The Roli Seaboard is easing the art of keyboard playing


A look into the new Roli keyboard that has been changing the way people play. Photo Credit: Robin Welsack

James Quiroz, Staff Writer


Mid-2016, a new Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) keyboard was released by ROLI, a London-based music technology company, during the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) instrument show. The keyboard was said to encompass the “feel” and “force” of every instrument simply based off of the sensors in each key. They were right; upon getting a hold on one of ROLI Seaboard Blocks keyboards myself, I was pleasantly surprised by the feel of the keyboard. Each individual key feels like a smooth bar of putty, yet simultaneously holds a decent resistance against a single press.

The Seaboard Block is perfect for all musicians alike because of its unique, but simple, feel. Key resistance is usually a challenge with MIDI keyboards; they’re usually too light or too stiff, but the ROLI’s Seaboards all have the same smooth feel to them. The largest downside to the Seaboard series would be their cost and size. For $350, you can purchase a Seaboard Block which only reaches one octave above and has 24 keys. Thankfully, the Seaboard Blocks have magnetic sides which can connect to other Seaboards or beat/drum pads, making them a favorite among traveling musicians and a little more bearable in size. For $900, you can purchase the Seaboard Rise which only has a larger interface and on board settings. For $1200, you can purchase the Seaboard Rise 49 with 49 keys. The 49 is about the same size as a small professional keyboard but has many more accessories and an even larger onboard interface. Finally, for $3500, you can purchase the Seaboard Grand, which is built to order with 61 keys, even more accessories, a year subscription to Logic Pro X and some other ROLI designed software. In all, the keyboards are fairly expensive, but the ease of using a ROLI Seaboard with Logic Pro X or Garageband is fairly smooth and is well worth the money.