Should You Buy It? – Genki Instruments Wave Ring
A while back we covered the now available MIDI controller – Wave – by Genki instruments. They eventually made their crowdsourcing goals and have produced fully functional models of the ring controller. We reached out for a demo unit and were glad we did, it’s as fun as it looks. A video review is to come but for now, read this article breakdown of the Genki Instruments Wave.
The Wave Ring controller is a sight to behold, it looks great and feels good too. Despite the form factor being familiar (I wear rings) I wanted it to feel more natural right off the bat. It’s almost perfect, and after a few minutes, I got used to the ring’s size and weight.
As a MIDI controller, the Genki Wave allows for very expressive modulation control. There are six control Gestures you can assign: tilt, pan, roll, vibrato, tap and click. Clicking is the only one that requires the use of your finger’s grasp, and that was easy to adjust to.
If you look at the ring after boot up, you’ll notice lights on the flattened part. The visual feedback on the ring itself is an easy to miss feature, but definitely worth mentioning.
This isn’t your typical pitch bend or joystick – and there is a reason those forms have stuck around. Controlling parameters within 4 or 5 dimensions takes a bit of a learning curve. The tilt, pan, roll, and vibrato are not immediately easy to use together but damn are they cool once you figure it out.
I found it was easiest to work with certain combinations of the gestures available, or rather, by avoiding certain combinations. Gestures like Roll and Vibrato were tougher to use together with finesse, as well as Roll and Tilt. Your best bet is to dial in the sensitivity of each input sensor according to very specific ranges of the corresponding modulations you’re mapped to.
The Vibrato and Tap gestures rely on the velocity of the ring side-to-side, or up-and-down so using those without affecting any of the other gestures (beside Click) is a pipe dream. That being said, the Softwave companion software you use to customize the ring’s controls has some workarounds.
You have the ability to scroll between presets using the Wave’s buttons, which are each independently reassignable. So you could, for example, use the aforementioned combinations between presets and switch to each as necessary. Well played, Genki, well played.
There are a few other features worth mentioning about the Softwave app, read below to see them.
Softwave is the standalone companion software for the Wave ring. It allows Wave users to customize presets, Gesture mapping, and Gesture parameters. It has internal sounds so you can use it without your DAW, and you can even load your plugins.
There are a number of presets already created when you open Softwave – you can alter them, delete them, or add your own presets at any time. Each one can hold up to eight Wave functions where you can assign MIDI CC or Keyboard values. You can also adjust the Gesture sensitivity and range via the visual displays for each gesture.
Softwave is really quite straightforward – switch between presets or settle on one to use the Wave ring. Assigning MIDI mappings within your DAW only requires that you “solo” Gestures while mapping so there isn’t crosstalk.
Crosstalk is one of the few drawbacks of Wave’s Gestures but Softwave allows for correction. With each function, you can dial in sensitivity thresholds and starting points for MIDI triggering. It’s tedious but makes up for the only real con we see with this product.
Wavefront is a Eurorack module with a built-in receiver for the Wave ring. It’s an incredible addition to the lineup, unfortunately, we didn’t have the opportunity to demo it so our feedback is limited. Check out the product on the Genki site here.
Using Wave in the studio has been fun, and a learning experience for sure. It’s by far one of the most expressive controllers on the market. All in all, however, we’re not convinced of the form factor in terms of practicality.
We’re confident our doubt can be blown away by some talented musicians, but for the masses, it may have limited potential. Given the trigger bleed between gestures, it just seems easier to use the classics – pitch bend, mod wheel, foot pedal, etc.
On the other hand (pun intended) Wave LOOKS incredibly cool to use. So for promotional material, or during a show, this could be part of your next big attraction. I will also say that though it’s tedious setting up the presets, everything about the controller is fun.
For in-depth instructions on how to set up Wave visit the manual here. For anyone on the opposite end of the controller spectrum looking for performance advice, check out our article on performing with your computer keyboard.
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