Roli Blocks

Anyone doing it? I recently acquired a Squarp Hermod module and plugged my Seaboard Block into it. Wonderful things followed, especially with the slide and aftertouch set as separate CV modulations.

Just getting started. Linnstrument + Percussa SSP for me. Need more time…

I’ve been thinking about trying some of these for a while, specifically for use in my augmented snare setup so I finally bit the bullet and scored a used current gen Lightblock and a “Loop” control block.

I don’t think I’d use both as it’s overkill for the amount of space I have, so I want to prototype some interfaces to see what makes the most sense for mounting on the snare.

They haven’t arrived yet, so I’m still just coding-in-the-dark, but thankfully the Max package for it seems pretty robust.

Is anyone using these (with Max) to make some interesting interfaces?

The Lightblock in particular seems to have some…um, pretty gauche implementations, even though it looks like it could be quite powerful.

One thing that does kind of confuse me is the controls blocks (specifically via blocks.multictrl) doesn’t expose decoupled LED feedback. You seem to only be able to set on/off/press colors, and set a “toggle mode”, where the LEDs are momentary or toggling. That seems mind-blowing that that would be a limitation…

Is there a way around this?

Also, in thinking of a more norns-y future, does anyone know if it’s possible to control the LEDs (or other features) via vanilla MIDI and/or sysex? There’s an SDK for the Blocks, but I’m not great at reading C++.

Hey, I have a couple of the first generation Lightpad Blocks and really liked them. It’s like a touchscreen interface that also allows me tactile feedback of a button (meaning I can rest my finger on a button and push when I’m ready rather than the standard touch screen teacup fingers).

They have a pretty robust JUCE API for it but don’t give too much support. Unfortunately they did not expose MIDI feedback last I checked (I had sent them an email about this) BUT the Max integration allows you to do that very easily. In fact, it is quite powerful and customizable if you are a Max person but that means having it connected to a laptop. I’m assuming the Max externals also allow you to get the high resolution that the device puts out whereas the MIDI resolution for CC control can be quite tough to work with on such an expressive interface.

Just watch the battery life on them. They will discharge slowly while not in use so make sure to get them a fresh charge before any shows.

Thanks for the info.

I’m very comfortable with Max, so working in there is ideal for what I’m after (though norns-ing is a different question).

As I said, mine haven’t arrived yet so it’s possible this is a non-issue and it is possible to control it in a manner like I’m intending (and unlike how the blocks.multictrl UI works), but the Max external doesn’t appear to let you set LEDs independently of the output. Again, this is for the control blocks, not the light block. The light blocks appear to have more robust options available.

It also occurred to me that it would be possible to have monome-esque (matrix-based) control over the individual LEDs on a light block by using some serialosc->jitter matrix stuff (the BEAP package has some of that). Don’t know if it’s possible to “layer” that with input-based controls, but can still be a more reasonable way of working with the feedback programmatically.

If you don’t mind a slightly related question,
is it possible in some way that the computer (mac os) remembers the block as a MIDI bluetooth device ?
Having to reset it at every startup is really annoying.

So they finally arrived and I have to say I’m pretty unimpressed.

It feels like a slightly better engineered KMI product in that it’s pretty good, but that’s about it. It lacks a clear sense of vision and/or refinement.

I’m baffled by how hard you have to press the buttons on the smaller “control” block, as it makes it borderline useless… not to mention I was really confused when I discovered that the smaller block has no USB-C port, so it functions only wirelessly (or when “docked” to a Lightblock).

The Lightblock, when connected via a cable, isn’t too bad. It’s a large area, the feel isn’t terrible, and offers me more room/control than the Dicers I’m presently using. I’ll see if I can come up with a suitably sturdy 3d printed mount so I can mount it on my snare. I’ll have to come up with something a bit sturdier than what I have no as the Lightblock is fairly heavy (for its size) and bigger than the dicer, so I’d want to make sure it doesn’t wobble too much on the snare.

It’s a shame no one seems to make a compact controller that isn’t dogshit…


Curious, what would you like to see in a compact controller, what features would it have, how much would it cost?

To be honest, pretty low standards here. Something with around 8ish buttons, smaller than a phone (or same size), wired would be great, though I could see bluetooth over midi being good for some people. Price point, in the “cheap controller” category (circa or below $100).

Something like that would be perfect as a simple “remote”-type controller for various projects. As often all I’ll need is a couple buttons to do what I want.

Nice, thanks for the context, when you say buttons, do you mean MPE or just simple buttons, arcade style? something more tactile like buttons/piezo under rubber so you could be a little more rough with it?

I was thinking, in a generic sense, silicone-style rubbery “pads”, not even velocity sensitive. Not personally a big fan of arcade-style buttons (in controllers), but I guess some people really like them.

I’m aiming to make a DIY thing (based on the Bela TRILL stuff) which will be more complex than that (capacitive/pressure sensitive, with decoupled LED feedback etc…).


Kinda makes me think of the guitar wing (I consider it for myself because it’d be tremendously helpful for live use, although I don’t find it especially pretty to look at) But I think the form factor is still too big anyway.

Are people here mostly using Max for configuring their Lightpads from patch to patch?

Been rediscovering mine and now they are part of my base live setup again. I actually like the firmness on the Lightpad as they can work like real buttons (so I can rest my hand on them while performing before pushing) which is what I hate about almost all touch controllers. But it sucks that the LEDs aren’t addressable and configurable via MIDI or some other means. My solution has been to just stick with a basic 4 fader layout with buttons on top and never change it. But feedback would be so nice so I could recall settings.

I made a Lightpad OSC transmitter/receiver a while back with JUCE that allowed me to address the LEDs via OSC but then one of their firmware upgrades broke it and I didn’t bother trying to keep up with the updates. Thinking about diving back into the Blocks SDK to try to figure out a way to address the LEDs from SuperCollider though and maybe just never update the firmware again.

They also make the MINIM, which I was excited about when it wa announced, but when I saw pics and stuff, it’s friggin huge!

Yeah, it’s down to details but I agree the final form factor is kind of only halfway through in the in end. (It’s still a clever controller though)

I made a simple 5x5 pad decoupled two-way MIDI control script for it, which works standalone (works great with norns!). I’m on holiday at the moment so don’t have access to it, but when I get back home in two weeks I’ll tweak it (maybe make it in a few resolutions as well) and upload it.

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ooh, I would love to have that script! perhaps I could do a PR and try adding some sliders as a second page in the same manner.

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That’s a good idea! My script would allow for sliders to be created in Norns (or really anything else that can receive -> process -> send MIDI data) but a specific sliders page wouldn’t be difficult to implement. That said though, the memory on the Lightpad Block is only 8kb, so the scripts can’t get too complex.

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I’m interested in this also.

I bough a light lock cheap on a whim and want to use it for something, no idea what. It’ll be attached to pure data, probably effects based. Any scripts that do two way comms I can learn from I’m keen to pick at.

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if it can create sliders on the fly even better! I would love to be able to store layouts specific to patches.