Sonic LAB: Behringer UMA25S Ultra-Slim MIDI Kybd with Audio

Lets have a look at ya      10/10/08

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5:21 mins

It's not until I started to look into this that I realized that there are really not many products out there that offer a compact format MIDI keyboard/controller and audio interface. In fact there’s nothing. Well spotted Behringer. The UMA25S is a 25 key MIDI keyboard with this ultra-slim profile - the keys don't have the same travel as a standard keyboard making it really quite thin. It's still playable though and has a reasonable velocity range. Control wise it has: 8 knobs, 8 multi-mode switches, a fader, mod and pitch wheels and two pedal inputs (sustain and expression). All are programmable/assignable as are the individual keys on the keyboard. Incidentally, keyboard keys can play as you’d expect, or can have their note values remapped, or output control data when pressed. MIDI communication is va USB or there’s a MIDI out for accessing external equipment – you might want to use it for testing MIDI gear as a tech for instance.. The unit comes with something for the luggage fetishist, in the form of a padded carry bag with pockets for the included USB cable, headset with mic, software CDs and strap for playing in a guitar stylee (if you can face the ridicule). There's also a couple of CDs of software goodies, in the form of the Ultimate Software Package Vol 1 which has plenty of audio apps for Mac OSX and Windows XP (Audacity, podcast studio etc etc) a ton of free plugs and virtual instruments, but nothing you cant get if you search the net. Ableton Live Lite 4 Behringer Edition also included. Easy to setup, it's plug and play for OS X with an installer for XP and Vista (32 bit only). The unit is USB bus powered or with standard 9v 200ma power supply or via 3xAA batteries. The Aadio interface is Behringer's standard USB class 16bit 48kHz (32kHz and 44.1kHz also supported) with connections on phono for IO. There's also an addition 1/8 jack for the mic input which just gets summed to the stereo in - it's not accessible separately - shame. It's not really the pinnacle of audiophile gear, but it does the job - although it does seem prone to clipping if you drive your DAW outputs too hard. I don't seem to get this when using my Mac stereo output - it just has a lot more headroom. Certainly a useful, portable device for the weight or space conscious or something for a beginner who just wants to get started with a single box, the mic on the headset ain't the finest, and the minjack input makes it a little fiddly to hook up something more pro without an adapter. I would like to have seen a dedicated volume control on the top surface somewhere, sometimes, you just need to turn it down quick, but I guess I can live without it. All in all it's another one of those well positioned products from Behringer who can knock em out at an astonishingly low price. I think I'll be keeping this on my desk for quick MIDI or audio purposes. Price List: $189.99 / £80 / €121

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