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Akai EWI 5000 announced

UPDATE (25 Jan 2014):

Video of the thing in action. Doesn’t reveal much, but I’ve added it anyway:

Original Post:

I plan on getting back to my promised post about Korean education, but this news deserves a little post, so:

Although I have a Yamaha WX5 waiting for me in Seoul, my newest piece of musical kit is an Akai MPKmini, which I picked up to help me get some soundtrack work done for Mrs. Jiwaku’s latest ongoing film project. It’s an SF film, so a spacey, electronics-heavy soundtrack is needed, and the MPKmini is cheap, portable, and versatile enough to let me get a lot of stuff done easily.

For example, these (rough) tracks I have up at Soundcloud:

"대리전"/"The Proxy War" Sketches by Gord Sellar

(Note: They’re a lot more interesting through proper speakers, or headphones. Tinny computer speakers have ruined Western civilization musically, haven’t they?)

I like the MPKmini, though I think the pads need that sensitivity adjustment that so many people have posted about online. Still, I’ve gotten some alright work done with them even as-is. (It’s very handy to have control knobs available to me.)

Still, when it comes to the Akai brandname, the first thing that comes to mind is my EWI 4000s, a wind controller I’ve used to great effect on other music projects. And they’ve just announced an upgrade to that wind controller: the EWI 5000.

I won’t be picking one up for a while–probably, that means, years–but the information that is available suggests that it does things I’ve been wishing my EWI 4000S could do: there’s a direct USB interface and wireless MIDI. It’s also got a new sound generation system, something involving samples, though nobody seems to know much about that yet–not whether there will be internal MIDI tone production, not whether the user will be able to upload samples, none of that stuff. What information there is available right now, you can find linked from this page, as well as on various fora like this one. The instrument is premering at NAMM 2014, which is going on right now.

Am I drooling? Yes.

Do I want? Oh, yes.

I don’t need it, though, and I don’t have a ton of cash to throw around on unneeded things. Also, I have a second-hand Yamaha WX5 waiting for me to pick up in Seoul, and I’m curious to compare it with my EWI. I’ve read that the EWI is much more sensitive, when it comes to breath control and expressivity, but I’m only lukewarm on the interface: the key-style is much more like a recorder than a sax or a flute, and I suspect the WX5 system–which has keys like a sax–may be more my speed.

We’ll see, though… it’s tough to be swayed away from an instrument line that’s still alive, and that’s improving itself. (Not to mention it’s hard to be swayed from an instrument I can practice on the go if need be: The Yamaha requires more peripheral gear, where batteries and a set of headphones are all I need to practice on the EWI 4000S.)

One thing I can say is that it’s nice to see a new model, in a field where there are really only two brands available. (With Yamaha having dropped production of the preferred tone generator for the WX5-line of MIDI controllers.) I was beginning to think that both Akai and Yamaha had given up on the wind controller market. I’m glad to be proven wrong.

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