Now it’s debatable if we can even call the Roli Seaboard Rise a keyboard, as it’s actually more of a control surface. This is the 49 note version, but it’s also available in a much smaller 25 note model, and although the“keys” are laid out like a conventional keyboard, they’re made from soft silicon so feel nothing like the plastic keys that you’re probably used to.
Unlike a standard velocity sensitive keyboard, or even a keyboard with an aftertouch function, the keys on the Seaboard Rise actually offer 5 different dimensions of touch response, so for example you can glide between notes, slide your finger up and down the keys to control note parameters and you can also shape a sound depending on how much pressure is applied or how you lift off of the key. It takes a bit of getting used to, but all of this really opens up expressive and tonal possibilities like you’ve never played before.
When compared to other MIDI controllers, the other features are equally as unconventional, but at the same time, still pretty intuitive and usable. There none of the control knobs, sliders or wheels that you’d expect to find on a MIDI keyboard, instead there’s just an assignable XY touchpad, octave shift buttons and 3 faders which allow to adjust the touch, glide and slide sensitivity of the keys in realtime. With these faders set to minimum, the keys respond like a standard keyboard with just velocity sensitivity active, but maximise them and you have a totally expressive playing surface like no other keyboard on the market.
Compact and lightweight, especially if you go for the 25 note model, the Seaboard Rise controllers have an internal battery which is charged via a USB A port, and this gives you up to 8 hours playing time, there’s an input for an external foot pedal, a USB B port to connect to your computer or other device, and quite impressively, they Roli is the only keyboard on our list which offers full MIDI compatibility over bluetooth.
Finally, even though the Seaboard Rise has been designed to easily integrate with software such as Ableton Live, Logic Pro and Native Instruments Kontact, it also comes bundled with a load of dedicated software, including ROLIs Equator, a really powerful synth sound engine which really allows you to get the most out the Seaboards multi dimensional control surface.