M-Audio Keystation 88es MIDI Keyboard Controller Review

The M-Audio Keystation 88es is an excellent USB powered MIDI Keyboard controller solution for your computer audio needs.

M-Audio Keystation 88es
M-Audio Keystation 88es

   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.

M-Audio Keystation 88es USB MIDI Keyboard Controller M-Audio Keystation 88es USB MIDI Keyboard ControllerThe M-Audio Keystation 88es USB MIDI Keyboard Controller gives you great-feeling, semi-weighted action. The velocity sensitive keys convey all the nuances of your playing to your computer. The pitch and modulation wheels plus slider and buttons make it a great controller for playing and programming synths, samplers, drum sounds and more. At just 22 lbs., the Keystation 88es is equally at home onstage and in the studio. Class compliancy with Windows XP and Mac OS X ensures easy plug-and-play setup. It’s even bus-powered, so one simple USB cable is the only connection you need. 


M-Audio SP-2 Sustain Pedal M-Audio SP-2 Sustain PedalThe M-Audio SP-2 Sustain Pedal is designed to work and feel just like the sustain pedal on an acoustic piano. Specially designed rubber bottom grips the floor and stays put while you play. The SP-2 is a high-quality damper pedal with expressive half-pedal capabilities. Works with any electronic keyboard. 


M-Audio EX-P Expression Pedal M-Audio EX-P Expression PedalWorks with all M-Audio MIDI controllers that have an expression pedal input. A built-in polarity switch ensures compatibility with most other brands of controllers and keyboards. Control any assignable variable MIDI controller value including volume, modulation, panning, filter sweep, and more. Durable molded construction with integral cable. 


Author: Live Musician Central

My name is Matt Rushton. I have been playing in bands for 27 years. I've been playing professionally for 21 years. I have opened for Sheryl Crow, Barenaked Ladies, Joan Jett, Little River Band, and Quiet Riot.

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