Eigenharp Unveiled

Two models, Alpha and Pico - both quite strange      06/10/09
Eigenharp Unveiled

Yesterday was the day the Eigenharp roadshow kicked off in London at the BBC's Maida Vale studios. After 6 weeks or more of teaser videos on YouTube and scant facts we can now reveal the nature of the beast.

Heralded as the "Most revolutionary musical instrument of the last 60 years" it's quite a claim.  Specifications published in the Eiegenharp website reveal that there are to be two instruments the flagship Alpha (£3950) - bristling with controls and features, and the smaller and more affordable Pico (£395).

Essentially the system comprises of the main instrument unit, linked to a base station via a 6m lead, which in turn links up to the computer (Ma only) via USB.

Alpha Specifications

  • 133 keys in all.
  • 120 keys on the main keyboard.
  • 12 percussion keys on the lower part of the instrument.
  • Plus one mute key.

Key Properties:

  • Sampled at 2000 samples/second, per key.
  • 11 bit (2048 values) resolution.
  • Sensitive to direct pressure and to lateral pressure in both directions.

Breath pipe:

  • Sampled at 2000 samples/second.
  • 12 bit (4098 value) resolution.
  • Bidirectional, sensitive to blown and drawn breath.
  • Removable, interchangeable mouthpiece for hygiene.

2 Strip Controllers:

  • One on each side of the instrument, 480mm long.
  • Sampled at 2000 samples/second per strip.
  • 11 bit (2048 values) resolution.

Headphone output:

  • 48kHz sampling rate, 24-bit DAC Sigma-Delta.
  • Software programmable volume.
  • Mute, soft ramp and zero cross detection for volume adjustment.
  • SNR = 95dB.
  • THD < 0.01% at 1kHz, 30-Ohm load at -3dbFS.
  • Up to 750mW output on a 3.5mm mini jack.

Microphone input/preamp:

  • Balanced input on an industry standard 4 pin LEMO locking connector.
  • 24 bit at 96khz A/D converter.
  • Low noise programmable gain from 10 to 55db in 1db steps.
  • Software switchable 48V phantom power.
  • 8.2V Electret polarisation power available, requires specific cable.
  • Noise: EIN= (A-weighted) -120dBu with 150 Ohm source 20Hz to 20kHz, 50 dB gain. EIN Un-wtd= -125dBu with same conditions as A-weighted.
  • 26dB software switchable input pad.

Base Station:

  • 2 inputs for continuous control expression pedals:
  • Suitable for use with Boss FV50 and FV500 volume pedals.
  • Suitable for use with Yamaha FC3 continuous control sprung sustain pedals.
  • USB 2 interface to host computer.
  • 2 inputs for foot switches.
Plus an efficient software sound engine (less than 7ms end to end) component which contains the modular synthesis and voicing, sample and phrase capabilities and  event triggering (samples, MIDI, keychange and sequencing).


You can load and play your own Soundfonts, Audio Unit Plugins and Midi instruments with the Eigenharp Alpha. In addition, the Alpha comes with its own native instruments (at present a software model of a Cello, Clarinet and a Synth engine). The Alpha also ships with a collection of loop libraries and several acclaimed instruments from our partners:

  • 1500 AIFF format (timestretch and tempo change capable) varied Percussion and Drum loops.
  • Sampletekk 'Black Grand Steinway D, sampled at 20+ levels in a 6 Gigabyte set that includes three recordings from dry to highly ambient.
  • Sampletekk 'Tubed Rhodes', a multi sampled Rhodes Electric Piano.
  • Sampletekk 'Wurlittzer' electric piano in a Gigabyte multi sample set.
The software is Mac Only.
Meanwhile, the Pico offers:
  • 18 playing keys.
  • Sensitive to direct pressure and to lateral pressure in both directions.

Breath pipe:

  • Sampled at 2000 samples/second.
  • 12 bit (4098 value) resolution.
  • Sensitive to blown and drawn breath.
  • Removable, interchangeable mouthpiece for easy hygiene.

Strip Controller:

  • 180mm long.
  • Sampled at 2000 samples/second.
  • 10 bit (1024 values) resolution.
No word on availability just yet, but pricing is as one would expect for a revolutionary instrument that has had eight years of development put into it.
Eigenharp Alpha £3,950
Eigenharp Pico £395
For more hands on experience, the Eigenharp roadshow continues - see dates here.
    More Information
  • Eigenharp.com - including all custom finishes and full specification
Stay tuned for some exclusive videos from us.


Even more news...

6 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Rob Willson    Said...

It is a very interesting concept but how is the controller played? The alpha looks as though it may follws a guitar type layout akin to the starr labs guitar style controller. But the Pico appears to foolw a different principle.

Please explain. With wind control aswell very expressive possibilities.

06-Oct-09 04:22 AM

Nick B    Said...

Video is being edited as we speak. I was not able to attend the launch, so I dont know exactly what we have, but I'm sure it will makes things much clearer

06-Oct-09 04:26 AM

Funkdefino    Said...

The Star Wars Cantina Band on Mos Eisley is feverishly awaiting their Eigenharps... Or so I've heard...

06-Oct-09 07:32 AM

The Guvnor    Said...

I hear that the English cricket team have ordered a dozen of the Picos as their new secret weapon after being pummeled by Australia.

Hopefully, the thing is a class compliant MIDI controller as well as requiring a Mac to get any sound out of the it.

06-Oct-09 07:51 AM

robgs    Said...

Looking forward to the Jordan Rude-ass endorsement. ;-)

06-Oct-09 04:51 PM

Nicky    Said...

Looks quite interesting but at 4000 quid it has to do more that pique interest and unfortunately it just seems to be able to do the same as other gear already out there, although you may need one or two different pieces of gear to do as much, but thats why more than one musical instrument/controller has been invented after all!

I think you could buy a beautiful Zendrum, an AKAI wind controller, a decent midi keyboard (maybe M Audio) and some kind of midi guitar system for less money than this controller; and that is why, although excited about something new, I won't be shelling out for the jack of all trades eigenharp!

06-Oct-09 05:05 PM

Post a comment 

More Videos

MESSE 2016: This New Yamaha TransAcoustic Guitar is Crazy!! 

Reverb and chorus inside the body of this acoustic guitar!!

Sonic LAB: Korg Minilogue Review 

Affordable Analogue Poly

Sonic LAB: Sonnox Oxford Envolution Transient Processor 

For Universal Audio UAD2

Superbooth 2016: ALM FM Taiko Drum Module 

A slimmed down Akemie's Castle for drums