Roli Blocks is an affordable, modular way to make electronic music
British music company Roli has introduced a music creation tool that more aspiring electronic music producers can actually afford. Engadget's Nathan Ingraham shows readers the new gear and how it works.This article originally appeared on Engadget
For the first time, Roli's unusual touch-sensitive music-making tools won't break your budget.
British music-gear company Roli is mostly known for its attempts at reimagining the piano. The full-size Seaboard and smaller Seaboard Rise may bear similarities to traditional keyboards, but their rubberized, touch-sensitive buttons let you modulate, pitch-bend and slide between notes in a way that's far different from what you can do on a standard keyboard or synthesizer. However, price is a big barrier to entry -- the Seaboard Rise starts at $800, while its full-size counterpart will set you back $2,000 or more.
But Roli has been working on a way to bring its unique music-creation tools down to a much lower price point, and it's taking the wraps off those efforts today. Roli Blocks are a set of modular synth controllers that snap together and hook up to your iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth. They're tiny and inexpensive: The main controller, called the Lightpad, is a small square (less than 4 inches to a side) that sells for $179. That's significantly cheaper than Roli's other products. And while you can't play the Lightpad like a keyboard, the short time I spent playing with it and the other Roli Blocks convinced me that it's still a powerful, flexible and fun music-making tool....