Ex­pres­sive E Touché

This hand ex­pres­sion con­troller goes against the grain with its unique feel and look. Dan ‘JD73’ Gold­man checks it out

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

Touché feels like a fin­ger­sized ver­sion of those wob­ble/bal­ance boards in kids’ play­grounds!

Stan­dard pitch and mod wheels do a solid enough job, but they seem pretty oned­i­men­sional, par­tic­u­larly as these days we are very much used to touch­screens and touch de­vices. So en­ter Ex­pres­sive E, the in­no­va­tive French startup aim­ing to bring ex­pres­sive touch con­trol to the masses with their Touché con­troller. I’ve al­ways loved Kaoss Pads and wished a com­pany would make a stand­alone de­vice that could con­trol mul­ti­ple MIDI/CV pa­ram­e­ters across mul­ti­ple in­stru­ments in a hands-on way; that’s pretty much what Touché brings to the ta­ble, and more!

Touché feels like a minia­turised fin­ger-sized ver­sion of those wob­ble/ bal­ance boards in kids’ play­grounds! It features a wooden touch-sen­si­tive oval-ish sur­face that fits your hand/ fin­gers com­fort­ably, which is mounted on a sprung, rub­ber-skirted plat­form. Build-wise, Touché feels very well made with a sil­i­cone-rub­ber coated en­clo­sure that houses the elec­tron­ics and in­put/out­puts for MIDI (via in­cluded break­out ca­ble), along with CV outs and USB for com­puter con­nec­tion. The in­ti­mately sen­si­tive sur­face senses four di­men­sions of touch/pres­sure (shift­ings) and un­der the wooden touch sur­face there’s a slider that re­duces or in­creases lat­eral move­ment and a sen­si­tiv­ity dial so you can cus­tomise Touché for your own touch/ex­pres­sion style. Each of these four di­men­sions can send out its own user-as­sign­a­ble MIDI CC or CV (tweak­able in the Lié soft­ware), or you can con­trol VST/AU soft­ware in­stru­ments over USB by host­ing them within the Lié soft­ware it­self (Mac only cur­rently).

Touché’s soft­ware in­stal­la­tion process in­volves in­stalling sev­eral pieces of soft­ware for con­fig­u­ra­tion and sounds (UVI Fal­con for Touché op­ti­mised sounds, plus firmware and Lié in­stal­la­tions) but af­ter some man­ual con­sul­ta­tion I was set. While the Lié soft­ware/UI seems ini­tially com­plex, (it’s a plugin host it­self and there’s a lot of con­fig­urable pa­ram­e­ters on­board), it worked re­li­ably as a hosted plugin within Logic X and also when host­ing plug­ins it­self. I was soon as­sign­ing MIDI CCs to con­trol my soft­ware in­stru­ments (by host­ing them within the Lié soft­ware) and to con­trol my Prophet-6 too (stand­alone) and it was a joy to add such hands-on and in­stinc­tive multi-faceted ex­pres­sion to hard­ware synths and soft­ware plug­ins which had pre­vi­ously re­lied on pitch/mod wheels or di­als/slid­ers for ex­pres­sive con­trol. The Lié soft­ware also in­cludes CC tem­plates for many hard­ware synths/de­vices and for us­ing Touché stand­alone, you can save cus­tom con­trol pre­sets from Lié di­rect to Touché, then sim­ply un­plug your com­puter and se­lect your saved pre­sets us­ing Touché’s data wheel/mul­ti­coloured LEDs.

Touché is a fresh, in­no­va­tive and very en­joy­able to use de­vice which can bring any hard­ware and soft­ware to life. While the in­stal­la­tion process and soft­ware could do with some refin­ing/stream­lin­ing (and I’d love Lié as an iOS app too), Touché and Lié are se­ri­ously im­pres­sive and I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to see­ing more sim­i­larly for­ward-think­ing prod­ucts from Ex­pres­sive E.

CON­TACT WHO: Ex­pres­sive E (Source Dis­tri­bu­tion) WEB: www.sourcedis­tri­bu­tion.co.uk KEY FEATURES Touch-sen­si­tive wooden sur­face, with 4 ‘shift­ings’ con­fig­urable via soft­ware. Rub­berised chas­sis/en­clo­sure with con­tin­u­ous en­coder and mul­ti­colour LEDs to de­note bank/pre­set se­lec­tion. USB-powered DI­MEN­SIONS: 246 x 100 x 62mm WEIGHT: 1.7lbs

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