Well, it didn’t take M-Audio long to get over that breakup. The world’s most ubiquitous brand of USB MIDI keyboards is out this summer with a refresh to its Axiom line of USB MIDI keyboards, hot on the heels of announcing they’re no longer part of Avid. They’ll now share branding with A.I.R., the German virtual instrument developer that, along with M-Audio, is moving from former parent Avid to inMusic, sharing that corporate owner with the likes of Akai and Alesis.

The family shares some features:

  • HyperControl automatic mapping. (I’ve had equal measures praise and frustrated criticism for such things, but it’s there – or you can use old-fashioned MIDI mapping.)
  • Bundled Ignite music software – that is, if you’re ready for another music app.
  • Long-throw faders, multi-color, illuminated buttons, and combination of keys and pads.
  • Nifty features like automatic mapping and special software aside, my guess is that to most musicians, the Axiom will appeal for a practical combination of controls – and, in particular, real 4×4 grids of pads. The Axiom got my nod in a round-up of competitors for Keyboard Magazine recently. I’ve found the newer keybeds to be really to use, and the whole affair seems to be well-balanced in feel and array of onboard amenities. There are a lot of similar tools on the market, but to me, the winner is the one that strikes the best mix for the most users.

    Your options: 25-, 49-, and 61-key versions with full-sized keys, or a 32-key mini key version. The mini key version in particular looks nice: a lot of mini keyboards have been fairly low-end or stripped-down; this appears to finally offer something slim and versatile that could be a main keyboard without quite so much sacrifice. (In fact, it could rival the now-discontinued microKONTROL from Korg.) It’s low-profile and slim-line, but still packing eight pads and plenty of controls; I’m eager to try it in person.

    For more serious playing, the 61-key version has the higher-end keybed, the semi-weighted TruTouch.

    Ignite software is part of the story, a new tool from AIR. There’s not a whole lot on this software yet, but I’m intrigued to see integrated keyboard/playing software, in the way that we’ve seen hardware/software combinations for drum pad lovers like Native Instruments’ Maschine.

    The keyboards will be in shops mid-October, so look for a review as they become available.

    Pricing TBD.

    Images:

    More information…

    m-audio.com [as I write this, still showing the 2011 Avid site]
    inmusicbrands.com [the new owner]

  • m audio sucks

    Never buy M-audio, shit quality !!! you will regret !

    • Givelight2012

       disagree.  My M audio 02 is quite trusty to throw in the backpack for some coffee shop beats.

    • BZer0

       I guess quality is hit-or-miss? I have 2 M-Audio keyboard controllers which are rock solid, and an 11-year-old Omni I?O Delta 66 interface that is built like a tank and seems ready to last forever.

    • jakub

      I have 2nd gen Oxygen 8v2 25 and it still works fine after 5 years or so. If Axiom AIR would be priced somewhere between Oxygen and old Axiom, then I would likely go to get it.

  • Andrew Garton

    this indeed look like a good blend of essential tools and weighted keys always welcome!

  • cooptrol

    m audio will suck no matter what corp is behind it…And what’s with the AVID logo on the controllers?? the tiny purple arrow thing on the left…

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      I expect they’ll fix the logo. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/herrherrmann.net Sebastian Herrmann

    I was also very disappointed about my Axiom 25 (1st generation), especially the keybed with its hanging keys was a disaster. The new mini version looks kind of promising but the new Axioms with normal-sized keys would be far too big and unhandy for me (I was going for something small and feature-packed back then).

  • Gruvsyco

    I have a 1st gen Axiom 61 that has been working fine for several years.  What I want most in a controller these days is more/better knobbage for synth tweaking and less DAW stuff.  Every controller seems to have the std shuttle controls and it seems most people have more than one controller.

  • kent williams

    I still have an O.G. Oxygen 8.  About a year after I got it, the midi stopped working via VST, and I had to hook it up to the computer with MIDI cables. Still works fine in that configuration.

    I have one of those X-Session Pro DJ controller things that is going wonky as well.  Both the Oxygen 8 and X-Session are not banged around that much; I expect more from gear that is intended to be used by musicians.

    I had a Fast Track Pro for a while, but traded up to a NI Audio Kontrol because after my other M-Audio experiences, I didn’t trust it. For all I know, it’s still in service somewhere.

    The Native Instruments stuff is really over-engineered mechanically, which gives me more confidence in taking it out to play live.

    Maybe this new M-Audio stuff will be sturdier, not so much empty plastic boxes filled with air and barely-fastened-on circuit boards.

    • Gruvsyco

      I have one of these too, still use it when I don’t want to drag my Novation SL 25 around.  It intermittently has the stuck key syndrome but, other than that works fairly well.

    • Tim

      I have the same problem with my oxygen 8! USB midi crapped out … 

  • BZer0

    I assume these will be cheaper than the current Axiom/Axiom Pro models since no aftertouch.
    Love the 4×4 grid, finally.

  • Konker

    The 25 key has the most drumpads. What kinda shit is that?

    • coolio

       true!  enough real estate on the 61 to put another 4×3 section … or a cupholder cut out for my Old Fashioned. 

  • coolio

    the mini looks pretty nice for a small form factor controller.  however, judging from the picture it looks like the pitch bend (and mod wheel?) are on switches, which is unfortunate!

  • jakub

    Ignite software looks quite interesting – from screenshot it seems to be able to make composing/arranging ideas fast and easy. 

  • mellonhead

    what’s with all of these 3×4 pad grids? doesn’t every software application involving pads work on 4×4? oh well, at least the little one has it!

  • Hello

    What happened with AVID?

  • Tom

    The AKAI MPK controllers had pads, aftertouch, arpeggiator and are sturdy. Are they not the dominant keyboard midi controller for any reason I haven’t worked out yet?

  • 360music

    I AM GETTING THIS….. FINALLY A CONTROLLER THA MAKE SENSE….. AVID U TAKING OVER SLOWLY…. loooooving it… now all the other studio around the place wont see me much…. 

  • SUSO

    I go out an buy an axion 2nd gen and I see this -.- failed researching…