Fav synths and VIs for playing with MPE instruments


@White_Noise: had to look that one up, too:


It’s a MIDI controller, albeit with polyphonic aftertouch. If you’re a keys person, that’s probably really neat.
Having played around with Model15 on the iPad, I can see how the Roli Seaboard could really come in hand with a polyphonic synth, esp. one that has a Mod Matrix sensitive to aftertouch. I think the Seaboard has at least vertical position sensitivity, if not xy capability. Such a controller would easily give you access to timbral changes while playing, which is cool.


On that note… MIDIfighter 3D is more my gorilla hand compatible controller.
The QuNeo is really neat, but geez who has the patience to MIDI map all of that?!


All the MPE controllers have xy capability, but the QuNeo also has it. The innovation in MPE as I see it is that you can use pitch (x) and expression/timbre (y) polyphonically, on a per-note basis. For monophonic timbre-change expression, the QuNeo would be enough, but not for doing polyphonic pitchslides or different timbres in chords or similar stuff…
But yeah, with the QuNeo you have to configure and/or map some stuff. For using MPE with some synths you also might have to switch some parameter assignments and so on, but imho it’s more than worth it.


It’s funny, from what I’ve read, some earlier implementations (and a few very expensive ones today) of aftertouch were actually polyphonic instead of channel-based like they mostly are today. The issue is mostly of cost and physical complexity because you have to have a sensor for it under every key. Some of the keybeds that did it are notoriously unreleiable because of all the parts involved. Whereas with channel wide aftertouch you just have one pressure strip spanning the whole length of the keybed and it’s just on or off for all notes actuated.

I don’t know if it affects current notes played only or if it will impact any additional notes played. I need to go and test that, I’ll report my results back to you. Of course, I don’t know if that will change from one implementation of aftertouch to another, and I suspect there’s more room for variance in that implementation than any of us would first guess.


Aftertouch is on/off for the whole keyboard at once on the Prophet rev 2. Even triggering subsequent notes will have them engaged with aftertouch immediately (though it seems to fade in somewhat, just enough to not click in more extreme cases I suppose).


Yeah that’s probably standard for non-MPE controllers, but at the same time afaik it’s still a bit more common for software synths to have poly aftertouch as compared to full MPE integration.

Roli Lightpad Block M

Does anyone have one of these controllers, and is either going to jam sessions, or playing live shows with it?


I recently did a nice jam session with my Linnstrument and two additional Seaboard blocks and sometimes use it together with the QuNeo, but no live shows so far. Multiple MPE controllers work great together in the right DAW, and all have their strength and weaknesses (see above, layout, long y axis and so on).

Imho, for using MPE in live shows, it is really important to get used to the specific MPE controller and its options, AND the MPE implementation in the DAW you want to use, AND the specific MPE options in the synths you want to use. This even applies to specific presets, since the routing of timbre, the range of pitchbend and so on can change. Until all that is figured out, MPE controllers are perfect for any jam session and solo recording in the studio.


Here is another MPE controller, a mini affordable version of the mighty Haken Continuum:


The grid layout was the thing I liked the best about the Deluge, I wish I’ll be able to upgrade to an Akai Force soon to have one back, sadly none of them were MPE, so my post was slightly off topic.


Not familiar with those, but if those aren’t at least expressive like the Quneo or similar, I would say yeah, it’s off-topic ^^ both the Deluge and that AKAI thing look like fun boxes, though, remind me a bit of Push. I’m just not getting that excited about non-expressive controllers and hardware these days. In my mind I already call those the “on/off button era boxes” :wink:


If you Google it amon tobin had something similar shown in how he makes his sounds, but his is custom built and programmed I think and also I think he showed this a few years back, it’s funny being that the tools of the big name guys soon become industry standard, but then again some are pioneers…but also hey cant get mad at tech progress for companies making such tools at an affordable price…eh it is what it is I’m just happy wiff my laptop and daw it is interesting though…


Google told me that he used the famous Haken Continuum among other controllers, but no idea what that custom built thing is you are mentioning. Only know he already used lots of more exotic or expensive stuff, including Kyma, for instance…

But this is the mighty Haken Continuum, not custom built, but connected to the even mightier Kyma system:

Btw, I would be really interested to hear what you would produce with an expressive instrument!


Not really MPE but highly expressive and just awesome: the mi.mu gloves seem to openly available this summer, but as expected at a tough price: https://shop.mimugloves.com/

Also, there is an extremely less impressive but cheap ring “alternative” with only x/y/z control: https://www.sourceaudio.net/hot-hand.html :wink:


You could diy with an xbox kinect controller max 4 live and research like the idmf user synaecide


Yeah, the cheapo Hot Hand thing version for sure, but I think the Xbox is more expensive than the Hot Hand and can’t do much more than that for MIDI control.

The mi.mu gloves work different and use input from wrist orientation and finger bend - and can be used while playing instruments or, for maximum madness, with an MPE controller or a Quneo :wink:


The one thing I think about when someone has something like the Continuum, especially when Amon Tobin was showing it is, “lucky”.

I did see an advertisement for the Touché SE. Seems pretty sweet. If I were to go that route, which I love strings, I would possibly try this out. But the expression part is what makes them seem legit in a lot of cases.

Probably seen this thing.

The seaboard stuff is just so damn expensive. But I guess just getting the touch block would be similar in price. I can’t see myself getting a Seaboard though. Too rich for me and my music.


Yeah, that thing seems to be pretty cool, too! A bit expensive for the functionality though imho, if you compare it to the Seaboard block! If I understand it right it’s just one expressive “key” for about 400 bucks, compared to the Seaboard block module with 24 keys for <300 (at least in sales, I think, normal price on the site rn seems to be about 360). But it’s a different thing of course, seemingly more geared towards replacing the modulation and pitch-wheels than as a full controller?

Yeah, expresiveness is really good for everything from beats to strings, saxophones and flutes. Very nice also for lead and pad synths. It is just very different from going from pads that have some modulated LFO, sequencer or smaple-based movement to bringing all the “movement” or expression in directly with your fingers. Revolutionary.

Maybe check out the Seaboard Block - @ConfusedMuse has 2 of those, great controllers imho and much cheaper than the bigger alternatives!


The SE is $229


That’s not too bad!
But on the other side, for that money you can nearly get a QuNeo (without sale price) for around 270 I think with lots of options for x/y/z control, even though not full MPE integration. I think I would really recommend the Touche specifically for people that are already used to using a keyboard with a modwheel, since it is a very different experience imho if you have the expressiveness in the finger you are playing with or in your second hand.

Another cheap alternative to the Touche would be the Hot Hand imho, even cheaper and more flexible in terms of location since it’s just a ring, would even allow for polyphonically playing a controller while using it, but very different from traditional modwheels to use.