Akai unveils MIDI wind controller

The USB peripheral that blows

Akai is now shipping its EWI USB – a MIDI wind controller that's said to enable anyone, regardless of experience, to create expressive wind instrument parts in their computer.

The device has fingering modes for the saxophone, flute and oboe. Other key features include a five-octave range, breath modulation with adjustable threshold, pitch bend, adjustable vibrato, transposing and octave shifting.

Tone generation is handled by the supplied Garritan/Plogue Aria software, which contains over 75 orchestral, band and synth sounds.

Although the EWI USB is said to be suitable for serious players, it's also been designed to be easily playable. Don't go thinking that you need to have perfect blowing technique in order to use it.

"With EWI USB, we are exposing the world of wind instrument expression to a whole new world of players," said Gregg Stein, Director of Marketing at Akai Professional.

"Traditionally, electronic wind instruments have fallen into two categories: very expensive professional instruments, and inexpensive instruments of low quality. EWI USB is the first instrument to offer professional quality at such an affordable price."

The EWI USB is Mac- and PC-compatible and costs $499.

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