New Toys: Artesia Pro and ESI Xjam and Xkey Controllers

Artesia Pro Xjam is a mobile MIDI and Pad controller perfect for live performers and studio work. The second model in the X-Series, notable features include its super small size at about 8-inches wide, 5 1/2 inches deep, and its very thin profile made from anodized aluminum. It's designed to run standalone or fit right next to the Artesia Xkey Keyboard controller. I received the Xkey 25-key model but know there is also a 37-key model as well. Both the Xjam and Xkey are class-compliant, USB controllers that work with either Macs or PCs.

I immediately set them both up—the Xjam to the left of the Xkey so the included USB cables were clear. I used the Xjam to quickly change patches, fire off samples in a live setting as well as program drum loops using the 16-backlit drum pads. For its compact size, the pads on the Xjam are just big enough and also have a good feel. There are six assignable continuous controller knobs—I used one to control the filter cutoff on a recorded keyboard track in my mix session. I like controller knobs especially for recording automation—this is the best! 

Xkey is super fun with positive feeling keys and polyphonic after touch; I like the touch sensitive push button pitch bend buttons, octave up/down, and sustain switches—there are no foot pedals required. If you like to write songs and work while traveling lite, the Xjam and Xkey plus a laptop running Cubase is the way to go!

Both the Xjam and Xkey come with lite versions of WaveLab LE, Cubase LE, and Bitwig Studio 8-track. The Xjam sells for $139 MSRP while the Artesia Xkey 25-keyboard controller is $139. There are also a Bluetooth wireless version and a 37-key version of Xkey either at $199 MSRP.