Making beats doesn’t look like anything too complicated. All you need is a cracked digital audio workstation, a computer that’s not falling apart, and a pair of speakers you’ve had for years, right? And maybe some free samples and free plugins, but that should do, correct? Unfortunately, that’s not how music production works – it takes a lot of money, time, and effort to get your beats banging.
If you don’t have any musical training, you’ll have a hard time making melodies that actually sound good. While playing music may seem like art where you can bend the rules anyway you want, that’s not entirely true. Hitting random keys won’t get you anywhere – you’ll have to learn music theory fundamentals and face a fair share of trial and error before you’ll get better.
If you’ve ever played the piano or keyboard, you’d know that it’s almost impossible to create a good melody by merely clicking on random piano notes with your mouse. That’s why it’s a good idea for producers to invest in a MIDI controller to play various notes a lot quicker. Plus, you’ll have a much better understanding of how chords and progressions are built.
When buying a MIDI keyboard, it gets confusing pretty quickly – there are tens of brands and models out there, and all of them claim to be “the right one for you.” While a lot of them are indeed pretty sweet, most beginners don’t yet know what they are looking for and what specs they need in a MIDI controller.
Personally, I believe that Nektar Impact LX25+ is one of the best MIDI controllers out there, especially for those who need a powerful and compact MIDI keyboard to take places if necessary.
Alright, let’s get to the review of Nektar Impact LX25+ already!
You are probably curious why Nektar is considered one of the most popular MIDI keyboards in its price range. Well, here is a quick story.
Back in 2012, the brand blew up after releasing a Nektar Panorama MIDI controller series. Manufactured with both 49 and 61 keys, the series has been named on the best MIDI keyboards on the market, but with a little flaw – the price. Going for almost $500 apiece, it’s out of reach of the most active group of music producers – amateurs and unsigned artists (me included, of course).
That’s what this bad boy looked like (way out of my league).
Anyways, then the Nektar LX25+ was released as sort of the answer to massive consumer feedback. It’s a lot more affordable and scaled-down, but still a flexible device with fantastic features. It’s also similar to Nektar Panorama when it comes to seamless integrations with digital audio workstations, which is always favorable. The manufacturers removed the full-color display and a lot of controls, but also cut a massive chunk of the price.
Despite being only a 25-key controller, Impact LX25+ isn’t exactly a perfect travel buddy (like Akai MPK Mini MK2, for example), sitting at 18 in long and 10 in tall.
- Integrates seamlessly with all major DAWs and lets you control almost everything without using the mouse.
- Full-sized and touch-sensitive keys which are perfect for people with previous keyboard experience, or the ones who want to learn to play the piano in future.
- Transport controls let you record your melodies with a press of a couple of buttons.
- Lots of pads, knobs, and buttons to control every aspect of your mix.
- Really affordable
- Keys are full-sized, but not weighted, or even semi-weighted, so it’s going to be harder to learn to play the piano.
- Not as compact or light as most other 25-key MIDI controllers
Nektar Impact LX25+ comes with velocity-sensitive synth-action keys. They aren’t weighted or even semi-weighted, as this would’ve added more cost to the product and made it a notch heavier. The keys are soft to the touch but don’t have the same feel as a piano. That’s fine if you’ve never played the piano but will take time for you to adjust if you have in the past.
Unless you are a pianist or keyboardist, this shouldn’t overly matter to you. In fact, semi-weighted and fully-weighted keys tend to tire your fingers out a lot faster because you face resistance every time you press a key. Going with synth-action keys will let you have longer beatmaking sessions.
Moreover, the Impact MIDI controller has 7 velocity curves – pick the one you like. Velocity is the value that shows how hard the keys is pressed (how much pressure you’ve applied) and sends the MIDI data to your software application. Different velocity values on notes ensure your melody doesn’t sound robotic but has a “flavour” to it. You can tweak the settings up to your liking at any time, and they won’t reset unless you do so manually. Sounds pretty sweet!
Pads and Knobs
Having knobs on your MIDI controller means you can assign them to any effects and layer them up in real-time without the need to access each plugin and tweak them with your mouse. To be honest, it’s mostly for synth gurus who know what sound they desire and how to get it from rotating the countless knobs and customizing settings on the screen. They can be either 270 degrees or endless rotary. There isn’t much difference, but the endless rotary knobs can be adjusted to be less sensitive, which adds more control, especially if your fingers aren’t trained.
That’s completely unnecessary for beginners because there are much more critical fundamentals that you should look into. I usually just go through tens of presets to find the sound I like and change a few settings along the way, but that’s about it. If you can add the rotary knobs of your MIDI keyboard to your workflow, you can be a lot more flexible and have better control of the mix. Therefore, they aren’t the most crucial part of a MIDI device but come in handy at times. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up stumbling upon a beautiful sound by accident!
Nektar Impact LX25+ also comes with 8 velocity-sensitive pads. They also have LED strips around them that will light up when the pads are pressed (the intensity of the light also depends on the pressure you apply, which is pretty cool). They will do wonders if you combine the pads with a VST plugin that maps out the drum instruments (NI Battery, for example). Once each pad’s been assigned to kicks, snares, toms, high-hats, and other drums, you are good to start making the drum patterns and loops for your tracks.
One more neat feature of Impact LX25+ is that you can switch in-between pad mappings with a simple press of a button. This is common among more expensive MIDI controllers, but a rare occurrence in the budget line of keyboards, so consider yourself lucky! While it’s not critical to have 5 banks of pads, the function makes it so easy that you may end up using it a lot more than you thought.
Controls and Integration
If you were to ask me which MIDI keyboard has the most intuitive workflow, I would probably suggest Impact LX25+. It’s crazy how many functions of your DAW can be automated with the controller – you’ll barely ever have to touch your mouse! The controls are where Nektar Impact LX25+ actually shines.
If you are worried about integration – worry no longer. It’s been tested with all prominent digital audio workstations out there – FL Studio, Ableton, Pro Tools, Logic, Reaper, and even GarageBand. Clearly, you are in for a treat. LX25+ MIDI keyboard will let you control all necessary functions with a few buttons on the controller such as changing tracks, switching between patches, tweaking knobs, stop, record, and much more. To sum up, the device pretty much removes the need to use the computer mouse at all – how’s that for a recording studio?
If you’ve never studied music theory in school or as a curriculum in your life, we are on the same page. Never done it and likely will never do. The thing is – Impact LX25+ can help you here. The keyboard comes with transpose buttons that let you switch the keys to shift the notes either up or down, instead of changing octaves (like most MIDI controllers out there do). That’s a huge plus for LX25+ that definitely makes it a lot more appealing to producers without any musical background.
For instance, you don’t need to memorize the notes for the A major scale. Instead, transpose your MIDI keyboard 7 notes down, and the scale mapping will do its wonders. However, note that this requires an understanding of the very basic of music theory, which won’t take you long to remember. Plus, practice makes perfect after all, am I right?
Impact LX25+ is one of the best 25-key MIDI keyboards in the price range.
However, there are other MIDI controllers out there that can put up a fair fight to the Nektar device, with their own features, that can be more suitable for your particular needs and expectations.
To make it a fair fight, let’s compare Impact LX25+ MIDI controller to other 25-key MIDI keyboards that take a big chunk of the market as well.
Nektar Impact LX25+ VS Akai MPK Mini MK2
Check out Akai Professional MPK Mini MK2 Review.
Akai Professional MPK Mini MK2 is probably the most popular MIDI keyboard on the market right now. That’s partially due to brand recognition and authority, and partly due to the quality of the product. But here is the funny thing – despite being very similar in price, MPK Mini MK2 and Impact LX25+ have more differences than similarities.
The world-famous Akai device is actually a lot smaller and more compact, mainly to the fact that the controller comes with mini keys, as opposed to full-sized ones. They are much lighter, but make it hard to play serious melodies, especially if you’ve played the piano in the past. However, they are good with more simple chord progressions that are, in fact, the foundation of most hip-hop tracks these days.
You may have also noticed that the unit doesn’t have any modulation wheels. In order to save space on the MIDI controller, a joystick was added to control these parameters instead. That was a great idea on the developers’ side – music producers love the simplicity of it.
To sum up, Akai MPK Mini MK2 should be your choice if you travel a lot or don’t have a lot of desk space. Mini keys are the two-edged sword as they save a lot of space, but are harder to work with, especially if you have previous experience playing the piano or digital keyboard. Lastly, MPK Mini MK2 gives you less control over your DAW due to the lower level of integration with the software app.
Nektar Impact LX25+ VS M-Audio Oxygen 25 MKIV
M-Audio has been around for around the same time as Akai and has built enough reputation to compete in this saturated market of MIDI keyboards. Their Oxygen 25 line has been a huge success a few years back, and the developers have already released 4 generations of the controllers (for those who may not know, that where the MKIV is coming from).
The M-Audio keyboard is very similar to Nektar Impact LX25+, with both of them coming with 25 velocity-sensitive and synth-action full-sized keys, 8 drum pads, and 8 rotary knobs. On top of that, both devices come with transport controls and a fader to give you better control over your digital audio workstation, piano roll, mixer, and tracks selected.
While the Oxygen 25 MKIV is a well-made keyboard, the build is not nearly as robust, and you may notice problems with the fader a few months after the purchase. Even though M-Audio as a brand is a whole lot reputable and the Oxygen line of products are loved by producers, some have noticed a few connectivity and integration issues along the way. It was only a few users, but nothing can spoil your mood as much as getting a product that doesn’t work.
It’s also a little pricier than Impact LX25+. The good thing about M-Audio is customer support, which is one of the best in the industry. They won’t usually be able to help you if there is a defect in the keyboard or if it’s falling apart, will assist you with technical questions at no cost, and usually within 24 hours.
Nektar Impact LX25+ VS Alesis V25
Check out Alesis V25 Review.
Alesis is one of my personal favourite budget MIDI controller manufacturers out there. Their products are high-quality and reliable. The two MIDI keyboards, Alesis V25 and Impact LX25+, are very similar in both price and features, with a few noticeable differences.
The first thing that catches the eye is that Alesis V25 comes in a completely different shape. Instead of having all the knobs, pads, buttons, and wheels above the keys, V25 manufacturers put it on the side, which makes the MIDI keyboard wider, but shorter in height. The size of your desk may be the deciding factor here.
I love the simplicity of Alesis V25 MIDI controller and minimalistic design. It doesn’t feature any unique integration with any digital audio workstations, but you can still easily assign MIDI controls to any function in the software application with a few clicks of the mouse.
The keys are full-sized, which makes it great for playing simple melodies and chord progressions, and the lit-up velocity-sensitive pads make it a lot easier to create drum loops and to tap out drum rhythms.
Alesis V25 is a little cheaper than Impact LX25+ but has fewer features that, in fact, justify the slightly higher price of the Nektar MIDI controller.
Nektar Impact LX25+ VS Novation LaunchKey 25 MK2
LaunchKey MIDI controllers are famous for their seamless integration with Ableton. Nektar Impact LX25+ is also known to have a smooth integration process with any DAW out there, but Novation LaunchKey 25 MK2 is aimed directly at Ableton users. The software application has a considerable following, so the manufacturers knew what they were doing.
Novation keyboard comes with a lot of controls and twice as many pads as any other 25-key controller, which is crucial if you are into trap beats and drum rolls – the more pads you have, the more variety you can add to the beat. Other control options, such as knobs, wheels, and buttons are similar to other MIDI keyboards in the price range.
If your main DAW is indeed Ableton, Novation Launchkey 25 MK2 is your best bet, as it was designed specifically for the software. While it’s a little more expensive than its competitors, you pay for extra drum pads and robust design of the product, which doesn’t sound too bad. It’s not as compact as Akai MPK Mini but is more powerful. Definitely a worthy opponent to Nektar Impact LX25+ that can put up a good fight against it.
To sum up the review of Nektar Impact LX25+, it’s a fantastic product and one of the best 25-key MIDI controllers on the market, that’s incredibly popular among DJs and music producers who tour. It comes with more than a handful of features and is incredibly user-friendly. Plus, it makes navigating inside your DAW so much easier. For the price, you can’t go wrong with this bad boy!
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Last update on 2020-01-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API