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!
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".