Equator is ROLI’s custom-built, multi-dimensional, software synthesizer that comes with the Seaboard RISE and GRAND. Equator Player offers a simplified user interface and is bundled with the Lightpad Block and Seaboard Block. This article shows how to use Blocks with Equator/Equator Player.


As a playing surface

First, launch BLOCKS Dashboard and connect your Lightpad or Seaboard Block. By scrolling through the app list and selecting an app, you can fully customize how your Block behaves, and you can also modify a Lightpad Block’s LED display.

Lightpad Block

If you’re using a Lightpad Block, select “Note Grid.” Make sure the following “MIDI Settings” are selected:

  • MIDI Start Channel: 2
  • MIDI End Channel: 16
  • Use MPE: On
  • Pitch Bend Range: 48

If you’d like you may use the “Pitch,” “Play mode,” and “5D Touch” options to control the number of pads your Lightpad Block displays, what key and scale it’s in, and the responsiveness of the five dimensions of touch.

To use a 5×5 grid of notes, for example, go to “Play mode,” and set “Mode” to 5. (You can also scroll through modes via the Lightpad Block’s Mode button, and you can adjust the dimensions of touch with an attached Touch Block.)

Seaboard Block

If you’re using a Seaboard Block, with your Seaboard Block selected in BLOCKS Dashboard the current MIDI settings will automatically be displayed. Make sure the following “MIDI Settings” are selected:

  • MIDI Start Channel: 2
  • MIDI End Channel: 16
  • Use MPE: On
  • Pitch Bend Range: 48

If you’d like you may use the “Pitch,” “Play mode,” and “5D Touch” options to transpose or change the Seaboard Block’s range and control the responsiveness of the five dimensions of touch. (You can also adjust the dimensions of touch with an attached Touch Block.)

For more information about loading programs and the capabilities of BLOCKS Dashboard, check out our article, “Using BLOCKS Dashboard beta.”

Setting up Equator

Next, launch Equator, go to the Settings menu, and inside of “MIDI Settings” ensure that your Lightpad Block or Seaboard Block is selected as a MIDI Input. You’ll now be able to play any of your Equator presets with your Block!

Equator-Player-MIDI-Settings

As a parameter controller

Using BLOCKS Dashboard, you can set your Lightpad Block to modulate Equator parameters in real-time. In these examples, we will explore XYZ Pad mode and Mixer Block mode.

Equator Player’s five Macros are assigned to MIDI CCs 107, 109, 111, 113, and 114 (corresponding with the default MIDI CCs of the Seaboard RISE’s controllers). We can simply change the Lightpad Block’s settings to control Equator’s Macros.

XYZ Pad

Equator’s Macros 4 and 5 (displayed in Equator’s XY Touchpad) will automatically receive two of the MIDI CC messages sent by the Lightpad Block’s XYZ Pad mode – MIDI CC 113 and 114 – so all we need to do is change the XYZ Pad’s third MIDI CC to control another Macro.

First, in BLOCKS Dashboard load XYZ Pad mode onto your Lightpad Block. Next, change the “Z axis CC” to 107, 109, or 111 (to control Macros 1, 2, or 3 respectively). In this example we’ll use CC 111:

BLOCKS-Dashboard-XYZ-Pad-Z-Change

Now your Lightpad Block will control Equator Player’s Macros 3, 4, and 5!


Alternatively, if you’re using the full version of Equator, you can keep the XYZ Pad’s default Z axis MIDI CC of 115 and create an additional macro in Equator. To do this, in Equator’s Modulation panel, select the “Switch Views” button at the top right of the “RISE Controls” window. This will open up your bank of assignable Macros.

BLOCKS Equator #2

Once in this window, activate a new macro; in this case, we will select Macro 6. Simply type “115” inside of the CC box and Macro 6 will now respond to the Lightpad’s Z-axis.

BLOCKS EQUATOR #7

We are telling Macro 6 to listen to CC 115; we have assigned CC 115 to the Z axis in BLOCKS Dashboard beta.

Now that Macro 6 knows to listen to CC 115, you can assign it to any parameter you wish! For example, let’s assign CC 115 to control Distortion.

While you still have Macro 6 selected, go to the “Distortion” tab. Select the “Drive” modulation dial and set it to its maximum value. Now, your Distortion Drive will increase the harder you Press the Lightpad.

BLOCKS Equator #4

After successful assignment, you’ll see the Distortion’s Drive dial activate when playing on the Z axis.

Mixer Block mode

We can also use Mixer Block mode to control Equator’s Macros with the Lightpad. In the full version of Equator, Macros 1, 2, and 3 are assigned to the Touch Faders to control pre-assigned parameters in the current Equator preset. To control these parameters with the Lightpad Block we can assign the Mixer Block mode’s faders to Macros 1, 2, and 3’s default MIDI CCs: 107, 109, and 111, respectively.

Let’s use BLOCKS Dashboard to modify the CCs being sent by Mixer Block mode. Since there are three Touch Faders, we will need three individual channels. Go to the Mixer Block mode settings and assign Channel 1’s Fader to CC 107, Channel 2’s Fader to CC 109, and Channel 3’s Fader to CC 111. You can see this process below.

BLOCKS EQUATOR #5

After these assignments, you’ll be able to control each Macros 1, 2, and 3 (or the three Touch Faders in the full Equator) using the first three faders in Mixer Block mode. Most Equator presets have modulations already assigned to these Macros, so you will be able to hear changes immediately. Try it out with a few different presets!

BLOCKS EQUATOR #6