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The Q49 is a bare-bones MIDI keyboard, choosing not to include multiple pads, faders or knobs. This may be an issue for someone looking for more customisation, compared to the similarly-priced Alesis V49 - which comes with 8 pads and buttons, and 4 control knobs.
The Q49 is really aimed at beginners. It would be ideal for someone who just wants to play a simple digital piano. That said, a DC power option and MIDI Out is useful for connecting to other devices for a more advanced playing experience.
When it comes down to choosing a MIDI keyboard controller, its important to consider the size and portability. Will it live on a studio desk, or will it be trucked around in a gig bag? The 49-key controller offers a good compromise between portable (25-key) and full-size (88-key). At 32” wide and 2.26kg, the Q49 is a little big for me to consider portable, but light enough to play on the couch and travel around the house with. It’s certainly small enough to fit comfortably in a minimalist studio set-up, or in a classroom setting, compared to fuller-featured competitors like the Novation Launchkey.
With its velocity-sensitive synth-action keys, the Q49 plays well, with a firm touch and low travel distance. Full-size keys are a boon for piano players and those who like a more comfortable playing area. As the keys are lightweight, due to the absence of pads, they can be used for percussive elements and arming samples. The two-octave buttons extend the range of this expansive keyboard.
The Q49 is a budget entry into the 49-key MIDI controller field. For a beginner keyboard, it represents a slimline, minimally featured option. Those looking for pads or more mappable keys could spend a little more for the newer V49. On the next price tier, the V149 and Akai Professional MPK249 offer incredible ranges of pads and knobs for the ultimate in flexibility.
The Q49 is a simple, functional controller that offers a good entry-level option for beginners and bargain-hunters. It’s light but well-built, and the full-size synth-action keys are enjoyable to play. For those looking to save space on their desk, the lack of depth on the top of the controller will save a few valuable inches. The Q49 is worth considering for its modest charms and is an ideal starter keyboard for beginners.
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