In Focus: ROLI Seaboard RISE 2

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In Focus: ROLI Seaboard RISE 2

ROLI Seaboard Rise 2
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

To push the boundaries of music you first need to break down the constraints that instruments have lived within!

Every once in a while someone elevates an idea just a little further than anywhere it’s been before. Innovation is the mother of creation, and the ROLI Seaboard RISE 2 does exactly that. Expanding on the original Seaboard itself, the Seaboard RISE 2 tied together tactile, creative expression and a creation classic: the MIDI keyboard.

ROLI are an innovative company at their core. In their own words, the Seaboard is the newest thing to happen to the keyboard world since the piano superseded the harpsichord. Where MIDI keyboards traditionally used separate joysticks, toggle bars, sensor pads and pedals to add expression capabilities to MIDI hardware, the original Seaboard combined all of this. Silicone ‘keys’ offer notes at different intervals, while the touch-sensitive pads allow for expression like vibrato, sliding and more on the keys themselves.

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The ROLI Seaboard RISE 2 connects via either USB-C or TRS MIDI, cables included for both, as well as MIDI over Bluetooth. Once connected you’ve got access to the Seaboard RISE 2’s unique, tactile control, including options to Strike, Press, Glide, Slide and Lift notes and other parameters depending on your settings and preferences. The Seaboard RISE 2 has tactile, continuous keys for sliding and shifting between notes, the RISE 2 features wider keys and honed edges for more space for creation and better accuracy when playing.

Seaboard RISE 2

In use, the Seaboard RISE 2 couldn’t be easier to use. It connects easily, allowing you to use it quickly and start creating. The silicon pads take a moment to adjust to, but only if you’re expecting the ROLI Seaboard RISE to act and operate like a standard keyboard; it does so much more.

While the traditional keys and intervals are available, touching different parts of the silicon pads provide different sounds, and adjust different parameters effecting the resulting note (or combination of!)

Freeing yourself from the constraints of typical scales, keys and intervals, the Seaboard RISE 2 reality comes into its own, allowing you to create in a whole new way. There’s something fleeting about naivety, as ignorance is bliss, and the Seaboard RISE 2 allows you to shed your habits and return to that child-like bliss of making music for the first time. It really is something special, a familiar layout reimagined in a whole new way.

The Seaboard RISE 2, in addition to Ableton Live Lite, includes software ROLI Studio, Equator2 and ROLI Dashboard; their software to assign, program and adjust different parameters of every control on the ROLI Seaboard RISE 2.

As if all this weren’t enough, the ROLI Seaboard RISE comes with ROLI’s Equator2 Hybrid synthesizer. Also available as a stand-alone application, as well as a VST3 and AU unit with your DAW, the Equator2 has over 1400 presets, 500+ of which are MPE compatible. 

The ‘hybrid’ in the synth’s title refers to its ability to handle different forms of synthesis, from wavetable, granular, virtual analogue, FM and more. Equator2 is also hybrid in the sense that it incorporates both acoustic and electric instruments, allowing you to meld and morph the sound together for entirely new creations.

Adjusting these parameters is split into easy to understand Synth, Routing and Effects pages, Routing allowing you to decide and customise where each of the filters and oscillators goes and how they affect parameters down the track, while the Synth page 

While built for the Seaboard RISE 2, Equator2 works as a standalone download with other (less expressive, tactile and forward-thinking) controllers. A powerful browser allows you to select sounds as a starting point before diving into the limitless capabilities of the Equator2.

The ROLI Seaboard RISE 2 serves a few purposes for different people. Keen, experienced keyboard players will feel at home on the 49-key set-up, while less experienced players need not feel overwhelmed as the Seaboard RISE 2 doesn’t need to be used like a traditional keyboard.

Combining conventional keys with some of the most forward-thinking technology in the industry, the Seaboard RISE 2 innovates on even ROLI’s own original Seaboard. There’s something special about what the Seaboard RISE 2 invokes in the player, a sense of wonder and creation in the purest sense.

Interested? ROLI is arriving in Australia, read more here.