k, so been playing with it pretty much solidly for nearly 4 hours
my first impressions is… its a really good job by embodme!
its a really nice form factor, is a really nice size - and its pretty much all playing surface, and its still pretty sleek (about 1cm?) … also came with a nice protective case
(I don’t remember them saying a case would come with its so that was a nice surprise)
it feels nicely responsive, id describe it as a light/medium touch… its not the lightest, but its also not a heavy touch either… you can definitely lean into it.
the surface is nice to touch and play, sliding is easy , you do feel it move (so no ‘carpeting’)
the leds are nice and clear (not quite as bright as I expected, but bright enough… and perhaps brighter would have made distracting?)
there are some really nice animations on touch as well.
so the feel and touch is excellent…which is important, that’s the bread n’ butter, and it does it well!
now the USP, what makes this different from many other surfaces…
so this is not just a fixed grid, the idea is we can use keyboard layouts, grid layouts, configure sliders, buttons etc… and because of the leds we can see how its setup.
Now we don’t yet have the Erae Labs to make our own layouts - but they have provided some good examples, so we can see what’s roughly possible.
this looks to have been done really well, generally the controls are nicely sized… and it appears you can pretty much combine anything you want.
I think I’ll mainly use the grid layouts but piano looks useful - the only thing is the spacing is a bit wide, its 4 leds wide, and Id prefer it to be 3… this would be closer to a traditional keyboard - perhaps this is possible with Erae Lab?
Im not sure how I plan to use other layouts, however, the ease to do it, is making it look tempting.
the sequencers and midi fx are similar, I didn’t think Id use them at all, but again, they are so easy to get to, perhaps I may use them after all!
the other aspect is scale selection, this is nice and prominently place, and when you have multiple elements on the surface (e.g. 2 keyboards) , each can be modified separately
also these changes are made per layout.
however, they do not appear to be saved if you power cycle - I suspect they revert to settings made in Erae Lab?
there are also some tantalising teasers too e.g. one of the layouts has a button, that appears to switch layouts… so that could be really useful.
early days, I guess Ive a couple of hopes for changes:
- narrower keyboard
… the grid already appears to do this in some layouts,
- change midi channel,
you can see a layouts midi channel but it would be nice to change on the device
(perhaps other things like mappings/mpe mode… but midi channel is my main wish )
- latch ALT key
when you change layout it resets, this is kind of odd when all the MPE modes are on alt layouts, so you might want to stay there… that said, when we have ERAE Lab we will be able to move things about a bit.
but these are all pretty minor, and given this is first release of the firmware, its been done so well.
anyway, first few hours have definitely been very pleasurable… and looking forward to playing with it more, and customising it when ERAE Lab is available (next week, I think is the hope!)
things Ive not tried yet:
- Ableton launchpad modes - not sure how this will work, control script? or template for all the mapping?
- ERAE Lab - is not out, given what we already can see is pretty exciting
- API mode - I’m looking forward to seeing this!
- MIDI din - I used it with USB, but would like to test this
something not implemented or manual is wrong?
- I cannot activate sleep mode as described (it does to a zoom layout mode instead)
- I cannot activate calibration (+/-/Home )
- factory layouts are different from manual
CH chromatic mode.
CH chromatic led/button confused me a lot initially, as sometimes it acts as a button, sometimes it does not.
- on keyboard elements, you select a scale, include CH (chromatic), this then displays on the keyboard (neat!)
- on grid elements, the CH is just an indicator… you press the other scales buttons.
e.g if you have minor selected, and CH is OFF, this means its hiding notes not in the scale, press MI again, and CH will light (!)
I get the difference, erae does not hide keyboard keys, but I still think it would have been more consistent in grid elements to press CH to hide/show notes in scale.
(even if it didn’t change the word to chromatic, which is understandable)