I promised that I would write about the Artiphon Instrument 1. I thought I’d start with some photos of what it used to look like as a prototype. Of course, it’s quite different now and doesn’t have a bay for an iPhone, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. However, it is essentially the same instrument.

The version that shipped from Artiphon’s Kickstarter campaign is a nice evolution of the original, and, on first impressions, is pretty easy to use.

What’s shipped may not look as beautiful as the original, but the shipped version is still rather lovely anyway. But more than that it works and works really well.

When I unpacked it and got it out of its box the first thing I noted is that it is really well presented. The packaging is protective and works and you’ll probably want to keep hold of the box just in case.

The instrument itself feels the right weight. It’s smaller than I’d had in my mind. It’s around the size of a ukulele or maybe slightly bigger. I’ve got the black one. The surface of the device is smooth and it feels nice to handle. Of course the most important thing is how it works and handles as an instrument and I’ll be coming on to that in just a moment.

What struck me first off was that it does actually feel like an instrument and not like a piece of digital technology that you’re going to have to learn how to use and isn’t immediately obvious. That might sound like a subtle distinction, but in my view it is an important one. It means that you feel, or at least I felt, like I could pick this instrument up straight away and get going with it, and that is exactly what I did.

So let’s move on to hooking it up to a device and getting going.

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The app that Artiphon have created to go along with their device is great for getting started, but if you’re a seasoned iOS music pro you’re going to get bored of these sounds very soon.

The app is very good for setting up how the instrument works though.

It gives you all the options for setting the tuning and layout of the instrument. Which is very useful in getting the thing to work how you want to.

Inside the app you can play with some basic instrument settings, although the sounds aren’t going set the world on fire, but the main thing is that you can set up MIDI here, and that’s where, for me, this instrument is going to be really useful. MIDI is very easy in the Artiphon app so you won’t have any issues I wouldn’t think.

After getting some sounds out of the thing I spent most of my time experimenting with playing with it and that’s what I’ll be sharing next.

What the ArtiPhon Instrument 1 is like to use:

I have to say, that even after just a brief time of playing with this instrument I can say that it’s a joy to use. It really is an instrument. I’m not much of a guitarist, but it does work well when you play it in guitar mode. In piano or keys mode it’s even more interesting and useful. I found that I could play and experiment with how the device worked with a variety of apps and sounds for ages as it was such a novel way of interfacing with apps.

I think that I’ve only scratched the surface with this instrument and it’s going to take a lot more interaction to get to a point where I can talk about where I think it really excels. However, I think it’ll be a lot of fun getting there.

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3 comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more; I was looking forward to your thoughts on this. It’s really rather an amazing device and I’ve been absolutely loving mine, not least as an all-purpose controller for loads of iOS apps I’ve never quite known what to do with. I actually thought the original design was awful and was set to give it a miss, till I saw your post about the Kickstarter campaign and saw that the final model was completely different – so many thanks for what’s turned out one of the best headses-upses you’ve ever issued!

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  2. Nice. Does it support MPE? I hope they make a version that is just a MIDI controller. I don’t need a speaker, headphone/mic jack or D/A converter built-in.

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  3. The Instrument 1 does use multi-channel midi in order to get the expressive control from pressure, slide and more transmitted to any MPE style sound generator. Thank you for the Feedback!

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