The Null Device

Review: Korg NanoKey

I recently bought myself a Korg NanoKey. That's a tiny USB MIDI keyboard, about the width of a low-end MacBook, with two octaves of plasticky-feeling keys.
Laptop and Korg NanoKey
The NanoKey has received mixed reviews, with some admiring the concept and others complaining at how cheap it feels. I've only been using it for a week or so, but I'm extremely pleased with it. For one, it's tiny, which makes all the difference. It fits comfortably in a laptop bag, and is small enough to get out and use anywhere; I can take it out in a café without looking like some kind of attention-seeking weirdo, or even use it on a train (these have both been tested; the last one, in economy class aboard the Eurostar). Or, I can place it unobstrusively on the desk. The convenience factor is a big win; in contrast, I also have a 25-key Evolution MK-425C, which is about the size of a backpack, and has been gathering dust for ages.

Of course, as you can probably guess, the NanoKey is thin and plasticky. If you're guessing it feels cheap, kind of like a child's toy piano, you'd be right. No-one will mistake it for a Steinway grand any time soon. Though, given the convenience, that doesn't matter; it works well enough for what it does, which is sending MIDI notes better than the QWERTY keyboard. And furthermore, it is touch-sensitive; I was quite surprised to find this out.

It also came with a download code for the cut-down edition of Korg's M1 softsynth. Which is great should I ever need an Italo-house piano or similar.

The upshot of this is that I've been playing with music more, and when I do, in a more hands-on way; actually playing notes, rather than clicking and dragging. In any case, it was probably the best £45 or so I've spent in a long time.

There are 1 comments on "Review: Korg NanoKey":

Posted by: Greg Fri Dec 19 22:14:14 2008

Yes this looks pretty interesting. After producing most of New Waver with Cakewalk and a mouse, I feel your pain. That experience put me off sequencing. Something like this could get more people doing it. <p> I've thought about this recently while watching many indie bands adopt computer-based multitrack recording. I've helped some people set this up. I've sometimes wondered to myself whether they could get a lot more value if they sequenced some of the instruments. For example, sequencing the drums would be better than recording a drum machine or a drummer, and don't get me started on string and brass sections. Trouble is, sequencing is a bit fiddly for someone new to multi-tracking, and might be more likely if there was a midi keyboard available at an indie-friendly price. <p> Would a "Guitar Hero" driver for this keyboard sell a million?

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