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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.

EWI Tool Is BACK!

EWI Tool, and open source patch editor for the Akai EWI4000s was shutdown almost 2 years ago. And Akai has since discontinued making the EWI 4000s (stupid decision in my opinion).

Seems like if you are a macOS user, you were kinda screwed as if you went to 10.15 (Catalina), you basically couldn’t edit your patches anymore.

Fear not, it is now been resurrected here. I’m excited. During this COVID-19 thing, one of the things I really wanted to do (and of course did not) was to get back into the EWI. And learn Bass. And Harmonica (none of those things happened either).

This is a great example of the benefit of Open Source, and that the community of Akai EWI 4000s users is still going strong!