Roland (Cakewalk) A-300 Pro Mini-Review

This is the best off-the shelf midi keyboard controller under $500 in my opinion. The A-300 Pro is a solid, no-headache deal. Its not plug & play (requires a software driver), but its impressive. The key action is a steep improvement from the terrible M-audio Axiom Pro, and possibly Novation Remote (which was heavier and louder ). Ergonomically everything is laid out very well and will cause no headaches or mis-triggers. Menus are not hard to navigate, thankfully . The drum pads are acceptable and trigger fast, as well as light up. While Roland could create a keyboard thats only slightly more professional, with JP-80 level keys, it would end up too heavy for your lap. I found the keys translated to other Roland key-beds. This series of controllers by Roland is probably your best bet today. You won’t have any regrets with the A-300 if you like to play and need a semi-compact setup.

Rating: A-

May 2, 2013 on 3:32 pm

NAMM 2013 – The Keyboards Leaked and Announced Thus Far

Launchkey by Novation

Launchkey is a range of 25, 49 and 61 note keyboard controllers with up to 50 physical controls including 16 velocity-sensitive multi-colour launch pads that trigger and stop clips – and launch scenes – in Ableton Live…”

To be honest this one looks a little on the cheap side. I’m not a fan of Novations software. I hope this is a step in the right direction, but I’m not excited. Wait till a full review comes out before purchasing. The midi controller market is notorious for poor quality and expensive products. This just doesn’t look like something I’d buy, unless it turns out they fixed all the issues I’ve had with every other midi controller. I’m not sure what companies are listening anymore.

An unknown Casio keyboard! I’m betting its repackaged FM technology from the old days w/ rom.

January 18, 2013 on 11:14 am

A Custom Animoog Controller With iPad

The knobs are specially designed for the Animoog software. The box contains an iPad and Doepher USB interface. Neat! By Synthesizer Project.DE

October 16, 2012 on 1:45 pm

The Best Midi Controller Keyboard

What is the best midi controller keyboard? By taking data from forum user’s positive and negative experiences we’re able to make a comparison of the most popular brands. Specific models were grouped into product lines, or by brand when necessary. The winner? Novation. By far it had the most recommendations. Second place would go to the M-audio Axiom line with 7 positive experiences. Things get more complicated when you take into account negative experiences. Each brand had someone complain about it. This leads me to believe that ALL these companies are making products with problems, even Novation. Most Novation users complained about the Automap software. While the majority of M-audio users were happy, some complained about build quality. Oberheim MC3000 seemed to be a favorite by they are no longer in production. The worst rated midi keyboard controller was the Korg MicroKontrol. Nobody reported a positive experience with it and one reported going through 3 different bad units. If you are buying a midi controller and don’t fuss over software control, Novation seems like a good choice, as well as M-Audio.

August 13, 2012 on 8:22 am

Little-Scale's Novation LaunchPad Controls a Sega

I must have missed this guy somehow. I didnt know it was possible to control a “megadrive” directly yet.


Check out this guy’s blog

December 3, 2009 on 1:27 pm

Skin Your Gear!


With’s flash editor I was able to make a star wars themed vinyl for an Electribe. The tool is pretty advanced, and you can order your creation. A wide selection of boxes are supported, like akai, and other DJ gear. I hope they make some more keyboard templates, beyond their midi controllers sometime!

September 9, 2009 on 11:15 am

LinnDrumm II Design

Looks like I didn’t see this yet. Its a cool 3d mockup. Looks a little like a mixing console. Everything is starting to take this shape lately.


September 7, 2009 on 5:01 pm

New Version of OSCulator Released

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Osculator works with obscure controllers, like the Wiimote, to help you control different Midi parameters for your performances.

July 4, 2009 on 1:48 pm

Winter NAMM 2009 links

A new M50 by Korg with 76 keys.

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Korg releases the Pink Kaossilator.

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Korg releases the nano controllers in black.
Is all you could do was come up with new colors?

So far there is nothing too exciting to report about winter NAMM. Maybe everyone is buying guitars this year?

Nova Drive presented by Uffe Hansen at NAMM ’09
This is kind of cool, a combination overdrive & distortion thats analog, with presets! Midi controlled too. Sounds like a premium pedal.

Kinda retarded but cool. The ultimate hacked TR707
Diabolical Devices TR-707 at NAMM 2009

More as I find it…

January 16, 2009 on 7:48 am

Christmas Wishlist

Don’t know what to buy yourself for christmas? Check out this toy list for some holiday ideas.

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1. Roland SPD-20 Total Percussion Pad $650
Instead of getting a PS3 with Rock Band, why not grab a Roland 8 pad drum kit with 700 sounds loaded into it?

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2. Korg Kaoscillator $200
100 of Korg’s world renowned synth sounds right at your finger tip.

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3. Sterling Audio ST51 Large Diaphragm FET Condenser Microphone $99
This microphone is the top rated in the under 100 dollar range in a number of realworld tests. I would rather have this than an m-audio mic or any other costing 3 times its price.

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4. Korg DS-10 For Nintendo DS $36
For only 36 dollars and Amazon delivery this video game / synth will be on everyone’s list.

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5. Hal Leonard Rock Keyboard $12
Learn different Rock styles and chords to play along with the CD. If you are a beginner or intermediate I recommend this one as it helped my playing and improvising.

6. Stocking stuffer pick: Disney Hannah Montana Guitar with Bonus Amp

 Assets Product Images Styles Xlarge 1000615 Hannahmontanakit A 400

Well if I’m not the grandaddy of all liars!

December 9, 2008 on 2:47 pm

Alesis Fusion: Ultimate Heavy Metal Guitar FX

Upon plugging my guitar into the Alesis Fusion, I always wondered how to use it as a guitar fx processor. The fusion includes 8 inputs, and a variety of FX. Unfortunately it only lets you use bus effects on the audio inputs, which gets rid of all of the amp modeling, and overdrives by themselves. To get a great heavy metal sound from your guitar and alesis fusion, you will have to stretch the use of the bus effects without clipping and overloading it (which is easy to do). Here is a great patch that lets you use the Alesis fusion as heavy metal guitar FX processor.

Step 1. Create an audio track
Step 2. The fx bus settings:

Bus Send 1 = Wah Distortion + Delay @ 99%
Dry Level 0%
Bus Return 10%
Time: 0.1ms
Feedback, Attack, Release, Sensotivity, all @ 0%
Drive: 100%

Bus Send 2 = Plate Reverb @ 71% (Optional)
Dry Level 0%
Bus Return 9%
Decay, Diffusion 100%
Density 35%
Damping 30%

Be careful when setting this up as you will likely clip the internal circuit or your speakers if all the settings aren’t in yet. Pay attention to bus return levels.

Step 4. Plug your guitar into the Alesis Fusion’s audio in OR through an external amp FIRST (recommended).

Here are the settings on my practice amp which leads into the Alesis Fusion via Headphone-Out:
Input Gain 100%
Treble 100%
Mids: variable (50%)
Bass: 100%
Overdrive: ON
Adjust the output volume accordingly

After all this setup you will get a live guitar FX processor out of the Alesis fusion, and a patch that sounds AWESOME.
Its like Overdrived Metal-Wah from hell. Great for solos and some chords.

July 12, 2008 on 11:13 am

Fibra's Custom Laser-Cut x0x0b0x

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TB-303 emulation!

Fibra has many other custom synthesizer works on his Flickr stream.

Also check out his upcoming Divius (TR-808 clone)!

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Divius – Roland TR808 clone

May 27, 2008 on 8:38 pm

Digidesign and M-audio Drivers Lacking with Latest Operatin...

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From Create Digital Music

if you’re a user of Digidesign and M-Audio products and looking to use current operating systems, very often you’re out of luck.

Link to the article

I think that totally sucks. I’ve had this happen to me with an m-audio USB midi interface. They just never updated the driver on the switch from OS9 to OS X. All it was is a USB midi module. I had to sell it and switch to an anchient MOTU unicorn midi interface. Just go with MOTU. Their support is way better than both of these companies that are basically releasing gobs of products and not paying any attention to them at a later date.

Be careful who you buy from when you are getting computer-specific gear, even if it is USB, or plug and play.

May 15, 2008 on 2:07 pm

The Declining Quality of Apple, Synthmania 4 Year Anniversa...

Many laptop-based Mac OS X users are experiencing significant audio issues on Mac OS X Tiger and Leopard. On Tiger, the culprit appears to be the AirPort Extreme Update 2008-001 released earlier this spring. One workaround on Tiger is to simply turn off AirPort.

From CDM

Do you think that Apple’s software and hardware quality have gone way down?? Every update they release seems untested nowadays. Programs also seem to crash more often, even with an increased overall stability of the system. Airport giving audio problems is insane, and evidence that they aren’t paying attention.

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Step by Step instructions on how to Control Ableton Live with your iPhone

Link From Emusic

Beat Bearing!!!

Controlling a TR-808 with ball bearings! Looks like alot of people saw this one already. Eh, I’m slow.

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Keytars and Controllerism From Lx7
 Electrix-Filter-Factory Images Filterfactory

Come Celebrate Synthmania’s 4 year anniversary with a Visit to their page on the Electrix Filter Factory!!
Mp3 Demo

Do you need a kick start in your garden?

 Blog Em411 Com-Blog-5440-1

Features 5 encoders (with button), an additional button and a display. Software is customizable (by me, hahahaha)…..But I use it to command my machinedrum effects over sysex

RuinWesen Midi Command Link @ EM411

May 14, 2008 on 8:17 am

Sing a Song in Midi – Vocal To Midi Convert & Utils

Want to sing your music into the computer instead of spending hours creating songs from scratch?
It looks like there are no commercial hardware to do this, but there are a few companies providing software. The best looks like Widisoft, who actually has both PC & Mac versions.

Your voice becomes a midi controller

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WIDI Audio to MIDI is a realtime Audio to MIDI conversion plugin. The plugin receives input from an audio channel and performs realtime music recognition.


A “complete” list of Pitch to Midi Convertors can be found Here

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Midi makes Pictures with MSMidiPix.

How to record vocals from MixBus

October 26, 2007 on 8:09 am

Korg TR Quick Review

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After having the mixed feelings and ultimate sell off an Alesis Fusion HD6, I acquired the Korg TR to see how it stacks up in controlling my studio.
Its alot nicer than it looks in the pictures. People may complain of plastic construction, but thats only the end caps!!!! The front face is black metal & high quality knobs and buttons.

The Korg TR is very solid, but it’s sounds won’t inspire you by itself. You will probably want to connect it to a PC with a larger sound library, or some external gear. This board will serve as the basis for music creation & composition, however. Out of the box the knobs are set to control basic external gear parameters very well, like RES, CUTOFF. These control knobs even worked with Reason without any setup. Any time saved not setting up obscure midi parameters is a good thing. Once you get your channels, and programs set, you can save it as a song template and use it every time you start a new song.

The sounds of the Korg TR leave something to be desired. If your sound is completely electronic or sort like Jean Michael Jarre, then you will like it ALOT. It has amazing organs, and electronic strings, but you will be hard pressed to find any gritty guitars or other sounds onboard. Even through tweaking the rom it can be difficult to make it sound mean, unless you are going to be doing it with a synth program. The category button is set up nicely to find a particular sound you are looking for, although scrolling to select programs inside the sequencer mode is a mixed bag. It doesnt matter however, because you can use the category button inside Sequencer mode. This is unlike the Alesis Fusion’s inability to do so, and its a good thing. The drums are pretty decent for hip hop and some electronic music. As far as rock, they come off as a little cheap. I am not sure Korg has ever been good at drums, so you will be better off loading up something in Reason again. Some of the kicks are very very nice and bassy though. Nothing faboulous, even though the sound quality is very high. The high point of the rom is its synth sounds. They sound better than older yamaha stuff, which always had a catlike meow sound to them. Overall the Korg has more of an “ahhhhh” type of quality to every sound. It is more soothing. I think this has to do with whoever was in charge of creating the rom, however long ago it was.

Sequencing is solid & very easy. You will be able to start making songs in no time. Loop features are very nice to set up. Menus are easy to navigate once you get the hang of it. It is a good compromise between touch screen, and an even smaller menu based screen. Combis are also flawlessly easy to put into sequencer mode!! You could probably create a keyboard split of all your gear, save it as a combi, then import it into sequencer mode and have easy control. With the TR88, this would be ideal!!

EFX: They sound amazing, but you only get a single effect to apply to ALL of the tracks. Not even per-track, so choose wisely. Let me specify this: You can only have one effect, and then have the ability to turn that effect off or on for each track. You also get mastering effects, but thats applied to your entire mix. SO if you want to add amp distortion to one sound, then add reverb to another…you cant. It is hard to change the quality of the onboard sounds too much, but most of them sound acceptable, and can be tweaked with the RES, HPF, and cutoff functions to make them blend in you mix. I think judging this board based on what effects it has is not a good idea since it does have assignable outs, and you can just set up something in your computer during monitor/mixing to apply effects.

The build of the board is way higher than it looks in any picture. Its actually very nice, and the buttons are nicer than I expected. The keys are a little nicer than an Alesis fusion, but are nothing special.

Overall this is an amazing piece of equipment to use in your studio for composing and controlling all your gear!! The USB to PC also makes it a good midi controller. I would recommend this board if you found it used and the price was right. Make sure you get an SD card (it has no internal memory for songs). You can use this to trigger samples on your computer, so if you don’t gig, then the lack of sampling features is no big deal….even then the sampling upgrade option could be applied later if you feel you really need it.

Conclusion: Average sounds except for Synths & Organs, easy integration into your studio, and its fun to play. Great as a controller & techno machine. Worth the money.

Sound Quality: 9
Musical Expression & Voices: 6.5
Build: 8
Key Action: 6
Sequencer / Menus: 8

June 21, 2007 on 11:31 pm

Building your own "Neko" PC keyboard with touchsc...

I’ve decided to come up with some designs, and at least a partial parts list for building your own keyboard with integrated computer and touchscreen. It seems like a good time to do it. LCD prices aren’t too bad, and we now have high powered computers that can fit almost anywhere, like the mac mini and those PC mini-itx cases. I don’t think you should have to pay over 2 thousand dollars for something similiar, and this would just be cool to make. The whole idea would to make something that is portable with all the controls in the same place.

Parts List

LCD Planar Touchscreen $300 – This one is kind of ugly due to the white frame, but the price is right for a 15 inch. Getting a good touchscreen / LCD with enough screen space for the right price would be pretty important. This Planar one goes for $440 and could be a hell of a lot better.

A small Midi keyboard + Keypad for only $44. I’m not going to bank on the construction quality of this one, but it looks really Neko-ish. If you added a small, in-car-style 8-10 inch size touch screen, which are even cheaper than the ones I mentioned it might be really cute. Other than that you’d be best to go with a USB midi keyboard for whatever you can get on ebay. Even better if it was one of those keyboards that had the audio interface built in.

This might be the grandaddy solution for picking out your computer…

intel imac with touchscreen or ibook touchscreen. On the intel mac, you could have your choice of running both windows and Mac OS X with the latest chip architecture. If you went with an iBook, you could carefully dissassemble it and mount it inside your case with the keyboard midi controller you picked out. Having the computer, Keypad / touchscreen all at the same time would be effecient, as then you wouldn’t have to worry about power supplies for each. I don’t know how much that costs to add on.

And then your audio interface, if you didn’t have it built in to your keyboard, probably get an Edirol self powered USB unit. That one is a little expensive at $240. You would probably want the built in audio interface type of midi controller, with knobs.

As you can see, I didn’t address the problems of having multiple power supplies…but if your like me, you’d just have the bundled cords wrapped up out the back and buy a power-squid. Maybe with enough space, you could shove the power-squid up inside the keyboard box, to trick people, like you actually know how to run all of that stuff off the same voltage.

Chip Collection Version 1.

Version 1:
Cost Estimate: $1,150 ish
(LCD Touchscreen, Cheap Prodikeys Midi Controller, Intel mac mini, Edirol USB/MIDI Audio interface, + random case parts)

Version 2:
Cost Estimate: 1,900 ish? ($1,500 Apple iBook bought on ebay with modified touchscreen by Troll Systems, $300 Midi keyboard with audio interface built in, +$100 worth of random parts)
This could version be flat and rectangular looking more like an Elektron machine. The flatscreen would be attached at the far left end, with various components inside the box underneath, then having the keyboard tacked on its side. You could also have the flatscreen attached like version one above if you didn’t like looking down.

Doing a keyboard like this would be an awesome project, and I bet you could do it for under 2000 dollars and have a pretty nice result. If you were able to use clear plexiglass as a box, you could even do etching across it and light it up from inside. Extra modifications would be knobs & such for midi control. Even sillier would be to add speakers. If you played on stage, it might be cool to have a mini lcds attached to your keyboard, facing the crowd, so you could put some kind of weird video on it. Also, no, this keyboard isn’t the solution I was talking about for my previous article.

January 26, 2007 on 8:19 am

Big Damn Namm Update 07

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The Chip Collection didn’t make it out to NAMM 07, but thats not going to stop us from making a giant NAMM compilation post!!! This post will be updated on January 18th the following days as stuff comes in.

UPDATE: Moog Little Phatty Stage Edition and Customizable Voyager

 Product Images Mooglphero Finalblack
UPDATE: Open Labs upgrades MIKO SE and MIKO LE: Link

 News Images Open-Labs Miko
From future music blog

UPDATE: Mackie Anounces Control Pro Surfaces: Link

Mackie anounces Tracktion 3!!!! (I love Tracktion’s ease of use and its better mastering plugins)

TAPCO Anounces 4×6 Firewire audio interface for $249: Link

UPDATE: KORG IMAGES on Link (currently having server issues)


A Stupid Mixer, MINI Kaoss Pad (***AWESOME***), M3 Synth, and R3 (new Darth Vader edition microkorg).

Check back for status and pictures / adds.
If you know anything, please comment!

Most Anticipated / Rumored:

Apple Logic version 8 or 7.5: Unconfirmed

Alesis Master Control Firewire Audio Interface: Confirmed

 Images Products Full Mastercontrol Lg
Alesis Master Control
Nice!! Check out the specs on this audio interface. Its everything you’ve ever dreamed of….6 discrete outs, 5.1 surround. 8 Channels of 44.1-192khz audio in. Motorized Faders, MIDI, 2 Preamps, SPDIF, LCD, Jog wheel, fully editable presets.
New Korg Microkorg called the R3: Leaked Images / Confirmed From Gear Junkies


New Korg Mini Chaos Pad: Leaked Images / Confirmed From Gear Junkies


Roland MV-8800 Sampler Workstation: Confirmed

 Products Com Mv-8800 Images Top L

Roland V-Synth GT: Confirmed
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V-Synth GT

Previously Confirmed:

 Evolution Assets Images Products Origin 3D Origin 3D 200X126

(Coming in March)
Arturia Origin: Origin is the first Arturia Hardware synthesizer. It is a modular system of a new generation opening innovative avenues in sound design.
Loaded with modules extracted from the best synthesizers of all time (Moog Modular, ARP 2600, CS-80, minimoog and Prophet VS). Details Link
(Arturia Origin sounds like it could be really expensive…)

No word yet on Steve Urkel Edition Moog.

January 16, 2007 on 6:40 pm

More using quartz composer & Kaoss Pad

Kaoss Pad + Electribe EMX1 + Quartz Composer = Good track.

January 14, 2007 on 3:39 pm

Free Sample Pack: Hard & Bouncy / Free Electribe VSTs

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This sample pack sounds like pre-rockstar Prodigy sounds (Charly). If you need new bass drums or really excellent hoovers & stabs, then get this. Download it free from

For Korg electribe users:
I dug up these VST controller plugins somebody made for Korg Electribes! Covers most machines, EMX, EA1, ER1. Sweet!

January 8, 2007 on 3:48 pm

AudioCubes Control Elektron Machinedrum

Using AudioCubes to control Elektron Machinedrum

From PercUsa

January 8, 2007 on 7:59 am

Lazy Monday Updates

Good stuff, All Via SonicState:

Virsyn has CANTOR-2 Vocal Synth
Free Pitch Shifter Plug FREE!
Kenton Killamix Mini USB Killaaahhh

 News Images Kenton Killamix1
20th anniversary.
Have a gooood day guys.

December 4, 2006 on 8:13 am

The Cheapest Wireless Midi Controller discovered


Yes its the Nintendo DS converted over to a midi controller. I saw this yesterday, but thought I’d repost.

November 29, 2006 on 7:29 am

Alesis offers free M1 Active MkII Studio Monitors

….with a purchase of any Fusion keyboard.
Awesome deal!
 Images Ar 01

Offer available Here

November 17, 2006 on 8:33 am

Reason Song Tutorial Part 2


October 31, 2006 on 10:17 am

Korg Announces K61P USB-MIDI Studio Controller

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K61P combines computer controller features with built-in, high-quality, stereo-sampled acoustic and electric pianos

So its a midicontroller that they put some piano sounds into. Korg is scared that people are going to stop buying their keyboard workstations, so they are marketing a regular keyboard as a midi controller I see.

Like other K-series models, the K61P comes bundled with Korg’s M1 Le software synthesizer, a complete software version of the classic M1 Music Workstation. As a bonus, K-series users can upgrade at a special “Preferred Owner” price to the Korg Legacy Collection – Digital Edition, which comprises a significantly enhanced version of the M1 software synthesizer, the WAVESTATION v1.6 software synthesizer and the MDE-X v1.2 multi-effect plug-in.

Ah! I this is also a product intended to get you purchasing their software.

Whatever happens I hope that its a really good midi controller, because it seems kind of expensive for a keyboard with a couple of piano sounds. Full press release and links after the break.

October 29, 2006 on 8:59 am


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