The M-Audio Axiom Air is the latest in the ever evolving line of M-Audio MIDI keyboard controllers…
Following the recent shakeup over at Avid which saw M-Audio leave the stable, M-Audio are obviously keen to show that it’s business as usual in their new home at inMusic – announcing an entirely new range with no less than four new controllers.
The Axiom A.I.R. series is so called because of, according to the M-Audio press release (below), a tight collaboration with A.I.R. Music Technology. Now I’m willing to show my ignorance here; nobody at OD is particularly familiar with A.I.R., but the big news is that out of A.I.R. comes Ignite, a “discrete, standalone music ideation and creation software built from the ground up to spark creative ideas and enable musicians to build songs in an organic fashion”. That’s slightly nebulous, but all will be revealed in a couple of days at Summer NAMM when we’ll bring you much more information.
Ignite will ship with all Axiom AIR controllers, and by the sounds of it is moving somewhat into the realms of Maschine and MPC Fly/Studio’s ‘buy a box, make music’ ideology. Interesting to say the least. Without much more to speculate on - yet - let’s take a look at the controllers:
M- Audio Axiom A.I.R. Mini 32
The M-Audio Axiom A.I.R Mini 32 looks like it could be a real winner, because there are very few small form factor keyboards on the market right now. If you’re more interested in note range than key size, which makes sense in a small keyboard, 32 mini keys can come in a lot more handy than a 25 key full sized controller. It’s a shame there’s no pitch bend or mod wheel on offer, though – I often wish there was more competition in this area because the Korg MicroKontrol is one of my all time favourite MIDI controllers, but with nobody to fight for that spot its price has stayed high for years despite a few flaws. Anyway, back to the A.I.R.. The pads on the Mini 32 are different to the rest of the range too, so we’ll be interested to see whether M-Audio are approaching this as the ‘budget’ version of the range or simply the most portable…
M-Audio Axiom A.I.R. 49 and 61
The 49 and 61 key versions of the M-Audio Axiom A.I.R. are identical save for the extra octave on the 61 (49 shown) and what may be marketing speak or may be a real difference – the 61 key version features ‘Tru Touch’ technology. Interestingly there are only 12 drum pads, and the only word so far is that they’re ‘backlit’ – whether that means in the single red shown is unclear. The recessed faders are a departure from existing Axiom keyboards, and it looks like M-Audio are also still tinkering with the optimum layout for the ‘technical’ controls, eschewing numpads and arrays of buttons for a less busy but potentially very useful d-pad and distinct transport controls. It looks like there’s a sheet music stand built in, too – a sign of a big use case for Ignite?
M-Audio Axiom A.I.R. 25
This one’s a little different to the 49 and 61 key versions, as faders are out but an extra row of pads is in, bringing the total to a more recognisable 4×4 design. Other than those changes the A.I.R. 25 looks similar in functionality to the 49 and 61, with separate pitch bend and mod wheel, slick black design, illuminated knobs, and a display that appears to hint at textual feedback from the Ignite software.
Press Release Highlights
“The Axiom A.I.R. series represents the latest evolution of best-in-class keyboard controllers from M-Audio. Featuring exclusive HyperControl™ automatic control mapping technology and groundbreaking Ignite music creation software, Axiom A.I.R. controllers provide an instant, fully immersive music creation experience.”
“M-Audio Axiom A.I.R. takes an instrument-focused approach that makes it easier than ever before to create, capture, and share your best musical ideas. With better control mapping and integration with Ignite music creation software, we’re providing total control over your music tools while removing many of the barriers that slow down your creative process,” – Andrew Ramm, Director of Product Management for M-Audio and A.I.R.
The Series’ name signifies an unprecedented level of integration and virtual instrument control never before achieved in a line of MIDI controllers.
The Axiom A.I.R. Mini 32 is made for powerful music creation on the move, with an ultra-mobile form factor, 32 velocity-sensitive mini keys, eight trigger pads and assignable low-profile knobs; the Axiom A.I.R. 25 is a hybrid keyboard/pad controller, giving beat makers and groove creators space-efficient yet comprehensive control with 16 backlit drum pads, illuminated knobs and synth-action keys; the Axiom A.I.R. 49 provides comprehensive control over any DAW for musicians of all types with an expanded layout of long-throw faders, illuminated buttons, backlit pads and 49 synth-action keys; and the Axiom A.I.R. 61 delivers all the same expanded features as the Axiom A.I.R. 49 but with 61 premium keys featuring TruTouch™ semi-weighted action for the keyboardist who demands a satisfying and responsive playing experience.
Each Axiom A.I.R. controller will come with Ignite, a new software with a revolutionary approach to music creation. Developed by A.I.R. Music Technology, Ignite is a discrete, standalone music ideation and creation software built from the ground up to spark creative ideas and enable musicians to build songs in an organic fashion.
Ignite conforms to the user’s creative process and represents a fresh way of thinking about music creation—a way that complements and energizes a musician’s natural workflow. Ignite helps musicians unlock creative energy and construct songs in an instinctive and satisfying way.
The Axiom A.I.R. Series will be available from musical instrument retailers in mid-October of this year.M-Audio will unveil the Axiom A.I.R. Mini 32 at booth# 800 at the 2012 Summer NAMM show in Nashville, Tennessee from July 12-14.