The LUMI Keys Studio Edition adds per-key pitch bend and polyphonic aftertouch to their light-up keyboard controller designed to help you learn to play through colour.
LUMI Keys Studio Edition
LUMI Keys was released last year as a neat and colourful way to encourage people to learn how to play a keyboard. It came with an interactive app and used colour to guide you playing and to show different chords, keys and structures.
The new Studio Edition “brings a touch of Seaboard magic to a traditional keyboard format”. That sounds exciting! ROLI has managed to squeeze all four dimensions of touch for MPE control into the little 2-octave LUMI Keys form factor. These are Strike (attack velocity) Lift (release velocity) Glide (polyphonic pitch-bend) and Press (polyphonic aftertouch).
The pitch bend isn’t achieved quite like it is on the Seaboard controllers with its spongy, expressive surface for dragging your fingers, this is more like a vibrato wobble that you can perform on each key, which is really all you need in most situations. The rest is built into your playing action on those keys. In fact, if I understand this right, this isn’t a change to the hardware, this functionality has been hidden in the LUMI Keys all along and with a firmware update they will all become MPE controllers. That’s very cool.
This video is very helpful in grasping what it’s all about:
ROLI believe this to be the first 4D keyboard although I’m not sure what you’d call the Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4 or the Expressive E Osmosis but you have to assume they know what they are talking about.
The Studio Editon comes with ROLI Studio which is a software bundle which includes a small selection of sounds from the new Equator 2, Cypher 2 and Strobe 2 which can be expanded. The light-assisted playing could be useful in all sorts of ways – it certainly looks fabulous in the video.
The keys are sized somewhere between full-size and minikeys and you can connect more than one together to extend the range. This is like the Seaboard Block and they do the same annoying but necessary thing of leaving off the top C key so that two or more can sit side by side seamlessly. I do miss that top C though.
LUMI Keys Studio Edition is available for preorder for an introductory price of £269. The launch bundle includes ROLI Studio, a LUMI Snapcase, three additional ROLI soundpacks, and a $50 voucher which can be used in the ROLI store for more sounds or software. Existing owners should be able to access the new firmware in January when the Studio Edition ships.