Home recording is becoming more and more important for musicians. With a more DIY approach for bands and producers, it’s important to have some good quality recording equipment.
The M Audio Key Station 88 II is a perfect example of such equipment, an 88 key midi controller that’s ideal for both recording and practice. The top of the keyboard has 88 keys, octave up and down buttons as well as modulation and volume wheels. These features are very useful for users as they allow more control over the initial sound coming into the DAW and help you find the tone that you are looking for quite a bit easier.
One of the features of this midi controller is the semi weighted; touch sensitive keys, which give the keyboard a real life piano feel. This is allows the player to give a more dynamic performance when recording when compared to other midi controllers of this kind. This controller uses a USB to Midi connection, allowing the keyboard to be connected to a PC or Mac and be used to record onto any DAW. The keyboard comes with a USB cable, which allows you to plug straight your PC and start recording straight away. A third party power supply can also be used to power the controller.
The keyboard comes with some software programs, allowing you to record and compose music of your own. One of these pieces of software is Abelton Live Lite. This is useful piece of software which allows the user to write, record and produce with ease. Abelton Live Lite can also be used for live performance.
Soni-Vox 88 Ensemble is another piece of software included with the keyboard, this includes a number of different piano patches of varying tone for you to use at your disposal, for recording and practicing. With piano sounds from different genres and styles this program will help improve your compositions and get that piano tone that you are looking for.
As well as being used for recording and production purposes the Key station 88 can also be used for live performance. With a MIDI out jack connection, the controller can be connected to a synthesiser or external sound module. The advantage of this is that it can allow the Key station 88 to be used as part of a keyboard rig for a live performance; this is great for musicians on a budget as the cost of a professional level keyboard will be much higher than this cheaper alternative.
88 keys – The full length 88 keys are a good feature for this midi controller; it allows piano players an easier transition from playing a real acoustic piano to this realistic controller. It also makes practice and performance a lot more practical with good quality keys at a full length.
Versatile – This keyboard is suitable for both beginners and advanced pianists. The touch sensitivity as well as semi weighted keys make this a perfect learning tool for beginner piano players who want an acoustic piano feel and the ability to control dynamics. The durability and lightweight of this controller also make it perfect for professional travelling musicians.
Price – At an average of around £150 the M Audio Keystation is a great price for an 88 key controller. Considering that other 88 key controllers can costs hundreds or even thousands of pounds this is a great deal. Also as this controller can be used for live performance via a sound module, the multiple uses for the product add to the value.
Mackie Control problems – The Key station uses a Mackie control function which has its problems. When using the Mackie controls in your DAW it can become frustrating as setting up each control for each key can be a tedious job. Also the Mackie controls have a tendency to get in the way of performance while recording into your computer. I wouldn’t recommend using the Mackie control setting from personal experience however other users may find it less taxing.
No expression pedal included – Although a small detail, the lack of expression pedal could be disappointing for piano players expecting one included. The keyboard does however have an input for an external expression pedal to be attached; however one being included would have been the cherry on top of this otherwise great product.
Overall this is a good quality product, perfect for beginners and experienced musicians alike. With 88 keys, USB connectivity and a number of different software included the M Audio Keystation 88 II is a great addition to any studio.