This is one keyboard that I’ve wanted to try out for some time now. There’s been a great movement in deep integration between controllers and DAWs in the last few years to make your keyboard more interactive and create a better workflow for the user. This has seen a number of manufacturers start to develop keyboards that work fully with one DAW or sometimes two, but Akai have gone all out with this software control system and have created a controller that works with a range of DAWs right out of the box. This might just be The keyboard controller many of you have been looking for. This is the Advance 49.
LIGHT HER UP
I was quick to plug this unit in and get it all lit up as soon as it was out of the box. I have been waiting to test the Advance 49 out for some time now and I had big hopes for it. I can tell you right now, it didn’t let me down. This is a really well designed and constructed keyboard that does so much more than send MIDI note data to your recording software. Everything about the build is beyond what I expected. From the sturdy frame with metal end caps, to the large rotary encoders that a firmly seated on the top panel, it’s clear that this isn’t a quick throw-together unit that Akai have put out to fill a gap in the market. This is a serious piece of kit. Even the USB cable that came packaged with the unit is built better than any other one I have in my studio right now. I really should do something about that.
AFTER A MOMENT OF AWE
Once I got over the build, I was able to see that the unit had already installed on my machine and the full colour LCD was awaiting my input. You can select from a number of predefined DAWs which are already mapped in the system, or build your own user-defined setup if you want. I jumped straight into a Cubase template and was working within the software in a flash. What the Advance 49 offers when working with your favourite DAW, including Logic, Cubase, Ableton and Bitwig, to name a few, is a two-way information path that not only sends information to your DAW, but takes it back as well to show you on the keyboard’s screen what functions are being initiated and what values result. But that is just touching on the full capabilities of this unit. Think about not needing to look at your computer half the time, nor needing to touch your mouse, yet still achieving a creative workflow. That’s what this unit is all about and until you get into it, you’ll never properly understand what you’re missing out on.
Hits and Misses
Quick and easy installation
Great integration with your DAW
Clear, colour screen displaying plenty of information
Large rotary encoders
Nice response to both keys and pads
None to mention
• Virtual Instrument Player software
• 49 premium, semi-weighted velocity-sensitive keybed with aftertouch
• 8 large, endless and continuously variable control knobs
• 8 velocity and pressure sensitive MPC pads with RGB illumination
• Dedicated pad bank, transport control, octave, and performance buttons
• Note repeat, time-division,,pattern arpeggiator, and taptempo buttons
• Rubberized pitch and modulation wheels
• Expression pedal and footswitch inputs
• USB and 5-pin MIDI Input/