School Essentials – Keyboards/Tech

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School Essentials – Keyboards/Tech

school keyboards
Words by Mixdown Staff

Rock the school year in style

Whether you’re a bright-eyed beginner or a seasoned audio professional, one never stops learning in the music world. It’s one of the endless joys of making music: even if you’ve mastered one instrument or field of study, there’s always another one ready for you to begin, and with so many courses, resources, and channels out there to learn from, it can often be a bit tricky knowing where to start.

As students all around the country settle back into the curriculum for another year of study, we’re helping to spotlight some of the best academic tools and experiences on offer in our latest print magazine school essentials special.

Here, we highlight some keyboards and nifty tech devices!

Novation Launchkey 25

Distributed by: Focusrite Australia

Features: An intuitive and fully integrated MIDI keyboard, Novation’s Launchkey 25 is the perfect small footprint composition tool for the budding musician, songwriter or producer. Featuring full integration with Logic and Reason, plus out-of-the-box functionality with other DAWs including Studio One, Cubase and Pro Tools, via HUI, it’s the perfect tool for exploring the wonderful world of MIDI, effortlessly taking care of all your mapping and triggering needs. Featuring such handy tools as the Scale Mode, as well as various Chord Modes and arpeggiator functions, the Launchkey 25 is a creative tool at its core, ideal for on the fly composition or laying down sudden flashes of inspiration. Its size also makes it an awesome portable option for students looking to enter the world of electronic music production.

Overall: A good MIDI keyboard will undoubtedly be one of the most liberating purchases of your early music journey and with it’s diminutive size, rock solid connectivity, and host of awesome mapping and triggering options, the Launchkey 25 is a tailor-made introduction to in-the-box composing and midi concepts. 

Find out more.

Beale AK160 Digital Keyboard

Distributed by: Australis Music

Features:  If you’re familiar with the history of piano playing in this country, you would no doubt be familiar with Beale. For the Sydney company who has been a fixture on the Australian musical landscape since 1883, they know too well the countless hours that go into learning the piano and the importance of finding the right beginner instrument.

The AK160 Digital Keyboard is the perfect small footprint option for those just starting to twinkle the digital ivories, with a full 64 notes of polyphony and 585 different sound voices to keep the hands busy, this is absolutely perfect for anyone looking to learn harmonic structure and theory. The built-in speakers are also a handy little touch for instant plug and play operation. 

Overall: For anyone learning solo piano or keyboard, one of the steepest learning curves generally comes in learning how to integrate your solo playing to the context of an ensemble. With 202 accompaniment styles and 157 backing songs to choose from, you’ll have plenty of practice playing in full band arrangements. 

Find out more.

Novation Launchpad X

Distributed by: Focusrite Australia

Features: The Launchpad X is Novation’s essential 64-pad MIDI grid controller for Ableton Live providing you with everything you need to make music at your fingertips in whatever setup you’re sporting. The Launchpad X enables you to launch, play and perform sounds, and build your tracks using the large, sensitive RGB pads, combined with dynamic note and scale modes to ensure you’re never out of key and play perfectly in whatever form. Novation has made essential performance controls like stop, solo, mute, record arm and set your levels, pans and sends, a single button-press away. A very soft button press at that with their most responsive velocity-sensitive pads with polyphonic aftertouch

Overall: Using Launchpad X is as simple as it gets, no drivers to install, just plug and perform, absolutely perfect in terms of a piece of mind purchase, allowing you to “step back from the screen, get hands-on and dive into your tracks”. Play your instruments and devices expressively with the 64 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, then never lose an idea with one-press Capture MIDI control.

Find out more.

Kurzweil M110A

Distributed by: Australis Music

Features: Digital Pianos come in all shapes and sizes, but there are few as instantly striking as the M110A, by industry stalwarts Kurzweil. Featuring 88 fully weighted keys as well as a whole host of other awesome features such as 7-segment 2-digit LED Polyphony, 88 voice presets and 88 expressive sounds,it’s the perfect combination of sound and feel. 

Featuring a Spinet-style cabinet and available in simulated rosewood or white finishes, the Kurzweil M11A is the perfect Digital Piano for those working with a Piano teacher. 

Overall: With its 30 watt in-built speaker, 1-track recording, 20,000 note sequencing capacity as well as a host of MIDI operability and plug and play USB functionality (all with no driver required), it’s both a classic looking centrepiece for any lounge room and a forward thinking music making tool all at once.

Find out more.

Check out print edition #319 for our full school essentials guide!