Wind controllers?

Which brings up another recent addition:

The Yamaha YDS-150 Digital Saxopone

This looks like it might be the closest to the feel of a real saxophone, with the keys and especially the mouthpiece, and the way the mouthpiece vibrates with the sound played. It has a mouthpiece with ligature and reed.

The key work looks Soprano Sax to me, with keys not buttons.

How authentic the feel, I’d have to play it to know. I really like the Roland Aerophone in this regard too.

Built in sounds of course, though i’m not really looking for ‘authentic” sounds, but it also has user customizable preset sounds, so it depends to me on how those can sound.

MIDI via Bluetooth or USB, power via battery or USB.

Is the bell metal or plastic ? Whichever it’s mainly decorative isn’t it ?


Weren’t you looking for a WX sort of device Blipson ? I know this isn’t a WX-2 but it is certainly WX like. This one weighs 1 kg, plus the weight of the batteries.

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In my case, I also don’t care about authentic feel. I’m happy to try anything that looks like it will improve on traditional ergonomics in some way. That NuRAD does look promising, but based on their NuEVI pricing, I’m guessing it’s going to cost around $1400.

That’s pretty dang cool to see, I remember looking up some videos of the original EVI and the guy demoing chords by using sort of a note hold button if I remember correctly, my guess this will have that feature also for poly.

Continuing the side discussion about control of EaganMatrix & Wind Controllers.

The Roland Aerophone Pro can do 2 Motion Axes, Bite Up/Bite Down, Wheel Up/Wheel Down, Thumb Pad Press, and Breath for the the continuous controllers. You can also remap most of the side keys to Switch controllers for particular CCs.

The real question with the Osmose/Continuum/Eaganmatrix is how easy is it to map and gain access to those as the Aerophone can only send on a single MIDI Channel and can only do Channel Pressure but not Polyphonic Pressure.

The MIDI Channel 1 controls on the Continuum Guide appear to be within the CC range of the Aerophone (high ones inaccessible) but if you have to also broadcast on a different channel that could cause some issues.

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That not being off-topic to the Osmose thread, adamc. Certainly how easy it is to map external controllers and MIDI into the Osmose is still to be resolved, and is important to the consideration of the Osmose, as well many other synths.

What i was considering is more looking at things the other way around. Taking cool synthesis features and finding ways to intrinsically binding them to the spirit of a wind controller approach to playing, in ways comparable to the advances made to keyboard playing made with the Osmose keyboard.

For instance giving the player some way for a tight and expressive glissando. There are controllers with slide whistle like controls but what else would work, and fit. The Osmose has the “pressure weighted portamento” perhaps something similar could be possible on a wind controller.

What about systems for polyphony ? Yes you can set up fixed chord patches, and we know what that sounds like. What about ways to set up key and scale, and then play chords that fit. Or ways to follow chord progressions and control things musically with your playing.

The Osmose also has a very nice arpeggiator as do many other synths. How about ways to tie that tightly to gesture and manor of playing on a wind controller ?

What about MIDI looping being more tightly embedded into a wind controller for polyphonic playing ? Especially if there were ways that would fluidly facilitate moving between playing of variations in the separate parts ?

I am also interested in the Misha controller / synth from Eventide. Instead of notes you enter intervals, kinda the first derivative of note playing. Why not incorporating this kind of interface with a wind controller with other features.

Ah, wasn’t clear what you wanted broken out.

I mean it’s a nice way to activate the Portamento Switch on demand without getting out of a keyboard but wind controllers normally have their own portamento controls already. EWIs have the glide plate and I believe the Aerophones activate it with a switch with particular CCs.

Depending on the MIDI implementation usually Portamento Time and Portamento On/Off are two different CCs. You can bind the time in some fashion to the breath control so at higher/lower pressure it responds faster/slower when the Portamento switch is active.

The limits on portamento only within X semitones is probably harder to do with various things but there’s also the fact that you can be the switch and not activate it with large leaps.

Zen Core can also do chord rotation and some of the presets are using that. The Berglund instruments also have a chord rotator from my understanding.

None of the wind controllers have a snap to key functionality currently built in like the Hydrasynth so you have 2 options, a hardware midi utility (Blokas Midihub) or you can remap the notes on the fly in most DAWs.

The Hydrasynth key snap also only translates to the internal sound engine from my experiments.

I haven’t had a chance to dig into the Scale Remap pipe on the Blokas Midihub but it seems like it would accomplish this for a wind controller. Blokas also appears to have a Micro Scale pipe for the microtonal ones in the Hydrasynth that uses a combination of Pitch Bend messages + note remapping.

Once you have a snap to key the fixed chords now become within the key.

I have suggested there needs to be chord macros for say press a button for Major + C and the result is C Major for the Aerophone. My guess is there’s polyphony things on the roadmap as it’s usually a frequent request.

As far as other polyphony mechanisms:

  • Key Latch is available on some synthesizers which allows for legato notes to be combined and sustained
  • Sustain pedal CC can be assigned to a switch control
  • I fiddled around and got sustain pedal CC worked into the breath sensor controls on the aerophone so it would sustain all notes within a given breath played legato
  • Theres a drone switch on the Aerophone that allows for an individual note to drone while playing the melody like the drone on a bagpipe (the bagpipe has it mapped to the thumb button)
  • The EWI has the ability for a first note in a legato phrase to be sustained like the drone switch but that does not translate out of the internal sound engine

If it’s controllable you could do stuff like vary the tempo or number of octaves as you raise/lower the Aerophone or other motion controlled ones.

I think on one of the iSax videos Alistair is using a looper hooked into raising/lowering the Aerophone as a switch to activate.

I think this falls under somewhat the macro buttons for intervals/chords I was mentioning earlier unless you only play with relative intervals.

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Coincidentally, I just took delivery yesterday of a NuRAD after being on the waiting list a mere two years. Once I learn to get around it, I’ve been planning to interface it with the Eagan Matrix.

I’ve had three different Aerophones, Aodyo Sylphyo, AKAI EWI, and Yamaha WX-5/VL70m, and as a dedicated longtime wind player and wind controller player, I must say the Continuum blows those all away :smile: for expressive playing. It’s nice not to drip breath condensation on everything. My melodicas are keepers, but this NuRAD may be my last gasp for MIDI wind control.

Sorry to go off topic, but I’m actually expecting the Osmose to offer much less than the Continuum, only going through with the purchase because early birds get such a good deal. Some people value Osmose’s discrete keys’ avoiding the tuning issues a player can have with Continuum, but I’m skeptical. I’ve played a lot of fretless bass, so perhaps that makes a continuous keyboard more approachable, but I think with all the stuff you can do with each tone, discrete keys may matter a lot less than people whose ears don’t lead their hands to the right tuning may think. You don’t even consider playing something like a Chopin etude on a Continuum, which is certainly a lot more approachable on the Osmose, but perhaps this Discontinuum will offer real advantages as an external controller for other purposes.


All very nice. Good ideas adamc!

I want these sorts of things, or other things like them, more integral to the playing of the instrument, rather than bolted on to the side. I just know a lot more would be possible in this realm, though it’s such a low demand sort of product.

I’d be interested to hear your experience getting it setup. There’s videos with a wide variety of other MPE or keyboard instruments but not much with a wind controller using the EaganMatrix although it seems like it’d be well suited to it. Closest thing I could find was setting up a TEC breath controller.

It’s always nice to find an interface you seem to gel with, I can tell from trying violin a bit that a continuous pitch surface is probably not something I’d like but if you like the complete freedom of pitch (like a fretless bass) that’s going to be very appealing.

Stability and freedom of control are usually in opposition with each other but I think of Osmose more like a Guitar and Continuum more like a Violin. One biases toward stability and the other toward freedom of control.


I’ve always heard good things about the early EWIs that used analog synth modules and the Lyricon Wind Driver, although admittedly have no actual experience with either.

Well part of the problem is none of these are truly integral to wind synth playing and you could go about playing everything with just articulation and breath pressure.

You don’t even have to use a bite sensor as breath can get quite expressive with things like tremolos and crescendo/decrescendo. Some of the wind controllers don’t have a bite sensor but you can still play them, you just end up approaching them differently.

On the plus side there’s a lot of development in the wind controller space over the past few years driven by the entry of a big player like Roland and some smaller companies as well like Berglund/Aodyo/Artinoise/Robkoo/etc. that we’ll see a fair bit of innovation going forward.

The Roland Aerophone Pro may not be the easiest to configure at the moment but it’s got the most bells and whistles out of any wind synth thus far

Pedro Eustache goes over his set up with the lyricon here, some pretty cool stuff.

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That’s still just bells and whistles. That’s my point.

I think my point was more they are bells and whistles because they aren’t required to play the instrument and many people on the Aerophone groups ask how to disable S1/S2/Bite/Motion because it’s more expressive than they can control.

However, I think they’d be more integrated into all the patches like the Continuum if Roland wasn’t trying to also make the presets also playable on the AE20 which doesn’t have motion sensors or a thumbpad.

Plus the AE30 shipped without the motion sensors until V2 firmware came along so it wasn’t included in most of the presets when they were being designed.

I’m hopeful the next iteration will have this more polished but they already improved a lot from their previous flagship the AE10 and who knows what will come in with a V3 firmware.

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My EWI 5000 was a great instrument, but it went defective, and the sonic quality (strictly synth-y) wasn’t my favorite even before. I bailed entirely because, for me, it’s come down to a matter of playability and avoiding repetitive stress injury. I also want to play without a neck strap, and that EWI is just too heavy to comfortably support over the long haul with just two thumbs. Same with the Aerophone AE-10, whose sax and trumpet sounds I really liked, as I really liked Yamaha’s WX-5/VL-70m (with Patchman chip) combo. I could play all day on the AE-10 resting it on my lap, but I liquidated it when I had the NuRAD coming because the NuRAD is supported by two hands, not two thumbs, and that’s really important to me. In the 1-minute I had to test it before I had to go out of town, it did feel a bit strainful despite the two-handability, but we’ll see how it goes.

I do have an Aerophone Mini, which, like the Sylphyo, has recorder-like limited fingerings, a drawback that prevents the thing from being more than a convenient toy. Sylphyo overcomes that because, despite the limited fingering, it’s got no moving parts, plus the accelerometer, giving it a real expressiveness to compensate for the limited fingering options and strictly synth-y sound palette. It’s brilliantly executed as its own thing, not a sax substitute, so I’m hanging onto it. I’m hoping, though, that I can start the “NuRAD made me sell all my wind controllers” thread someday, as Continuum is doing to all my synths.

The bell and whistle for me was the quality of Roland’s SuperNatural technology: I love the naturalism. As a flutist, I don’t need no stinkin bite sensors, and I glued the bite sensor down for maximum breath/tongue sensitivity, zero saliva accumulation, and I was able to circular breathe effortlessly. It was great to get such excellent sax and trumpet sounds, which didn’t sound half bad even out of the convenient built-in practice speakers. For further convenience, I did the rechargeable battery thing for a while because the added weight hardly matters once you’re committed to resting the thing on your lap, but I just want something even more convenient (feather light and two-handable), or else I’m not going to bother with wind control for the forseeable future.

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I personally don’t understand how neck straps became because the defacto standard, I don’t like something around my neck which I’m actively using for breath.

I use a Protec Saxophone Harness, completely stable for the Aerophone even without hands but it does constrain some of the freedom for the motion sensors.

Ergonomics seem like a plus for the NuRAD and EWI style touch sensors are always going to beat out the button keys for rapid trilling.

I’m on the waitlist for the NuRAD but it’ll probably be a while.

I like how free blowing the Aerophone system is without having to do the air escaping the sides of the mouth trick. Would be interesting to know how a flautist finds the closed air system of the NuRAD as it seems a fair bit different from the Aerophones.

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Yeah, a harness or clever support system would fix things up for me, and I’d do that if I were a dedicated performer of the instrument. But currently, I need all my stuff to be quick random access, which means keyboards and guitars mounted on stands. And it’s not just a matter of weight and light-playing technique for me. I set off tendinitis so easily that the playing position has to be just right over a range of positions so that I can micro-fidget as needed to avoid locking into position while exclusively moving fingers. Maintaining optimal position to minimize energy for the sake of only attending to your mouth and fingers is exactly what pros would call the most efficient technique, but static position of the body and large muscles while the fingers execute their fine motor skills is precisely the source of tendinitis in my shoulders, elbows, and wrists. It’s a curse, but I’m fine with keyboards and instruments that can be mounted, so I’m happy enough.

This NuRAD, I don’t know, it felt unexpectedly klutzy. It was as if the hand supports weren’t actually shaped to balance the thing in the best way so that the fingering was just spaced out enough to induce unnatural tension in both hands. I’ll be able to tell within an hour if I wasted a lot of money or not. I had totally forgotten I’d even registered to purchase one, and then the email came out of the blue, so this was my one sudden chance to give it a try.

If it doesn’t work out, I could almost see going back to one of those higher end Aerophones in the future. It’s just that the touch sensitive keys are so much better than buttons, as you point out. The problem is that real sax players are 100% going to require buttons so that they don’t have to re-learn technique, so Roland isn’t going to develop options for a market that’s already too narrow; note the general disinterest for wind controllers on these forums. I’ve seen sax players pooh-pooh touch sensors, but they’re forgetting that letting your fingers float over unpressed keys instead of maintaining light contact with them is exactly what flutists do because of our vent holes. I’m skeptical as to how much those vent holes really contribute to tone in real performance settings, but the French flute is the well-established professional standard.

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I do find anything new feels a bit odd for the first bit, usually takes several sessions to get a good feel if it’s just this feels awkward because it’s different or it’s awkward because it’s just not a good setup for me.

It’s such a silly complaint because you have to relearn technique in some fashion for all of these.

The AE30 has more expressive controls but the AE20 is a little more compact and lighter which given your comments about ergonomics might make it more appealing if you do end up going down that road at some point

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Following up after I had some time to actually use it, I concluded that the only way to play it is by holding it about half way up instead of trying to play it vertically resting it on your hands. Then I read the manual, and it says exactly that it’s designed to be held at 45 degrees and won’t balance otherwise. That makes sense because it will enforce good neck and back posture. It’s just that you want the vertical option when reaching out to adjust other things, but I guess I can’t complain since it’s so much more comfortable than any other wind controller I’ve played, due to the NuRAD’s allowing you to distribute the weight evenly between two hands without the support taking away from finger techniques. I can rest it on my lap when multitasking, I guess.

ADDED: I figured out that the square mouthpiece thing is actually the removable cover protecting the real mouthpiece. This is not obvious because it’s totally playable breathwise leaving that cap on. Also, there’s no picture or description or reference to this in the manual, and no online demos show this part close up enough to make it clear.

I’ve seen Stef Haynes online attaching a Wii Remote to get motion-based MIDI control. One thing I love about the Sylphyo is how well the motion control works. Is there some less clunky combo to attach to the NuRAD to get motion-based MIDI output? I mean something straightforward that doesn’t require something like an additional Max intervention.

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Best place to ask for specific questions on the NuRAD/NuEVI would be the dedicated facebook group:

I think Curt Sipe/Mark Steiner also have some youtube videos on setup for them.

No but this goes beyond just motion controllers. There’s very limited options as far as standalone MIDI controllers that are portable and graftable on to an existing instrument.

The only one I’m really aware of is the miniMIDI joystick: Brendan Power Harmonica but it’s a bit fussy and the fact it needs USB MIDI and a power source makes it difficult to graft. Also it’s not really a continuous controller.

A better approach if you need additional control would be a foot pedal controller like the Behringer FCB1010 but the MIDI foot pedals can also be a bit fussy for initial setup.

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