Laptop Studio — Music software reviews, news and info for computer music

30 September 2005

E-Mu Xboard 49 review — Computer Music

Filed under: Hardware at 12:35 am (14 comments)

Computer Music reviews the Xboard 49 keyboard controller from E-MU. The most important part of any keyboard — in this case, the most important 49 parts — are the keys. The reviewers are impressed with the Xboard in this respect: “They offer a good compromise for those people who want some of the weight of a piano but the speed of a synth.”

They also like the rotary controls, which they describe as “pleasantly tactile”. They say the controls operate smoothly, but they are too close together — as they point out, the control layout on the Xboard 49 is the same as that of the Xboard 25, which is understandably a bit cramped. On the other hand, the momentary buttons, used for editing, are dismissed as being flimsy. This is not too bad, since they are used for editing rather than performing, but it’s still not ideal.

They single out the Xboard’s “Latch mode” for special mention. This allows keys to act as switches — hit once to turn on a note, hit again to turn it off. They point out that this would be useful these days to trigger loops in a live performance.

The Xboard 49 scores a decent 7 out of 10: “The Xboard 49 has a great set of keys and some genuinely useful features.” The layout and sturdiness of the control knobs could be improved, but “the Xboard is a respectable, well-featured controller keyboard nonetheless.”

More articles about Xboard

  1. Why don’t they say that this bloody thing only controls
    their own software with the knobs and you’d have to
    be an electronic software engineer to figure out the
    totally unhelpful manual and circumvent this and
    program it to interface with any synth/sequencer
    out their eg Reason, Absynth, ANYTHING!

    Robert Mackus on 5 January 2006 at 10:19 pm

  2. Ditto. E-mu is making a grave mistake if they think that designing a controller for their software alone (incompatible with reason etc.) will sustain their company… They are slipping out of view. Stick With M-Audio Their controllers are all windows logo approved (as far as I know) and I have never had a problem controlling any software synth, mixer, or other tweakable device with an Oxygen (M-Audio). In fact I don’t have to program a single thing with M-Audio’s product, it simply plugs in and works right away! BOO to E-MU… Hooray for M-Audio!!!

    Wade Marr on 3 February 2006 at 1:29 am

  3. You two are obviously quite inexperienced. The Xboard controllers send standard MIDI messages. This means that it works with EVERYTHING that supports MIDI, which happens to be EVERY music software app out now. If you do not understand the concept of MIDI CCs, then you will not be able to use any MIDI controller. My advice: shutup, study MIDI for a couple of years, then post after you know what you’re talking about. The XBoard works flawlessly with Reason–the thing is…you have to actually know how to use Reason first! Again, learn your software before making stupid posts. And no, M-Audio’s keyboards are NOT Windows Logo approved (aka WHQL certified). E-MU makes good keyboards–period.

    wilbur banks on 1 April 2006 at 6:29 am

  4. I second comment #3. I’ve never had a problem, especially withthe USB MIDI. setting a control is as easy as right clicking a contextual menu and turning the knob you’d like to assign. The keys feel nice, and my only gripe is that the knobs don’t feel as solid as most other controllers in this range, but that’s totally forgivable.

    Roy on 29 November 2006 at 9:38 am

  5. #1 and #2 don’t know what they’re talking about. this is a better build quality and the keys feel better than comparable m-audio stuff. sends standard midi so you can use it to control anything, even lighting or desktop apps with a midi translater.

    flustercluck on 11 February 2007 at 11:57 am

  6. okay somebody help me out. I’m having the same problems as #1 and #2. None of the effects from the keyboard transfer to my only recording studio program. You have to study MIDI for a couple of YEARS to figure this thing out ! So how can you record all of the various effects from the keyboard.

    Mr Foster on 26 July 2007 at 4:43 am

  7. All I want to do is play music I have written so that it is put into print. I have a programme called Notation. Have I got the right equipment (Xboard 49) to do this? I frankly cannot understand the manual – it is a language I do not know, and which I am not prepared to spend two years studying. Can anyone help?

    JERRY MORRIS on 9 August 2007 at 8:47 pm

  8. #7 My advice is to not start down the long path of being a musician if you dont want to put in the time and work it takes to achieve greatness.

    #1 & #2 Darwin wins again

    Joey B on 12 January 2008 at 10:18 am

  9. As I read in #3 … is it possible that Xboard is sending only on MIDI OUT the MIDI messege but on usb only with they own software you can receive that message?
    I am asking because want to buy it but to use it thru its own usb-midi convertor not thru other midi device

    question on 29 February 2008 at 5:38 pm

  10. To answer #9, both the MIDI OUT and the USB message are the same. Both regular, plain MIDI messages. My XBoard 49 works great and I didnt even install the drivers. It works with Reason, Cubase, Sequel and some standalone synths I have.

    A lot of the problems people have with MIDI equipment, occur due to the lack of knowledge they have about MIDI (I had the same problems). My advice to how to get to know your devices as fast as possible, is to watch LOADS of youtube vids on MIDI. (It doesnt matter which device they use in the video, it will probably be all the same on your own device.)

    Study first before you just slap on your new device, and get pissed off because it isnt working properly.

    Dutchy on 6 July 2008 at 7:23 am

  11. Hi there, this USB MIDI controllers is a new thing for me, so can any one tell me how this keyboard works?, can i use it in my church; live?, which website gives best details about midi?, and do i need a laptop to play it in my church????

    david on 19 July 2008 at 3:32 am

  12. My props to comment #10, “Dutchy.” thanks for advice, whereas others are being ridiculous, absurd, immature

    #8, “Joey B:” Although I’m not one to get involved in forum arguments, it is obvious #7 was asking about software and technologic know-how, not musicianship. They are not the same thing.

    Pablo on 10 October 2008 at 7:01 am

  13. Does this keyboard work quickly and easily with Garageband? To be honest i’m only looking for a keyboard that allows me to record demos on Gargeband to give my band to learn how songs go. I’m not looking to re-record Dark Side of the Moon. But don’t suggest the M-audio. I tried, it failed, and the guy at the Apple store said they were rubbish. Any help?

    hardtimes on 19 October 2008 at 3:14 am

  14. For the price, incredible package. This keyboard has a better feel than products much more expensive. IMHO, a steal! My only problem is that I can’t run the Studio Grand …(older computer ?)

    Jacques Demers on 22 October 2008 at 7:19 am

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