CME Xkey Review

You don’t need us to tell you the awesome power and industry-defining opportunities that MIDI keyboards and controllers have brought in the world. The music industry wouldn’t be where it was today without them.

However, we’re all used to the huge MIDI keyboards that take up a lot of space on our studio worktops, so what if you’re looking for something a little bit more compact? Not only that, what if you’re looking for a controller you can take with you wherever you go, granting you the ability to make music on the fly?

Whereas with most portable MIDI controllers you’ll need to compromise your access to much-needed features and functions, the CME Xkey aims to rid the world of this niggle. Quite possibly the thinnest and lightest MIDI keyboard available, this could be a game changer.

In a Rush?

• 25 nearly full-sized keys (black keys are narrower)
• Pressure-sensitive keys with polyphonic aftertouch
• Supports a full 128-step MIDI velocity scale
• Weighs in at only 600g (lighter than most original iPads)
• Effortlessly connects to your devices using Plug N Play technology

Outstanding Portability

The key feature of the CME Xkey is the fact that it’s easily one of the most portable MIDI controllers in the business. It weighs in at just under 600g and measures at just over 16mm thick. This is innovation at its best, and perfect for sticking into your backpack and taking with you anywhere.

This keyboard also requires no battery or power sources, unlike your full-sized MIDI controllers. It simply runs on the power supply of whatever device you’re connecting it to. This connection is made using your universal USB connection, which makes it ideal for working with any type of computer.

You can even connect it to iPads and other portable tablets. Regarding technological compatibility, this keyboard works in the same way that any other MIDI controller does. You can use it as a standalone piece of kit or plug it into any of your DAW applications, and it works flawlessly.

Thanks to the Plug and Play technology, you won’t even need to download drivers for it to be compatible. We love that you can just plug it into any computer and it works right off the bat.

A Feature-Rich MIDI Controller

While you may be thinking ‘okay, this is an awesome little keyboard you can take with you, but surely it lacks features when it comes to actual audio production?’ This is not the case.

The key comes with 25 nearly full-sized keys and two octaves. The white keys are full-sized, but it’s the black keys that are slightly narrower than their full-sized counterparts. What more control over your octaves? There are plus and minus buttons, so you can change this, providing you with more options than you would a regular-sized keyboard.

We also adore the fact this keyboard has been designed with velocity-sensitive keys, so you can push as hard or as lightly as you want, which ultimately affects the sound you’re producing. There’s even polyphonic aftertouch for those of you who are interested in this feature.

Furthermore, you’ll find a sustain button for prolonging or shortening the sounds you’re creating. The final features here include a pressure-sensitive pitch bend, modulation buttons, and continuous MIDI control data feedback. In fact, there are 128 levels of sensitivity you can play with.

While this keyboard is highly portable and built for on-the-move audio production, you can tell it comes with a full range of features that can rival most conventional MIDI controller keyboards.

A Futureproof Design

The CME Xkey MIDI Controller

Another one of the best features that we love about this keyboard is the fact that it’s designed for now, and the future. The controller is compatibly upgradable simply by plugging it into a computer or internet-enabled device.

This means any updates to the firmware or features that CME releases in the future can be easily downloaded and installed at no extra cost to you.

Perhaps surprisingly to many of you, purchasing the XKey also provides you with the opportunity to download the free app. This is compatible with all iOS devices, Mac and Windows operating systems, but not currently portable Android devices.

Within this app, you’ll be able to access the Configuration settings, which allow you to customize and personalize your MIDI controller, so it works the way you want it to. This is ideal for musicians who want more out their MIDI controller, and an essential when it comes to such a highly portable device such as this.

All in all, it’s easy to see that this keyboard is a serious consideration for any level of musician. It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting out on your audio journey, or an advanced player who needs access to a wealth of features, the CME XKey caters for everyone.

Any Negatives?

The CME Xkey MIDI controller in another color

While there are a lot of positives to this controller, there a few things you’ll want to consider before you buy it.
Most notably is the fact that keyboard is not compatible with Android devices. While you can plug this into your iPhone or iPad, the same can’t be said for Google’s operating system.

This product is also renowned for its sleek and stylish finish. To us, it resembles an Apple keyboard, which is great. It looks good, and it feels really well designed and produced to a high-quality. However, with this in mind, if you were to drop it or damage it in any way, we don’t think it will survive.

Of course, there are several features that full-scale MIDI controllers have that this one doesn’t, according to the make and model you buy, but to summarize, this is an extremely powerful and versatile MIDI controller that’s great for both work and play.

Summary

All in all, this is a truly impressive piece of tech. Regardless of what you’re looking for in your MIDI controller, if you need a super affordable, highly portable and fully-functional piece of equipment, we really don’t think it gets much better than this.

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