First Look: The Eigenlabs Eigenharp

Sonic State’s Andy McCreeth made it to the official introduction of the Eigenlabs Eigenharp, and has the video to prove it.

In the video, company founder John Henry Lambert introduces the concepts behind the Eigenharp and makes a compelling case for the new instrument, and more expressive music controllers, in general.

Don’t miss McCreeth’s post, where offers his first-hand impressions of the new device.

The Eigenharp is a completely badass new electronic music controller. Check out the video and let me know what you think!

24 thoughts on “First Look: The Eigenlabs Eigenharp

  1. That is pretty awesome. Would have liked to have seen the performance though.

    Also can't help but feel that this is an incredibly dorky looking instrument. Far more so than a keytar or a z-tar. Not that i could possibly think of a better design. I think it's mostly the mouth piece making it look like a mutant bassoon.

    I wonder how many clams these will be going for. Probably way, way out of my price range by the look of how boutique it is.

  2. Dude…. yeah!

    This will be great when other manufacturers get the hint and start making less traditional electronic instruments. If I had the cash, I'd probably buy this…. just to have it.

  3. dajebus

    You're missing the point of this. Sure it's not for everybody.

    But companies like Novation have the low-end covered. If you just want a simple controller, you can get one for a couple of hundred bucks.

    The Eigenharp is staking out the high end – making an expressive controller that's in the same price range as any other professional instrument.

    PS: The answer to your question is Jordan Rudess.

  4. I like the idea. I'll check out the Pico if they make it PC compatible.

    And I agree that the mouthpiece clearly gives it the first-impression of a bassoon, rather than an extremely versatile cutting-edge controller.

  5. Over spec' and under spec'd. I cant help feeling that the lower buttons and the breath controller could be left off or reduced as could the audio interface element. It seems the designers got carried away. The Pico in turn could do with more buttons. Why also is such a sensitive controller going to output MIDI? They should be talking OSC surely. Also I would like to see the software for routing? Very intriguing I totally support the idea of an instrumental controller with expressive dimensions. I think they need a more flexible model a lot of money has gone into the design and the production of high quality components they should be looking to expand there .range!

  6. Spot on with the Jordan Rudess.

    To me, in my mind, why spend 8 years of your life on something that you know, only a few people will enjoy or use.
    but I think that is just my own mindset.
    Look at the monome. Hard to get. Expensive. But I think anyone would like to have one. I am not sure this has the same appeal.

  7. Pretty awesome. I guess at the moment it's a bit like saying 'look! A violin that's also got a piano keyboard, squeezebox AND a surf board!!!!' but that's no different to the early synthesizers that were fond of advertising themselves as machines that could play 'any sound imaginable'. And, like early synths or, at least, Moog's conception of them, the piano keyboard was only one way to try and access the sound generation.
    The most exciting bit for me is the expressiveness of the buttons.
    As for looking cool on stage, that's a culturally determined thing, surely and, as such, prone to be influenced by influential people rather than the intrinsic merit of various shapes of wood / metal etc.

  8. I agree as geeky as it sounds those little buttons are revolutionary. I guess when I mentioned a flexible model I meant anything with those buttons is going to be a great controller / instrument. I would love to get just the top half of the Eigenharp without the breath controller ( this could be optional ). I like the ribbon controller but I think they would be good on the back by the thumb. Despite my wants I am seriously thinking of buying the Pico just to try it out. I wish this company every success!

  9. The Pico looks interesting to me, too, and at a doable price.

    Whatever you think about the Eigenharp, you got to give these guys credit for having the cajones to do something more original than just making another control keyboard.

  10. The problem with this is that it's an instrument, and people get into electronic music to avoid learning all that time consuming playing technique. That's why the monome is popular: it's NOT an instrument. This also explains why electronic music mostly sucks.

  11. Todd – what makes you get to decide what's an instrument and what's not?

    I think it's true, though, that too often electronic musicians make music that's defined by their instruments, rather than music that transcends their instruments.

  12. you know, I own an APC40, but I also own a stratocaster and Juno 106. I bought an awesome guitar amp, and it sounds great. I'm looking for a weighted keyboard. As much as I love Live, and as much as I lov electronic music, and am so tired of boring blues guitar players, the fact remains that keys, guitar, and drums were developed over millenia, and have yet to be equalled, let alone surpassed. I think the best thing I've seen for mobile controllers are the wearable types. Its too bad someone's not doing this as a Live scene trigger, and much cheaper, but I bet someone will.

  13. To refine what I said this is an instrumental controller, the APC 40 or launch pad generally have one to one relationship with a function, this makes them a controller. The Eigenharp has several degrees of gesture which if mapped intelligently can make this instrumental. There are plenty if people doing expressive instrumental electronic music with new interfaces. Check out the Continuum Fingerboard for example. Whether you like it or not or it is a different thing but it is expressive and therefore instrumental.

  14. The same question could be asked of any high end electronics maker. Yes the market is smaller, but there's always a market for musicians who want more life from their music. Take the Starr Labs Z-tars: up to $6,000 for what is basically a midi controller that is played like a guitar (and you'd still have to know how to play guitar frets). How do they keep from going under? People will pay for that "enhanced" connection to their music, plain and simple.

    This Eigenlabs thing has tons of control over expression (something LOTS of electronica lacks) for around the same price as Starr Labs top offering. Sure, I'd have to take a loan out to buy it, but if it does all they say like it does, it would be money well borrowed.

    My biggest problem with the monome(and the tenori-on) is that at the end of the day, it's just a scene trigger/sequencer. It has pretty limited expression control music involvement for something that cost so much ($1400 for pads and a 16×16 lightshow). I thought the whole "looking like a jackass" comment was funny, because I can't see how a guy standing/sitting/crouching and poking at a monome just screams badass 😉

  15. Did none of you look at the video. It has a whole new type of sythesis engine. One that is made to take advantage of the features available.

    They have also said that boring sample seem to come alive when put under the control of the eigenharp.

  16. How many bassoonists do you see in a Jazz, Rock or Blues band? The design is a little goofy looking. But the instrument looks fun to play, nevertheless, and may well prove to be the coolest new shiny object.

  17. I think this instrument is brilliant.

    Things I don't like:
    – Price tag. Oh how I dislike being a college student at times like these.
    – strap system.. haven't seen it up close, but it seems like a one shoulder strap would be painful after a while.. this video makes it appear to have a waist bit and a way to disconnect in an instant.
    – I'd be afraid of becoming too independent on this thing.. if it can do drum beats, pads, leads, and vocals (w/ mic) then do I not need anyone else? It'd be interesting to jam w/ others.

    Things I love about it:
    – just about everything, aside from stuff above.
    – would love to see a cheaper version of this
    – Imagine possibilities with MAX/MSP or Ableton Live.

  18. No amount of technology and fancy sub-micron reading magic keys will cover up how artificial these sound. If you want to make synth music, use a synthesizer. However, you're not fooling anybody if you're trying to pass as expressive, artistic music.

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