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perhaps unsurprising, but a real shame, they’ve brought so much to industry - really helped to push MPE forward.
As with all of their compromises over the years, I think they see this as a temporary setback to their core mission, and I hope that they’re able to adjust course and return to that someday, having cleared the present obstacles.
yeah, hope so… good luck also to their employees, either in this new venture, or wherever they head next.
Im also kind of glad the juce was sold off beforehand, so that’s not affected.
I wonder if Jules will go back there, somewhere else, or stay with Roli?
someone pointed me to this …
seems its not quite as bleak, as it first looked.
sounds to me like it’s a phoenix operation, where they basically financially restructure and ditch debts…
Not easy to put the finger on what the Seaboard did wrong - too novel? Too conservative? Too expensive? Not self-contained enough? (The first generation had Equator on board though?)
Apparently Roli’s bet on big quantities didn’t work out.
But on the other hand e-pianos aren’t really cheap either and are sold in the hundred of thousands: “Overall, approximately 174 thousand digital pianos were sold in the U.S in 2019, while the unit sales of this product peaked at 188.5 thousand in 2020” (didn’t find world-wide numbers but this should give an idea)
Perhaps the music instrument market is just really conservative, not sure. Or it’s a literature thing? Piano is hard to beat when it comes to pieces from all epoches. To fully give justice to a Seaboard one would have to compose something oneself. And it’s hard to find a Seaboard teacher.
Ok, probably a lot of gravity to overcome.
too much investment, trying to grow way too fast…
a few years back they got a ridiculous amount of venture capital…
then when on a buying spree… JUCE , FXpansion, also developing Blocks and LUMI
with all that venture capital they were expected to grow really fast…
we saw them making statements like being ‘the Apple of music tech’
all just too much, too optimistic…
so when the cats (venture capitalists) came knocking for their investment return, they just couldn’t give it to them… they’d not been able to grow that fast.
to me, this says it all
We had our eyes set on hypergrowth and that proved to be difficult.
really? that’s a bit surprise…
you need more than just music, or tech to make it at scale… just feels like a bit naive on the business front… whilst having a lot of people saying ‘go for it, you can do it’…
hopefully they can recover, and this will make them a little more practical/conservative for their next go
Cancer is a hypergrowth. I don’t know about a “venture trajectory”, but I couldn’t find a new Seaboard 49 in stock in America for well over a year before the pandemic began, when chips were plentiful and shipping was cheap. Ended up getting a Continuum, but was looking for a Seaboard in the meantime, to tide me over, and then I probably would have sold it.
There’s one on my local Craigslist, though now I wouldn’t dare and don’t need it. I prefer the Continuum anyway. It’s more sensitive, faster, and the Seaboard waves really got in my way, to the point of frustration. I tried a 25, so maybe the 49 has bigger waves or something? Either way, it feels and sounds so good to glide and slide freely between any x/y without those Roli waves in the way. If the next Seaboard needs to cut some corners, it can start by cutting off those waves. That is, if they ever do remake the Seaboard (the Verge article ended with that tease, I think).
I don’t think Lumi targets amateur pianists. That’s what I am. But people like me don’t need light up keys to figure out where to press. I think it targets rank beginners who want to play the Lumi specifically. At least, I hope they’re not expecting too many piano students. The Lumi keys have different dimensions and travel than any other keys, especially piano keys.
I hope the new seaboard is closer to the rise than the blocks!
I also think LUMI targets musicians whose primary instrument isn’t piano. I’ve been a bass player for over 20 years and the piano still isn’t intuitive for me. Having the lights show different scales helps me play keyboard in any key.
If you didn’t like the feel of a 25, you won’t like the 49 either. They’re identical, as well they should be. Range is the only thing setting them apart.
They’re more subtle than the GRAND line before it, and probably the BLOCKs as well. But if you aren’t coming from a piano background, you won’t see any benefit from having those. The keywaves are mostly a concession for pianists. Who are, coincidentally, the core market for MIDI controllers.
(Roli did promise to explore more novel interfaces, in the early days, but I think that ended with the Lightpad.)
It’s just unfortunate that Roli values their subscription service above the needs of the community. As a developer, I would have loved to extend that a lot further, for the benefit of every user. Am blocked from doing so.
(Changing scales requires their software. We’ve reverse engineered that, so we can write apps with faster interfaces to change scales contextually, but we can’t use any scales that aren’t hard-coded by Roli. It’s a closed system, deliberately).
Its the least surprising news ever.
The entire model was so obviously unsustainable - a world of TED talks, venture capital and running the thing as if it was a tech startup with huge growth potential.
Beyond that core problem with their financial model, I suspect they also had too high a rate of product returns/repairs. And I dont think people who needed repairs or other forms of tech support had a wonderful experience.
More recently, I consider the initial Kickstarter launch of the LUMI was another disaster in some ways. It ran late and the physical quality wasnt there in the initial batches, lots of them fell apart within months. If the timing of that product launch had been different, and if they had burnt through their funding pile trying to promote that LUMI stuff instead of squandering that money years earlier, they might have been in a good position to benefit from the pandemic lockdowns.
I’ll always be grateful to ROLI for their role in ensuring MPE gained a foothold. But I simply dont respect the sort of business world Roland Lamb clearly likes to operate in, its BS.
I come from a keyboard background, but not a classical piano background, and the keywaves on the Rise 25 didn’t really translate for me. I had assumed the 49 must have bigger waves, because I’d watched videos of the 49, and in person the 25’s waves and spacing seemed smaller than I expected (and I don’t have large hands). It’s so easy to misinterpret dimensions, based on watching videos. I should have figured that the 49 would have the same waves as the 25.
Even coming from a keyboard background, I prefer the Haken Continuum’s flat surface and equal physical layout of all pitches. I really enjoy pitch glides that also move through “y” at the same time. On the Seaboard, trying that actually made me giggle, trying to keep steady pressure while navigating the mountains and valleys. Any glides further than vibrato really needed to stick to the lanes above and below the keywaves.
Speaking of stick… another thing I noticed: on the Continuum, you can slide and glide with any part of your finger, almost any angle. With the Seaboard, I had to be much more mindful of the material bunching up in front of my finger, which made it harder to slide smoothly. There’s a technique - just like diving vs belly flop - but it’s not nearly as free, how you can play it, as the Continuum is.
If they could improve those aspects, I would definitely try a Seaboard 2, whoever ends up with the IP.
Another thing I prefer about the Continuum: it’s a self-contained instrument, though it can be a MIDI or CV controller if you want. However, if Roli keeps the IP and manages to develop a Seaboard 2, I worry that, with any included synth engine, they would try to tie it to a subscription service.
My plan was to get a Lumi keyboard or 2 to put above the Continuum, also controlling the EaganMatrix, for when I want to play fast chords and runs in perfect tune. I thought they’d look cool together, and the Continuum’s surface lines are different sized than normal white or black keys, too. However, when they decided to tie Lumi to an app and close off its software, that made my use case very inconvenient if not impossible.
Lumi could have been the new Keystep of the YouTube influencers, if only because of the colors, if Roli had taken it in that direction instead. If it had just enough of a sequencer for capturing and replaying a few notes you just played, this thing would be featured in so many synth and module demos. Andrew Huang had started to do that, but then there was no affiliate link for people to impulse buy one. You could preorder on an indefinite timeline, but people who want to buy one on impulse, see that and move on. By the time it’s actually available, the initial impact has worn off. Which is no big deal for a sustainable company, but for hypergrowth, you want to be able to hype the product and then also deliver during that hype.
PS - Strangely, I felt like the Seaboard Block thing was a little improvement over the Rise 25, in my very limited interaction with it. It seemed like Roli were learning and developing the tech as time went on. I hope it keeps progressing, either in Luminary’s hands or someone else’s. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be suggesting where I think (and hope) they (or someone else) can improve it.
There’s really no way in which that wasn’t a disaster. What should have been a huge community building win for them ended up burning bridges with several communities.
Sounds like you saw the Seaboard BLOCK in person. That one actually had 24 keywaves, so I assumed you meant the RISE when you said 25.
(the BLOCK doesn’t repeat C at the top, allowing us to snap several together to extend the range. it’s a mixed blessing, 'cause I always reach for that missing note…)
The RISE has wider keywaves, and the height feels more subtle as a result.
The Seaboard GRAND was self contained, but that’s its own disaster. No one who paid for that will ever trust Roli enough to buy another.
But also, every move that Roli’s made since then has been a deliberate step further from self-contained hardware. They’re not going back to that.
I’d say the best thing to come from all this is that people are starting to rethink the wisdom of relying on a piece of software that has to call home and authenticate every four weeks. (it’s actually shocking how many people I see expressing that they had no idea there were other synths available, outside of Equator. But they’re starting to look into alternatives now. Perhaps they’ll come here for recommendations…)
You’re right, though. Most of the industry is heading towards subscription services. That’s sort of inevitable, and very much on brand for Roli. That’s why it’s so important that the hardware support open standards…
excluding the original Seaboard Grand, I think comparing the Continuum/Haken to Seaboard/Roli is a bit apple n’ oranges - different pricing, markets etc.
I was one of those that bailed on Lumi, as the fiasco unfolded, and frankly as it felt like it was mostly about Roli shifting boxes… rather than delivering an instrument or experience.
I think in many ways, it was the unfortunate end of the road…
for me, Roli started great , the Grand was fantastic… the Rise 49 was a great improvement (though I really wished they’d kept the onboard dsp)
but then they started in a direction (initially blocks) that didn’t appeal to me much, and I guess for that reason, I felt was being driven by investors and growth targets.
but this might be unfair,
just because it was a direction that didn’t interest me, and I was disappointed that it felt like they were not developing the Seaboard anymore, it does not mean it was bad. Im sure there are many that loved the Blocks
unfortunately, that’s why Luminary doesn’t fill me with excitement…
Id have preferred ‘the phoenix’ to be back to their old ways, back to the Seaboards… but that’s my preference - Roland Lamb has bigger ambitions, and I can see the Seaboards perhaps don’t fit that.
we will see… I wish them the best… they have brought us some great products.
and, I hope at a minimum, Luminary will provide some support to all the Roli product line, to the people who invested in them at the beginning.