about someone like 'me' or the majority of 'trained' musicians and drummers - alike, whom paid for lessons and have played for years and years, (like myself.. I've played DoubleBass for 22 years and currently play in an Orchestra with many, many other musicians)

My point is, you pay for instruments. A luthier takes quite a while to make a fine Double Bass or Bow, or Violin and so forth. A Jazz Drummer's snare and kick drum were made by love and most likely the drummer worked with the maker to provide the best drum possible for the musician.

You Save YOur Pennies, and buy the instrument!!!

Same goes for fine Synths, Brass Instruments, Pianos, String Instruments, Wind Instruments etc.

I'm not knocking Yamaha or Korg, but THIS is designed to be an instrument!

…it almost sounded like Controller_board, you WERE a musician and were "dumping" on someone (OBVIOUSLY a musician) making an instrument????

This isn't a gimmick.

'What a strange comment.

It's an instrument. It's cost money. Save your pennies if you are interested. IT'S NOT A RE-PURPOSED COMPUTER KEYBOARD AND MOUSE!

It just so happens that it can control software. THAT DOESN'T DIMINISH IT TO A SILLY APP.

Whatever…. that's just the strangest comment ever!

Yeah, it's could be prohibitive! So's talent. BOTH TAKE WORK TO ACQUIRE

…super strange comment

14-Mar-13 05:44 PM

Luka    Said...

KMI QuNexus anyone? I know it has only 25 keys, but it's only $150.

19-Mar-13 05:57 AM

Kallol    Said...

Nice post. I learn something more chnnlelgiag on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. Ie2€™d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you done2€™t mind. Natually Ie2€™ll give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

10-Apr-13 08:24 PM

Aidan    Said...

Twitchy sounds like a right stuck up git who because they are professionally trained they think they are better than everyone else...or they know they know better than everyone else. There are people these days with no training whatsoever, a computer and a few vsts and they can produce better music than many so called trained musicians. It is correct to say this instrument will most likely find a place in a studio as an experimental piece...maybe some orchestras (maybe) but it is also correct to say prob too expensive for most people to want. It's a case of spending your cash but spending it wisely.It makes no difference what your level of training is...this or a Prophet 12...this or a decent piano...yeah I know what i'd be buying and it wouldn't have sponge for keys.

30-Dec-13 12:26 PM

Scott    Said...

It is always a catch 22. Do you sell 88 of these fancy new keyboards at a $ zillion each, or sell 5,000 of them at $ 2-3k a peace and this becomes a household name? Are they neat, sure, slick, sure. Would a professional play on these, 90% no - quite often because 'they don't feel right'. Are we seeing the next evolution of Piano's? Probably. Can a master music film score produce magic with this? Probably.

09-Feb-15 10:50 AM

Comments are closed while we transition to Disqus