If you haven’t used a Seaboard before, it’s hard to get all the adjectives straight. It’s a keyboard, but instead of being comprised of separate keys, it’s all one continuous, multitouch, pressure-sensitive, squishy (but not too squishy) surface with ridges where the piano keys should be. My colleague James Vincent spent 1,200 words describing the $799 Seaboard Rise back in 2015, so I won’t rehash all that here. Just know that Roli’s Seaboard technology is multi-dimensionally expressive, a little hard to learn, and now available in a much more portable and affordable form factor: the $299 Seaboard Block.
The new Seaboard Block works with Roli’s Blocks system, which lets you mix and match components and connect them wirelessly to Roli’s companion mobile app, Noise. For instance, if Seaboard Block’s 24 keys aren’t enough, you can snap in a second or third Seaboard Block, and they’ll work as one continuous keyboard. You can add a Lightpad Block to get a Seaboard-esque drumpad, or one of the smaller control blocks Roli offers to tweak Seaboard settings on the fly or trigger loops. My favorite part of the Blocks system is that it centers around a free app that has all of these features built-in — now including a virtual Seaboard as well — and the hardware just makes the controls more accessible, expressive, and tactile.
All the blocks, including the new Seaboard, also work over USB or Bluetooth as standard MIDI devices, and the Seaboard Block comes with a version of Roli’s own desktop software for fine-tuned adjustments of how the board plays.
The Seaboard Block will be available later this month.