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M-Audio Essential Keystudio Midi Controller: My Music Keyboard Companion That Connects to My Computer

Updated on December 29, 2012

Are you a musician who loves to arrange music or compose tunes? There are certain fundamental equipment that musicians who arrange or compose music with the computer need to have. You’ve probably discovered that one of your best investments could be a midi controller. If you are a musician who loves to use Garageband, LogicPro, Protools, Cubase... or even software such as Sibelius and Finale, this hub is just for you. Here I discuss the knowledge you require to get a good midi controller, and I review my favorite midi controller - the M-Audio midi controller.

M-Audio Keystation

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What exactly is a midi controller?

A midi controller is what you use to input musical notes into your computer. A midi controller enables you to key in notes into your computer precisely according to the pitch, rhythm, and velocity that you want.

How do you use a midi controller?

Midi controllers can be hooked up to a computer, and they can be used to produce the sound of the instruments in your computer software. For example, in Garageband, you can use the midi controller to produce the piano parts and the flute parts, and drum parts - any instrument of your choice. Whatever you play on the midi controller will appear in your computer screen in the instrument of your choice. The amazing part about midi is that you can tweak their pitch, duration and velocity looking at the piano roll screen.

What is the difference between a midi controller and a keyboard?

In short, a midi controller cannot produce music in itself unless you connect it to a computer. However, keyboards can produce sound if you play them by themselves, AND they can also act as midi controllers if you connect them to a computer.

My favorite midi controller is the M-Audio Keystation. I find this midi controller is the coolest around that is sufficient for my composing and arranging needs.

The M-Audio Keystation has a touch that is just right - neither too light or too heavy. The keys are weighted enough for me to be able to capture the musical expression when I input music into my Garageband or Protools software (whichever software you use, this will also apply to you). Some keyboards have too light a touch, and when you play them, whatever you touch accidentally will end up sounding, which can be very annoying. Worst still is when you play, if the touch is too light, the outcome of your music will sound very artificial, without phrasing and musical nuance - no musician places equal emphasis on all their notes right?

The touch and the weight of the keys are something that we might take for granted. But for any musician who is serious about arranging and composing - buying a midi controller with suitably weighted keys will save many hours of editing and tweaking midi notes that have inappropriate velocity (or perhaps notes that ought not to have been there in the first place!).

The M-Audio Keystation also comes in various sizes, that suit the needs of different musicians. For example, there is the M-Audio Keystation that comes in 49 keys, 61 keys and 88 keys. How should decide how many keys you need? A rough guide is the 61 keys. the 61keys suits most needs - if you are a pianist, 61 keys is sufficient for you to play most songs. If you need a wider range, you can always shift the notes from the piano roll up, or choose to move the entire range of the midi controller down or up an octave but selecting this function on your midi controller.

If you are a serious concert pianist, you would probably not be using a midi controller to record, but a real steinway or piano. That said, having 88 keys means that you have the full range of the piano available to you, and you will not have to worry about running out of range while you use the midi controller. Practically speaking, an 88 Keys will take up more space that you might have. So bear this in mind as you make a decision over which midi controller to purchase. Ideally, you should place your midi controller on a flat surface to play, not balance it on your knees or on the floor to play.

Musicians who are using their midi controller to record string instruments, drums, brass or woodwind instruments would be fully satisfied with a 61 Keys, or even a 49 Keys. If you want to make a note slide upwards or downwards, you can do that easily with the pitch slider. This function works really well for those who guitar solos or instruments such as the erhu (Chinese instrument that can slide from different pitches).

The M-Audio Keystation is really an essential in the toolkit of the musician who loves music technology. It is the midi controller that many music conservatories use in their music labs (most labs buy the 61 Keys). The M-Audio Keystation can be connected to a laptop of desktop using a USB cable. This makes it very handy to carry around and setup.

Do you have any experience with the M-Audio Keystation or other midi controllers? Please leave a comment!

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    • emichael profile image

      emichael 6 years ago from New Orleans

      Very cool :)

    • Charlotte B Plum profile image
      Author

      Charlotte B Plum 6 years ago

      Well, I don't have a band that I regularly play in and record with - but I do do recordings occasionally. Some of my own stuff, and others are arrangements. =)

    • emichael profile image

      emichael 6 years ago from New Orleans

      Sure will!

      Do you play with a band or just write your own music?

    • Charlotte B Plum profile image
      Author

      Charlotte B Plum 6 years ago

      Hey emichael!

      Thank you for dropping by! I too get really excited when I get to have fun with all this cool music stuff! =) Have fun making music with your band!

    • emichael profile image

      emichael 6 years ago from New Orleans

      Very nice hub and good info! Our guitarist just got a MPK61. Pretty excited to start playing around with it. So much you can do with midi!

      Voted up, useful, and awesome.

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