When one first sees the Orba, you can’t help but become intrigued by its small, curious interface. Resembling a Bluetooth speaker, the Orba fits in the palm of your hand and, through its eight key interface, allows you to play one of four sounds, Drum, Bass, Chords, or Lead. The round center button in the middle acts as a shift key to change instruments and functions, like Play/Pause, Record, BPM, and Octave. Along with the key functionality, the Orba reacts to various movements to change the sound, and you can also tap it on the side to get a clap in the Drum mode.
Who is this for?
Orba is for the curious music doodler who wants to make some beats, mess around with some simple compositions and have fun with music on the go – kind of what like the original ROLI Block was for. It’s also for producers that want to get out of the box and engage with an instrument, not stare into a DAW. AND for those that want a funky little MIDI controller that can provide hands-on inspiration and creative tools powered by gestures.
At $99, the Orba is not going to break the bank, and it allows you to grow with it as a producer or just use it as a simple creative tool to get your brain moving and grooving.
The learning curve. The manufacturer claims you can create songs in seconds, but it will take you a little while to be that proficient. It takes some practice to get tight on the Orba and make solid short looped-out songs, but within a couple of hours, you can be sketching out dope little tunes and running wild. Just use the integrated looper (which also has a metronome) to layer in each loop with the four elements, Drum, Bass, Chord, and Lead. Once you got the groove where you want it, you can even go back and overdub on the layers to create more intricate songs.
Using Gestures: One of the unique things about Orba is its touch and motion sensors allow you to combine movements to tweak your sounds. The Orba has ten main gestures to make your experience more fun: Tap, Press, Spin, Radiate, Tilt, Shake, Slide, Vibrato, Move, and Bump. Each of these gestures can be used to control the instruments or be used with your MIDI music software/DAW of choice.
Play it through the built-in speaker or use the headphone jack to connect headphones or larger speakers. The Orba can also be used with the app wirelessly to customize the instrument and share your compositions. Available for both mobile and desktop devices – iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows).
For more experienced producers, what makes this little device a must-have is the MIDI Control. You can go from a cool musical gadget to a full-blown creative controller very quickly. The Orba can control your MIDI-based software and hardware instruments (via USB-C or wirelessly via Bluetooth MIDI). Whatever your DAW is, you can use the MIDI Polyphonic Expression to push the limits of your creativity.
Here is an excellent example of how a producer uses it as a MIDI controller:
- Eight capacitive-sensing pads respond to the lightest velocities
- Accelerometer and gyroscope capture a range of multi-dimensional gestures
- Onboard synthesizer and built-in speaker offer an immediate playing experience
- Use the built-in looper to layer Drum, Bass, Chord, and Lead parts
- Connect to the cross-platform Orba app for more sounds, songs, and settings
- Connect via MIDI over Bluetooth or USB, and use MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE) to play your sounds in dynamic new ways
- Use the ⅛” (3.5mm) output to listen on headphones, speakers, and amps
- Multicolor LEDs respond to the way you play
- Embedded haptic engine offers vibration feedback
- USB rechargeable battery
Product Dimensions (no box)
- 3.14″ (diameter) x 2” (h)
- 81mm x 81mm x 48.5mm
- Boxed Weight – Gift Box
- 292 grams
What’s in the box
- USB-C to USB-A cable
- Quick Start Guide
- USB-C (USB 2.0 Class Compliant Audio/MIDI)
- 3.5mm (1/8”) TRS Analog Headphone Stereo Out)
• 3W built-in active speaker system
• Lithium Polymer Battery
•. 1250 mAH
• 5h constant playtime at 50% volume
Capacitive Touch-Sensitive Pads
- 8 Pads can be used with different gestures
- 4 part polyphonic synthesizer with subtractive and physical modeling synthesis
- iOS, Android, Mac, Windows
- Travel Case
- Silicone Sleeve