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I even have two decades of journey reviewing AV items, and currently i am a contributing technical editor at Sound & vision magazine and an everyday contributor to the SoundStage network of websites. i'm additionally a drummer and electronic-music maker, so I even have huge familiarity with the tools of the trade, including recording interfaces, MIDI controllers, and different equipment for laptop studio environments.
For assist with the testing section for this guide, I enlisted Denis Kitchen, a software developer and musician with experience performing and recording with synthesizers and MIDI controllers courting lower back to the Eighties. As a keyboard participant who continuously makes use of MIDI controllers as a part of his are living performance rig, Kitchen brought a useful fingers-on perspective to the contrast.
together with proposing a compact, portable choice for music advent, 25-key controllers are distinctly low-priced. Many models can be found for $100 or less, with $150 representing the excessive-conclusion option. They additionally usually come bundled with free utility, the value of that may without difficulty exceed that of the controller itself. Most controllers include a complimentary license for a Lite edition of Ableton live, a popular DAW that provides a loop-primarily based platform for track composition. Many controllers also come with free software instrument plug-ins that give genuine-sounding emulations of every little thing from acoustic grand pianos to vintage analog synthesizers.
it be complicated to talk about MIDI controllers and track-creation utility without spouting off technical jargon. here's an inventory of usual terms that you can come across when studying about the class.
Flaws however no longer dealbreakers
whereas we discovered the MiniLab MkII totally playable for a compact controller with mini keys, severe keyboard players are more likely to choose models with tremendous keys. additionally, the response of Arturia's capacitive pitch-bend and modulation handle strips turned into sluggish in our checking out, making them a much less-than-finest option for live efficiency. eventually, although the MiniLab MkII's sixteen rotary knobs are a welcome function, some people may like a couple of fixed knobs for functions (similar to extent) that they may want to set to both conclusion of the range through suppose, notwithstanding it truly is a rely of private option.
also notable: Akai MPK Mini MKII
The Novation Launchkey Mini 25 MK2 became created for use with Ableton reside, and it really works mainly neatly as a manage interface when paired with that software. It gives you buttons designed in particular to navigate tracks and scenes in live, and the controller's 16 pads can set off samples, with RGB backlighting to indicate reputation feedback. As an input gadget or well-known-intention MIDI controller, despite the fact, the Novation is much less positive: In our assessments, the keyboard motion proved simply marginally greater than that of the Akai MPK Mini MKII, and the tiny (¾-inch rectangular), intently spaced pads were an ergonomic nightmare for drumming. On the plus aspect, the Launchkey Mini 25 MK2 comes bundled with Novation's remarkable V-Station and Bass-Station utility instrument plug-ins.
"an interesting pastime in minimalism" is how Denis Kitchen characterized the Alesis V25 after first having a go at it. by way of combining substantial keys with a stripped-down handle set along with eight pads, four rotary knobs, and 4 programmable buttons, the V25 presents a clear layout that some americans will find attractive. it be additionally the competitively priced mannequin we looked at. throughout trying out, besides the fact that children, we discovered the motion of the keys to be stiff in comparison with that of the Nektar and M-Audio controllers; the pace settings (which you deserve to configure using an editor app to your computer) were additionally just marginally suitable, and the pitch-bend and modulation wheels have been small and awkwardly positioned. And whereas the V25's build exceptional is commonly sturdy, the backside became warped adequate that our assessment unit would not sit flat on a desk—an obtrusive great-handle subject.
The M-Audio Oxygen 25 MKIV has widespread keys and a characteristic set as wide as that of the Nektar have an effect on LX25+. In our checks, the motion of the semi-weighted keys became responsive, and its rubber-lined rotary knobs supplied an effective degree of resistance. The pitch-bend and modulation wheels on the M-Audio also work well for performance, although they lack the rubber coating and responsiveness of the ones on the Nektar. The Oxygen 25 MKIV's out-of-the-field pace proved overly aggressive, however, and we could not locate another preset that provided pleasant dynamic latitude when playing. also, its pads had terrible response, with sensitivity concentrated mainly on the pad's center.
when you consider that our ultimate update, just a few new MIDI controllers have caught our eye for consideration in our next replace. The Korg NanoKey has dropped in expense, now coming in smartly under our rate cap. The Worlde Tuna Mini has a gorgeous design and a reduce price than most 25-key controllers. The Worlde Panda Mini is similar, with a extra simple-looking design and lacking the slider pitch-bend controls, but it surely is a bit more cost-effective.
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