The Insanely Cool $99 Reverse Key Akai MPK Mini

You’ve got to love reverse keys! Something about them just looks so cool. It’s like looking at a photo negative in real world. The Akai MPK Mini is a very cool midi controller already for it’s compact size, many controller options, built-in arpeggiator, and note repeat functions. It weighs under 2 lbs and can be used with a wide range of software and recording applications.

 

Plus it just looks awesome.

I mean, look at that thing.

so sexy.

Oh yeah, it also has a joystick.

Get one here for only $99 

How To Select a MIDI Controller – Buying Guide

Akai MPK Mini

There are so many MIDI controllers out there today and if you are on the market to buy one, all of the options and choices can be a bit overwhelming. So how do you select one? Do you just pick the one with the most stars on Amazon? Or do you pick the most expensive one?

The truth is neither of those are the wisest way to purchase. What you should first do before buying, or even considering which ones to buy, is ask yourself a few questions.

  1. Will you be using the controller for home studio use, or live use, or both?
  2. what type of playing style do you have?
  3. How much space do you have?
  4. Will you be using the controller for computer use only, or will you be controlling hardware as well?

1.  Home or live use will help determine what types of features you will want on the controller. For example, if you are using a controller live for mostly keyboard playing in a traditional sense as if it were a replacement for your stage piano or synthesizer, then you may want to look for something with at least 61 full sized keys.

Novation Impulse 61

The Novation Impulse 61 is an excellent choice for such a controller. It gives you 61 full sized semi-weighted keys, 9 faders, 8 knobs, 8 pads, as well as pitch and modulation controls. It’s a bit on the pricey side at $369, but you get a whole lot of controls at your fingertips, plus it comes with Ableton Live Lite, which is a great lightweight version of the famous Ableton Live Software.

Midiplus i61

If the Novation is too complicated and you just need something simple for playing piano or synth parts, the MIDIPLUS i61 is a cool and affordable option at only $83! MIDIPLUS is a company from Taiwan that I like quite a bit. I have one of their Classic 49 controllers that I love and it fits my needs. The i61 is a simple 61 key keyboard with full sized keys, volume fader and pitch/mod wheels.

2. What playing style do you have? This is related to question one, but if you are planning on using your controller more for controlling fx, DAW faders, filters, and drums, then one with 61 keys really isn’t going to be what you want. You might not even want one with ANY keys!

Novation Launch Control XL

The Novation Launch Control XL is just such a controller. It is mostly geared towards Ableton, but you could use it to control just about anything you could imagine. It has 24 knobs, 8 faders, and 16 buttons, plus transport controls. This would be perfect for live performance with Ableton in a compact size. Plus it’s only about $150!

Akai MPD218

The Akai MPD218 is another keyless controller that falls into the category of a ‘pad controller’. This type of controller is perfect if you wish to trigger rhythmic samples or for finger-drumming with soundfonts, Ableton or Reason.

 3. How much space do you have? This is one I have to think about all the time. I live in Brooklyn and in a tiny apartment. Things that take up tons of room are really not even options for me. This is also why I don’t really do hardware synths anymore.

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Korg NanoKey2

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Korg NanoKontrol2

Korg’s Nano Series Is in my opinion the best series for those with limited space. They take up virtually no space at all, have great feeling controls, and have a lot of configuration via software that comes bundled with the controllers. They make a lot of different controllers to meet your needs, like keyboards, control surfaces, and pad controllers. All of which are very affordable.

4. Do you need to control hardware? This is an important question. A lot of MIDI controllers out there today do not feature actual MIDI ports on them anymore! This is because the majority of people are using them plugged into computer via USB. However if you want to control a hardware MIDI sampler or synth module, a controller with external power supply and actual MIDI ports!

MidiPlus Classic 49

Midiplus Classic 49

The Midiplus Classic 49 is a great example of an all around workhorse controller. It has 49 full sized keys, 9 faders, 8 knobs, pitch and mod wheels, USB and hardware MIDI Ports and the ability to use external power, plus a sustain pedal input. I have one of these myself and I love it. I use it for home and live use. It has just enough keys and controls to make some interesting programming, but not so much that it’s overwhelming.

Wait! What about Linux???

Well I use Linux as my main system and have used all kinds of MIDI controllers from many different manufactures, and I have yet to plug in one that Linux does’t recognize.

Brands I have personally used in Linux are:

  • M-Audio
  • Akai Professional
  • MIDIPLUS
  • KORG
  • Edirol
  • Generic midi cable from China

Every single one has worked plug and play! But if you are unsure, google it and find your answer!

Anyway, hopefully this was helpful and whatever controller you end up buying, have fun!

 

Free Tama Imperialstar Drum Kit Soundfont!

I decided to create a high quality soundfont of my Tama Imperialstar drum kit (pictured above). The kit features a 20″ kick, 14×5″ snare, 12″ rack tom and 14″ floor tom. Cymbals are two crashes, a bell cymbal, stacker, ride and hi hats.

This was part of my YouTube tutorial on creating soundfonts in Linux using Swami.

Download it for free here, or click the image above!

Rendering on a second computer with Kdenlive

Have you ever edited your YouTube video but didn’t want to render it right then and there because you don’t want to bog down your system while you’re working on other things? This happens to me all the time. My solution was to use a second computer I had laying around for rendering. It doesn’t even need to be super fast. You’re not going to actually be editing on it, only rendering.

So how do you get your complete Kdenlive video project over to another computer easily? Well, Kdenlive has a feature that can do this for you! 

You’ll need a USB stick with around 8gb or more depending on the size of your project. Then when you are ready to render your project, all you need to do click on Project then Archive Project.

Once you do this, you’ll be prompted for an Archive Folder . Click the browse button then select your USB stick, then click Archive. Kdenlive will automatically copy all of the necessary files to open the project on another computer!

Then just plug the stick into your other computer and copy all of the files from the archive to a folder on that system, open up Kdenlive, then open the archive like a regular project and click render! You can then just go back to working on your main system and let your rendering computer do the work. Once it’s done,you can either upload it from there, or transfer it back to your main system with the USB stick.

Just make sure you are using the same version of Kdenlive on both systems. Also, if you are using any titlescreens made in Kdenlive, make sure you have the same fonts used on those screens installed on your rendering computer.

If it’s an older computer that’s pretty slow, you can expect the rendering to take quite a while, but it doesn’t really matter since you won’t be using that computer for anything else.

If you need a sweet deal on a complete camera setup, check out this T6!

There is now a Chinese Kick Drum Mic (beta 52A clone) available on Amazon

I had just made a video about recording drums with insanely cheap mics and in the video I mentioned that I never checked if there was a China kick mic out there. After I made the video, I checked, and yup, there is! And it’s only $25!

It looks like it still may be pretty new since there’s no reviews yet. I went ahead and ordered one and will make a video on it as soon as it gets here. If you want to check one out for yourself, click the image below to see it.

I’ll be excited to try this thing out!