Roli Block Seaboard

Keyboard

  • Multiple award-winning Seaboard interface with a soft, presuure-sensitive surface
  • 5D-Touch Technology: strike, glide, slide, press, lift
  • 24 Keywave, two octave playing surface
  • Wireless MIDI via Bluetooth LE with a range of up to 15 metres
  • Software bundle: NOISE, Equator Player with over 100 sounds, BLOCKS dashboard
  • Can be connected to and combined with other blocks from the Roli brand
  • USB-C connector (MIDI out and power supply)
  • Full MIDI compatibility via USB and Bluetooth LE
  • BLOCKS DNA connectors
  • Power source: battery-powered with up to 10 hours of playtime
  • System requirement for iOS devices: iPhone 6 or later models, iPad Air or later models, iOS 9 or later
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 282 x 25 x 141 mm
  • Weight: 710 g
  • Incl. cable for USB-A to USB-C

Further information

Aftertouch Yes
Pitch Bend / Modulation Yes
Rotary Encoder 0
Fader (Amount) 0
Pads 0
Display No
MIDI interface No
Sustain Pedal Connection No
USB-port Yes
Mains Operation Yes
Battery Operation Yes
Bus-Powered Yes

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4.7 / 5.0
  • handling
  • features
  • quality
14 written ratings Read all reviews
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Innovative controller

dharma one, 12.12.2017
I've been testing the Roli Block Seaboard with Logic Pro X and the Roli Noise iOS apps. It's 24 keys, so you won't be playing any big 2 hand chord progressions with it - but apparently you can stack multiple Seaboard Blocks together.

The price is significantly less than other Seaboards, so it's a cheaper way to get a feel for what these unusual controllers do. It's also significantly lighter than the other Seaboards, and fits easily in the backpack. It uses Bluetooth Midi, so connects wirelessly to iOS and MacOS - I've found this to be really liberating in terms of moving around. There is a tiny bit of midi latency, but probably under 10ms.

So what is it good for? Well, the sensors allow you to control synths in a way that you can be more expressive. Specifically, you have aftertouch, can do pitch bend per key, mono and poly slide/portamento, have a different sound depending on where you tap the key on the y axis.

The Equator synth is great and gives an idea of the expression possibilities since it's optimised for Seaboard. The SWARM kontakt instruments are also great, for expressive acoustic instruments. For emulating guitar or strings or wind instruments, it's much more expressive than a regular midi keyboard.

For normal playing, I find it more difficult to play compared to normal piano or keyboard - similar, but takes a bit of getting used to.

Overall a great little tool, wouldn't buy it as my only midi controller but as a complementary controller. I like it a lot and hope there will be more synths that support it.
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Total
handling
features
quality

Light and shadow

theviscount, 12.01.2018
Short version:
Due to the influence of the magnetic field on other techniques, I can only recommend the Mini-Seaboard to those who do not have to worry about it, or where the excellent feel is more important. But then preferably two of them.
Long version:
First the dark sides:
The darkest: It's a feature, not a bug. The magnets on the board are not huge, but not exactly weak. Nearby mechanical hard drives could be affected by prolonged exposure. And since I always carry about five of them in my backpack, the seaboard should not come near them. Also on my work table I have to keep a respectful distance, because on this table these five disks are also bustling. Bankomat- and credit card, as well as hotel room keys and not least music cassettes are also at risk.
I have not found any reports on this problem in the network yet. Maybe I'm worried. But the thought alone reduces my enjoyment with the Seaboard.
Wailing on a high level would be the dark design. Here would be a color differentiation - for example, at least gray for the white keys - quite helpful.
Then the firmware update for the new board. Feels like 10 minutes, a progress bar that reboots about 5-6 times and progresses slowly each time. Under USB 1 that would be understandable, but USB 3?
Finally, the Equator. If I have to get close to my 36-inch 1080p screen to read certain texts (eg controller source), how will it be on my 14-inch FHD laptop?
Now the light:
The Seaboard has a nice pleasant soft feel. Somehow it feels almost alive under the skin. Because of the tactile experience you (man?) Would like to play and touch it again and again. As an exercise tool for people who are looking for the sound between the notes, the exploring of expression possibilities, and not equal to spend about 670, - certainly ideal.
Comparison with KeithMcMillan Qnexus:
Since I also have a Qnexus, the direct comparison has offered. The much smaller and lighter Qnexus has a much tougher touch. If you have both devices next to each other and control the equator with them, you realize that they are not so far apart as far as the precision of the control is concerned. Qnexus needs more pressure, which can be more effective in some cases. Anyway, you can get a lot out of the Equator with Qnexus, but the nice Vangelis slides are more of a seaboard thing. Qnexus has nice illuminated keys and can be configured as a DAW controller.
Keyword Equator:
The Seaboard free Equator version player is in my opinion quite meaningless (for the user, not for ROLI), even with the nearly 2GB large, free sound expansion. Because only when you have the full version, you can intervene in useful parameters, which has the preset offer really very necessary. Most of the preset macro-controllers control functions you do not need right now. The surcharge for the full version is not so bad, because the Equator is a thoroughly full-fledged 3 + 2 OSC synth, in the operation of the modulation matrix, although quite cumbersome, and the design unfortunately quite "Abletonesq", but otherwise with a lot of potential and just well controlled by other devices with Poly-Aftertouch / Pressure. However, I consider it without Seaboard for clearly too expensive.
To Ableton:
It should not be unmentioned that Ableton has great ignorance problems with Poly-Aftertouch or Pressure at least until V9 and Seaboard like Qnexus can develop their abilities there only with some effort (desired polyphony equal number of tracks plus 1).
Other VI:
Of course, there are quite a few software instruments that can also be played satisfactorily with the Seaboard, one of which is the Synthmaster V2, and there are also various freeware offers.
alternatives:
The Seaboard is priced to endure, but one should perhaps a Qnexus or even cheaper K-Board souvenir or compare. These are not quite as "serious", but a bit more multifunctional. The CME-Xkey products should not be completely ignored, I will certainly order one more, especially since it also Midi can spend without a PC.
résumé:
The Seaboard Blocks is a "game" tool that invites you to experiment. Once you have it, you do not want to miss it anymore. This does not make you a keyboard guitar virtuoso or even a violinist, but a certain rapprochement is also (or perhaps?) Possible for less experienced keyboard players.
The currently lying at the pain threshold (about 280 ¤) for such a controller tiny justified by the many possibilities, but only with the full Equator Synth will be happy for the time being, and only with plenty of input and editing , For even more fun, I would even souvenir a second Seaboard, unless you need to recharge this extra when it is docked to the first (this info I could not find anywhere). With two you would almost have the range of a Rise49 for half the price.
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