Nektar Impact LX49 49-key MIDI Controller Keyboard
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- 49-key USB MIDI controller with intelligent mapping for major DAWs
- Comes pre-mapped and configured so you don't have to spend hours assigning MIDI controls
- DAW integration supports most popular DAWs (includes PreSonus StudioOne Artist software)
- Eight performance pads can easily be assigned to MIDI notes or messages
- Nine control faders and eight control pots gives you lots of hands-on control
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Get more control over your DAW with the Nektar Impact LX49 USB MIDI controller. Based on their award-winning Panorama, Nektar's Impact LX49 uses intelligent mapping to give you hands-on control over your session immediately. Switch between Mixer, Instrument, and Preset modes for a fast workflow.
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I spent hours upon hours researching various MIDI controllers to be used primarily with Logic Pro X. I read user reviews (which have begun to feel less and less reliable and authentic) as well as "professional" reviews on at least a dozen models from the big-name brands to the lesser-known. I spent even more time at a music shop gauging the build-quality, size, setup, and feel of everything I had been reviewing online. The Nektar made the final cut (along with another controller from a major builder costing twice as much). I don't understand how some can say the build of the Nektar is cheap -- there is not a single MIDI/DAW controller that feels as solid that isn't more than $350 (I know, I tried them all).
The KEYS are semi-weighted, piano-style keys with a solid feel and great response. The SLIDERS are low-profile and offer just the right amount of resistance. The ENCODER KNOBS also offer just the right resistance. The PADS are hard rubber and "seem" to have a good feel, but I can't comment fully as I don't use them as others would. The BUTTONS are made of rubber (most other keyboards are made of hard plastic) which means they are mostly silent when pushed and don't have that loud CLICK sound that other controllers do. It's fairly minimalistic (download the owner's manual and you'll see) yet it still has everything I need. I especially appreciated the dedicated OCTAVE and TRANSPOSE buttons (used to change the pitch of the key up or down allowing quick transposing from one key to the next). Few controllers even offered this feature and none that I found had dedicated buttons.
I followed the instructions from the website and downloaded the latest update of firmware so the IMPACT could be used with LOGIC PRO X. Within 5 minutes I was controlling LOGIC seamlessly. The MIXER button calls your mixer window in logic and then automaps the sliders to control the volume of Track X while the buttons below are mapped to Mute X. The Encoders are mapped to Pan.
Press the INST. button and the instrument plugin window comes up in Logic with the Encoders controlling key functions (matching SMART CONTROLS in Logic) while the SLIDERS control the Filter Envelope (1-4) and the Amp Envelope (5-8).
Press the PRESET button and the SMART CONTROL buttons window (in Logic) opens with the eight ENCODERS controlling (in order) the knobs on screen. So far, that's the extent of the integration with the Impact. I spent some time on the website and within the manual and it seems other DAW's have a few more integration features (namely the ability to edit/control Plugin FX). Their website says they are working for more integration with Logic. Even without the next level of integration, I'm happy... but of course control of the FX plugins, etc. would make this thing perfect.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the IMPACT is it's styling. I don't want rave-styled backlit drums pads and techno-colored styling. Moreover, the Impact is fairly compact and offers a nice, slimline style build (very low-profile).
I wrote this review to help amateurs like me -- there's simply too many options and variables to make this decision anything but easy. The Impact LX49 is easily built as well (I think better) as controllers costing twice as much. It's easy to use, gives me just the level of control I need, and didn't set me back much at all. I fiddled around with the more popular and recommended controllers, frankly I wasn't impressed.
NO COMMENTS on customer support or software or drum pads -- haven't had to use them and don't plan to.
It's plug and play, for the most part. I attached the USB cable and was getting sounds out of my apps of choice (Kontakt 5 / Digital Performer 8 on a Windows 7 machine) in about 10 seconds, but it took longer to get the non-keyboard controls (sliders and knobs) set up properly. It's worth noting that the sliders and knobs feel EXCELLENT and punch way above their weight for the price.
The keyboard keys are standard cheapo synth keys; I don't love 'em but I don't hate 'em either. It would be nice if this unit was offered in a slightly more expensive version with semi-weighted keys, but there is nothing wrong with this keybed. The velocity curve out of the box is kinda weird; you have to hit the notes HARD to get volume out of them, or even to get them to sound at all. No biggie for the white keys, but it is difficult to engage the black keys hard enough, and you tend to fire a lot of blanks in fast passages. Adjusting the velocity curve to a higher setting definitely helps with the problem -- but takes some digging around in the manual, and leaves you with less dynamic range to work with.
The LX61 is light and easy to toss around from desk to wherever; it only weighs about 9 pounds.
I could nitpick about this-and-that, but for $200 it's a steal and I'm not complaining. It feels good, with high quality sliders and knobs. It looks good, too. It took a little futzing with the manual and knobs to get it set up right, but pretty much all midi controllers are like that.
I struggled with whether to get the 49 or 61; I think either'd be fine. I chose the 61 because it doesn't take up a lot more space and offers a bit more usefulness. The 61 is only 38 " long, which fits easily on almost any desk. But if I didn't plan to play two-handed piano pieces on it, I probably would've bought the 49.
Recommended product - but be prepared to spend a little while with the manual to get the most out of it.
All of the on board controls and pitch and mods wheels are pretty much what you'd expect. Precise enough and solid enough. No complaints.
The pads are nice, could be a bit more sensitive but you could always adjust the velocity curve to suit your preferences.
Bottom line: There are definitely better keyboards out there, but if you're looking for something cheap that really has all the functions you'd conceivably need then this is it. This is one of those controllers where I can honestly say that the gear won't be holding your music back.