In our continuing search for new and innovative keyboard tech, we recently came across an interesting discovery from Paris. As luck would have it, the creator of this new controller keyboard, Olivier, was due to visit London so we quickly set up a meeting in order that I could test out his new creation.
A very affable chap, Olivier has a background in software engineering and took up playing the piano seven years ago. He searched for a portable keyboard that would be able to travel in his suitcase and found that there was a very limited selection on offer. This is when his company, Ryme Music and his first product, Piano De Voyage took shape.
Piano De Voyage was debuted at Namm this year and met with some very positive feedback. The concept behind it is a USB controller with full-depth piano sized keys that packs down into two octave blocks that can easily be carried in a bag or suitcase. An end block is available that houses the USB connection and sustain pedal socket. While this is a great concept for travelling musicians who want to keep up with their music practise on the road, I was eager to try out the action to see if that it would be a viable option for gigging musicians too.
I was pleasantly surprised by how compact the entire system was, with a six octave setup fitting snugly into a shoulder bag. Each section is just under 1kg in weight and you have the option of setting up with either 24, 48, 72 or 96 keys, automatically detected and mapped by the end controller module.
The whole thing slotted together quickly and easily, with small latches holding each section together. Made from a combination of plastic and wood, the casing is tough enough that it can be placed on an x-stand without any issue of movement between the sections. The small end unit clips on in similar fashion and the whole unit is powered via the USB connection.
The keybed itself is a sprung, synth action and the components come from China, while the keyboard itself is customised and assembled in France. One thing that struck me instantly was just how quiet the keys are, more so than some of the lower end, well-known brand keyboards that I’ve used. This is due to a felt bed being inserted to dampen key noise. The keys themselves are full depth, one of the strong selling points of the keyboard.
It’s obvious that there is a strong focus on quality and Olivier is constantly testing and adapting Piano De Voyage in order to provide a good playing experience.
Connectivity and Playability
I took along both an iPhone and laptop in order to test out the response and both worked well. The iPhone powered the unit using a lightning to USB connector and the iGrand piano app worked straight away without issue. I then connected to Mainstage using a standard USB cable and while I didn’t have a huge amount of time to put it through it’s paces, the keyboard seemed reasonably expressive.
Although I didn’t see it on the day, there is an app available for altering the velocity curve and various midi settings which makes it a very appealing contender for live performance.
It’s always fun to discover a company at the beginning of their journey and while there is only one product available at present, there are plans to introduce more functionality through additional modules, e.g. pitch bend, modulation and pads. There’s also the possibility that the casing may change to plastic only, making the unit even more lightweight.
At the moment if you want to get your hands on one of these, it will cost roughly in the region of €855.00 + postage for the six octave pack and there’s already a three month waiting list. However there are plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign later in the year which we’ll be posting up once it goes live.
While the price point is a little high compared to other similar sized controller keyboards, the whole purpose is portability and as someone who wants to practise while travelling and who’s tired of getting a hernia from gigging, this is a very appealing and playable product that will probably find it’s way into my collection in the not too distant future.
Find out more at https://pianodevoyage.com