Seaboard RISE 2
By replacing traditional keys with a continuous silicone surface, the Seaboard gives musicians the ability to shape digital sounds through 5 dimensions of touch, providing access to unparalleled expression using intuitive gestures. Six years after the Seaboard RISE helped introduce the musical world to MIDI Polyphonic Expression, RISE 2 fully realizes the dream of seamless MPE creation. Carrying forward the strongest design elements of its predecessors, featuring a surface that’s easier to play than any previous expressive controller, and backed by Equator2, the world’s leading MPE software synthesizer, RISE 2 is a new pinnacle of electronic musical expression.
The Seaboard was a groundbreaking design that, through its roots in the form factor of a traditional piano-keyboard, provided musicians with intuitive access to the enhanced expression made possible by MPE technology. Not only did it help advance the MPE specification and catalyze a wave of industry innovation, but it made exploring the possibilities afforded by this new technology as instinctual as performing on an acoustic instrument. However, a unique challenge of designing MPE instruments is giving creators access to both expression and precision in equal measure. When originally bringing continuous expression to the Seaboard, we gave the playing surface a curved, sine wave-like structure. Our past experience and research suggested, though, that auditory and visual perception is not fast or accurate enough to track the finger-by-finger micro adjustments that are necessary to play a continuous pitch instrument like the Seaboard in tune across multiple voices. Not only could one’s fingers slip off the keys, one couldn’t easily perceive exactly where on the key one’s finger was touching. A muscle memory trigger was necessary to make the required micro-corrections in real time that enable mastery of an instrument. In designing a solution, we looked to other instruments with extensive gestural control, especially string instruments where continuous pitch playing creates depth of expression, but also presents challenges to playing in tune. The result was our newly re-engineered surface, Keywave2. It features precision frets, small embossed lines of silicone down the center of each key. Like a guitar’s fretboard, they serve as a motor-sensory guide while playing. We also broadened the surface of each keywave and articulated the shoulders to further improve finger register. They were subtle design changes, but revelatory in practice, creating what is by far the easiest to play interface we've ever made. The result is that it opens up the Seaboard and MPE creation to a much larger potential audience of musicians. As well as these hardware innovations, Seaboard RISE 2 also comes bundled with Equator2, the world’s leading MPE synth. Although it was released prior to Seaboard RISE 2 in 2021, Equator2 was built and designed from the ground up by the ROLI team as the essential sound engine for the latest generation of the Seaboard. This hybrid soft synth has already achieved critical-acclaim as a standalone product — but when paired with RISE 2, its innovative sound design tools and library of finely-tuned presets finally reach their full potential.