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Wind Controller Aerophone Go first impressions

zaphoon

New Member
Messages
18
I've got my Roland Aerophone GO AE-05, and since there's not much discussion/review about it available, I'll share my impressions here.

First of all, I'm not a sax player (yet). I bought it specifically to practice fingering, so I can only judge it as a new born EWI player.

Build qualitiy

Seems good, sturdy. Keys feel ok, specially the main keys. Pinky keys are a bit more tricky, I have some problems with the bottom most key which needs to be pressed a bit more to the center of it or it won't play. Palm keys are tricky for me, but I don't know if that's due to Aerophone design or sax in general (or both). I specifically wanted "real" keys, not touch keys, as I want to transfer my practice to a real sax one day, and Aerophone does seem to cover that.

Everything else - contacts, knobs etc seems high quality. There is a bit of design issue with the USB cable - there's a "guide" to prevent pulling on the usb connector (nice feature!), but getting the cable in is a bit hard. There could be a better mechanism for that, but that's really a minor detail.

It's small, easy to cary around, I'd say even on a business trip and such. It even comes with a bag, which is basic, but better than nothing. According to Roland it weights 0.7kg, so it's not very heave.

Build in sounds

There are 11 build in sounds (Alto & Tenor Sax, Flute, Recorder, Trumpet, and some more exotic sounds). Interestingly, Roland official and semi-official videos mostly don't demo the sax sound. To be honest, the sax sounds are not impressive. In fact, I prefer to use either the trumpet, which does sound more realistic to my ear, or flute/recorder for practicing.

Still, I do like that it has build in sounds. I can practice without having it plug in into a phone etc., which is sometimes just more convenient. And as I said, my goal is to practice fingering on Aerophone, therefore sound is not so important. I'd say Roland actually positions Aerophone Go for this purpose. The big brother AE-10 has a better sound processor with more sounds available.

The Aerophone Go can be transposed to any tone, with Bb, Eb and C being highlighted on the knob. Useful to play along with any recording/band without transposing!

Mouthpiece

As I'm not a sax player I can't say much about it. It has a bit sensor which can be turned off. I have disabled it as otherwise my tone is all over the place.

Connectivity

Aerophone GO has built-in Bluetooth MIDI and MIDI over USB. It comes with 3 different USB cables, so you can connect it to various devices.

I'm using iPhone and I could connect it through both, however Bluetooth does have some latency (but less than my Roland e-piano). While good on paper, bluetooth just doesn't work in practice for me. To connect Aerophone GO to my iPhone over USB, I use the normal USB cable provided + iPhone camera kit (with the old connector) + converter to lighting port. It works, and there's no latency with this setup.

Aerophone Go App

Aerophone Go comes with it's own app, which adds additional sounds, and the ability to play backing tracks.

The additional sounds are fun. The saxes are much better than the built-in saxes (I wonder why?), but the Tenor is still not very good, to me Alto sounds better. I've tried some other sounds (persecution on EWI??) , but I don't really have the need for them (can be fun though). Well ok, perhaps I could see myself using the electric guitar sounds to play along some guitar solos.

There's also ability to select a song from music library (must be purchased) and play along with it. It can slow down and transpose the song, which is nice. It's basic but it work. My biggest issue with it is that it's a bit hard to control on iPhone (small buttons etc).

Power supply

4xAA batteries or USB cable.

Ergonomics

Now this is what I have not expected, but I have a major pain in my righ thumb playing the Aerophone Go! While not heavy, a-lot of weight comes to the thumb. I guess it's similar to a soprano sax in this regard. It's so bad I can only play it sitting down, supporting the Aerophone with my waist/legs/abdomen.

I will definitely need to buy/create some kind of support to take that weight off of my thumb. I've tried an improvised solution and it worked as far as the thumb goes.

In Roland videos you can see people holding the Aerophone Go like a melodica, almost straight and without a strap. Definitively a no go, for me at least. Will be interesting to see it other users have the same complaint. Perhaps future models should provide things like curved neck which would change the holding position of the Aerophone. I guess even an add-on would be possible, one would just need to connect the bite sensor correctly.

Bottom line

Ergonomics is actually my only complaint. Other than that it's exactly what I wanted. Would recommend.
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,672
I use an AE 10 for a few tunes in 2 bands that I play in. IMO the sax fingering just meant less learning time.

IMO a good part of sax fingering is actually the timing of the fingers so that the notes play cleanly. I suspect that learning the AE might mean it takes longer to get the fingering right as one will have to unlearn a very similar response.
 

randulo

Living the dream
Subscriber
Messages
5,315
I've considered this several times but I feel it's expensive for what what it would bring. I've already played a WX5 and although the fingering is the same as a saxophone, playing it is totally different.
 

zaphoon

New Member
Messages
18
I use an AE 10 for a few tunes in 2 bands that I play in. IMO the sax fingering just meant less learning time.

IMO a good part of sax fingering is actually the timing of the fingers so that the notes play cleanly. I suspect that learning the AE might mean it takes longer to get the fingering right as one will have to unlearn a very similar response.

Perhaps... but all is relative. Could I play a sax right now? Nope, kids sleep, not to mention the neighbours. I can fiddle on the aerophone though!
 

Janosax

Member
Messages
320
Have you tried to control third party synths on your iPhone using AUM for example? Is there a virtual midi port for the Aerophone GO?
 

Janosax

Member
Messages
320
Yes, it is a USB MIDI controller and it can control 3rd party synths! Just tested it with Garage Band and DSK Saxophones.

Cool, I had a WX5 during many years and I’m interested by this new compact Roland wind midi controller. About BTLE midi latency, I find it to be ok with keyboards (Korg Nanokey Studio) but that could be different with a wind controller. Have you tried to change buffers latency in the apps? By default it’s often set to 256 buffers, you could improve your BT experience with 128 buffers. Unfortunately GarageBand doesn’t allow to change latency settings. You could try Korg Gadget LE which is free and allow to change those settings.
 

David Yates

New Member
Messages
2
I have had an Aerophone Go since February. Here's my thoughts on it.

It's been a great practise tool, but I wouldn't want to perform with it.

The sounds aren't great in the first place, and certainly not through the on-board micro-speaker.

Fingering slips that happen on a real sax are common on the Aerophone. There are other fingering anomalies that are annoying - if you leave fingers down on a real sax for a trill, these don't sound the correct note on the Aerophone.

Latency on most of the built-in sounds makes them annoying to use, all except "Saw Lead". Sounds via the app are just a joke - totally unusable.

The biggest overall problem is that the buttons are horrible. Clicky, sticky and just cheap. I also miss the rollers between pinky keys - 150 years of evolution of the sax put them there for a reason!

The breath sensor is surprisingly good, though I can't use the reed sensor - it just requires too much pressure to play without sounding drunk (and I thought I had a robust embouchure)

So....I use it often for late-night practise and it's improved my sax playing - but in itself not being something you could perform with is pretty tragic.
 
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