Review: K-board – A Compact, Durable USB MIDI Keyboard

Review: K-board – A Compact, Durable USB MIDI Keyboard

Apple has always had an affinity for unleashing creativity with their iDevice and Macs, and the pile of accessories and tools that interface with those devices only makes it that much easier. One accessory entering the creative space is the K-Board from Keith McMillen (KMI), a portable MIDI keyboard that delivers in simplicity, functionality, and durability – perfect for on-the-go musicians.

Overview

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The K-Board ($99 from keithmcmillen.com) is an extremely durable, 25-key midi keyboard, featuring soft touch keys with smart fabric, and professional midi features (pitch bend, octave up/down, velocity control, etc.). Compatible with Mac, PC, and iOS devices (camera connection kit required), the K-board’s plug-and-play configuration, when paired with GarageBand, Logic, and a handful of other music apps, just works.

The initial impression of the K-board is very different that many midi keyboards on the market. Since there are no moving parts or physical keys, the K-board is extremely durable, even for live performances and touring musicians. Offering a design extremely similar to the KMI QuNexus, the K-board brings the price down by 30% and still offers a majority of the same functionality. According to KMI, the K-board is capable of surviving a 2-story drop, spills, and even being run over by a car! In my tests, I dropped the K-board down a flight of wood stairs and let it ride around loose in a backpack and it shows no signs of the abuse.

Playing the K-board does feel significantly different than any hard-keyed midi board, but the experience isn’t unpleasant. Even more importantly, in a matter of an hour, I was comfortable playing the K-board. The additional midi features (pitch bend, velocity, pressure effects, etc) add extra fun to playing the K-board and creating quirky songs. The incorporated Smart Fabric under each key allows for it to serve as it’s own pitch bend and velocity trigger, meaning you can effect the sound of individual notes with key gestures (making it idea for live settings).

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Verdict

Playing the K-board is fun and can easily spark creativity, without being fragile or trapping musicians to a studio. The soft touch keys and smart fabric feel great to play and respond accurately to even the quickest keying. Additionally, the extreme durability of the K-board mean it’s a perfect tool for any musician needing a portable keyboard solution. The compatibility with Apple’s own apps, as well as a range of third party programs makes it idea for live and studio recordings, without the need for expert midi programmers to configure the device.

Rating: [rating:4.5]

Price: $99 – Available on the Keith McMillen website.

Pros:

  • Extremely durable
  • Easy to use
  • Fun to play

Cons:

  • 25-key may be too small for serious musicians
  • Key spacing can be challenging to get used to

If you’re looking for an affordable, durable, feature-packed midi keyboard, look no further than the KMI K-Board! Available at Guitar Center & from KeithMcMillen.com!

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