The Seaboard is a powerful MIDI controller and it works very well with 3rd party hardware and software instruments.
Each of the dimensions of touch is transmitted using standard MIDI messages, so any instrument which can receive and respond to those messages will be able to unlock the Seaboard's expressive potential to varying degrees.
We have guides and templates for many popular instruments, which you can find here or by just searching for the name of the instrument on the Support portal. If you don't find your particular instrument, read below for a general guide on setting up with any instrument.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Step 1. Apply Single Channel mode
- Step 2a: Connect to hardware
- Step 2b: Connect to software
- Step 3: Make your instrument respond
- Step 4: Select your Channel Range for full expressive polyphony
- Why does the channel range matter?
Step 1. Apply Single Channel mode
Before you set up your instrument to respond to the Seaboard, connect your Seaboard to a computer and select Single Channel mode in ROLI Dashboard. This will simplify the process until we are ready to set the channel range.
Later, we will look at the ideal Channel Range to use with your particular instrument. The Seaboard remembers any settings you make in ROLI Dashboard so you can unplug it and connect to other hardware while retaining those settings.
Step 2a: Connect to hardware
We need to get MIDI data from the Seaboard to your instrument. The Seaboard transmits MIDI over USB so there are several choices.
Connect directly to another USB device
If your hardware has a USB type A port, and is class-compliant, the Seaboard can be connected directly without needing a computer. Read more.
Connect using 5-pin din (without a computer)
If your hardware requires a 5-pin din connector, you can use a device to convert the Seaboard's USB MIDI to a traditional 5-pin din and connect without using a computer. Read more.
Connect via 5-pin DIN cable (with a computer)
Once your Seaboard is connected to a computer, you can use a DAW or application like MIDI Patchbay to send the note data through a MIDI interface and to your instrument. This can be a great option if you want to modify the MIDI data and customize it for your particular instrument. Read more here.
Connect to a modular synth
There are several USB MIDI host modules which convert MIDI over USB to Control Voltage signals for use with modular synths. Read more here.
Connect to an iPhone/iPad
A Lightning connector can be used to connect the Seaboard to your favorite mobile apps. Read more here.
Step 2b: Connect to software
Once the Seaboard is connected to your computer via USB or Bluetooth (MacOS only), it will become available as a MIDI input device in all music applications.
Step 3: Make your instrument respond
Now that you have connected the Seaboard to your instrument, you can play notes but the dimensions of touch probably don't do anything yet.
In order for your instrument to fully unlock the Seaboard's expressive potential, it needs to receive and respond to each of the dimensions of touch (Strike, Press, Glide, Slide, Lift), which are transmitted as standard MIDI messages.
Strike is transmitted as note-on velocity, Press as channel pressure (aftertouch), Glide as pitch bend, Slide as CC74, and Lift as note-off (release) velocity. Click here to see more about these messages, and then check with your instrument's instruction manual for ways to assign those messages to particular parameters. Not all instruments can respond to particular messages or assign them to any parameter you like as is possible in Equator.
Example: controlling your instrument's Filter Cutoff with the Seaboard's Press
Press is transmitted as aftertouch. Many instruments (such as Novation's Ultranova) can receive aftertouch and assign it to various parameters, including Filter Cutoff. Once you have assigned that in your instrument, simply play the Seaboard's keywaves, and the Ultranova will respond by adjusting the Filter Cutoff.
Setting the correct pitch bend range
Glide is transmitted as pitch bend. Most instruments receive and respond to pitch bend. The Seaboard uses a large pitch bend range so that you can Glide long distances from the starting pitch. Set your instrument's pitch bend range to the same range which is selected in ROLI Dashboard.
My instrument doesn't respond to that message!
If your instrument requires a specific MIDI message (for example, some instruments "hard-wire" a CC to a parameter), and won't respond to the ones being sent by the Seaboard's touch dimensions, check this article for a quick guide on converting MIDI messages.
Step 4: Select your Channel Range for full expressive polyphony
Each instrument or DAW has different abilities and numbers of channels. In ROLI Dashboard, set your Channel Range to suit the instrument you are connecting to.
Not sure what Channel Range to choose? Click here for more information.
Next, try searching our Knowledge Base for your favorite DAW to get your project set up correctly.
Why does the channel range matter?
If the Seaboard transmits notes on channels which your instrument is not ready to receive, you will experience "dropped" notes which appear on different keywaves each time. This is because your instrument is not "listening" to those channels and the notes which are being sent on it are being ignored.