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What does this mean?
Not exactly a new idea this - Yamaha had a WX instrument around 20 years ago and even Casio had a 'Digital Horn' for a while..!
However, what sets the Akai EWI USB apart is its direct USB connection - so no more mucking about with MIDI.
Not to mention the cheap price - historically, this sort of kit was ridiculously expensive or simply a toy - the EWI USB is certainly neither.
EWI stands for Electronic Wind Instrument, the whole idea being that wind players can now record straight to PC or MAC with the aid of the bundled software, which includes Garritan Aria Player software
This is what Akai have to say about their EWI USB:
EWI USB is an electronic wind instrument for musicians looking for an easy-to-play, easy-to-use controller. Akai Professional's decades of experience in wind and electronic music instruments are rolled into our most user friendly - and most affordable - EWI ever.
Akai Professional is the first name in electronic wind instruments. For over 20 years, Akai Professional has studied the art of playing saxophone, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and other traditional winds, and developed electronic wind instruments that enable wind players to enjoy the same expressive control as in an acoustic instrument. We designed EWI USB to give wind players the expressive musical capabilities previously found only in much more expensive instruments.
EWIs are the only choice for serious wind players looking to make music electronically. While EWI USB is easy and fun to use, it's also powerful, flexible, and most importantly reliable enough for use on stage and in the studio by professional musicians.
EWI USB is the most flexible EWI because it harnesses your computer to generate its sounds. Its USB interface means that all you need is nearly any Mac or PC and the included EWI USB software, and you're ready to practice, perform, create, and record with a full collection of wind instrument sounds. Aria Player software was produced specifically for use with EWI USB, providing wind players with an unprecedented level of expressive control.You get over 75 different orchestral, concert band, jazz band, and synthesizer sound sets expertly recorded and programmed by Garritan, renowned for its ultra-realistic instrument sound libraries.
Historically, electronic wind instruments have fallen into two different categories: high-end, professional instruments and toys. EWI USB breaks the price barrier, bringing professional quality, expressive control, and a studio-ready sound library to a price the professional-wind-instrument world has never seen.
- Mouthpiece: air-pressure level sensor & bite sensor
- Note Keys: 13 touch sensors
- Octave Rollers: 2 mobile, 2 fixed touch sensors (5-octave range)
- Bend Plates: 2 touch sensors
- Ground Plates: 2 touch sensors
- Class-compliant, plug-and-play USB device
- MIDI Output Channels Over USB: 1
- Mac and PC compatible
- For a MIDI Implementation Chart, please refer to the EWI USB Quickstart Manual under the “Docs & Downloads” tab.
- Dimensions: 23 1/8” x 2 3/4” x 2 3/4"
- Weight: 1.3 lbs
- Power: ~100mA, 5V via USB
- Terminals: 1 slave connector (MIDI over USB)
Minimum system requirements
PC: Windows XP or Vista
Mr D Lambert | Purchase date: 25 June 2011
Very responsive controller, allowing very fast runs to be achieved, at least with the Garritan sounds provided. Fingerings can be changed for flute/sax etc, but the biggest initial problem is that (for a flute player anyway) the use of the 'thumb' for changes of register is very different to that on a real flute. Hence a learning process is needed, and this is a bit frustrating at first. Also, the use of 'breath' is different, and again has to be learnt. One really has to treat this as an instrument in its own right. And it is very capable.
Another minor gripe is that, although it is pretty solidly built, it looks a bit 'plastic', imho anyway.
Perhaps, if I was to purchase again. I would consider buying the model with built-in sounds, but that is a lot more expensive, and the USB model represents very good value. Another advantage of the USB-only model though is that you just need a single USB cable to connect to the computer - power is via the USB cable.