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At Winter NAMM, M-Audio introduced the Radium 49, the latest in the M-Audio line of USB MIDI controllers. The unit is identical to its recently introduced 61-key sibling, Radium, except that it offers one octave fewer keys along with the choice of battery power. The unit's 49 keys are augmented with 8 MIDI-assignable knobs and 8 MIDI-assignable sliders, giving users real-time control of 16 MIDI parameters within their favorite software programs. Five user-definable preset banks extend this control to 80 MIDI parameters of the user's choice at the touch of a button.

Radium 49 also has a built-in USB MIDI interface that communicates 16 channels of MIDI data directly with the computer without the need for a separate MIDI interface. Two separate MIDI Outs send data to external gear--one from the keyboard and one from the computer. Additional controls include pitch wheel, modulation wheel and octave up/down keys that extend the range of the 4-octave keyboard +/-3 octaves. The unit can be powered via the USB port, batteries or via a 9V power supply for standalone operation.

Radium 49's 16 real-time controllers allow the unit to serve in a variety of capacities, with or without a computer. Performers benefit from greater freedom of expression. Synthesists can easily access parameters buried deep within their hardware without having to navigate a hierarchy of hidden nested menus. Songwriters and producers can enter drum patterns from the keyboard and use the controllers to adjust the dynamics, feel and effects. Radium 49 also brings tactile control to today's virtual studios, with its sliders mapped to virtual faders and the knobs controlling pan, effects sends and more. Weighing in at a mere 6 pounds, Radium 49 is the perfect complement to the mobile creative lifestyle of today's musicians.

"Radium 49 is a logical extension of our keyboard line, falling right between the popular 2-octave Oxygen8 and the new 5-octave Radium," says Adam Castillo, M-Audio's Marketing Director. "Software synths and virtual studios are very much a reality--and along with them come dozens of parameters just begging to be tweaked. Radium 49 lets you leave the tedium of the mouse behind and literally reach inside your software. It's all about flexibility and control."

Radium 49 also employs the same simple, elegant user interface popularized by the rest of the M-Audio keyboard line. The keys have a second layer of functions, allowing users to program MIDI control information directly from the black and whites. It's as simple as pressing the MIDI/Select button, pressing the note on the keyboard bearing the label corresponding to the target parameter, then using the Data Entry slider to select the value (or entering numeric values by pressing the keys labeled with numbers).

Radium 49 is expected to ship in mid-February at a price of $249.95 MSRP.

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