Nektar is a name associated with hi-tech keyboard controllers that have advanced DAW integration. To stay on top of the game, it offers budget-friendly keyboard controllers in their Impact GX and LX series. And, there’s the Nektar Impact LX88+ that’s designed for players looking for a full-sized 88-note keyboard.
Having an LX88+ is really a treasure. It’s loaded with different knobs, sliders, drum pads, buttons/switches for more versatile music production.
Though it’s not a real piano, it has enough versatility and playability. I hope this quick review will help you learn its functionalities and its benefits to musicians, in general.
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- Keys feel great, heavy, and they are sensitive
- Solidly built and it’s easy to setup
- Functionalities are incredible and can be easily learned
- It can be easily integrated into most popular DAWs
- At some point, the key velocity isn’t consistent
- Doesn’t have keys like a real piano, especially for pianists looking for a real piano
- Pads are a bit small and maybe too far to the right
Design & Features
Though there are a lot of controls onboard, on top of the 88 keys, they are arranged in a very neat manner. Of course, since controller keyboards are designed with portability in mind, don’t expect that you’ll get a real piano-like response. But, at least, you have an instrument that gives you more versatility.
At first, I’m a bit stunned by all the controls and it’s easy to jump to pressing those buttons and tweaking those knobs without even knowing what they do. So, as part of my review, I’m going to give you a quick overview of the controls. I can’t give you everything — since the user manual does that — but, rest assured, I’ll share with you what I know and discover about this excellent keyboard controller.
This keyboard, as mentioned, has 88 velocity-sensitive keys with semi-weighted action. It has four velocity curves onboard that adjusts to your playing style. However, if you don’t need this function, you can choose from one of the three fixed velocity levels. For starters, it’s recommended to use the default or fixed velocity for consistent output.
For the buttons and all the controls, let me start from the pitch bend and modulation wheels down to the drum pads. You can easily access the pitch bend and the modulation wheels using your left hand. Likewise, the transpose buttons are also within reach.
LX88+ allows you to send up to three zones at a time. The Layer button helps you add a layer zone, while the Split button to add a split zone. Pressing two buttons simultaneously gives access to new functionalities. This can be easily understood through the manual.
To the right of these buttons are nine MIDI-assignable faders, nine MIDI-assignable LED illuminated buttons and eight assignable controller pots. The ninth fader is used to control the master volume and the current mixer channel.
Next to the faders is an LED display which shows the function you’ve selected. Below it are the mixer, instrument, and preset select buttons. This part has five user-configurable presets that include Mute, Snapshot, Null, Pad Learn, and Setup. Likewise, it has two read-only presets, the Mixer and the Inst (Instrument).
Then, you have the eight regular knobs, which are again, assignable for a total of 16 assignments. Right below them are the six navigation and transport buttons like the Cycle, Rewind, Forward, Stop, Play and Record. Press the Shift at the left to have access to additional functions like the Goto L, Set L, Set R, Undo, Click, and Mode.
Lastly, the eight velocity-sensitive pads can be triggered with just a light touch. Each pad is assignable for more functionality. What I like about this is the “Pad Learn” feature, which helps you assign a note or sound to that particular pad.
The operation of this keyboard controller is pretty straightforward unless you’ll access all its fancy features. But, if you want to play a chord or a song, simply connect this device to your computer via a USB. Additionally, if you want to connect a footswitch pedal to add more sustain, you connect it to its dedicated port at the back. The On/Off switch can also be found at the back.
For the assignable buttons, simply press the Shift button to access the secondary level of functionalities. Additionally, the Setup button mutes the keyboard and helps you access menus from the dedicated keys. For all menus explained, you may refer to the informative manual. But to give you a glimpse, you can access the Low Power Mode, USB Port Setup, Velocity Curve, Assign Options and a lot more.
Like the stripped-down GX61, it has a seamless integration into your DAW. If your DAW isn’t compatible with the Nektar DAW Integration, it’ll work as a generic USB MIDI controller for OS X, Windows, iOS and Linux devices. LX88+ works well on Windows XP or higher and MAC OS X devices. Additionally, DAW integration files can be installed on USB class-compliant devices.
If you’re connecting to a mobile phone or laptop, simply enable the Low Power Mode to conserve power. Doing so will turn off all LED lights. You need to disable this mode if you want the LED to turn on again
The keyboard has piano-type keys with semi-weighted action. I like the fast action, while still keeping the decent feel of the keys. The sliders are responsive, together with the buttons. The knobs, which aren’t like the rotary encoders, are reliable enough. Lastly, the drum pads are cool and very responsive.
Controlling the MIDI software is handy with this controller keyboard. The mixer, instrument and select preset buttons are very useful in the aspect. Additionally, the global controls are also very accessible for navigation and transport.
If you’re looking for a keyboard controller with a plethora of sounds, Impact LX88+ is the perfect instrument you need. Since the velocity-sensitive keys are excellent, you’ll get awesome piano sounds with versatile dynamics. Additionally, it accommodates fast play for synth leads.
The drum pads, on the other hand, are good to trigger drum sounds and bass drops.
Overall, the keyboard is whisper-quiet, no noisy mechanisms. So, what you’ll get is the beautiful tone out of this lightweight controller.
Value for Money
From all the features mentioned above, I don’t think there’s any keyboard controller out there that offers more than the LX88+. I don’t need to reiterate why it offers the best value for your money. Given its playability, versatility, and functionality, it guarantees you multiple returns.
Perhaps, you’ll be overwhelmed by all the controls onboard. Don’t be. The moment you start playing it, little by little you’ll know how to use the sliders, the knobs, and all the buttons. You don’t need to learn them all at once. It’ll take time, yet, the learning curve won’t devalue this wonderful keyboard controller.
If you want a more advanced keyboard controller, which is way better than Nektar Impact GX61, your perfect option would be the Nektar Impact LX88+. Of course, it’s offered at a higher price, but, it has all the bells and whistles you’re looking for in a USB MIDI keyboard controller.
It’s easy to setup and connects to your computer or iOS device, but I don’t think it’s easy to play, especially if you try to use all its controls and functionalities. The learning curve is steep, it’s worth all the effort. So, unleash the prodigy in you with the LX88+.
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