From my experience, the best way to sum up the CME Xkey is "compact, easy, and fun." As a musician who wants to be able to record ideas when they hit me, this little guy perfectly fits that need! Plus, it has features like a sustain button which set it apart from other compact 25-key controllers. The Xkey has found a permanent home in my laptop bag.
Such a solid little keyboard and feels really cool to play.....perfect for working out parts or finding the song key.....plus it looks like it was made to go with my mac keyboard !!
Review CME Xkey 25-key Mobile Keyboard Controller
For on the road use, the CME Xkey works perfect with my Finale notation software. Then, when I get home, I simply transfer the files from my laptop to my Sweetwater Creation Station for track production using Sonar.
An iPad's ideal companion
Despite being small enough to fit in most laptop bags or backpacks easily, the keys actually have a nice feel to them. I use this all the time to sketch up song ideas in Cubasis on my iPad. Somehow they even managed to include polyphonic aftertouch which is usually reserved for much more expensive hardware, making it extremely expressive to play with instruments that support it (Animoog) as well as on my desktop in a DAW supporting VST expression (Cubase).
I was worried about whether I could do without a full physical mod wheel, but the pressure based one is fairly easy to use and so are the pitch bend buttons.
Finally, the build quality is quite good if you are worried about lugging it around all the time.
Best 2 Octave Controller
I knew going into it that it looked like a good buy. Where else do you find a 25-key controller with full-sized keys and after touch, with an integrated sustain pedal? I have to say I haven't used the after touch feature yet, but this little controller helped me make more music. (I had been using my QWERTY keyboard before.) It is solidly built and somewhat reminiscent of an apple keyboard. The included USB cable is a bit fragile feeling as some have mentioned, but as long as you keep it away from young children and pets it should hold up.
solid and compact
i had been looking for a compact usb keyboard controller to use with an ipad mini and a variety of software synths. after reading some reviews on the sweetwater site, i settled on this particular gem. i was not at all disappointed. it is solidly built... from aluminum? not sure, but it has heft to it... it's not cheap plastic. you can stuff this in your backpack and not worry about it breaking. the keys are very responsive and it functions as i had hoped it would. i don't know if cme make any larger controllers, but if they did and i needed one, i wouldn't hesitate to buy one from them.
Outstanding Keyboard Controller
Amazing in every sense, this keyboard is a much smaller form factor than most of the usb controllers I have used in the past. The fit/finish is outstanding and function is exactly as described. Easy to carry from gig to studio; the single issue I have is the tiny usb cable included with the controller. It hasn't caused any difficulties, but I wonder about durability and ease of replacement. Other than that, this is a "perfect" piece of gear with no competition.
Perfect for My Songwriter Husband
Many times my husband works away from home and during that time likes to work on his songwriting. This is very compact, but perfect for him. He couldn't be happier.
CME Xkey 25-key Mobile Keyboard Controller
Simple the best addition for the mobile iPad musician/creative artist. A must have. Really brings your apps to life
I love the feel and portability of this little usb midi keyboard. It is practically everything I want from a portable solution without any extraneous bloat. The keys are very playable, and it sit stably on every surfaces that I have tried it on.
The only thing keeping this from being an absolute mad man is an add-on unit that can be chained onto the RHS of the unit into it's mini usb-b connector to add an additional 2 octaves of keys. That way you could easily travel with a four octave keyboard that can be broken down and stuffed into a backpack.
CME, are your listening?
Oh, and while I'm dreaming, please develop an elegant, lightweight, portable sustain pedal that matches the rig so I can keep my hands on the keys.
Great iPad Musician Companion
This has been a really nice add for playing synths and samplers on my iPad. I have a variety of keyboards and MIDI controllers in different shapes and sizes, but a few things stand out about the CME Xkey.
First, it's super compact, slim, and lightweight. It's easy to transport, plugs right in with 1 small cable (no hubs, dongles, power supplies, no batteries required.) and is really great for those sofa sessions as it fits right in my lap. It does not seem to put too much strain on the iPads battery either.
The full polyphonic aftertouch is superb, especially when working with a synth like Animoog which was designed to be played with this feature.
At first, the velocity sensitivity seemed a bit off - it was not easy for me to trigger notes at lower velocities. Then I discovered there is a free iPad app that goes along with the XKey that really lets you fine tune the way the controller works. You can select from different velocity curves and even draw your own. Other features are also configurable, and the app says they will be adding even more in the next release.
The other feature that I really like since this is only a 25 key controller is the way the octave buttons work. When you go up or down an octave, any keys that you're still holding down will retain their original sound, and any keys stuck after an octave change will be in the new octave. This is a pretty cool performance feature. The sustain button is also very useful.
All in all, it seems very well built and sturdy. At this price point, I don't know that I could ask for much more. The XKey is very feature rich and customizable. Its small form factor and ease-of-connection to the iPad make it something that I actually use on a regular basis, because it really is no hassle to hook it up and start playing.
As a final note, Sweetwater is great. They answer all of my questions, delivery is prompt, I get follow up calls to make sure I'm happy and that my questions are answered. Excellent customer service!
I saw this baby and thought it was just what I needed for writing while away from the studio. The CME XKey is a great little traveling Midi keyboard. I find myself using it all the time. Well built and well done. Awesome!
Review The CME Xkey 25-key Mobile Keyboard Controller
First of all the keyboard is fantastic it works great with Finale. I'm still learning so stay tuned. As far Sweetwater, I can't say enough about my buying experience.
Plug & Play Simplicity for Travel!
giving it 4.5 as i am a hobbyist and only own 2 keyboards. This however outside of my home studio gets the job done! You need something to play your sounds and make a song/mix this is the way to go! $90 gets you 25 keys, octave selections, and velocity sensitive controls in a SUPER SLIM AND COMPACT product that is ALSO compatible with iPads!!!! Thats too much to ask for in such a small inexpensive product. Way to go CME. You wont be disappointed, order up!
Great Portable Keyboard
I just got my CME Xkey keyboard. It's a great little board to go along with your iPad. It's all that it is advertised.
Lightweight, less than the iPad itself.
Portable, fits in a standard backpack.
Standard size keys, not the annoying mini keys.
Poly aftertouch for apps that support it.
Two octaves with octave, pitch, mod and hold buttons (buttons instead of wheels)
Well worth the price but had to spend an extra $30 at the apple store for a USB Camera to Lightning adapter. You won't need the adapter if you use it with a laptop or other PC.
Given its weight and standard size keys I would say this is the best portable keyboard I have come across. I don't think there is one that's any smaller. The key action is not like a traditional keybed buts it very playable. This keyboard will be going everywhere with me along with my iPad.
This is a dandy little controller. I wanted something small and portable so I could do music notation when I'm on the road - in an airport lounge, a hotel room, whatever. It's *almost* perfect. My one problem with it is that the USB port is way over on the right, while the USB port on my MacBookPro is on the left. I am a right handed music typist, so I need the keyboard to go over to the right of the laptop. Now, I suppose I could have spent the extra hundred bucks on a bluetooth model, but that means a) spending double for the same controller and b) having to make sure it's paired, battery, etc. etc. etc. I thought the tethered version would be fine, but the cord is *just* long enough that it's a tight fit to get it from my USB port on the laptop all the way under the computer (not even around the back) and plugged into the other side of the Xkey, and still have enough room to work properly.
I can't even use a longer cable because the fit into the Xkey is so tight, it needs the smaller plastic bit surrounding the usb end that goes into the Xkey. (My other cables, much better, are *thismuchtoothick* to fit properly.
So caveat emptor. If you're a leftie, it's GREAT. If you're a rightie, think about your set up first.
Slim, compact powerhouse
This little MIDI keyboard is the perfect complement to my MacBook Pro recording system. Once I downloaded its XKey Plus app and updated the firmware, the MIDI keyboard worked flawlessly with Garageband and its large library of sounds. I'm a novice to digital recording, but this little keyboard helped me create music in no time. I'm just scratching the surface of what this MIDI controller can do. Thanks to Kurt Cripe, my Sweetwater sales engineer, for recommending this product.
Nice little keyboard
I bought the CME Xkey 25 for two reasons. One, I wanted a small desktop keyboard. Two, I wanted something to travel with a laptop. Pros, simple design and solid build. Cons, keys are a bit cheesy.
I would recommend this to a friend. If all you want is a simple midi keyboard this is it.
This keyboard is a great little portable keyboard. There is a optional custom carrying case for it that might let it last longer in a travel bag or laptop tote. I've been using it with Garageband and it has never crashed over the course of using it for the last 2 weeks. I didn't have to map any of the buttons in Garageband. Just plug into the computer and go. This is great when space is small or even on a plane. And, it is well built.
This is fun to use. It was so easy to use.
Its useful just not complete
I really like this thing, its compact and easy to setup, its got very sensitive pitch buttons, easy to change octaves, but it isnt the easiest thing to sustain with while your playing. Maybe a wireless sustain pedal would be awesome? Other than that, I give it 4 stars for its overall ease to use with no drivers, just plug it in and open ableton, garage band, finale, and GO! I find it super useful for my songwriting and recommend this product for traveling musicians/songwriters.
Great portable keyboard
I've been looking for a low profile keyboard for travel. My Oxygen 25 is getting old and is so thick, it's a bummer to travel with, plus no aftertouch.
This keyboard plays very well. The dynamics are responsive and predictable, with the predictable and smooth dynamics have been an issue before with these small format keyboards.
NOTE- The travel of the keys is minimal. I'm primarily a drummer but I also play keys so this doesn't bother me and I understand their will be trade-offs with the low profile keyboard but having aftertouch is huge.
Downside is there are no wheels, just pressure sensitive buttons for pitch-bend and modulation. These are not as smooth as the keys are which makes them difficult to use. I use this primarily for sound design so these controls are really needed for me.
One other downside is the lack of any dedicated assignable controllers but that's a bit farther down the scale for me but would be helpful.
The perfect controller would be this with a handful of assignable knobs, or buttons if they could get the response better.
Overall, I'm happy with this purchase
Not so fully featured in Windows Rigs
The CME Xkey is a really portable and useful addition for portability for me, but the lack of "an app" to adjust the features (touch response, etc) for Windows makes it mediocre for use with Windows machines (Reason and ProTools).
Especially when compared to how it performs with the app on an iPad - it is like you have a completely different piece of hardware. No comparison. If you are working in the iOS world, this thing rocks - but it is just "ok" at best when in the Windows world.
I really wish CME would release a controller app for Windows that offers some of the features I can access in my iOS devices....
Portlable; has issues
Super portable, can easily throw it in your backpack. I traveled all over Europe with it and my laptop, composing on the go. Intelligent hinge-less key design where you can press the key anywhere for equal feedback. The key reponse is what you'd expect from a minimal design like this. In terms of feel, on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is weighted keys on a professional keyboard and 10 is the keys on an Apple macbook laptop keyboard, this keyboard is 8 or 9. The keyboard crashes/freezes a lot though on OSX. It hangs with a stuck note-on event. I constantly have to plug it and unplug it to reset it.