Thanks for posting your question! It sounds like you’ve been getting into the BLOCKS Dashboard beta software (and if not, you should check it out!), and these are questions that I’m sure the rest of the community will be happy to see answers to.
“Do the live/loop blocks have the potential to be standalone arp/sequence machines with a usb host, or can those modes only be handled by external software?”
The Live and Loop Blocks send CC messages for each button. The arp and sequencing functions they perform in the NOISE app is handled by the app. Any software which can be set to respond to a specific CC message could be set up to respond to the Live or Loop Blocks as a controller.
You can see exactly what is sent by the Live and Loop Blocks here.
“Can blocks transmit 16 channels of midi sequence data simultaneously?”
By default the Lightpad Block transmits MIDI data across all 16 channels according to the MPE spec. This means that when you perform a note on the Lightpad Block, each note is transmitted on its own channel, making Expressive Polyphony possible. The Lightpad, Live and Loop Block to do not transmit pre-recorded MIDI sequence data.
You can see exactly what is sent by the Lightpad Block here.
“Are there any plans to release a 5-pin roli midi host?”
Not at the moment. However, there are several options for converting USB MIDI signals into different formats. Check out out guide here.
If anyone has any suggestions and tips for connecting BLOCKS to other software and hardware, feel free to weigh in on the conversation below!