So that you need a full piano-sized set of keys with out shelling out a whole lot? The M-Audio Keystation 88 Mk3 might properly make the smallest dent in your pockets, however will it fulfill your compositional, recording or efficiency wants? The earlier variations have been a staple of audio setups, skilled and in any other case, and to make them even simpler to suit into desk workstations M-Audio has shaved a great few centimetres off the depth and top of the keyboard on this iteration.
Although its predecessor was hardly a problem to stands or desks, the Mk 3 is now nearly 1.5kg lighter. This revision represents extra of a rearrangement than a redesign, probably the most vital facet of which is that every one the controls are actually located on the left hand facet; beforehand the transport/DAW buttons had been housed away from the opposite controls on the higher proper hand facet. The flush-mounting for the pitch and mod wheels has gone, leaving them simpler to function, although on the identical time making them extra susceptible to wreck.
Station to station
The connection panel stays as was, with MIDI out, USB, two 1/4-inch sockets for maintain and expression pedals, a Kensington lock slot, an on/off swap and the 9V DC energy provide enter. A USB cable is included for energy and MIDI, although a 9V DC provide will not be. For those who’re particularly utilizing solely the 5-pin DIN MIDI, you’ll want to purchase or dig out a 9V centre-positive PSU. Nevertheless, for many use circumstances, that is much less an annoying omission and extra a aid to not must dump one other energy provide in a drawer.
The all-plastic development is completely strong, nevertheless gentle, and doesn’t flex a lot when mounted on a stand. It’s additionally fitted with rubber foam ft for a desk-bound life.
The three enhancing buttons are exhausting plastic whereas the eight transport/DAW buttons are rubber. The edit buttons, Superior and Octave Up/Down, have related LEDs that point out varied states from present octave centre to DAW management kind. All of the enhancing features are labelled on their corresponding keys, which cowl about half the keyboard, and 5 minutes with the handbook is sufficient to digest most of what’s wanted to assign CC controllers, ship financial institution/program adjustments and transpose the MIDI notes. A extra complete system could possibly be employed, maybe with a show, however for the cash there’s sufficient right here to get the job achieved with the minimal of fuss.
The USB facet of issues is the usual plug-and-play routine with MIDI displaying up as ‘USB MIDI’ and the transport management facet labelled ‘Transport’, which actually helps when routing inside a DAW. The transport controls include document, play and cease in addition to a 4 cursor and centre choose/shift button set. These controls can be utilized with Mackie HUI, Mackie Management or MIDI protocols, although the handbook doesn’t record which CCs are despatched with the latter (recording their output will furnish you with the solutions there). I had the Keystation up and working as a keyboard and controller (transport and zooming) shortly in Steinberg Nuendo, and located it no effort to assign the mod wheel and slider, which is nominally labelled ‘Quantity’, to any MIDI CC I wanted on the time. Once more, nothing fancy, however minimal fuss.
Keystation 88 mk3 is semi-weighted, that means there are weights added to the spring mechanism to supply a extra piano-like motion, however requiring much less drive to press and a sooner spring again. This can be a compromise for these wanting an honest keyboard expertise however who may use the keyboard for percussive taking part in, whether or not that’s drum programming or punchy synth efficiency. It’s, in fact, cheaper to provide and weighs significantly lower than hammer-action keybeds. The Keystation has a great steadiness of firmness and quick spring return, with not an excessive amount of lateral motion within the keys, an issue typically present in low-cost keyboards. The taking part in really feel is healthier than anticipated for this value and the speed sensitivity is well-calibrated, which is particularly helpful with digital pianos, acoustic or electrical, the place dynamic response is a elementary element. The keys are fast sufficient for enjoying in drum rolls or getting particularly funky with a clavinet, and the development seems strong sufficient to take years of this sort of motion. There is no such thing as a possibility to change the speed curve, but when it doesn’t swimsuit you then most DAWs and digital devices embody choices to this finish. Unsurprisingly, at this value, there isn’t any aftertouch, mono or poly.
Expression and management
Although the Keystation will not be adorned with rows of knobs and faders, there’s sufficient that ideas of shopping for secondary controllers might be parked, no less than for some time. Together with the expression pedal there are three assignable controllers handy – and foot – at anybody time, and reassigning them is fast and painless. Nevertheless, in a efficiency setting, I’d need one other method to swap banks and packages shortly, particularly when the lighting isn’t nice. For the desktop programmer, although, there’s sufficient to be getting on with.
The controller keyboard is bundled with a sizeable software program set. For DAW and efficiency there’s Professional Instruments First (M-Audio version) and Ableton Dwell Lite, so two trade requirements in barely restricted codecs. There are pattern packs for the (freeware) MPC Beats and 5 digital devices from AIR Music: Mini Grand, Velvet (electrical pianos), Xpand!2 (synth), DB-33 tonewheel organ and the Growth drum machine. There are additionally introductory piano classes from Skoove and Melodics.
The Keystation clearly leaves the bells and whistles to its extra expensive opponents and focuses on the necessities. The keyboard is gentle and by no means flimsy, so it could properly swimsuit a efficiency setup the place weight is a matter, however most items will seemingly make their method onto desks below displays screens for producers, sound designers and composers alike. The weighting and velocity sensitivity is properly balanced for a spread of gamers that don’t need the expense or expressivity of a hammer-action keyboard. Keystation 88 Mk3 offers you an entire lot of keys, a fundamental MIDI controller set and the important thing elements of a DAW transport, and it does so for an excellent value.
Are all these keys actually mandatory? For sure customers, sure. For those who often carry out or compose with digital pianos, there’s nothing like having the total 88 keys. Few devices sound good over seven octaves, aside from the piano, church organs and their electrical brethren.
For media composers and different producers, the Keystation 88 Mk3’s dimension additionally permits splitting multi-instrument setups into an octave or two in order that they are often shortly accessed or performed concurrently with out having to change between sources. Having beats and bass at one finish with synth or sampler patches greater up will solely velocity up composition.
- 88 semi-weighted keys
- USB kind B socket (energy and MIDI)
- MIDI Out DIN socket
- Maintain and Expression pedal inputs
- DC energy enter 9V 500mA centre optimistic
- Plug-and-play (Home windows 7/OSX 10.11 or greater)
- Dimensions: 1378mm (W) x 216mm (D) x 73mm (H)
- Weight: 6.2kg