I didn’t have plans on purchasing a new Midi keyboard however, after the guts fell out of my old Midi keyboard I figured it was time I replaced it with something better. Today I take a look at the M-Audio Axiom 61 Midi Controller.
Before I get too far into this Review I should mention the features and specifications for the Axiom 61 and they are the following.
-61-key velocity-sensitive semi-weighted action keyboard with assignable aftertouch
-8 trigger pads, 8 rotary encoders, 9 sliders, 15 buttons (including 6 reassignable transport buttons)
-15 function buttons and backlit LCD screen for total front-panel programming
-built-in USB bus-powered MIDI interface including standard MIDI In and Out jacks
-20 non-volatile memory locations; compatible with free Enigma librarian/editor software
MIDI Data from variable controllers:
- MIDI Controller Number
- Program, Bank LSB, Bank MSB
- Pitch Bend
- GM/GM2/XG SysEx Messages
MIDI Data from buttons/switches:
- MIDI Controller Number
- Note On
- Note On/Off toggle
- MIDI CC On/Off toggle
- Program, Bank LSB, Bank MSB presets
- MIDI Machine Control
- GM/GM2/XG SysEx messages
size: 38.4 x 11.2 x 2.6 inches; 97.6 x 28.5 x 6.6 (cm) weight:11.7 pounds; 5.3kg
I wasn’t too impressed when I had to go out and purchase a new Midi keyboard. The previous Midi keyboard I had was used like 2 or 3 times and was left sitting in the corner of the room covered up. Once I had purchased Cubase 4 essentials I wanted to see how this old midi keyboard would function inside of Cubase 4. I got the old midi keyboard setup and was messing around with it and at the end of the night I stood it up on end to put it away and I could hear a bunch of loose stuff falling down inside of the keyboard.
The next day when I woke up I decided it was time to take this old Midi keyboard apart and see what was going on with it. I took out some of the screws from the corner of it and sure enough I managed to fish out long plastic pieces that looked like supports for the keys inside. What really pissed me off about this was the fact this Midi keyboard was only used a couple of times so I was quite shocked to see it falling apart after owning it for a little over a year.
With the old Midi keyboard shot I decided it was time for a new one. The old Midi keyboard I had was 61 keys but didn’t have any extra controls on it to control programs like Cubase. So when I was looking for replacement keyboard it had to have lots of controls and also have transport controls as well so I could have it control the playing and rewinding of music in side programs like Cubase.
After doing a rather lengthy search for a new keyboard I settled on the M-Audio Axiom 61. The Axiom 61 had 61 keys on it but also has loads of buttons, sliders and dials that were fully programmable. The only problem I ran into with the Axiom 61 was trying to find a store that had one in stock. I checked every M-Audio dealer that I knew of within a 50 mile range and not a single one had the Axiom 61 and all the stores had them on backorder.
So I decided to put an order in for the axiom 61 at a local music store and I was prepared to wait the month or more to get one. About a week after putting the order for the Axiom 61 in the store owner calls me up and a customer he had was selling his axiom 61 so he could move out west. So now I had the option to buy a used Axiom 61 and I jumped on this not knowing how long I may have to wait for a new one to show up at the store.
For the most part the used Axiom 61 is in good shape. It does have a few scratches here and there but overall I’m happy with the condition it’s in. I did get a fairly good discount on the Axiom 61 because it was used, so I can’t complain too much about the scratches.
So now that I have told the story of how I ended up with the Axiom 61 let’s take a look at what this baby can do.
In this first picture below you can see the 8 drum pads that come on the Axiom 61 along with the limitless rotary dials and the play / record and rewind transport. The transport controls on the Axiom 61 are a must have for me since I wanted to be able to control as much of Cubase as I can without always having to access the computer mouse. It’s nice to be able to sit at the keyboard and be able to adjust L/R panning or whatever you like right from the Midi keyboard.
In this next picture below you get to see the sliders and the buttons that are under them. In a program like Cubase you can have these sliders setup to adjust your audio levels on the different tracks or have them used to adjust different parameters on a Synth for example. The buttons under the sliders can be setup to mute selected tracks or do various other things.
As for the LCD display that shows you all the information about the various aspects of the Keyboard like your velocity levels and what keys the drum pads trigger and the like. When I first got the Axiom 61 it took forever to find out how to make the drum pads activate certain keys on the keyboard. After a bit of messing around I found out you just hit the drum pad you want to program then hit the data 2 button and the select the keyboard note you want to activate and that’s it. The reason I wanted to do this was for a drum setup, I wanted certain drum pads on the keyboard to activate certain keyboard notes in order to get the right drum sounds loaded up into the 8 drum pads.
While on the topic of the drum pads I should talk a bit about them. Like the sliders and all the other buttons I wanted to have on a midi keyboard I also had to have the drum pads. The drum pads on the Axiom 61 do work all right but I noticed when tapping on them that sometimes you will get two notes from a pad when you only hit it once. Now I’m not sure if this is a setting that maybe causing this or if it’s the drum pads are just two sensitive but it’s something I will have to look into further. Hopefully I can find a way to fix this because I really only want one note at a time coming from the drum pads.
Under the LCD you have your various buttons for switching banks / data buttons along with other various buttons that the Axiom 61 has. The Axiom 61 has so many buttons that you really do have to sit down with the manual to be able to wrap your brain around what all you can do with this keyboard.
In the next picture below you see the number keys and with these you select different memory locations that the Axiom 61 has to load different settings up. When you hit the + and - buttons together that will make it so you can take a snap shot of the keyboards settings and save that to a memory location to be recalled later on.
Below the number keys is the 2 transpose / octave buttons and under them you have the pitch bend and the modulation wheel. The one thing I like about the pitch bend and the modulation wheels is the fact they have this nice rubber coating on them, and that gives you great grip for your fingers.
As for the back of the keyboard you have your standard connectors such as Midi IN and OUT along with a power connector and a USB connector. You also have your expression pedal and sustain pedal jacks as well and a power on and off switch. If you will be using the Axiom 61 using the USB connector you will not need a power supply for the Axiom 61 since it will get its power from the USB port. If on the other hand you’re not going to be using the Axiom 61 over a USB connector you will need the 12 volt power supply and you will have to purchase that separately.
As for the software, since this keyboard was used and didn’t come with the software disc I just went to the M-Audio web site and downloaded the USB driver and the Enigma Editor/Librarian Software and in no time had both installed. The Enigma Editor/Librarian Software is interesting because it allows you to create / load different profiles up for the Axiom 61. So for example the Enigma Editor/Librarian Software has a profile in it for Reason so you could have those settings for Reason loaded up in just a mouse click. The other cool thing about the Enigma software is it allows you to backup / restore any of your settings that you may have made for the Axiom 61. Below is a screen shot of the Enigma software.
As for the USB driver that was a simple install and I had no issues with using the Axiom 61 via the USB connector.
What I like the most about the Axiom 61 over my old midi keyboard is the Axiom 61 feels solid. When you pick the Axiom 61 up it has some weight to it and doesn’t feel as cheap as the other keyboard I had. All the dials, buttons, and sliders all feel really good and there is no sloppiness to the controls at all, and this is with a used Axiom 61.
As for the bad things about this keyboard they aren’t really any other then the fact the keyboard doesn’t come with a power supply when you buy it new and that sort of bugs me. When you’re spending a few hundred dollars on a keyboard it would be nice if they include the basics such as a power supply for those not using a USB connection with this keyboard.
One other thing I should mention is some of these Axiom 61’s have a hardware bug in them where when you do a 3 finger chord sometimes you will hear a 4th note being played. To see what I’m talking about go to youtube.com and type in “Axiom 61 bug” without the quotes and you will see a video of this bug. Hopefully this bug has been taken care of on all the recent Axiom 61’s but you never know. From the comments posted on this youtube video it looks like M-Audio will fix this bug free of charge if you happen to have it. As far as I can tell the Axiom 61 I have doesn’t appear to have this bug or if it does I haven’t run across it yet.
In conclusion I’m really happy with the Axiom 61 Midi Controller. When I started looking for a replacement for the old Midi keyboard I wanted something that would do all I wanted and then some, the Axiom 61 looks like it will handle what I need with no problems at all. At the time of this Review you could purchase the M-Audio Axiom 61 Midi Controller for about $330.00 Canadian.
For more information on the M-Audio Axiom 61 go to the M-audio web site here.
Below are a few more pictures of the M-Audio Axiom 61 enjoy!