Roli Lightpad Block M

MIDI Controller

  • 50% Brighter surface due to high-resolution LEDs
  • In conjunction with your iPhone or iPad and Noise app the controller can be turned into a beat machine and Melody instrument
  • 5D Touch: Strike, Glide, Slide, Press, Lift
  • Pressure-sensitive silicone surface
  • Integrated battery
  • The Lightpad Block is a master block that acts as a "host" to other blocks via its MIDI over Bluetooth connection
  • It runs on the NOISE app, a powerful music app that serves as a software synthesizer as well as a sound engine for the BLOCKS system (iPhone or iPad required)
  • Includes USB-C to USB-A cable

Technical specifications:

  • 15 x 15 LED matrix
  • 225 LEDs
  • 5D Touch
  • Buttons: Fashion, Power & Bluetooth
  • 8 BLOCKS DNA connections
  • USB-C connector (MIDI out and power)
  • Full MIDI compatibility via USB and Bluetooth LE
  • 4 Hours of battery life
  • 2 Hours charging time
  • 15 meters Bluetooth range
  • 30 ms Touch to sound Bluetooth latency
  • Surface: silicone with a durable, smooth urethane coating
  • System requirements: iPhone 6/6 Plus or later, iPad air or later, iOS 9.0 or higher
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 94 x 21.8 x 94 mm
  • Weight: 260 g

Further Information

Bluetooth Yes
5-pole DIN MIDI No
Ethernet No
Pads 25
Diplay No
Rotary Knobs 0
Fader(s) 0
Drawbar No
Expansion No
4 Customer Ratings:
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
3.3 / 5.0
  • handling
  • features
  • quality
4 written ratings Read all reviews

Great concept, not quite ready yet

vargaradu, 01.12.2018
Let's start with the pros.

The first one for me is the Equator software: it has some very good realistic+futuristic sounds that you can get lost in, especially because with the 5D sound manipulation. The rest of the software is also good, with the Dashboard I was able to customize the midi messages, Noise is also not bad (you CAN install it on Android, just search for the beta apk) - but I prefer to use it without the Lightpad (because of the bluetooth latency).
The build quality is also good, from my first impression at least. The size I really like, it's perfect for the fingers, perfect for travelling.

Now the cons.

First and foremost, I intended to use it for finger drumming, but I quickly saw the limitations. My biggest problem is that you need to apply quite a bit of pressure to get it to respond, just tapping it lightly will not produce effects most of the times. If you try really hard you could get it to respond to light taps, but it's very unreliable. Then, after you hit with a bit of pressure, it also reaches the max velocity quite easily, so the velocity response curve is pretty bad (and not editable in the Dashboard software). In the end, you are quite forced to play every note at max velocity, otherwise you will most likely have missed notes. After having some nerve damage because of playing bass and computer work, I'm really not keen to invest in an instrument that's not healthy for my fingers and wrist. It was a total relief for my fingers to play on my Maschine again.

Then I said ok, the Equator is really cool so I could use it for creating some pads and effects. The response of the rubber is much more made for this actually, you can sink into it and have an intuitive sound response. The problem again is the minimum pressure it needs to engage - here the problem wouldn't be the pain, but it's very easy when you have a 3 note chord, that one of the fingers accidentally releases your note, this is especially bad after you slid your notes to open a filter, and you retrigger a note somewhere you didn't intend to. And if you play this pad chord with one had and with the other you turn for other knobs & instruments like me, you will have a hard time focusing on that finger pressure. For me it would have been much more intuitive that it triggers on even the lightest touch, because it does look & act as a touchscreen in the end.
Then the very obvious limitation that you can't have as much sliding control with the notes on the side.
So for chords & melodies type of thing, I think it's better to get the Seaboard block instead.

So all in all, the potential of this device is huge. But it's just not ready yet, I will return mine.
Please Roli optimise this for drum playing and I'll buy a truck full of them. Thanks.
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Good marketing strategy, quality assurance?

Peterpanning, 30.01.2018
I recommend anyone who flirts with the Roli BLOCKS to do an extensive research in advance.

It raises the question for me whether Roli performs an adequate quality assurance. The two Lightpad Block M came in a miserable condition. The touch surface was poorly glued. In some places and corners the glue swelled out. The housing of both products had either scratches and / or dents and / or bumps. In addition, a lightpad had a hanging? Area on the touch surface.

After the firmware updates via BLOCKS dashboard was at least the hanging area? not visible anymore. That did not make me happy, though, because I think that only the tolerance algorithms ironed out the bad processing?

The use in combination with the noise app as a host via iOS Bluetooth low-energy is a joke. 30 ms latency (we write the year 2018) or more allows neither serious use as a drum pad nor as a clip launcher.

A USB-C to Lightning connection is not possible with iOS devices. When I initially wanted to connect the Lightpads via BT, this did not work. After many long-term attempts to connect, I managed with great difficulty to connect by quickly jumping back and forth between Noise app and iOS Bluetooth settings.

Next is only one, in my case much too short USB-C cable, included. Whether you can use for the connection to macOS or Windows a longer, without the already much too high latency not to increase, I can not say at this time.

There is a lot more to criticize, but I have - since the products were delivered - already too much valuable time for the commissioning of these, I think, waste, immature products. So I save the rest. After all, I do not work for Roli, but I'm, according to Roli, a creator, or what was that again?
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B-Stock from $156 available
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