Hardware Overview: The ROLI Lightpad Block M

    Last week, we heard about an updated ROLI BLOCKS package that featured support for the new ROLI Lightpad Block M - an enhanced version of the Lightpad Block that was released just before the holidays. I thought it might be smart to take a look at this new BLOCK, and see what it might provide that would add to our Lightpad-ing experience.
    When you pull the Lightpad M out of its packaging, you will immediately get a hit of something new going on: the surface of the M is textured with a subtle wavey shape. Touching the surface reveals something else: it is softer, and the wave-like texture provides a sense of scale to your finger’s movement along its surface. This is a huge uptick in the usability of the Lightpad; for me, it meant that I felt more connected to the surface that I was working upon, and it felt more like an instrument (like the ROLI Rise) than something like an tablet.
    Sensitivity seems to be the catchword with this version of the Lightpad Block. I found that the touch sensitivity was identical at the edges and in the center, and I never felt like I had to alter my presses in order to get it to read my finger location or pressure. The touch also seemed lighter, so the idea of ‘more sensitive’ kept coming through.
    As we updated the BLOCKS package to support the Lightpad Block M, I kept noticing that the included examples seemed to come alive; the drum synth was easier to play, the looper was more responsive, and the video warper - well, it was as fun as ever!
    Would I recommend the Lightpad Block M as a BLOCKS upgrade? I sure would; I found the M much more enjoyable with both the example patches and my personal Max patches; in fact, the Lightpad has wormed its way back into my everyday controller set - especially significant since it is so easily backpacked. The new-ish BLOCKS Dashboard application gives the system a better integration to my laptop, and its actually got me dreaming about that Seaboard Block that just came out.
    (Note: If you are using the new Lightpad Block M, please update your BLOCKS package in the Max Package Manager for best results.)

    • Jan 31 2018 | 5:25 pm
      I agree with this as I am also an upgrader. The touch sensitivity of the M just gives better tactile feedback to all the points in between off and on.
    • Jan 31 2018 | 5:29 pm
      Yeah... I reviewed the first set of these guys back in the summer - https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/roli-blocks - and the original Lightpad was a a weak spot in terms of playability, which the M fixes.
    • May 07 2018 | 12:46 pm
      Finally got a Lightpad M. The original Lightpad was already quite interesting, especially with firmware upgrades and updates to the associated software. And the Max package opened my ears and eyes to a number of possibilities. Example patches made it clear to me that the Lightpad can be a pretty versatile controller. There aren’t that many things out there which can be a drum machine, a VJ tool, an expressive musical instrument, or a 3D controller at the press of a button. Some people didn’t give much credit to the device, but some of us perceived the potential. The Lightpad M is simply a gamechanger. It’s closing in among my favourite controllers because it’s actually playable. Will probably use my original Lightpad as a versatile controller. But the Lightpad M calls to me as an instrument to be learnt without too much frustration. It’s still a slow process, but it’s much more rewarding (and less RSI-inducing) than trying to use the original Lightpad to play any kind of musical line.