M-Audio Code 61

M-Audio Code 61 Review [2019 Buyer’s Guide Included]

Looking for a MIDI controller with quality keys and pads that looks like a million dollars? Well, you might just be in for a treat from M-Audio in shape of Code 61 – the ultimate top dog in the company’s latest range.

It’s worth noting that the MIDI keyboard is nothing less than a marvel of efficiency when it comes to design and features.

While it’s not a cheap MIDI device, it’s an excellent investment for every producer. M-Audio Code 61 comes with, you guessed it, 61 keys with aftertouch, 16 drum pads, 8 knobs, 9 faders, XY Pad, and a lot more.

Pros

  • Tons of features
  • Quality build
  • Premium plugins

Cons

  • Steep learning curve

Keys

If you are looking for a nice keyboard feel, Code series is for you. Famous for both hammer and synth actions, the keys provide enough resistance for you to get the most out of the patches once you really dig in. As you already know, the MIDI controller comes with 61 keys with aftertouch. That’s more than a sufficient number to accommodate any melody and fit most chord shapes into the keys space available.

M-Audio Code 61 is a champ, even without any controls. The semi-weighted keys alone do wonders when it comes to simplifying yet improving your workflow and efficiency. Well, it also comes with a ton of features, such as the backlit drum pads, faders, knobs, automapping, the XY grid, and more. Let’s look at all the cool features the MIDI keyboard comes with.

Pads

Code 61 comes with 16 backlit drum pads. While they are automapped to a default MIDI drum layout, you can easily reassign them to any MIDI note number. But that’s not the best part. What I love is that you can save the settings in a preset and switch between them with a single press of a button. The feel of the pads is incredibly satisfying, and the sensors inside have no problems properly responding to the pressure and sending the MIDI signal over to the DAW.

You have to appreciate the efficient design as well. M-Audio Code 61 is lightweight and considerably small (as opposed to other MIDI controllers with a similar number of keys) while packing a ton of neat controls. It’s not even 2 feet in length, yet it comes with 61 keys, 16 drum pads, 5 faders, 4 encoders, and even an XY Pad.

Faders and Knobs

If you know how to make a beat already, having a few extra faders and knobs wouldn’t hurt. They make effect layering a lot easier and can control a lot of parameters in the mixer tab during the mixing and mastering stages. Luckily for you, M-Audio Code 61 has plenty.

The MIDI device comes with five assignable faders – master fader and 4 individual ones. If you want to improve your productivity when mixing, assign them to the mixer tracks one by one. This way, you’ll have a much easier time controlling clips and using the master fade-in and fade-out functions. If you are a DJ, you already know how crucial having faders on your mixer or MIDI controller is, you just can’t go without it.

Code 61 also has 4 assignable encoder knobs that can be assigned to pretty much any controller parameter. Some producers suggest using them for panning assignment, but I personally prefer controlling particular effects and seeing how they affect the sound when tweaked in the playback mode. As I said, you don’t have to do that. Assign them to the controls you use the most and get the most out of these bad boys.

Automapping

M-Audio Code 61 automapping templates address every popular DAW out there, don’t even have a doubt about that. Of course, there is a slight chance that you are using some odd DAW that’s only been recently released by a small company.

In this case, you can easily reassign the automaps to your DAW. By the way, if you don’t like the default setting you got in FL Studio or Ableton, it’s possible to set everything up to your liking with a few clicks of a mouse.

Once again, it’s mainly set to making things easier for producers, but you are free to tweak it as much as you want.

XY Grid

Not many MIDI keyboards out there come with an XY grid. While it’s cool to have, it’s mostly for those using synth patches and inputting articulations (think vibrato) and pitch bending into timbres to emulate an acoustic instrument.

It’s a little complicated if you are just starting out, but comes in handy once you find your way around. While XY grid is automapped, you can assign it to any other function inside your DAW.

In fact, X and Y can be programmed to control any parameters, even if they are within separate sound sources.

Software

Code 61 is already an impressive device that’s in the top 5% of MIDI controllers – and you get more than just the device. It also comes with a copy of AIR’s Loom and Hybrid 3 synth plugins, which are truly premium quality VSTs.

AIR’s Loom is a modular additive synth VST that has won a few awards in its lifetime. For those who are curious, it lets you create the richest and most captivating sounds.

You can select and combine from 30 editable modules in order to create something more interesting than a simple waveform – a complex sound such as a wobble, ambient soundscape, or an ethereal pad. On top of that, Morph Pad can truly enhance your Loom patches once done by morphing between variations of the patch while adding motion or momentum.

Hybrid 3 is a high-definition synth plugin that brings together the good old warmth of analog synthesizers and futuristic digital manipulation capabilities. Get the two combined, and you end up with an instrument that can be adjusted to sound like a regular synth or something you’ve never heard before. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Final Thoughts

M-Audio Code 61 is definitely a powerhouse of a MIDI controller with a ton of features. In fact, more features than an average music producer would need. It has a steep learning curve (especially if you’ll be implementing all the controls available into your workflow). However, I suggest you don’t get intimidated by it. It’s one of the best MIDI keyboards on the market, and for a good reason. You get a high-quality build, tons of features, and two premium plugins. The semi-weighted velocity-sensitive keys are also a gem, both for people who played the piano in the past and those who are just starting to learn to play the instrument.

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Last update on 2019-09-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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M-Audio Code 61
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