EWI 5000 comes loaded with more than 3GB of top-quality sounds, including traditional horn, brass, woodwind, and string sounds, plus progressive synths, leads, and other non-traditional sounds. EWI 5000 includes 12 touch-sensitive metal keys on its top and an eight-wheel thumb- controlled octave roller on the bottom. An EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument) Mode is included for brass players, and EWI 5000 also includes eight control knobs for tweaking Filter, Reverb, Chorus, LFO, Breath Amount, Bite Amount, Semitone Tuning, and Fine Tuning. Both USB MIDI and 5-pin MIDI are onboard for controlling software synths or traditional MIDI modules. A 1/4- inch output to connect to an amplifier or PA and an 1/8-inch headphone output for silent practice are included. EWI 5000 charges via USB or wall power and also includes a USB cable, wall adapter, wireless receiver, and a neck strap.
So, basically, an Akai 4000s with USB, a built in rechargeable battery, and some sounds.
Is it a guitar? Is it a piano? Nope, it is a crazy iPhone-powered combination of both. Plus it has a built in bass, violin and drum machine to boot. The Artiphon Instrument 1 looks something like a medieval lute, but with a smart phone jammed into its belly.
In 2008 the Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition was established to showcase and recognize the invention of new musical instruments. Commenting on the Artiphon Instrument 1, Gil Weinberg, organizer of the competition and director of the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, said: “In general, I’m a big believer in using the capabilities of smart phones to power novel hardware. The ‘brain’ of such devices is already in your pocket, so why not use it?
Which got me to thinking….is it possible to take what I think is a severally crippled Akai USB EWI, and use an iPhone as the synth/controller? Hmmm…..
Once Upon A Time…..there was a great site called EWI-EVI.com. There was a wealth of information on wind controllers and stuff. That site now seems dead. In fact, there seems little movement right now in the whole EWI sphere. Akai seems to have stopped with the software updates (not that it needs it) but things like the Vyzex Editor seem to work OK on the latest version of OS X, but the software itself has not had an update in 5 years…….yikes!
There is a project called ewitool which looks very nice, but it only works on Windows and Linux…….no Mac. It seems to be a better editor than Vyzex is/was……and at least it is getting updated more frequently.
Some other sites that are EWI related or focused:
Saxophonist John Isley has a site called ewilogic.com which is an excellent source of using Logic and an Akai EWI together. Some amazing environments (think Michael Brecker’s Logic setup), tutorials and more. HIGHLY recommend you check it out.
The other site to check out is EWI Reason Sounds which Chris Vollstadt has put together. Simply put…..it is amazing. If you play EWI (USB or the 4000S) you will want to buy Reason to use with it. He has tons of patches he has made, tutorials, tips, tricks……basically everything. Hands down, it is probably the best EWI related site I have seen.
Sadly though, that is about it. If anyone knows of some other resources for EWIs please feel free to post about it.
UPDATE: Oh, seems I missed a couple. Thanks to Bret for the heads up. Check out his Windcontroller links for some additional ones.
I have had an Akai EWI4000S for a while now (5 years? More?) I should probably at some point do a review of it and why you should get the 4000S instead of the crippled USB only version (or maybe that is the review?). But what I can say is that I saw on Amazon the case that I totally love for it, which I had a HELL of a time getting from the Woodwind and Brasswind (backorder hell basically).
The Ritter Soprano Saxophone case works great for an EWI. It’s stylish, has enough compartments for your iRig, 1/4″ cable, and power supply. The current cases have a large RITTER logo on them (mine is several years old and doesn’t have that), but the basic design is the same. Check it out.
“The META-EWI is a modified EWI (Akai’s Electric Wind Instrument) to which was added a whole new set of controllers based on sensor technologies, specifically eight continuous controllers and 16 digital switches. These clearly succeed at stretching the expressiveness and the range of musical gestures found on the original instrument allowing the musician to have a more complete and far reaching control of a great variety of meaningful musical parameters.”
Two quick updates. For all you Akai EWI 4000 owners, Akai released new firmware for it. Version 2.4 is out. Not a lot of differences according to the readme other than Oboe and Flute fingerings.
TGTools, the essential plugin for Finale users finally received an update to work with Finale 2009. Version 2.5 doesn’t seem to have any new features, but all the existing features of TGTools finally work correctly with Finale 2009.
Suppose you want to play EWI. But you don’t want to play the Studebaker one. And you don’t particularly need nor want to visit the 70s and early 80s with the Analogue synth found in the EWI4000S.
Fear not, Akai has heard your pleas. ” Akai Professional, the name synonymous with music production, announces EWI USB, its latest wind controller, is now shipping.
EWI USB enables anyone, regardless of wind instrument-playing experience, to perform with the expressive capabilities of the wind instrument of their choice. The wind controller features a plug-and-play USB interface for use with the included Aria software with Garritan and Akai Professional samples as a sound source. EWI USB is Mac and PC compatible.”
They also have more detailed information on their website now. People who want to pretend they play Cello, or Oboe, or whatever will be delighted with the Garritan Aria player that comes with the EWI USB. List price is $299. Not a bad deal.
I somehow think Akai has good humor in announcing this on Halloween.
I’ve been doing some research for an upcoming article on the Akai EWI, and I’ve been researching Masato Honda. This is the guy, I believe, who played the famous Cowboy Bebop Tank! Alto Saxophone solo. He is also a master of the EWI, frequently playing it with the group T-Square. Anyhow, I came across this video of him playing four recorders with T-Square. Amazing stuff.
I think the most ingenious thing was the “stand” he had them on, and using a vocal microphone to amplify them. Oh, and running them through an effects processor towards the end.
UPDATE: 1/6/08: BTW, if anyone knows exactly what Masato Honda’s EWI setup is/was, that would be great to know. It looks like a 3020, but most of the youtube clips I’ve seen he has his EWI colored, so…..
Pretty much anything Michael Brecker did was awe inspiring. I remember back in the day seeing the Michael Brecker band when I was in High School. I had no clue who he was. I was a newbie, or noob at the whole saxophone thing. I basically went to the concert to see Spyro Gyra. Anyhow, Michael Brecker blew me away when he played saxophone, then he did something like this:
Years of the therapy has not helped so far…..and it still is amazing what he could do.
iBrecker has a new article up about Michael Brecker’s last EWI/Computer setup. Basically, the advance of software allowed Michael to replace 2, five foot racks of tone modules with a Logic and Reason. Amazing stuff. Michael’s EWI/Computer setup is going to be profiled in an upcoming issue of Virtual Instruments magazine. Look for it.
Update: 04/23 00:06 GMT by E:Oops, forgot to put the link to the iBrecker article. Fixed.
Professor writes “Advice needed: I am an alto player who would like to buy a MIDI wind controller. I read Scott Wilkinson’s May 2001 Electronic Musician piece, which was helpful but provides no buying advice for the uninitiated (and is out of date). Does anyone know where I can try out and/or buy these various controllers (EWI, WX5 or Softwind Synthophone– or the new EWI Brecker was playing recently). Any advice on which one to buy, where to try it, and where to buy it would be greatly appreciated. (I’m on the East Coast). Thanks.”
From what I can tell, the one Michael Brecker has been playing is current is a prototype from Niles Steiner. The Akai 3020s are being produced, but are still hard to find. And it’s really it’s own instrument, as it requires some practice to get used to and sound good on. The best solution right now seems to be the Yamaha WX5 coupled with the Yamaha VL70m. Some sites to check out are: