The Alesis iO Dock is designed to be the missing link between your iPad and the growing number of production focused apps for it and your studio equipment. Ins and outs galore, it’s not got a lot of competition right now, so can it step up to the plate? The usual dose of words and photography will follow shortly; here’s our video breakdown of the Alesis iO Dock…
Miniaturisation has been vogue for some years now – 25 key keyboards were first, and then mini controls blocks saw 49 and upwards sized keyboards increasingly forgotten in the budget market. Alesis know that when it comes to keyboard control, bigger can be better; here we have the QX49, a 49 key controller with a host of features. How does it fare?
In/Out: USB out, MIDI out, MIDI out from computer.
Bundled: Ableton Live Lite 8 Alesis Edition
Dimensions: (WxDxH) 32″ x 9″ x 3″
The QX49 nails the smart casual look
The pads illuminate red when pushed – the transport controls don’t, though, however much they look like they might.
The QX49’s main attraction however is the sheer number of controls it features for its knockdown price. As well as a 49 key keyboard with dedicated pitch and mod wheels there are eight faders, eight pots, four velocity pads, transport controls and system buttons. You also get expression pedal input, a MIDI out for the keyboard and a thru from the computer. There’s a 9V DC power option for controlling other hardware (not included), although the QX49 takes power directly over USB.
The top panel bows when banging on the pads and tweaking the controls
The top panel bows when banging on the pads and tweaking the controls, and whilst it doesn’t feel like there’s any danger of it breaking it does have have an effect on the feel.
Native Instruments, in their quest to streamline their product lineups into easily understandable categories, recently released the Komplete Audio 6 and booted their Audio Kontrol 1 into retirement. Rather than a simple rebadge however, they’ve designed a whole new product; we take a look to see what’s changed…
Product: Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6
Connectivity: 4x 1/4″ TRS outputs and stereo S/PDIF out, 2x 1/4″ TRS inputs, 2x combi inputs with +48v and stereo S/PDIF in. MIDI in, MIDI out, headphones.
Price: £249GBP / $299USD
The Komplete Audio 6 doesn’t stray too far from the design blueprint NI laid out for their audio interfaces a while ago; a thick steel coat wraps around three and a half of the box’s surfaces, with the sides tough matt plastic and the fascia a glossy black with lights to indicate levels and inputs.
The Komplete Audio 6 doesn’t stray too far from the design blueprint NI laid out for their audio interfaces a while ago
NI have given the displays a refresh, and the new look (shared with the Traktor Audio 6 and 10) makes it easier to take in information at a glance… and we think it looks nicer too.
Input and output wise, every analogue connection is balanced, with a stereo S/PDIF input and output, four ¼” TRS outputs and two inputs round the back, and two combi jack inputs on the front which can provide phantom power. There’s also MIDI in and out on the back, as well as a clever USB port that locks the cable in and makes it really difficult to pull out by mistake – perhaps a feature developed more for NI’s Traktor Audio range than what will in most cases be a somewhat sedentary piece of equipment, but cool nonetheless.
Komplete Audio 6 supercedes the Audio Kontrol 1, and the hardware is much more streamlined
The top panel now simply features an analogue 5o’clock – 7o’clock dial which attenuates the level of output one and two, with gains for the inputs and direct monitoring channel on the front of the unit. Output three and four adjustment no longer have analogue gain attenuation, permanently set to 0dB.
MOTU have just announced a new desktop audio interface: the six channel in/out, hybrid USB/FireWire400 Audio Express. Featuring two TRS jack and two pre-amped combo inputs, four TRS outputs and 24/96 stereo S/PDIF in/out.
The most interesting feature of the Audio Express is its standalone capability
There’s also MIDI I/O, complemented by MOTU’s Direct Digital Synthesis for sample accurate clock locking,and a headphone out.
The most interesting feature of the Audio Express is its standalone capability; aided by front panel mixing controls, the Audio Express doesn’t require a computer connection to accept inputs and route them through to its outputs, and MOTU’s Precision Digital Trim technology enables 1dB audio adjustments with save and recall of channel settings.
Audio Express looks to be a really interesting purchase for a home and small band user that uses a computer for tracking and finishing, but has standalone instruments they use for composition – its £330GBP retail price is quite high in light of competition from Focusrite, but its hybrid nature and combination of portability and mixing control sets it apart slightly. More news on how it sounds when it’s released and I get to test it… until then, you can check out more at MOTU’s site.
Footnote: I’m also conscious of the number of forward slashes I’ve put in this piece.