Avid KeyStudio £80
4th Mar 2011 | 10:00
The whole keyboard and caboodle
The Avid KeyStudio is a three-in-one for new music-makers. First up there's the most basic set of keys imaginable. There's no MIDI port, it's exclusively USB powered and there are none of those extra sliders we love. It's light, it's got a rather sticky and plasticky action; it's strictly budget all the way.
Next in the box is an audio interface, or rather a cigarette lighter sized USB dongle with 3.5mm stereo ins and outs – exactly the same ports that are already on any modern Mac.
It's all thanks to the bundled Pro Tools SE software which, even in these more enlightened times, still insists on having some Avid hardware plugged in (and hogging a second USB port). But now you can join the pros, albeit with just eight virtual instrument tracks and 16 audio tracks.
Fortunately, SE is upgradeable to the full Pro Tools 9 if you need the extra elbow room.
Things make most sense with GarageBand. The KeyStudio performs perfectly, which is unsurprising given its simplicity, and it's hard to knock in terms of sheer suitability for this roll. It even fits neatly under your iMac screen.
Overall, don't be fooled by the all-in-one package here. Pro Tools SE is a great way to get familiar with Pro Tools, but it isn't actually any better than the GarageBand you get free with your Mac. And despite the lure of an audio interface, it's so super-basic that it's simply a hardware dongle for their software.
That said, view this package as a budget, iMac-styled 'my first keyboard' and you'd be hard pushed to find cheaper.
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