I mentioned this in another thread that I think nobody but me is particularly interested in, but it needs shouting from the rooftops that ROLI launched version 2 of their flagship hybrid synth Equator on Thursday, and it's the best thing to have happened to MPE since the Instrument 1 itself. Unlike the original Equator, Equator 2 does also offer a non-MPE mode (which you can hear showcased in Doug Woods' video that dropped yesterday) – ROLI have adopted the approach of FXpansion's Cypher and Strobe dual-mode synths – but it's still the MPE engine and patches that make it.
As usual, ROLI have gone absolutely nuts with the presets: there are 500 new MPE patches, and as Doug says they pretty much all sound epic even without the additional expressiveness of the I1 (or Orba – but you really need the full playing power of the I1 to show it at its best). The number of available sound sources (VCOs, samples, &c.) has been trebled to six, and there's a huge new collection of waveforms and multisampled instruments, as well as expanded modulation options (which were already brilliant for MPE use) and effects. It's still very much the familiar Equator UI, and will play all your original Equator patches, including preset packs purchased in Equator or NOISE – and yes, the famous Mellow Duduk is still there. But so is an absolute shed-ton of huge, rich, responsive all-new MPE sounds for your Artiphon fingers to go wild with.
One very important thing that won't be news to veterans of the old forum: to play the Equator factory presets with the I1 you'll normally want to remap CC1 mod wheel to CC74 brightness, which is used for the ROLI "Slide" dimension that in most MPE patches does the modwheel-like things. I use MidiFire on Mac and iOS for this, though Bome or MidiFlow should be able to do the job. A simple MidiFire scene for this attached in case it's of use to anyone.
There's currently a third-off introductory offer, which also applies to upgrades (including from ROLI Studio, so if you took my advice in the other thread and picked that up in last week's 70%-off sale it'll pay for itself several times over). The upgrade is £80 at the introductory price, as opposed to $200 full price. If you have an I1, this is what it was made for. If you don't, it's still my favourite synth, and the most compelling reason yet to have an I1 in your hands. Sound on Sound seems to think the introductory offer won't last long, so if you're going to jump sooner may be better than later.
The offer is still on till (at least) Thursday 3 December, but in the meantime there's also a Black Friday week offer which is better value for new purchasers: 50% off ROLI Studio, which includes engines and patches for Equator 1, Cypher 2, Strobe 2, and ROLI Drums, and then entitles you to the upgrade price for Equator 2. This works out at £40 for Studio + £80 for Equator 2, rather than £159 for a first-time purchase of Equator 2 on its own – and you end up with three additional synth player engines & preset collections, plus upgrade paths to the full versions of Cypher and Strobe if desired (both also currently half price, so you'd save another £144 in total on the post-deal first-time purchase of both). And even if you're not tempted by Equator 2, ROLI Studio is still a pretty great all-round desktop sound source for I1 just in itself.
Sale continues to 3 January. I can't overstate the amazingness of Equator 2. This and SWAM are what your I1 was made for. Everything else is just boringly wonderful, but if you have Artiphon kit you no longer have to settle for merely brilliant.