Author Archives: Blair Sutherland

Artiphon Instrument 1 – A Revolutionary MIDI Controller

The Artiphon Instrument 1 is going to revolutionize the MIDI controller world.

This looks like an amazing instrument. I don’t need my Oxygen 49 and my Launchpad and my Keytar anymore. All I need is the Artiphon. What a great idea.

Here are some features from the Kickstarter Page:

  • Play any instrument, style, and sound with a single device that connects directly to your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  • Artiphon patented multi-instrument technology transforms the INSTRUMENT 1 into a guitar, violin, bass, piano, drum machine… it’s any instrument you want it to be.
  • Plug in and play hundreds of apps like GarageBand with universal musical gestures: strumming, tapping, bowing, sliding, and more.
  • Digital string-like interface works with any MIDI-compatible software.
  • The unique ergonomic design can be held in multiple positions, and is fully ambidextrous.
  • Design new instruments and custom tunings via the Artiphon companion app.
  • It’s compact, portable, durable, self-powered, and simple.
  • Designed and engineered in Nashville, TN.

I use GarageBand to create and record ideas and then do my full production with Logic or Pro Tools so this is a great instrument for the way that I work because it works with everything that I already use. I love that it is self powered and has internal speakers. I don’t like having to find headphones or rig everything up to record an idea. I just want to play.

Here is some more info:

Artiphon’s patented technology also enables entirely new musical techniques, letting you play in ways that no stringed instrument ever could:

1) Turn the frets on and off. This is the first digital string-like instrument to support fretless playability, which is revolutionary for violinists, bassists, and anyone interested in sliding between notes.

2) Use vibrato to naturally add real nuance to your performance.

3) The entire interface is continuously pressure-sensitive, allowing for unprecedented control over software instruments via polyphonic aftertouch.

4) Instantly change to any tuning (guitar, bass, banjo, dobro, uke, violin… koto anyone?), with capo buttons at your fingertips.

5) Assign a different instrument to each string. For example, play a bass on the bottom and a guitar on the top.

6) Pressure-sensitive effect control, tap and auto-strum modes, multiple notes per string…

 

If you love this idea you can pre-order one on the Kickstarter page.

Samson Carbon 49 MIDI Controller Review

Samson Carbon 49 MIDI Controller ReviewSamson Carbon 49 MIDI Controller Review

The Samson Carbon 49 MIDI controller is a cool little MIDI Controller. This keyboard is USB powered and works directly with your iPad. There is a slot built in to the keyboard where you can hold your iPad and a USB cable is supplied.

This controller has 49 keys (which should be obvious by the name) and they are velocity sensitive and semi-weighted. I like the size of the 49-key keyboard, it’s big enough to play with two hands and small enough to be portable and not look too odd at the coffee shop.

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Garageband works really well with the Samson Carbon 49 but the keyboard is bundled with the Native Instruments Komplete Elements software which has over 1000 sounds, effects and tools and is designed to work well with this controller.

Here is what some owners have to say:

Mgmg Says:

I bought this keyboard not knowing what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. First I was very impressed by the weight and sturdiness of this keyboard. The semi weighted keys feel great and I would compare it with some $300 controllers. Having the iPad docked in the keyboard and powered by it makes for great convenience. Worked right out of the box with the camera connector. This one is a winner. Great work Samson. I highly recommend this one.

Review paraphrased for length see the full review here.

Jesse Says:

I had this out of the box and working with garage band on my iPad in less than 60 seconds. The little groove on the keyboard where you can prop the iPad is extremely convenient. I was worried that it would drain my iPad battery quickly (because it draws power from the iPad via USB), but I haven’t noticed this being a problem. You will need the $29 “Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit” to connect the USB connector to the iPad.

Review paraphrased for length see the full review here.

Overall this is a good little MIDI controller and if you are running your music software on your iPad it is one of the most convenient controllers available. I hope this Samson Carbon 49 MIDI Controller Review was helpful.

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ARTURIA Analog Experience – The Laboratory 49 MIDI Controller

ARTURIA Analog Experience – The Laboratory 49 MIDI Controller

ARTURIA Analog ExperienceThe Arturia Analog Experience with Laboratory 49 is basically a total MIDI Keyboard Controller which means you can set it up with the Analog Lab software and control everything from the keyboard. They call it a hybrid synthesizer.

This version is a 49-key MIDI controller and uses the Laboratory software which comes with over 3,500 presets. Arturia is a leader in the software synths business, they have sounds from the Minimoog V, Moog Modular V, CS-80V, ARP 2600 V, Prophet V, Prophet VS and Jupiter-8V instruments.

This system is surprisingly inexpensive for the quality and the number of sounds.

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Here are the main features:

  • Includes Analog Laboratory with 4300 synths sounds and 200 scenes.
  • All presets are carefully selected from the Arturia Classic Synths (Mini V, Modular V, CS-80V, ARP 2600 V, Prophet V, Prophet VS, Jupiter-8V, Oberheim SEM V and Wurlitzer V). These TAE® powered sounds offer unparalleled audio quality.
  • Fast filter the presets to your requirements: by Instrument, by Type, and by Characteristics.
  • In-depth Preset Editing available for the owners of the Arturia Classic Synthesizers (Mini V, CS-80 V, etc.). Edit your sounds on the original instruments within Analog Laboratory.
  • 200 Scenes organized by musical genres offering complete live sets, including : loops assignation to pads, splitting and layering of two synths and advanced arpeggiation melodies.
  • Straight forward Editing, with a complete array of parameters for tweaking sounds : Filter and LFO sections, 4 Key Parameters differing for each preset, Chorus & Delay mix, 2 ADSR envelopes, 4 pads.

The Analog Lab Software is pretty cool. It has different modes of operation that appeals to a wide range of users.

The Graphic Studio Mode shows the synths and keyboards. The Sound Mode shows all the available sounds that you can choose from. The Multi Mode allows you to create customs splits in your keyboard. With The Performance Mode you can create custom chords for a live performance.

The Laboratory 49 can also be used as a midi keyboard controller for all of the popular sequencer programs: Steinberg Cubase, Digidesign Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Apple Logic Audio, MOTU Digital Performer and Cakewalk Sonar.

If you love amazing analog sounds and want to have total control of your software from your keyboard this is a great buy. This Arturia MIDI keyboard is very high quality and used by professionals like Jordan Rudess, Danny Saber and Alan Hewitt.

 

Novation Launchkey 49 Review With Updates for MK2

Novation Launchkey 49, 49-key USB/iOS MIDI Keyboard Controller with Synth-weighted Keys

Novation Launchkey 49 Review

Update: MK2 Version

The MK2 version of the Novation Launchkey 49 has the same great features with added control.

New features include:

  • RGB pads that provide color-matching clip feedback to help your workflow when you create and launch clips, trigger samples, or control devices in Ableton Live.
  • The updated Launchkey MK2 also uses inControl  to increase control over Ableton Live. Previously the inControl knobs could only control devices. With the Launchkey MK2 you can easily switch between controllers, pans and A/B sends for each track in your session.
  • There is the new Device Control Function which gives you control over all devices and device parameters in your Ableton Live track via inControl.
  • Requires external power. You can’t power it from your iPad without a powered USB hub.
  • Launchkey MK2 now has four different velocity key curves.
  • Select multiple effects directly from Launchkey MK2.
  • Better knob design for a more solid feel.
  • Due to changes in the firmware, the Launchkey Mk2 is unable to control the Launchkey iPad app via inControl however you can still use the keys to trigger the sounds.

Those are the updates.

With this Novation Launchkey 49 Review. I would like to tell you that the Novation Launchkey 49 is a midi keyboard controller for all major music software like Ableton Live, FL Studio, Pro Tools, Reason, Logic and Cubase giving you control of your mixer, transport and more.

The Novation Launchkey 49 is the latest midi keyboard controller from Novation. This midi controller features up to 50 physical controls that include 16 velocity-sensitive multi-color launch pads.  The launch pads trigger and stop clips, and launch scenes in Ableton Live. This is the keyboard version of the Launchpad.

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One of the cool things about the Launchkey is that you can run it not only with your computer but now with your iPad. They have an app called the Launchkey synth app which is very cool and FREE for a limited time and is used for triggering loops. The Launchkey will also enable control of your DAW’s mixer, instruments and more. You also get V-Station and Bass Station soft synths and V-Station and Bass Station soft synths.

The Launchkey has 16 multi-color backlit velocity-sensitive launch pads can be used to play drums and trigger loops without being near a computer. The launch pads are great for working out beats, drum patterns, or triggering clips and scenes in Ableton Live. The velocity-sensitive keyboard mechanism has pitch and mod wheels with octave, track up/down buttons.

Here are some features:

  • You can instantly use all major DAWs and music software
  • An entire suite of software for iPad, Mac and PC included
  • 16 velocity-sensitive multi-color launch pads trigger loops and play drums
  • Professional keyboard with 50 plus hardware controls
  • Novation Launchpad app for iPad included

I like the size of the Launchkey 49 keyboard. Sometimes a smaller size is not quite enough for how I like to work and the bigger size is too much. Novation also makes a 25 key and a 61 key version of the Launchkey.

I hope you enjoyed the Novation Launchkey 49 Review. If you are looking for a great MIDI keyboard controller with trigger pads and one that is versatile enough to do anything with whatever system you are using then the Novation Launchkey 49 is a good choice.

Yamaha YPG-535 Review

Yamaha YPG-535 Review

Yamaha YPG-535 ReviewMy Yamaha YPG-535 review will cover the basics of this keyboard. The Yamaha YPG-535 is a very good starter piano. The reason that this is one of the best midi keyboards that is good for piano players is that it has 88 keys and a Graded Soft Touch keyboard.

The Graded Soft Touch keyboard is a step down from the full weighted keyboard and feels a little different, less like a piano but better than a touch sensitive keyboard. When you get to the ends of the keyboard the keys are a little stiffer but not a big deal to me.

I like the sound of the piano, it is equipped with the Yamaha Live! Grand stereo sample. There are also multiple instrument sounds like clarinet, trumpet, flutes, saxes, electric pianos, organs and orchestral strings.

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With the Yamaha YPG-535 you also get the Yamaha education suite which helps new players to learn with 30 songs internally and 70 more on the CD-ROM that is included when you buy this midi keyboard.

I use the USB connectivity features to connect to my computer. I can then use the Yamaha YPG-535 as a midi keyboard controller. There is also an internal 6-track sequencer so you can compose and record right from the keyboard.

  • Here are some features of the Yamaha YPG535:
  • Piano Centric Features
  • USB Connectivity
  • Lyric, chord and notation display
  • Ease of Operation
  • Yamaha Education Suite
  • 6-track recorder
  • Excellent Sound Quality
  • Full Keyboard Mode

I hope you enjoyed the Yamaha YPG-535 Review. This is a great midi keyboard for the beginning to advanced player. If you are looking for a real piano feel this would not be the one to get. You should look at something like the Yamaha DGX-530. If you are looking for some great features and a good quality keyboard for a reasonable price then this is a great midi keyboard to consider.

Excellent MIDI Controller – M-Audio Oxygen 49

M-Audio Oxygen 49

The M-Audio Oxygen 49 is one of my favorite MIDI controllers because of its ease of use and number of control options. I bought an Oxygen 8 and it worked well but didn’t have enough keys so I upgraded to the Oxygen 49.

The Oxygen 49 has 49 keys (hence the name)  so it is not a full keyboard and the keys are not weighted so if you are looking for a good performance keyboard this is not the one for you. But if you want a mid size MIDI controller keyboard that has assignable faders and knobs this is a great option.

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How to use the M-Audio Oxygen 49

The M-Audio is easy to use. Just plug in the USB cable and it shows up. You can control many parameters of your DAW with the 8 knobs and 9 faders plus there are dedicated buttons for play and record as well as track select buttons.

The Oxygen 49 is designed to be used with the most popular virtual instruments and digital audio workstations. I use this controller with Pro Tools, Logic and Reason and it works well with all of them.

Here are some features of the M-Audio Oxygen 49

  • bus powered 49-key USB MIDI controller – easy computer cnnnectivity
  • 8 assignable knobs, 9 assignable sliders – control DAW and virtual instrument parameters
  • DirectLink mode – instant controller mapping to DAW functions
  • dedicated transport and track slected buttons – streamlined session control
  • Pro Tools compatible – extends industry-standard functionality
  • Bus powered 49-key USB MIDI controller – easy computer connectivity

 

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The M-Audio Oxygen 49 has been a great controller for the music that I create and I would highly recommend it if you are searching for a good inexpensive MIDI controller solution.

What Is MIDI?

What is MIDI?

MIDI is an acronym that stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and was developed in 1983. MIDI is a set of basic instructions that enable MIDI gear to communicate with each other and with computers.

The technology was originally designed for synthesizers and is now used with computer software as well an MIDI keyboards.
The first basic MIDI instructions dealt with how to play notes and how to control the output volume. The technology quickly increased functions to be able to control standardized MIDI song files, new connection mechanisms such as FireWire, USB, and Wi-Fi, new markets such as mobile phones and video games and a new world of alternative based MIDI products.

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If you are going to do anything with music and computers you really need to know what MIDI is and how to use it. Here is a great program for music production.