Audiobus: Use your music apps together.
What is Audiobus? — Audiobus is an award-winning music app for iPhone and iPad which lets you use your other music apps together. Chain effects on your favourite synth, run the output of apps or Audio Units into an app like GarageBand or Loopy, or select a different audio interface output for each app. Route MIDI between apps — drive a synth from a MIDI sequencer, or add an arpeggiator to your MIDI keyboard — or sync with your external MIDI gear. And control your entire setup from a MIDI controller.Download on the App Store
Audiobus is the app that makes the rest of your setup better.
Are there any small keyboard controllers that don’t suck?
I haven’t owned a keyboard for years, but it would come in handy now and then. Is there a small one that doesn’t suck?
For me, putting small in front of keyboard means it will suck. I tend to want a piano simulation in size and behavior but I do some couch potato composing and I like the M-Audio Oxygen touch. To get a lot of MIDI controls I use an Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII – 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard. It sucks but has knobs and a joy stick.
The Nanokey Studio is excellent.
It’s feature rich and lightweight while never feeling too small. It captures variation in velocity well, the pads are great for laying down drums, the built in arpeggiator modes are super useful and it has a handy number of programmable knobs.
Its keys make a plastic ‘clacking’ sound when pushed hard, so I tend to keep headphones on when I’m jamming.
Lack of built in, rechargeable battery support.
I I forgot to mention, I'm extremely cheap too so I look for products below $100.
One gets what one is willing to invest in. Otherwise I'd have more of those Roli controllers
and could use my SWAM purchases and make the cello sing.
I don't see the lack of built-in battery a minus at all. In fact I see it as a plus. I just keep an extra pair of rechargeables in the bag, and pop the dead ones into a wall charger as soon as they die. I would rather replace a couple of worn out off-the-shelf rechargeable batteries when they finally start to degrade than have a non user-serviceable builtin battery to deal with some day. Plus, if I need hours and hours of play time, all I need to do is bring a mess of 'em with me.
That said. I have a suspicion @Wrlds2ndBstGeoshredr would hate the NKS. It's too far removed from a traditional key bed.
I’m a fan of the Mcmillen line so my vote would be for the K- board for tiny keys. I’m not a keyboard player so YMMV. If I was though, the Osmose would be my dream instrument.
You must have a real job. Osmose is $1,799. "Dream On".
I’ve got the 25 key version of this and it’s amazing for mobile use. Full size keys and very playable.
Fully agree with this. The trend away from removable rechargeables to inbuilt irreplaceable batteries is a terrible one if you are buying a product that you are hoping will last more than just a few years.
Just purchased Arturia Keystep ... quality of keys is amazing, it's solid piece of HW, very good manufacturing quality ...
It lacks battery but can be powered view USB .. no idea if it works when connected via powered usb hub into iPad, didn't have one to try it ..
Midiplus X2. Off the radar brand but the build is exceptional for a sub 100 dollar midi keyboard. Most of it is metal. Key action is decent, knobs are super solid. No sequencer or anything fancy but it does sport 5pin midi jack full size! Well worth a look. Can also be easily powered by ipad and doesnt drain the batter as much as youd think.
Looks good too! It might have been my choice if it had aftertouch like the Keystep.
Had the Keystep, great functionality, but it just stopped working. Got a NKS, way more playable «keys» for me than the regular mini ones, plus knobs, okay rubber pads and a x-y pad.
I've got the Korg microKey Air which has performed brilliantly.
It's bluetooth so no trailing wires. No noticeable latency and the batteries last ages. In fact, I'm still on my first set.
+1. The keys may be a little small for some in this thread but I’ve enjoyed it a lot and helps get things down into Xequence and other hosts much quicker. I’ve got the 49 key.
Same. I meant instead that there’s no way to juice up the rechargeable AA batteries I use, with a USB cable. Built in recharging is a rare and useful long term convenience.
I picked up the NanoKey Studio. I got it mainly for the Gadget integration but I like it as a general use keyboard.
I get it that it's a nice thought to be able to plug a cable from a regular USB charger to the device, but I really don't see any practical advantage of that over something as simple and portable as a little charger like the one below. With an internal battery you still have to have the right cable and an available charging port, and the device may or may not be able to charge while being used. Anyway, not tryin' to argue - just voicing my thoughts. 😎
Given the choice between two identical devices, one with internal battery and one with standard rechargeable batteries, I would 100% take the latter.
... for what? Small keyboards are fine for chord and bassline input etc, but not for Chopin. Depends on your needs.
The M-Audio Keystation Mini 25 is great for what it is, quite cheap, decent keybed for its range, fits in laptop bag.
I love the feel of these things too, but I've been through a couple of them because of the charging connection (the internal bit) busting...frustrating, but they are still my fave keyboard...on the other hand, I also have the Nanokey studio and have thrown it in a hundred bags and it just keeps going.
If you want just keys, I have the Arturia micro lab. Works great, keys are nice. Less than $100. I also have a irig keys but I use the Arturia much more, keys are weighted and very natural feeling.
I tried several small keyboard controllers in the shop. I have to say most of them are terrible. Too mini keys and/or awful key action (like a toy piano in the kindergarten) Frankly I don’t know how people can play on these and not miss the notes...
Fortunately I found 2 models which really stand out:
1) Arturia keystep. I’ve chosen this (and love it very much), but all the Arturia small key models are great. (Now I want a Keystep Pro )
2) Komplete Kontrol M32. I liked this one even more because of its control knobs, but my iPad Air3 was not able to power it and I didn’t want to use external power source because I needed a mini keyboard for mobile use.
Both the Arturia’s and Komplete’s key action is very good and despite the mini keys their key size is bigger than the other mini key models. I recommend both.
Thanks for the link. Thats pretty cool. Quadruple the price tho. I think I'll stick with my handy-dandy lil charger.
Another vote for the Korg Microkey Air 25. Tiny, v nice action and battery lasts ages. Great for writing tunes in bed/on the train etc
I like my Xkey Air 37 quite a bit. It’s not too small. It travels very well. The built in battery lasts an extremely long time. There are downsides as well, but I really cannot stand small keyboards for the most part.
I agree with @dendy. Keystep is well built and the keys are very playable as compared to other small units. It's a little on the long side for a compact controller (doesn't fit into one of my two backbacks) and it doesn't have any knobs if you want that sort of thing. Works fine with a powered hub. Also comes with a splitter (I think... or it might be from my beatstep) that allows you to plug a USB battery into one side of the Y-splitter and the iOS device into the other side.
Neat idea but why have four separate charging cables instead of a single cable going to a dock (like most rechargeable batteries)? Seems like 4 additional possible failure points.
I'm currently weighing up between the Native Instruments M32 and the Xkey Air 37.
I have a Nanokey Studio, which I use and love as a portable tool. And I already have the xKey Air 37. But it's underused, and I miss the mod and pitch bend strips, so I've been thinking to sell the xKey Air, and get the NI M32. And maybe I can invest any cash left over in software.
Kieth McMillan QNexus and Kboard are hot sauce. As is Xkey air. As is NI M32.
NI M32 isn’t at all portable and doesn’t have midi out to use with synths or groove boxes which is a huge bummer.
These days I don’t really use a midi controller but when I do it is Launchpad XL for keys and pad duties.