KMI K-Board Pro 4

yeah, that’s natural, given the wait involved…

I guess mid-term, I’m really to see if this can nicely slot into the gap between the Seaboard and a traditional keyboard (*) … I think there is gap there, for those wanting something closer to a keyboard than the Roli.

(ok, touchkeys are available but its pretty expensive, even as a DIY solution (*) )

(*) albeit with no action, so I guess we are closer to something like a CME xkey with has limited travel.

(*) appears touchkeys are all out of stock now… so perhaps no longer being made?
pity I really like the idea … but the £780 for 61 keys was way too expensive,
I kept checking back, in the hope that they might come down to something more reasonable!

Raising the black keys makes a huge difference over the original K-Board, and other flattened layouts.

I do like the Seaboard, a lot. My one complaint, such as it is, is that I end up playing wider chords out of tune, thanks to improper technique on my part. Weirdly splayed fingers… But I find it inspiring that that’s even possible (and I desperately want a Continuum now).

I find the smaller version more reliable for those chords, because my hands don’t have to stretch for them. But, I’m one of those weirdos who likes mini keys, so take that with a grain of salt.

Aldo worth mentioning, the feel has improved on those with every iteration, so they’re worth revisiting if you haven’t tried one in a while.

I haven’t had a chance to investigate and follow up, but I wanted to report that the omission of documentation and configuration utilities has at least been addressed now:

Mac OS desktop editor: [https://files.keithmcmillen.com/products/k-board-pro-4/editor/K-Board-Pro-4-Editor-MAC.dmg]

Windows desktop editor: [https://files.keithmcmillen.com/products/k-board-pro-4/editor/K-Board-Pro-4-Editor-WIN.exe]

Web Editor (requires Web MIDI compatible browser): [https://files.keithmcmillen.com/products/k-board-pro-4/editor/]

KBP4 Manual: [https://files.keithmcmillen.com/products/k-board-pro-4/documentation/k-board-pro-4-manual.pdf]

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I got my K this week. I think it does fill a gap between the Roli and say a synth with Poly-after touch. Because of the lack of a continuous surface, there are limitations to the poly pitch bending you can do in comparison to a Roli or Continuum. I see it more suited towards straight ahead keyboard playing styles with enhanced expression than the more experimental paths other MPE controllers offer that are less rigidly 12 tone keyboards. I find I can certainly play complex chordal parts much more easily on the K than my Roli, Linnstrument or Continuum. I found I got used to the rigid motionless surface much faster than I expected, and I haven’t experienced any hand fatigue after long sessions with it. All in all, i think for certain things, the K will bring more expression with higher accuracy into my setup.

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Talked to a KMI rep at Synthplex, gave them my list of annoyances and feature requests. Most of those, they were able to address by pointing to an obscure corner of the editor where the setting in question was hidden. So, I amended my notes to be interface suggestions for the editor… (there’s one drop-down menu in particular which ought to be a checkbox on a different page)

I guess my review at this point boils down to “the initial settings aren’t what I would have chosen, and the editor isn’t terribly intuitive yet, but if you put in the time and effort to configure this, it can be very usable.”

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I am still trying to find time to get into mine… after nearly 3 years of waiting, it arrived just as I was changing jobs, and has sat very patiently while I’ve been trying to find time to get back to music. Frustrating!

I will have my own thoughts at the appropriate time (after I’ve done more with it), but I did want to add a little bit of enlightenment for folks who (a) weren’t in on the Kickstarter and (b) don’t know Keith well enough to have long chats :wink:

Originally, the K-Board Pro 4 was designed on a chassis of square aluminum tubing. That’s why the first production prototypes had handles, and they were offered as an option to Kickstarter backers with no plans to continue with them after the campaign. Originally every KBP4 would have had them, but people asked for a no-handles option and KMI was surprised, upon taking a vote, to learn that this was hands down the polled favorite configuration.

The reason why construction was delayed so long is that the aluminum tubing frame just could not be made to work reliably when built on an assembly line. They lost months and months trying and finally had to give up. As Keith explained it, the degree of rigidity and sensor precision needed to make the KBP4 a truly playable instrument was orders of magnitude harder than that of smaller devices like the QuNexus. I do not know for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up having to scrap the entire frame design and create a new one from scratch.

Fortunately, Keith is stubborn and so is his team; they eventually got it right, and we finally get to benefit from that. But boy howdy, if I can’t configure things the way I want, there’s gonna be yelling.

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even during the campaign there were a lot of people who didn’t like the look of the exo-skeleton, and the extra space it took up, i think in the end Keith said it was going to be offered with n without - did he just ditch it altogether in the end?

i personally didn’t like the exo-skeleton look much, and on a desk it was just going to be more space/awkward.

ks survey here

I loved them, but yes, in the end, they had to ditch the handles altogether. Sad.

New firmware update / editor version just went live. Here’s the changelog.

Notably, they’ve added poly aftertouch support on channel 1, which was sorely missing for non-MPE use.

(I suggested that at Synthplex, which in turn suggests that they’re listening to user feedback. :slight_smile:)

There’s a new bend mode, which I don’t understand yet.

Default is relative pitch. Wherever you place your finger is center, so notes initiate in tune. But if you start your pitch towards either edge, you don’t have a lot of control over the area behind that.

The other option we had was absolute pitch. Finger placement represents bend amount (but notes initialize out-of-tune as a result).

The new option is simply called “Pitch Bend [x]”. Near as I can tell, it’s a relative mode that starts notes close to zero, but not at zero, and then bends up regardless which direction you bend.

There is no equivalent mode added to the y or z axis.

I’ll… have to ask them to clarify use case.

Anyway, I complained in the initial post about bend snapping back to center before. That can be disabled, by use of a drop down in the “advanced” tab. That looks like this:
04%20PM
I also mentioned, I think this should be a checkbox, in the same tab where you’re assigning behaviors to the x axis of your keys. (This isn’t an advanced parameter. Or if it is, it should be disabled by default.) Anyway, that hasn’t changed. It’s still hiding in the advanced tab. So I mention that here, 'cause you’ll probably want to change that setting.

(it’s the difference between “bending left and right trigger a pair of vibrato buttons” and "bending left and right puts expressive control of pitch under your finger)

1.2 firmware is out.

Same link for the changelog:
https://files.keithmcmillen.com/products/k-board-pro-4/documentation/k-board-pro-4-change-log.txt

Many changes, mostly subtle. I need to sit down and spend some time with this again.

Note that you have to export and re-import your presets before you upgrade!

Mine aren’t worth preserving. :wink:

KMI announced on their facebook that the K-Board Pro 4 is officially released today.

I guess it was Kickstarter-only until this morning. Great news for everyone else.

Sort of. It costs twice as much as we paid in the Kickstarter.
So, maybe it’s just pretty good news for everyone else.

I’m going to spend some time configuring mine this afternoon. Got some ideas to try out; will report back if they prove interesting.

When I backed the Kickstarter for the K-Board Pro 4, I originally ordered two units, one with handles and one without. I really loved the design with handles and was looking forward to it, but I understood that the design without would be more compact, and at the time, I had the money for a bigger backing…

Three years later, KMI had to kill the version with handles because of insuperable technical issues with getting it to work properly, and they fulfilled my pledge with two identical K-Board Pro 4 units. I don’t need two, so I am selling one. It comes in the Kickstarter-only road case and has never been used. I am asking for way less than a new one will cost you. Please PM me if you’re interested.

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Hi greaterthanzero!
Do you still have problem with the stuck Bb note or the issue has been solved?
I want to buy this unit but your comment is the second one that I found in the web mentioning problem with stuck notes.
Cheers!
//Alex

I’ll have to check. I loaned mine to a friend for several months, but got it back just before quarantine. Wanted to give it some time before touching the surface, but it’s been sitting in the garage long enough.

I will say, I haven’t contacted KMI about that. My plan is to update the firmware and see if that self calibrates the problem away. If that doesn’t work, I can ask if it’s a mechanical issue and see what they recommend. We shouldn’t assume that this is unresolveable.

Thanks for your fast response!
If it is a mechanical issue it can be more difficult to solve but on the other hand, if it is something related to the firmware there is a good chance to solve the issue with an update.
My guess is that the silicone material in the keys continues to press the sensor after depressing the key. we will see.
Thanks once again!
//Alex

Right. But the question is why that’s happening. Is something warped, or not sitting in the correct orientation? Are the support beams of a keyboard stand creating uneven pressure from below that a flat table would not? Lots of possibilities.

Hi,
Finally I could test a K-board Pro 4 here in Sweden through a friend’s friend. I don’t know if this issue affects all units but this one suffered the same problem with stuck note (in this case a C) that has been mentioned here and in other YouTube video. We tested the unit in different surfaces with same results. Last firmware was installed.
After a very near analysis we can affirm that silicone in keys continue to press the sensor after finger depress. Of course that this conclusion is not self-evident but the behavior of this key shows a very clear relation between the silicone-sensor and stuck notes.
For this reason this controller is a no-go for me. Expending this amount of money I am expecting to get a reliable instrument.
Cheers!
//Alex

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