Last year, UK company Roli announced their latest additions to the Block modular system, one of which was the streamlined version of the Seaboard. Once again, Roli had changed the game by taking their MPE controller to the on-the-go market, creating an ultra-portable controller that could easily fit into one’s backpack or tote bag. Today, we’ll be taking a look at what makes this such a great piece of kit. We reviewed the Seaboard Rise in 2015, which you can check here. Seeing as we’ve already done a review, this time, we’ll focus on the features that make the Block version a must have.
How does it work?
Being part of the Block family, the second thing you’ll notice is the 4 magnetic ports for connecting and creating your own midi controller setup. You instantly snap a few of these together to create a full 88 keyboard, or you can stack on a different assortment of Light pads and other blocks to build whatever setup you can dream up. It can be used via both Bluetooth and USB-C. As with the rest of the Seaboard line, its most at home when connected to either the Equator software or Noise mobile app, but can be used as a standard MIDI controller.
How does it look?
The first difference you’ll notice is the size. In keeping with the ethos of the Block line of products, the Seaboard is about 12” long. Not only that, but it’s extremely lightweight. one thing the original line isn’t. The size does have a couple minor drawbacks, one being the lack of ribbon controls on the left side, the other being the much smaller keys. I say minor, as these aren’t actually drawbacks seeing as this is meant to be carried around with you. Personally, I’d say that the weight trumps the lack of ribbon controls on the side.
What do I think about it?
I've been a huge fan of Roli since we first saw the Rise in action a few years ago, and admire their consistent pushing of technology. They've successfully created a medium in which player expression can be properly represented, without making things complicated. The Seaboard Block is no exception. It would be great to carry around a full sized version, but it's unrealistic for most people. Having access to the same features at a fraction of the size is priceless. Admittedly, while I love the concept of the other Block modules, they don't really fit my production style. However, the Seaboard block fits just right into my studio setup.
So is it worth it?
Pros: Full functionality of a Roli Seaboard, in an extremely portable footprint. Can be linked together to create your own modular setup.
Cons: Keys might be a bit small for some people, but that's to be expected from a small keyboard
Final Score: 10/10