Akai EW1 - 4000S

The Akai EW1 4000S (pictured right) is an extraordinary piece of kit. An electric wind controller sound module, its fingering system incorporates touch sensitive note keys based on the same fingerings as those for the saxophone or clarinet, alongside its own idiosyncratic collection of plates, buttons and shift rollers. For instance, the octave shift rollers allow a player to shift pitch through an incredible eight octave range, while the adjacent glide plate gives a portamento effect, smoothly and continuously sliding the pitch up and down.

Other effects include the mouthpiece vibrato sensor, a transpose button and the two pitch bending plates – one up – one down. Playing the EW1 successfully will present quite a challenge even to the seasoned player and setting your own personalised note key and breath sensor levels is essential to a confident beginning, although you’ll no doubt find your right thumb falling back onto the touch sensitive pitch bending plate, or your left thumb inadvertently slipping between the octave shift rollers.

But it is the mouthpiece of the EW1 that we found the most interesting and organic part of the instrument. It not only contains the very effective vibrato sensor, but it also contains a breath sensor, which not only responds to tonguing techniques, but also responds very sensitively to the different characteristics of wind pressure, allowing the player tremendous freedom of expression. Away from the sharp end, the 4000S has 100 internal preset programmes, not all of which it has to be said are vastly different. Each of these can be assigned by number to a key note, allowing a player easy access to a particular programme during a live performance. Wind based sound modules are undoubtedly one of the most exciting and creative musical tools around and the soundscapes that can be created with the EW1 4000S are almost limitless. For more info go to www.sax.co.uk

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