Pretty good intro video here
I really love this. For years, there were basically two choices for Wind Controllers. Either ones from Akai or Yamaha. Then Roland entered the space, then controllers like the NuRAD. Now, another contestant has entered the arena….the Robkoo Wind Synthesizer.
It has some very interesting design choices, including a horizontal orientation. Like….that’s cool. All kinds of interesting features. No price that I can find.
Not a lot of videos either. But it looks interesting though. Love that more of these are getting made.
The Lekato is currently about $50 on Amazon. It works really well…..except…..when it doesn’t. Let me explain. I’ve used it a couple of times on gigs (*gasp* during COVID?!?!) and it’s solid. No interference. Good sound. Except it interferes with my iPad. We use a wireless mixer, and the iPad was having major issues connecting to the Mixer, which is sorta important when you switch to the EWI and want to boost the sound a little either in my in-ear mix, or in the mains. We generally keep the mixer only on 5ghz cause…….science. There are more frequencies available in 5ghz, and less interference. Anyhow, so when I was about 3 feet or closer to the iPad, it would start having issues being connected to the band’s mixer. Deal breaker? Sorta…….I mean, now I know what was happening, it’s pretty easy to not be really by the iPad. But it is rather annoying. The Lekato though NEVER lost it’s connection. It was just the iPad.
The NUX is really solid. It also comes with a great case that also functions as a recharging case as well (a la Airpods). These function on the 2.4ghz band, but NUX has done some spectrum filtering to sort of have it’s stuff “sit” in parts of the band where wifi doesn’t sit. It’s also rock solid. Should be for 3 times the price.
Which one would I recommend? Both. I think it’s wise, when you are going into the wireless stuff, to have options. Unless you want to plunk out a lot of $$$ on a Shure system (currently about $299). With the Shure system though, you’d need to PLUG IN the receiver to power. Both the NUX and the Lekato are battery powered. You just simply come to the gig, plug into the sound system, and you are set for hours.
Having TWO different transmitters/receivers in your bag, it allows you to have options. And BOTH of them are battery powered. The big downside with the Shure system is that it requires you to take a fairly big (1/2 rack size box) with you and it’s AC adapter. The NUX and the Lekato would fix fine in your AE-30 case (with the stand I reviewed earlier) or whatever case you have for your Akai. Having both also lets you trouble shoot interference issues.
I’d love to be able to abandon the original patch editor for the EWI400s (It’s so buggy and requires using an old computer stored in my basement!) But I’m having no luck. I am running it on a Mac OSX. There are never any “Core4Midi4J” prefixed ports so I can’t communicate with my EWI. Any ideas?
Excerpt from Help page.
“The next thing to do is to choose the MIDI ports you are going to use to connect to the EWI; go to the EWI menu and select MIDI Connections – that should be self-explanatory, but if you are on OS X you must choose the Core4Midi4J prefixed ports – using any others will prevent EWItool from communicating with your EWI.”
While I totally think this stand is the best stand you can currently get for EWIs, I somehow missed a post from Bret Pimentel in 2017 where he made a “home made stand”, which would screw into something like a Hercules stand, or whatever stand you have. Or maybe I did try making one? I don’t remember (nor have any fruits of me attempting to make one), so this might be an option for people. It’s not nearly as portable as my afore mentioned stand though (it fits in my Aerophone and Akai EWI cases).
Roland is not sitting on it’s butt. It is really moving forward with making the Aerophone Pro THE new standard in Wind Controller.
They just released firmware 2.0 for it, and it takes things to another level. We now can finally get new sounds, patches, and even draw from a bunch of things from the Roland Cloud.
I mean, this is really what it should be. It Akai…..WTF……you’ve had DECADES of EWI under your belt, but you NEVER did anything with it. You created a crap ass editor (that no longer works on Mac), but never tied it into your ecosystem. BRAVO Roland for this. It’s is great.
HOWEVER……..why do we have to transfer these files with a F-ing USB drive??? I mean…..what is this…..1990? There is USB C on this thing. Why don’t you have a program that runs (say, I dunno, Roland Cloud), that can transfer the files over a USB C cable from a computer. Why do we have this archaic boot holding down the menu key, and having a USB C drive connected. It’s stupid.
I’m HOPING this gets addressed in the next update. But seriously though, this is great stuff. I banked on Roland and it’s sound engine, and was hoping for something like this. They delivered with a Librarian function in the last update, but this takes it to another level.
Akai……seriously…….you need to fire your current team on the EWI. You need to put a synthesis engine BACK into the EWI (not a F-ing sample player), and get back in the game. There is NO REASON anyone should be buying the current offerings from Akai. If you can get a 4000S, get it, but……the 5000s and the Solo are dead ends. Roland is the new leader in this space.
I have played EWI’s from way back when you still needed a rackmounted processor for your EWI, to EWI USB, and EWI-4000s, but unsatisfied with the built in sounds I searched and was disappointed until I found samplemodeling.com They had not only the best woodwind and brass sounds, but their software had specific settings for Windcontrollers. More recently one part of this incredibly creative group split off to form audiomodeling (using their own SWAM engine). Go to their web sites and check it out with your own ears.
You can also check out my soundcloud page here:
I’ve recently bought a Roland Aerophone AE-10 and the built trumpet, violin, harmonica, clarinet, bassoon etc. are far superior to anything I have ever heard built in to any other wind controller. However, I have major problems with the octave key. I thought it was only because I am so used to the octave rollers on the EWI instruments, but some reviews I read recently written by people who have never played an EWI have the same complaints. I have gotten better with some practdice, but it is very frustrating to put it mildly. The pricey Aerophone AE-30 is supposed to have improved the octave keys as well as all of the other keys as well and the synth sounds, which don’t interest me that much, are also said to be improved.
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?
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………
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.
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.
- Bluetooth Midi.
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…..