ROLI Releases LUMI Keys Studio Edition, A First-Ever Controller Offering Polyphonic Aftertouch And Per-Key Pitch-Bend

Roli follows up last week’s release of the Equator 2 software synth with an intriguing piece of hardware, the LUMI Keys Studio Edition. Lumi Keys is a revolutionary MPE-enabled controller that offers polyphonic pitch-bend and aftertouch per key, as well as new ways to compose with light on illuminated keys. 

Watch the video below for some very cool sounds and textures created with pitch bends and vibrato-like movements by guiding, pressing, lifting and striking the Lumi Keys.

For the first time, Roli states, music makers can bend pitch through vibrato-like movements on a keyboard controller with traditional key action, adding expression in a natural and intuitive way. This innovation comes as many other music-making tools — like Ableton Live 11 and ROLI’s new flagship MPE sound engine Equator2 — optimize for MIDI Polyphonic Expression and make MPE into a fully integrated, mainstream part of digital music production and performance. 

Roland Lamb, founder and CEO of ROLI, said: “LUMI Keys Studio Edition brings a touch of Seaboard magic to a traditional keyboard format. Beyond its form factor, however, LUMI Keys is anything but traditional. Its unique combination of illumination — which enables a range of compositional shortcuts — and its unprecedented MPE capabilities make it the most innovative and feature-rich keyboard action on any controller available today. 

The Seaboard is still the premier MPE instrument for playing in the deep end of musical expression, but now LUMI Keys provides an opportunity for everyone to get started with MPE and see how it can enhance their production workflow and create new possibilities for performance.” 

LUMI Keys Studio Edition bundles in ROLI Studio, a powerful desktop software suite that includes presets from ROLI’s Equator2, Cypher2, and Strobe2 synths, as well as an array of cutting-edge production features customized for LUMI Keys. 

Roli Lumi (top) and two Lumi's connected (bottom)

Taken from Roli’s press release, full features include: 

  • Four Dimensions of Touch for shaping sounds through MPE  

In addition to Glide, or polyphonic pitch-bend per key, there are three other Dimensions of Touch for controlling sound through finger movements: Press, or per-key polyphonic aftertouch; Lift, or release velocity; and Strike, or attack velocity. This makes LUMI the first “4D” keyboard offering Four Dimensions of Touch control.  

  • Light-assisted composition through tools built in to ROLI Studio 

The brightest RGB-illuminated keyboard ever made, LUMI Keys introduces light-assisted composition to the music creation process. Light up scales, chords, and arpeggios in any key, through Smart Chords and features in ROLI Studio. By visualizing scales and chords in unfamiliar keys, you can get out of your comfort zone and find inspiration for new ideas.

  • Seamless integration with BLOCKS 

The underlying technology of LUMI Keys is similar to that of BLOCKS. Connect LUMI Keys (wirelessly or physically) with the Lightpad Block for a mobile music-making setup of unparalleled power. Play on LUMI Keys and control parameters on the Lightpad Block, through their custom integration with ROLI Studio. 

  • Expandability through magnetic connectors  

Expand the keyboard in a snap. Through magnetic DNA connectors pioneered for BLOCKS, you can connect two, three, or four keyboards to create a 48, 72, or even 96-key playing surface. Edge-to-edge design, plus integration across hardware, software, and firmware, make multiple LUMIs play as one. 

  • Compact size and versatility for any situation 

LUMI Keys’ compact size make it supremely versatile, whether it’s on a crowded studio work surface or in a backpack en route to a session. DS5.5 keys are ⅞ the width of standard keys, making LUMI Keys bigger than a “mini-keys” keyboard but more compact than a standard controller. At 677g its weight is about the same as an iPad Pro.   

  • Four playing modes for just the right amount of expression

Four modes let you select the expressive response from LUMI Keys. Piano Mode makes LUMI Keys play like a classic keyboard. Aftertouch Mode adds aftertouch and Pitch-bend Mode allows per-key pitch-bend, while 4D Mode enables pitch-bend and aftertouch together. These modes will be available to all LUMI users after a firmware update in January. 

LUMI Keys is also compatible with LUMI Music, an award-winning platform that originated as a Kickstarter project in 2019. The LUMI Music app teaches learners how to play the piano by taking in-app lessons and practicing songs they love. 

LUMI Keys Studio Edition is now available on in a limited-time launch bundle priced at $269 (£269), a 10% discount from the purchase price of $299. The launch bundle includes ROLI Studio, a LUMI Snapcase, three additional ROLI soundpacks, and a $50 voucher which can be used for any ROLI software, even the newly released Equator2

Sales start today on a pre-order basis. The first LUMI Keys Studio Editions will ship in January 2021. 

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