Review of full-size MIDI keyboard M-Audio Hammer

M-Audio Hammer 88 is a full-size MIDI keyboard with hammer mechanics and virtual instruments in the kit.

M-Audio was one of the first companies to produce inexpensive MIDI keyboards with hammer mechanics. In 2005, the appearance of the first such model of Keystation Pro 88 was great for the professional community and made many reconsider their prejudiced attitude to MIDI keyboards. To date, perhaps, no one is surprised to use the MIDI-keyboard hammer mechanics. However, the appearance of such devices still carries an intrigue, as they directly compete with digital pianos of the entry level. And even if the MIDI keyboard is devoid of built-in timbres and speakers, a significantly lower price makes such keyboards very competitive and attracts a lot of interest to them.

Since the appearance of the first keys with hammer mechanics, M-Audio has made significant progress in this area. The manufacturer managed to release several more advanced models, including a couple of full-fledged digital pianos, ProKeys 88 and Accent. In 2017, M-Audio presented the next model of a MIDI keyboard with a hammering mechanism, called Hammer 88.

M-Audio Hammer 88

M-Audio Hammer 88 – price. Where is the best place to buy?

The the M-Audio Hammer 88 recommended retail price in the US is $ 399. At this cost, you can order it on Amazon. I would not recommend ordering anywhere else except on Amazon. Since you are less likely to find cheaper, and if you do not take into account the fact that Amazon is probably the most reliable online store, it still very often provides free shipping.

The main characteristics of the MIDI keyboard M-Audio Hammer 88 are listed in the table:

Specifications of the M-Audio Hammer 88 MIDI-keyboard

Keyboard full-sized keys
hammer mechanics
sensitivity to the velocity of depression
zoneization
Controllers wheels pitch bend / modulation
two assignable buttons
fader
Connectors USB connector
MIDI out
connector for Sustain
pedals
connector for Expression pedal
connector for Soft pedal
Dimensions 30.2 x 12.7 x 142.0 cm
Weight 17.5 kg
Package Contents USB cable
Ableton Live Lite
AIR MINI GRAND
AIR DB-33
AIR Velvet
SONiVOX Eight-Eight Ensemble
a three-month subscription to the Skoove service

Features of the M-Audio Hammer 88

MIDI keyboard Hammer 88 looks great, it more like a digital piano. From previous similar devices M-Audio differs in the complete absence of any controllers. The only exception is the volume fader and a couple of buttons. It even provides a regular stand for notes, which was so necessary in the previous models.

M-Audio Hammer 88 connectors
Connection possibilities in Hammer 88 look quite familiar. There are connectors for the connection of Sustain, Expression and Soft pedals, a USB connector for computer connection and a standard DIN connector for the MIDI output. To use the keyboard with MIDI modules, you will need power from an external power supply that is not included in the kit.
M-Audio Hammer 88
The MIDI keyboard M-Audio Hammer 88 uses 88 full-sized keys with a hammer mechanics. Externally and by feel, the keys resemble those used in the digital piano M-Audio Accent. In general, the mechanical keys are good, they are not very noisy and do not hang out. A characteristic feature is a slightly slow recovery and some viscosity. However, expecting from inexpensive mechanics something more would be wrong. It is important that the mechanics of the Hammer 88 look decent and in no way inferior to an inexpensive digital piano. The keys do not have sensitivity adjustment to the speed of pressing. Therefore, you can adjust the responsiveness and velocity curve only in the software.

Software included

The lack of additional controllers in Hammer 88 is completely compensated by the rich software capabilities of the kit. With the keyboard comes the program Ableton Live Lite and several virtual keyboard instruments. These are two pianos Mini Grand and Eight-Eight Ensemble, the organ DB-33 and the electric piano Velvet. In addition, a three-month subscription to the Skoove service is offered – online interactive lessons on learning to play the piano.

AIR Mini Grand

AIR Mini Grand
The virtual instrument AIR Mini Grand is a piano that is sampled. This tool is very easy to use and has no complicated settings. In the Mini Grand there are seven different types of pianos, slightly differing in timbre and EQ. In addition, adjustment and selection of the type of reverb and adjustment of sensitivity to different values of speed are available.
Examples of sound Mini Grand can be heard on the official page of the manufacturer in the audio demo section.

AIR DB-33

AIR DB-33
Virtual instrument DB-33 emulates the sounds of classical organs. The instrument includes 122 presets with different tone settings. Among the available settings of the virtual body is everything that has an electromechanical body. As the main tone, you can choose one of five different types. Saturation of the spectrum is carried out traditionally with the help of levers drawbar. The SCANER VIBRATO section emulates the characteristic chorus effect. DB-33 also recreates a characteristic distinct attack, characteristic of authentic authorities.
AIR DB-33
In addition to the above, a separate section with effects is provided. As is known in all Hammond organs, rotary horns were used to create the vibrato effect. On a separate tab there are more fine-tuning of this effect, with separate adjustment of the tube preamplifier, balance and speed of rotation of the horns.
Examples of the sound of the body DB-33 can be heard on the official page of the manufacturer section of the audio demo.

AIR Velvet

AIR Velvet
The virtual instrument Velvet is a collection of legendary models of electric pianos of the 60s and 70s. This tool is based on emulation of Fender Rhodes Suitcase, Fender Rhodes MK I and MK II Stage Piano, Wurlitzer 200A and Hohner Pianet-T. The tool has more than 350 presets, differing in different settings. As with most AIR Music Technology products, the Velvet tool has a minimum of settings. However, in addition to the basic settings of the piano, there is also an effect section that fits perfectly into the concept of vintage instruments.
Examples of the sound of the body DB-33 can be heard on the official page of the manufacturer section of the audio demo.

SONiVOX Eight-Eight Ensemble

SONiVOX Eight-Eight Ensemble
The Eight-Eight Ensemble instrument is a multi-layered concerted Steinway grand piano. Among other settings, you can adjust the reverb, EQ and dynamic processing. For the convenience of playing on the MIDI keyboard, there are several types of velocity curve.
Also an interesting feature of this tool are additional presets, consisting of the sounds of several instruments. The tool allows you to limit the sound of each of them, or completely combine. Certainly the idea is not new, but in combination with the rich timbre of the piano, the instrument feels attractive.
Examples of sounding Eight-Eight Ensemble are available on the official page in the audio demo section.

Skoove

Skoove
Skoove paid service is an interactive piano lessons, based on the performance of well-known and popular melodies. Lessons are combined into courses that differ in different levels of complexity. Among them there are both simple lessons for beginners, as well as more complex ones, consisting of melodies for two hands. Such an interactive, simplified teaching method is quite common. However, unlike other services, in Skoove at least a real music band with real notes.

Conclusions

The main and, perhaps most important, advantage of MIDI keyboard M-Audio Hammer 88 is low cost. This, in part, contributed to the complete absence of additional controllers in the device, which are not used when playing with both hands. I can safely recommend the MIDI keyboard Hammer 88 for studio use. It can be a home studio with a limited budget or a full-fledged professional studio, where a number of different devices are required that are constantly in operation.
You can consider using the Hammer 88 keyboard out of studio work, but if you use it only in home amateur music, it’s better to look at a digital piano with built-in timbres and speakers, for example M-Audio Accent.

 

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Review of full-size MIDI keyboard M-Audio Hammer
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Review of full-size MIDI keyboard M-Audio Hammer
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Full review and video of a full-size MIDI keyboard with hammer mechanics and virtual instruments in the kit - M-Audio Hammer 88. Price. Read now!
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