MPE/touch controller options?

Haven’t installed the new firmware yet but watching the videos today was interseting fun and it looks and sounds very impressive:


The new firmware looks great - I really do need to send mine in to get it upgraded to having a sound engine…

Looks like it could be a nice device, especially given its multi functionality. Ran into it on a finger drumming tutorial. But looks versatile.

it looks versatile in a way, but I’m hesitant. It’s hard to imagine that it has much “give”. Expressiveness can be tough to achieve when you don’t have room to travel. I’m worried it will feel like a Quneo. Would love to be wrong!

My Continuum (according to FedEx) arrives tomorrow! Pretty excited :slight_smile:

I had a brief play with the Sensei Morph thing at NAMM. It’s a cool idea, but I don’t know if I like the feel of the surface they had there. Reminded me a bit of those roll-up membrane keyboards. I don’t know how representative what I tried was of the final product though.


What’s the difference between sensei morph and touché? From the presentation I had the impression they were super similar.

The touché is mechanical in addition to being sensor laden. It’s movement has a fair bit of travel, while also responding to light touches. This should make it possible to be expressive over a very dynamic range.

As a counter-example, there’s not a lot of vertical “play” in the Madrona Soundplane, but that’s still a very expressive instrument. I’m not convinced about the Morph, but would need to try it to be sure.

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Absolutely right. I’m only speculating.

The Linnstrument also has very little vertical play or feedback in the Z axis, but it seems to work out okay. I actually prefer that feel to something like the Seaboard or the KMI devices which are squishy. I think it’s because the squishyness doesn’t quite feel proportional to the sound response you get most of the time. That may be something that could be improved through better patching though.

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Yeah, by all accounts the Linnstrument is extremely expressive. I agree that the response curves for the Seaboard often needed tweaking. I definitely preferred the feel of the Seaboard to the Quneo (which had a tendency to jump from 0 to 127 no matter how you calibrated it).

But when I see the touché videos taken from the side, which really shows the movement that it is capable of, well, the videos make it look very appealing!

Sorry I meant the “Joué” controller! I’m getting lost with all those frenchy names popping everywhere, the e touché is actually way more appealing to me right now, but the sensei morph feels like a cheaper version of joué, or there’s a point I’m missing.

Ah, right. I completely understand your confusion!

Yep right now all I’m understanding is I have to choose between a french ringing name, or a japanese one. That’s a very tough choice!

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Reading some of the beta testers views of the Sensel Morph (for finger drumming) and he suggests that perhaps its not quite “there” yet as an expressive instrument. Shame. It would be kinda neat to print out your own performance templates and have a nice feeling instrument/controller. I wonder if it could be modded to hold MPC after market pads though…

I’m quite impressed with the data that Sensel Morph outputs when there aren’t any overlays in play. Dreaming up new interactions for it is crazy inspiring.

Unfortunately, my C++ is a little rusty, and I haven’t had any success in adapting their API code to a max external yet. Nor to a native Unity3D plugin, which is the other place I want to use it.

What does work, and works well, is forwarding everything from a simple Processing app into max, over OSC. This probably adds latency, and definitely adds overhead. It’s what I would call a crappy workaround.

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As a traditional keyboardist, I love the Seaboard line. Not sure why we’ve come to expect the opposite. It’s a different playing technique, but I know where the notes are. That’s a no brainer for me.

Roli Blocks are, last I checked, useless. The software’s amazing, but the lightpads require way too much pressure. Which is a shame, 'cause I was so predisposed to love this product.

Give that a year or two, though. They mentioned at NAMM that a firmware update might fix the issue somewhat, and that an upcoming hardware refresh will also increase sensitivity. (sadly, they did not mention a trade-in program for first gen hardware when that comes about)

Stay away from MIDI over Bluetooth, by the way. Latency is acceptable for simple note messages, but we’re talking MPE and that’s crazytown. Bottlenecks up the wazoo, so to speak.


BopPad and KBoard…

As ever, KMI has their own ideas about performance use cases, and they’ve shaped the MIDI output accordingly. I usually disagree with those ideas, and their products thus frustrate me.

Within that…

BopPad is very responsive rhythmically, but as a control surface, limited.

  • They track one touch at a time per quadrant. Press a second finger into the same quadrant as an existing touch, and that finger’s ignored. So, four note polyphony, tops.

  • Data provided is note velocity, pressure, and distance from center.

No XY or radial coordinates were ever promised, and when I asked, there were no plans to include them. This could change, given sufficient interest. I’m sure it’s just firmware.

(why care? well, in the top two quadrants, distance from center is enough for an app to identify and respond differently to whichever finger triggered a given note. bottom two quadrants, no chance – your hands just don’t bend that way.)

K-Board… the “MPE for serious keyboardists” philosophy is going to set the movement back a few years.

There’s simply no mechanism to bend from one note to a different note. Pitch bend is, to their mind, about vibrato only.

Keith’s suggested workaround was to increase the range that each key will bend. That’s… horrifying.

It’s a musically limiting solution, because whatever you set it to is still a fixed interval, with no reliable way to stop at a different note along the way.

But more than that, it breaks the “x = pitch” analogy!

(If you bend up an octave without moving your finger off the key, the next pitch up is 11 steps lower. What fresh hell would a glissando sound like?)

That decision… I get why they did it, but I wish they’d instead gone with the standard established by Continuum, Soundplane, Linnstrument, Rise, Blocks, and any number of iPad apps.

I didn’t cancel my order, because I’m arrogantly convinced I can fix it in max. But I have to say, I’m a lot less inclined to put in that effort, with so many options that already work.


thanks @greaterthanzero , some really interesting feedback on these controllers.

I cancelled my K-Board Pro, hours before the deadline, as I wasn’t convinced they were going to get it right but I do hope to be proven wrong.

BUT… I think you are being a bit unfair on pitch needing to be continuous… it doesn’t have to be.
Ive got a Soundplane (continuous X) and an Eigenharp (not continuous) , and in no way would I say the Eigenharp is less ‘expressive’, in fact in many ways its more (its ridiculously sensitive/responsive).
I just view them as completely different instruments, neither is better/worst.
I do prefer the Soundplane for slower/flowing/ambient type pieces, where you can ‘drift’ around, but its no match for the Eigenharp when it comes to faster, pluckier things… in some ways the Eigenharp is better for ‘general’ duties, to replace a keyboard, but with ‘added expression’.

I think/hope the KBoard Pro will be similar in this regard, use it as a conventional keyboard, but add a bit of per note ‘zest’ here and there, some subtly rather than lots of pitch slides :wink:
(my cancellation, was because it seemed to lack the sensitivity that Id want… but hopefully the production models will improve this)


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