It’s a horse race. Two keyboards – one from Native Instruments, one from AKAI – really want to be the interface between you and every plug-in you own. And we’re getting closer to find out if either deserves your attention.

You’ve heard this story before. Sure, you have powerful software on your computer screen. But when you want physical control of those instruments beyond just playing keys, you’re left either manually mapping controls or reaching for your mouse or trackpad.

So, over the years various solutions have tried to solve this automagically. There was Automap, seen in Propellerhead Reason and then from Novation. There was Cakewalk’s ACT. Native Instruments’ KORE. M-audio’s HyperControl. And probably some others I’ve forgotten – maybe tried to forget. These solutions weren’t always completely horrible, but I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who was completely satisfied with them, either. Now, I’m sure some of you will protest. Reason, for instance, often worked well – a closed system that originated the idea – and if you got things working, more power to you. But beyond that handful, I’ve met a whole lot of people who wound up giving up and going back to manually mapping MIDI. (Or just give me that trackpad, already, because it’s faster.)

Well, now the Akai ADVANCE is here. It knows you’ve been hurt before. But it wants you to love automatic mapping again. And … surprisingly, there are some early indications you ought to leave the heartache behind and give it a chance to prove itself.

Our friends over at AskAudio got an exclusive tour in New York. (The ADVANCE hails from the Eastern Seaboard, after all; the Komplete Kontrol from the banks of Berlin’s river Spree.)

Akai Pro Advance Keyboards In-Depth Preview (Video) [askaudiomag.com]

You can check out their impressions in the story; the video gives a detailed walkthrough. Remember that the software isn’t feature complete, but you can at least see where AKAI are going.

_DSC9762

_DSC9769

_DSC9761

I can vouch for the hardware; I had a go on it at Musikmesse. This may be the nicest build from anything with Akai on it, ever. Whether you like the aesthetics of the styling or not, the quality of the units I saw at Musikmesse was outstanding, the color display is clear, and everything feels solid. Akai’s MAX range of keyboards – unlike the cheap stuff at the entry level – already had a nice keybed, so I’m not surprised, and finally we go back to encoders instead of touch trips.

The challenge the ADVANCE will face is that being a nice-feeling keyboard isn’t enough. The software has to work well, or you’ll take a pass on this line. Or worse, you’ll buy it, and wind up figuring out how to convince anyone to take it out of your closet. Obsolescence is the single worst threat to this stuff.

We know now what the strategy is at rival Native Instruments. Whereas their Komplete Kontrol initially couldn’t so much as send arpeggiator notes to your host, let alone handle software that wasn’t part of Komplete, all will be better soon:

Komplete Kontrol Now Plays Nice with Plug-ins, Hosts, And More is Coming

At the very least, all the chords and patterns you play on the keyboard now work with a host. And inside the Komplete Kontrol software, you can use plug-ins. And if software is specifically designed to support NI’s Native Kontrol Standard (NKS), plug-ins will appear with the proper metadata, control mappings, and extra features that work with NI’s hardware.

I wouldn’t describe it as more “closed” than Akai, but suffice to say NI’s approach – at least as they describe it – is the artisanal, bespoke approach to integrating your plug-in presets with your keyboard. Metadata is (supposed to be) lovingly hand-crafted, mappings gently tailored to fit snugly on the controls.

Both keyboards are also intended as platforms to sell you more software. NI is apparently content to let their Komplete suite speak for itself – and use the promise of more software sales to entice developers to create custom support for the keyboard. AKAI is joining the now-everything-is-an-app-store bandwagon, with the ability to buy software inside the keyboard. (Fine, but can I get food delivery so I don’t have to interrupt my studio session? Startups, opportunity knocks.)

Reaktor Lighting up Komplete Kontrol

Komplete_Kontrol

NI_Komplete_Kontrol_S-Series_Keyboards_NativeMap_01

Above: Native Instruments’ competitor. Is it less ADVANCEd, or more KOMPLETE? Well, we can at least say that it has 100% more light-up colored keys and 100% less light-up colored pads…

Akai, by contrast, is the Roomba of the two, hoovering up everything on your machine and dumping it into the ADVANCE keyboard.

If it’s a VST, the ADVANCE will find its presets, find its controls. It’s not all automatic: Akai themselves are going through mapping popular software by hand, too, apparently in some sort of sound content sweatshops where sound designers wipe sweat off their forehead with numb fingers finding each filter cutoff knob in every plug-in you might ever find on KVR. (Disclaimer: I have no idea how they’re doing this.)

Which will work better? Well, the end result may wind up being exactly the same – which is better for users.

In Frankfurt, Native Instruments threw a party off-campus (open bar!) while AKAI were in a proper booth (what? sorry, what did you say? here’s my business card).

Advance_61

The interesting thing was that both NI and AKAI showed their keyboards with Ableton Live. Both made prominent usage of Arturia software – doubly encouraging, given Arturia make controller bundles for their own products. And AKAI was even glad to show off Absynth running on the ADVANCE. Remember, the AKAI isn’t shipping yet, and Native Instruments haven’t released the software updates that support NKS (some of those features won’t arrive until the summer, some earlier).

I think this is probably the most important thing to know. The worst possible scenario would be if you had to buy a different keyboard each time you wanted to use a different piece of software, then, 80s pop-star style, array them on multi-tiered keyboard racks all over your studio. The nightmare scenario: oh, sure, the Komplete Kontrol works great with Reaktor and Kontakt, but you need the AKAI with AIR, the Arturia with your emulations, the Ableton Keys with Ableton Live, and an MPC hybrid every time you want to make beats. No. That would be horrible.

Fortunately, there’s no indication from anyone I’ve talked to that that’ll happen. It seems everyone is more or less trying to play ball with everyone else, even as they make competing products – and the rabid hunger for keyboards in the market, I’m guessing, will keep this from becoming a zero sum game.

So, which will you buy? There’s no way of knowing until they ship. AKAI and Native Instruments have both built hardware that feels great. AKAI packs more onboard, with pads and color screens, but then you might prefer the sparser NI keyboard and touch strips. AKAI certainly seem to have the edge on compatibility with loads of stuff, and the ADVANCE ships with their excellent AIR software, but NI finally came around and added an instrumental/effect suite to Komplete Kontrol, and we’ll see if they cane make tighter integration more appealing than the one-size-fits-all approach of the ADVANCE.

And, of course, both products still have to prove themselves versus the toughest competition: a keyboard with some knobs and none of these bells and whistles.

I seriously doubt a single solution will please everyone, but I’m glad to see keyboards that at least feel better and try harder on integration. MIDI keyboards have been ubiquitous, but too often low-quality, uninventive, and with unfinished and frustrating paired software.

When you look this much like something as beloved as a grand piano, you had better try harder.

So, I very much look forward to the Summer Games of MIDI Keyboards.

  • Cesar Pantoja

    Will it import automatically Sylenth1’s plugins as well?

    • Apoclypse

      Yep. From what i know those should already be mapped by Akai for you, but importing presets is super easy and you can batch import as well.

  • Cesar Pantoja

    Will it import automatically Sylenth1’s presets as well?

    • Apoclypse

      Yep. From what i know those should already be mapped by Akai for you, but importing presets is super easy and you can batch import as well.

  • I wonder how much traction these sorts of systems will get, given how many people are cautious of installing gateway software of this sort. I’d honestly rather go through the pain of mapping and re-mapping than trust the stability of a plug-in bridge tied to a specific keyboard.

    • misksound

      Agreed. aside from the precious few CPU cycles another layer of software between me any my plugins will eat up, nothing like just doing the work to customize your workflow fully. for that I’ll always go back to Max.

      • Matthew Pfeiffer

        as in the Akai Max? Seriously shopping controllers here…

      • foljs

        In fact this would (or at least theorically should) be LESS layers and CPU-weight than using your full DAW as the intermediary between your plugins and your controller for a live show. And more handy workflow wise than using the plugins in standalone mode, and having to start/stop them, load patches etc, one after another depending on the tune.

        That is if you’re a keyboard player. If you’re just triggering stuff of Live in the first place, then this is not for you.

        This is mostly like Logic’s MainStage.

    • DPrty

      Every system like these that I have tried did not help me make better music nor speed the process up. Its all just cheap plastic junk and an excuse to sell something.

      • Chad

        I couldn’t disagree with you more, there is obviously allot of interest for these types of solutions ultimately because they are very useful especially if you know how to apply them. The important thing like anything else is to learn how to properly implement the tool within your workflow… but there is allot of worthy interest, how else could you explain so many so called people who have no interest in these solutions commenting? They wouldn’t waste their precious music making time to post on forums about things they have no interest in or no use for right?

        • DPrty

          Well to be fair, I do use a workstation. I dumped all the cheap controllers and got a Korg M3 workstation that I am very pleased with so I am not saying controllers are not helpful just that cheap build quality and bad implementations where the major problem for me. That and the fact that companies put them out and then drop support so quickly like with Kore and others.

    • heinrichz

      Maschine works really well already in that regard and truely improved my workflow also with 3rd party plugins!

  • I wonder how much traction these sorts of systems will get, given how many people are cautious of installing gateway software of this sort. I’d honestly rather go through the pain of mapping and re-mapping than trust the stability of a plug-in bridge tied to a specific keyboard.

    • misksound

      Agreed. aside from the precious few CPU cycles another layer of software between me any my plugins will eat up, nothing like just doing the work to customize your workflow fully. for that I’ll always go back to Max.

      • Missing99

        as in the Akai Max? Seriously shopping controllers here…

      • foljs

        In fact this would (or at least theorically should) be LESS layers and CPU-weight than using your full DAW as the intermediary between your plugins and your controller for a live show. And more handy workflow wise than using the plugins in standalone mode, and having to start/stop them, load patches etc, one after another depending on the tune.

        That is if you’re a keyboard player. If you’re just triggering stuff of Live in the first place, then this is not for you.

        This is mostly like Logic’s MainStage.

    • DPrty

      Every system like these that I have tried did not help me make better music nor speed the process up. Its all just cheap plastic junk and an excuse to sell something.

      • Chad

        I couldn’t disagree with you more, there is obviously allot of interest for these types of solutions ultimately because they are very useful especially if you know how to apply them. The important thing like anything else is to learn how to properly implement the tool within your workflow… but there is allot of worthy interest, how else could you explain so many so called people who have no interest in these solutions commenting? They wouldn’t waste their precious music making time to post on forums about things they have no interest in or no use for right?

        • DPrty

          Well to be fair, I do use a workstation. I dumped all the cheap controllers and got a Korg M3 workstation that I am very pleased with so I am not saying controllers are not helpful just that cheap build quality and bad implementations where the major problem for me. That and the fact that companies put them out and then drop support so quickly like with Kore and others.

    • heinrichz

      Maschine works really well already in that regard and truely improved my workflow also with 3rd party plugins!

  • Will

    Nektar Panorama. Because.

    • I’ve been thinking of replacing my AXIOM for a Panorama since I use REASON, But I also play with Ableton (APC40 and all) and Nektar doesn’t seem to be for that. But I have been SO UNDERWHELMED by anything AKAI has put out lately I’m finding it hard pressed to think they have made anything of quality lately.

      • You should really give Nektar a try. It’s Reason integration is very well thought out and Nektar works wonderfully with Live as well ( but it does require a tad more leg work).

  • Will

    Nektar Panorama. Because.

    • I’ve been thinking of replacing my AXIOM for a Panorama since I use REASON, But I also play with Ableton (APC40 and all) and Nektar doesn’t seem to be for that. But I have been SO UNDERWHELMED by anything AKAI has put out lately I’m finding it hard pressed to think they have made anything of quality lately.

      • You should really give Nektar a try. It’s Reason integration is very well thought out and Nektar works wonderfully with Live as well ( but it does require a tad more leg work).

  • Matthew Pfeiffer

    Peter, THANK YOU for the continuing coverage on these two controllers – will be buying one or the other of these two late this summer. Keep up the great work!

  • Missing99

    Peter, THANK YOU for the continuing coverage on these two controllers – will be buying one or the other of these two late this summer. Keep up the great work!

  • Tom

    What those nice people don’t mention is, that you put a single point of failure into your work. If all plugins you use are loaded through one of those wrappers, all that has to happen is that wrapper to somehow fail. Buggy update? Doesn’t authorize? Company went belly up? Selling the controller for a new one, now how do I get all my wrapped projects over the the new, different wrapper?
    Normally only a single plugin would fail, but with this, the whole project will be gone.

    Layering 8 plugins sounds great but will surely take some memory and CPU – as will the caching…

    Will be interesting to see how this works out in the longer run. I’m not convinced.

    Funny that you currently get the full Komplete if you buy a KK keyboard… 😉
    Ein Schelm der böses dabei denkt…

    Cheers,

    Tom

    • foljs

      “””What those nice people don’t mention is, that you put a single point of failure into your work. If all plugins you use are loaded through one of those wrappers, all that has to happen is that wrapper to somehow fail.”””

      So? How that’s different from using anything else that might fail?

      If you don’t want a “single point of failure” then you need at least 2 or more alternative ways. Well, guess what, THIS could be one of those. Nothing in it prohibits you from using other methods two.

      (And for professional live shows and such of course you should also have two laptops at least, in the first place).

      “””Buggy update? Doesn’t authorize? Company went belly up? Selling the controller for a new one, now how do I get all my wrapped projects over the the new, different wrapper?”””

      It’s now like this takes over your whole music life. It’s just a way to have some layers setup, soundsets, etc. You can always rebuilt them later on in another product.

      Besides, nothing in technology lasts forever. If you get 5 years milleage out of this, that’s great.

      “””Layering 8 plugins sounds great but will surely take some memory and CPU – as will the caching…”””

      Then don’t layer 8 of them unless your CPU can handle it. It’s that simple. It’s as if you make up trivial negative points on purpose…

    • Chad

      yes but also what allot of nice people don’t mention is that with single point of failure also comes a single point solution. Akai is capable of having it’s developers attack a single point of contention in the vip software and in a timely manner. as you can see akais development across the board is moving several times faster than Native instruments best time currently. That is why akai has been able to overtake and surpass native instruments development for the keyboard controllers and the drum samplers in a very short amount of time. As someone who is all about the ‘seeing is believing’ that’s enough proof to be convinced in my book.

      • chad

        btw forgot to mention one thing, it’s not surprising that you get a copy of komplete with a kontrol board, it’s just good business. NI isn’t able to fall back on development to beef up the value of the kontrol series right now, it only makes good business sense to offer komplete and even sample packs if necessary to try to garner the interest of the public, especially when the akai advance boards look like they will make even using komplete more fun to use than a kontrol series board.

        • heinrichz

          Ain’t gonna happen like that. So far Akai is not known to be the greatest software company when it comes to hands-on integrating synth plugins, something NI has done well with Maschine…already for years now.

          • Apoclypse

            Lol. Akai was smart on this one and hired or licensed the tech from Big Tick Audio. So in tha t respect it doesn’t matte rif they have the pedigree or not Big Tick does. Also VSt integration integration in Maschine for 3rd party VSTs is awful. NI’s solution to the problem, make developers do it. Sure that will work when we all know how lazy developers are (including NI themselves who haven’t even bothered with VST3 yet). How long did it take Sylenth to release a 64-bit mac version again? Yeah, they are going to get on that Komplete Kontrol integration any day now.

            You get integration for free in VIP and they show how easy it is to import presets from VSTs that aren’t already mapped in the video. However people aren’t watching the video. Look at how fast those plugins load, and on top of that at 16:00, she is loading plugin after plugin while still playing notes from the last plugin. Let me know when Maschine or Komplete can do that. Most DAWs can’t even do that.

    • Ahhh theres a wrapper! (didn’t watch the Video- I prefer to Read the Comments lol) that settles it- I want through that Wrapper Business with Auto-map – UGH-
      And as someone who has bout AKAI Products recently, I cant tell you that the quality of the software is crap- If I have to depend on AKAI for Updates/Fixes once something breaks I’m Fuxxored. (Also having seen how inMusic /AKAI/M-audio unceremoniously dump software support once the product is past is initial release date I’m surprised if anybody will remember this release by next years MusikMesse.

  • FS

    after starting with an M Audio 49 key controller then spending years trying to find that intuitive controller that will allow my creativity to flow more fluidly i spent lots of money on stuff including the original Lemur, Kore from NI, an 88 key weighted controller keyboard… after all of this searching i have landed back with the 49 key M Audio. my personal discovery which i don’t impose on anyone else was that i just have to get to work with my 49 key and my mouse. if you’re in the market for a controller I’m sure ether one of these would serve you well, but added functionality isn’t always the answer to our search for better workflow.

    • bwax

      Agreed. I have gone through soooo many controllers over the years and not one has ever remained in the studio. Basic MIDI keyboard and a mouse is all I keep going back to. I guess I’m one that has been hurt too many times. 🙁

  • Tom

    What those nice people don’t mention is, that you put a single point of failure into your work. If all plugins you use are loaded through one of those wrappers, all that has to happen is that wrapper to somehow fail. Buggy update? Doesn’t authorize? Company went belly up? Selling the controller for a new one, now how do I get all my wrapped projects over the the new, different wrapper?
    Normally only a single plugin would fail, but with this, the whole project will be gone.

    Layering 8 plugins sounds great but will surely take some memory and CPU – as will the caching…

    Will be interesting to see how this works out in the longer run. I’m not convinced.

    Funny that you currently get the full Komplete if you buy a KK keyboard… 😉
    Ein Schelm der böses dabei denkt…

    Cheers,

    Tom

    • foljs

      “””What those nice people don’t mention is, that you put a single point of failure into your work. If all plugins you use are loaded through one of those wrappers, all that has to happen is that wrapper to somehow fail.”””

      So? How that’s different from using anything else that might fail?

      If you don’t want a “single point of failure” then you need at least 2 or more alternative ways. Well, guess what, THIS could be one of those. Nothing in it prohibits you from using other methods two.

      (And for professional live shows and such of course you should also have two laptops at least, in the first place).

      “””Buggy update? Doesn’t authorize? Company went belly up? Selling the controller for a new one, now how do I get all my wrapped projects over the the new, different wrapper?”””

      It’s now like this takes over your whole music life. It’s just a way to have some layers setup, soundsets, etc. You can always rebuilt them later on in another product.

      Besides, nothing in technology lasts forever. If you get 5 years milleage out of this, that’s great.

      “””Layering 8 plugins sounds great but will surely take some memory and CPU – as will the caching…”””

      Then don’t layer 8 of them unless your CPU can handle it. It’s that simple. It’s as if you make up trivial negative points on purpose…

    • Chad

      yes but also what allot of nice people don’t mention is that with single point of failure also comes a single point solution. Akai is capable of having it’s developers attack a single point of contention in the vip software and in a timely manner. as you can see akais development across the board is moving several times faster than Native instruments best time currently. That is why akai has been able to overtake and surpass native instruments development for the keyboard controllers and the drum samplers in a very short amount of time. As someone who is all about the ‘seeing is believing’ that’s enough proof to be convinced in my book.

      • chad

        btw forgot to mention one thing, it’s not surprising that you get a copy of komplete with a kontrol board, it’s just good business. NI isn’t able to fall back on development to beef up the value of the kontrol series right now, it only makes good business sense to offer komplete and even sample packs if necessary to try to garner the interest of the public, especially when the akai advance boards look like they will make even using komplete more fun to use than a kontrol series board.

        • heinrichz

          Ain’t gonna happen like that. So far Akai is not known to be the greatest software company when it comes to hands-on integrating synth plugins, something NI has done well with Maschine…already for years now.

          • Apoclypse

            Lol. Akai was smart on this one and hired or licensed the tech from Big Tick Audio. So in tha t respect it doesn’t matte rif they have the pedigree or not Big Tick does. Also VSt integration integration in Maschine for 3rd party VSTs is awful. NI’s solution to the problem, make developers do it. Sure that will work when we all know how lazy developers are (including NI themselves who haven’t even bothered with VST3 yet). How long did it take Sylenth to release a 64-bit mac version again? Yeah, they are going to get on that Komplete Kontrol integration any day now.

            You get integration for free in VIP and they show how easy it is to import presets from VSTs that aren’t already mapped in the video. However people aren’t watching the video. Look at how fast those plugins load, and on top of that at 16:00, she is loading plugin after plugin while still playing notes from the last plugin. Let me know when Maschine or Komplete can do that. Most DAWs can’t even do that.

    • Ahhh theres a wrapper! (didn’t watch the Video- I prefer to Read the Comments lol) that settles it- I want through that Wrapper Business with Auto-map – UGH-
      And as someone who has bout AKAI Products recently, I cant tell you that the quality of the software is crap- If I have to depend on AKAI for Updates/Fixes once something breaks I’m Fuxxored. (Also having seen how inMusic /AKAI/M-audio unceremoniously dump software support once the product is past is initial release date I’m surprised if anybody will remember this release by next years MusikMesse.

  • FS

    after starting with an M Audio 49 key controller then spending years trying to find that intuitive controller that will allow my creativity to flow more fluidly i spent lots of money on stuff including the original Lemur, Kore from NI, an 88 key weighted controller keyboard… after all of this searching i have landed back with the 49 key M Audio. my personal discovery which i don’t impose on anyone else was that i just have to get to work with my 49 key and my mouse. if you’re in the market for a controller I’m sure ether one of these would serve you well, but added functionality isn’t always the answer to our search for better workflow.

    • bwax

      Agreed. I have gone through soooo many controllers over the years and not one has ever remained in the studio. Basic MIDI keyboard and a mouse is all I keep going back to. I guess I’m one that has been hurt too many times. 🙁

  • zootook

    How do they categorize all imported patches? Putting 3 or more tags to 50,000 is some task… NI’s done that for Komplete for you.
    If these controller are to compete with real (analog) synths you need to have at least 30 knobs… I’m waiting until some vendon gets that!

    • Apoclypse

      I don’t think they are trying to compete with analog synths. They are more like workstations or like those juno keyboards from Roland. The sounds are too different to have one set of controls so you go with 8 and use paging to control everything. Just liek you can;t control all the synth parameters on a Kronos or Fantom with the knobs and such.

  • zootook

    How do they categorize all imported patches? Putting 3 or more tags to 50,000 is some task… NI’s done that for Komplete for you.
    If these controller are to compete with real (analog) synths you need to have at least 30 knobs… I’m waiting until some vendon gets that!

    • Apoclypse

      I don’t think they are trying to compete with analog synths. They are more like workstations or like those juno keyboards from Roland. The sounds are too different to have one set of controls so you go with 8 and use paging to control everything. Just liek you can;t control all the synth parameters on a Kronos or Fantom with the knobs and such.

  • Will Copps

    NI’s lack of 32-bit VST support is a real dealbreaker for me. Maybe, if they confirm it’s going to work with Jbridge… but I’m at the point of considering just buying a really nice mouse!

    • DPrty

      No 32bit!!! Kiss your favorite old plugins goodby.

    • heinrichz

      get 32lives for flawless conversion.

  • Will Copps

    NI’s lack of 32-bit VST support is a real dealbreaker for me. Maybe, if they confirm it’s going to work with Jbridge… but I’m at the point of considering just buying a really nice mouse!

    • DPrty

      No 32bit!!! Kiss your favorite old plugins goodby.

    • heinrichz

      get 32lives for flawless conversion.

  • coolout

    So Komplete Kontrol is essentially Maschine 2 without the sequencer, built-in sampler, and drum synth? That’s what the screenshot above looks like.

    • Apoclypse

      Yep.

  • coolout

    So Komplete Kontrol is essentially Maschine 2 without the sequencer, built-in sampler, and drum synth? That’s what the screenshot above looks like.

    • Apoclypse

      Yep.

  • Aventure Numérique

    Too bad the pitch and mod wheels are on the top and not on the left side. Also I’d have preferred the knobs on the left-hand side of the keyboard (for realtime “knobing” during solo).

  • Aventure Numérique

    Too bad the pitch and mod wheels are on the top and not on the left side. Also I’d have preferred the knobs on the left-hand side of the keyboard (for realtime “knobing” during solo).

  • Jim Aikin

    Did anyone else spot the unconscious sexism in the video intro? The guy from ASK tells you his full name, but the Akai spokesperson is “Jennifer” — no last name, because she’s, you know, a girl.

    The business of categorizing presets for different VSTi’s strikes me as a potential bottleneck. If you have expansion libraries for a few of your instruments, will they be categorized, or does Akai only store the factory presets in their database? And what happens when you update your VSTi and get 200 new presets as part of the deal? Will they be in the database?

    Another question is, can I add different audio effects to various VSTi’s that are running within VIP? In other words, does each instrument packed into VIP have its own audio output(s) to the DAW, or are they all streamed into one stereo output? Does VIP host FX along with the instrument plug-ins? Big unanswered question there.

    Multitimbral VSTi’s, such as Omnisphere, are another thing not addressed by the video. Okay, they couldn’t cover everything in half an hour, but I’m curious whether you could, say, layer Channel 1 of Omnisphere with a Zebra patch on the left half of the keyboard while simultaneously layering Channel 2 of Omnisphere with an FM8 patch on the right half of the keyboard.

    Also wondering … only a 4-octave keyboard?

    And yeah, positioning of the pitch and mod wheels just plain has to be on the left end, to the left of the keyboard. No other design is practical.

    • Jim Aikin

      Okay, she’s using the 4-octave keyboard, but the graphic shows a 5-octave. Scratch that comment.

    • SomeDude

      “Did anyone else spot the unconscious sexism in the video intro? The guy from ASK tells you his full name, but the Akai spokesperson is “Jennifer” — no last name, because she’s, you know, a girl.”

      I’ve seen plenty of videos where music tech spokepersons are male , and are only presented by their first name . So ?
      Once you start using the “unconscious” argument, you can prove anything you like. Like Freud says, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

      • Jim Aikin

        I sort of figured it might be Jennifer Hruska, whom I’ve never met but have talked with on the phone a few times. I can only assume that “SomeDude” thinks sexism is just peachy, since he attacked my observation without actually rebutting it.

        Call it sexism, or call it plain old disrespect, it’s sort of the same slip-up either way. I’m betting sexism, but it’s possible the guy didn’t know how to pronounce Hruska and was embarrassed to ask — in which case it was just a minor ego problem. I’m just suggesting that journalists and video producers need to be sensitive to this kind of thing, because it can creep up on you.

        • SomeDude

          “I can only assume that “SomeDude” thinks sexism is just peachy,since he attacked my observation without actually rebutting it.”
          Yes , I rebutted it. I said she seemed to be treated just like most male tech spokespersons I’ve seen. If you think that’s sexist, then maybe you are the one who is unconsciously sexist, because you seem to think that women are helpless little children that should be treated differently than men. Isn’t that the definition of sexism ? You empower people by treating them like everyone else, not by giving them “helpless panda” status.

          Now if your argument was that tech demonstrators ( regardless of whether male, female, black, white, jews ,muslims, whatever) should always be presented by their full name, that’s another debate. But you didn’t do that. You put the presenter in a special category that excludes her from a general debate on how people should be treated in general, as if the general rules of society shouldn’t apply to her, because she is some sort of endangered species, not a normal grown-up adult. That’s condescending, not empowering, not egalitarian.

          • just passing

            So your response to

            “The guy from ASK tells you his full name, but the Akai spokesperson is “Jennifer” — no last name”

            is

            “you seem to think that women are helpless little children that should be treated differently than men”

            Given that what pricked up Jim Aikin’s ears is that she WAS treated differently from the man in view – do you feel like you just killed your own argument there? Because you really, really should.

            Check your privilege, sweetie.

    • foljs

      “””Did anyone else spot the unconscious sexism in the video intro? The guy from ASK tells you his full name, but the Akai spokesperson is “Jennifer” — no last name, because she’s, you know, a girl.”””

      Or you know, she didn’t give her last name…

      ‘mericans and their PC crusades everywhere…

      • the_cody

        #notallmericans

      • Jim Aikin

        If she didn’t mention her last name, it’s the interviewer’s job to find it out. Deliberately mischaracterizing basic respect as “PC” is not a rational argument. It’s an attempt to justify disrespect by slinging overloaded rhetoric. Do you generally approve of disrespect, foljs? Or only in specific cases?

        CDM is not the place for this debate, of course (if it even qualifies as a debate). I made what I thought was a simple observation, and then a couple of people who evidently feel a need to defend male chauvinism dived in to try to deny the validity of my comment. Okay, we know which side you’re on. No need to try to justify yourselves any further.

        There are too few women in the music technology industry, and if you were to ask Ms. Hruska or any of her female colleagues, I’m sure they would be happy to regale you with tales of random insults they have endured — stuff like. “Oh, you must be the vocalist,” when she’s the DJ or the keyboardist. That kind of thing. There’s no excuse for it, but it does happen quite a lot, or so I’ve been told. So are we supposed to pretend that we don’t notice it when it’s right there in front of us?

        • Steve

          I don’t know how long you’ve been on this planet, but here on earth sometimes people refer to each other by first name. You’re grasping at straws here, man.

          Ironically, assuming that she’s been insulted because she’s a woman, and speaking on behalf of her is more sexist than referring to someone by their first name.

          And calling other people sexist for disagreeing with your dumb opinion is, well, dumb. And immature.

          • just passing

            What assumptions? HE WAS COMMENTING ON A DIFFERENCE IN TREATMENT. And you and a queue of half a dozen other men with chips on your shoulders all seem to have gone off the deep end about it. Because, you know, men have to labour under the colossal weight of being thought sexist when they’re sexist, while all women have to deal with is that they were legally property until a century or so ago and a hell of a lot of societal and institutional structures and attitudes still echo that. No comparison really, eh?

          • just leaving

            You shouldn’t be so quick with judgments. If you watch ASK’s other interviews on YouTube, you would see that all the male demonstraters are presented by their first name only too. The lady from Akai is not being treated any differently from the gentlemen… Maybe Jim Aikin should apologize for accusing the reporter at being sexist.

          • just passing

            Except he didn’t make that accusation. The clue is right there in the word “unconscious”. He wasn’t accusing anyone of anything – just remarking on something he noticed.

            Sorry, who did you say shouldn’t be so quick to judge?

        • just passing

          “Do you generally approve of disrespect, foljs?”

          Have you SEEN his comments around here…?

        • just leaving

          If all the male were presented by their first name only ( wich is the case if you watch their other videos), and she was presented by her full name, don’t you think THAT could be sexist ?

    • Phil Grossblatt

      Her last name is “Hruska”. But, yes, pretty much of all humanity is sexist, never hurts to point it out though…

      • Whatever

        “But, yes, pretty much of all humanity is sexist,” So that includes you , right ? 🙂

        • Phil Grossblatt

          “Pretty much” does not mean the same as “all”. I try to be conscious of it and act accordingly at least.

          • just passing

            If only most of the other people around here were so conscious. Apparently… they ain’t.

    • Jonathan

      While sexism is in many places, and much of it is unconscious, your conclusion that it occurred here lacks sufficient evidence.

      Did you consider the possibility that she specifically requested to be identified by first name only before the camera was turned on? Many women make such choices to protect themselves from harrassment both online and offline.

      Did you consider the possibility that Akai might have a corporate policy requiring public-facing employees to use only their first names? Many companies do so.

      Or did you simply assume that what was happening represented a confirmation of your belief about how the world works? Did you assume that the only likely alternative was that guy was not a sexist, but merely an egomaniac?

      Assumption is the enemy of truth.

      Perhaps she didn’t need you rising to her defense in this case because there was nothing to defend. Perhaps there *was* something to defend and she simply did it herself after the end of the take: “Hey, Adam, use my full name next time, please.”

      Not every windmill is a giant, Senor Quixote.

  • Jim Aikin

    Did anyone else spot the unconscious sexism in the video intro? The guy from ASK tells you his full name, but the Akai spokesperson is “Jennifer” — no last name, because she’s, you know, a girl.

    The business of categorizing presets for different VSTi’s strikes me as a potential bottleneck. If you have expansion libraries for a few of your instruments, will they be categorized, or does Akai only store the factory presets in their database? And what happens when you update your VSTi and get 200 new presets as part of the deal? Will they be in the database?

    Another question is, can I add different audio effects to various VSTi’s that are running within VIP? In other words, does each instrument packed into VIP have its own audio output(s) to the DAW, or are they all streamed into one stereo output? Does VIP host FX along with the instrument plug-ins? Big unanswered question there.

    Multitimbral VSTi’s, such as Omnisphere, are another thing not addressed by the video. Okay, they couldn’t cover everything in half an hour, but I’m curious whether you could, say, layer Channel 1 of Omnisphere with a Zebra patch on the left half of the keyboard while simultaneously layering Channel 2 of Omnisphere with an FM8 patch on the right half of the keyboard.

    Also wondering … only a 4-octave keyboard?

    And yeah, positioning of the pitch and mod wheels just plain has to be on the left end, to the left of the keyboard. No other design is practical.

    • Jim Aikin

      Okay, she’s using the 4-octave keyboard, but the graphic shows a 5-octave. Scratch that comment.

    • SomeDude

      “Did anyone else spot the unconscious sexism in the video intro? The guy from ASK tells you his full name, but the Akai spokesperson is “Jennifer” — no last name, because she’s, you know, a girl.”

      I’ve seen plenty of videos where music tech spokepersons are male , and are only presented by their first name . So ?
      Once you start using the “unconscious” argument, you can prove anything you like. Like Freud says, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

      • Jim Aikin

        I sort of figured it might be Jennifer Hruska, whom I’ve never met but have talked with on the phone a few times. I can only assume that “SomeDude” thinks sexism is just peachy, since he attacked my observation without actually rebutting it.

        Call it sexism, or call it plain old disrespect, it’s sort of the same slip-up either way. I’m betting sexism, but it’s possible the guy didn’t know how to pronounce Hruska and was embarrassed to ask — in which case it was just a minor ego problem. I’m just suggesting that journalists and video producers need to be sensitive to this kind of thing, because it can creep up on you.

        • SomeDude

          “I can only assume that “SomeDude” thinks sexism is just peachy,since he attacked my observation without actually rebutting it.”
          Yes , I rebutted it. I said she seemed to be treated just like most male tech spokespersons I’ve seen. If you think that’s sexist, then maybe you are the one who is unconsciously sexist, because you seem to think that women are helpless little children that should be treated differently than men. Isn’t that the definition of sexism ? You empower people by treating them like everyone else, not by giving them “helpless panda” status.

          Now if your argument was that tech demonstrators ( regardless of whether male, female, black, white, jews ,muslims, whatever) should always be presented by their full name, that’s another debate. But you didn’t do that. You put the presenter in a special category that excludes her from a general debate on how people should be treated in general, as if the general rules of society shouldn’t apply to her, because she is some sort of endangered species, not a normal grown-up adult. That’s condescending, not empowering, not egalitarian.

    • foljs

      “””Did anyone else spot the unconscious sexism in the video intro? The guy from ASK tells you his full name, but the Akai spokesperson is “Jennifer” — no last name, because she’s, you know, a girl.”””

      Or you know, she didn’t give her last name…

      ‘mericans and their PC crusades everywhere…

      • the_cody

        #notallmericans

      • Jim Aikin

        If she didn’t mention her last name, it’s the interviewer’s job to find it out. Deliberately mischaracterizing basic respect as “PC” is not a rational argument. It’s an attempt to justify disrespect by slinging overloaded rhetoric. Do you generally approve of disrespect, foljs? Or only in specific cases?

        CDM is not the place for this debate, of course (if it even qualifies as a debate). I made what I thought was a simple observation, and then a couple of people who evidently feel a need to defend male chauvinism dived in to try to deny the validity of my comment. Okay, we know which side you’re on. No need to try to justify yourselves any further.

        There are too few women in the music technology industry, and if you were to ask Ms. Hruska or any of her female colleagues, I’m sure they would be happy to regale you with tales of random insults they have endured — stuff like. “Oh, you must be the vocalist,” when she’s the DJ or the keyboardist. That kind of thing. There’s no excuse for it, but it does happen quite a lot, or so I’ve been told. So are we supposed to pretend that we don’t notice it when it’s right there in front of us?

        • Steve

          I don’t know how long you’ve been on this planet, but here on earth sometimes people refer to each other by first name. You’re grasping at straws here, man.

          Ironically, assuming that she’s been insulted because she’s a woman, and speaking on behalf of her is more sexist than referring to someone by their first name.

          And calling other people sexist for disagreeing with your dumb opinion is, well, dumb. And immature.

        • just leaving

          If all the male were presented by their first name only ( wich is the case if you watch their other videos), and she was presented by her full name, don’t you think THAT could be sexist ?

    • Phil Grossblatt

      Her last name is “Hruska”. But, yes, pretty much of all humanity is sexist, never hurts to point it out though…

      • Whatever

        “But, yes, pretty much of all humanity is sexist,” So that includes you , right ? 🙂

        • Phil Grossblatt

          “Pretty much” does not mean the same as “all”. I try to be conscious of it and act accordingly at least.

    • Jonathan

      While sexism is in many places, and much of it is unconscious, your conclusion that it occurred here lacks sufficient evidence.

      Did you consider the possibility that she specifically requested to be identified by first name only before the camera was turned on? Many women make such choices to protect themselves from harrassment both online and offline.

      Did you consider the possibility that Akai might have a corporate policy requiring public-facing employees to use only their first names? Many companies do so.

      Or did you simply assume that what was happening represented a confirmation of your belief about how the world works? Did you assume that the only likely alternative was that guy was not a sexist, but merely an egomaniac?

      Assumption is the enemy of truth.

      Perhaps she didn’t need you rising to her defense in this case because there was nothing to defend. Perhaps there *was* something to defend and she simply did it herself after the end of the take: “Hey, Adam, use my full name next time, please.”

      Not every windmill is a giant, Senor Quixote.

  • Yur2die4

    It is interesting the dynamic more complex displays are adding to midi controllers.

    One odd factor is that they all rely on heavy scrolling. Yes, you can use tags and banks, but either on the inner, outer, or inbetween directories, is all this scrolling.

    Many dedicated workstation and performance keyboards have buttons commited to types of presets. Jump to bass, piano, brass, string, etc at the touch of one single button.

    None of these options offer touch screen. The only touch option for loading presets I’ve seen so far is Touchable 3. It is a moderate solution, but it is a pretty big workaround if you hadn’t intended to make use of it. And it isn’t all that great for live use.

    Another method to load specific instruments at the press of a button is ClyphX in Live, but that requires a bit of programming, and you’d pretty much have to switch to hot-swap after.

    I think mostly do not see a real advantage otherwise of using an external device to sift through vsts and presets on a little screen when you could just as easily grab the mouse.

  • Yur2die4

    It is interesting the dynamic more complex displays are adding to midi controllers.

    One odd factor is that they all rely on heavy scrolling. Yes, you can use tags and banks, but either on the inner, outer, or inbetween directories, is all this scrolling.

    Many dedicated workstation and performance keyboards have buttons commited to types of presets. Jump to bass, piano, brass, string, etc at the touch of one single button.

    None of these options offer touch screen. The only touch option for loading presets I’ve seen so far is Touchable 3. It is a moderate solution, but it is a pretty big workaround if you hadn’t intended to make use of it. And it isn’t all that great for live use.

    Another method to load specific instruments at the press of a button is ClyphX in Live, but that requires a bit of programming, and you’d pretty much have to switch to hot-swap after.

    I think mostly do not see a real advantage otherwise of using an external device to sift through vsts and presets on a little screen when you could just as easily grab the mouse.

  • pagingdrc

    Automap was the worst thing since sliced diarrhea.

  • pagingdrc

    Automap was the worst thing since sliced diarrhea.

  • heinrichz

    So you are saying that the Kontrol upgrade won’t come in May with all the features Peter?
    That’s not what they announced at Frankfurt…which feature would be delayed until summer then? Can you elaborate on that a bit L

  • heinrichz

    So you are saying that the Kontrol upgrade won’t come in May with all the features Peter?
    That’s not what they announced at Frankfurt…which feature would be delayed until summer then? Can you elaborate on that a bit L

  • Maarty LeBlanc

    I hate those rainbow color led keyboards, they make em look like toys for kids…

    • foljs

      Yeah, whereas grown ups use black stuff (and skulls).

  • Maarty LeBlanc

    I hate those rainbow color led keyboards, they make em look like toys for kids…

    • foljs

      Yeah, whereas grown ups use black stuff (and skulls).

  • can you layer patches with Komplete Kontrol? If not, this seems like a big advantage of owning an Akai Advance

    • Apoclypse

      Nope. You can’t layer patches at the moment in Komplete Kontrol. No word on when that will happen. NI should have just took out Kore3 instead they would be way ahead of Akai at this point if they did.

  • can you layer patches with Komplete Kontrol? If not, this seems like a big advantage of owning an Akai Advance

    • Apoclypse

      Nope. You can’t layer patches at the moment in Komplete Kontrol. No word on when that will happen. NI should have just took out Kore3 instead they would be way ahead of Akai at this point if they did.

  • Jonathan Adams Leonard

    I have wanted the ability to update control proximal lcd for a while. NI sort of has this, but you must use their standard in kontrol or massive. Doesn’t even work in Reaktor standalone! The data for control labels needs to come from the plugin, so I said heck with NI and the weird way they do things…why not just use OSC? Why not have an osc compliant keyboard that sports lcd right under its variable controls? CONVENIENCE IS NOT FREEDOM.

  • Jonathan Adams Leonard

    I have wanted the ability to update control proximal lcd for a while. NI sort of has this, but you must use their standard in kontrol or massive. Doesn’t even work in Reaktor standalone! The data for control labels needs to come from the plugin, so I said heck with NI and the weird way they do things…why not just use OSC? Why not have an osc compliant keyboard that sports lcd right under its variable controls? CONVENIENCE IS NOT FREEDOM.

  • I’m not sure if this product is really what I’m looking for in a controller, but I couldn’t help but notice what a contrast this video is from Akai’s whole Timbre wolf fiasco in January. Obviously it’s a longer video in a better environment than the NAMM show floor, but Jennifer’s demo actually shows off the useful features, explores some of the technical advancements and limitations involved, and uses some sounds that don’t make my ears bleed. Hats off. Perhaps also a sign that Akai should focus on making sequencers and controllers instead of instruments.

  • I’m not sure if this product is really what I’m looking for in a controller, but I couldn’t help but notice what a contrast this video is from Akai’s whole Timbre wolf fiasco in January. Obviously it’s a longer video in a better environment than the NAMM show floor, but Jennifer’s demo actually shows off the useful features, explores some of the technical advancements and limitations involved, and uses some sounds that don’t make my ears bleed. Hats off. Perhaps also a sign that Akai should focus on making sequencers and controllers instead of instruments.

  • Rui Guerreiro

    You had me all fired up until the “no Logic plugins supported”!

    • wazaaaa

      Most plugins are available as VST anyway.

      • Rui Guerreiro

        Not sure what you mean by that.. I was referring to Logic’s built-in plugins and, I do use them a lot, and it appears that they are not, and won’t be supported any time soon. Nothing wrong with that, I was just excited to to finally see a controller that would actually fill the gap between controller and plugin, but if it’s only for 3rd party plugins, then it kind of goes against the purpose of buying Logic, which is, among other things, of course, not having to spend any additional money in extra plugins. But that’s just me, of course, and the controller does still looks great.

  • Rui Guerreiro

    You had me all fired up until the “no Logic plugins supported”!

    • wazaaaa

      Most plugins are available as VST anyway.

      • Rui Guerreiro

        Not sure what you mean by that.. I was referring to Logic’s built-in plugins and, I do use them a lot, and it appears that they are not, and won’t be supported any time soon. Nothing wrong with that, I was just excited to to finally see a controller that would actually fill the gap between controller and plugin, but if it’s only for 3rd party plugins, then it kind of goes against the purpose of buying Logic, which is, among other things, of course, not having to spend any additional money in extra plugins. But that’s just me, of course, and the controller does still looks great.

  • John Watilo

    Wow, this was looking like such a sweet controller. However, lack of VST3 support and the absence of sliders pretty much kills it for me.

  • John Watilo

    Wow, this was looking like such a sweet controller. However, lack of VST3 support and the absence of sliders pretty much kills it for me.