ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition Review: A great modular midi keyboard that sounds as good as it looks

Light it up!

ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition
(Image: © Future / James Bentley)

iMore Verdict

The ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition is a great MIDI keyboard, with some small caveats, that is expressive and surprisingly upgradeable. It’s not only an excellent choice for a beginner but also solid for a pro, even if it's pricey.

Pros

  • +

    Modular design allows for easy upgrades

  • +

    Some very impressive software

  • +

    Looks fantastic

  • +

    Expressive and dynamic keys

Cons

  • -

    Pricey

  • -

    No support for sustain pedal

  • -

    A small learning curve

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The problem with beginner instruments is many players outgrow them quite quickly. The ROLI LUMI Keys Studio is perfect for this problem as its modular design means you can upgrade it at any time. The colorful lights also manage to offer an appealing way to learn songs and these features mostly perform admirably. You will feel the sting of that price tag, but it sets a great foundation to work off. 

ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition Review: Price and availability

ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition

(Image credit: Future / James Bentley)

Coming in at $249 from the official ROLI store, the LUMI Keys Studio is quite an expensive bit of kit, likely down to its unique set of features and demand, driven by a successful Kickstarter run, pulling in over $1.5 million. As of right now, the only way to get the ROLI LUMI Keys Studio online is by going to the site, but B&H Photo is an official ROLI reseller, and you can find ROLI instruments in Guitar Centre, so they may arrive in the future.

In my time monitoring the stock, it has never ran out and ships in 3 days around the USA. If you want to get 2 ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Editions, you can get a 15% discount on both directly from ROLI. 

ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition Review: Ease of use

ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition

(Image credit: Future / James Bentley)

The ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition is remarkably easy to use, with low-latency Bluetooth capabilities and the ability to plug it in with a USB-C cable in the back of the keyboard. For iPad and iPhone, you have to download a third-party MIDI connection app to use it wirelessly, but it connects in seconds through the MIDI setup on Mac. Annoyingly, I did have to reconnect every time I turned the keyboard on, but this is no more than a momentary annoyance. 

With five to six hours of battery out of a charge and each charge taking a few hours, the battery life isn’t phenomenal, but there are few occasions where the average person would need to play for six hours without a break or the ability to plug it in. Due to some very important key functions that we’ll touch on later, there is a small learning curve at the start, which is the only thing that may hinder some from picking it up immediately. 

ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition Review: Build

ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition

(Image credit: Future / James Bentley)

Though the base feels plasticky, the keyboard itself feels firm yet light enough to pop in a bag easily. The top two keys of my set of ROLI LUMI Keys Studio initially produced a light squeak when pressed, but this sorted itself out after a few days of play. The top key has an even lighter sound when I put my ear against it now but given the other one stopped making that noise with time, I could imagine this doing the same. With 24 keys total, you get just shy of two octaves to play around with. 

Aside from the big, bright keys that look pretty as you play, the rest of the keyboard is fairly understated. There isn’t a modulator wheel like those you would find in a bigger keyboard, with it instead opting to use the keys themselves to modulate notes. It has a button to turn it on and activate Bluetooth on the top right, a USB-C port on the back, and two keys to swap between octaves. Unfortunately, there is no way of plugging in a sustain pedal, which limits use somewhat, and this feels like a bit of an oversight for what is genuinely a very emotive set of keys. 

ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition Review: Features

ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition

(Image credit: Future / James Bentley)

As the “LUMI” name implies, this keyboard has a huge focus on its lights. Not only do they look great, but they have the capacity to flit between lighting modes. These include a pure white emulating a piano, key lighting that allows you to follow scales and keys, and a rainbow effect that lights up as you play. It’s all very pretty and engaging in a way that makes practicing playing keys fun to look at. It also comes with the LUMI music app to teach you how to play piano, which works really well with the lighting. This lines up with ROLI’s excellent Studio Player software — allowing you to set the scale you want to play, and it even comes with expressive sound packs for dynamic play. 

The keys themself have polyphonic aftertouch, which means you get a different sound based on the intensity you hit the key, how long you hold it for, and how you move the keys around as you play. This is a cheaper way to get something approximating the expressive keys found in the ROLI Seaboard RISE 2. There isn’t too much room for modulation with MPE sounds on ROLI Studio Player, not letting you customize how high or low the pitch bend goes as you play, but everything else works in genuinely impressive ways. There are sounds you can produce with the expressiveness on offer here that you just couldn’t produce from keys without it. Instead of having a pitch bender to move the entire chord you play up or down, you can dynamically shift individual notes to organically imitate a live feel. 

As the keyboard itself is modular, the ability to purchase a second one and snap it onto the side seamlessly means you can get 48 or more keys on the go, and the ability to split them up means you can pop the whole thing in a bag and take them with you as you go. Essentially, it has a small metal strip on either side of the keyboard, where you can clip another ROLI LUMI to it and your DAW will automatically pick it up and extend the scale. It's a very smart bit of kit that makes it quite easy to get a full-sized keyboard, if you're willing to spend the extra cash. 

ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition Review: Competition

There are a significant amount of MIDI keyboards that can get some basic synth sounds out at a much lower price point, like the Akai Professional LPK5 at just $59 or the Novation Launchkey Mini MK3, which retails for $99.99 (though it is currently 10% off). However, the ROLI LUMI Studio Edition feels almost entirely unique in the market thanks to those polyphonic keys and its modular design. For the pretty hefty sum of $249 that the ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition goes for, you could instead pick up the Arturia Essential MK3 for just $20 more, which our friends over at MusicRadar gave 4.5 stars out of 5. It is a more fully-fledged keyboard with 61 keys with pressure sensitivity, touch pads, backlit contextual buttons, and more.

Alternatively, for the same price of $249, you could grab an M-Audio Keytation, which comes with 88 keys, a volume fader, and a pitch modulator, as well as intuitive compatibility with most DAWs. 

Should you buy it?

You should buy this if…

  • You want very expressive keys
  • You want portability
  • You want a pretty keyboard
  • You plan on upgrading

You shouldn’t buy this if…

  • You’re on a budget
  • You want a sustain pedal
  • You want a physical pitch bender or modulator

ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition Review: Verdict

The ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition is an excellently expressive MIDI keyboard that is perfect for players at any skill level but probably doesn’t serve the purpose of a traditional keyboard for most. The lack of support for a pedal on the keys itself and no physical pitch bend or modulator means that other keyboards may outshine it in some ways. However, if you can get used to it, the ROLI LUMI Keys Studio Edition feels so utterly unique in the market thanks to its smart implementation of Polyphonic Aftertouch, and this is only made better with the great ROLI Studio Software. 

Not only are the keys clever, but the ROLI LUMI Keys Studio’s modular design makes upgrade paths super simple, and the lighting not only looks very pretty but has real practical applications at any skill level. Like the much more expensive ROLI SeaBoard RISE 2 before it, the ROLI LUMI is one of those keyboards that is at its best as a complimentary item to your music production setup but, with practice, it can do almost everything you want out of a standard set of keys and looks pretty to boot. 

James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 


With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 


As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.