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Noobius Maximus

M-Audio Keystation 88es USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

Sound Quality

To be honest, I can't reach maximum velocity without banging so hard on the keys I fear I'm gonna break something. Extremely poor quality control at M-Audio. I have an Edirol PCR-M50 keyboard which I can run at the same time in Sonar for direct comparison, and it is impossible to play with full velocity range as you have to beat the crap out of it. On the plus side, sonar has a velocity tool you can insert into a midi track which gives you various ways to modify velocity response (eg. Multiply velocity setting by % of itself). So I can basically lower the force I need to reach max V by artificially giving the keyboard a new velocity curve. So it's not a deal-breaker for me, and I haven't noticed any other flaws mentioned in other reviews, so I probably got lucky and got a board with a narrow range of inconsistencies.


Seems really sturdy. There's not much to it, so as long as the 88 keys hold out, it should last a long time.


General Comments

I've gotta say, other than that one problem with the obvious velocity-range problem, which I can work around, it's a pretty sturdy, good-looking and playable piece of gear.


If you're making music on your PC in a home studio (a non-live-performance environment), and you've already got a small keyboard with lotsa bells and whistles and just wish you had more octaves, I'd say the 88es is a great buy for the money. Just make sure your host app is capable of tweaking incoming velocity data. I've got my 49-key stacked on top of the 88es, to the far left (like an organ), and I find myself prefering to use its mod/pitchbend joystick over the wheels on the 88. Sonar also accepts input from both, so I can program all the buttons/knobs/sliders on the small board if needed, while playing on the big one. If you already have a small board with lotsa controllers, and your host will let you play an instrument with either of two keyboards, the 88es is a great add-on...at least the one I got is. It's definitely a plus for using some of those multis in Kontakt 2 sample libraries (some of which are programmed to span 7 octaves).

Reviewer's Background

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