OUR PART # SEABOARD-GRAND-STAGE
The ROLI Seaboard GRAND is something of a new dimension for keyboards - a fretless piano that doubles as an expressive multi-dimensional controller - that reimagines the piano keyboard as a soft, continuous surface and puts expression back at your fingertips in every gesture. For centuries there have been fundamental limitations to the acoustic piano, and keyboardists have been forced to accept the velocity of their key strikes as the end of that note's expressive potential.
Digitally speaking, sound on a piano is very pixelated, in separate discrete elements, and if you tie all those together it can feel continuous. But other instruments, like a violin, are high resolution because the sound is continuous and changing. With the ROLI Seaboard GRAND, however, intuitive gestures such as presses, bends and slides open new avenues of musical expression via five dimensions of touch. Each note played on the Seaboard has independent pressure, pitch bend and velocity control. This independence is made possible by real-time MIDI channel allocation. With every new note, data is sent to the next available MIDI channel.
ROLI Dashboard – Harmony Between Hardware and Software
Dashboard is designed for customizing performance settings as well as keeping the Seaboard's firmware up to date via automatic updates.
Continuous touch enables you to sound a note and then take it on a musical journey, modulating volume and timbre through one continuous motion. The keywaves offer precise tactile feedback, making it easy to sense the slightest change in pressure, resulting in a far more organic experience than traditional aftertouch.
Adjusting pitch is as natural on the Seaboard GRAND as it is on a stringed instrument. Slide a finger to the left to lower the pitch of a note; slide it to the right to raise it. The smooth feel of the playing surface lets you easily glide from one keywave to the next, or apply a natural vibrato to any note. Unique, low-friction ribbons run along both the top and the bottom of the playing surface. These make it easy to start playing one keywave, then slide to another in one fluid gesture, even allowing multiple notes to glissando independently at the same time.
The SoundDial is the only control you will need to adjust the sound of the Seaboard GRAND. Shift between sound presets using the continuous rotary control, while the subtle LED ring shows you exactly which preset is currently being played.
However, polyphonic pitch bend and aftertouch may not always be desired so Dashboard has options to accommodate many different performance scenarios. As such, the Main Menu of Dashboard includes Channel Settings, Pitch Setting, Pedal Mappings and a Pressure mode.
Based on its design construction and features, the Seaboard GRAND has its own technique and possibilities. And while it takes practice to bring out strengths and weaknesses, the unit is very subtle, and behaves like an acoustic instrument wherein small changes make a big difference. For instance, playing a harpsichord would not prepare you for the expressive ability of a piano.
With the Seaboard GRAND, you can craft notes after you sound them, reshape attack characteristics mid-phrase or bend pitch continuously, and there is much more resistance than a synth with aftertouch. Very few keyboard controllers have been capable of producing polyphonic aftertouch, so not every synthesizer, virtual instrument or DAW is designed to work with it. Degrees between legato and staccato are infinite, much like tonguing on a brass instrument. For example, a trombone has the ability to glissando smoothly due to the slide; the Seaboard can do this too, but can do it polyphonically and over a larger pitch range.
Polythru makes it easy and intuitive to use mono-timbral plugins as if they were multi-timbral. Until more recently, controlling something after the sound event has always meant using additional controllers - or using your feet, or other hand, or breath control. For instance, if you play a violin, you've got the note - as well as the volume (with the bow), and the vibrato and the huge number of parameters that present playing gestures of their own.
Equator Sound Engine
Equator is a powerful software synthesizer that unlocks the full potential of the Seaboard GRAND’s expressive capabilities. Together, they form a seamlessly integrated software and hardware experience that will spark creativity for producers, performers, and sound designers alike. As a full-featured audio engine built specifically for Seaboard’s multidimensional control, it also works with other controllers – though less expressively. Every Seaboard GRAND ships ready to run Equator on-board, so plug in a pair of headphones or an amplifier and you'll be ready to go.
Controlled by Equator’s five dimensions of touch (Strike, Press, Glide, Slide, Lift), those parameters are also assignable in the software – and the XY Touchpad offers additional modulation possibilities along the X and Y axis. Tailor each gesture’s response to your own unique playing style using customizable transfer curves.
A mix of wavetable oscillators, Frequency Modulation, sample playback, multimode filters, and complex signal routing creates a powerful hybrid synthesis engine. Use different single-cycle waves for FM, layer with samples, send into several multi-mode filters with different configurations and outputs. Integrate four built-in effects to your sound – 5 Band Parametric Equalizer, Stereo Chorus, Stereo Delay, Stereo Reverb – and save presets directly to your Seaboard, to play them without a computer. Balanced stereo and headphone outputs are included for monitoring or direct recording. Equator’s graphic (or traditional, dial-based) envelopes provide a lot of flexibility, which allows you to explore various modes like one-shot, loop, note-release or the traditional ADSR mode.
There is no dealing with knobs, pedals, wires or wheels. You can use the Transfer function (and a Destination), to help you modulate various sounds into submission. Additionally, users can see how their fingers’ expression translates into the software on-screen, via 5D Touch Zoom.
Sound Replication via MIDI
There are about 60 patches included - from orchestral to choir, bass, woodwinds, brass, strings, and more – and since Seaboard GRAND sends data via regular MIDI and other software, sound replication and modification capabilities are contingent upon what your sample library contains. Production software such as Kontakt 5, Omnisphere or Vienna Symphonic sound libraries will nicely complement the orchestral sounds realm, whereas sound libraries from EastWest or Spitfire will work well in other ways. Whatever sound you have can be mapped from the Seaboard, parameters-wise, and then taken to your respective software. Just plug in a pair of headphones or an amplifier and you’ll be ready to go.
Seaboard uses sample modeling based on the physical modeling of instruments to achieve a certain level of realism. However, people normally use a MIDI controller - and/or breath controller - and then breathe into their computer while playing to replicate certain musical timbres. But in the case of RISE, this is unnecessary because it has all those same capabilities. In other words, Seaboard maps 5D touch to achieve the exact sound you need.
Layering capabilities are most easily and effectively accomplished through the Seaboard via software. In Equator, you can employ two samples (and oscillators) but if you want to go beyond that domain you can use something like Logic, MainStage, Cubase or Ableton - whatever your preference of DAW - and you can layer the sounds on top of it, depending on how powerful your computer is.
Different Models and Sizes
Seaboard RISE comes in two octaves (25 keys), and since its bigger brother has Equator built into it, you don't need a computer to play it. You're going to need a computer or iPad (or equivalent device) to use the RISE, though, because it's a controller. But GRAND is a synthesizer itself because it has Equator already onboard. Thus you can make your sounds in Equator, translate or download them into your Grand and you're good to go onstage.
Personalized Creative Control
To truly understand the potential and abilities of the Seaboard GRAND, it is essential to try it on in-person, as having a physical understanding of this new instrument is just as important as your mechanical or musical understanding. While it has the same hammer action response as ivory keys, the all-silicon playing surface has a distinct physical feeling of its own that takes some getting used to. This instrument is designed for players who are very tactile in the touch and feel of their playing, as well as those who want to tell their stories through music without the hassle of managing knobs, cables, assignments and parameters. On the flipside, this instrument can satiate expert keyboardists and composers who enjoy those headaches and want to dive in deeper.
Seaboard removes the clutter from the keyboard and then translates it into the “keywaves” keyboard surface. Therefore by using your natural expression you can achieve that level of expression without the assistance of additional controllers.
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