Akai EWI USB

Electric Wind Instrument

  • With USB connector
  • Multiple fingering: sax, traditional, recorder and EVI (brass)
  • Extendable sound range
  • Mouthpiece detachable for cleaning
  • Plug'n'Play with PC/ Mac
  • Incl. USB cable

Further Information

Bass Pedal No
Breath Controller Yes
MIDI Controller Yes
Filter No
Effects No
Sequencer No
Product Specific Expansion No
42 Customer Ratings:
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
4 / 5.0
  • handling
  • features
  • sound
  • quality
25 written ratings Read all reviews
Total

Very nice instrument to play but poor support from AKAI

ChrisBell, 17.01.2019
The instrument is very useful for whom - like me - is a classical wind instruments player and is searching for a midi device to use VSTs or digital instruments without the need to learning keyboards.
The EWI USB is very enjoyable to play and offers good touch controllers (no moving keys or buttons, just touch sensors). You can choose you preferred fingering (i.e. flute, sax, ...) so you can immediately start playing naturally. The most awkward part is the octave control, since it is managed using a set of rolling sensors under the left thumb. They are practical overall, but quite innatural for classic wind instrument players and require some practice to be mastered.

The construction is clearly cheap and doesn't suggest robustness, yet the EWI is functional even in live sessions. Just handle it with care.

The main problem with the EWI is that AKAI software support is missing and updates are not provided. Documentation is poor and you get the feeling that the instrument is going to become an old piece of unsupported electronic soon.
Fortunately there's a third-party configuration tool (search for Cognitone EWI Control) which is a must and is very well done.

For flute players, please note that the breath amount required to play the EWI is more than that required for the flute, so it could be difficult for children and young players.

The dynamic control is very good and configurable using the above mentioned utility.

To conclude, EWI USB is a cheap but useful and enjoyable digital wind instrument that would be great with a better support from the producer.

TECHNICAL NOTES:
- The EWI isn't affected by latencies, since it's a mere MIDI controller. Latencies can be related to the audio interface hardware and drivers (e.g ASIO) and to the performance of the VST/software used.
- The EWI USB is just a controller and doesn't produce sounds by itself. You need to use a digital instrument or a software library and to control it via MIDI (USB) input.
- The EWI is self powered via USB from the host device (e.g. a notebook).
- Since the EWI USB is a class compliant midi device, you don't need specific drivers for it. It's just like a master keyboard, basically. Yet you need a software utility to configure it (a standard configuration is preset), to change the fingering and to assign MIDI controls to its sensors. Unfortunately AKAI doesn't support this product so you must rely on third party tools. I found very effective the one from Cognitone (free). I hope it will persist.
- Touch sensors can degrade through use, but it seems that they remain effective even when they look worn. An accurate maintenance and cleaning is suggested.
- The USB MIDI cable is standard and replaceable, so you can use a longer one if needed (eg. in live sessions).
- Since MIDI Controls (CC) are configurable, the EWI supports quite every software instrument.
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Total
handling
features
sound
quality

Both excellent tools, toys and independent instruments

Alexander289, 24.12.2009
The EWI USB is the bright delusion, the face of the hammer price, the performance ratio is incredible, but clearly dominate the popping features. The EWI dominates almost all types of wind instruments: saxophone, (flute) flute, oboe, three-part sheet metal, and oehler or "German" clarinet (but without "overblown" in Duodezime are). The Garritan instruments supplied by the Aria program are largely convincing (strings, synths, conditional brass and woodwinds with the exception of the single-tube instruments) and handling can hardly be simpler. Everyone should be able to cope with immediately, installation, operation and commissioning are almost idiotic and highly ergonomic. I have the part in the band game over 1.4 GHZ laptop with Billigsoundkarte and slumber 512 MB ram running and with appropriate Entbrummer I get thereby far more uncomplicated over the live system than with my woodwind instruments (I also play clarinet, saxophone and flute). For LIVEeinsatz the thing is simply the firecracker. In the studio, however, I prefer to rely on my authentic acoustic babies.

Since I am simply enthusiastic about the thing, I would like to take a closer look at the disadvantages here, so that everyone who is interested knows where he has to accept cuts:

A.) Optics - the part simply looks like a toy and does not hold any comparison with classical instruments whose aesthetics are simply unmatched
B.) Carrying Strap - The included strap is brand-specific. I use a decent Saxgurt - comes geiler!
C.) It sounds banal, but is not indispensable for stage use: there are no holding devices for the EWI, if you want to stop the instrument once, because simply a sound cup or an opening at the lower end is missing. If you want to stop the part, it must somehow hang on the belt somewhere.
D.) USB connector: the USB connector has a device for avoiding accidental removal, but this only prevents the cable from falling down. If the plug is pulled, this is already at a light pulse out of the socket raus and at the moment is Feierabend. A small clothesclip makes a good remedy, but looks silly. Here you have to be creative, if you want to be safe.
E.) One of my previous speakers was probably very unhappy with the EMI, because he apparently did not consider that this part actually represents an independent instrument. In fact, Yamaha, with his former blow-drummers, solved the contact problem better because of "real" flaps than Akai, but you can get used to some practice well. The octave scanners work best when you have the principle out once. The same applies to the very sensitive approach, for which unexpectedly hardly any air is needed. "Zahnvibrato" initially looks funny, but it is wonderful. The only thing that really ne amount of exercise and cleanliness in point of finger replacement needs, are the sensitive contacts. Anyone who slides here will not forgive the device. The best example is the Bb of the left saxophone-pointing finger ... normally one is accustomed to put the left index finger right over both flaps in B-keys - this goes wrong, at the latest, if you want to play the C with the left middle finger. If that is only a bit too high, the Bb is contacted and you are wondering why you can not listen to death C. As with all instruments, however, help here! The EMI is not a saxophone, but an EWI. And let's be honest: if you can improve your grip cleanliness, it also plays liquid sax. Therefore, I do not see this disadvantage as really serious, but simply as a circumstance.
F.) Condensation water - through a small hole at the lower end, the condensation water from the blower runs fun and happy along the USB cable. Neither useful, nor delicious. A small, empty intermediate valve brand brass would help here a lot.
G.) Attention - pure auxiliary agent! Without external sounds goes here nix. Also one is always bound by cable and computer by USB - compelling! Because the USB cable is simultaneously power supply. Nix battery here, nix alternative power supply. At least in the respect can certainly be improved much, especially for freaks like me, who like to play "wireless" - that is not possible here.
H.) Garritan instruments not all convincing - let us be honest: we hear deceptively authentic, but not authentic instrumental samples. At the latest with the single-reed-reeds of woodwind (clarinet, saxophone) one experiences this painfully: these sounds simply sound for the ton. Who wants to do more in this direction needs additional software, eg the sample modeling of The Sax Brothers called "Mr. Sax" (for old, tenor and bari, unfortunately not soprano). The same company also produces the sample bank "The Trumpet". Trumpet sound of the finest. Garritan can not keep up.
I.) ASIO, ASIO and once again ASIO - who EWI simply connects to his computer, gets unacceptable latency problems. Remedy here creates eg freeware like Asio4All, even better it is however with a powerful computer and a good sound card. In my example, however, it should be clear that even without the latter, usable results can be achieved.

Conclusion: Whom it is clear that the EWI USB is basically only a tool, but it must be experienced as a separate instrument, it can not make a lot of mistakes here, if it is used for such a part. I am simply enthusiastic about this egg-laying wool mildew. All others, especially classic freaks, authenticity advocates, and those who cough the fleas should listen to the fingers of their hands and deal with the slightest drop of instruments. As a multi-instrumentalist, I am profiting enormously in terms of ergonomics.
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Offers include 24% Greek VAT and are valid as long as stocks last. Shipping costs to Greece are 20 EUR, free shipping on orders above 298 EUR. Please click here for international Shipping rates. We do not accept liability for typographical errors or inaccurate information of any kind. *RRP = manufacturer's / distributor's recommended retail price in Germany
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