We're not entirely sure if the Seaboard Block M is really the "new dimension of music creation" that ROLI claims it is, but it does have new dimensions compared to the Mk1 version, so perhaps that's what the London-based firm means.
Seaboard Block M is an update of the original Seaboard Block, a more mobile version of the company's Seaboard RISE MPE keyboard that followed the release of the original Grand model a decade ago. This introduced the concept of the 'five dimensions of touch, and these are still in play in the new Seaboard Block M.
A quick recap: the five dimensions are enabled by the special 'keywave' playing surface of the Seaboard. Strike is the first - the more traditional playing of the keys with velocity. Press is the equivalent of aftertouch so comes into action after you Strike.
The more unusual ones are Glide and Slide, which can send MIDI information as you move your fingers left-right (Glide) or slide them up and down the keys (Slide). Finally, Lift sends information depending on how quickly you release a key.
Combine all five and you have a pretty 'out there' way of playing your MPE soft synths or super-realistic sounds, as demonstrated in this video around the 2:45 mark.
Seaboard Block M gives you all of this in a small but perfectly formed keyboard with a "24-keywave edge-to-edge design". This new version features a handy MIDI Out, too, making playing external MPE hardware easier, plus an extended 10-hour wireless battery life.
New firmware, meanwhile, enables users to get in and customise things such as the keyboard's velocity response curve, which according to ROLI gives users "a more natural, intuitive playing experience". You can also use the device in tandem with ROLI's Dashboard software to make other mode changes and access ROLI's soundpacks and software titles, of which Studio Software Suite comes bundled with the keyboard.
On top of a more durable design, that wraps up the big news, so this is one that we'd probably describe as an 'evolutionary' update.
Seaboard Block M is available to preorder now and costs $349.95/£299.95€349.95, so it is by far the cheapest way to get some Seaboard action.
ROLI founder Roland Lamb says: "The reintroduction of the Seaboard Block M marks a monumental step in making the revolutionary MPE and 5D Touch technology accessible to more music makers around the world.
"We believe that this tool will not only foster creativity but also redefine the landscape of music production. It’s more than an instrument; it’s a gateway to infinite musical possibilities.”
He's not sitting on the fence, is he? There's more information at the ROLI website.