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Hardware polysynth for MPE with Roli
View Poll Results: Hardware polysynth for MPE with Roli
Micromonsta
7 Votes - 77.78%
Blofeld
2 Votes - 22.22%
Parva
0 Votes - 0%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 9. You may not vote on this poll

Old 11th April 2018
  #1
Hardware polysynth for MPE with Roli

I own a Roli Seaboard Block and am looking for a hardware polysynth to play nice with it for MPE. Ideally, I would like to have pre-built MPE support, but if I can finagle a note-per-channel patch with a non-MPE multitimbral synth, that also works fine. Here are the options I see so far:

1. Audiothingies Micromonsta - fantastic VA monotimbral polysynth with MPE support for just a little more than $300. Incredible value but monotimbral and VA make me feel a little sad

2. Waldorf Blofeld - non-MPE multitimbral VA polysynth. I have seen a couple of videos which explain how to make note-per-channel by laboriously setting up a patch, $500. Multitimbrality is attractive but general consensus about it being a harsh digital is a bit off-putting. Of course, not too psyched about having to put together the MPE setup. Not sure if I have to do it every time I want an MPE patch :|

3. Futuresonus Parva - MPE multitimbral analog polysynth. Ticks every single box for me and sounds great but costs $1000 :O. Is the price point worth the advantages it brings to the table? I can only afford this if I sell my Korg ARP Odyssey module (I will still own a Behringer Model-D and a Neutron). Does it make sense to do that?

Please pitch in and share your thoughts, my friends!

Will be cross-posting to some other places to get more voices :P
Old 11th April 2018
  #2
Deleted f25ebd2
Guest
Expensive and perhaps a bit limited, but I believe Deckard’s dream does MPE, and sounds awesome from what I’ve heard
Old 11th April 2018 | Show parent
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted f25ebd2 View Post
Expensive and perhaps a bit limited, but I believe Deckard’s dream does MPE, and sounds awesome from what I’ve heard
Oh man, you are killing me . Yes, Deckard's dream is certainly an option. And if I had the monies, I will absolutely go for it, as my all time fav synth is the CS80 . But, for now, I can only drool over it.
Old 11th April 2018
  #4
Lives for gear
 
string6theory's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Aren’t all new DSI poly synths MPE capable? Maybe one of the poly modules used.

Old 11th April 2018 | Show parent
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by string6theory View Post
Aren’t all new DSI poly synths MPE capable? Maybe one of the poly modules used.

Ha! didn't know that. Will definitely check them out. Thanks!
Old 11th April 2018
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
YashN's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
A Kurzweil V.A.S.T. synth is also capable.
Old 11th April 2018 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by string6theory View Post
Aren’t all new DSI poly synths MPE capable? Maybe one of the poly modules used.

No, but they will respond to polyphonic aftertouch.
Old 11th April 2018
  #8
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The answer is: None. (That I know of)

Here’s the thing. Even if you get an instrument that’ll give you multitimbral functionality, unless you have a way to put a threshold on aftertouch, you’ll have a problem. On a Roli, there is no aftertouch. It’s alwaystouch. So, if you want to apply some vibrato to a pad, prepare to have that vibrato always on to some degree. If you want to control your filter cutoff, you will be sad that the initial strike of the key is sh!tting all over your envelope that’s also controlling it. I’ve sent multiple requests for this to be something that can be at least set up in the control app, but all I get is, “I’ll pass the idea along.” So... nothing. This not only makes the Rolis difficult to use with hardware, it’s difficult to use with most software, even MPE compatable software. The only actual success I’ve had is with Equator and Strobe 2. I’m also checking out a new wavetables synth, but I haven’t had the time to demo it yet. I’ve given up on using it for hardware. It just doesn’t work that well.
Old 11th April 2018 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Lady Gaia's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by YashN View Post
A Kurzweil V.A.S.T. synth is also capable.
Capable, but with no explicit MPE support. Still, poly aftertouch reception or the same patch assigned to several MIDI channels can get the job done with the Seaboard appropriately configured. I am planning to try the combination out this year either when Roli has another sale or introduces something new (current bundle offers expire in just two days, so I have some hope they’ll have something new queued up one way or another.)

I’ll also check to see if Kurzweil is receptive to adding an explicit MPE mode to the Forte. It never hurts to ask.
Old 11th April 2018
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
harness's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Doesn't Novation Peak support MPE?
Old 11th April 2018
  #11
Lives for gear
 
wagoo's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
This poll is missing a lot of options. I bought a RISE 49 this week and when it arrives I'm planning to use it with Parva/Deckard's Dream/Modal 002R primarily. But also things like Arturia Origin as a 4 voice should be possible (as that's 4 voice multi-timbral)
Old 11th April 2018 | Show parent
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by harness View Post
Doesn't Novation Peak support MPE?
Don't think so. It's also not multitimbral, if that's a requirement.

I have a Micromonsta, not tried it with MPE but it's a great little synth for not much money and you probably wouldn't really lose much if you tried one and didn't end up liking it.
Old 11th April 2018
  #13
Here for the gear
 
Mekanik Zain's Avatar
Modal 002 support MPE ...

MPE – supports MPE-compatible MIDI instruments, allowing you to apply polyphonic control and expression to individual notes.
Old 11th April 2018 | Show parent
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
The answer is: None. (That I know of)

Here’s the thing. Even if you get an instrument that’ll give you multitimbral functionality, unless you have a way to put a threshold on aftertouch, you’ll have a problem. On a Roli, there is no aftertouch. It’s alwaystouch. So, if you want to apply some vibrato to a pad, prepare to have that vibrato always on to some degree. If you want to control your filter cutoff, you will be sad that the initial strike of the key is sh!tting all over your envelope that’s also controlling it. I’ve sent multiple requests for this to be something that can be at least set up in the control app, but all I get is, “I’ll pass the idea along.” So... nothing. This not only makes the Rolis difficult to use with hardware, it’s difficult to use with most software, even MPE compatable software. The only actual success I’ve had is with Equator and Strobe 2. I’m also checking out a new wavetables synth, but I haven’t had the time to demo it yet. I’ve given up on using it for hardware. It just doesn’t work that well.
This is very helpful, thanks! I am coming to the realization that Roli is perhaps best suited only for softsynths. Thankfully, I still have some time on the return period, since I only bought it recently. Maybe I should consider other options like a Linnstrument, although even the small version of that itself will eat up most of my current budget :O
Old 11th April 2018 | Show parent
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady Gaia View Post
Capable, but with no explicit MPE support. Still, poly aftertouch reception or the same patch assigned to several MIDI channels can get the job done with the Seaboard appropriately configured. I am planning to try the combination out this year either when Roli has another sale or introduces something new (current bundle offers expire in just two days, so I have some hope they’ll have something new queued up one way or another.)

I’ll also check to see if Kurzweil is receptive to adding an explicit MPE mode to the Forte. It never hurts to ask.
Yes, it looks like most polysynths will work with same patch assigned to several channels, just like what I saw with Blofeld somewhere. It seems like a PITA unless we can save the multi setup like Blofeld, again. Also, CC74. Looks like it doesn't play nice with Blofeld and we need a software in-between to map it to modwheel or something like that. That seems to make it almost too much setup to get hardware MPE.
Old 11th April 2018 | Show parent
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by spikysimon View Post
Don't think so. It's also not multitimbral, if that's a requirement.

I have a Micromonsta, not tried it with MPE but it's a great little synth for not much money and you probably wouldn't really lose much if you tried one and didn't end up liking it.
This is pretty much my only option now, I think, since Parva is still too expensive for me. Thanks for chiming in!
Old 11th April 2018 | Show parent
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mekanik Zain View Post
Modal 002 support MPE ...

MPE – supports MPE-compatible MIDI instruments, allowing you to apply polyphonic control and expression to individual notes.
Thanks! Yes, I realize that I missed accounting for Model 002 and Modor NF1(-m).
Old 11th April 2018 | Show parent
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by wagoo View Post
This poll is missing a lot of options. I bought a RISE 49 this week and when it arrives I'm planning to use it with Parva/Deckard's Dream/Modal 002R primarily. But also things like Arturia Origin as a 4 voice should be possible (as that's 4 voice multi-timbral)
This is true indeed. I captured only those options that I had researched on and possibly within my budget. Capturing all instruments which have/support MPE behavior is a nice exercise overall. I think between Roger Linn's website and Roli website, a good number of them are documented.
Old 11th April 2018
  #19
Lives for gear
 
string6theory's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Lynnstrument is MPE compatible and this is from the Roger Lynn site:

LS Recommended Sounds

Hardware synthesizers compatible with MPE

Deckard's Dream

Endorphin.es: Shuttle Control USB MIDI to CV Converter

Expert Sleepers FH-1 (MIDI/USB to Control Voltage interface)

Kurzweil V.A.S.T. Synthesizers

Futuresonus: Parva

Roland JV-1080,
JV-80 (keyboard),
JD-800 (keyboard),
JD-990 (rack module),
XP-50

Vermona: PerFOURmer

Audiothingies: MicroMonsta


He mentions the following re MPE;

MPE-compatible sounds

This means that each voice receives from a separate MIDI channel, permitting polyphonic pitch bends and Y-axis control when LinnStrument's Channel Per Note (MPE) mode is used. These are listed under the "Mac/Win MPE", "iOS MPE" and "Hardware MPE" tabs below.

However, it is important to note that because of LinnStrument's smart one-channel MIDI handling and ability to send polyphonic pressure messages, the primary advantage of MPE is to perform polyphonic pitch bends and Y-axis gestures, which aren't so important in most playing styles.

Also, note that any multi-timbral synth (a synth that permits each incoming MIDI channel to act as an independent synth with a different sound) can act as an MPE controller. To do this, merely set all of its per-channel synths to the same sound. The disadvantage is that adjusting a synth parameter (filter frequency, for example) requires making the same adjustment on each of the per-channel synths.

——————-

Roli has their own MPE compatible synth list here;

Compatible synths, DAWs and instruments : ROLI Support

Hardware synthesizers compatible with MPE

Audiothingies MicroMonsta

Axoloti

Deckard's Dream

Endorphin.es Shuttle Control

Expert Sleepers FH-1

RISE/GRAND

BLOCKS

Futuresonus Parva: RISE/GRAND

MOD Duo

Modal Electronics 001 / 002 / 002R

Modor NF-1 / NF-1m: RISE/GRAND

Polyend Poly

Snyderphonics MantaMate


——————-


There’s also the (MPE compatible) Keith McMillen Instruments K-Board 4 Pro as a potential alternative to the Roli... the USB support is beneficial.

https://www.keithmcmillen.com/products/k-board-pro-4/

K-Board Pro 4 is a four-octave MIDI keyboard controller with multiple dimensions of touch sensitivity in each key. K-Board Pro 4 is MPE compatible, sending attack velocity, release velocity, continuous pressure, horizontal position, and vertical position data to offer the deepest level of expressive playing.

Under each key of K-Board Pro 4 is KMI’s patented Smart Sensor Fabric technology that is at the core of all our MIDI control surfaces. Resilient silicone keys and no moving parts ensure our trademark durability.

K-Board Pro 4 is USB powered and class compliant to ensure both portability and compatibility with MacOS, Windows, iOS, Android, as well as MIDI capable hardware.



Old 11th April 2018
  #20
Gear Guru
 
EvilDragon's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Any old synth with MIDI Guitar mode will also work. i.e. Matrix 1000/6, MKS-70, etc.
Old 11th April 2018
  #21
Lives for gear
 
wagoo's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Pretty sure Modal 008 should support it too.
Old 11th April 2018 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by shankzz View Post
This is very helpful, thanks! I am coming to the realization that Roli is perhaps best suited only for softsynths. Thankfully, I still have some time on the return period, since I only bought it recently. Maybe I should consider other options like a Linnstrument, although even the small version of that itself will eat up most of my current budget :O
The Linnstrument might be better, but I can tell from demos that it’s not for me. Small pads and different layout seem to be cumbersome to a lot of users and it’s very hard to find demos of it being played well. I took to the Rise nearly instantly.

The Rise isn’t impossible to use well with hardware instruments. You just have to think ahead when making a patch. If you want to control something like filter cutoff you have to become the envelope generator, or assign it to glide instead of pressure. Frankly, I’d forget looking for an MPE instrument (though you can’t go wrong with the Micromonsta) and get Falcon and embrace using software.
Old 12th April 2018 | Show parent
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by string6theory View Post
There’s also the (MPE compatible) Keith McMillen Instruments K-Board 4 Pro as a potential alternative to the Roli... the USB support is beneficial.

K-Board Pro 4 | Keith McMillen Instruments

Didn't know about the K-Board 4 pro. Sure looks very interesting. Would like to see once it is out in the wild
Old 12th April 2018 | Show parent
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
The Linnstrument might be better, but I can tell from demos that it’s not for me. Small pads and different layout seem to be cumbersome to a lot of users and it’s very hard to find demos of it being played well. I took to the Rise nearly instantly.

The Rise isn’t impossible to use well with hardware instruments. You just have to think ahead when making a patch. If you want to control something like filter cutoff you have to become the envelope generator, or assign it to glide instead of pressure. Frankly, I’d forget looking for an MPE instrument (though you can’t go wrong with the Micromonsta) and get Falcon and embrace using software.
Great points, once again . At least I had the opportunity to try Roli before buying. With Linnstrument, I can only buy and return.

My options seem to be: a) Micromonsta b) Some multitimbral synth which I prep to create a path or c) Softsynth like Falcon or Equator itself.

The main reason I want to go 'DAWless' is that I am a Software professional looking at screens for the best (and not so best) part of my day. So, I just don't feel like being tied to a screen for this hobby as well, at least when I am casually jamming or ideating.

Lots to think
Old 12th April 2018 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
Here’s the thing. Even if you get an instrument that’ll give you multitimbral functionality, unless you have a way to put a threshold on aftertouch, you’ll have a problem. On a Roli, there is no aftertouch. It’s alwaystouch. So, if you want to apply some vibrato to a pad, prepare to have that vibrato always on to some degree. If you want to control your filter cutoff, you will be sad that the initial strike of the key is sh!tting all over your envelope that’s also controlling it. I’ve sent multiple requests for this to be something that can be at least set up in the control app, but all I get is, “I’ll pass the idea along.” So... nothing. This not only makes the Rolis difficult to use with hardware, it’s difficult to use with most software, even MPE compatable software.
This just strikes me as the wrong -- er, not the most productive -- way to approach an MPE controller. I would say: if you want to apply some vibrato to a pad, wiggle your finger(s). If you want to control filter cutoff, apply pressure directly to filter cutoff, or maybe to a filter envelope with short attack & 100% sustain; when you want the filter open wider, press harder. Don't use velocity for anything but attack transients.

I play LinnStrument; that, and my previous experience with wind controllers, made it very evident to me that most synths are designed with standard keyboards in mind, even though there's nothing inherently keyboardish about synthesis. This struck me even with Equator: it has fantastic modulation capabilities for MPE signals with up to 4 custom curves per dimension per patch, but the vast majority of patches seem oriented to keyboard players who want to bend the occasional note and apply poly aftertouch to fiddle with the tone a bit. So far, Bazille (which I've had for a lot longer than Equator) is my main go-to softsynth, and my spider sense hasn't tingled enough for any of the hard synths folks have mentioned to take the plunge.
Old 12th April 2018
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
There would be a lot more synths with MPE if they would just release the official real deal MPE specs already!
Old 12th April 2018 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmadbrain View Post
There would be a lot more synths with MPE if they would just release the official real deal MPE specs already!
That recently happened:

MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) Specification Adopted! -
Quote:
MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) Adopts New MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) Enhancement to the MIDI Specification


Los Angeles, CA, January 28, 2018− Today marks the MIDI Manufacturers Association's (MMA) ratification of a new extension to MIDI, MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression). MPE enables electronic instruments such as synthesizers to provide a level of expressiveness typically possible only with acoustic instruments.
Old 12th April 2018 | Show parent
  #28
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TOYZ View Post
Yeah. But notice they don't actually have any of the specs in there. It's been saying ""The full MPE MIDI specification will be available soon for download in the Specs section of the site. "" for a while now (over a month I think?), and we still haven't got them.
Old 12th April 2018 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmadbrain View Post
Yeah. But notice they don't actually have any of the specs in there. It's been saying ""The full MPE MIDI specification will be available soon for download in the Specs section of the site. "" for a while now (over a month I think?), and we still haven't got them.
Hadn't noticed that, but I get the impression that they simply adopted the existing specs as-is:

MPE : proposed specification - Google Docs

But yes, it would be good if they made it official by publishing it on their own website.
Old 12th April 2018
  #30
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Incidentally, in principle any sufficiently multi-timbral (hardware or software) synth can be used with an MPE controller. It's just that you need to do some of the legwork of setting up the various MIDI channels and settings yourself.

For instance, my Fantom X7 and XV-5080 are both 16 parts multi-timbral. I haven't gotten around to trying my Rise 49 with either of them (in fact I haven't even touched my Rise or any other keyboards for weeks now) but it should definitely work just fine.

I even think it should be quite possible to write a bit of software that automatically configures a multi-timbral synth such as those mentioned to interact seamlessly with an MPE controller. When I get more time I'll probably give that a go.

Some of the things such a utility would have to do would be to automatically send program changes to the channels M+1 to M+N (M being the MPE 'master channel', N being the number of channels being used) if you change the patch for the master channel M.

If you make the software aware of the synth it's controlling, it could also replicate any changes you make to the patch on the master channel to the other channels. I know that would be possible with the Fantom X7 and the XV-5080 at least.

You could also do this with something like a Raspberry Pi. Perhaps a company like Kensington could even produce a small MIDI processor that does this. Or perhaps Roli could (should?) commission such a device, or embed such functionality in the firmware.

Not holding my breath for that to happen so as soon as I get the time I will write it myself.
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