The MIDI may be one of the most important musical innovations of the early 20th century. The ability to manipulate instruments through a digital interface not only helped form one genre of music, but it has gone on to influence almost every other. Now, three or so decades after its first release, the MIDI is getting a big facelift with Roli Blocks.
These small light pads preform the same basic functions of a MIDI – you can program different areas to emit specific samples or notes via an iOS app – but there is a big difference. Thanks to a five dimensional touch expressivity, using just your gestures users can manipulate everything from pitch and volume to timbre. This makes putting together unique and catchy tunes together both intuitive and fun. To top it off – they are brilliantly designed, featuring impressive light displays made up of 225 RGB LED lights and a simple magnetic connector that makes assembling multiple blocks easy. Doubt the pedigree of this thing? You shouldn’t. It’s gotten co-signed by big names like Grimes, the RZA, and even Steve Aoki. Prices start at $110.