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M-Audio Keystation 61es Reviews

4.0 stars based on 3 customer reviews

Sweetwater Advice

  • Kenny Bergle

    Really a great value across the line, the Keystation ES series delivers great
    functionality and affordable control!

  • Paul stappenbeck
    from Lynnwood August 8, 2012Music Background:



  • Justin Carpenter
    from Lakeland, Florida August 9, 2011Music Background:
    Audio engineer, virtual instrument designer, hobbyist musican.

    Nice little entry-level workhorse.

    There's a Novation SL MkII propped in my corner, collecting dust. Oh, don't get me wrong, it's a fine controller, and it's in fine working condition. I have nothing really negative to say about it. I just really like my good old trusty Keystation better.

    It's about as plain and straightforward as it gets. The mod wheel is free floating, and the pitch wheel is self-centering, just like they were on my venerable Yamaha V50. Octave selection keys, a single volume fader, and an "Advanced" button (apparently for setting up a sustain foot pedal) round out its controls with, well, exactly what one expects from a no-frills, no-thrills basic controller. A single MIDI out port (no in or through) and a USB port occupy the back panel, as well as the sustain pedal port and a power adapter port. (The adapter is optional, and the Keystation draws power via USB when connected to a computer or powered USB hub.)

    The keys begin life a bit stiff, more like organ weight than synth weight. They mellow out a bit over time, but remain a tighter action than most synth-action keys I've played. I like this, personally, as I prefer the marginally greater resistance, but touch response is a very personal matter, and I encourage any serious player to try out a controller in person before buying. The lack of aftertouch is a bummer, but not unusual at the price point.

    It's durable, it's reliable, it's class compliant (no drivers needed for most modern OSes), it has the basic features most people need and nothing more. Given the variable build quality among offerings at this low price point, the Keystation 61es seems to me a particularly strong contender in its class, and a safe, reliable bet that will hold its own as a second controller years later, too.

    Folks who want a more fleshed-out control surface, a series of triggers, or more programmability from their controller will be better served looking elsewhere, and folks who want aftertouch or fully weighted keys should look elsewhere, too. But if you're after a basic, no-surprises, no-extras MIDI controller that does the job well, this is definitely the nicest of the entry-level bunch that I've seen or played. In my case, it's been all I needed for years.

  • Peter Bregman
    from Minneapolis, MN July 25, 2006Music Background:

    A good deal....but you get what you pay for

    I bought this keyboard because I needed a cheap MIDI controller. For the price it was the best one I tried. I've had it for a year and a half at this point and it's still working fine, except for one of the keys sticking a little. If you need a basic controller on a budget, this is the way to go - just don't expect anything amazing from it. The action is a little mushy and they springs in the keys start to make noise after a little while. Other than that it's still going strong.

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