ROLI Dashboard allows you to set a specific Pitch Bend Range which is useful for setting up with other hardware or software. These settings are saved when the Seaboard or Lightpad is disconnected from the computer, so you can make your choice, then connect to other hardware with those same settings still in place.
What Pitch Bend Range does
The Seaboard and Lightpad use MIDI pitch bend across a range of octaves to transmit Glide gestures, such as vibratos and glissandi. Pitch Bend Range determines the value of pitch bend messages sent when you glide on your Seaboard or Lightpad.
The ideal Pitch Bend Range
ROLI Dashboard's Pitch Bend Range should be matched with the maximum range of the instrument that is being controlled.
If the Pitch Bend Range being transmitted by the Seaboard is not the same as the pitch bend range of the instrument it is playing, you might not hear any variation in pitch, or find that the pitch glides too far.
By default, ROLI Dashboard uses a Pitch Bend Range of +/- 48 semitones.
When using Equator/Equator2
Equator/Equator2 is able to choose a Pitch Bend Range between 12 and 96, which you can set in the MIDI/MPE Settings from the menu. By default it is set to 48 semitones, just like ROLI Dashboard's default.
Ensure that the Note Pitch Bend in Equator's MIDI/MPE settings is matched with ROLI Dashboard's Pitch Bend Range.
In Equator2, this is found in the Note Configuration menu.
When playing recorded MIDI through the plugin, make sure that the MIDI and MPE settings are kept the same as they were when the MIDI was recorded.
If you recorded a MIDI track with the Seaboard and a pitch bend range of +/- 24 semitones, the plugin should also be set to +/- 24 semitones. Setting the plugin to a different pitch bend range later would cause the pitches of any Glide gestures in the recorded MIDI to sound out of tune (the pitch would move too far or not far enough!).
When using other instruments
The ideal Pitch Bend Range to select in ROLI Dashboard is matched with the maximum range of the instrument that is being controlled.
For example, the Kontakt has a maximum Pitch Bend Range of +/-12, therefore the Pitch Bend Range in ROLI Dashboard should also be set to 12.
Pitch bend range in more detail
Spreading musical intervals across a 14-bit range
The MIDI Pitch Bend message is a 14-bit message with a total range of 0–16383. Since it’s a bipolar control, it always starts at the center, 8192. Instead of displaying the starting point as 8192, it is displayed as 0, with positive and negative modulations of +/- 8191.
ROLI Dashboard’s Pitch Bend Range range determines how the Seaboard or Lightpad spreads a set of musical intervals (number of semitones) across the total actual range (+/- 8192) of the pitch bend message.
The maximum pitch bend value will always be 8191 but the difference between semitones will change depending on the musical range.
If the pitch bend range is set to 12:
12 semitones +/- means 24 divisions of the actual range.
Traveling a distance of 1 semitone by Glide (pitch bend) would be: 16383 / 24 = 683.
Traveling 1 octave up or down would modulate the value by +8191 or -8191.
Traveling further than 1 octave with that range selected does not produce further values because the pitch bend message’s maximum value has been reached.
If the pitch bend range is set to 48:
48 semitones +/- means 96 divisions of the actual range.
Traveling a distance of 1 semitone by Glide (pitch bend) would be 16383 / 96 = 171.
Traveling 1 octave up or down would modulate the value by +2052 or -2052.
We have selected a larger range, so the maximum pitch bend actual range value (16383) will only be reached when 48 semitones have been travelled.
So why are these options there?
Different synths have different available pitch bend ranges. If the synth and the Seaboard or Lightpad do not modulate pitch by the same amount, then the values being sent will not create the musical interval which is intended.
For example, if your finger moves by 1 semitone, and the Seaboard or Lightpad transmits an increase of 683 (one semitone assuming a 1 octave range), but the synth is set to respond with a higher maximum pitch, the result of that 683 increase will be more than a semitone.