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M-Audio Axiom 49 keyboard review

With sleek looks, more controls and 'DirectLink' with your software, does the Axiom rock hard?

Our Verdict

Well built and feature packed. Its ease and speed justify the price tag

For

  • DirectLink is a major plus
  • Laden with controls – that work

Against

  • Non-pro keyboard actions
  • There are many cheaper options

Any MIDI keyboard can make your copy of GarageBand or Logic come to life. But in a crowded market of bargain-priced 'boards you need something with that little bit extra. M-Audio's Axioms have been around for years and last year the new Pro line added the ability to control your software directly from buttons on the keyboard.

This feature has now filtered down to the more affordable Axiom 61 (£305), 49 (this model) and 25 (£195). So, rather than have your mouse in one hand while your other belts out Bach, you can pretty much forget your computer and get on with making music.

It's amazing how simple additions such as dedicated buttons for stop, play and record speed up your workflow, and 'tweaking' synthesizers and effects with dedicated knobs finally feels like grappling with an antique Moog. (Antique Moog plug-in not supplied.)

DirectLink

It's M-Audio's DirectLink that's the star. A quick install and the Axiom found our Logic setup (we had similar success with GarageBand and Ableton Live too), and all the obvious features such as track levels and pan appeared on the keyboard's controls.

And if you use complex third-party plugs, you can get locked into the world of control changes and make any dial do anything in your DAW. It works too, and after grappling with controllers that promised the earth only to glitch and grump, that's the biggest praise we can give.

The Axiom's keyboard is 'ultra-expressive semi-weighted', but this amounts to it being very firmly sprung in the initial stages and rather 'clacky' and weak when depressed. However, the large angular profile does help fool the senses into thinking you're pressing something more piano-like.

The drum pads are well-sized but spongy. Likewise, the rest of the rubberised controls require a good push to operate.

That said, compared to the frail plastic on other keyboards, this is much more gig-resistant. You're paying for something just that little bit more 'pro' here, but it's worth the extra.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeMIDI Keyboard
Brand NameM-Audio
Height73.7 mm
Width797.6 mm
Depth297.2 mm
ManufacturerAvid Technology, Inc
Product ModelAxiom 49
Product NameAxiom 49 MIDI Keyboard
DisplayLCD
Manufacturer Part Number9900-53119-10
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.avid.com
Marketing Information

The M-Audio Axiom 49 controller combines all the production power and performance you need to get the most from your music software and MIDI gear. More than just a "data entry" controller, the Axiom 49 features piano-style, semi-weighted keys for a musically satisfying playing experience. Large dynamic trigger pads make it easy to program beats and trigger one-shot samples while the encoder knobs, faders, and buttons deliver complete real-time control over your software. DirectLink mode provides easy, automatic access to common DAW functions including transport, mixer, track pan, and virtual instrument parameters no complicated setup required. Axiom 49 even features a sleek, angled top panel for easy viewing in any environment.

Weight (Approximate)4.81 kg