The Hyperkeys 3-Dimensional Musical Keyboard – The ‘Lamborghini Of Keyboards’

Reader Jeff Tripp sent word of his Hyperkeys 3-Dimensional Musical Keyboard. Its keys move in-and-out as well as up-and-down. It tracks both z-axis position and the force on a key when down on a fully polyphonic basis.

The Hyperkeys can drive any MIDI synth, soft or hard, using its physical MIDI interface or MIDI over USB.

The Hyperkeys Editor (Mac/PC) offers control over MIDI Continuous Control messages, RPNs, NRPNs, & Sys Ex, and over the relationship of where a key is to its 4 continuous outputs, Dip, Force, Push, & Pull.

Tripp describes the Hyperkeys as a sort of Lamborghini of keyboards, tuned to allow for new types of expressive keyboard control.

The Hyperkeys is a custom, boutique keyboard controller. Contact Tripp via his site for additional details.

Note: We’ve had a real mixed bag of feedback on this post – so you might want to read through the comments and weigh in.

First off – some people ‘get’ the idea behind the Hyperkeys controller immediately. Others, though, may not understand the benefits of having additional dimensions of control available in a keyboard. This is understandable, because most keyboardists have never used an instrument that responded to anything other than velocity and pedaling.

More Hyperkeys demo videos are available on YouTube that may help readers understand why you might want a more keyboard that offers more ranges of expression.

Second, a lot of readers are taking issue with the Hyperkeys site, especially what it has to say on pricing for the keyboard – “Price: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

The onus is on gear makers to tell us what they’re selling, how much it costs and why we should care. At this point, the Hyperkeys site fails on two out of three of these points. This needs to be corrected.

30 thoughts on “The Hyperkeys 3-Dimensional Musical Keyboard – The ‘Lamborghini Of Keyboards’

    1. Yeah, I was thinking “oooh, this is cool”, and then I saw the “you can’t afford it” bit… fine, someone will make a knockoff of this that we can afford, and then yours will wind up in a museum.

      1. Totally agree on the “you can’t afford it” catty stab. It’s not like it’s Rick Wakeman’s Moog Modular for sale. You might want to tweak your approach a bit. You lost me, Mr. Tripp.

  1. Wow, sounds very condescending (aka douche). That and the overuse of thesaurus. Would consider buying this but apparently like everyone else, he claims we can’t afford it.

  2. I’m not particularly interested either. I mean; isn’t this extra motion the kind of thing you have the pitch or modulation wheel for ?

    I know that these – by default – only control pitch and modulation but there are plenty of options I can come up with to change that (talking my environment “Live & M4L” now: you hit a pedal and the function changes thus switching between “3d” and “common”. Not that unrealistic I think).

    The other problem I see here is hitting the keys. Going Live you don’t always hit the keys “aligned”. Didn’t you ever get your hands moving in a forward or backwards motion; even if it was in an (unintentional?) move which was fueled by going with the sound ?

    I don’t see this happening. Still, I do like the idea.

    1. Obviously, you haven’t played a lot of real keyboards… if you want to compare this with the modulation wheel, then you should consider a wheel per note, exactly as a polyphonic aftertouch compared to a global one.

  3. Mr. Tripp – very interested in your product, excellent design. However like a few before me have noted, you need to turn down the douche over on your site. Get yourself a decent pr company to push this to people who ‘can afford it’

  4. “~ Price: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it”

    Yes, the key action is clever, but will now doubtly be copied very soon by someone who does care about sales and customers and not being condescending with such comments as “you can’t afford it”.

  5. wow. fantastic! it’s one of those ideas no one else really thought of, that makes you wonder why no one’s ever thought of it before.

  6. I’m not sure being a prick on your web page is the best marketing tactic in the world, but to each his own, I guess. I’m sure he’s reading this thread and cackling “my strategeez worked!”

  7. watched video… blown away.. this is exactly what i’ve always wanted

    i’ve been interested in this kind of expression.. but everything else always tries to get away from the keyboard… i’m self taught… so i shouldn’t be tied to it like a classical pianist… but it makes sense to me.. and i really like it…

    just thinking of this thing hooked up to my Microwave XT sets my mind to patching up the most expressive, dynamic insanity possible

    i read everyone’s comments before going to the website. the comments had me feeling as most of the other posters do.. but once at the site i just didn’t pick up the same “prick” vibe

    personally.. the idea i get is that it is expensive.. it isn’t for everyone… how much does a haken cost? .. how much does a buchla thunder cost? how many of you have a haken or thunder or eigenharp? not many i expect… i know i don’t… shit is expensive and not exactly what i’ve been wanting

    lifetime support… and exactly what i’ve been wanting… i can easily say.. worth $5,000 to me… maybe more… of course i hope it wouldn’t cost this much but it wouldn’t surprise or deter me. i’ll have one within a year.. and hopefully after selling them for a year and being successful he’ll have a new version… with.. hell i don’t know.. this thing is perfect… what does it need? oh yeah… lots of blinky lights.. cause those are my favorite

  8. Excellent idea. This bridges the gap between real keyboard facility and a penchant for Kaoss pads and the like. You WILL need some actual playing ability to get the most out of it from the obvious angle, but it moves a lot closer to off-the-charts in feel factor. Tradition, meet 3-D. A certain number of people will assign purely synth-y parameters to some aspects and go all avant-odd with it, but as Rudess showed, there’s a new world to be mined by digging in physically. The delicate shifts he was able to elicit were impressive. Its like the pressure-sensing beef of a CS-80 *and* playing the ribbon controller spread amongst all of your fingers individually. Its a tool that will really reward persistence and virtuosity.

    BTW, if I want rudeness from a music company, I’ll try to deal with (name of company I really hate withheld) again and all but be given the finger over simple queries. Advice: don’t act like a douche until AFTER you’ve won some people over and made some money. Its too creative and promising a device to be smeared with Attitude. If you’re really good, you don’t HAVE to brag.

  9. at first glance, i was extremely impressed. this looks like an awesome piece of equipment to own. than i saw the website. immediately i emailed jeff tripp, and told him how i felt. i didnt sugarcoat it, and i hope that my honesty makes him realize that if he ever wants to be succesfull making anything, he cant be a douchebag. when you put down the people who are interested in your product, how are you supposed to sell anything. i think EVERYONE SHOULD EMAIL HIM AND TELL HIM WHAT THEY REALLY THINK.

    the email address is [email protected]

  10. t’s just a midi-controller…
    Whether I or anyone can or can’t afford it is of beyond the point – the real question is whether or not I need yet another overpriced midi-controller – even a fancy custom-made one. I understand the craftsman’s pride behind the arrogant little statement… Yet chances are, the 3-D keyboard’s inventor is not such a genius if he tells to his potential customers that they are too poor for his masterpiece.
    J. Rudess’ demo is nice but hardly an endorsement… With all my respect & admiration for his raw talent, technical wizardry and musicality – he may suffer from a case of endorsement mania. Is there any VST/AU/audio-hardware out there he has not endorsed ?

  11. I can’t really tell how good it sounds. WTF, Rudess, everyone realizes you’re a great technician, but for once can’t you please slow the h*ll down and smell the “proverbial” musical roses?

  12. I hope nobody is claiming this idea as original, or trying to get a patent on it – it dates back to at least the 1920s. However, it remains a neat way to get even more out of the world’s most popular musical interface (the piano keyboard).

  13. i just saw on another site that they projected this to be priced at around $8,000. what a joke. this guy is such an idiot for making an awesome looking MIDI CONTROLLER (im never calling it a keyboard again), and than marketing, and pricing it so that noone will ever own one. what an idiot…

    1. Don’t know if that’s the real price or not, but the Hyperkeys captures polyphonic expression, which very few keyboards do, because it’s expensive to build. The CS-80 can do it and look at how revered it is.

      I’d agree that this guy’s site stinks, but you gotta give him credit for trying to do something more interesting than sticking a few knobs on the keyboard.

  14. Just to make my point clear: I never inferred that Mr. Tripp is himself anything negative or that his invention is anything uninteresting or non-musical, but seeing as the information on the website is all one has to judge in terms of making a purchase, I think that coy condescension is not a good marketing stategy. I realize that perceived exclusivity is one means by which an item builds a chaché, but to do that one needs to create a market through positive word-of-mouth (and even giving away a comp to a taste-maker, which I am not). Alienating the window shoppers in hopes of courting serious buyers never works, mainly because one never knows who is who, especially on the web. I don’t think Bob Moog went this route with his modular synths back in the day.

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