I've been promising a review of the Keystation Mini 32 for some weeks and have finally made time to get on top of my to-do list.
M-Audio have a long held reputation of making great controller keyboards and of course more recently great synths in the form of the M-Audio Venom. There are many pro users who insist on M-Audio, go to any concert and you will spot them, especially the more recent white models - to put it simply M-Audio are ubiquitous amongst pro keyboard players.
M-Audio come late to the micro party, with a strong grip from brands like Akai and Korg, so it's a brave brand who try and enter this space.
However, being late to market isn't always a bad thing, especially when you have the reputation M-Audio have for making great keyboard controllers and synths.
The M-Audio Keystation 32 sports; 32 keys (no shit Sherlock!), a volume controller, buttons for sustain, edit, octave/data entry, modulation and pitch bend. Most of the buttons also double up for other modes, including many of the actual keys on the keyboard to extend the functionality of the Keystation 32. It comes with a handy PDF on how to use the combos to get what you need, there is also some indication above the keys as to what they become when you use the data button. For massive juvenile amusement M-Audio have labelled one 'Knob', perfect for sending your drummer MIDI start and stop commands!
It has a mini USB connector, cable included and a security tag connector, I suppose for when they sell it in an Apple store or PC World. I'm certainly not going to tag mine for fear of the wife stealing it.
It works. Plug it in and it controls anything connected to it. I threw Pro Tools, Garageband, Maschine, Massive and a few others and straight away it just worked. I like that.
The keyboard feels, surprisingly for the price, really nice and responsive, as do all the other buttons. One of the buttons is the sustain pedal, which you can switch from hold to latch. It takes a little getting used to, a bit like when you first use a track pad, but it doesn't take long to adapt. Adaptation is what it is, I would prefer to be able to use a sustain pedal, but I'd also like a Ferrari in the box, but we are talking $99. I'm sure there's some (sorry, a lot of idiots out there) who will expect a $1000 keyboard, but there's no pleasing some.
All in all, the build and functionality is great. As an added bonus it works with the iPad using their Apple camera connector - result!
The Keystation Mini 32 couldn't have arrived at a better time, blog regulars know my studio was flooded. 8 weeks on it's still not dry and works won't be completed for a further 3 weeks. For the time being I have a desk with an M-Audio Fastrack Ultra, Maschine and now the Keystation Mini 32, as the rest of my studio is safely in storage.
So, as you can imagine the Keystation 32 has been a god-send. What's even funnier is that I'm getting used to it as a great way to get MIDI into Pro Tools.
Some would view micro keyboards, as cheap wanna-be options, perhaps even toys. The M-Audio is neither cheap, or a toy. It works and plays well, granted it ain't my Axiom Pro 61, but even-so it would be a welcome addition for either a Pro or someone starting out. It's an ideal keyboard for having on your console or for using with your iPad, it would even fit in your bag if you want to make music on the road.
I think it's a great keyboard, at a great price. It proves that size isn't everything. If M-Audio got anything wrong with this product it was the name - I would have called it the M-Audio Ninja, it may be small but it still kicks ass. For this reason it's get an Editors Choice Award. More from the M-Audio website