Korg nanoKontrol Studio
As 2016 draws to a close, we’ve been reflecting on the year in hi-tech music-making gear, asking you to vote for the best new hardware and software products to have been released over the past 12 months.
Now it’s time to bring you the results of our polls. We drew up the shortlists, but the rankings and overall winners in each category have been decided exclusively by your votes.
Over the next 10 slides we’ll be revealing what you’ve decided are the 10 best new MIDI controllers and hardware sequencers of 2016, counting down to your number one. We’ll start with Korg’s nifty nanoKontrol Studio…
We said: “The nanoKontrol Studio is best suited to mixing, offering eight channels of faders, knobs and buttons. There are also transport controls and a jog wheel.
You get a software editor and, in the case of the nanoKontrol Studio, a Control Surface plugin for GarageBand and Logic Pro X users. Oh, and there’s battery-powering and wireless operation, too.”
We said: “A pro-level DJ controller at a pro-level price. It might be expensive but the RZ is a seriously well-equipped piece of kit.”
Korg microKey Air
We said: “Korg’s microKey Air keyboards add Bluetooth LE support across all four variants (25-, 37-, 49- and 61-note). Korg’s free app, Bluetooth MIDI Connect for iOS and OS X, helps you keep track of connected devices. Windows 8.1 and 10 users can download Korg’s BLE-MIDI Driver.
“MicroKey Air needs two AAA batteries but also retains USB support, and you’ll find an assignable 1/4-inch foot pedal jack. It’s a doddle to set up and use.”
Koma Elektronik Komplex
We said: “It is complex, but this could be just what you need to free yourself from the dreaded screen and mouse. In the end, for most, it will likely be a question of whether you can, or cannot, justify the investment.”
We said: “Although similar to its InMusic stablemate, the Akai Advance, the CTRL49 looks to have more comprehensive DAW integration and offers a workstation-style layout comprising eight rotaries, eight pads and nine faders. Both the faders and the 11 multi-coloured backlit switches utilise the Mackie Control/HUI protocol.”
Korg nanoKey Studio
We said: “nanoKey Studio features 25 velocity-sensitive keys, eight velocity-sensitive trigger pads, a Kaoss-style touchpad, and eight assignable knobs. Two AAA batteries will deliver around ten hours of connectivity, or you can opt for wired USB bus-powered operation. Although the keyboard is a bit fiddly, we love the compact, light design.”
Nektar Impact GX49
We said: “Those wanting more real-time controls/pads/sliders should look at the more fully-featured LX/Panorama ranges, but if you need a cheap, well-built, simple to use controller that feels great and has solid basic functionality, then look no further!”
Native Instruments Maschine Jam
We said: “NI's latest Maschine controller isn't Maschine 3.0 – in fact, it's not an evolution of the original hardware, even though it's still part of the Maschine ecosystem. It’s a great, creative controller in its own right, but it's best used as a counterpoint to the existing Maschine hardware.”
ROLI Seaboard Rise 49
We said: “For anyone bored with standard keyboards, the Rise is an exciting option that brings to life any sound type and we feel the future of the keyboard is in good hands with ROLI.”
Winner: Arturia KeyStep
We said: “With this much functionality packed into a portable and convenient controller keyboard - all for less than £100 - the KeyStep is easy to recommend.”