Maximize the Mini!

Feb 19 2016 0 Comments Tags: jdxi, jdxi review, keyboard, korg minilogue, korg ms20 mini, mini key, minilogue, minilogue review, ms20 mini, ms20 review, portable synth review, reface, reface review, roland, roland jdxi, yamaha, yamaha reface

Greetings Keyboard Land!

If you follow new product launches (meaning, if you ever get bored and type the words "NAMM Show" into the YouTube search bar) then you've probably noticed the plethora of mini keyboards that have hit the market in the last couple of years. And I want to admit something to you right from the start. I've spent the better part of the last 18 months HATING this. So this post is for other skeptics (or just for general amusement I suppose).


A little over a year ago, our Korg rep stopped through and said he had an MS20 Mini demo piece he'd been using for a few months, and wondered if we wanted it. To make a long story short, I had something else pictured in my mind, and we ended up with this:

I was LESS than thrilled. "What are these tiny keys? The output is 1/8? It's a toy not an instrument! Who's going to buy this?!?" I turned on the thing once, scoffed, then put it on the shelf.

Then we sold it.

*Whew*! That was a close one!

Not so fast, Joe. Little did I know that in the coming months, both Roland and Yamaha were getting ready to release the JD-X and Reface models. Again, I lamented "There is NO way we are ordering those. YOU CAN'T EVEN PLAY THE THING! IT'S SO SMALL! AR#^$&*#@!"

A few weeks ago, Yamaha stopped by and brought a Reface for me to try. I rolled my eyes getting it out of the bag. I turned it on, plugged in headphones... and discovered that I could make a REAL synth bass pattern? Adjustable reverb and overdrive on a (really nicely copied) Rhodes sound? A social network to design and share sounds? (SoundMondo- that will be another post entirely)

I tried both the CP Reface and the DX-7. I was impressed. The sound quality made me forget that I was using something so small. I finally saw the product for what it could be used for instead of my preconceptions. Needless to say, we will be stocking the Reface very soon, the Korg Minilogue is coming, and I hope to try to Roland JD series next.


I tell you all this for 2 reasons:

1) NEVER underestimate the value of looking, touching and hearing in REAL LIFE. I had watched countless videos of these products and wasn't impressed until I gave one a chance up close.

2) There was a very important obstacle that I needed to overcome in this situation. I thought it was about the key size and playability. I thought everyone was like me- that even if you weren't a keyboard player, you needed a keyboard to play keyboard type stuff on. WRONG. The DX-7 Reface can make the fattest bass sounds you've ever heard. The JD-Xi has a 4 track sequencer that will let you make live loops (and a VOCODER!). You can carry them around in your BACKPACK. They take up almost no room on a desk or table top.


To musicians of all variety- novice through professional:
These products are NOT toys, they aren't stupid, and can have a place in your music if you give them a chance. You just might be surprised. Check out the ways these people are using their Mini Keyboards!


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