As the official peripheral manufacturer for Rock Band 3 instruments, Mad Catz was at E3 showing off its new Rock Band products (sans game). On the outside, the MIDI PRO-Adapter (pictured above in all three flavors) looks like a chunky, 16-bit era controller -- in fact, in can be used as a gamepad, confirms Mad Catz global PR manager Alex Verrey. Inside, the device contains the technology to convert a real MIDI instrument into a Rock Band 3 controller. (The adapter is not compatible with other music games.)
The PRO-Adapter connects to an Xbox 360, PS3 or Wii via USB, and the MIDI instrument plugs into the port on the side of the device. A three-way switch in the center (above the system button) toggles between drum, keyboard and guitar inputs. Just above the switch, is the velocity adjustment wheel used to "tune" MIDI drums and reduce cross-talk during gameplay. The triangular wedge button on the bottom right of the PRO-Adapter activates "Overdrive" mode in Rock Band 3, and a belt clip on the back of the peripheral keeps the adapter secured to your person (just mind the length of the USB cable as you leap about). There's also a headset jack on the adapter.
"We can't possibly guarantee compatibility with all MIDI instruments," warns Verrey, but the MIDI PRO-Adapter "should work with the vast, vast majority." Verrey guarantees compatibility with the real Fender Squier Stratocaster guitar that works with Rock Band 3, and a full MIDI instrument compatibility list will be published prior to the MIDI PRO-Adapter retail release ($40) this holiday.
Take a closer look at Mad Catz's Wireless Keyboard Controller in the gallery below and head past the break for full details.
The Rock Band 3 keyboard is a "genuine digital musical instrument," boasts Verrey. It can be connected to MIDI software sequencers and hardware devices through its MIDI output (see detail), operating as a standard two-octave-ranged (C3 to C5) keyboard. The instrument is outfitted with velocity-sensitive keys and is fully functional in Rock Band 3 Pro mode.
Of course, if you just wanna "play" regular Rock Band, only five keys are used, subtly marked by small, color-coded highlights (see detail); the same keys can also be used to play guitar and bass parts in the game. (The larger color-coded sections of keys correspond to Pro mode.)
As for that two-piece doohickey (see image) on the left end of the keyboard? The smaller part is the Overdrive button, while the larger slab is called the "Expressions Bar" (see detail). The bar is a touch-sensitive panel, and players can rub their thumbs or fingers across it to produce different sound effects. Think of the Expressions Bar as the the keyboard version of the guitar controller's whammy bar.
The keyboard will run for approximately 40 hours on batteries, according to Verrey, and features an auto-sleep mode. It will be bundled with Rock Band 3 for $130 and sold separately for $80. Mad Catz will also release an optional stand accessory, should you prefer the Paul Shaffer look.