The M-Audio CTRL49 is a keyboard controller for DJ/producers that lets you control virtual instruments and digital audio workstations (DAWs) via a full-colour, high-resolution 4.3″ screen and play with a 49-key semi-weighted key bed. The CTRL49 is powered by the included Virtual Instrument Player (VIP) software, which enables you to access any VSTi virtual instrument or effect in your computer directly from the keyboard. If you’re looking for a keyboard controller that sits at the heart of your DJ/producer set-up, this is worth a look due to the second-to-none VSTi integration.
First Impressions / Setting up
The M-Audio CTRL49 is a Midi controller keyboard designed for the studio and production environment. The CTRL49 is the first M-Audio keyboard with VIP software integration which unlocks a great number of features for manipulating and creating sounds.
Tthe CTRL49 has eight channel faders with one master fader, below them are bank buttons, that can also be Midi assigned. At the center of the keyboard is the high-resolution colored display that’s integrated with VIP and where you can browse all of your sounds. To the right of the display are the performance and preference section, and to the farther right are eight rotary knobs, eight time division buttons, and eight velocity-sensitive RGB performance pads.
The CTRL49 has a noticeably professional build quality. It has sturdy knobs and buttons, as well as semi-weighted keys. However, the device is large and heavy, more ideal as a stationary production tool than a mobile device.
The main reason why music producers buy the CTRL49 is its integration with VIP software. This allows users to scan and browse their whole VST library right on the device, lessening the need to go between keyboard and computer. It’s similar to how the Native Instruments Kontrol 49 works in conjunction with the Komplete Kontrol software.
The software also allows the multi-layering of instruments of up to eight, allowing users to create their unique custom sound. On top of that, VIP integration allows the use of third-party effects plugins allowing users to create their own FX presets directly on the keyboard and recall them at any given time. As expected the VIP features can be used alongside and simultaneously with a DAW (Ableton Live Lite comes with the bundled software). That’s a great number of things users can do directly on the keyboard once everything is set up, and makes for a more focused process of creating music.
The full potential of the CTRL49 unlocks thru its VIP software integration and that in itself is the reason why it’s worth getting this keyboard controller.