ROLI Teases ‘Reimagined, Refined & Re-Engineered’ Seaboard

Today, ROLI released a one-minute video, teasing the upcoming debut of a new Seaboard keyboard.

The Seaboard is a unique MIDI controller that gives you deep polyphonic control of compatible synthesizers. ROLI’s Seaboard devices give you five types of expessive control:

  • Strike corresponds to the MIDI message of note-on velocity;
  • Press to aftertouch or pressure;
  • Glide to pitch bend;
  • Slide to CC 74; and
  • Lift to note-off (release) velocity.

The future of ROLI’s professional line of MPE controllers has been in question recently, because of the company’s recent bankruptcy and reorganization as Luminary. The company had also focused much of its energy on creating products with a broader audience.

ROLI’s teaser promises an updated take on the Seaboard:

“A Legend returns. Better than ever before.

An iconic instrument that revolutionized music-making forever. Now reimagined, refined and re-engineered for ultimate musical expression. Be the first to experience the next generation of Seaboard.”

Details are to come in March 2022.

39 thoughts on “ROLI Teases ‘Reimagined, Refined & Re-Engineered’ Seaboard

    1. It didn’t fail

      Blocks failed

      The Rise 25 and 49 are pretty good value

      Fantastically well made instruments that give you good expressive keybed that’ll give you a good taste of what it’s like to own a continuum without having to remortgage your house

      And Equator 2 was a solid upgrade

      A Rise paired with Ableton 11 and some good soft synths like Arturia Pigments is well worth the money as a sound design tool and fun to use to

      1. “A Rise paired with Ableton 11 and some good soft synths like Arturia Pigments is well worth the money as a sound design tool and fun to use to”

        Until the company and product both prove robust, I’d rather use Pigments with the QuNexus which has per-key detection of velocity, polyphonic aftertouch, *and* tilt

        1. I have the QNexus and a Seaboard Rise 49. There is very literally no comparison. The Q Nexus does sense velocity, pressure and tilt, but not in a way that is anywhere near as expressive… it’s not at all close. And the tilt detection is not able to do what I need it to do as far as pitch modulation. It is too course and unpredictable. If we’re talking about preferences, I would prefer to play the Q without MPE expression than with it.

          The Seaboard and my 88 key hammer controller are the two best musical purchases I’ve made in the last 20 years. I’d rather have amazing controllers and fewer, less expensive instruments than the reverse.

        2. Both the product and the software work perfectly out of the box regardless of the “robustness” of Roli as a company – they designed a good product that works well in spite of Lamb’s character or any other misgivings you have of them as a company

          We all know Volkswagen and IBM were founded by the Nazis but that didn’t stop people today buying their products

          You’re disregarding the fact that the Seaboard has been around for the better part of 10 years now and has more happy customers than not

          Almost everyone says they love their Seaboard – myself included

          A QuNexus isn’t even remotely in the same ballpark as Rise

          1. I wouldn’t call Roli products robusts.
            I had many issues with them in the past. As an example, their Roli connect doesn’t work with a port replicator (allowing to have multiple displays and connect a laptop easily). Everything else I have seen on the market works perfectly. Except Roli connect.
            I had to contact their support group many times, and the service was pretty bad – had to go complaining on their facebook page in order to get the ticket resolved.
            LUMI keyboard are also fragile – notes get stuck easily.
            I had Equator to disfunction a few times too when trying to add a patch library bought from ROLI site.
            So robust doesn’t fit very well with ROLI.

    2. Expecting something like the Seaboard to be cheap is folly. Niche musical instruments will never be affordable.

      The problem for ROLI is that they’ve never been interested in being a niche manufacturer – like Roger Linn Design or Haken Audio – and they’ve also never been successful at creating a mass-market device.

      So musicians have to align their expectations with reality, but ROLI needs to do the same thing if they want to be around in five years.

      1. Cheap is such a new and strange space for music equipment. I still think about the staggering cost of the DX7, reverb unit and PA that I bought to get started. You could buy 10 Seaboards in adjusted dollars with what it cost to *just make sound* in 1985.

        1. Why would you every expect a niche instrument to be inexpensive?

          This is a custom instrument, made in small volumes, for a niche audience.

          It’s financially impossible to make things like this inexpensively. The manufacturers will never have the benefits of mass production scale.

          1. That’s what some believe. But it’s not. Sure when you produce on massive scale things are cheaper. This wasn’t however some guy in a basement making a fancy controller. Those prices of the Rise made no sense.

      1. I got my Seaboard 49 for $1100. My weighted keyboard controller was $1400. I think the issue is that some folks really get frustrated with how much a quality controller costs. I would like there to be more and more expensive options for expressive controllers as expressive performance is what I like best about music.

  1. It will need to host MIDI so it doesn’t need a computer and app to be connected to external devices. If not then it’s just the same old Seaboard.

    The resolution of pitch tracking across the surface could also be better

    If you’ve ever played a continuum that’s the first thing you notice is just how ridiculously microtonal you can get

    1. You don’t need a computer to make midi with the Seaboard. And you don’t need the app to use it, only to reconfigure it. Just saying.

  2. This “t**l” Roland Lamb is still at the helm as CEO. And they still employ a full time chef…..and still losing money. Unless you address the person at the top, it will not matter what they do, it will fail.

  3. When ROLI basically went teats-up, I was sorry to see a creative controller fall to one side. This reorganization doesn’t fill me with confidence, since Luminary has barely moved the market needle so far. I loosely expect an instrument to last me for 10 years of middling use. That requires a sensible marketing strategy and a decent support staff. I’m not seeing that so far. I’m wary of abandonware that leaves you hanging.

    I agree with eoin overall. I got to play with one of their 25s. Its a transformative thing, with the parameters properly set. The feel is great. It draws you in once you figure out how to place your hands for that MPE goodness. Its at least worth taking up for super-fluid lead and mega-chord purposes. If they can stay afloat, ask me about it in a year.

  4. Does the rubberised [surface] material break down, like most kinds of rubberised materials?
    If so, this product should come with a guarantee, to replace the rubberised playing surface material, otherwise it’s abandonware & not worth the asking price.

  5. Squishy keys again, or no? Whatcha think?

    Some loved the softness, others were “meh”.

    Appreciate the innovation in any case.

  6. I love my Rise 49 to bits esp with Equator 2
    However I would definitely err on the side of caution based on the company’s journey over the last few years. You kind of want them or someone to be around should you need repairs or support

    1. Yeah everyone is here in the comments to shit all over Roli and Lamb

      Which is maybe fair enough given some of their dodgy business practices

      None of that however changes the fact that Seaboard Rise (and Roli Dashboard software) is actually a good product, works well and does what it’s supposed to

      1. It’s unfair to call their business practices ‘dodgy’. To me, that suggests that they’re somehow deceptive.

        The reality is that ROLI has had big investors, and having investors FORCES you to take risks and aim big. It’s obvious to everybody that they’re doing a mass-market strategy, they even had their devices in Apple Stores.

        Their mass-market strategy has not worked yet, but it’s exactly what investors want them to be aiming for. It’s very different than the situation that companies like Haken and Roger Linn Instruments are in.

        The question is whether the mass-market strategy that investors want CAN succeed. I’m skeptical about that – the tech seems inherently a niche thing. While there are tons of amateur electronic musicians, the audience for expressive electronic instruments is just not that big.

        1. You are not even accidentally right about anything you wrote about ROLI and their successes (a byproduct) and failures (couldn’t be more pronounced even if deliberate). You haven’t a clue as to what the investor mandates were, how ROLI (Lamb) presented their vision and then proceeded to execute a very different plan, and their inability to focus on a single product line prior to shifting focus, resources, and personnel onto the next great idea because this was going to be the “next” brilliant bit of kit!

          1. Tell us how it really is, if you have actual insight.

            It’s public information, though, that ROLI raised $40 million, over 8 rounds of investment.

            Startups don’t attract investments, over and over and over, unless their direction and management satisfy investors.

            ROLI clearly flailed trying to do something with mass-market interest.

            1. My apologies in advance for my aggressive “tone” however Lamb’s failures and mismanagement are well beyond the scope of what I can and I am willing to share on this forum, however I will say the following.

              Roli raised more than £60 million, or nearly $75 million dollars in series of private and “public” funding rounds. The aforementioned 8 rounds of $44 million does not include the private rounds that further indebted and devalued the original investors.

              Source: https://craft.co/roli/funding-rounds

              However at question here are Lamb’s arrogance, ignorance, hubris, and petulance. And that is being kind I assure you. It is not just the outsized salaries for the executive team (Lamb assumed dual roles and paid himself accordingly) or the endless number of very expensive consultants, the in-house chefs, artists (had an actual painter in house to “inspire” the team) and resident DJ….yet the endless pursuit of what he perceived as the “next” technology and sought breakthroughs that were less about the technological challenges and more about the limitations of the in-house disciplines thus the expensive consultants.

              I could go on endlessly here however I very much doubt that a chance in name, Luminary, will be much of a difference if a change at top is not made first. Lamb should be the CTO at most with a strong technically minded CEO to reign him in when his “vision” outpaces his expertise.

  7. Never got my fingers on the old ones. Too damn expensive. I don’t expect a quality controller to be low end, but within the realm of possibility would be nice.

  8. To me, it feels like the synth market is split between different phases of hardware and software owners/users, and for a product to be successful it has to be a simple solution or improvement for everybody, or else it has to be the right price. I think the company, or other designers, could take the advice that you need to at least give some usefulness to the traditional hardware users if you are gonna get wider adoption.

    Without basic 5-pin midi, you’re basically asking a lot of users to not just buy the controller but a whole new ecosystem to use it in, interfaces laptops and backup laptops etc. These users who might’ve even been able to afford it still have to settle with liking the idea and never being able to use it for live or band work, or even to use vintage synths with. I never quite imagined replacing synths with a laptop and Equator, especially since the software is clearly made for niche sounds too, not general needs of keyboardists.

  9. Any new development in MIDI controllers should be celebrated as MPE becomes mainstream. But I’m a lot more excited about the Osmose.

  10. I wanted to like the Rise 49, but after two faulty units (had ghost notes all the time in two different parts of the keyboard) I gave up. I guess the rubber material just won’t work good enough. Not robust at all, and mine was in a studio, not for gigging.

    If they have solved the ghost note -problems, I might have another go.

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