M-Audio Keystation 88MK II Review
For an RRP of $519.99 you get 88 full-size velocity-sensitive, semi-weighted keys and a bundle of options to the left and top of the keyboard. These include octave range buttons plus pitch-bend and modulation wheels, as well as transport and directional controls so you can play, perform, and record easily through your music software. The Keystation 88 also includes a 1/4” sustain pedal input so you could also choose to add the M-Audio SP-2 Sustain Pedal or a preferred equivalent to your kit. The keyboard is powered via USB or via a separately purchased power supply and is class compliant, meaning you won’t need any extra drivers to plug and play with your DAW of choice.
What’s in the box?
Once you lift the lid you’ll see the sizeable keyboard controller as well as your M-Audio Keystation 88 manual, USB cable, warranty and a software card to download Ableton Live Lite, AIR Music Tech Xpand!2 and SONiVOX Eighty-Eight Ensemble. Between these three pieces of software you will have an option for music recording and creation, a multitimbral all-in-one workstation plus a virtual piano instrument including a 9-foot CD327 Steinway piano. You can also choose to connect the Keystation 88 directly to an Apple iPad using an additionally purchased camera connection kit, enabling you to make the most of available iOS apps.
Look and feel
The M-Audio Keyboard controller 88 is just like the rest in the series: that is, lightweight yet rugged in build quality. That makes it ideal for bringing with you to live performances and regular jam sessions. With a weight of 7.3kg and a length of nearly 135cm, it’s a portable option for a full-sized keyboard. The semi-weighted keys are springier than weighted keys so won’t offer the feeling of a baby grand, but they are quick and responsive for performances. Its control buttons and sliders also have a great quality feel to them. The design itself is sophisticated and sleek, with no unwanted bells or whistles here.
This depends largely on the DAW and sounds you choose to use with the Keystation 88 II, but we will say that its keys offer the potential for great responsiveness and the optional sustain pedal input allows for plenty of flexibility and expression. All up, the Keystation 88 MK II is a fantastic all-rounder that makes recording, performing and experimenting highly enjoyable.