ROLI has announced the Seaboard RISE, which they describe as a universally accessible, expressive MIDI controller that empowers musicians to do more with a keyboard than ever before.
You've probably seen something of the ROLI Seaboard Grand, the flagship product of ROLI and CEO Roland Lamb. Its futuristic, all black pressure surface seems quite alien, and being the conservative bunch that musicians are, its been taking a while to catch on. But with the Multi-dimensional Polyphonic Expression (MPE) equipped keyboard surface, expression is what it does, with pitch and pressure per note, as well as positional data as to where you are on the key, its possible to play extremely expressive sounds.
Problem is, its not a cheap item. This is where the new ROLI RISE comes in, a 25 key form factor its been designed to be more mass production and more affordable - while still giving all the expressive options.
There's a pretty impressive list of artists putting their names to this - BT, Rudess, Zimmer to name but a few.
The Seaboard RISE builds on the technologies of the Seaboard GRAND. Like the Seaboard GRAND, the Seaboard RISE features patented SEA Interface technology, which remodels the keyboard as a pressure-sensitive, continuous surface that responds to even the subtlest gestures. ROLI says that, playing on its unique "keywaves," musicians shape notes with unprecedented expressiveness, modulating the character of sound in real time with simple movements of the finger.
Roland Lamb, ROLI's CEO and inventor of the Seaboard, told Sonic State, "Finally, musicians have at their fingertips an affordable and accessible tool that lets them create authentic instrumental simulations in real time. Combined with its strengths in creating fresh new sound interactions, the Seaboard RISE is truly a breakthrough for both musical performance and production."
The Seaboard RISE exemplifies a fastgrowing new category of hardware and software sometimes called Expressive MIDI (more technically referred to as Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression, or MPE) devices. The category's products – including instruments like the Linnstrument and the Haken Continuum – focus on delivering acoustic-level electronic expression by enabling each individual note to be modulated in multiple ways in real time.
ROLI says that the Seaboard RISE marks a turning point in the accessibility of Expressive MIDI products to a broad consumer market. It is the first Expressive MIDI device to offer an easy-to-use multi-platform synth, the first with an integrated user control panel, and the first to perform wirelessly with an integrated battery and Bluetooth over MIDI. All of these features enable a seamless workflow. The Seaboard RISE is also the first Expressive MIDI device to be available for less than $1000. ROLI believes that its retail price of $799 (£599) puts it within reach of beginners as well as studio professionals.
Seaboard RISE comes bundled with Equator, ROLI's custom-built software synth designed exclusively for Expressive MIDI instruments. In Equator, the Seaboard RISE's five primary dimensions of touch and gestural control – strike, press, glide, slide, and lift – are easily and independently mapped to a wide variety of sound parameters. Sliders on the left-hand control panel regulate the extent to which these parameters of gestural modulation are utilised, allowing the Seaboard RISE to behave like anything from a conventional keyboard controller – in easy-to-use "piano mode" – to a completely open-ended interactive surface.
Jordan Rudess who ROLI has recruited as Head of Music Experience, had this to say, "The Seaboard is not only making waves in the music industry. It is poised to be the most significant evolution of a musical instrument in the last 300 years. I'm personally excited about the release of the Seaboard RISE, and beyond my own obvious passion I expect to see it fully embraced by music makers everywhere."
Seaboard RISE 25 Features
Seaboard RISE 25 Technical specifications
Pricing and Availability:
The Seaboard RISE is now available for preorder on and at select music stores. It will ship and be available in store at retail outlets globally from October.