Nek­tar Im­pact LX88+

If space isn’t an is­sue a piano scale key­board con­troller is a sat­is­fy­ing op­tion. Jon Mus­grave in­ves­ti­gates Nek­tar’s lat­est

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

The pads and some but­tons are back­lit and colour-coded to show their func­tion

To­day’s buy­ers of key­board con­trollers are spoilt for choice, but if you’re look­ing for a full piano size 88-note key­board, said choices are more lim­ited. One op­tion is Nek­tar’s Im­pact LX88, which has just had an up­grade.

Like its pre­de­ces­sor, the LX88+ com­bines an 88-key semi-weighted USB-pow­ered key­board with ex­ten­sive DAW con­trol via nine slid­ers, nine but­tons, eight knobs, eight pads and trans­port con­trols. These in­clude ded­i­cated Mixer and In­stru­ment but­tons for pre-mapped con­trol of mixer set­tings (level, pan, mute and solo) and vir­tual in­stru­ment pa­ram­e­ters (en­velopes, fil­ter and so on). Knobs and faders have soft takeover, up­dat­ing val­ues only once the cur­rent soft­ware value is reached, and many com­mon DAWs are sup­ported (Logic/GarageBand, Bitwig Stu­dio, Dig­i­tal Per­former, FL Stu­dio, Sonar, Stu­dio One, Reaper, Rea­son and Cubase/Nuendo). Nev­er­the­less, be aware the pre-mapped edit­ing doesn’t ex­tend to mixer plug ins.

Other fea­tures in­clude 5-pin MIDI out­put, as­sign­a­ble footpedal jack, 9V DC in­put for sit­u­a­tions where USB power is un­avail­able, sep­a­rate pitch and mod­u­la­tion wheels, and key­board zon­ing (up to two zones) and lay­er­ing (up to two layers) via the Layer and Split but­tons. Round­ing things off is a three-digit red LED dis­play that shows out­go­ing MIDI con­troller val­ues, and in rather old-fash­ioned MIDI key­board style is also used along­side the key­board keys to edit var­i­ous key­board set­tings.

So what does the up­date bring to the table? First up, the pads have been over­hauled and are now more sen­si­tive, plus the pads and a num­ber of but­tons are now back­lit and colour-coded to in­di­cate their cur­rent func­tion. Next up, three new but­tons have been added. De­fault/User next to the ro­tary en­coders dou­bles up this bank of eight knobs, pro­vid­ing 16 as­sign­ments in to­tal. Mean­while Clips and Scenes next to the pad bank pro­vide ad­di­tional op­er­a­tional modes for the pads that are in­cor­po­rated into the DAW in­te­gra­tion. Ex­am­ples in­clude set­ting up of mark­ers (Logic Pro X) and ac­ti­vat­ing scenes and clips (Bitwig). How­ever, it’s the un­der­ly­ing DAW in­te­gra­tion where things have im­proved most. Here, as­sign­ments have been stan­dard­ised across over 100 com­mon VST in­stru­ments, so typ­i­cal func­tions such as am­pli­tude and fil­ter en­velopes, fil­ter cut­off and res­o­nance, os­cil­la­tor pitch and level ap­pear on the same phys­i­cal con­trols. This has al­lowed them to con­fi­dently pro­vide proper la­belling of the slid­ers and knobs, which bear­ing in mind the num­ber of sup­ported DAWs and in­stru­ments is no mean feat. Nev­er­the­less, as a user it’s the sheer pre­dictabil­ity of it all that counts.

De­spite the num­ber of fea­tures, the LX88+ is rea­son­ably com­pact and at 18 ki­los light enough to be por­ta­ble. What’s more the keys feel good and the me­chan­i­cal noise is quite low (both fac­tors that are of­ten lack­ing in more af­ford­able key­boards).

The LX88+ won’t suit ev­ery­one (and some 88-key users will be af­ter a full weighted ham­mer ac­tion). But at £300 (and with a free copy of Bitwig 8-Track bun­dled) it’s a bar­gain and well worth test­ing.

CON­TACT WHO: Nek­tar Tech­nolo­gies TEL: +44 (0) 1908904199 WEB: www.nek­ KEY FEA­TURES 88-note semi-weighted USB-pow­ered con­troller key­board, 9 slid­ers, 9 but­tons, 8 knobs, 8 pads, Pre-mapped DAW in­te­gra­tion for in­stru­ments, ba­sic mixer con­trols...

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