What is it?
The Keystation Mini 32 is an ultra portable 32 note MIDI keyboard controller from one of Avid’s many brands M-Audio. It connects to your computer via USB with the relevant cable provided to you in the package and it runs totally off bus power from your computer. There is a Kensington slot on the right side of the controller to ensure it won’t go walkies in the middle of a gig because unlike full sized exponents the Mini 32 could easily fit into someone’s pocket. The 32 mini-keys on the Keystation Mini are all low profile and dominate the working surface with a tiny section on the left of the controller for the single assignable knob and seven buttons.
Those extra controls are made up of a rotary knob which is defaulted for volume control, and four backlit buttons which encompass the Sustain button which can be switched from hold to latch, multi-colour coded Octave Up and Down keys to give you a more complete guide as to where on the keyboard you are working, and the Edit button. Pushing that magical Edit button gives you direct access to one of five keyboard velocity curves including one made specifically for drum programming as well as a couple more button or key assignment choices and MIDI send messages. The remaining three buttons deal with your Pitch Bend Up and Down and Modulation Select to use the same up and down buttons to control your modulation.
The Keystation Mini 32 also ships with a copy of Sibelius First Ver. 6 to get you playing right out of the box.
Who should own one?
While the Keystation Mini 32 would certainly fulfil the requirements of most producers whether a know-it-all or novice, the main focus of this product is its portability. With it being slightly longer/wider than a 15” laptop and super lightweight it will fit snugly into most laptop bags and give you stacks more control and input options if you compare it to using your qwerty keyboard for keys which most times is limited to a one octave range with no velocity, or the less appealing option of carting a full sized 25 key controller around with you.
Being blessed/cursed with the unusual combination of a pair of butcher’s hands and a background in classical piano I found it tricky to try and replicate what I am capable of on a piano on the smaller keys of the Keystation Mini 32, despite the claims on the packaging that you could easily play it with two hands. But to be fair it’s not really there to play full concertos on, is it? It’s been designed as a portable controller to give you that familiar layout and feel; miniaturised! And for that purpose it is superb, the build quality is great and while the keys might not be weighted there is some springy-type feedback as to how hard the keys are being pressed. The perfect amount of buttons and controls are there to let you shift octaves, control your pitch bend and/or modulation as well as getting into the finer stuff by using the Edit feature.
The fact that it is compatible with an iPad also adds a welcome lustre to an already shining piece of kit but you will need an iPad Camera Connection Kit to actually get it talking to the iPad itself.
The packaged software Sibelius First is a great little program to get guys connected and making music right out the box even if they’ve never had the chance to work on a DAW system.
The Keystation Mini 32 is a great competitor in the relatively new field of micro MIDI controllers and it strides in, carrying M-Audio’s hefty reputation for building rock solid and reliable MIDI keyboards. It’ll be sure to fulfil all the requirements of any producer out there for a portable keyboard controller whether they be fledgling or first-rate exponents of the craft.
Estimated Retail Price: R 995.00 incl. VAT