Imagine a wearable ring that could control your favourite synth, guitar pedal, or DAW. That’s what Genki have built with their Wave MIDI controller. We couldn’t wait to give a try at Engineering the Sound.
In playing with a number of MIDI controllers and other musical gadgets over the years, very few products have managed to reinvent the wheel or provide an entirely new creative experience. The Wave, a wearable MIDI controller from Genki Instruments, has succeeded where others failed. Engineering the Sound was more than eager to investigate this innovative controller.
Rather than trying to create new forms of physical expression (aftertouch or touch velocity are basic examples of this), the Wave plays its trump card by attaching itself to a part of your body that’s already incredible expressive – your hand. More specifically, your pointer finger.
How it works
Out of the box, the Wave is surprisingly easy to get going. A downloadable program called Softwave is what allows the ring to communicate with your DAW, or any other MIDI-compatible software you might be using such as rekordbox. With Softwave you’ll be able to trial a few demo sounds, but it’s also where you’ll map different gestures to MIDI channels of your choosing.
Six gestures are mappable; tilt, pan, roll, vibrato, and tap are all hand movements, and an additional click command allows you to map any of the ring’s buttons to a MIDI function such as play, stop, or loop. Each of those are assignable to any MIDI channel, so the possibilities are quite literally endless once you begin thinking outside the box.
A handy tool
Once you’ve mapped a few gestures to an instrument or command of your choosing (a soft synth is a great introduction since you’ll have a wealth of parameters to mess with and the adjustments will sound obvious), you’re ready to play. Obvious moves like mapping your tilt – moving your hand up or down – to a fat filter are the most immediately gratifying, because who doesn’t love feeling like some kind of psychic audio wizard?
Manipulating sounds with your hands is damn fun, and as a tool to jam or get ideas out, the Wave is incredibly powerful. Want to fade a track in or out by twisting your hand? Live loop a track by tapping your head? It’s possible with this tool, if you’re willing to spend a little time menu-diving and tweaking.
And beyond its many applications inside your DAW, a live environment is where the ring will truly shine.
On the stage
For rekordbox or Serato DJs, or anyone bringing a DAW or MIDI-mappable piece of tech to their live show, the Wave has potential for some mind-shattering crowd moments. Imagine if, instead of simply raising your hand in time with a swell in your bassline, your hand was actually bringing that swell? Clapping your hands could trigger actual clap samples, or panning your hand to the left of a crowd could pan your mix to their ears. It’s intoxicating to think about.
Unfortunately, due to current circumstances it’s been impossible to road test Genki’s ring on the stage. But to anyone who’s spent time in front of a crowd and knows that a little style can bring a whole lot of hype, the Wave definitely sends the mind racing with possibilities.
Altogether it’s a beautiful piece of tech, and with a $200 price tag it really won’t set you back as much as other fancy audio gear. As a new way to play your favourite software instruments, modulate vocal or guitar effects, generate outside-the-box ideas, or blow minds on the stage, we couldn’t recommend this enough.
Find out more about the Wave on the Genki Instruments website.