Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Anything about hardware musical instruments.
dellboy
KVRian
1200 posts since 28 Mar, 2007

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 3:28 am

Yesterday I watched a demo of the Expressive E Touche SE and thought it was very cool.

I have also read reviews and watched videos of all the other MPE controllers kicking around like Rolli and LinnStrumen etc.

They are great and bring a lot of expression to sound, but will they eventually just end up at the back of a drawer or cupboard and not being used much ?

After all, a guitar is already highly expressive, as are most accoustic instruments (I play violin).

Some instrument like Piano do not really benefit from expression other than velocity. Having said that I always buy keyboards with aftertouch but never actually use it. I am just wondering if those who have bought these controllers are finding them indespensible now. And for what sort of music.

User avatar
el-bo (formerly ebow)
KVRAF
15813 posts since 24 May, 2009 from A galaxy, far far away

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 3:41 am

Are MPE Controllers a fad ?
I personally think that they are here to stay.
but will they eventually just end up at the back of a drawer or cupboard and not being used much ?
For some users, undoubtedly :shrug:
After all, a guitar is already highly expressive, as are most accoustic instruments (I play violin).
I've played guitar for about 40 years, and just take the instrument's expressivity for granted. It's very different to experience a keyboard that would normally be much more limited, suddenly become so much more expressive.
Some instrument like Piano do not really benefit from expression other than velocity.
For straight 'classical' piano renditions, probably not. However, there is a lot of nuance that could be added to a standard piano performance that 5D expression can afford the player.
I am just wondering if those who have bought these controllers are finding them indespensible now.
Been using the Rise49 as my main driver for over two years. My Nektar 61-key has been in it's box for the entire duration :shrug:
And for what sort of music.
Everything! If I were a trained pianist, I would still defer to using a proper piano for piano performance. But for everything else, including being the best finger-drumming surface I've used, it's really worked out for me :tu:

lfm
KVRAF
5237 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 3:47 am

To put things in perspective - you mention piano.
It's up down motion and fluency over keys - and classical pianist spend 6 hours a day to master expression of a grand piano to composers and own interpretation. Many years to master that.

So if you like of these new style multiexpression keyboards - how do you really master epxressing nuances and finess with so many other motions of keys to think about?
- you should not by accident be hitting a key in the wrong way

To me it seems more like
- look I do aftertouch
and similar, like Hendrix and Jimmy Page did one hand trills on fretboard, kind of.

Are you really doing a more important expression musically?
Something that really will make us listen more to this piece of music?


I looked at specs today for Nordlead 4 out of curiosity - and saw they did not even do reception of any aftertouch - which my Nordlead 2X do. Neither has AT keybeds.

It's been in specs since 1984 when first midi was agreed on, just about.
Still it's not standard procedure to implement it.

I think firmware v2.00 for Prologue introduced reception of AT. So not in keybed, just reception.

It's for the very few this MPE matters, IMO....

Echoes in the Attic
KVRAF
7878 posts since 12 May, 2008

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 4:58 am

dellboy wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 3:28 am
Yesterday I watched a demo of the Expressive E Touche SE and thought it was very cool.
That's not an mpe device, just a midi controller, designed for non-MPE sounds actually because the expressions are for the whole sound, like a mod wheel would be. But I have one and it's cool and a great alternative to mpe for expressive playing. Sometimes it's still better to have the expression separate from the note itself.
I have also read reviews and watched videos of all the other MPE controllers kicking around like Rolli and LinnStrumen etc.

They are great and bring a lot of expression to sound, but will they eventually just end up at the back of a drawer or cupboard and not being used much ?
No. They will not replace regular keyboards but will continue to gain in popularity I believe. I see it as an additional control/performance type, not replacing anything. Kind of like how drum pads became popular in various layouts, like the 4x4 layout. People still play drums on keyboards also.
After all, a guitar is already highly expressive, as are most accoustic instruments (I play violin).
MPE instruments are not meant to replace guitars or compete with them in any way. It' slike wondering if an electric guitar will stay around since there are already violins. Different and new instrument. The massive advantage of MPE devices is that players of synths and electronic instruments haven't traditionally had a ton of options for playing in expressive ways that are more like acoustic instruments. They have usually been restricted to simple keyboards, which a few exceptions (breath controllers, midi guitars etc.) that usually require specific instruments skills (like being able to play guitar).
Some instrument like Piano do not really benefit from expression other than velocity.
True if you only want a piano under your fingers. There are other possibilities of combining soudns that could be useful to people though. Like a piano layers on some strings or a pad that swells in when you press harder and can bend the pitch of just that background sound. Or many other combinations.
Having said that I always buy keyboards with aftertouch but never actually use it.

I personally never really cared about aftertouch either before mpe came along. Heck I didn't even use the mod wheel that much! I think the reason aftertouch was often ignored was because you didn't actually need to know it was there. Most patches designed with aftertouch sounded fine without using it, so it was a nice bonus that you might want. With mpe, having independent pitch bend was the big one that really changed the way you could perform, plus having a couple other expressions per note that are actually a core part of the expression since the "aftertouch" in this case is actually pressure that is much easier to trigger immediately as you don't need to travel to the bottom of the key first. So quite a different experience all together.
I am just wondering if those who have bought these controllers are finding them indespensible now. And for what sort of music.
Yeah I do think it's become pretty indispensable. Personally I like them for two main things, well maybe three. One is to emulate real instruments that I don't have and can't play. For example it's much more fun to play wind and brass instruments on mpe devices because you they are very expressive and subtle changes make it sound much more real. Same goes for strings and even though I'ma guitar player, I do like them for guitar and bass because I play different things that I wouldn't think of, or might not be possible with the real things.
Second thing is for ambient sounds. Pads, soundscapes, polysynth sounds. Having expression per note gives interesting textures where you don't have to have all the interesting things be modulated by lfo's and envelopes before hand, you can actually perform much of it. I especially love mpe for granular and creative sampling because you can manipulate the grain parameters and sample position etc in real time.
And the third thing is for the classic monosynth types of sounds, but made way more interesting. Again, previously you would have to use envelopes, lfo's, the mod wheel, pitch bend wheel. Now you can do a lot right at the key itself so naturally you can time movements better. The quick changes in pressure for example happen exactly with the note because it's part of the note, not a separate action, Plus those automations get captured with the note so it's way better for editing.

A couple years ago I thought I wanted all my synths to be mpe and I'd never buy another non-mpe synth. Since then I've actually come to appreciate plain old on-ff keyboard type sounds again because you don't always want that complexity for a lot of your parts. They are really for stand out instruments. So I'd say I use mpe at the very most half the time, some times only a part or two of a project. But I wouldn't want to be without it.
System: Windows 10, Dell XPS 2-in-1, Bitwig 3, Steinberg UR44.

ehdyn
KVRist
232 posts since 2 Aug, 2007

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:15 am

I've got a seaboard here and it's ok.. fun to noodle around on sometimes. Better for sound design stuff than actual performance.. hard to imagine someone actually using it in a live setting with any kind of predictability.

Hoping that Roli will tighten up their QC practices though.. I and many other people have issues where it wont shut off and then there's issues with Strobe and Cypher where the knobs kind of fight you as you're trying to work with it. Been waiting for a fix but none has been forthcoming.

Developing..

User avatar
WatchTheGuitar
KVRian
627 posts since 30 Apr, 2019

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:21 am

I hope they're not a fad as the Osmose looks exactly like what I want from MPE, but there's no way I can afford anything like that unless it takes off and the demand leads to competition and some cheaper products with similar functionality.

dellboy
KVRian
1200 posts since 28 Mar, 2007

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:24 am

Echoes in the Attic wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 4:58 am

That's not an mpe device, just a midi controller, designed for non-MPE sounds actually because the expressions are for the whole sound, like a mod wheel would be. But I have one and it's cool and a great alternative to mpe for expressive playing. Sometimes it's still better to have the expression separate from the note itself.

Ah, I just assumed it was an MPE device, thanks for correcting that.

In that case its pretty cool that it can do that stuff without needing MPE software. And I now see that the original touche can control old fashioned hardware through midi and CV.

dellboy
KVRian
1200 posts since 28 Mar, 2007

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:37 am

WatchTheGuitar wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:21 am
I hope they're not a fad as the Osmose looks exactly like what I want from MPE, but there's no way I can afford anything like that unless it takes off and the demand leads to competition and some cheaper products with similar functionality.
I think the Osmose is the one I would want, except its only 49 keys and far too expensive.

Sub $500 and at least 61 keys and count me interested.

anomandaris1
KVRist
403 posts since 26 Nov, 2009

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:19 am

It looks like keyboards players are very stingy, based on how MPE are not yet popular... :clap: (I have friends that buy all kinds of very-very expensive guitars, but I guess this is some kind of illness on its own.)
All other types of good instruments are also more expensive than midi keyboards... (check Thomann or whatever)
I guess many people expect MPE keyboards to cost as much as cheapest midi keyboards, but I doubt this will happen anytime soon (or at all)

My only problem with MPE instruments I have is that you need online registration for Roli's software that you get along with the keyboard. Based on what I have read about their business (on GS and Reddit), they are not doing very well. (At least we can use third party MPE stuff, if something happens with this company in the future... )
The support is also horrible (or they have fired everyone except few people?). It takes like a month to get a response.

himalaya
KVRAF
5195 posts since 23 Mar, 2006 from pendeLondonmonium

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:20 am

dellboy wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 3:28 am
They are great and bring a lot of expression to sound, but will they eventually just end up at the back of a drawer or cupboard and not being used much ?
They might end up in the 'drawer' if people who buy them don't give them the necessary time and attention to learn.

These are proper instruments, by this I mean, an MPE controller requires time and effort to learn all the playing techniques, whereas, we can buy an 8x8 pad controller then start hitting the pads and get good results, with no effort whatsoever. This won't work with an MPE controller/instrument.

If the price of entry is low, we get many people who want to try this new 'dimensional' way of expression, but at the same time, they may not give it enough time to understand the quirks and playing techniques, which results in many online posts that blame the instrument for whatever imagined shortcoming. And this is the moment of frustration where I can see people give up and sell the instrument or put it to the side...


Another point, is that it's not a fad by far. We've had multi-dimensional (which is what MPE is) controllers/instruments since 2002! At least this is when the Haken Continuum was released, if I'm not mistaken.

Also with the advent of the official MPE MIDI spec, we can see that there has been a concerted effort to expand the basic MIDI protocol, and thus invite developers and companies to become part of the multi-dimensional revolution in the electronic midi controller segment.

I hope that we see more multi-dimensional instruments being released, and that people actually go out and buy them...then learn them properly.
http://www.electric-himalaya.com
VSTi and hardware synth sound design

BBFG#
KVRAF
5920 posts since 28 Apr, 2013

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 8:43 am

I've only played the Roli and found it to be a trade-off of what I already do for what it can do. So it diminishes rather than augments my playing in certain respects. Plus, I find the texture to be personally displeasing.
Perhaps the K-Board might be better to me, but no place to try it. (Even the Roli(s) I've played were at NAMM and are nowhere to be seen within a hundred miles of me.)
So it seems right now it's to be a controller for the elite and eccentric. And if it continues it's marketing and pricing, then maybe in twenty years they'll all be seen in much the same way as an Ondes or a Theremin.
(Historical anomalies.)

It does bring up the question on regular keyboards of why initial/release velocity and aftertouch is not a given standard on every keyboard though.

I like the idea of MPE, but most of these controllers look like experiments in evolution rather than a realized one to me.

I'd rather wait and see. I already purchased, as an "early adopter", the add-on ring to do these functions. But it seems I've either been ripped off or that if it ever gets delivered, it may already be outdated or abandoned technology.
(Anyone else remember the "Vanderhooten"?)

User avatar
WatchTheGuitar
KVRian
627 posts since 30 Apr, 2019

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:23 am

anomandaris1 wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:19 am
It looks like keyboards players are very stingy, based on how MPE are not yet popular... :clap: (I have friends that buy all kinds of very-very expensive guitars, but I guess this is some kind of illness on its own.)
All other types of good instruments are also more expensive than midi keyboards... (check Thomann or whatever)
I guess many people expect MPE keyboards to cost as much as cheapest midi keyboards, but I doubt this will happen anytime soon (or at all)
I'm a hobbyist so over a grand for a pretty untried controller (bear in mind final production units of the Osmose haven't even shipped yet) isn't attractive.

The expensive guitars argument doesn't stack because top of the line guitars tend to hold their value a lot better than MIDI controllers and the former don't acquire must have new features on a regular basis while the latter do. For instance, MIDI 2.0 is coming/here very soon and may well bring a host of new hardware on its heels.

anomandaris1
KVRist
403 posts since 26 Nov, 2009

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:35 am

The main argument behind the price of expensive guitars is that they didn't used mechanized or slave labour, and there is also the prestige status (because such models were used in famous rock, jazz, pop recordings.) These innovative midi controllers are imo way more advanced and valuable as instruments on their own than any guitar, imo.
Midi 2 supports MPE. And it's not here. I guess that first DAW updates that will implement it won't come very soon (maybe in a few years).
People spend so much money on all kinds of crap - subscriptions for TV, drugs/alcohol etc, but always think they are poor and wait for potential discounts in a future, not realizing that they may not be even alive or well in this "potential" future.
If you need it now, just get it

Echoes in the Attic
KVRAF
7878 posts since 12 May, 2008

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 12:55 pm

WatchTheGuitar wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:23 am
anomandaris1 wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:19 am
It looks like keyboards players are very stingy, based on how MPE are not yet popular... :clap: (I have friends that buy all kinds of very-very expensive guitars, but I guess this is some kind of illness on its own.)
All other types of good instruments are also more expensive than midi keyboards... (check Thomann or whatever)
I guess many people expect MPE keyboards to cost as much as cheapest midi keyboards, but I doubt this will happen anytime soon (or at all)
I'm a hobbyist so over a grand for a pretty untried controller (bear in mind final production units of the Osmose haven't even shipped yet) isn't attractive.

The expensive guitars argument doesn't stack because top of the line guitars tend to hold their value a lot better than MIDI controllers and the former don't acquire must have new features on a regular basis while the latter do. For instance, MIDI 2.0 is coming/here very soon and may well bring a host of new hardware on its heels.
Note that while osmose can be used as a midi controller, it’s actually a stand alone synth. With a very powerful synth engine as well.
System: Windows 10, Dell XPS 2-in-1, Bitwig 3, Steinberg UR44.

tapper mike
KVRAF
5314 posts since 20 Jan, 2008

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Thu Feb 20, 2020 3:10 am

So this is an interesting thread covering a great deal of info that goes round and round.

I'm a Linnstrument player, Heck I'm one of the admins for the Linnstrument Users Group on FB

Yes it's made in america by robots, so everyone can feel good about themselves now. There is no way to make it cheaper. I'm a broke MF who has to save pennies for months and months on end yet somehow I did. Worth every penny and more. I value it more than my previously owned Les Pauls even though it will never go up in price as a used product.

What you put into it is what you get out of it. I play the linnstrument every day. Study scales, work out chord progressions dabble in rhythm studies. Try to appropriate keyboard covers on it. Every day I get a little better and everyday I can I'll try and improvise on it. It's not that hard to learn even though there is only one person who has developed course work for it.

It's actually easier reading notation than tab or other methods.

I'm never going back to keys. I'm never going back to ztars or guitar2midi devices. I'm happy with it as a midi controller and I'm happy with it as a mpe enabled controller. My only small gripe is I wish it had 16 rows instead of 8.

Return to “Hardware (Instruments and Effects)”