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.
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.
Mouthpiece. It actually sort is like a saxophone. A reed, and you can lip things up and down. Very nice.
The sounds are great. The synth sounds really are top notch. Even the “trumpet” and other sampled/emulated sounds are very good.
Playing response is great. Articulation, etc. Top notch.
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.
Now the things so far I do not like.
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.
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.
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…..
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.
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).
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.