It used to be black and now it's white. M-Audio's controller keyboard is back with a new look and on steroids...
The first thing you’ll notice as soon as you unpack the Axiom Pro is that it looks different compared to the standard Axiom. No black and gray sleek finish anymore, instead you now have a shiny white finish to emphasize the black controls with red and gray labeling. The color combination gives it an iPod Classic, 80's revival look–it even has a chrome detail on the top of the encoders. Some might find it a bit too fancy but the contrast of colors will surely make it easier to use in dark environments, compared to the standard Axiom, be it on stage or in the badly-lit cellar you call home studio. M-Audio also used the occasion to add nice blue LEDs to 19 buttons and the keyboard’s LCD display.
White on Red
One last remark regarding mechanical parts: the sliders on the model we tested were a bit stiffer than the sliders on the old Axiom. It’s neither better nor worse, it’s just different. We’ll have to wait and see if it stays that way after long hours of use.
One of the main new features of the Axiom Pro is the HyperControl technology that provides some sort of super mapping for immediate use with most sequencers on the market: Pro Tools, of course, but also Cubase, Ableton Live, Logic, Reason, and some virtual instruments (most of them by Digidesign). No Sonar, Digital Performer or Samplitude preset at the moment (to make competitors’ life harder?). It’s no surprise that neither Studio One nor Reaper take advantage of the HyperControl technology. This does not mean that you cannot use the Axiom Pro with these programs, it only means that you’ll have to make your own mapping like you always did, and it’s a pity.
The Axiom was already a very good controller keyboard and it’s no surprise that the new Axiom Pro outdoes it with its improved keyboard, HyperControl technology, LEDs and ASCII message support. It will take you no time to learn it and its several sequencer mappings will allow you start working right away. Considering that it provides exactly the same control elements as its predecessor and that there is no 88 weighted key model, this Axiom is more like a Mark II than a Pro version. It’s an excellent choice for people looking for a high-quality, versatile keyboard but I’m not sure it makes sense for people who already own the previous model.
It is definitely worth the 30%-40% price increase compared with the older version, but it’s probably too high a price for Axiom users considering an upgrade. We regret that M-Audio didn’t seize the opportunity to add more new functions (more pads or an XY pad, like on competitor products). We can’t really complain about anything on this model except that it’s more like an Axiom II than an Axiom Pro…
- LEDs for dark environments
- Very pleasant feel
- Hyper-convenient HyperControl technology
- Control possibility via ASCII messages
- Still no 88-key version
- We expected more new functions
- No HyperControl presets for many sequencers