A great MIDI keyboard controller with all of your desired features is hard to come by today. Either they keys are too flimsy, or there aren’t any drums pads on it, or it has everything and it costs - everything! For my budget and my needs, Nektar’s Impact 61-key controller is a great compromise. I was working with a used M-Audio Axiom 49 controller before I bought my Impact 49. Being very big on playing chords and very dynamic pieces in my productions, 49 keys were not enough space for me to produce my music freely without having to hit the button in order to reach the notes I needed.
I use my Impact controller for everything. I produce my music a Maschine MK1 hardware and Logic Pro X software. I can controller any software instrument I have in my arsenal, and almost any parameter within the instruments or plug-ins. One thing that I can do with this board that I could not do before, is control individual tracks in my mixer within Logic, without worrying about accidentally moving a fader I did not intend to move. This is possible because the faders will remember their position (and within banks). This means that if I set Track 1’s fader to -6db and I move the same fader to control Track 9 and then grab Track 1 again, the fader will not move until I physically move within my DAW until I cross that position with the controller. This is very useful because I prefer to move faders vs. clicking and dragging a mouse to do everything. I can mix entire songs if I want to. The ability to enable cycle mode, record, play and stop are very useful as well. I’m able to control my DAW right from my MIDI keyboard.
Right out of the box, the Impact 49-key controller has 9 faders, 8 knobs, and 8 pads. The controller is also able to transpose your keyboard with the touch of a button. Most keyboard controllers are only able to shift your keyboard by octaves. If you’re a beginner piano player, this could be useful in tight situations like not knowing a song in a different key than the one you practiced. The pads feel very soft and comfortable. What’s very cool about the pads is that they are programmable as well. On my Axiom 49, the pads control a fixed midi note. With my Impact 49, I can assign any one of my eight pads to any key on my keyboard according to my liking.
Nektar also comes with Studio One Artist to get you up and running. But what makes this board special is that you can set it up specifically to function with your favorite DAW (except Pro Tools), allowing you to control parameters within your virtual instruments. You can also bring up your mixer and jump to different tracks at the touch of a button.
As much as this board satisfies my needs, there are two things I would have liked to see different. I am big on the keys themselves on a keyboard so I prefer them to be weighted. The keys are “synth” like so they do feel sort of like a toy keyboard. My other gripe would be about the knobs. In contrast to my Axiom, the knobs on my Impact 61 are not 360 degree rotatable. I would think it’s possible, but I am not sure if I will be able to pan my tracks as well as I would with my previous keyboard controller. But they are definitely useful in controlling all of my other parameters on various plug-ins, so all is not lost.
Full integrable with your DAW
Affordable for bedroom producers
Knobs are not 360 degrees rotatable