New Advanced MIDI Breath Controller, The Hornberg Research HB1 Breath Station



The Hornberg Research HB1 MIDI Breath Station is a new MIDI controller that lets you add expression to electronic instrument with MIDI support.

The HB1 is designed to be a professional breath controller, going beyond the possibilities of previous designs. It offers control over 9 parameters (including Drive, Attack< Release, Limit, MIDI CC & more) and allows for 25 presets.

It offers standard MIDI and USB-ports, so the HB1 functions with or without a computer.

Here’s what they have to say about the HB1 MIDI Breath Station:

The special wooden mouth piece, a precision sensor and the combination of a MIDI-merger, an integrated MIDI-interface and the innovative parameters create the premise for a high precision and highly sensitive performance of your ideas, in studio or live. Seven of the nine parameters allow an adaption of various details and impulses in your music. For instance, the adjustable “Release” allows breathing in without a gap in the sound. The “Dynamic Attack” parameter allows for sensitive sound control, even in the finest pianissimo. Real-time data reduction, Inversion and Limitation of the signal and, of course, Drive and Offset are all a part of the setting options. Each parameter can be saved in 25 presets. Additionally, the breath-data is displayed constantly on the Breath-Value Display.

The hb1 is hand-crafted in Germany with great attention to detail as well as with a focus on the aspect of sustainability. As they think the hb1 gives you the freedom and the possibility to realize your inspiration. There is a lot of fun working with the hb1 because it let you do what you really want to do.

The HB1 MIDI Breath Station is available now, priced at 890,00 EUR.

via GearJunkies

21 thoughts on “New Advanced MIDI Breath Controller, The Hornberg Research HB1 Breath Station

    1. This appears to be a device for people who are really serious about breath-control. And such a steep price-tag COULD be justifiable IF the controller provided a high degree of sensitivity and adjustability.

      Compared with the Yamaha BC series – which are pretty simple little devices without much configurability– the HB1 isn’t mass-produced and doesn’t appear to cut any corners.

      At a glance though, the wooden mouthpiece appears to require that you put that wooden bit in your lips, but it is perfectly round so getting a seal might be difficult. And its hard to imagine that being comfortable for long-term playing. I’d prefer a flattened mouthpiece and something that could be sterilized with alcohol (and easily replaced).

      More recent devices from TEControl, Air Command, and MRT Audio use presumably simple hardware (even copying the BC head-set), and offer varying amounts of software configurability.

      It would be interesting to see a comparison chart of features between the units.

  1. Looks cute, but you are paying for a nice box and led display.
    You can get same functionality with Arduino and Air Pressure filter with almost zero programing. I believe there is a bunch of “HOW-TO” on internet.

    I personally consider to hack one of the breath analyzers, that also analyze air pressure for the same project

    1. As you say, it is possible to create a good working breath controller using an Arduino. RPi, or some MIDI PCBs (like from Highly Liquid and others). And I think those could easily rival other ones available on the market. The cost would be more in time and trial & error than in money.

      As someone who as used the TEControl version a fair amount, I can say that it is not easy to get the sensitivity and airflow right. (I don’t have the $40 headset, but I hear that makes it work better).

      If the HB1 is designed to be the virtuoso’s BC then I think comparisons to cheaper rigs (or DIY rigs) are unfair. As of yet, Hornberg Research hasn’t effectively communicated the differences (or justified the high cost), but I expect they’ll get some good reviews and demos out there.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point someone releases a DIY kit for breath control that would be inexpensive. Highly Liquid could certainly offer it as an add-on kit to their MIDI board.

      The HB1 developers are making a distinction between folks who think of BC as an interesting technology and dabble/tinker with it from time to time, and folks for whom BC is a primary form of expression.

  2. Wow. Would love to see “round up” article /review of all the current breath controllers for MIDI .. I still love my Kurzweils for the capability, but would love to have something like this for use with oddball stuff like Hartmann Neuron, Reaktor, etc.

  3. I’m very interested in a Midi Breath controller. I have considered and EWI.
    This unit looks like a boutique unit that is out of my price range.

    1. Just to clarify (for others reading) an EWI is a wind controller that plays notes and has fingerings like a woodwind instrument. A breath controller is a device that uses the breath to control dynamics (and other parameters) while you play notes on a keyboard or other controller.

  4. Nice enclosure but ridicolously overpriced.

    I don’t really care about expensive materials and I am more than happy with the plastic TEControl device ( ) which works flawlessly and also has the advantage of being lighter, smaller and an order of magnitude cheaper.

    Functionally, the Hornberg seems to offer just gain and offset adjustments which is very basic in comparison to the more sophisticated and totally flexible graphical sensitivity adjustment of the TEControl device.

  5. Hi Carlo,
    here is a short overview over the features and parameters of the hb1 MIDI-Breath-Station,

    Standard-MIDI IN and OUT
    25 programable presets
    stand alone usage
    Power by USB or Power supply
    permanent display of controller output

    Data reduction
    Continuous Controller

    for more detailed information please visit our webside

  6. Hi all together. Some time has passed by since our last writing. We have used this time to create one more video. This video explains all the parameters and features of the hb1 MIDI Breath Station. We hope that this video is suitable to give an short overview to show what is special with the hb1.

    The attentive observer will notice, that there are two new parameters now. “Boost attack” and “boost release”. We have added this parameters to give the player, who uses the attack or release parameter of the hb1, the possibility to reach the highest- or lowest output value nevertheless at any time and very quickly.

    If you are interested in our new video please follow this link:

    or visit our homepage. There you will find some new testimonials also.

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