Has our recent piece on MPE controllers piqued your interest? Here’s a product guide to some of the finest examples on the market…
The Seaboard reimagines the keyboard as a touch-responsive surface, its spongy keys translate velocity and pressure to the intensity of sound generated from your computer. Now coming in a variety of sizes and playable over Bluetooth, the Seaboard is a favourite of ours.
Roger Linn’s expressive MIDI controller tracks the subtle movements of your fingers, allowing for a colossal amount of note expression. A perfect instrument for jamming or coming up with creative ideas.
This beast of a synth has added MPE support, allowing its considerable sonic capabilities to be expressively controlled by any of these MPE instruments. It’s likely MPE support will become more widespread in the industry over the next few years.
TouchKeys are a series of small sensors that can be applied to any keyboard instrument, transforming it into a velocity and pressure-sensitive control surface. It also allows vibrato, pitch bends and timbre changes just from oscillating your fingers.
Looking like the kind of thing you’d see being played in the Mos Eisley Cantina, the Artiphon Instrument 1 has a wide variety of applications and can be used as a drum programmer, a chord-strumming simulator or even a violin. A pretty useful all-purpose MPE device!
Haken Audio’s Continuum was designed by Dr Lippold Haken and allows for some truly versatile realtime performance control. Available at a full size (eight-octave) or half-size (four-octave) version, the Contintuum – released way back in 1999 – was unbelievably innovative and pretty much laid the foundations for every other instrument here.
BLOCKS and NOISE
Roli’s next innovation came in the shape of the futuristic BLOCKS, with the Lightpad BLOCK being particularly cool. This ‘Super Sonic Surface’ gives you 5D touch technology in a wireless, portable form. The BLOCKS format is joined by the mobile NOISE app, which replicates your BLOCKS layout.
K-Board Pro 4
The expressive Smart Sensor K-Board Pro 4 is Keith McMillen’s four-octave MIDI keyboard, which has been designed to offer a wide range of dimensional control. USB powered and portable, the K-Board features some robust silicone keys which are based on ‘Smart Sensor Fabric’ technology and a durable build quality that will stand it in good stead for live work. It’s been getting a lot of hype in the MPE community recently and we’re looking forward to having a go on one ourselves.
Soundplane Model A
This classy looking controller has the veneer and feel of an acoustic instrument. But with a high range of sensitivity detection, the Soundplane communicates an incredible range of information. Currently only for Mac users, its unique ‘force sensing’ technology sets it at the higher end of the MPE instrument range.
The rather wonderful Eigenharp Alpha boasts of being ‘the most expressive electronic instrument ever created’ and, with its 3D keys, breath pipe and colossal amount of controls, it’s a hard assesment to disagree with, really –the Eigenharp is certainly one of the most striking. It’s scalable and adjustable to suit your own personal performance style – pretty cool.