M-Audio’s Axiom range has been a very popular midi controller, for many home and pro studios, since the world of digital production blew up. Since then, there have been MK2’s and Pro models, which have evolved to the users’ needs. The latest creation in this line is the AIR release. From its unpacking there is a noticeable change in the overall depth of it. The familiar layout of pads, in a 4×2 formation, which was incorporated in previous models, has been done away with. The AIR models now provide a full 4×4 configuration which has been made famous by MPC. This is applicable for all the AIR models i.e. 25-key, 49 and 61.
At the centre of the unit is the main control panel. This offers standard transport controls for your DAW software as well as other customable features to integrate into your workflow. Hypercontrol is the new name for M-Audios former DirectLink application. It works as an automatic midi mapping tool that alongside your chosen DAW. It allows you to control various parameters, such as volume and panning to more complex things like effects.
The drum pads are velocity and pressure sensitive to produce more organic and human feel to your drums. The pads section now includes three different banks which can be located via a single button. Also available is a drum ‘Roll’ feature. The repeat rate for this can be controlled through function keys on the keyboard along with the swing and note length.
The keys themselves provide after-touch. The benefits of this are to give the user are greater feeling of control when composing. To the left of the keyboard there are the customary pitch and modulation wheels, accompanied by octave changing buttons. Moving up, are eight endless encoders, which are of course fully midi mappable for your needs, along with one master fader on the 25-key. On the larger 49 & 61-key models, there are 9 faders in total.
Moving to the back of the unit, there is a mains power supply which can be used in a live situation to power external gear. The MIDI I/O ports can then be utilised alongside your desktop hardware synths or drum modules. A port for both expression and sustain pedals is also available.
For the price range (£165 – £325 model dependant), M-Audio delivers all the features one would expect for that kind of money. The unit is solid and well built and the overall fell is good. But nothing for me really stands out, to tell you the reader to go buy it, but does provide value for money in today’s midi keyboard market.