Seaboard RISE Review
Product: Seaboard RISE 25 and 49 Review.
Seaboard RISE 25: RRP = £519.00
Seaboard RISE 25 and 49.
The Seaboard is a keyboard experience that is the talk of the home studio crowd. When Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, appears on stage in La La Land I remember saying what the hell is he playing? It was of course a Seaboard Grand ROLI’s next-generation synthesizer.
Who Are ROLI?
ROLI was founded in 2009 by jazz pianist Roland Lamb when he was a graduate student at the Royal College of Art. ROLI are a London based music technology company with offices in New York and LA. In 2014 the Seaboard GRAND was awarded with the ‘Design of the Year’ award from the Design Museum of London.
What Makes The Seaboard So Special?
The Seaboard was ROLI’s first instrument and it’s a controller based on a piano keyboard. The silicone surface has a flexible pliable all in one key system unlike the standard hard individual keys on a piano. This playing surface allows a great deal of flexibility for the player. You can pitch-bend a note simply by making a sideways movement. Deepen a sound by pressing into the silicone surface and control everything by touch. Very expressive. The Seaboard comes with 25 keyways as they are called, and 49 keyways. Both have five dimensions of touch: Strike, Press, Glide, Slide, Lift.
Both these keyboards come with FXPansion STROBE2.
What’s FXPansion STROBE2 when it’s at home? Well, it’s quite something. It is an award-winning, more awards going to ROLI, software polysynth. The software features analog modelling with a comprehensive effects section which includes a large preset library. This means you can get going using all the effects quickly and easily using presets.
So once you’ve had a good play with the presets you can set-about creating your own unique sounds. You can use preset-morphing, deep modulation processing. I found the interface very easy to use.
So What Did I Think When I First Played The Seaboard?
The feel of this instrument is revolutionary. It’s more like playing a guitar than a keyboard and as guitar is my main instrument I really love the five dimensions of touch available; touch, strike, glide, slide, press and lift.
When you first pick it up it has some weight to it which came as a bit of a surprise, I thought it would be lighter. It has a real space age look to it all back with small white stripes. I must admit at first I was thinking, where the hell is middle C! But maybe that’s because I’m so conditioned to white keys and black keys, once you get used to the layout it is so creative. The sound bank is really amazing, you can flick though the sounds and find something you like pretty quickly.
It’s also great to be able to manipulate the sounds just by touch. The playing surface is very springy which I really like and because it’s soft and goes quite deep when you press into it, you can really feel what pressure you are putting on it and this alters the attack level and volume. By Sliding on the note you change the tone and you can get some completely different sounds from doing that. I found it much like playing a fretless bass or a slide guitar.
The playing style on an instrument like this is very different to how you would normally play a piano, so it does take some time to master, but when you do wow it’s creative!
One thing I would have liked is a sustain pedal. When I play a conventional piano or keyboard I do use the sustain a lot. I find it so hard to be expressive without using a sustain to glide from one chord or note to the next. Also, it is quite sensitive, which is great, but again takes some time to get used to.
Bluetooth Wireless connection.
Both the Seaboard RISE 25 and the Seaboard RISE 49 come with Bluetooth for full Midi control. Also, the standard USB connection. You can also play this on the road it comes with an internal 8-hour battery.
I really do think that this ground breaking revolutionary keyboard concept is a great addition to any home studio. Due to the five dimensions of touch available; touch, strike, glide, slide, press and lift it is like no other keyboard I have in my studio and for that reason the unique sounds really add to my composing.
However, I don’t think it will ever replace my standard 88 note weighted keys keyboard I love playing this type of keyboard to much.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any questions about the Seaboard RISE, or you want to add to this post, please leave a comment below.