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The Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4 #3008277 09/16/19 04:12 PM
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Dr Mike Metlay Offline OP
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In a thread on KC, someone asked about the KBP4 and how it behaved. Here's my shortish answer in more detail than I gave over there.

First off, I moved this long note to CL because the KBP4 is not a keyboard in the traditional sense, even though it looks like one. It's an MPE controller that uses a traditional keyboard layout to help players focus on new playing techniques without learning new fingerings. It occupies a space between what traditional keyboards can do and what a full-on MPE controller can do, although it's much more close to the latter.

The keys on the KBP4 are made with KMI's patented "Smart Fabric". This is a very sturdy pressure/impact/position sensing material that can be cut and implemented in various layouts, under key-shaped surfaces made of lightly textured (not very slippery) silicone. They have a slight give under the fingers, but there is no mechanical movement. In fact, the KBP4 has absolutely no moving parts to break, not even a power switch.

Connections include two minijacks for pedals (adapters included), micro-B USB for computer connection, and mini-B USB for KMI's little MIDI Expander box so the KBP4 can be used standalone with hardware.

The keys are ever so slightly shorter and narrower than those on a traditional synthesizer: if you were to hold a KBP4 up against a standard MIDI synth (as I've done), you would find that the KBP4's 48-note keyboard (C to B) is about as wide as 44 notes (C to G) on a conventional keybed. There are four assignable ribbon controllers across the top of the KBP4, which can be assigned to functions like pitch bend (global vs. the per-key control), modulation/CC, octave selection, or program parameters.

While the top panel and base are plastic, the actual chassis is solid metal and fairly heavy. This turned out to be a vital element in the design, as the KBP4 requires an extremely rigid frame for the keyboard to perform reliably.

The companion app to edit the KBP4's settings runs on Mac, PC, or on any web-capable device using a browser-based editor. You can set up the performance of the device, map multiple commands to multiple surface, and fine tune the behavior of each key if you wish. The patch management system is a little bit funky, and I'm still wrapping my head around precisely when program changes are saved and/or transferred to the hardware from the software. It all works well enough, but there's an order of operations that I don't quite get yet.

In terms of playing, the KBP4 has a very interesting feel. It's not as squishy as the Joué or ROLI Seaboards, not as stiff as the LinnStrument or Morph, and very sensitive to the touch. You can (and must!) play with a very light touch, and of course you can't rest your fingers on the keys without activating them unless you set the action thresholds appropriately. A friend of mine who has RSI and arthritis has become very intrigued with it, as it may allow him to play keyboards without further damaging his hands.

It's not a perfect solution -- some folks will miss the ability to do long pitch bends up and down the keyboard rather than simple side-to-side wiggling for vibrato, which is ideal on this action -- but it shows a lot of promise, and I plan to get more into it as my schedule permits.

Please feel free to hit me up with any other questions!

mike


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, whoop de doo)
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Re: The Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4 [Re: Dr Mike Metlay] #3018576 12/05/19 07:06 PM
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Stephen Fortner Offline
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I have one in my possession as well as a ROLI Seaboard 49 and have to say that as a traditional keyboard player, the K-Board is a lot easier to approach. Working on a video of what can be done with it and the Animoog app (as it's a very mature MPE-capable iOS synth) and will post here when I'm done — hopefully by late next week.


"I'm just a confused musician who got sidetracked into this damned word business..." -Hunter S. Thompson

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Re: The Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4 [Re: Stephen Fortner] #3019130 12/11/19 05:31 AM
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davedoerfler Offline
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looking forward to that, Dr. Fortner. 2thu


A reason why I collect old keyboards is that I feel partly responsible for doing it, responsible for preserving history and being a custodian for these things
Plus, old gear has a story. I like that.
Re: The Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4 [Re: Dr Mike Metlay] #3019335 12/12/19 11:41 PM
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Dr Mike Metlay Offline OP
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As am I!


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, whoop de doo)
Wordsmith - Musician - Tech Freak - Amiable Zany
Everyone on this forum is a friend I haven't met yet
-- except for Bryce, who's, well, YOU know.
Re: The Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4 [Re: Dr Mike Metlay] #3019387 12/13/19 04:56 PM
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Stephen Fortner Offline
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Update: The folks at McMillen also want me to include a K-Mix mixer in the video, so I'm waiting for that to arrive. Then we're gonna make some noise!


"I'm just a confused musician who got sidetracked into this damned word business..." -Hunter S. Thompson

Stephen Fortner
Principal, Fortner Media
Senior Editor, Music Player Network
Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine
Content Creator and Behind-the-Scenes Writing Wonk, Damned Near Everyone
Re: The Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4 [Re: Dr Mike Metlay] #3019573 12/15/19 01:22 PM
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Theo Verelst Offline
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So it's a keyboard with alternative layout (smaller) and different travel/switch. Nice gimmick, but canit do polyphonic after-touch ?

T

Re: The Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4 [Re: Dr Mike Metlay] #3022248 01/06/20 12:28 PM
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L
LeeTurner59 Offline
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Not my first post here - had to register with a different user name as I changed emails.

Anyway, to answer the post above; Yes, it can do Poly AT.

I have almost the full set of Roli (Rise 49, Block, Block M) and the K-Board Pro 4, with the Osmose on order.

I do find it much easier to play chords on the Pro 4 as compared to the Roli. I think the issue with the Roli is the extra spacing between the B/C and E/F keys. It plays fine when soloing but gives me some issues with chord accuracy. Not so with the Pro 4. I do find that the Pro 4 complements the Roli very well as the Seaboard Rise is great for pitch glides and bends.

I do hope that the build quality of the Pro 4 proves to be more robust than the Roli. I'm now on my third Rise 49. It does appear to have issues due to it being two Rise 25's joined together.


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