The 4 Best MIDI Wind Controllers (2020)

MIDI Wind Controllers have always been a niche instrument, but there are still some great options available by brands such as AKAI, Roland, and Hornberg Research.

‘Breath control’ was built into the MIDI standard since the very start of its implementation.

You can use a MIDI Wind Controller in conjunction with a DAW on your computer or physical gear such as an analog synth, which will allow you to get a wide array of great sounds to play around with.

The 4 Best MIDI Wind Controllers – Our Pick

1. Akai Professional EWI USB
Affordable Option - A good quality MIDI wind controller from AKAI.
2. Hornberg Research hb1 MIDI Breath Station
Editor's Choice - High-end, ingenious breath station that is very versatile. Made for pro players and composers 
3. Roland Aerophone AE-10 Digital Wind Instrument
High-end, sax arranged MIDI wind controller with all of the standard options and sounds in it
4. Roland Aerophone GO Digital Wind Instrument
A smaller, compact version of Roland's midi wind controller

1. Akai Professional EWI USB

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We’re starting off this list with an affordable, yet quality made item. Akai Professional EWI USB is a great versatile wind MIDI controller. In it you’ll find up to 75 different sound modes, giving you all kinds of acoustic and digital wind sounds.

You can play it in 6 different fingering modes: sax, traditional EWI, flute, oboe, and EVI brass. This way you won’t have problems adapting to playing style from different wind instruments. 

Akai Professional EWI has 13 keys in total, with Octave Rollers (2 x Mobile, 2 x Fixed), 2 x Bend Plates, 2 x Ground Plates. Besides being monitored by an air-pressure sensor, the mouthpiece also has a bite sensor.

This gives you unprecedented control over your playing style and the end sound coming out from your instrument. Connection wise, it’s connected and powered through a USB cable. All in all, a great buy for anyone looking to get an affordable wind MIDI controller with some quality to it.

2. Hornberg Research hb1 MIDI Breath Station

Compare Prices: Sweetwater | Amazon

One of the most innovative and probably the highest quality breath station on the market today. hb1 is not your standard wind controller – it’s a simple wooden and metal box with one large knob and a button, with a small mouthpiece attached to it.

This little box can be attached to other devices or be used as a stand-alone station connected straight to the computer. You can use it to control up to 4 MIDI channels at once with it.

The design is simple. You have an adjustable mouthpiece that goes into your mouth and by blowing you get the sound. There are 25 presets and you can control up to 11 different parameters to get everything right. It’s powered through a USB and can be connected through MIDI I/o or USB connection.

This is a true masterpiece for professionals who know how to use it and create magic with it.

3. Roland Aerophone AE-10 Digital Wind Instrument

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Roland is a household name in the digital instruments market, so it’s no wonder it made it onto this list as well. AE-10 is a great digital wind instrument that’s made to feel like a saxophone when played.

Fingering and mouthpiece are made to fit the sax players, so you won’t have any issues if coming from that instrument to transition to this one. For the playing style, it has breath and bite sensors and a thumb controller, so you can get the maximum out of it when playing.

With it, you get a total of 40 factory tones and 100 preset slots you can edit to get the sound you want. You can also choose from Chorus, reverb, and multi-effects to mix it all up. It has a ¼” jack, 3.5” jack input, and a USB connection. It’s powered through 6xAA batteries, so you can take it on stage with you easily. This is a great buy for professionals looking to buy a high-end instrument that will last them for years to come.

4. Roland Aerophone GO Digital Wind Instrument

Check Price: Amazon

In the modern-day and age, transportability became everything. Roland’s GO: series stretches over different instruments, made lightweight, and easily transferable wherever you go. Aerophone GO is their take on such a MIDI wind controller.

Similar to the previous one mentioned on this list, Aerophone GO has a sax styled button arrangement.

It comes with 11 different sounds onboard, which include 4 sax variations, trumpet, flute, clarinet, violin, synths, and percussion, so you can easily perform solely. It’s really lightly built so it won’t be a burden when traveling with it.

The main feature of this instrument however is the connectivity. It has a Bluetooth connection, so you can connect with the Aerophone GO Plus app.

Through this app, you can connect with up to 6 other players and have 50 new sounds to play with. Since this has inbuilt speakers, you can take it on the street and show everybody just how good you are.

What is the MIDI Wind Controller?

MIDI Wind controllers are otherwise known as digital wind instruments and that name sums them up perfectly.

These are wind instruments (played by your breath), that produce digital signals and can be used as MIDI controllers in the same way as keyboards are used to replace pianos. 

How does a MIDI Wind Controller Work?

To put it up simply – you blow into it and it makes a sound. Of course, the reality is a bit more complicated than that.

When you blow, internal sensors read your blowing strength and compare it to your pressing of the buttons which actually control which note is going to be played, same as the analog wind instruments.

These digital signals are then transferred to MIDI signals, where you can use them to play any sound you want from your sound database, the same as synthesizers. 

How do you use a MIDI Wind Controller?

Digital wind instruments are used the same as every wind instrument. But to play this, you still need a power source (batteries or a power outlet), an outlet to play the sound (e.g. a physical synth or DAW on your computer).

Who is a MIDI wind controller for?

MIDI wind controllers are usually used by more adept players and composers looking to widen their reach of music.

Because they are so versatile, they are a great addition to any composer as they allow him to control the sound much better by their breath than by pressing keys on a keyboard. 

Players also use them to enrich their live performance with some new and exciting sounds, next to their analog instruments. Wind instruments especially are known to be quite expensive, so having one instrument to substitute 10 different ones is really a great buy however you look at it.

Summary

We hope that this article has helped you learn about some of the best MIDI wind controllers available.

Featured image by Bubli, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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