This month’s cover star — the ROLI Seaboard Grand — is one of the most exciting new keyboard products to emerge for many a year. Dispensing with moving keys altogether in favour of a beautifully tactile silicon rubber playing surface, the Seaboard Grand takes the familiar layout of the traditional piano keyboard and adds unprecedented expressive potential. From true polyphonic aftertouch and finger‑wobble vibrato to the pressure ribbons running along the length of the keyboard above and below the ‘keys’ (or keywaves, in ROLI’s terminology), the Seaboard Grand series goes places no other keyboard can.
Now the London‑based company have announced the Rise — a two‑octave MIDI controller featuring the same innovative playing surface, minus the Grand’s built‑in sound engine but with an additional touch‑sensitive trackpad and three faders. And while the full‑size Seaboard Grand will set you back £2399$2999, the Seaboard Rise controller will cost just $799£599.
Every bit as slimline and attractive as its bigger brother, the Rise has a few additional tricks up its sleeve. Built‑in MIDI over Bluetooth and an onboard rechargeable battery mean that it can be used completely without wires for up to eight hours of continuous playing. The controller ships with ROLI’s Equator software synthesizer, a powerful package designed to capitalise on the abundant potential of the playing surface. But it can also be used to control other software and hardware synths, with the possibility of mapping specific patch parameters to the unique gestures that the keywaves allow.
ROLI founder Roland Lamb is describing the Seaboard Rise as “the world’s first truly accessible, expressive MIDI controller” and we can’t wait to check it out. It’s available to pre‑order now and should start shipping at the beginning of October.