Exquis by Intuitive Instruments is a new affordable expressive MPE and CV controller with an original hexagonal playing concept.
France is the land of innovative MIDI controllers. The Expressive E Osmose, the Embodme Erae Touch, Joue Board Pro… all new expressive controllers developed in France. Not to mention companies like Arturia are constantly releasing modern MIDI peripherals as well.
Another MPE controller was recently launched as a Kickstarter project.
Exquis is the somewhat more special name of the new MPE controller from the Paris-based Intuitive Instruments company. These are not newcomers at all. For 15 years the developers have been constantly working on this new MIDI controller concept. Among other things, they published the Dualo du-touch accordion-style controllers between 2012 and 2017.
These are based on a hexagonal playing experience which they have now continued in the Exquis and opened up to a wider audience.
Unlike the Dualo controllers, the Exquis offers a more traditional format factor with 54 soft pads that offer hit, pressure, and bending capabilities all arranged in a hexagonal layout. Then, you find four rotary encoders on the side and a touch strip that expands the controllability to parameters. Next to the touch strip, you can also find different short-cut buttons.
The connectivity section is hidden on the side panel of the control. Here Exquis features a USB for powering and data, MIDI in/out on mini jacks, and three CV outputs for pitch, gate, and modulation. Thus, the useability not only captures MIDI musicians but also the analog modular world with CV. That’s a very good move.
What makes this MPE controller different from many others is how the pads and notes are laid out. According to the developers, they use a patented layout making chords easy. It puts notes that sound well together right next to one another by following the classic logic of harmony. This is done vertically while the semitones are arranged horizontally.
The controller shows you the respective chord in the form of a representation on the illuminated pads. You can move that all over the place and work with specific scales represented in green. As a non-skilled keyboard player, this could be an exciting controller especially as it visually helps you to hit the right notes and chords.
There is also a companion app. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be constantly connected to the controller. It basically turns the controller into a sequencer, a sound source, and an educational tool. Here you can set up scales, and controls but also work with MIDI looping. Another clever feature of the app is that it displays musical scores directly on the pads. So you learn to play pieces of music step by step.
An exciting MIDI/MPE/CV controller with an original concept that is very affordable for what is offered. It’s a bit pity that the Exquis doesn’t have a standalone arpeggiator or sequencer function built in. That would make things even more interesting.
Exquis by Intuitive Instruments is available now through the Kickstarter campaign for 159€ or 199€ for the deluxe version. Shipping starts in April 2023.