Evaluating for purchase - questions



I want an ultra small controller for sound design purposes. I travel a lot for work and often find myself in airports and in coach seats with obviously not a lot of room for a controller and a laptop out.

I’d like to have a controller that I can map to Massive or Serum or other VSTs, and have layouts or “banks” that allow me to use the controller interface in ways like this

Layout 1: Oscillators - the ui of the device is mapped to Massive’s Oscillators
Layout 2: Filters - the ui of the device is mapped to Massive’s Filters

and so on.

Here are my questions:

  1. confirming you can use Light Blocks / Dev Kit from Roli to make a midi controller for use with Ableton, yes?

  2. Massive runs without a DAW host and can have midi devices mapped to it directly. Can Blocks control Massive directly, or is a DAW necessary?

  3. Will I need to program anything in Max for Live to make this work? What’s the role of Max for live / necessity for this to work?

  4. In my airplane scenario, I’d prefer to have just LightBlock plugged into a laptop… so

  • can I use it as a controller that’s plugged in, instead of using Midi over Bluetooth?
  • can I program the Light Block to respond to “gestures” to enable me to switch layouts (e.g., not have to use the button block for this purpose)
  • can the button block be used to switch layouts on the Light Block (for when I’m not on a plane)
  1. Is an iPad required for any coding development or for any purpose in this midi controller-to-VST scenario I am looking to do? I don’t have an iPad or any iOS devices, got rid of all of mine, and am an Android dude.

Sorry so long. This is way cool. Hope it can meet my needs!

Thank you.



Thanks for the question - I’ll do my best to answer them all for you!

  • The dev kit from ROLI is designed to open up possibilities for using BLOCKS further in both musical and non-musical applications. You can currently use BLOCKS Dashboard beta to set up BLOCKS to work with Ableton Live and host of other DAWs.
  • BLOCKS sends standard MIDI messages and can be used to control any hardware or virtual instrument that can receive MIDI. Not every virtual instrument is capable of handling the MPE specification and multiple channels of MIDI, but BLOCKS can be set to send MIDI in the same way that any other standard MIDI controller would.
  • Cycling 74 have created several objects for BLOCKS that can allow for a variety of uses in Max for Live - they are extremely easy to setup and interface with. The objects were created solely by Cycling 74 and don’t relate to BLOCKS Dashboard beta. You are certainly not required to use Max for Live to get full functionality out of your BLOCKS.
  • Yes, the Lightpad Block can be connected over Bluetooth, as you’ve mentioned, but also has a USB-C port that can be used for connecting to your computer.
  • The Lightpad Block can be used in a variety of ways: to perform melodic instruments in a DAW/with standalone instruments, as a control surface with faders and buttons, as an XYZ pad to control parameters within a synth, and so forth. If I wanted to use my Lightpad Block to control my mix faders in Logic, I would simply need to set Logic to respond to the MIDI data being sent out by the Lightpad Block. The same goes for use with Ableton Live, Garageband, Bitwig, and other DAWs. BLOCKS Dashboard beta gives you the flexibility to assign programs to your BLOCKS that allow you to perform the functions you want it to perform.
  • At the moment BLOCKS Dashboard beta has a handful of programs available that allow for various functions for BLOCKS. The programming language created by ROLI called Littlefoot allows creators to design and build their own programs in BLOCKS Dashboard beta to perform the functions they’d like their BLOCKS to perform. While there isn’t necessarily a program built to serve this purpose at the moment, with Littlefoot, you might be able to do something like this.
  • If you’re interested in the requirements for the developer kit, I invite you to check them out on the developer page here. Everything you need to get going on that side is listed on the page. As for using BLOCKS with your music software and instruments, BLOCKS Dashboard beta will allow you to get started immediately. It’s currently available on Mac systems and Windows 10.

I hope I’ve been able to answer your questions, Manish! Let us know if you have any others.