my Erae Touch impression up to now

I’ve had my Erae Touch for about a week. Like AbletonDrummer, I got it primarily to use as a drum controller, and I’ve owned Roland’s SPD and I currently have two Nord Drum 3P’s. I agree with everything AbletonDrummer says about his experience, but I’ll just add that I’ve used several controllers from for years. They’re hands down the best for full dynamic range, low-kinetic-energy-required fingerdrumming. The Erae Touch comes closer than anything I’ve ever used before. Currently, I’d say about 90% of the quality playability I’m used to, and that difference might just be a matter of getting used to some somewhat different techniques. ET does require more kinetic energy to actuate than a zendrum controller. Is there any way to adjust its sensitivity, its velocity response curve? If you’re not totally devoted to fingerdrumming, Erae Touch is a much better choice than the bulky, much more expensive offerings from Zendrum, with their 1990’s firmware that does everything you need, but is inconvenient compared to a modern device like the Erae Touch.

I’m experiencing a few glitches with the setup software. Embodme tells me they’ve already solved the most serious bug: saved presets that report as corrupted when you try to re-load them—very annoying. My biggest beef is that, unlike Sensel’s Morph, you can’t simply define arbitrary zones, but have to work with Embodme’s templates, which force note sequences on you that then require altering MIDI maps in your external gear depending on what you want to do.

The biggest disappointment with me, though, is that it just doesn’t feel good to me for using it as a polysynth controller in MPE mode. That might be a setup or expectations issue, but I’m not likely to put the time in because I have nice keyboards and I got this thing as a percussion controller, with any remaining functionality being gravy. I have a Linnstrument that I also can’t mesh with as an MPE controller (and I have lots of MPE-capable modules), though the LS is wonderful as a monophonic SWAM controller. I expect the Erae Touch will also be good with SWAM, but that’s a lower priority for me. The ET’s keyboard keys on its pre-fabbed keyboard modules are larger than normal so that regular keyboard technique is a no go: you either use the ET as a casual controller and not to play Rachmaninoff, or you custom design your own cleverly ergonomic layout, which may not be practical if they stretched their keys out a bit for a reason.

I’m also disappointed that setting it up as an isomorphic controller for microtonal doesn’t result in nearly as good a configuration as the LinnStrument. I’ll leave it at that because too few people will care about this. The LinnStrument, though, isn’t so hot as a percussion controller because its pads are actuated with pressure, not strike force; though you can do some interesting things with it percussion-wise, it just doesn’t have the right feel for a fingerdrummer, let alone allow you to play with sticks.

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a few thoughts about your post,

good point, I forgot to add this to my feature request list :slight_smile: (I do after replying here! )

I spoke to Embodme about the sensitivity whilst at Superbooth.
they told me the ‘actuation’ pressure was about as low as it can go.
(if you’ve played with surfaces, you’ll know this is, due to noise, a trade off against false touches)

however, for sure they could do something with velocity and pressure curves.
Ive seen from using the API, internally there is more resolution than the 7 bit we see via midi.
so essentially pressure/velocity curves are simply a matter of how you map that response on the sensor.

(I also wonder if they could allow us similar when using bipolar Y value - perhaps to express an S curve around the centre point)

In Ableton, I did play with adjusting velocity/pressure curves, and found settings I preferred.
however this is not optimal for 2 reasons:
a) we want it standalone !
b) ableton can only map 0-127 to 0-127, it cannot use the higher resolution of the sensors
(I do want to do some tests via the API, to look at how this might feel when using direct sensor data)

(I assume by template here, you mean elements)

perhaps you could define each ‘pad’ as an separate element, for many elements types you can have up to 48 elements - so Id have thought for drum pads that would be sufficient.
@keymanpal documented this here

you can resize the key elements (as you can any element)
I find that with 3 wide (rather than the default 4) , the spacing is very similar to a conventional keyboard.
though there are some limitations with touch spacing, as I mentioned in [this post]

(Firmware - feature requests - #2 by thetechnobear) .

I do think this is the best approach for arbitrary key-mappings, since the nice thing about drumpad/keypad
is that you do NOT have to do every key, which would be laborious to do (for musical mappings)

however, I don’t think any flat surface is going to feel/play like a piano surface, due to having very little travel - so I tend to use the isomorphic layouts… though like having the piano layout available.

this is the kind of thing, Id recommend having a chat with @embodme about - perhaps something that can be improved.

I think we should remember that this is version 1.0… I think its easy to forget, that the Linnstrument firmware has been improved (dramatically) over many iterations and years… when the first firmware was released it didn’t feel anywhere near as good as it does now, nor have many of the features that now exist.
this is a testament to the amount of work Geert put in over the years to keep on improving it.

… will Embodme have the same commitment to the Erae Touch, we simply don’t know, much to early to say, so we need to give them our feedback and give them some time to improve things :slight_smile:

I personally think as a v1, its remarkably stable/useable - and with some minor improvements can be fantastic.

Overall, I really do hope @embodme engage with its community.
many of us here, have seen many MPE controllers come n’ go, and too many that are very promising, but that have a few quirks that get in the way of the playing experience.

the Linnstrument is a good example, where they really wanted to get it right… and continued to ‘polish’ it, to become the best experience it could be … and as a result, still today has a really good reputation, and is a controller many will still recommend.
Id love to see @embodme follow this example!


I totally agree. I’m close to the point where I could sell off my Zendrums (well, all but one, to be safe) and be covered by one or perhaps a second Erae Touch. The playing feel really is that close, and as I keep jamming on it, I’m more and more convinced it’s just a matter of adapting my technique. The big selling point is that Zendrum’s firmware limits it to 30 triggers (25 on my goto), but my current Erae Touch drum setup is 5 x 8. I really, really prefer a 100% symmetric setup, but the redundancy forces sacrificing some desirable kit pieces and articulations. 5 x 8 = 40 gets me close; if I can adapt to 6 x 8, that would pretty much be the dream.

My other concern is Embodme’s level of commitment. I hesitate to go all in if the device’s life cycle is less than mine. With Zendrum, on the other hand, it’s not built like a tank so much as tanks are built like it. Proven over a 25-year history, I’m confident that its more straightforward construction will stay repairable beyond the life cycle of the one guy who makes them. I have the same concern with Lumatone. In the feature request thread, you make a strong case for microtonality, which I’ve effectively given up playing on a live instrument that’s properly playable (isomorphic layout with a good feel). The Lumatone is the last, best hope, but I’m super-hesitant to spend so much (shipping and customs increases the cost by almost 1/3) on a device with a boatload of physical mechanisms that will surely need servicing at some point.