Cattle // Seaboard Rise & Equator

Hello, just joined this forum after pre-ordering the Osmose, being excited for that has had me play with the Seaboard and its included software more than usual. Here’s a little track I just made with it. I do really like the interface of Equator it’s so simple but produces these really acoustic patches when played with the Rise. I’ll keep the Rise as the Osmose wouldn’t allow the playing style I’m messing with here (sliding about the place). Though I bet the ContinuuMini is great for this stuff.

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Nice, very athmospheric!
Yepp, Equator is great! Pitty that they discontinued the Seaboards with Equator built in, besides the EaganMatrix-driven instruments this was imho one of the most interesting self-contained approaches. To their credit: They actually built and tried to sell it. Roli is probably one of the few companies that actually have to/can make a living from selling these instruments. Probably still highly “enthusiasm-driven”.
Good that (making the maximal amount of) money isn’t the only thing driving people, so good that these instruments (and the people making them) exist!

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Indeed! I’ve been impressed at how Roli are building a business and whole range of products out of the tech they developed. The fact they’ve been so slick and nailed the software side is quite an achievement too.

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Roli are a terrible example of sustainable MPE controller business. They have burnt through insane amounts of VC money and are probably reliant on the possible future success of their Lumi (& subscriptions to the related service) in order to survive. Some investors have already written off a chunk of their investment and I have stopped looking to Roli to do anything further on the MPE front in future, I think its the end of that era, although their existing lineup could survive for ages.

I would also estimate that initial returns/reliability issues/warranty repairs have seriously eroded profit per unit sold. And reduced goodwill towards their brand, especially for customers in countries such as the USA when they have to return their faulty seaboards to another part of the world.

Anyway I dont mean to be negative, I have various roli devices that I like, but I cannot call them a success or a good example of a business doing it for the love of the product - they went down the route of being like a tech startup from the start, with all the ludicrous amounts of money that have little relationship to reality. Its a world of TED talks that I dont think the actual market for expressive controllers can even begin to sustain.

Yeah, well I got no idea about that stuff haha, on the surface it looks like they’re doing well.

I’m only confident about the poor state of their finances because of a recent article, although I long suspected that things were not going well. https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-sunday-telegraph-money-business/20191117/281496458115498

Anyway I’d rather talk about actually using their devices and I appreciate your demo! I’m sory I even went on about the business angle in your thread, only chimed in because the conversation already went in that direction a bit.

Whatever happens, I’ll always be grateful that they helped get MPE going in the first place.

If the opinion that Roli now has to be written off spreads in the internet forums, then there is a realistic chance that it becomes self-fulfilling, effectively reverting cause and effect…
Would imho be a pity because Roli is still one of the biggest drivers behind specifically MPE and electronic polyphonic expression instruments in general. Without them it might become much harder again to convince synth devs to cope with anything that is not a usual keyboard - as Roli is still the most likely candidate to bring MPE-enabled instruments to the people in viable numbers.
I can still remember how hard it was to convince synth devs in the early days of Eigenharps.
Thus I think it might be better to give them the benefit of the doubt and just see how things develop before actively writing them off.

Sure, I understand that stance, and I am not going to make large numbers of posts here about the state of Roli. I’ve not entirely written them off as a company, but if they succeed it will be because of their new Lumi strategy. Its true that they no longer hold the status of ‘company most likely to bring out an interesting new MPE controller’ in my mind, thats the bit I’ve written them off of already. And I could always be wrong about that. But that stuff clearly didnt even begin to match the business plan they sold their investors on, so now they have changed direction. So I’m not going to shy away from the idea that in terms of driving forces of MPE, I’m looking to the Osmose rather than Roli products now.

As for convincing others to support MPE, thats one of the reasons I said I would always be grateful to Roli. But again, in my mind we are entering a different phase now. Still too early to make any really grand claims about this, but certainly in certain areas of soft synth we see that competition between instruments that occupy certain segments of the market may be starting to yield results in terms of them all ending up supporting MPE because a close competitor does. When I say this, its because Serum got MPE and now Icarus 2 and Pigments 2 have MPE. I think we might see more of this in different areas in future, and although the weight of existing Roli MPE owners helped get to this point, I dont see a bright future for Roli as essential to further MPE momentum.

Hopefully MPE-momentum is big enough already. Think to remember there were about 2000 Linnstruments out in the wild now recently. Which is impressive. But even if 1% of all Linnstrument owners buy a synth then this would still only be 20 new customers. Or hopefully the synth dev is one of the 2000 - then he hopefully adds MPE out of interest, not market considerations.
I have honestly no clue how many Seaboards were sold. Perhaps it’s just my assumption that they sell those in considerable numbers…

Edit: Hm, hard to find numbers. Only number I found is that they seem to make 18.8m revenue per year. And that Seaboard block and RISE seem to sell much better than the original Seaboards (https://roli.com/stories/2018-grand-ending). Which could also mean that the original ones didn’t sell particularly well…
Not sure how Roli makes their revenue. If at least half of that money comes from selling Seaboards then they probably sell more Searboards per year than the sum of all other poly-expressive instruments that were ever produced. But it’s really just guessing, not knowing…

But right, times can change and new impulses could come up. Osmose looks like a promising candidate to gain bigger attention! Fingers crossed!

Nice video and sounds.
I really enjoy equator with the Linnstrument. Not only sounds good but it is a really good aid when visualizing pressure, timbre and so on.

I am not so inclined to sampled instruments (those that “imitate” real sounds) and yet there a couple of presets I’m wild about: basses, flutes, guitars… however I haven’t been lucky creating my own patches.

I don’t think is Equator’s fault, rather mine, I just connect easier with other synths (think Aalto, now Pigments?)

Sorry I have not much to say about money and business. I hope it goes well for MPE. Maybe one day we’ll see it in MIDI 2?

Yeah, some really nice stuff! Am honestly not too much into sound design myself… But e.g. Christophe has created some really great presets for that which I often come back to.
What I like about many of the Equator factory presets is that they are not so much over the top “for show” but really playable.

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Yeah I think Equator has just such a simple interface it’s pretty easy to dial in your own patches.