The innovative K-Mix audio interface-mixer-controller was first seen at winter NAMM 2015. In what seemed like a glacial speed of development it was finally released in January 2016. Sadly it only came with OS X drivers. 8 long months later Keith McMillen Instruments (KMI) have finally released drivers for Windows and I could not be happier – woop!
When I first saw it at NAMM I knew it fulfilled everything I ever wanted in an audio interface. I was after an interface with readily accessible inputs and outputs. I wanted a way to mix my hardware synths through it without having to turn on the computer and set it up in software. Mixing on the way in and on the way out and route it into my DAW if I wanted. I wanted it all in a small desktop form factor, not a rack mounted unit with fiddly knobs or a massive desktop stealing console with loads of controls I’d never use. The K-Mix was it and then some.
The K-Mix is also a control surface which replaces another bunch of faders on my desk. To round it off it also has a per channel DSP running EQ, compression, gate and reverb. Not sure how interesting or accessible the effects are but they may well be useful. For me it’s the perfect feature set in the perfect size and wonderfully rugged and mobile – just what I need. But as a Windows user I’ve been denied access – until now.
The White Stuff
The one thing you have to prepare yourself for is Keith McMillen’s squidgy, weird, white smart fabric stuff that adorns all their gear. The strips of white stuff act as faders and pan knobs. Rather than expensive and breakable mechanical faders you have this tactile strip which you are never going to damage. Metering and parameter levels shine through the material so you always know where you are. Lights are so pretty. It’s not the same as moving a smooth physical fader but it does have possibilities and in every review I’ve read it doesn’t seem to be a problem. I’ve always found the smart fabric slightly odd looking but as time has passed I’ve grown accustomed to it.
The only slight twang of disappointment is the lack of a built-in MIDI interface. As it stands KMI do a MIDI Expander which plugs into a mini USB port on the back. It’s an ugly little box that costs an additional $59 and is perhaps the only mis-step with this product.
I’ve been grinding my teeth waiting for the Windows drivers to arrive. However it has given time for the K-Mix to be properly road tested and discussed. All accounts have been very positive. All that remains is for those notoriously tricky Windows drivers to live up to the hardware. What sort of buffer sizes and performance will we see? Well, I’ve ordered one and I’ll let you know.
For the whole story of the K-Mix ins and outs check out the KMI website. Where you can also download the Windows drivers. At the time of writing no official announcement has been made, but the drivers were made available overnight.
Price seems to vary from £529 to £599 online which is not cheap. Hopefully this reflects the hardware quality. Although as an audio interface, mixer, controller and effects unit then the price doesn’t seem so bad.