MPE/touch controller options?

Aaaaahhh when did it arrive? I suspect I’m still way behind in the order queue, since I haven’t received any shipping confirmation

I’ve just noticed this thread today and am trying to catch up. I hope my comments aren’t coming too late to be useful…

I have a love/hate relationship with USB-MIDI, but I still think it’s better than HID for what you’re doing.

In terms of classic MIDI, doubled MSB/LSB CC messages only take 32 bits per event if using Running Status. In today’s processors and communications channels, 32 bits per message is a cinch.

In terms of USB-MIDI, every message is 32 bits anyway, and Running Status is not really part of the picture. In that case, you have 64 bits per message when using 14-bit controls. Here, USB-MIDI has plenty of bandwidth to handle multiple messages per USB frame.

If you go with HID, you’ll be chained to an app on your laptop translating to MIDI in order to access anything standard.


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The Bela looks interesting, but it does require the Beagle as well, which could be massive overkill for some projects.

I designed the Builder Brain for Livid Instruments, and it is a self-contained board rather than a Cape or Shield. It has 64 analog inputs in addition to binary I/O for buttons and LED outputs. The original Builder Brain has both classic MIDI I/O ports and USB-MIDI. The newer Brain Jr. strips that down to just USB-MIDI and only 16 analog inputs, while the expanded Brain V2 adds a breakout board that might facilitate wiring (although you could just remove that and use the core Brain for many projects if size is a concern).

I think the Livid Instruments Builder Brain is about the same price as Arduino, but more closely tailored to MIDI controllers. It’s probably cheaper than Arduino if you factor in the cost of MIDI hardware. You’re not forced to learn firmware development skills because there is a computer-based configuration app that can configure the Brain according to your wiring and generate the MIDI messages that you need. Just tell it that you’re using all of the 64 analog inputs and assign them to controls. Once saved in Flash, the Brain powers up with your settings. Hardcore developers can write their own PIC firmware to access the hardware directly.



You’re right, I should experiment with a Livid Brain.

I wonder if it could be made to output CV/Gate in addition to MIDI…?

It could be done because the pins that would be used for buttons and LEDs are accessible on headers that have no pre-defined wiring. You would need to add a DAC and then you’d be in territory where you have to write firmware, but PIC development is fairly easy, and Microchip gives examples with USB support. To be clear, though, you couldn’t configure CV/Gate output from the standard firmware or Livid’s configuration app.

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That’s probably the case, unfortunately. Queue order is, shall we say, non-sequential?

Half of their overlays are delayed, and they decided to prioritize the orders they can complete in one go (the ones which didn’t include those designs) rather than double the shipping hassle and opportunities for human error.

I don’t remember offhand which designs those were, but it’s statistically likely that you had an unlucky draw.

Really compelling demo.

Random side note, the Sensel App that updates firmware, configures overlays, and serves as a visualizer is built in the Unity game engine.

It’s sort of insane that there isn’t a native Unity plugin in their API distribution, given that this is probably the most thoroughly tested implementation they have.

Adding to this thread that the new Dashboard for Roli blocks makes it finally feel like what it should have been 6 months ago.

a wide range of applications and the ability to code your own applications in [littlefoot]

One issue is its cumbersome to swap applications on the fly, but if you can leverage the MPE capabilities better within DAWs etc. that makes it more interesting to people who might have a purpose for it outside the Noise app infrastructure.


Unrelated to Blocks, if anyone’s interested in beta testing v2 of Aftertouch, PM me your email address. I should be sending out a new build within the next few days.

I’ll admit my roli block has been gathering dust for several months after getting tired of bugs, sluggish response, and constantly finding the battery drained even if it was turned “off”.

I guess it’s time to load the latest firmware and see to what extent things have improved.

I contacted Roli about this as I had the same thing, AND it wouldn’t update.

They got me to update the firmware twice in succession* to get it to the latest firmware and said the early firmware was really bad for draining the battery, I’ve noticed this is much better now.

Also its never really off, just on standby. which is annoying, but was decided to keep it like that for people to use at a moments notice.

  • I had to update twice via NOISE app as via dashboard didnt work, so update once, then hit update again and it will take you to the next firmware.

FWIW I’ve had decent luck with the Roli block so far as an XYZ controller. Felt like I was getting occasional weird held notes/latency with Dashboard, but wrote a super simple Max patch with the .blocks externals to grab MIDI CC out of it and had much better response. still trying to parse out multi touch - curious if anyone else has success stories with the block beyond the (not super inspiring in my mind) noise app?

Here’s a first test of using it to control an instance of Kaivo and Aalto -


The missing link?

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And a new one… Oh, mini mini arrived to Seaboard.

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Much desire.

Side note, the separate “Touch Block” represents all the sensitivity controls that RISE has and this omits. It never felt particularly important on the “Lightpad Block”, but I think that module just went from useless to indispensable.

Snap, I was excited for a second and was looking at the webpage as I understood you to mean that they had a similar “5d” responsive thing that WASN’T shaped like a keyboard!

Alas the “Touch Block” is just a little thing of buttons.

Speaking of, does anyone have any of the little “Blocks”? If so, what is the latency like? Are you bound to the controls or can you access them as whatever in Max (and control the LEDs)?

I’ve wanted a small “remote control” type thing for a while, but hadn’t found a good solution to that problem yet.

There’s a good thread over here: Roli Blocks

The Blocks started off with a lot of issues, but are now excellent in my opinion. Blocks Dashboard allows you to save and load programs for the individual Blocks, which can be reprogrammed with code. The Max Blocks package (free in the package manager) does exactly what you want. You can reprogram each Block (not just the Lightpad), so you can upload a custom interface for the Lightpad or change the color/function of each button on the button Blocks.

Latency over Bluetooth is pretty noticeable. The connection to Max requires the use of the USB cable. Latency with the USB cable isn’t noticeable.


The Lightpad Block is their “5D” responsive thing that’s not shaped like a keyboard.

(I still need to update mine and reevaluate; first impressions at launch were not good.)

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That’s a buzzkill there. Will look through the thread though. Thanks for pointing to it.

Yeah I guess that’s true, though from the vids (and accounts) it’s not too exciting.