ROLI's Beatmaker and Songmaker Kits let you create music anywhere, anytime - Tech Reviews - Mixmag
Tech Reviews

ROLI's Beatmaker and Songmaker Kits let you create music anywhere, anytime

Perfect for those looking for the freedom to create

  • In association with ROLI
  • 18 October 2018

ROLI has been making waves in the MIDI controller space since the release of its uniquely tactile Seaboard keyboard interface in 2015, and now counts artists as varied as Stevie Wonder, Hans Zimmer and Grimes among its many fans.

The London-based company has now bundled its BLOCKS series with a suite of powerful production software in its new Beatmaker and Songmaker Kits.

Combining ultra-portable hardware with ROLI’s custom-built software synths and Ableton Live Lite, the kits contain everything you need to get started producing your own tracks on the go.

The kits start shipping on 18 October.

ROLI bills the Songmaker Kit (£549) as a “complete studio experience”, ideal for producers seeking a compact music-making setup that doesn’t sacrifice control over their sound. It contains the 24-key Seaboard Block, a portable version of ROLI’s award-winning Seaboard Grand.

Offering all the functionality of a traditional MIDI keyboard, the Seaboard’s touch-sensitive interface also allows a level of expression in pitch-bending and sliding usually limited to stringed instruments. It looks excellent too.

The bundle also includes the Lightpad Block, an innovative control surface that is operated using similar gestures to the Seaboard. Its eye-catching touch-sensitive LED display can be used to trigger samples and play drum parts, or as an extension to the Seaboard to control effect parameters.

Also included is the Loop Block, which enables users to record loops, quantise them and play them back to build tracks quickly.

The three modular units fit neatly together in a carrying case and connect wirelessly, making them ideal for hassle-free music-making on the go.

Bundled with the controllers is Equator, a sound engine custom-built by ROLI to make the most of the Seaboard controller, and Strobe2, a software polysynth offering hundreds of customisable sounds.

The package includes two DAWs - Tracktion Waveform 8 and Ableton Live Lite - enabling you to arrange your loops and sounds into full tracks on your computer.

If you need a rig that’s powerful enough to create fully-realised instrumental tracks but small enough to fit in your backpack, the Songmaker Kit is well worth a look. Coming in at comfortably less than £600, it’s also a great introduction to the full ROLI range that doesn’t break the bank.

The stripped-back Beatmaker Kit (£249) is aimed at producers on a tighter budget and those new to the world of hardware peripherals who want to learn how to get started making their own beats.

It contains the Lightpad and Loop Blocks (but not the Seaboard Block) and a six-month subscription to Melodics, an app that teaches the fundamentals of finger drumming and operating pad controllers through fun interactive lessons.

The Beatmaker Kit includes three software synths that can be operated with the Lightpad Block - Equator, Strobe2 and Cypher2. Together, they offer thousands of preset sounds and the ability to create even more custom ones. Like the Songmaker Kit, Ableton Live Lite is included for arranging tracks.

It’s a more basic experience than the Songmaker Kit, but enough to get started exploring the sonic possibilities of the Lightpad.

Both the Songmaker and Beatmaker Kits have full functionality with ROLI’s iOS app Noise, so you don’t even need your laptop to create big-sounding tunes - just open your iPhone and go.

The Seaboard Grand established ROLI as a major player in the world of high-end MIDI controllers. Its new kits shrink that hardware down to a more convenient size for gigging musicians without sacrificing the functionality that made ROLI a favourite among performers in the first place.

Visit the ROLI website here

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