M-Audio Oxygen 49 Review | Paul G.
Meet the third generation of M-Audio’s Oxygen keyboard controller series. An inexpensive answer to a number of controller needs, the Oxygen 49 sends MIDI data via USB connection and offers a nice range of features particularly considering its price point.
First of all, the unit itself is a sturdy, lightweight plastic controller with 49 keys and weighing in at a little over six pounds. Perfect for studio use and would even be able to stand a live gig or two. This particular keyboard controller also comes in 25-key and 61-key versions.
As previously noted, MIDI data is sent via USB connector as this third generation of Oxygen controllers does not have the typical DIN connector, the multi-pin electrical connector often included on MIDI controllers. The absence of the DIN connector makes this unit less suited to control MIDI hardware, but the presence of the DirectLink feature reinforces the idea of using it primarily as a DAW controller. DirectLink automatically maps the sliders, rotaries and transport controls to features in most major digital audio workstations. It also offers the advantage of being instantly compatible with Logic, Cubase, Garage Band, Live, ProTools and Reason. Oxygen will automatically self-map once the DAW software has been installed.
Oxygen’s keyboard is suitably basic at its particular price level, and competes well with comparably-priced keyboards on its level as far as available features and build. The keys are velocity-sensitive, and lightweight with a nice synth feel. They are not, however, weighted and there’s no aftertouch action. Pitch and modulation controls are now at the top of the unit, which may be a bit of an adjustment if you’re used to having them on the left. But the wheels themselves are smooth and quiet.
M-Audio controllers are reportedly used by more professional producers and players than any other brand on the market. The Oxygen is a pretty solid, fully featured DAW controller worth consideration if you’re in the market for a budget controller.