Shaking up your MIDI game
So something interesting just rolled across our desks. We’re used to seeing microphones, guitar pedals and pieces of outboard gear. But this is not something we’re used to seeing, and I don’t think it’s something that most musos really take the time to get their hands on.
The Robkoo Clarii Mini is a digital wind instrument and MIDI controller. The digital wind instrument space has largely been controlled by Roland with the Roland Aerophone line (with a bit of competition from Akai’s EWI 5000).
But the Clarii Mini isn’t really looking to compete with the big guns, rather it fills a slot in the market that has been relatively untapped. It’s the affordable and approachable digital wind alternative.
Connectivity is as simple as a USB-C port, which you’ll use for charging and firmware updates, and a headphone jack so that you can practice silently. It’s super light but feels quite sturdy, so it’ll be an easy piece of gear to throw into your backpack.
The Clarii comes stocked with a bunch of playable sounds, including some cute shake and play sounds (you can give the Clarii a shake to make a shaker sound, or swing it like a sword). The inbuilt sounds are fun for having a play and for a quick practice, but I wouldn’t say they’re ready to go on a record.
Saying this though nicely segways us into our favourite and what we think is the most impressive feature of the Clarii which is its MIDI controller compatibility. The Clarii can send midi to your DAW either via bluetooth or via USB.
We were really impressed by the MIDI capabilities of the Clarii. It played really naturally and via USB (that’s how we tested it) there was no latency.
It’s worth getting stuck into the menus of the Clarii to get it going at its best, in particular having a play around with the breath curve and the breath sensitivity makes a huge difference.
Occasionally we found that playing softly it would bottom out a little bit and not send signals with very soft playing. Overall though the Clarii gives you easy access to the idiosyncrasies of playing a wind instrument on your favourite software instruments
As for playability, it’s quite good, and there are plenty of tweakable settings to get it going in a way that’s really comfy for you. If you’re a wind player, you’ll settle in pretty quickly, especially since there are different fingering profiles that reflect typical wind instruments.
I did find that the sharp and flat pinky keys were a little awkward for my larger hands – getting my finger onto the sharp key in particular was a little squishy.
Personally we think this fills a brilliant niche. I’ve been a saxophone player for years and I’ve always thought that the Aerophone looked like a heap of fun, but I could never justify spending copious amounts of money on something that I might use more as a gimmick than a serious instrument.
The Clarii perfectly quenches that thirst. It gives you the chance to see if a digital wind instrument is something you’ll seriously enjoy and play often. And if you find that for you it is more of a novelty, you won’t have to regret spending thousands.
Instead you’ll be stoked you have this fun little toy amongst your instrument collection that makes you smile when you give it a play.
The Clarii mini is currently available on kick starter but is expected to land at around 250 AUD and the first shipments are going out in December. If you want to find out more head on over to the Robkoo website: https://store.robkoo.com/pages/clariimini