Live Block Creator Manual
1 Introduction - Live Block
Hello creator, and welcome to the Creator Manual for the Live Block. We think of the people who buy and use ROLI’s products as creators more than customers. Our products are designed to expand the bandwidth of creative expression and thereby empower people as the creators they are. Everyone who buys and uses BLOCKS is investing in this vision of creativity and therefore is also a co-creator of ROLI.
BLOCKS is the most accessible and versatile music creation system ever made. It is a modular music studio that lets anyone make music whether they’re a professional musician or a total beginner. Each individual Block is powerful and intuitive, offering unique capabilities that let people make music in simple but far-reaching ways. The Blocks connect together to create customisable kits that suit any budget, skill level, and musical style. With a click of magnetic connectors, music-makers can build their own instruments as they go.
We have included a short list of terms specific to BLOCKS in the beginning of this manual. We will refer to these terms throughout this Creator Manual.
Please note that this is a digital manual updated regularly to reflect software updates and other improvements. Be sure to check for updates on noise.fm. This Manual is current up to NOISE v2.1.4.
Support and Feedback
We want you to have the best experience possible with our products and would love to hear your feedback. Should you have any questions, experience any problems, or just want to say hello, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
The easiest way to reach us is to send a support inquiry from the NOISE app or from support.roli.com. We will respond as quickly as possible
2 Glossary of selected BLOCKS terms
A modular music studio built of individual Blocks, each with specific capabilities, that connect together physically through BLOCKS DNA connectors and wirelessly through Bluetooth.
The individual hardware components of the BLOCKS system including the Lightpad Block, Loop Block and Live Block.
BLOCKS DNA Connector
These 6-pin connectors carry power, data, and serve as magnetic attachment points for connecting multiple Blocks together so they function as one.
The Five Dimensions of Touch (5D Touch)
The feature of real-time control and modulation of sound through the basic movements of: Strike, Press, Glide, Slide, Lift. Strike:
- Strike: The velocity and force with which a finger makes contact with the Lightpad Surface.
- Press: The pressure and continuous touch applied to the Lightpad Surface after the initial Strike.
- Glide: Horizontal left and right movements on Lightpad Surface.
- Slide: Vertical movements up and down the Lightpad Surface.
- Lift: The release velocity or speed of liftoff from Lightpad Surface.
A fixed configuration of pads on the NOISE interface and the Lightpad Block surface. Possible grid layouts include 2×2, 4×4, and 5×5. In each grid layout, the number of pads is the same on the X and Y axis.
The central Block in the BLOCKS system. The Lightpad Block features an illuminated tactile surface that enables creators to shape sound through Five Dimensions of Touch: Strike, Glide, Slide, Press, and Lift. It builds sequencing, looping, finger drumming and expressive control into one intuitive device.
The 15×15 LED matrix made up of individual cells (225) and covered with laser etched silicone which makes up the surface of the Lightpad Block and enables users to input multidimensional or 5D Touch performances.
Live Block puts the most frequently used functions for performance in immediate reach including controls for switching scales and octaves, playing chords and arpeggios, and sustaining notes.
Loop Block puts all the functions for capturing, looping and layering sound in immediate reach, cutting down the amount of time spent in software and maximising the possibilities for expression. The Block’s 10 controls include controls for setting a tempo, recording loops, and quantizing loops so they snap in time with the tempo.
Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression (MPE) is a protocol for using standard MIDI messages to communicate with and enable the operation of multidimensional instruments such as the Seaboard and BLOCKS. MPE enables independent, per-note control of multiple sound parameters such as pitch and timbre.
A free modular music app that lets anyone create beats, melodies and songs using simple, easy-to-learn gestures on the touch screens of iPhones and iPads. The app’s expressive power can be expanded with BLOCKS. It is at the heart of the BLOCKS system.
A square that corresponds to a note in the grid layout of the Lightpad Block and NOISE.
USB-C is the specific type of USB connector that we use on the Lightpad Block. There is a female connector on the block itself, and a male connector on the included USB Cable.
3.1 What is the Live Block
When you’re playing live, every second counts and there’s no time for browsing through menus. The Live Block and Loop Block make it even easier to perform and produce music on BLOCKS by putting the most frequently used functions for performance in immediate reach. The Live Block’s 10 buttons include controls for mode, volume, scales, chord, arp, sustain, octave, and more.
3.2 Charge Your Live Block
Charge Your Live Block
You should charge your Live Block as a first step before proceeding. You can continue to play with your new Live Block while it’s charging. The Live Block must be connected to a Lightpad Block that is connected to a USB 3 power source to charge.
- First, connect the Lightpad Block to a USB 3 power source with the included USB-C cable.
- Connect the Live Block to the Lightpad Block via the DNA connectors to begin charging it.
The Lightpad Block requires 5 watts to charge while operating. Adding a Live Block will add 2.5 watts (7.5 watts total). A full BLOCKS system (Lightpad Block + Live Block + Loop Block) requires 10 watts total. We recommend using an iPad charger (there are two models – 10 watts and 12 watts, both will work) or a USB 3 charger with an output of 10 watts or higher. Please refer to the table in the Appendix for charge times.
Note: Do not attempt to use an iPhone charger to charge BLOCKS as it is not compatible.
3.3 System Requirements
- Lightpad Block
- iOS 9 or higher
- iPhone 6 or higher running
- 3rd generation iPad or higher
3.4 Connect and Register
Note: This Live Block Creator Manual assumes that you have already setup a Lightpad Block which is needed to charge the Live Block. If you have not yet set up the Lightpad Block please do so before proceeding. Please refer to the Lightpad Block Creator Manual for instructions on setting up.
It’s recommended that you charge the Live Block first by connecting it to the Lightpad Block using one of the multiple DNA connectors. Be sure to connect your Lightpad Block to a USB power source to ensure that your Live Block charges properly. If you also purchased a Loop Block, you may attach it now.
There are two ways to connect the Live Block to NOISE. The first way is by physically attaching it to one of the available DNA connectors on the Lightpad Block. This method both charges the Live Block, provided that the Lightpad Block is plugged into a USB power source and also allows two-way data communication between the both.
The second way is by connecting the Live Block to NOISE via Bluetooth. Connecting via Bluetooth is handy for when you don’t want your Live or Loop Block to physically touch the Lightpad Block, however, this method will not simultaneously charge the Live Block.
Option 1: DNA Connection
Note: the two sections below assume that you have already connected your Lightpad Block to NOISE via Bluetooth. Please refer to the Lightpad Block Creator Manual and connect the Lightpad Block before proceeding.
- Physically attach the Live Block to an available DNA connector on the Lightpad Block.
- The Live Block will automatically turn on. If it does not, press any button.
- Now you are ready to make music.
Option 2: Bluetooth Connection
- Turn your Live Block on by pressing any button.
- Open NOISE, press the Settings cog in the top-right corner of the NOISE app and select ‘Connect BLOCKS’.
- Choose your ‘Live Block’ from the Bluetooth MIDI Devices screen to complete MIDI-over-Bluetooth pairing.
- If you also purchased a Loop Block you can connect it now following the same steps above.
You may be prompted to update the firmware during this setup. This is highly recommended. It’s important that you update to the latest firmware as periodic updates improve functionality and introduce new features.
To update the firmware, launch NOISE and connect your Block. In NOISE, click the Settings icon in the upper-right corner, and then click “Firmware.” NOISE will look for BLOCKS updates. If there are new firmware updates, you may select “Click to Update.” The update will take a few minutes to process. When the update is finished, your Block will restart. After your Block restarts, reconnect it to NOISE by clicking “OK” and then clicking on the name of your Block.
All Blocks need at least 30% battery remaining in order to update the firmware. If you are not able to update your Block’s firmware, make sure it is charged and try again.
Re-Connecting to the NOISE App
- To re-connect your Live Block to NOISE via Bluetooth after the initial setup please follow the steps below:
- Turn Bluetooth ‘ON’ on your iOS device.
- Turn on the Live Block by pressing the Mode button.
- The Live Block will power up in Bluetooth pairing mode.
- Launch NOISE on your iOS device.
- Press the Bluetooth icon in NOISE and select “your Live Block” from the list of Bluetooth MIDI Devices to pair app and hardware. If you don’t see your Live Block listed in the MIDI Bluetooth devices in NOISE then press the Mode button to enter pairing mode.
4 The Live Block
4.1 The Front Panel
The Indicator Strip
The strip of 15 LEDs along the top of both the Live and Loop Blocks. The Indicator strip provides visual feedback when editing parameters in NOISE. It also serves as a battery indicator for the Live and Loop Blocks when they are disconnected from Bluetooth.
Power On / Power Off
Press the Mode Button to Turn the Live Block on. To turn it off, press and hold the Mode Button for 3 seconds.
4.2 The Buttons
The Live Block front panel features 8 function buttons, a plus/minus button, and a 15 segment LED strip indicator. Here is a brief description of what each button does when connected to the NOISE App.
This button cycles through the four instrument slots. It can also be used to power the Live Block on or off.
This button in conjunction with the + / – button controls volume.
This button turns Scale “ON” or “OFF”. Use the + / – buttons to select a scale. Available scales include: Major, Minor, Harmonic Minor, Pentatonic Neutral, Pentatonic Major, Pentatonic Minor, Pentatonic Blues, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Locrian, Whole Tone, Arabian (A), Arabian (B), Chinese, Ryukyu, 8-Tone Spanish, and Chromatic. The LED Indicator displays the Scale as a combination of whole steps and half steps.
This button has 3 functions. Pressing it 3 times successively will do the following:
1.) Press once to turn Chord “ON” for the selected Solo Instrument. Then use + / – to select a chord.
2.) Press a second time to lock the currently selected Chord. The + / – button will now return to their previous function of changing presets.
3.) Press a third time to turn Chord “OFF”.
The available Chords include: Octave, 5th, Major, Minor, Sus4, Sus2, 7th, Major 7th, Minor 7th, 9th, Minor 9th, Diminished, Augmented, and Min7b5.
Note: If Arp is switched “ON”, Chord will directly determine the notes being played by the arpeggiator. This makes it possible to generate some very complex melodies with just one finger.
This button has 3 functions. Pressing it 3 times successively will do the following:
1.) To turn the Arp “ON” for the selected Solo Instrument. Then use + / – to select a pattern.
2.) To lock the currently selected Arp pattern. The + / – button will now return to their previous function of changing presets.
3.) To turn the Arp “OFF”.
The available Arp patterns include: Up, Down, Up Down, Down Up, Up Up Down, Down Down Up, and Random arpeggiator patterns. The Indicator strip displays up to seven values to represent the 7 Arp pattern choices.
This button sustains all notes for as long as you are holding it. Sustain is indicated by the Indicator Strip being fully illuminated.
This button in changes the octave of the currently selected Instrument. Press the Octave Button one and use the + / – button changes the octave up and down respectively across a 6-octave range. Press it again to exit Octave.
This adds the currently selected preset to your list of favourites.
+ / –
The Plus / Minus buttons operate in conjunction with the rest of the buttons to add or subtract values from the selected parameter.
5 Live Block Appendix
The Live Block features 4 DNA connectors. These six-pin connectors magnetically connect multiple Blocks and also transmit power and data between the Blocks.
Information About the Battery
The Live Block features a 740mAh Li-po (Lithium polymer) battery with a nominal discharge voltage of 3.7 volts. The battery is capable of powering the Live Block for the period in excess of four hours when fully charged. Charging the battery is achieved by connecting the Live Block to a Lightpad Block which is plugged into either a USB 3 or USB 2 power source.
The battery will retain over 80% of its capacity for over 300 charge cycles. A charge cycle is defined as a complete discharge from 100% to 0%, and subsequent recharge back to 100%. For example, charging a device going from 50% charge up to 100% and back twice would be equivalent to one charge cycle.
The table below indicates charge times for common configurations with the Blocks turned off.
|BLOCKS||Watts||Time to charge|
|Lightpad Block||5W——-12W||4 hours ————— 3 hours|
|Lightpad Block + Live Block||10W——-12W||4 hours ————— 3 hours|
|Lightpad Block+ Live Block + Loop Block||10W——-12W||4 hours ————— 4 hours|
Cleaning the Live Block
Basic care and attention will protect your Live Block and help it stay in optimal condition. Keep it away from direct sunlight, sharp objects or edges, corrosive solvents, and liquids. To clean the Live Block front panel you may use a damp, bleach-free and oil-free cleansing wipes. Do not use any abrasive cleansing agents on the Live Block.
|Battery Life||4 hours|
|Bluetooth Range||15 meters|
|LEDs||15 Led Indicator Strip, 10 backlit buttons|
|Dimensions||94mm x 47mm x 20mm|
|Connectivity||Full MIDI compatibility over USB and Bluetooth LE|
|Buttons||10 Backlit Buttons|
|Included in package||Quickstart Guide and Warranty Information|