EWI3000 Wind Controller First Impressions

EWI Wind Controller From a windlist posting by Art Whitfield dated February 16, 1998

For 6 years now I have owned a WX11, and for one year have owned a WX7. When I got the WX7, I posted my experience in making the transition. Now I have an EWI3000 at my disposal to play. The EWI came with no module, so Scott Dart was kind enough to loan me his 3000m module for a few weeks in the name of science and music. Without further adeiu, here is my initial impression of learning how to play an EWI3000 after years of WXing.....

First reaction: Nothing earth-shakingly different from my WXs. Very playable from the start. The EWI is a quality built controller, with a solid, professional feel. I don't like the CV based controller technology and it's thermal and voltage sensitivities, but still, this is every bit the professional controller that the WX7 is.

I had been "air playing" the EWI controller in anticipation of the loaner module, so most of the expected problems with "where are the keys" have been solved. Octave rollers are still a challange, as are flailing pinkeys that accidentely touch keys, but my recorder training has paid off - the lack of physical keys is not a problem. Other than my ineptitudeness with octave rollers, the EWI seems less prone to glitching when crossing the octave break (C->D) than the WXs. The mpc was a much easier transition than I expected. I really like the reed pitchbend on the WX, but I still didn't seem to mind the rubber nipple on the EWI. The Vibrate controller seems ineffective, but I've not done much in the way of adjusting sensitivity or re-mapping mypatches. The thumb-bender up/down is not as simple to use as the WX7 bender - actually, it's too simple to use. Being positioned above and below the right thumb rest/ground-plate, it's easy to accidentely roll your thumb up into the up-bender. After years of resting a sax, clarinet, and WX on my thumb, it's a hard habit to break. Because of this, a neckstrap is required. On the WX, I treat it at optional.

The additional glide controller is cool, but I still haven't learned how to play it yet. But, most of you know how I've been craving anothercontroller. The requirement of the right thumb touching the ground plate is problematic. To adjust a parameter on the module (or any knob on anything), you must remove at least one hand from the controller. Remove the left hand and the octave drops to -2. Remove the right hand and the grounding is lost and the controller is unpredictable. I'm used to being able to play notes between G and C# on my WX and use my right hand for the occasional volume tweak or to signal to the rest of the band. After about an hour with the VL1m as the tone module, playing my standard baroque music, I switched to listen to the EWI3000m module. LAME-O is an understatement. I can see why everyone likes Patchman. The non-Patchman patches in the 3000m are pretty sad, where Matt has indeed coaxed some decent behaving sounds out of the beast. This is different from the old Yamaha WT11 FM synth, where the factory wind patches were very playable. Of course, the VL1m is truly the way to go, but we all know that.

I had forgotten that the EWI3000m was a desktop module. Nice and light. If you've got to carry a brain-box just to get MIDI, then the 3000m seems the lesser of the evils. And, you get the chord and ext-in functions to boot. Not as bad as having to lug a rack around. So that's my "out of the box" impression.