M-Audio had a big role in popularizing the cheap, simple USB/MIDI keyboards that are ubiquitous today. By about a year ago, though, M-Audio’s own options were looking somewhat lacking: while still very affordable, they lacked the variety of controls on some of their competitors, plus higher-end features like aftertouch that had begun to make their way to budget-priced models.

At NAMM in January, M-Audio unveiled their answer: the all-new Axiom line. These keyboards look and feel better than the previous models, and add features like assignable aftertouch and semi-weighted keys. But, to quote Gypsy, you gotta have a gimmick, and this is the deal-closer for many people: 8 built-in trigger pads, a la M-Audio’s Trigger Finger.

Lots of people I know have been going nuts for the Axiom; it seems to hit a real sweet spot for a lot of people. Some very experienced player colleagues of mine just loved them immediately when they tried them at NAMM. (I’m finishing off a review that will explain why I chose a different controller in my own studio, but more on that later.)

I know at least one very happy friend who took delivery of his 25-key model and loves it. But if you actually tried to buy one with more keys at retail, you may have had some trouble. Reader Scott Nichol got some details from the source:

I general, I love the m-audio gear that I’ve got, but the Axiom 61-key controller would really fill a need for me and have been waiting anxiously for it to start shipping! I wrote to M-audio’s sales department this morning to see if I could get some straight-scoop from them. According to the sales dept, they’re expecting to ship the 61-key versions later this month (end of June in his exact words).

The transport controls to me are just killer and if I could just find a way to map the sliders to Final Cut Pro’s audio mixer, man I’d be in business.

So there you have it. That’s consistent with the shipping promises I’ve heard. I’m not sure why 25-key keyboards tend to ship first (Novation, Alesis, here’s looking at you). Maybe DJs are buying up 25-key versions in bulk and we need to go out and buy more keyboards with some octaves on them? No clue.

Anyway, I want to jump off onto this Final Cut story. Apple only officially supports Mackie Control control surfaces for Final Cut Pro, but I believe Mackie Control just uses MIDI, so it seems like there ought to be a way to fake this. Anyone have an idea? (If not, I’m going to do some more digging. Besides, I’m sure the folks at Apple would be amused by the thought of people using control surfaces manufactured by a company owned by Avid.)

  • Dude, if you can find a way, let us know, cause it would be just sweet!

  • adam

    you could try

  • It's certainly not going to be as good as Mackie Control — the Mackie, which isn't all that expensive, gives you two-way, motorized, automated support. But in fact Final Cut's control surface config will let you take any MIDI input/output that's in Audio MIDI Setup. I'm going to fiddle with it and see what happens.

  • adam
  • Adam, sweet! Will follow up with a separate post . . . thanks!

  • Good point Adam! I'm actually using this app for my Korg Kontrol49 under Logic… I didn't think you could use it also in FCP… very cool!

  • Chris_B

    FCP probably uses the same MCU driver bundle that ships with Logic Pro or Express. Since it was possible to copy that bundle to the right place and make the MCU or other control surfaces work in GarageBand, I would assume that if there is a Logic driver bundle for your surface, it might work in FCP. There are also some middleware proggies out there which take inbound MIDI signals and map em to look like an MCU to the system.

  • adam

    FCP 5 already has full support for MCU protocol, as does Soundtrack Pro.

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  • hey can these things be played live @ gigs? i know the axiom25 powers through usb, but is it necessary to have a laptop with you, or can they be self sufficient?

  • Sure they can work standalone; as long as you have power (via AC adapter, for instance), you can just plug the MIDI outs into your favorite piece of hardware (MIDI keyboard / rack synth / whatever).

  • I was wondering why, lets say I create a drum track, and I want to midi another virtual instrument, I would start to play, and it would cut off. Must I assign each virtual instrument to a diiferent Midi track? I never had to do that but, but I don't know what else to do.

  • Jasper L. Jeppesen

    Neal Evans (keyboardist of the funky organ trio Soulive) is a proud endorser of the Axiom 61. Yes, it is a beast live!

  • Craig

    Hi guys, I'm looking to start producing elecrtronic dance music, specifically Trance. I've been researching my fingers off trying to find a good quality beginners keyboard. My options have been narrowed down to the Korg MicroKorg, the M-Audio Axiom 49 or 61 and my favourite at the moment – the Alesis Micron! I've read quite a few reviews about the M-Audio keyboards and their reliability issues. Can anyone shed some light on that for me?