M‑Audio"s Oxygen 49 offers competitively priced control over your DAW.

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This is reportedly the 3rd generation of the M‑Audio Oxygen variety, and it is part of an already well‑establimelted category of products: it"s an entry‑level controller key-board designed to be attached directly to a computer, and also to be affordable and basic to usage. In pursuit of this last objective M‑Audio have attempted to carry out more‑or‑less effortless integration via popular DAW applications via a device referred to as DirectLink.

In the box, in addition to the keyboard itself, is a brief published Quick Start Guide, a USB cable and also a disc containing even more considerable documentation in PDF format, in addition to gadget drivers for Windows systems. The Oxygen 49 is a "class‑compliant" USB tool, so it"s not strictly crucial for chauffeurs to be mounted, although they may be required for Windows individuals wanting to use the keyboard with two different applications at the same time, or in conjunction with an additional class‑compliant gadget with audio capabilities.

The quoted minimum system requirements are a 1GHz CPU and also 512MB of RAM for Windows and Mac customers alike, although realistically you"d more than likely want a little bit even more than that simply to run the software application the Oxygen 49 is intended to be provided with.

Knobs & Other Parts

The Oxygen 49, unsurprisingly, features a 49‑essential keyboard; other models in the range administer 25‑ and 61‑vital configurations. The key-board is full‑size and also velocity‑sensitive, although it"s neither weighted nor "semi‑weighted", and also doesn"t provide aftertouch sensitivity (not that you"d really expect it to, at this price). Pitch‑bfinish and modulation wheels are positioned above the left‑hand also end of the key-board. A pair of buttons adjacent allows the reliable variety to be switched up or down in octaves, while an additional pair have the right to be provided to switch between tracks in sustained DAW software program.

Towards the right‑hand also finish of the peak panel are nine assignable sliders, which can be supplied to regulate faders in a software application mixer, or any other parameters you treatment to assign to them. Beneath the faders are nine assignable butlots, and even more still to the appropriate are eight assignable knobs and a collection of sequencer transport butloads (the usual Stop, Play, Record, Rapid Forward and also Rewind, plus a button to toggle looping on and also off).

The continuing to be butlots are supplied to page via and also choose the Oxygen 49"s presets, to "mute" output from the device"s knobs and sliders (to protect against abrupt jumps once switching between various presets, for example), and to sfinish a snapshot of the existing worths of those exact same controls. A three‑digit red LED display screen completes the peak panel, enabling fundamental, rather abbreviated information around the device"s state to be conveyed.

The Oxygen 49"s earlier panel is fairly sporadic. There"s a traditional quarter‑inch socket where an optional sustain pedal can be connected, a Kensington lock connector for attaching an anti‑theft protection cable, an on/off switch and also a standard USB socket. The gadget draws its existing by means of USB, and also there"s no choice to attach an exterior power supply. Similarly, no five‑pin MIDI socket is offered for directly connecting hardware sound resources. The Oxygen 49 is essentially a computer peripheral, designed via software‑based virtual studio setups in mind.

A Breath Of Fresh Air?

The Oxygen 49 is intended to be straightforward to use, and also manperiods it fairly well. M‑Audio"s DirectLink innovation intends to sell automatic integration through supported software application running on the host computer. Applications not sustained by DirectLink might still be managed from the tool, either by making use of the software"s own MIDI Learn feature (assuming there is one) to make assignments, or by manually assigning the correct MIDI CCs to controls as compelled. This is an easy sufficient procedure involving two or 3 button‑pushes, data entry being done using the key-board itself. Ten precollection slots are obtainable, in which sets of controller assignments deserve to be stored (preset 10 is collection aside for DirectLink), and these have the right to be dumped by means of SysEx for outside storage.

M‑Audio and also their parent agency Avid are keen to emphasise that DirectLink assistance is constructed in to current versions of Pro Tools, customers of which can suppose to plug in an Oxygen controller and have actually it work-related practically immediately. Users of various other DAWs need to occupational a little bit little bit harder — although it really just boils dvery own to downloading the appropriate package from the M‑Audio web website and also running an installer.

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Downloadable DirectLink packeras are accessible for Apple"s Garage Band also, Logic Pro 8, Logic Expush 8, Propellerhead"s Reachild and Steinberg Cubase 5. Users of Pro Tools 8.01 and also later on have actually nopoint to downpack, and neither perform Ableton Live 8.09 users, since both applications encompass built‑in support. For the purposes of this review, I determined to test the Oxygen 49 via Reakid 4.01.

After downloading and install the forced package I ran the installer, clicked through a couple of dialogue boxes, and also the installation was finish. I linked the Oxygen 49 to my computer and also began Reakid. The key-board was immediately recognised and also Reaboy readily available to set it up for me. From starting the installer to tweaking on‑display controls took no even more than a minute.

Controlling Reakid (and, I can only assume, the various other supported DAW applications) from the Oxygen 49 is simple enough. You deserve to choose and also switch in between sequencer tracks making use of the Track butlots. The sequencer transport controls work as you would expect, and also you"ll easily find you deserve to navigate approximately the application without as well frequently having to reach for the computer mouse. Parameters on the instrument assigned to the energetic track are instantly mapped to controls on the key-board. Switching tracks instantly remaps the controls to correct parameters on the next assigned instrument. It"s not always instantly noticeable which instrument parameters will certainly be assigned to which Oxygen controls, however the selections are reasonably rational, and also a PDF contained through the DirectLink package has a advantageous "cheat sheet" of manage assignments for the various Reason tools.

I was initially puzzled that I didn"t seem to be able to control the faders on Reason"s mixer through the Oxygen"s sliders. However before, it turned out that all I necessary to do was produce a sequencer track for the mixer gadget (by right‑clicking it in Reachild and also choosing Create Track), whereupon the sliders immediately concerned life. An exciting Drawbar Setting allows the calibration of the sliders to be reversed, so that zero is at the peak and also 127 is at the bottom; this is intfinished to work-related through organ tools, yet it can additionally have other applications.

It"s A Gas?

The rear panel hosts simply a USB port, a socket for an optional footswitch and also the unit"s on/off switch.

Once hardware and software program are connecting with one one more, you deserve to obtain on and play. The Oxygen 49"s keyboard is exceptionally light and springy, although it seems quite solidly created, without any disconcerting buzzes or rattles. A alternative of seven basic "velocity curve" settings is accessible to fine‑tune the keyboard"s response. In addition to the default setting, tbelow are louder and also softer settings, a "linear" setting (which appears incredibly equivalent to the default), and also 3 "fixed" settings which successfully disable sensitivity, fixing the keyboard"s output velocity at 64, 100 or 127.

The pitch‑bfinish and modulation wheels are made from a kind of difficult plastic, and also despite the knurled surconfront and also huge fingertip indentations, they can feel slightly slippery. Their positioning above the bottom few keys of the key-board might additionally be a little disconcerting if you"re expecting them to be alongside the left‑hand also finish, although that"s fairly straightforward to adapt to.

The transport controls and various other buttons are made of a rubberised material, and are "clicky" as soon as pressed. Although I wouldn"t go so much regarding say they were flimsy, I had the sense that they can not take kindly to as well much over‑enthusiastic stabbing.

The eight knobs have actually caps that are likewise made from a slightly rubbery material, and are accordingly grippy. Although their staggered arrangement helps a little, the knobs in the height row perform feel a bit crowded by their neighbours. Given their proximity to the top edge and also right‑hand also finish of the key-board, they also seem slightly exposed — and also indeed among the knobs on the evaluation unit looked as if it had taken a knock at some allude, leaving its write-up slightly bent.

The nine sliders have actually a brief travel (around one and also a half inches) and are similarly fitted with soft, slightly rubbery caps. In usage they work well enough, although they"re maybe on the short side for controlling faders in a DAW"s mixer. They likewise feel a little loose, via a noticeable side‑to‑side wobble. Their articles stand also about a half‑inch proud of the peak panel and, as via the knobs, I"d be slightly pertained to that a careless knock can bend one out of shape (although to be fair, the sliders on the testimonial unit had all managed to protect against this fate, so I"m perhaps overstating the risk).

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M‑Audio describe the Oxygen 49 as "a portable key-board that"s perfect for both production and also performance”. Although it"s certainly compact and also lightweight, and would be easy to lug round to a bandmate"s house for a rehearsal, its building and construction doesn"t quite feel rugged enough for me to recommfinish it as a continual gigging key-board. As an affordable home-studio controller, but, it has actually a lot going for it. It"s economical through area, has actually a advantageous yet not overwhelming selection of controls, and DirectLink renders it simply about effortmuch less to put up and also usage with supported applications.

There are various other, similar controllers on the sector, however not many kind of in this price bracket, so if you"re on a limited budobtain and eager to acquire the most for your money, the Oxygen 49 is certainly worth considering.  

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