Top critical review
9 people found this helpful
on 17 October 2013
First of all let me start by just writing a few words giving you a sense of my technical background. I've been a music producer and a recording engineer in a past life, at one stage in my own studio. This was back in the day when reel to reel tape was the only option for laying down tracks, valve equipment was old hat (and not neveaux retro), and when MIDI was the next big thing. More recently I qualified with a BSc in IT and computing. With this background, I imagined I was well qualified to make this product work correctly. Not so; though I am probably able to review it with some authority.
Put simply, I know my control-change data from note-off information, which is more than this product does.
Here is what should happen: all MIDI data from the controlling device - in my case a not inexpensive Yamaha SY35 keyboard, should be translated accurately into the receiving device - the software on the other side of my USB port.
What actually happens: some note-on note-off data gets through, but not if you play chopsticks any faster than walking pace. This means that some notes are missed in their entirety, while others will sound, but not stop when you release the key. As other reviewers have mentioned, you will get some truly 'creative' results if you deign to employ a pitch bend wheel (a very unmusical glissando that refuses to silence), or the modulation wheel to, for example, switch a simulated Leslie speaker from slow to fast). In the latter example the results are literally random - I couldn't achieve any type of repeatable results.
Also mentioned in other reviews are that the MIDI cables are easily mixed up: the de facto and de jure standards for this are that 'IN' is plugged into 'OUT' and vice-versa. It may be confusing, but trust me, it has ever been thus with MIDI. I seem to have been sent an 'upgraded' model, whereby the manufacturer has swapped these labels around for reasons better known only to themselves.
The driver business is also something of a red-herring. My product installed itself with a generic driver (on Windows XP 64Bit Edition), but this is to be expected as the operating system will apply whichever driver the chipset in the product identifies itself as needing. As most of these cheap controllers probably have the same basic chip inside them, it is to be expected that they will either all work with your OS, or not. But that is by the by.
So to summarise, this product isn't worth your £5 note - no pun intended. What I have described above might seem overly technical, so I'll put it in layman's terms: if you expect to press notes and then to actually hear those notes (and no others) , this device is not for you. Do yourself a favour: don't punt the money hoping that it will work 'for simple occasional stuff' or 'for the kids to learn with'. Mine went wrong on around the third key press. Get a Yamaha UX16. They do work (and no I don't work for them).