ROLI Seaboard Review: The Future of the Keyboard!

ROLI Seaboard Review


Blocks are Roli’s latest launch, which contains several modules that could be linked. Roli’s onboard DNA connectors can form a modular system of controllers which could be expanded as needed. For example up to six Seaboard Blocks to shape longer/L-shaped ROLI Seaboards.

Every Block has another remit. It includes looping (Loop Block) and performance controller (Live block). It has an expression controller (Touch Block) and also there are currently two master Blocks. The Lightpad Block (a 5D horizontal, square MPE signature controller) and also the subject of the article, the ROLI Seaboard Block.

Although the key waves will be the same length, width, and spacing as piano keys, even the Rise doesn’t have moving parts. Like a keyboard, the key wave surface has”black keys” that endure in greater relief than the”white keys“. The only markings are thin white stripes to the”black keys“. I found it somewhat disorienting to be enjoying an all-black near-keyboard. It has black keys where white keys ought to be and white stripes where black keys should be.

ROLI Seaboard

ROLI Seaboard Features

The key waves sense five kinds of expression. Velocity, aftertouch, release velocity, vertical movement, and horizontal movement. Roli calls these dimensions Strike, Press, Lift, Slide, and Glide, aka “the five dimensions of touch. Producing vibrato by wiggling your finger into subtly changing pitch is more expressive. Compared to using a modulation wheel because you’re controlling depth and speed simultaneously. Besides the usual Aftertouch, the Rise may respond to individual finger pressure. It can send MIDI on up to ten tracks simultaneously.

Just like different Seaboards, the key waves in the Seaboard Block have been created from a squishy, silicone substance. This offers you a feeling of higher physicality above your sounds. Like you play MPE-enabled synths employing the five dimensions of signature. Each dimension works individually and also on a per-main basis. This amount of real-time control is what you’d expect from an acoustic instrument.

ROLI Products

ROLI Usage

It takes some time to get comfortable with the spongy feel of the control surface. The key thing is that this is an interface you can play with. Keep in mind, you’re a musician, but not a programmer. Every creative element should be there on the fly. This makes the Rise/Equator a fantastic live performance instrument.

Just pay attention to where you place your fingers. Though the ridged kind of key waves is really a large aid in hitting true notes. Yet, it is still possible to drift out of tune. Particularly if you’re using the flat part along the surface for Theremin-style glides.

Glide is the horizontal movement of the finger, both across the key waves or across the touch-sensitive strips. Those strips operate over and beneath the keys. You can make smooth runs like a swooping flute glissando; just twist your fingertip atop the key wave. Nonetheless, also you’ll be able to emulate vibrato used to a single violin string.

The slide is effectively the identical thing, only flipped 90 degrees: the motion up and down every key wave. Ultimately, Lift is the speed at which you pull the finger off the key wave. A sudden lift may pluck a string, whereas a more languid one could let the notice fade out more gently.

ROLI from the side

ROLI Seaboard App and DAW compatibility

Roli Noise App is improving! It is now available on Google in addition to iOS devices. The number of packs has been expanded, as does the in-app buy catalog. Also, Pharrell Williams recently came on board as Roli’s Chief Creative Officer. Now you can download free sample packs to get N.E.R.D.’s single Lemon. On the other end, Audio Modelling owns an incredible SWAM engine. It’s an acoustically-modeled string section using violin, viola, cello, and double bass for only US$14.99.

Not a great deal has changed on Ableton’s side. It still requires a bit of a workaround and adding 16 tracks at once for maximum polyphony. Even though Live 10 brings the ability to edit several MIDI clips at the same time, allowing you to possibly edit your own Seaboard masterpieces. That means you can either decide to edit the two parts separately or limit the polyphony to eight.


Why would I enjoy the ROLI Seaboard so far? Well, it’s not that it is beautifully constructed and designed, it is also enjoyable to use. It pushes and motivates one to experiment with a new method of composing and playing.

This is not a replacement for a MIDI keyboard. I doubt experienced keyboardists would turn into the ROLI for normal computer keyboard duties. It’s simply not meant for this, but because it’s a glance into the future of electronic music, its potential is truly mind-blowing.

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Nikoloski is the founder and main content writer and editor of Mixing Tips. With his experience in audio engineering, mixing, and mastering for over 15 years, will provide hands-on experience and expertise in all the matters covered on this website.

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