Whilst it lacks the MIDI control knobs, sliders and percussion trigger pads of a lot of other controller keyboards, what the M-Audio Keystation does offer is a really nice feeling keyboard with full size, semi-weighted, touch responsive keys, at a very affordable price.The keystation may be a little stripped back in terms of features, but it still offers the essentials needed for MIDI sequencing and recording.
There’s pitch and modulation wheels, a volume slider, an octave shift function and navigation buttons and basic transport controls for accessing menus and stopping or starting playback of your recording software. Plus, there’s a special button which, when used in conjunction with the keys, accesses more advanced MIDI parameters such as transpose and control changes.
We’ve chosen to look at the 61 note model as it offers a very playable keyboard range, whilst still remaining pretty compact and portable with its really slimline design, but it is also worth noting that the Keystation is also available in either a larger 88 note model or a smaller version with 49 non-weighted keys, if either of those are more suitable to your needs.
In terms of connectivity, the Keystation 61 features a input for a sustain pedal and a USB port for connecting to your Mac or PC, which also provides power for the keyboard, but unlike a lot of the models on our list, there’s also a more traditional 5 pin MIDI output, so if you use a external power supply, it means that the keyboard can also be used as a standalone controller for external MIDI devices that don’t have USB connectivity.
So if you are looking for a simple, inexpensive controller keyboard whilst still being very expressive to play, rugged and portable, the M-Audio Keystation range could be perfect for you, as they’re ideal for basic MIDI sequencing, songwriting and recording, and they won’t take up too much space in a home studio.