Total control: how the latest MPE, touch and gesture controllers could revolutionize your music production

Here's six of the best MIDI polyphonic expression controllers on the market right now...

1. Roger Linn LinnStrument


(Image credit: Roger Linn)

Price: £1399/$1499 | Buy 

One of the originators of five-dimensional control surfaces, Roger Linn’s LinnStrument contains rows of illuminated squares which can be assigned to consecutive semitones, and tuned to match that of a real instrument, leading to a robust, real-instrument-like pitch with a glide-able playing surface. Finger movements can alter modulation effects, meaning the LinnStrument can be used a number of ways.

2. ROLI Seaboard Rise 2


(Image credit: ROLI)

Price: £1099/$1399 | Buy

The latest version of the MPE flagship, the squidgy-notes of the Seaboard Rise 2 integrate perfectly with ROLI’s bespoke Equator 2 synth, granting 5D expression control via striking, gliding, sliding, lifting and pressing. Using the Seaboard’s patented keyboard allows users to explore far more avenues of sound than conventional MIDI control. It’s also lightweight and gig-ready.

3. Embodme Erae Touch


(Image credit: Embodme)

Price: £750/$850 | Buy

A newcomer to the MPE stable, Erae Touch takes its cues from the MPE forerunners and adds some astonishing visual illumination to an ever-shifting, pressure-sensitive play surface. Designed as an all-in-one performance instrument and composition hub, Erae Touch allows you to build complex rhythms, harmonies and rippling leads all via its multitouch pad.

4. Artiphon Instrument 1 


(Image credit: Artiphon)

Price: £325/$299 | Buy

Technically more of a glorified MIDI controller than an actual MPE controller per se, the Instrument 1 still appears here due to the fact that it’s able to grant similar deep control over per-note articulation as the MPE format. Spingboarded by the most successful music-related Kickstarter campaign in history, this string-aping instrument is able to control every facet of your virtual instruments.

5. Joué Music Joué Play

joue music

(Image credit: Joue Music)

Price: £309/$300 | Buy

Emphasising the variety of approaches that MPE control leads to, Joué Music’s Play presents a central instrument with a responsive play surface, and a range of colourful alternative overlay pads. With financial boosting from Kickstarter, this novel concept has found favour with a huge range of musicians. There’s overlays for drums, strings, keys and much more, meaning that the learning curve is less steep. 

6. Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4


(Image credit: Keith McMillen)

Price: £799/$599 | Buy

Closer to a real keyboard than many of its siblings, Keith McMillen’s K-Board Pro 4 utilises Smart Fabric Sensors to grant five expressions of control. It’s a great bolt‑on to a hardware synth, and the programmable KBP4 Editor software allows you to set it up with a real ease.

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