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.)