Roli takes Keywave expression for another spin around the Block
Following last year's release of the Rise 2 expressive digital instrument, the UK's Roli has launched an updated version of the Seaboard Block controller, which "promises to bring infinite expressive possibilities to musicians everywhere, whether at home, in the studio, on the go, or on the stage."
We've been following the Roli story every since the launch of the Seaboard Grand back in 2013, which debuted the crazy expressive Keywave MIDI polyphonic expression technology that essentially turned the whole of the instrument's playing area into one continuous touch surface.
This was followed by the much less expensive Rise a couple of years later and the modular Blocks in 2016. The company then added a 24-key controller to the Blocks system, and it's this "portable yet powerful tool" that's now been updated to the Seaboard Block M.
"The reintroduction of the Seaboard Block M marks a monumental step in making the revolutionary MPE and 5D Touch technology accessible to more music makers around the world," said founder and CEO of Luminary Roli, Roland Lamb. "We believe that this tool will not only foster creativity but also redefine the landscape of music production. It’s more than an instrument; it’s a gateway to infinite musical possibilities."
Reportedly built to withstand life on the road or long sessions in the studio, the Seaboard Block M features a soft-touch silicone Keywave edge-to-edge playing area with a piano-like 24-key layout that responds to gestures like glides, slides, presses, strikes and lifts to capture "every nuance of a performance with unparalleled precision and fluidity."
Roli says that the latest firmware allows players to personalize their velocity curve via the Roli Dashboard, there's a new MIDI output for connection to hardware synths, plus USB-C for integration with popular music production suites like Ableton Live, Logic Pro and Cubase.
Bluetooth is cooked in too, the portable device's battery should be good for more than 10 hours per charge, and users can double the fun by magnetically connecting two Block Ms together, or expanding creativity options by pairing with other Roli products, such as the Lumi Keys Studio Edition.
It works with the included Roli Studio software for features such as Smart Chords and Multi-Layered Arpeggio to help with inspiration, while the Studio Player rocks 400 built-in sounds and presets. A separate plugin called the Studio Drums includes 15 kits, each with 16 distinct parts.
The Roli Seaboard Block M is up for pre-order from today for US$349.95, with shipping expected to start from March 2024. Along with the bundled Roli Studio software suite, buyers also get a voucher for the Roli Sound Store. The video below has more.
Product page: Roli Seaboard Block M