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Korg K25 USB MIDI Keyboard

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Korg K25 USB MIDI Keyboard

Korg K-25 Midi Controller

Courtesy Korg
The Korg K25 is a unique 25-key, USB-powered MIDI controller keyboard; priced at $99, it offers some great features, but does it stack up to professional studio use? Let's take a look at the features of this value-priced controller.

Programmable Features

The K25 is a great value at $99; it's got 25 full-sized, velocity-sensitive keys, representing a three octave range. You can also fully program the features of the keyboard, using your own settings, or choosing between any of the 57 scene templates included.

Included on the keyboard is a small clickpoint/joystick, two rotary knobs (assignable), and an array of fully-assignable wheels, knobs, and dials.

Performance

I bought the K25 as an affordable way to use keyboard plug-ins, including B4 and Abbey Road Keys. A client needed to use it, and I didn't have one on hand. For $99, it was an easy investment.

A quick warning to my fellow Mac users: plugging in the K25 to my USB port on my Mac, I was very surprised -- my trackpad quit working! Turns out, the (very slow-response and fairly useless) clickpoint on the K25 automatically became my default mouse; after poking around in the Mac's system settings, I was able to ignore the USB mouse easily, but it still gave me quite a bit of frustration.

Getting the K25 to work with my Pro Tools system wasn't a huge ordeal, but it continuously threw out HUI errors which required some minor troubleshooting.

The controller worked fine -- 90% of the time. The other 10%, it would start sending mixed signals to the host program, and caused some really interesting-sounding arrangements to come out of my otherwise solid organ lines. And trying the K25 with other host programs, the same problem happened. Overall, I decided it wasn't for me -- and waited in line for an hour at Guitar Center to return it.

Conclusion

Feature-rich and inexpensive, the K25 isn't a bad value; it simply didn't stand up to professional-studio use. It had a lot of great features, but it also had a tendency not to work as smoothly with drivers and interface software. It's a shame, because the price is definitely right. Unfortunately, when being used for anything other than hobby recording, it's not reliable enough of a performer, at least in my limited tests.

For home recording using Garageband, I'm sure it'd be fine; in fact, the K25 comes with some great demo software to get you started. But in my professional, profit-earning Pro Tools-based studio, it simply didn't deliver every time I needed it. Remember, downtime equals profits being lost. For $99, it's certainly affordable for those who need something quick and cheap -- just don't rely on it when you won't have a chance to do the take again.

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