We’ve come a long way since the invention of the piano in the early 1700s. Inventors have worked extensively to continue improving the numerous sounds it was already capable of producing at the time. Then we had the keyboard, which was invented in 1874, and even synthesizers (a device capable of emulating other instruments) by the 1960s.
When the two were first combined, the music scene changed dramatically with electric keyboards capable of a wide range of sounds. Remember the ‘80s, the decade with over-the-top, easy to produce, experimental sounds introduced in pop and metal? The synthesizer was largely responsible for this.
Up until a few years ago, digital synthesizers programmed into our computers probably seemed like the end of the synthesizer. How could we possibly progress this instrument any further? Was it possible to find new ways for your average music lover to craft music without necessarily possessing the technical know-how?
ROLI Seaboard Rise
Aspiring musicians have a nifty device to look forward to – the ROLI Seaboard Rise. It’s essentially a controller with an advanced, modern synthesizer built-in. It has a sleek, black design with keys, buttons, and switches controlled entirely by touch. The best thing to compare it to is a tablet without a screen; you lightly tap controls instead of using traditional, convoluted switches and buttons.
It’s worth noting that the Seaboard Rise is for home studio recordings or stage performances (there are more affordable models for home use). The list of features is incredibly extensive: you can play wirelessly over Bluetooth, it’s available in two different formats (25 or 49 “keys”), it includes a host of software and apps, and there are hundreds of various sounds to play with.
For instance, you can create atmospheric landscapes, emulate tons of instruments (e.g., guitars, vocals, flutes, etc.), and try odd or unique sounds that are preprogrammed into it. Many of these instrument sounds are more authentic than you’d find in a typical keyboard without other equipment.
There is a massive drawback, however. The Seaboard Rise is quite new as a technology; it costs $850 US for the 25 key version, and $1200 US for the 49 key version. That’s a steep price for someone that just likes to play music for fun in the garage or basement.
As the Seaboard has won several design awards in London and has been used by masterful composers such as Hans Zimmer, you can be assured that ROLI offers excellent quality throughout their entire product line. Choosing a knockoff might not be a good idea because you won’t be sure of the sounds that it can accurately produce.
In that case, it’s good to know that ROLI also has an entry level model called the Seaboard Block that sells for $350 US. Most of us would say that this is still quite expensive. That said, you are definitely getting excellent value for your money if you decide to purchase one at some point. Perhaps it’s best to wait for a sale or to buy it used!
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