Lumi Keys is an illuminated instructional keyboard designed to help beginners learn the basics of playing the piano. The device pairs wirelessly with a mobile app containing different lessons to help you learn the basics. The keys on the piano light up with different colors in sync with practice songs so you can follow along. Whether you are a beginner or someone who just needs to refresh your piano skills, this device can help you find the right balance between learning and fun.
What Are Lumi Keys?
Lumi Keys is an innovative and educational keyboard designed to teach users how to play the piano. The keyboard pairs wirelessly with a companion app containing hundreds of video tutorials about the piano. The keys on the keyboard light up with different colors when pressed as well as in sync with a video or song tutorial.
The keyboard works hand-in-hand with a mobile app containing hundreds of notated songs and video tutorials. The app offers different ways to view notes for each song. Depending on your level of proficiency, you can opt to view the notes as colored loaf-like bars, in standard notation, or a music sheet. You can also get into a combination-type mode where the notes are colored to match the colors of the keys on the keyboard.
The keyboard is highly portable and lightweight and can easily fit inside a backpack or shoulder bag. It’s also noticeably stable on top of flat surfaces and tables due to the rubber padding at its bottom. The device also connects to both audio workstations and plug-ins, which means that you can use it as a substitute for other instruments as a way to create original compositions.
Lumi Keys: Price and Availability
Roli runs two separate websites, both of which sell the Lumi Keys in a bundle-type fashion. And just like the Playstation 5, you will have to pre-order the keyboard due to the limited number of units available.
The official website of Lumi Keys offers the Bundle Offer. It comes with the Lumi keyboard (USD 299) and a special snap case (USD 60) plus a USD 50 voucher for a total cost of ISD 350. The voucher is essentially a USD 50 discount from the software’s annual subscription fee (USD 79.99/year).
Roli also sells another version of Lumi Keys, called the Lumi Keys Studio Edition through the Roli official website. This edition comes with the Lumi keyboard and special snap case in addition to the Roli Studio Software and several sound packs. This package only costs USD 299, which is significantly cheaper than the Bundle Offer.
It’s important to note that access to most of the tutorials requires a monthly subscription fee. The subscription can set you back USD 9.99 per month or $6.67 per month for the annual membership. But if you get the Bundle Offer, you would only have to pay a total of USD 20 for the first year of your subscription.
We are not sure why Roli has to sell its product on two different websites. But if we must muster a guess, then it probably has something to do with them having a separate target audience for the two packages. Roli likely intended the Studio Edition for professional musicians while the Bundle Offer is intended for beginners as well as children.
Lumi Keys: Design
The Lumi Keys is portable and lightweight compared to other MIDI keyboards. The keyboard itself is only about one-fourth the length of a standard keyboard, with the following dimensions. It’s also probably one of the lightest keyboards you will encounter, as it only weighs 1.3 pounds. This compact form factor was most likely a deliberate move, and it should allow the keyboard to fit inside any backpack or shoulder bag. Its lightweight body should also make it easy for both children and adults to carry it around.
Luma Keys have rainbow-like, glowing keys. The keys are inspired by Fresnel lenses, which are special concentric, lightweight lenses normally used in lighthouses. The lenses are traditionally wrapped around the upper section of the lighthouse to allow ships to identify the lighthouse’s location from a faraway distance. The technology ensures that the key colors remain brightly colored and visible in both well-lit environments and in the dark.
Lumi Keys has 24 keys in total, which is equivalent to about a fourth of a standard keyboard. Magnetic connectors to the side of each keyboard can connect to other Lumi Keys in a Transformer-like fashion. As far as we know, the current model can only connect to a single keyboard for a 48-key setup. But ideally, you should be able to connect multiple keyboards to form a 78 or even a 96-key setup.
Lumi Keys has more keys than it does buttons. One of the buttons on the keyboard includes a switch that functions both as the power button and mode selector, plus a pair of octave shift buttons. The device lacks a sustain pedal input, common among traditional pianos. It also lacks the conventional pitch and mod wheels, but most settings have been digitalized through the app. Also included in the package is a snap case that can alternate as a tablet stand.
As mentioned, the lights on the keyboard match the colors of the bars that appear on the screen. This luminescence applies to all modes except the Classic mode, in which case the keys light up only in yellow when pressed. The app’s settings also allow you to customize the colors and brightness level of the keys.
Lumi Keys: Learning Modes
Lumi Keys pairs with sophisticated, mobile-based software. The app features a variety of video tutorials as well as practice songs. You can choose between several modes, depending on your level of exposure to piano lessons.
Beginners can start with a Guitar-hero-esque mode called Cascade. The mode substitutes musical notes for colored blocks that move towards you on the screen and in time with the particular song you are playing. A similar mode called Rainbow also uses colored bars to represent notes, except that the bars cascade sideways instead of downwards.
If you are slightly more knowledgeable or experienced with the piano, you can proceed to the hybrid mode. The color mode presents you with musical notes that appear in a straight line. The mode highlights notes with colors that match the keys.
For those who are very confident about their piano abilities, there’s a classic mode that makes use of a typical music sheet. This mode switches the colors on the keyboard to standard yellow, defeating the purpose of having colored lights.
Lumi Keys: Free vs Premium Subscription
Lumi’s companion app Roli Studio carries a large selection of video tutorials and practice songs, but most of it is locked behind a paywall. That is, you need to get a premium subscription to the app to access the full library of content.
Let’s be clear on the difference between free and premium subscriptions. The free version, called Lumi Essentials, will only give you access to about 40 songs and 60 video tutorials. On the other hand, a premium subscription will get you access to over 600 songs and 100 plus video tutorials.
We understand that not everyone will be privy to making monthly payments to accommodate a hobby. But suppose you are very serious about playing the piano or learning piano. In that case, the advantages are definitely worth the cost.
A premium subscription also gets you free-for-all access to Roli’s library. The original version of the software restricted access to content depending on the proficiency level of the user. Case in point, users had to start with tutorials labeled as “easy” before moving onto higher-level content. Nowadays, users can access both easy and hard-level tutorials and songs without restrictions.
In addition to featuring a large selection of tutorials and songs, Roli’s library is also noticeably well-organized. You can browse the library either in alphabetical order or by order of difficulty (for tutorials). If you have a topic about the piano that you want to learn, you can use the search bar to conduct a more specific search.
Also Read: SoundForge Audio Studio Review.
Lumi Keys: MIDI Controller Functions
Aside from being an instructional device for piano, the Lumi Keys also alternates as a full-blown MIDI controller. The MIDI controller or Musical Instrument Digital Interface is a device that records input information directly into your computer. MIDI controllers record and read musical input in MIDI format. MIDI is the universal language or format for digital audio input. You can convert MIDI into other audio formats. However, you will need to use a music converter. For that, you may want to check out this list of the best music converters.
A controller can play the sounds of any instrument that you choose from a digital audio workstation. A digital audio workstation is a software that you can use to record, modify, and play back music. Take note that digital audio workstations are not the same as digital audio editors, which are only used for the superficial editing and polishing of audio files.
Digital workstations often work with accessory appliances used for creating music, such as mixers, speakers, microphones, and MIDI controllers. The MIDI controller acts as a simulator for other instruments. For example, let’s say that you want to play a drum kit using a MIDI keyboard. In this case, you can configure the audio workstation to assign drum notes to your keyboard keys so you can create, record, and playback music.
Lumi Keys does not come with its audio workstation, but you can choose from a selection of downloadable workstations. The list includes GarageBand, Kontakt, and Omnisphere. These devices offer a wide selection of tools for generating music from scratch and with the help of a MIDI controller. The way to connect a keyboard to this type of software is by plugging the keyboard directly into the computer via a USB connection.
Final Thoughts on Lumi Keys: A Review of the Colorful Learning Keyboard
Lumi Keys is a highly functional and practical keyboard with a highly innovative and futuristic design. The Fresnel-type lights on the keyboard are nothing short of genius, especially as they serve a very practical purpose which you wouldn’t expect. However, it’s not even the lighting that is most impressive about this setup; but the companion app. The app takes the concept of online learning to a whole new level, as it contains everything that you need to learn the piano, from the basics to more advanced concepts. The way the app works in sync with the keyboard is also highly commendable. Not to mention, the keyboard is MIDI-compatible, which allows you to play other instruments using it. Overall, Lumi Keys is one of the most forward-thinking and comprehensive self-learning solutions for music that we’ve encountered, and its auxiliary functions make it the perfect all-around piano.
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