Nu Desine, a British company, had designed and developed a hexagonal electronic musical instrument called AlphaSphere. This musical instrument has two available models, the elite series and the nexus series. Its primary concept is to increase the electronic musical player’s level of expression. Interestingly, the AlphaSphere has been used worldwide, even before it was fully developed. Its appearances include the events, namely, the Musikmesse, an international fair focused on the music industry, TEDx conferences, the NAMM Show, a European event counterpart to Musikmesse, and many other worldwide events. Aside from that, it also received press from organizations like MusicRadar, the Wired magazine, BBC, and Sound and Sound technology magazine in the UK.
Initially, the concept of this instrument is conceived by Adam Place, while he was still studying at the Nagoya University of Arts in Japan. It was also then when he produced the initial prototype of the AlphaSphere. Subsequently, Place was commissioned by the Media Sandbox to further developed his invention in September 2010. After it had gone through further research, this had soon caused the birth of Nu Desine. This team specializes in electronic engineering, music technology, product design, user interface design, and software development.
By April 2012, the Nu Desine team announced that they started to take pre-order of their limited-edition Elite Series AlphaSphere. A year after that, in July, the team announced the release of AlphaSphere standard version, the Nexus Series. In the same year of 2013, AlphaSphere became available in retail stores in Japan, the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States. Some notable artists known to use the AlphaSphere are the Enter Shikari rock band and Talvin Singh, a producer and composer.
The Nexus Alpha Sphere Series
The Nexus series is indeed designed with musicality in mind. It is the standard AlphaSphere series that features a series of logical notational arrangements which can be mapped around its spherical hexagonal form. This electronic instrument is composed offorty-eight tactile pads that allow the sound to be manipulated and triggered subtlety for the real-time modulations of audio.
Each of these pads is sensitive to velocity, pressure and fully compatible with MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) polyphonic aftertouch. Since it is MIDI compatible, it can be used and connect to music-related software. Also, it is supported by the HID (Human Interface Device). This musical instrument is advanced enough to take input and gives off output to its user.As well as that, it was OSC (Open Sound Control) supported and can be used to control lightings and other visual applications.
Furthermore, the AlphaSphere has a custom software known as the AlphaLive, which can be used as the instrument’s MIDI mapping editor. It also has a sequencer and sampler capabilities, as well as allowing MIDI messages to be converted to OSC.Both of the firmware and software used in AlphaSphere are open source. Besides its above characteristics, the AlphaSphere is also infinitely programmable. Although there is no fixed note of function for each pad, there are several numbers of suggested notational arrangements for each.
Notes and scales layout can be set in the pad as desired. In addition to that, the modes of each pad and the parameters that pressure modulates are also customizable. AlphaSphere is also useful for alternative notational layouts, including the Harmonic Table note-layout or Tonal Array. It can also be used for the Wicki-Hayden note layout, a musical layout that differs from the traditional musical keyboard layout. These note layouts are well suited to the hexagonal lattice pad layout of the AlphaSphere.
The Limited Edition Elite Alpha Sphere Series
The limited edition of the AlphaSphere Elite Series is a high-end electronic musical instrument. Much like the Nexus Series, the Elite Series gives us pretty much the same features offered by the Nexus. However, there are still lots of differences between the two. Although both series have a forty-eight soft-touch finish tactile pads, the color variation of black AlphaSphere is only available on the limited-edition Elite Series.
Moreover, the Elite features a MIDI port to connect the AlphaSphere to an external MIDI hardware. When it comes to multi-channel MIDI compatibility, the AlphaSphere elite also allows multiple instruments to be played at the same time. Additional features of the Elite Series also include the 2x Assignable Dials, along with its 3x Assignable Buttons.