For the past three months, Eigenlabs has loaned me an Eigenharp Alpha. I’ve been playing it every day, discovering the instrument and working on my technique. This has allowed me to write this review from the point of view of a musician that has already spent quite some effort on it. During this time I worked closely with Eigenlabs and related all my gripes and pain points so that they could be improved upon, and they have!
The instrument that I had at my disposal was the final prototype before the actual production models that are being sold now. Many things were different and now that I’ve actually bought my own personal Eigenharp Alpha and sent the review model back, I clearly see how much better the final version is, even though I already found the prototype amazing.
The Eigenharp as a whole
Every Eigenharp has to be seen as two parts that intimately work together: the physical instrument that you play and the software that runs on a computer to generate the sound.
While Eigenlabs could have combined both inside one shell and embedded a chip, they purposely didn’t. The power of the software is closely tied to the power of the hardware that it runs on and computers evolve rapidly, doubling their performance every couple of years. Since the Eigenharp is an instrument that is very deep and versatile, you can easily be playing it for the rest of your life, like a guitar or a piano. Being limited by the power of an embedded sound module during all this time would obviously be a shame.
That being said, Eigenlabs recognized the limitations of existing protocols like MIDI and developed the standalone EigenD software to exchange data in very high resolution with the Eigenharp itself. EigenD is required to use the Eigenharp and has to be seen as an inherent part of the instrument that happens to be virtual and outside its physical body. Inside EigenD, everything benefits from the full expressiveness of the Eigenharp in all its detail, with some caveats as I’ll explain later. EigenD also configures the Eigenharp’s keys and controllers by sending a model of their behavior and interactions to the instrument itself. Just turning the Eigenharp on without running EigenD results in a lifeless instrument that simply does nothing.
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The entire review can be read on my website.
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