Roli cooks polyphonic expression into light-up mini keyboard

The folks behind the impressive Seaboard Grand have launched a new version of the colorful Lumi Keys learning platform that was crowdfunded last year. The Studio Edition injects some of the Grand’s spongy expression into a standard solid keyboard.

The original Lumi Keys mini keyboard invited students to follow the lights to learn how to play, with a companion app serving up lessons, songs and scales.

“Lumi Keys Studio Edition brings a touch of Seaboard magic to a traditional keyboard format,” said Roli founder and CEO, Roland Lamb. “Beyond its form factor, however, Lumi Keys is anything but traditional. Its unique combination of illumination – which enables a range of compositional shortcuts – and its unprecedented MPE capabilities make it the most innovative and feature-rich keyboard action on any controller available today.

“The Seaboard is still the premier MPE instrument for playing in the deep end of musical expression, but now Lumi Keys provides an opportunity for everyone to get started with MPE and see how it can enhance their production workflow and create new possibilities for performance.”

Scales, chords, and arpeggios can be illuminated in any key using the Roli Studio software
Scales, chords, and arpeggios can be illuminated in any key using the Roli Studio software


MPE stands for MIDI Polyphonic Expression and is described as “a method of using MIDI which enables multidimensional controllers to control multiple parameters of every note within MPE-compatible software.” In the case of the Lumi Keys Studio Edition, this allows for per-key vibrato-like pitch bending by wobbling a finger, per-key polyphonic aftertouch, as well as attack and release velocity. Roli says that this gives players four dimensions of control.

The hardware ships with Roli Studio software package, which includes some sounds from the Equator2, Cypher2 and Strobe2 synths, and includes features designed to help create music. The Lumi Keys can, for example, be set to light up scales, chords and arpeggios in any key to get players out of their comfort zones and create something new.

If players need a larger keyboard, magnetic connections allow for two, three or four Lumi Keys to be connected together, and the mini keyboard can be physically or wirelessly connected to a Lightpad Block module for off-keyboard parameter control, as you can see in the demo video below.

The Lumi Keys Studio Edition launch bundle is up for pre-order now for US$269 (which is 10 percent off the full price of $299), and includes Roli Studio software, a Lumi Snapcase, three extra Roli soundpacks, and a voucher for $50 that can be used to purchase Roli software. Shipping is expected to start in January, 2021.

Introducing LUMI Keys Studio Edition: Light up your sound (feat. PARISI)

Product page: Lumi Keys Studio Edition