ROLI Debuts Seaboard RISE Expressive MIDI Controller


Advanced MIDI controller creator ROLI today announced the new Seaboard RISE, their most affordable expressive MIDI keyboard controller yet.

Like the Seaboard GRAND, the Seaboard RISE reimagines the keyboard as a pressure-sensitive, continuous surface that responds to even the subtlest gestures. This lets you change the sound of each note in three dimensions, with left/right, up/down, and in/out movements of your finger.


ROLI says that the Seaboard RISE, though, marks a turning point in bringing Expressive MIDI products to a broader consumer market:

  • It is the first Expressive MIDI device to offer an easy-to-use multi-platform synth;
  • The first with an integrated user control panel; and
  • The first to perform wirelessly with an integrated battery and Bluetooth over MIDI.

The Seaboard RISE is also the first Expressive MIDI keyboard to be available for less than $1000, with a retail price $799 (£599).

Here is the official intro video:

“Finally, musicians have at their fingertips an affordable and accessible tool that lets them create authentic instrumental simulations, in real time,” says ROLI CEO and inventor Roland Lamb. “Combined with its strengths in creating fresh new sound interactions, the Seaboard RISE is truly a breakthrough for both musical performance and production.”

The Seaboard RISE is the latest example in the fast-growing category of Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression controllers. These controllers – including instruments like the Linnstrument and the Haken Continuum – focus on delivering acoustic-level electronic expression, by enabling each individual note to be modulated in multiple ways in real time.


The Seaboard RISE comes bundled with Equator, ROLI’s custom-built software synthesizer designed for Expressive MIDI instruments.

In Equator, the Seaboard RISE’s five primary dimensions of touch and gestural control – strike, press, glide, slide, and lift – are mapped to a wide variety of sound parameters. Sliders on the left-hand control panel regulate the extent to which these parameters of gestural modulation are utilized, allowing the Seaboard RISE to behave like anything from a conventional keyboard controller – in easy-to-use “piano mode” – to a completely open-ended interactive surface.

Seaboard RISE 25 Features

  • Seamless hardware-software integration
  • Beautifully crafted using premium materials
  • Sleek, intuitive design accessible to music-makers of all technical levels
  • Completely wireless with MIDI over Bluetooth
  • Bundled with Equator, the world’s first purpose-built, multi-dimensional software synthesiser

Seaboard RISE 25 Technical specifications

  • 25 Keywaves
  • 505 mm x 210 mm x 22.9 mm / 2.8 kg  (19.88 in x 8.27 in x 0.9 in / 6.17 lbs)
  • Continuous pedal input (1/4″ jack)
  • USB B port (MIDI out and power)
  • USB A port (for charging peripherals)
  • 18 W
  • Internal battery with 12-hour playability
  • Full MIDI compatibility over USB and Bluetooth

System Requirements

  • OS X 10.8+ / Windows 7+ / iOS 7+
  • Intel Core i5 2.5GHz or faster recommended
  • 4 GB RAM minimum / 8 GB RAM recommended
  • 2 GB available disk space for Equator installation
  • USB 2.0+ port for USB compatibility

The Seaboard RISE is now available for preorder at the ROLI site and at select music stores. It will ship and be available in store at retail outlets, throughout the world, from October.

33 thoughts on “ROLI Debuts Seaboard RISE Expressive MIDI Controller

    1. Marco – they already have a 3-octave keyboard in their Seaboard Grand line (which is a lot more $$$).

      It’s pretty clear that, with the RISE, ROLI is trying to take their technology to a much broader audience, by getting the price down under $1k and by offering an all-in-one solution, so you don’t have to be too nerdy to figure it out. And it looks like they’ve done a pretty good job of it!

      I’d like to see demos or tutorials showing how this will work with other software synths and also modular synths – like what Roger Linn has done for the LinnStrument.

      1. yes, they do have a 3 octave version for eur 2.200. it’s manufactured in london, and this is a good thing. but this is not base for a commercial success. this product is just too expensive for a broader audience.

    2. Very nice demo. I don’t think 2 octaves is too short, as this is more of an expressive soloing instrument. Its hard to see anyone trying to play Rachmaninoff on any Seaboard model, although it doesn’t seem impossible, either. The left-hand controllers clearly speak to its multi-dimensional intent. I haven’t seen release velocity mentioned, which would be great for strings, brass and winds, but it may be included, with all of that expressiveness going on. I wouldn’t go for a longer model, but as I’m really enjoying my XKey 25, RISE seems appealing. Match that with the AAS Strum and you’d have one hell of a “guitar,” right off the top.

    3. Yep!
      It appears Dave Smith is one of the only one who understands keyboards usability, mopho keyboard is 2.5 octaves, it does make a difference.
      And for chords 3 is a big difference over 2.

  1. This looks very interesting and the price looks good, too.

    I want to see what this works with, though, before pulling the trigger. Are there any hardware synths that can handle the MPE MIDI that this puts out?

    1. haven’t heard of dedicated MPE midi hardware synth yet, although any multitimbral hardware synth such as Blofeld or Virus can be used as simulated MPE with some effort by rotating midi channels. At least this is possible with Linnstrument.

      Hardware synth manufacturers are into analogue and replica fever, they do not produce great controllers so they are not interested in MPE they are interested in pushing their replicas bundled with crappy controllers as long as market accepts that.

    2. Hi AnalOG, The Rhodes Chroma with CC+ is one of the very rare (if not THE only) vintage analog synth that handles MPE and probably one of the very best sounding…

  2. This is definitely not a revolution in music. It’s just a smaller version of what they already did. I wish companies would stop teasing products like this.

  3. Well… I think in my homerecording studio I still draw my controllers by mouse or – on bad days – just make a record of knob moves of the midi keyboard. I really dont know whats the big benefit of this for producers? Maybe a new dimension for black belt live keyboarders… which i am not, at least. 🙂

  4. Great news! I played the grand at the NYC MOMA store recently and it is jaw droppingly cool. A patch like a fretless bass or violin where glissando and vibrato are part of the instrument seem so easy to replicate.

  5. Finally some one understand how to make bussines, glad to see a nice next gen controller that people can afford, most nice ones i have seen in the past have failed because where way to expensive, and for a new type of instrument most people dont know its hard to make the spend that much money, at the end those companies broke, i remembered opal and c thru music for example, the axis was expensive and the one i got the keys felt like crap not responsive, velocity was way off, this will allow people to have a feel for the instrument spread the word of mouth and probably succed nice!

  6. Hmmmmm….MIDI over Bluetooth? Multi-touch control? Small enough for a project studio? Being able to more accurately simulate guitar parts? Put a strap on this baby and have an interesting key-tar?

    $800 – That doesn’t sound too outrageous – Count me in, I want one of these, really bad!

  7. the design is super weird to me… if i was going for a foamy, softy type controller i would definitely prefer a continuum – or a linnstrument for another alternate

    the standard keyboard thing seems like a strange holdover in this “futuristic” and “world changing” instrument

    we need more newer designs, if you want to change the world its not gonna be another keyboard that does it… thats just adding to the world that is already there

    1. There are a ton off expressive options now – LinnStrument, Seaboard, KMI controllers, Eigenharp, Continuum – you could have a whole band of them now.

  8. Looks pretty good to me, not a bad price compared to some other controllers eating silently in my closet ;(. The lack of plain old midi is a pain though. I don’t want a computer around, or the latency of bt plus processing. How does this do going into something like the Kenton usb host? Hoping that it puts out standard midi CCs in a “dumb” mode.

  9. MPE is just MIDI over multiple channels. The main difference is that it uses multiple channels for independent notes so that it can send independent pitch-bend for each.

    Take a look at:
    Part of the spec is that you can make it work with just 1 channel if you want, so any existing synth can work with this.

    The LinnStrument, Haken Continuum & Eigenharp all use MPE.
    And there’s growing support in iOS apps, AniMoog for example. And the Parva synth on KickStarter 🙂

    I’ve personally been able to test a Seaboard linked via USB and a camera connection kit to ThumbJam on the iPhone, works a treat!

  10. so, could i hook this up to my old emu sampler and use the possibilities this keyboard offer straight away?
    would be nice to route all those controllers to various functions in Emu Chords section

  11. I wish it ran their synth software onboard like their other instruments, I’d pay more for that feature. I hate being tied to a computer. Looks really great though!

  12. Already being a Roli Seaboard user I was bit miffed when this was announced having just bought the big one….. BUT this IS NOT “just” the same technology… there is a lot of new innovative stuff going on in there, AND for a travelling rig is beyond perfect…. This looks an outstanding product for the cash and I’ve preordered mine 🙂

  13. Though expensive, the separation of hardware/controller from software/brains is a good evolution. Desktops hardware and VSTs are the present/future. Debating this vs Linnstrument for an eventual purchase, but I dig my Komplete Kontrol S49 for now.

    Also, two Seaboard Rise vs one Seaboard might be the way to go. Cost-wise.

  14. someone correct me if i’m wrong. The New rise feature movement up and down the key (Y-Plane) that
    controls the Timbre of note , thats new as the full size expensive versions don’t have that?
    It’s also a feature thats been plagiarised from the Linnstrument.

    1. Something that’s obvious can’t be plagiarised. And there’s only so many dimensions which you can control once you set your finger on the key – 3 to be exact. And whether it’s a timbre or something else doesn’t matter as it’s just a keyboard controller and all is freely assignable.

    2. “plagiarised from the Linnstrument”

      GarageBand on the iPhone and iPad, first released 2011, has the same feature and predates the Linnstrument. The Haaken Continuum first released 2002 also has this feature and predates both of them. The Buchla Marimba Lumina, released 1999, also has this feature and predates all three of them. The Buchla Thunder, released in 1990, also has this feature and predates all four of them. It goes further back than that too, we can keep going, but that’s far enough to show that the claim that position sensitivity has been “plagiarised” from the Linnstrument is not a reasonable claim.

  15. Not as useful for running non-Equator software as it could be.

    I bought one and find it… interesting. The most unique function, other than the feel, for me, is the slide function (not to be cofused with glide, which is basically ptch bend), which involves sliding forward and backward on a “key.” I’ve tried to use the RISE in my daw to run Omnisphere, hoping to use the slide function (sends cc 74) to affect Omnisphere functions. The problem is that the programming of the RISE slide parameter is such that it always wants to start at value 64, rather than at 1 or 0. Even within the Equator software, it’s hard to get the slide value to 0. The dashboard software allows for customizing the touch functions, but regardless, the hardware wants to start gliding at 64.

    I’m sure there’s a reason, but it would be nice if there was an option to set the slide function to start at 0, as with other functions, such as aftertouch (“press”.) I’ve tried to contact ROLI support, but they have yet to respond (ahem…)

  16. Hello Mark R,

    When the RISE is in Multi-Channel Mode with MPE set to ‘Off’, Slide behaves like a bipolar signal. Regardless of where your finger lands on the keywave vertically, you will have a starting value of 64. Movement upwards or downwards from the initial contact point will be relative and result in values between 64 and 127 or 64 and 0 respectively. Reducing the Slide Touch Fader position will reduce the distance you have to “Slide” to reach the maximum (or minimum) Slide value.

    When RISE is in Multi-Channel Mode with MPE set to ‘On’, Slide behaviour is absolute at the initial point of contact. For example, if your finger lands at the very bottom of the keywave it will result in a value of 0 (or very near 0). Landing in the middle will result in values around 64, and at the top near 127. Reducing the Slide Touch Fader position in this mode will also reduce the distance you have to “Slide” from the initial point of contact to reach the maximum (or minimum) Slide value. In other words initial contact is absolute and additional movement is relative.

    We take feedback very seriously and are always working to improve features through software and firmware updates.

    Dan W

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