Wind controllers?

Does anybody use wind controllers in their setup? Akai EWI or Yamaha WX series etc.

In addition to being a keyboard player i played the sax for a long time and feel like it would be fun to play synth leads/etc using one, especially being able to map the breath to modulations and such…


Does anybody use search in their quest?

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“Thanks”, that was not useful.

Anybody else have any opinions?

I’m a long time user of wind controllers, though I’ve neglected it over the past year. As a former longtime flutist, I can tell you that the Roland Aerophone AE-10 has the most natural-feeling dynamic response. It also has the best timbre for certain saxes, trumpet, and muted trumpet. You need the Aerophone 10’s SuperNatural technology, not the Aerophone Go’s PCM sounds. Flute not so much, but as much as I love flute, I’ve always found its timbre more fatiguing than trumpet and single-reeds, I guess because its sweetness limits how much you can ingest before you tire of it. Flute not having a reed, I play the Aerophone with a fixed reed as I only use breath vibrato, i.e., amplitude vibrato. I can’t comment on how its reed feels to a sax player, but the Aerophone is designed to appeal to sax players. I like it so much I have two of them, and can play for hours without fatigue, unlike flute, and without the flute’s 50% breath waste, but sax players don’t know about that. I so convenient and playable on its own that I’ve never used it to control external stuff via MIDI, so I can’t comment about that.

I had the Yamaha WX-5/Vl-10 combo for years (with the must-have Patchman ROM upgrade), and it was almost as good, with better flute patches, but the Aerophone offers a much more convenient configuration than Yamaha’s 90’s era technology, which requires a propietary cable, no untethered play or onboard sounds so that you have to buy a sound module. Oh yeah, the Aerophone’s speakers are surprisingly useful for solo practice, untethered, on battery power.

I had an Akai EWI 5000, the wireless one. I liked it fine, as I didn’t mind the touch plate, but a lot of people hate that and need sax-like buttons. The 5000’s sounds are limited to an electronic-y palette, so very limited in sonic appeal if you’re coming from real woodwinds. I can’t remember how well it interfaces with MIDI modules, but I do remember I had to return it because it had a well-known technical flaw that totally killed the thing, and which Akai could never solve. I had to return it and was pissed and disappointed as the 5000 was convenient enough to play untethered and had a nice playability even despite the sonic mediocrity. Having lost confidence in the technology, I never replaced it.

I do have a problem with the weight of all these devices, as 1.5-2 pounds is just too much to be hanging on my thumb, which bears all the weight. Transverse flute divides the weight between two contact points, but is fatiguing because of the asymmetrical playing position. So I do have to play the Aerophone sitting down, resting it on the seat or on my lap. Perhaps the weight wouldn’t bother a sax player. But I also have a problem with the endless stream of condensation in my cramped studio’s particular configuration, which isn’t as much of an issue on flute due to so much air flow. So in the past year, I’ve gone to the Soma Pipe for oral satisfaction, but that’s a whole nother thing.

It’s too bad the Morrison Digital Trumpet never got developed, but the Eigenharp Pico is one I never got around to buying when I’d see them on eBay a few years ago. It looks very promising for breath control via MIDI, though—if they’re still available.


I got an EWI 4000s for practicing sax over headphones in the first place. I also used it for several synth patches, because the expressiveness is very different and sometimes much better suited than playing similar patches on keys. To generate nearly natural woodwind or brass sounds, I combine the EWI with an Yamaha Vl 70-m.


  • very sensitive and very good to control playability
  • air speed and “biting” the mouthpiece translates very good to modulation
  • tounging can generate very interesting modulations
  • love those touchplates, because we can play very quickly things, which would not be possible on the real mechanical instrument
  • octave switching possibilities, we can jump over many octaves like nothing else
  • various fingering systems to select from (flute, sax, oboe, brass)
  • high built quality


  • the built in digital synth is okay and nice, but not overwhelming
  • generally … synth patches have to be done a little different, if breath controllers are used


  • it has some weight, okay a real tenor sax is also not a lightweight :wink:
  • the mouthpiece doesn’t work like the real thing, no reed, and no natural feeling of blowing … it’s like blowing most of the air outside the mouthpiece.

@blipson_old @SoundRider

Thanks for all the great info!

I’m not sure I’d be interested in using it to make synthetic horn/woodwind sounds, no matter how good the modules might be these days - I would guess to a player they’re still pretty fake sounding?

But I’m really interested in them for controlling synth patches…

Are you generally able to map the mouthpiece/breath related controllers to arbitrary CCs?

Since the WX5 isnt made anymore and I don’t like buying used gear, I guess I would be deciding between the Aerophone and the EWI. The EWI was more on my radar since it’s such a mature platform and I think the Roland stuff is relatively newer but it sounds like the Roland is also worth checking out.

is the EWI touchplate really difficult to get used to coming from mechanical instruments?

No … I play alto and tenor sax and for me it was just to get used to that nothing did move on the EWI. For me it took a matter of minutes IIRC :wink:

Breath sends breath, volume, aftertouch, expression, or velocity

Biting the mouthpiece generates CC for pitch bend or breath

I would suggest to download the manual and check the midi implementation. The settings are quite flexible.

Generally we can translate any midi CCs with midi tools to arbitrary CCs.

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I found the EWI 5000’s touchplate a lovely implementation. I don’t know sax key action, but I can only guess it doesn’t differ terribly from flute, where we’re trained to actuate the keys with minimal pressure so as to play with less effort. Flute action might be even heavier than sax because we have to ensure those holes are sealed, but it’s not like that requires squeezing. Due to those holes, though, our fingers float over a flute’s keys, which is exactly the technique required for the touch-sensitivie EWI. The EWI’s touchplate, having no mechanical action, has the lightest possible touch, so it also rewards the pursuit of the lightest possible touch that’s been drummed into our brains. If you sax players are used to resting your fingers on the keys, you’re going to have to adapt, and I expect that’s why lots of people have complained that the touch-sensitive setup is a dealbreaker, and wish that the EWI had mechanical keys.

Clearly, you’re at the stage where you’re going to have to try for yourself. It’s not a terribly expensive venture to buy them both. Too bad the WX-5 isn’t available, as it’s still worth the comparison. Yamaha never replaced it? I suggest you purchase an additional mouthpiece for each instrument so that when you sell the one you don’t like, you can dispose of the unsanitary used mouthpiece and advertise it as having that brand new, still-in-the-box mouthpiece.

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As an aside: I predict that if you buy them both, you’ll keep them both because they have complementary advantages. I’ve always wanted to get an EWI 4000, but having been both spoiled by the 5000’s wireless configuration and burned by its technical failure, I’ve waited for the next generation of Akai EWI–which hasn’t happened for five years now and counting. Also, I currently can only purchase Akai via import, which makes returns and service daunting. My personal holy grail is a wind controller that’s under a pound, so I’ve missed out on that Eigenharp. There’s the Vindor, but that seems to sacrifice too many capabilities. If I could walk into a store and buy one, though, I’d certainly try it.

Just checked the 5000 manual and indeed you can map anything to anything it seems!

I took a look at that long thread but having a hard time figuring out what the technical issue is, can you summarize for me? Does it affect playing the onboard sounds only or would it affect use as a controller?

Also, the whole ‘not being able to return it’ thing didn’t occur to me until looking on SW… that’s kind of a big deal, but understandable.

Luckily there aren’t many choices… I have a 50/50 chance of getting the best of the bunch for my purposes.

As I recall, that problem was only about the onboard sounds getting trashed. I never used the 5000 as an external controller.

Aerophone Pro

They added ZEN-Core, Bluetooth MIDI, enhanced breath and bite control, a refined exterior touch like polished aluminum and fancier buttons improved voice selection controls on the back, and a much higher price — $1500 USD, that’s 70% more than the previous top of the line AE-10. It’s out January 2021.


22 posts were merged into an existing topic: Roland Aerophone Pro - Wind Controller

I created a Aerophone Pro thread. The discussion for that can continue there rather than hijacking this thread.

The Berglund NuRad is pretty oddly-shaped.
Here it is in use with a Digitone:

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Good find johnl !

Apparently it’s new and perhaps still being finalized. This photo is obviously a prototype.

They have a website but i couldn’t find the NuRAD shown there. They do show another Wind MIDI instrument there the NuEVI. That comes in a variety of colors so maybe the NuRAD will be too.

If it is like the NuEVI, it has batteries, outputs USB MIDI and DIN MIDI as well as CV. The keys are capacitively sensed. The breath pressure sensor is a closed no flow sensor. Look at this list of extra sensors that are listed for the NuEVI:

Sensors: Touch keys and rollers, pitch bend pads (proportional), vibrato lever (for a nice, violin like, manual vibrato), breath sensor, bite sensor (for portamento control) and lip sensor (extra controller)

Not sure if the NuRAD is similar.

Another video played through an Arturia MicroFreak.

Apparently if i am understanding things correctly the NuRAD allows for Polyphonic playing! I think perhaps this is through having two EVI like controllers, one for each hand — though i am not sure.

I’ll have to add the Arturia MicroFreak to my Wind Controller output options. Perhaps i need a NuRAD too, I like the idea of polyphonic playing.

One thing I really like is how the weight is supported on the sides of the hands. Their NuEVI has also always looked good to me for comfort reasons, but I’ve never tried one. Also, devoting one hand entirely to octaving seems like a waste, but who knows. Other wind controllers rest all the weight on one thumb which is so aggravating you reallyy require a neck strap.

I wonder how this device handles the breath condensation issue.

almost like a … saxophone :sweat_smile: