This week on Live Musician Central I’ve been talking about creating a keyboard setup built around the incredible Reason Music Production Software by Propellerhead. Obviously the most essential component to have in addition to the software is a MIDI Keyboard Controller. Today I’m going to tell you about an extremely affordable MIDI Keyboard Controller that is built specifically for interfacing with a computer and Reason music software. The keyboard I’m going to discuss today is the M-Audio Keystation 88es.
The M-Audio Keystation 88es is a USB interfaced MIDI keyboard controller. It’s works simply by plugging a USB cable from the Keystation to your computer and it’s fully Windows XP and Mac OS X compliant for easy plug-and-play setup. One thing I hate to have is a bunch of cables running all around my computer and the Keystation 88es can be completely powered by the USB bus. That means hooking up one cable and it’s up and ready to run. If you want you can put a 9v battery in the Keystation 88es to run it or you can power it from a 9v power adapter. You could do this if you wanted to reduce power consumption from your USB bus if you’re using a laptop. Once you have the Keystation plugged into your computer, simply load Reason and it will let you fully interface with the Keystation with Reason. You can watch the Tutorial videos I posted yesterday to see how to do this.
The M-Audio Keystation 88es is a very simple device. The front of the Keystation has 88 full-size, semi-weighted piano keys, pitch bend and modulation wheels, volume or function assignable control slider, two advanced functions buttons and an octave +/- button. On the rear panel of the keyboard is a 9v DC power supply input, USB port, MIDI Out jack, Sustain Switch jack, Volume pedal jack and a power selector slider that lets you choose between USB or 9v DC power. It’s a very simple design but it easily covers all the functions you will need to create incredible music with the Reason software.
One thing I really like about the Keystation 88es is the full size, semi-weighted piano keys. They don’t feel like a piano but they do feel like a good quality synthesizer. I like the full size keys and they make playing drum parts in very easy. They keys are velocity sensitive which is a must have feature to be able to play realistic sounding piano and horn lines. Another thing about this keyboard that I really like is it’s fairly small footprint for a full 88-key keyboard. It weighs only 22 pounds and is extremely easy to transport. It also takes up less desk space than a lot of keyboard controllers because of is shallow depth. It’ a piece of cake to swap out with my wireless keyboard in front of my computer monitors making playing parts in while watching the screen extremely easy. It’s something that is difficult to do with the larger keyboard controllers on the market.
This keyboard is most at home in your studio but if you’re careful could serve you well as a live use keyboard. It’s very easy to take to gigs and it’s so inexpensive that if it breaks, replacing it won’t break the bank. Simply because of the low price I highly recommend the M-Audio Keystation 88es as an excellent solution to your MIDI keyboard controller needs. The fact that you get a full-size 88-key keyboard just sweetens the deal even more. You can pick this keyboard controller up from the Live Musician Central Store or click on the links below find the best deal. Make sure you pick up the EX-P Universal Expression Controller Pedal and the SP-2 Sustain Pedal to use with the Keystation 88es as well.