Author Archives: Blair Sutherland

Akai Pro LPK25 Review

Akai Pro LPK25 ReviewAkai Pro LPK25 – A Keyboard For Ants?

My Akai Pro LPK25 Review was inspired by this little mini keyboard that I saw the other day and had to check it out. This is the Akai Pro LPK25 Laptop Performance Keyboard and it is so cute!

Not only is this MIDI keyboard controller small, it is packed with really cool features too.

The list price for the Akai LPK25 is $129 but Amazon has it through this link for $72.24 >>> Amazon

The Akai Pro LPK25 Laptop Performance Keyboard is a smaller sized relative to the MPK series of keyboard performance controllers. This keyboard has 25 miniature keyboard keys that are velocity-sensitive, plays like a synth and is a wonderful solution for working remotely with your laptop.  The LPK25 is less than 13 inches across and weighs in at under a pound, you can put it in your laptop case, backpack or tote bag for extreme portability.

Some of the Features are:

  • USB-MIDI controller works with virtually all audio software
  • 25 velocity-sensitive mini-keyboard keys
  • Arpeggiator, sustain button, octave up and down, and tap tempo controls
  • Plug-and-play USB connection for Mac and PC requires no driver installation
  • Small enough to fit in a backpack or laptop bag
  • Four programmable memory banks
  • Comes with editor software for Mac and PC
  • USB bus powered–no additional power cable needed

Despite its looks the LPK25 is not a toy, it’s a very usable and convenient MIDI controller as you can tell by the features listed.

Here are what some owners say:

Samuel says:

The LPK25 has a good build quality. I travel often and it’s perfect for that. Still, there are two major annoyances so I can’t give it five stars.

It feels like an instrument more than a toy and it is possible to play expressively, though for me it requires much concentration to hit the keys hard enough to make a sound yet soft enough to avoid running out of velocity response. I could not find any evidence that it is possible to program the velocity curve.

There is room for improvement but it is still the best in its class.

Review paraphrased for length.

G.J. Oshea says:

I use FL Studio 10 on a laptop that i like to bring around with me to friend’s houses, the laundromat, etc. The LPK25 is the perfect edition to my traveling studio! It is a great price for the quality…it does not feel like a cheap toy (like some other MIDIs in the same price range) the key sizes are perfect, and it still fits in my backpack with my laptop. It’s perfect for easily, and effortlessly trying different riffs, and progressions.

Any downsides? Okay, fine…the keys have a pretty decent reaction to velocity, but you do have to be a little aggressive to get it the loudest, or to react as highest velocity.

Review paraphrased for length.

I use it with my 13″ Macbook Pro and Apple Logic Pro and I love the ease of use and portability. One of the biggest complaints is that the velocity response is not great. This is not really an issue for me because it does not replace my studio keyboard and if I am doing a keyboard part I will use the studio keyboard.

I hope you enjoyed my Akai Pro LPK25 Review. If you like to get out of the studio and work at a coffee shop or somewhere a little more interesting, this is the perfect little mobile MIDI controller. Keep in mind that the Akai Pro LPK25 is a controller and has no sounds inside its cute little brain.

Midi Keyboards – Experimenting With Sounds

A midi keyboard primarily refers to a musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) keyboard which is just like an electric piano only but offers more features than a piano. A midi keyboard is used in recording studios as well as live performances. Some of the more popular midi keyboards are made by m-audio, akai, yamaha, casio, and korg. An electric piano has 88 keys whereas the midi keyboards have a variety of keys making them more appropriate for studio and high end technical recordings.

Though there are a variety of midi keyboards available in the market, it is important to have some basic understanding about the keyboard and its features. Most electronic keyboards offer midi capabilities which means there are more choices and the more choices the more the confusion. Midi keyboards are known to offer perfect quality sound in terms of harmonies, scales and effects. These keyboards are known to bridge the gap between computer generated audio and perfectly refined tunes.

It was in 1983 that MIDI was developed and the concept of midi keyboards captured the market by storm with many amateurs trying their hands on the system and trying on offering varied and differential tunes to cater to the music market.

Considering the choices available in the market it can get quite confusing as there are some basic to extra features which would not only make a huge difference to the sound quality but also render a satisfactied feel to the composer. However, the budget is one of the key factors which should be taken into account while buying a midi keyboard. If you have a restricted budget then it is important to opt for a keyboard which offers the best feel and then later can be upgraded to offer more enhanced sound quality.

Handling skills in the form of number of keyboards that one is comfortable using is another point which must be kept in mind while choosing the keyboard, as one can choose from a 25 to 88 length key board system.

If you are more of a classical musician then you should opt for an 88 keyboard system or else you can also opt for a 76 keys board which is more popular. Fewer keys on a keyboard are always recommended for amateurs as they need to get a feel of how the keys need to be used and how can they improvise on offering better quality sounds. Thus knowing about the sound and the functionality of the keys and the board at large would offer better sounds and would also help the individual in growing with every innovation.

Novation Launchpad Review

novation launchpad reviewAbleton Live Controller

I have just recently started to get into Ableton Live and I found this great MIDI controller for it called the Novation Launchpad.

The Novation Launchpad is pretty cool. It has everything that you would want in a controller and is perfect for doing live mixing and makes studio work easy too.

You can use this controller to play drum racks and trigger other samples in real time. The mixer is pretty cool because you can use the pads as a fader control and easily jump back and forth from the session to the arrangement window.

You can daisy chain these controllers with a USB hub since it is powered by the USB port. This makes for tons of control and you don’t have to keep flipping between windows.

The Novation Launchpad has 64 pads in a grid and each pad can control different samples. You can load samples. play them and record new ones all live.

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Check out this video of the Novation Launchpad in Action!

Another cool thing about this Ableton controller is that it is not just limited to Ableton Live, you can use this as a MIDI controller with any DAW.

The Novation Launchpad is one of the coolest Midi Controllers I have seen in a long time. If you do anything with Ableton Live you need to get this controller.

Get It Here! >>>> Novation Launchpad

Why The M-Audio Axiom 25 MIDI Controller Is A Great Buy

The M-Audio Axiom 25midi keyboard reviews

The M-Audio Axiom 25 MIDI controller is a great combination of production power and performance. You can get the most from any music software with this MIDI keyboard.

The Axiom 25 features semi-weighted keys which is important if you like the piano feel. Large dynamic trigger pads make programming beats easy and also allow for one-shot sample triggering and the encoder knobs and buttons are real-time controllers for the music software.

With M-Audio‘s DirectLink mode you have control of common DAW functions such as transport, track pan and the mixing features, as well as many virtual instrument parameters. Some of the compatible DAWs are Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, Live, and Reason.

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I like that you can use the fader and encoder knobs to fine-tune the mix. This is a great feature that allows the user to get away from the mouse occasionally. You can also use the transport buttons to navigate through the session.

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The Axiom 25 controller’s Instrument mode is really cool. This allows for  a single button to instantly map the fader, buttons, and encoders to any virtual instrument within your DAW. You can directly access parameters such as filter cutoff, LFO rate, and envelope settings.

The M-Audio Axiom 25 is very compact and lightweight and is powered directly from your computer’s USB bus. This is one of the most important features for me.

Here are the M-Audio Axiom 25 Features:

  • 25-key velocity-sensitive semi-weighted-action keyboard with assignable aftertouch
  • DirectLink mode automatically maps controls to common DAW and virtual instrument parameters
  • Dedicated Instrument mode button lets you instantly switch between controlling mixer and virtual instrument parameters
  • 8 assignable trigger pads
  • 8 assignable rotary encoder knobs
  • 1 assignable fader
  • 6 dedicated transport controls
  • class-compliant with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Mac OS X
  • powered via USB or optional power supply
  • built-in USB MIDI interface including standard MIDI In and Out jacks
  • On Sale Here!

M-Audio is one of my favorite MIDI Keyboard manufacturers out there. I like that the products are high quality and easy to use. I also have M-Audio speakers and a larger keyboard and I have not been disappointed yet. If you need a good compact MIDI keyboard controller the Axiom 25 is a great choice.

I found the best price on the Axiom 25 here!

Akai Pro MPK Mini Review

I’ve been looking for a new portable MIDI controller for a while now and was thrilled to find the Akai Pro MPK mini. This small MIDI controller is great!

I need something to use with my Apple Logic system that I run on my laptop and this 25-note keyboard is perfect.

It has 8 back-lit, MPC-style pads and 8 Q-Link knobs that give you tons of input control. I like to use the pads for drum inputs more that the keyboard.

I like that the  MPK mini has velocity-sensitive keys. This will allow me to accurately express dynamics and that saves a lot of fixing time.

You can create cool leads and  great driving bass-lines with various time denominations and patterns with the built-in Arpeggiator. I use the tap tempo buttons a lot!

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Check out the features!

  • Ultra-portable software MIDI controller
  • 25-note, velocity-sensitive mini keyboard
  • Eight backlit, velocity-sensitive MPC-style pads (2 banks, 16 total)
  • Pads can send note information, MIDI CCs and program changes
  • Eight assignable Q-Link knobs to adjust virtually any parameter

Look at what new owners say:

Jason D. Says:

The MPK Mini is a combination of the LPD8 and LPK25, which is a great thing if you’ve been considering both!

This is my first MPC product but I am an experienced keyboardist. I like the pads and how they light up when you hit them, however, they aren’t as sensitive as some might prefer, and I’m inclined to agree. It tends not to register some lighter hits, so I’m having to get used to how hard I have to hit it. The knobs aren’t as nice as professional grade knobs, but they work nicely for such a compact unit. The keyboard has mini keys and they are very sturdy. The keys are fine for their purpose of capturing ideas. I do not consider them performance worthy.

The purpose of this product is portability and to allow you to capture ideas when you don’t feel like lugging around larger equipment. For these reasons, I find it to be an excellent product.

Definitely pick this product up if you’re looking for something extremely portable with acceptable mini keys and very playable MPC pads.

Review paraphrased for length. See the full review here.

If you are looking for a good controller that is portable and easy to use, the Akai Pro MPK Mini is a good choice. Highly recommended for working away from home, not so much as a studio controller.

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Do Not Buy The Korg PA3X76…

Unless you are serious about writing, arranging and performing music at the highest professional level.

The Korg PA3X76 is an amazing new product from Korg and has so many features it is hard to cover them all in a short review. This keyboard is Not for everyone!

Here are some of the features that you need to be aware of:

  • 76-key semi-weighted arranger keyboard with velocity and aftertouch
  • Enhanced RX (Real eXperience) sound engine offers improved realism and new vivid sound, including pianos borrowed from the acclaimed Korg SV-1 Stage Vintage Piano, plus Ambience Drums
  • Massive internal ROM – plus up to 256 MB of user PCM data (equivalent to 512 MB) provides an extraordinarily powerful wave memory, delivering the best sound quality possible
  • PaAS High-fidelity, optional amplification/speaker bar with Korg’s own Easy Connect system (no support, cables, or additional power supply needed)
  • Improved Style and Performance selection, Over 400 factory Styles
  • Double MP3/MIDI files player and recorder with Advanced Vocal Remover
  • 120 Voices, 120 Oscillators
  • Microphone Input: Combo XLR balanced with Gain control (15 to 50 dB) and switchable Phantom Power
  • On Sale Here!

One of the thing that I like about this keyboard is the sounds. Korg keyboards are known for great quality sounds but this one has some of the best sounds I have heard. Excellent piano, electric piano and vintage effects make this so much fun to play.

The looping feature is great for live performance, it allows you to accompany yourself with both drum patterns and programmed loops. If you are a singer/songwriter the microphone input is a very cool feature allowing you to sing and play without having to bring in a PA system. You can also use the keyboard to sing harmony parts without background singers.

The speaker and amp combination that is comes with can be removed and is wireless so you can put it in the most convenient location for your audience.

If you are looking for a great studio, live performance or sequencing keyboard, the Korg PA3X76 is a great investment. However at $3999.00 you need to be serious about your craft.

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Why The Casio CTK-2100 Is A Top Seller

The Casio CTK-2100 is one of the top selling piano keyboards available for a good reason. This keyboard has 61 keys, not a full keyboard but enough to play almost anything a beginner or intermediate player would want.

It sounds better than many keyboards out there because of the AHL sound source. AHL stands for Acoustic & Highly-compressed Large-waveform and basically means that the sound source is pre-programmed with digital samples of acoustic musical instruments recorded using the most advanced digital technology. The AHL sound source is capable of reproducing all of the natural smoothness of the original waveform.

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The Casio CTK 2100 also comes with step-by-step lessons which can help you to learn to play or just to get better. The lessons build on each other and makes it easy and fun to learn.

There are 150 rhythms and auto accompaniments which include several Latin music styles such as Bossa Nova, Samba, Cumbia, Reggaeton, Calypso and More.

Here are the specs:

  • Keyboard: 61 standard-size keys
  • Touch Response: 2 types, Off
  • Key Light System: Up to 4 keys can be lit at the same time
  • Maximum Polyphony: 48 notes (24 for certain tones)
  • Effects: 10 types
  • Reverb: 1 to 10, Off
  • Metronome: beats per measure — 0,2 to 6; tempo range — 30 to 255
  • Step Up Lesson:
    • Lessons: 4 (Listen, Watch, Remember, Auto)
    • Lesson Part: L, R, LR
    • Functions: Repeat, Voice Fingering Guide, Note Guide.
  • Music Challenge: 20 notes
  • Auto Accompaniment: Rhythm Patterns — 150; One Touch Presets — 150
  • Musical Information Function: Tone, Rhythm, Song Bank, numbers and names; staff notation, fingering, pedal operation, tempo, measure and beat number, chord name, etc.
  • USB port: Yes
  • Sustain jack: Standard jack (sustain, sostenuto, soft, rhythm start/stop)
  • Phones/Output jack: Stereo standard jack
  • Output Impedance: 200 Ohm, Output Voltage: 4.8 V (RMS) MAX
  • Audio In jack: Stereo mini jack
  • Input Impedance: 40 kOhm, Input Sensitivity: 200 mV
  • Mic In jack: Standard jack
  • Batteries: 6 AA batteries
  • Great Price!

This keyboard is one of the best piano keyboards for the price mostly because of the quality of sound. If you want a great sounding keyboard the Casio CTK 2100 is the one to get for sure!