Aerophone Pro Editor (iOS)

As of today, 4/27/21, Roland updated their editor app for iOS to include a “librarian” section where you can import “Scenes” (ie patches) from an Aerophone, a File, or the “Cloud”. The “Cloud” option brings you to the Files app on iOS, where you can go to iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Google, or other “Cloud” storage. I’m not exactly sure right now what “File” does. I think if you save it to the memory of your iOS device, you can recall it (sorta like doing a backup), or maybe if you drag some “Scenes” into the App using iTunes (Windows) or on your Mac?

Anyhow, this is a good step forward by Roland. It also removes a HUGE gripe I had with the AE-30. Bravo.

Who wants to maybe start a trading thing for patches? Perhaps set up a GitHub URL or I can open a file’s section here? Ideas?

Aerophone Pro AE-30 Second Impressions

Ok, I have had the Aerophone Pro for about two months now. And there are some things it does well, and some……..that need work. Let’s start with the stuff it does well.

First, I really like the mouthpiece/reed thing. It feels more “sax like”. Pitch bending, while it can be done with this weird little thumb lever thing, can be done with the mouthpiece. Like a sax would. The Akai EWI’s, you have to do it with your thumb (hitting a touch area above or below).

Second, the “palm keys”, the forked F, and the pinky keys are great. Again, it feels more like playing a sax.

Third, it is really responsive while playing it. Responsive as in I didn’t need to tweak anything to get it it where I wanted. My EWI 4000 I had to really tweak a bunch of settings until the sound delay was to my liking.

Ok……….so the stuff that needs work……

Obviously…..the key noise. I still is a problem. Slightly better as it gets “broken in” but………..it’s loud. And still feels sorta “cheap”.

The editing of sounds. There needs to be some sort of computer editor or something. While you can do editing, sorta, on the iPad or iPhone, it’s not great. And you can’t save them other than to your app. This is a HUGE stupid oversight by Roland. No ability to SHARE patches. I mean…….what? There isn’t even a SYSEX dump as far as I can tell. I did dig into the MIDI that it does, and I think you could, in theory, maybe create a program to edit sounds, but……why Roland hasn’t done this, I am clueless. This hobbles the instrument. One of the great things about the Akai EWI 4000s was the creating custom sounds (Patchman, and others).

The default sounds…..need work. Like, almost all of them are just so heavy with effects…….delays and reverbs……….it’s just too much. The Guitar/Bass section……not sure why anyone would want to attempt to use a folk guitar with this. On the flip side, the synths are great…..after some tweaking……and the ethnic section is fun. But a lot of these require work, and the editor app is just not really that great to do the work in. And if you tweak a bunch of these, are they going to survive when Roland issues another OS update to the device? Is there a way to BACK UP all the stuff? I don’t see any way to do that………

Conclusion……

I’m still torn on this. While I see a huge potential, the instrument is crippled by Roland. The inability to share patches, or just SAVE THEM off the device to a file, limits the true potential of this instrument. Why give us an instrument that is “ZEN-Core Synthesis System” but a POS editor for it. Dumb. Really dumb.

Aerophone Pro AE-30 First Impressions

Ok, so I bought a late Christmas present for myself. An Aerophone AE-30. Finally received it this week.

So, first impressions. Good things first.

  1. I LOVE that they included a case. As a Akai EWI 4000 owner, it was a PAIN IN THE ASS to find a case for it. I did find a case made by Ritter-bags (soprano bag) that I love. But the AE-30 comes with a bag. Points scored.
  2. Mouthpiece. It actually sort is like a saxophone. A reed, and you can lip things up and down. Very nice.
  3. The sounds are great. The synth sounds really are top notch. Even the “trumpet” and other sampled/emulated sounds are very good.
  4. Playing response is great. Articulation, etc. Top notch.
  5. iOS app is nice. They don’t have a computer editor key as far as I can see. And no apparent way to share your patches or save them for backups or future reference. Not sure if it does a SysEx dump.
  6. Bluetooth Midi.

Now the things so far I do not like.

  1. It feels cheap. For a $1500 instrument, it feels cheap and plastic. Like, it feels like a toy. I know the Akai 4000 has plastic, but it feels WAY more solid and “PRO” than the AE-30. I’d fear taking the AE-30 out on a gig…..it might break.
  2. The keys are terrible. I complained on a couple of YouTube videos about the key noise. It is real. They keys are also rather….meh. I mean, they seem to be sluggish. I think the noise and the sluggishness are tied together. With some use perhaps it will go away? Or maybe some like silicone lube perhaps? Not sure. Not a fan at all of the keys.
  3. Speakers are lame. Still not sure why they have them on it. Perhaps if they got rid of it they could have slimed it down some.

Those are the impressions so far. A little disappointed by the build quality. More to come…..

Petition To Akai to Re-Continue The EWI4000s

The Akai Professional EWI 4000s was discontinued in June of 2019, after 14 years of its release, but it is still in very high demand. Many consider the 4000s to be the best EWI (after 16 years of its release in 2005) for its sounds that are not compatible with newer EWI models. It is very hard to get a hold of one these days because of the discontinuation, because there are so many people looking to get this instrument, and almost every existing unit being sold out. It is unlikely that this petition will do anything, but it’s worth a shot to get this legendary instrument back into production.

Sometimes, you just need a good OLD fashioned petition to fix a problem.

the BEST EWI Youtube Channel?

If you were going to list the “who’s who” of EWI, names like Michael Brecker, and Masato Honda come to mind. Yet, there is a new name that should come up. Eddie EWI.

Seriously, this guy RIPS on EWI. His channel is a pure delight to watch/listen to. He has really mastered the Akai EWI, and sounds f-ing great on it. Check him out!

EWI5000 and Presonus One 5 Pro

Does anyone have experience setting up an EWI5000 in Presonus Studio One to work with Aria Player or any of the VST instrument group included with PS1? I have everything working with one exception… There is no ability to crescendo/decrescendo by blowing harder or softer into the EWI. There is the ability to create a louder or softer note based on the air pressure at the the attack of the note (like key velocity on a keyboard instrument, but once that musical dynamic is set it cannot be changed with the breath controller. I’m assuming this has something to do with midi “expression”(?) but am at a loss as to what to do. So far the support team at Presonus is “stumped”. To date, the folks at MakeMusic (the Aria Player and associated Garriton instruments are part of Finale) – have not replied to my inquiries.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

Tom Scott YouTube Channel

Legend Tom Scott has a YouTube channel, and it’s criminally under viewed. It’s a great channel with Tom telling stories like how he was in the Blues Brothers band, or playing a great little rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (where he does a little bit on the new Roland Aerophone AE30).

I hope Tom keeps posting videos and adding subscribers. He still has one of the most distinctive sax sounds out there. I absolutely love his tenor sound from the 70s. I remember in high school trying to master the “Dirty Old Man” solo on a jazz band arrangement by him. Such a great song. FYI, he also wrote and performed the great Starsky & Hutch Theme. And he was one of the early EWI pioneers utilizing the Lyricon in sooo many of his albums (this was before Michael Brecker got into the EWI).

Go check him out and subscribe

Roland AE-30

Roland has released another in their line of Aerophone Digital Wind Instruments. You have the Aerophone AE-10, the Aerophone GO, the Aerophone mini, and now the Aerophone Pro (AE-30).

Retailing for a whopping $1500, it does have a lot of things going for it. It seems to really embrace the synth part more than it’s previous models, or anything Yamaha or Akai is offering up. Sure, there is a lot of cheezy “sax sounds”, and other sampled sounds, but their is also a “zen core synthesis system” which Roland uses in the Phantom and Jupiter X synth lines. This is very cool. And easily puts it way past other EWIs on the market. You’d have to somehow obtain an Akai EWI4000s (which Akai discontinued) to get a synth engine, and it’s not even in the league of the Roland’s. Plus it has Bluetooth MIDI on it. And can be configured from an editor app on your tablet.

Basically, THIS IS THE WIND CONTROLLER you should get. It has the best of everything on it. Sampled sounds, and a synth engine so you can do………pretty much anything.

The ONLY….complaints are the price $1499 is really steep (and it’s mostly plastic…..and at least one reviewer didn’t like the plastic mouthpiece), the insistence of having a built in speaker (why?……I can see this for the “non pro” ones….but the pro? How about losing that and adding a better mouthpiece (ebonite maybe?) or maybe wireless audio from it?) and that these seems to be a lot of key noise. Like cheap sounding key noise.

Would I get this? YES. This is the direction wind controllers/Electronic Wind Instruments should be going. A powerful engine where you can do sampled sounds, but you can also create new sounds. And it’s not looking like some sort of franken-sax. It’s worth the investment. Get something good. Get this.