Our Guide to the ROLI BLOCKS Dashboard
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Our Guide to the ROLI BLOCKS Dashboard

ROLI BLOCKS are an innovative range of MIDI controllers, designed to be intuitive and expressive in equal measure. They provide an affordable entry point into the world of MPE controllers (MIDI Polyphonic Expression). They are primarily designed to work with ROLI’s music app ‘Noise’, connecting seamlessly to mobile devices via Bluetooth. 

BLOCKS aren’t just limited to controlling apps on your phone or tablet. You can also connect them to a computer via USB or Bluetooth (Mac only). They offer versatile control for a variety of Plugins and Digital Audio Workstations. But how do you map the 5 dimensional controls to get the best out of your software?

This is where ROLI’s BLOCKS Dashboard comes in. It’s a computer-based app that allows you to get under the silicone surface of BLOCKS and edit the way they function. It’s easy to use, and helps you match up your BLOCKS system with your software (or hardware). In this guide we’ll help you get started with the Dashboard, including getting connected.

Connecting Your BLOCKS to a Computer

Before you start, make sure you've downloaded and installed BLOCKS Dashboard. This is available from your 'My ROLI' account once you've registered your BLOCKS system. If you don't already have an account, go to my.roli.com to create one.

Once BLOCKS Dashboard is installed you can hook up BLOCKS to your computer using either of the methods below. 

The first way is to plug BLOCKS into your computer with the USB cable provided. With the Dashboard open, they should connect straight away. If you have more than one BLOCK, you can snap them together with the magnetic DNA connectors along the sides. When BLOCKS are linked, the Dashboard can identify each BLOCK and its position in your layout. They will even share charge through each other!

The second way is to connect your BLOCKS wirelessly via Bluetooth. This method only work's with Mac at the moment, and takes a bit more effort to setup. We've written out the steps for you to set it up: 

  1. Make sure your BLOCK is switched on and your Mac’s Bluetooth is active

  2. Open Audio MIDI Setup. This is located in the ‘Other’ or ‘Utilities’ application folder. Even quicker than that - Spotlight search it!

  3. Go to Window > Show MIDI Studio (or press ⌘+2) 

  4. In the MIDI Studio window you should see a block that says ‘Bluetooth’ with a cog symbol - double click it (make sure it’s not greyed out. If it is, your bluetooth may be switched off.) 

  5. Available bluetooth devices, including your BLOCK should appear in the window with a ‘Connect’ button next to it. Click ‘Connect’

  6. Open BLOCKS Dashboard and all being well you’re ready to go!


The Dashboard

Once a BLOCK or multiple BLOCKS are connected to the Dashboard, you should see them appear in the ‘Visualizer’ window. The visualizer mirrors the physical layout of your blocks - for example if you have a Songmaker Kit connected to Dashboard, all the individual BLOCKS will display in their positions on screen as they are in front of you.

By clicking a BLOCK controller in the Visualizer window, you are able to access and edit it's control functions. Note, MIDI CC, MIDI Channel, and Expression controls are all editable in the box below the Visualiser. Each different BLOCK has different assignable controls for standard and non-standard functions. The LightPad M in particular has the most extensive set of applications. When you connect a Lightpad, you are also presented with some preconfigured controller layouts that you can load onto the pad. These help you to tailor the Lightpad to what you need. Here’s the list apps that you can use on your Lightpad:

Note Grid - Set the grid size of your Lightpad Block to work with drum and melodic instruments. Set MIDI modes, the scale and many other options to fit around your workflow, DAW and plugins you use.

Drum Block - This App loads a drum grid onto your Lightpad Block with multiple MIDI modes and layouts for use with clip launchers and drum instruments.

Fader Block - This App turns your Lightpad into 4 banks of 4 assignable MIDI CC touch faders. The Mode button moves between banks. Loading this to multiple connected Blocks will map the banks across the Blocks. You can also configure the MIDI CC, max / min value and the colour of each fader.

Mixer Block - Mixer Block has four faders and four buttons. Each button and fader can send a different MIDI CC value. Set the behaviour of each button, such as if it is a toggle or a trigger. You can also set the colour of each fader and button too.

XYZ Pad - Turn the entire surface into an assignable XYX pad with the addition of pressure (Z), sending out MIDI CC. Set the CC value, MIDI channel and colour. Use the send options to solo dimensions and easily map XYZ to different parameters in your DAW or Instrument.

Control Grid - This App gives you a grid of pads that can be assigned as notes or CCs with or without pressure. Set the grid size and the behaviour and MIDI output of each pad.

Rise Controller - This app emulates the side controls on a Seaboard Rise. Use the mode button to switch between sliders and XY pad which all map automatically to preset macros in Equator.


Ableton Live Control - This App connects with Ableton Live allowing you to use your Lightpad Block as a clip launcher, interact with a drum rack or play melodic instruments. 

MusicGen - Tap to create a note emitter, tap again to change it’s direction. Tap in an empty space to add another emitter. To reset, tap the Mode button

BreakBLOCKS - Play the classic game on your Lightpad Block where the paddle will track your finger position left to right.

BLOCKSvaders - Touch to move the player and lift to fire. The more enemies you hit, the faster and harder it gets.

As well as loading layouts for the Lightpad M, you can delve deeper into editing the functions of BLOCKS and control hardware. However, because BLOCKS can only connect via USB/Bluetooth you have to use software in between. Check out our video of BLOCKS with the Nord Lead A1. 

We hope this article has been useful to you! Look out for our next ROLI BLOCKS post which takes a closer look at the Lightpad M's connectivity with the popular DAW Ableton Live.

If you’re having issues getting connected beyond this guide, please refer to ROLI’s support site.

For more information on ROLI & BLOCKS, please visit our product page.

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This new blog is presented by the team at Sound Technology Ltd, a leading distributor of musical instruments and pro audio equipment in the UK and ROI.