Seaboard RISE


    The Seaboard RISE is available in 25 and 49 versions. While the RISE49 is a "full" instrument (49 keys), the RISE25 seems to me as a controller for the modular synth. Due to the metal chassis the RISE leaves an extremely "valuable" impression. Left are three illuminated sliders, including an XY field, above Program Change, and bottom octave buttons. The playing field is made of silicone in keyboard layout and size, but has no keys but keywaves. The keywaves are in 3-axis design (X / Y / Z), which allows the combination of intervallic play with bending / glide, aftertouch / press and control / slide. So you can "slide" along the entire surface with several fingers at the same time. Also the speed of the release is a parameter - and all "per note". The RISE is available in two or four octaves (25 or 49 "keys"). A great controller also to control modular synths or a live electronics. With Bluetooth-MIDI and battery it can even be used completely wireless..


Can this be played as an instrument?
  • The Seaboard RISE is outstandingly playable - I had not expected that so well. Even the soft silicone is a predestination for rather slow tempi - the instrument can be played quickly and extremely nuanced! The smooth surfaces above and below the keywaves can be used for bending (glide) - especially when it comes to longer distances, the "hillless" bending is of course much more even. "Glide" also works between the keywaves.

    The Seaboard RISE differs between "Strike", "Velocity", "Press" = Aftertouch, "Slide" = Vertical/CC, "Glide" = Horizontal/Bend and "Lift" = Release Velocity - the "5 Dimensions of Touch". Of course, modulations occur more slowly in slow gradients, but these parameters are also strong with short and fast tones. The instrument inspires by the high complexity and leads to play. As there is no history yet, all paths are open. Also microtonal worlds open up with the RISE in a completely new way.

    In the "dashboard software" some CC mappings (bottom) and the response of the "5 Dimensions" are addressed and fine-tuned. The three circles in the upper panel display three held notes. The "5 Dimensions" (middle row, fixed CC addresses) are adjusted with sliders, whereby the curves changes. Very simple and effective! The dashboard is a clear, well-designed administration of the RISE - but I miss an "undo" function. Sometimes I forget to set the addresses, which value or which addressing was entered before - Undo would be the salvation!

    The included software is excellently "thought" (more about the software below in more detail) - it is, even if one (like me) would have bought the RISE without any software, a not to be underestimated, fantastic inspiration for finding ways to playability of this instrument. In fact, the Seaboard RISE deserves the designation "instrument" - something I simply refused MIDI keyboards and controllers. Instruments want to be practiced. I believe that this instrument can be used to play excellent music.


    The housing is very pleasantly stable, surprisingly heavy and very "valuable". In addition to the overall solid and very high-quality impression, it is, of course, the silicone surface which will mean "yes" or "no" for many. I was very skeptical and what I saw in the available videos did not really make it any better. When the RISE was here, it took no 30 minutes to convert this skepticism completely into positive energy.

    Haptic the RISE is far from MIDI keyboards! It really is rather an independent instrument! The weight and a rubber lining on the underside make it safe and secure. Silicone is supposed to last long - it is ultimately not a plastic that loses the plasticizer over time. Of great importance, however, is cleanliness and integrity. Silicone is sensitive. The good bags in which the RISE are delivered are therefore not only very useful, but perhaps even necessary. The time and possible changes of the material will now show. Without any long-term values - until here it's a very convincing implementation!


    Time to say a few words about Roli, the manufacturer of the Seaboards: it is noticeable in all details "different" than with others. Everything is thought up into the details and well executed, well presented. It appeals to all the senses - up to the material selection. As a comparison, I only think of Apple: "think different". I hope Roli can endure this. The RISE has earned it! Chapeau!

    Roli Seaboard


    MPE (MIDI)

    The MPE specifications: MIDI specifications for Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression (MPE)

    RISE fulfills the MPE specifications (Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression) and allows pitch bend and aftertouch "per note"! This makes the Seaboard RISE extra interesting as a controller. Because Pitch-Bend is transmitted in 14bit (MSB/LSB, 16384 steps), a high-resolution controller is available for every sound played, in addition to the aftertouch.

    For the non-programmers, this means a limited selection of software for the full use of the possibilities, since not many products support the MPE protocol yet. This will certainly change soon.

    For programmers, it is a new way to go and to process data on many channels for one sound. MPE is a "re-interpretation" of MIDI. This could be a bigger task.

    MPE requires training. Thus, e.g. Bend and Aftertouch are available by note, MIDI channels are partly used dynamically. That is, you do not know exactly on which channel the next sound or controller value comes. A challenge that must be mastered if the RISE is to control not only MPE compatible software synths but its dedicated Max patches. Re-thinking in a great style is in demand here.

    That MPE is not a one-day fly, I hope - high expectations are fuelled of those, which are behind it: some good and some great names. More famous are the companies behind these names: Roli, Haken Audio, Moog Music, Roger Linn, Keith McMillen Instruments, Madrona Labs, Uwyn, Bitwig and Apple.

    The RISE can be used as a standard MIDI controller without any restrictions in "single mode".


Preparations for communication between RISE and Max.


    Because I want to use the RISE as a Max controller, MIDI addressing is necessary. Since there was no MIDI implementation chart there was a lot to do: the whole device had to be listened to first. Here is an example how the "5 dimensions" can be adjusted via iPad/MIRA/Max:

    These values are transmitted with system-exclusive data - they are also sent after program changes from "Equator" (the included Softsynth). I have added the two parameters, "Strike" and "Lift" to my patch - on the RISE they are missing, because only 3 sliders are present. Now I can store behavior presets à la flute, drum, pluck, etc. and send from Max in one block. The 5 sliders are available under a tab in the iPad at any time.

    When it came to remote control of the Octaves button, I got to see (for me) something new: the RISE is controlled by sequenced controller data and groups. For adjusting the octave, e.g. 2x four identical controller addresses with values (see picture below). Sysex data is also used - also in a sequenced form (e.g., 7x9 bytes).


Logical Order
  • My "Browser"...

    For the RISE I have programmed a stripped down "Dashboard" - without the elaborate representation of the played sounds and without CC assignments. I need these things too rarely and can do it with the Roli Dashboard software. The switch from multi to single and the transposition and fine adjustment of the "5 Dimensions of Touch" are indispensable, not least to check things also "isolated" when working. Since all things in this window are connected to the RISE, I have a RISE-TAB in my "browser". So I can remove all the things related to RISE together, if I should not use it.

    These are the "blocks"/tabs in the picture: network settings, audio interface (routing I/Os), MIDI (settings), RISE (because it is a big package and because of MPE, isolated), ESX (Expert Sleepers Modules = Audio to CV), and DSP (the sound processing software active for the piece/setup). The TABS are shown in the top row (gray).

    I try, if possible, to set up my software as a "terminal" so that all areas can be viewed and adjusted. I do this because I do not want to "operate" the Computer - the CPU can stand on the side. Sometimes large peak meters or cue displays are required and the Monitor can serve as a "remote display". The digital electronics are controlled via iPads. A glance into the computer is not necessary.

    The surfaces of my software are dark, so that the control elements on stage do not shine too much (and light up the interpreters).



    for the RISE 25

    Both RISE models come with "cases". The RISE49 comes with a perfect softbag (without picture), the RISE25 has a resealable plastic packaging, which is better than ome might guess at first glance (picture 1 + 2). Roli also offers a "chassis case" for the RISE25 - I do not like it, because the RISE25 sits inside a plastic-frame and the lid solely folds and can not be taken apart.

    Roli Seaboard

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