Chinese Company Robkoo has introduced the Wind Synthesizer R1, which they describe as a futuristic, cyber-like MIDI wind controller instrument with responsive RGB light bars, motion control, Bluetooth connectivity, customisable hotkeys, onboard sound banks, and a dedicated app allowing amateur and professional players alike to directly (and literally) light up their performances to audiences. They tell us that it is a Commercial Hardware category finalist in the MIDI Association's 2022 MIDI Innovation Awards Show. Here's the story in the company's own words...
It is true to say that the most distinguishing design feature of the Wind Synthesizer R1 is how much of its slimline body actually lights up. Ultimately, an extra dimension of musical expression responds to the player's breath, glowing to the tune of over 60,000 colours -- customisable in JamKoo, Robkoo's popular performance app for iOS and Android that automatically detects (via Bluetooth) when a Wind Synthesizer R1 is nearby and awake to provide access to all settings on a larger screen, as well as a dummy-proof guide to learning -- courtesy of two lengthy, patent-protected RGB light bars with which the futuristic, cyber-like MIDI wind controller instrument is equipped. It is also the only such instrument that can be played both vertically and horizontally, whether working with the (removable/replaceable) food-grade mouthpiece manufactured from the same material as a baby pacifier for utmost health protection or the new horizontal mouthpiece, making for a cyber-flute-like performance action.
Its inbuilt gyroscope lets Wind Synthesizer R1 players spice up their performance with pitch bend and vibrato by simply moving the MIDI wind controller instrument itself. Indeed, performing with it is simply a case of playing the seven touch-sensing performance keys (positioned on its topside) -- themselves exhibiting minimal noise and maximum durability -- that resemble an acoustic instrument to permit playing expressively in a realistic and graceful way while switching tones in an instant, ably assisted by an OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) screen that even helps with navigating in the dark. Delve instantly into wider octaves beyond the limitations of acoustic instruments thanks to the triple-octave (-1, 0, +1, +2) keys (on the underside of Wind Synthesizer R1), while a reliable and intuitive mechanical pitch wheel lets performers pitch freely with their thumb -- also customisable to trigger other controls like portamento.
Put it this way: with onboard tones sampled from top performers from around the world -- working with sound suppliers like Dynamix Audio (Serbia), Impact Soundworks (USA), Kong Audio (China), Sound Magic (China), and Versilian Studios (USA), Wind Synthesizer R1 could conceivably shave off 10 or even 20 years of practice when it comes to achieving a professional-sounding performance!
Whether wirelessly or cable connected to an applicable device, by also allowing for portamento and program change alongside breath control -- as implied by name, Wind Synthesizer R1 is also a capable MIDI controller that sends so much more than just note information. Interestingly, it also supports MIDI input over USB MIDI (Type-C) and Bluetooth (BLE MIDI) -- not bad going for a lightweight (450g) device with 67 cm (length), 4 cm (width), and 5 cm (height) measurements making for comfortable handling. However, its slimline design belies its impressive specification, also accommodating a 3.5 mm TRS headphone output, 6.35 mm TRS audio output, and Type-C USB port. But better still, Wind Synthesizer R1 boasts a (2600mAh) battery-running time of six hours (with the RGB light bars operating), extending to 10 hours (with the RGB light bars turned off).
On the face of it, Wind Synthesizer R1 represents a highly-capable package, one which helpfully comes complete with a dust bag, neck strap, mouthpiece cap, Type-C USB cable, quickstart guide, and user manual... little wonder, then, that Wind Synthesizer R1 rocked as a Commercial Hardware category finalist in the MIDI Association's 2022 MIDI Innovation Awards Show -- something Robkoo Business Developer Tianbang Zhuang far from takes lightly, as evidenced in his well-chosen words when speaking there: "It would be unfair to say that R1 is just a wind synth with lights, or just a wind synth with motion control, or just a wind synth with a horizontal mouthpiece option. They are eye-catching, for sure, but R1 has much more layers. When we started this project, we were here to solve the problems in instrument learning. We did not add lights just because we thought it was cool, or stack those features because we thought they were cool. We added features because they can be helpful to our goal. That's why those features can be put together as an organic whole. Think about the experience we designed for the customer: you receive it at Christmas; you say, 'Wow! It's cool!'; you follow the user guide and learn about it with our [JamKoo] app; and in 15 minutes you suddenly know how to play a new instrument. After two weeks you went from being someone who knows nothing about musical instruments to a confident performer -- with lights and style. We are changing peoples lives with something that has so many fancy features, but doesn't feel overwhelming at all since it still appears to be a simple and intuitive instrument."
Pricing and Availability:
While Wind Synthesizer R1 is already available to buy as a commercial product in mainland China for CN¥2,999.00 RMB, Robkoo is currently working with a number of KOL (Key Opinion Leaders)/KOC (Key Opinion Consumers) on overseas firmware and other adjustments (including sound banks) with a view to making it available worldwide with a projected price tag of around $500.00 USD later this year when it is likely to become available to buy from Robkoo's website and also some selected retailers.
Older Music Machines & the People Who Still Use Them
The Gas is strong with this one...
New PCM 80/81 Editing via the Electra One MIDI Controller
Audio separation, tech and ethics