Expressive E used NAMM to show off its incredible Osmose “standalone expressive synthesiser”, which boasts a whole range of controls built right into the keys and keyed itself, for the shaping and manipulation of sounds.
Most keyboards don’t offer a lot of expressive possibilities by themselves, even if fitted with polyphonic aftertouch and velocity sensors, and players rely on additional controllers operated by the hands, feet, or pre-defined or post-processing automation, to get the kind of varied and lush expressiveness desired in many musical genres and soundscapes.
That’s all well and good, but it can detract from the art of simply playing, two handed, all the time, on a single, familiar keyboard interface. The Osmose synth aims to fill in the ‘missing’ pieces by adding many more sensors to enable an additional range of key playing styles. This, coupled with sound patches which respond to these control changes, leads to an instrument which has the familiarity of the piano or standard synth, but can add so much more if and when the musician so desires.
Methods of triggering and manipulating sounds include tapping, pressing, combined press and tap, pitch changes through moving the finger on the key, advanced aftertouch, ‘shaking’ the key up and down, ‘strumming’ (obtained by holding and moving an individual key into different vertical positions), pressure glide (depressing and releasing two separate keys simultaneously to control the glissando/pitch slide effect), plus note-off samples and effects when a key is released.
This is both a synth in its own right, using the EaganMatrix digital modular engine developed by Haken Audio, as well as a MIDI controller (including MPE MIDI) so other instruments, DAWs and the like can be controlled from this keyboard.
The current model has 49 full-size keys, so it’s a fairly compact instrument although there are some additional controls on the left of the body. It has 24 voice polyphony, colour LCD screen, pitch and modulation sliders, two continuous and assignable pedal inputs, plus voice editing software.
Can be reserved for #1,799, with a current third run of instruments coming out in late summer.
Take a look at the website for more info and videos.