M-Audio has announced the Oxygen MKV keyboard controllers. The long-running controller series inherits several features from the higher-end Oxygen Pro, including an integrated arpeggiator and a smart mapping feature for easy DAW control. Here’s what’s new in the M-Audio Oxygen MKV.
M-Audio Oxygen MKV
The M-Audio Oxygen is a true classic among USB keyboard controllers, a category of devices it helped to define. Quite unbelievably, the Oxygen has been around for about 20 years now, which is an eternity in this fast-paced industry. But even a classic needs an update every now and then to stay relevant.
After the introduction of the higher-end Oxygen Pro a few months ago, M-Audio has now turned its attention to the humble Oxygen. And it looks like the Oxygen Pro will be facing a bit of in-house competition: A bunch of features that were previously only available in the Pro model are now making their debut in the entry-level Oxygen MKV.
Like the predecessor, the Oxygen MKV available in the familiar sizes with 25, 49 or 61 semi-weighted, velocity-sensitive keys. The number of other controls like pads, faders and rotary knobs hasn’t changed, either. All three keyboards offer eight velocity-sensitive, illuminated pads (compared to 16 RGB pads on the Oxygen Pro), eight rotary encoders and a handful of buttons for DAW control. On the 49 and 61 key models, you also get nine assignable faders and buttons each. M-Audio says that the new auto-mapping feature makes it easy to map the controls to your preferred software, eliminating the tedious process of assigning each control by hand.
Another difference between the Oxygen MKV and Oxygen Pro reveals itself on the back. The new Oxygen MKV lacks the traditional 5-pin MIDI output of the Pro, making USB the only means of communication and power delivery. The only other connector is a sustain pedal jack. Unlike many other keyboards in its class, the Oxygen MKV offers a power switch, which means that you don’t need to disconnect the USB cable to turn it off.
Arpeggiator, Smart Scale & Smart Chord
So what’s new, besides the smart mapping feature? The integrated arpeggiator, which has become somewhat of a standard feature even in entry-level keyboard controllers, is perhaps the most important addition. It offers the familiar patterns and features and lets you adjust the gate time and swing factor.
Two other features that came straight from the Oxygen Pro are called “Smart Scale” and “Smart Chord”. Smart Scale stops you from playing notes that aren’t part of the chosen scale. Smart Chord allows you to play complete chords with just one key.
Coming from M-Audio, the Oxygen MKV includes a nice software package. In addition to Ableton Live Lite, it comes with the AKAI MPC Beats DAW software, the Hybrid 3 software synth and the Mini Grand Acoustic Piano virtual instrument.
Oxygen MKV or Oxygen Pro?
Since the M-Audio Oxygen MKV has received so many features of the Oxygen Pro, you may be asking yourself if the Pro is worth the higher price. If you use the pads a lot, the decision is easy: the Oxygen MKV’s eight monochromatic pads are no match for the Pro’s 16 RGB pads. Other features exclusive to the Pro include aftertouch, assignable keyboard zones, an OLED screen and the 5-pin MIDI output. If you need any of that, go for the Oxygen Pro. But if you just need a simple, no-frills USB keyboard controller with all the essential features for controlling your software, the more affordable Oxygen MKV should do just fine.
Price and availability
The M-Audio Oxygen MKV range is available now at retailers like our affiliate partner Thomann.