Ozonic MIDI Controller/FireWire Interface
If you are looking for a MIDI keyboard that has plenty of knobs, buttons and faders to use as a MIDI controller for Reason, Ableton Live, Cubase SX or whatever, then M-Audio’s Ozonic deserves serious consideration.
Ozonic connects to your computer via FireWire and incorporates both MIDI and audio interfaces. So, if you already have a laptop or desktop, a pair of powered monitor speakers, and maybe a microphone or guitar, Ozonic completes your MIDI and audio recording system. M-Audio also offers a range of accessories, including sustain and expression pedals, an affordable studio microphone, and Ableton Live software.
The MIDI keyboard has pitchbend and modulation wheels at the left and an octave selector button that you can press to play lower notes or higher notes than the default range. Above these there are several controls for output level, headphones level, input gain and so forth. Directly above the keys, you will see two columns of buttons that let you select the preset, group or zone, with an assignable joystick positioned between them. A row of 14 MIDI assignable buttons runs above the rest of the keys. Above the buttons there is a small LCD screen, eight assignable knobs and nine MIDI assignable faders. All these controls give you hands-on control of any MIDI-controllable hardware devices, mixers, sound modules or effects, or ‘virtual’ instruments and other software.
The audio and MIDI interfaces are accessed via the back panel. Ozonic has just one FireWire socket, which can be a limitation if you want to use it with other FireWire peripherals. Normally, Ozonic takes its power from your computer via the FireWire bus, but a low-voltage power input is provided for use with any suitable mains adaptor as necessary. MIDI in and out sockets are provided, along with a pair of jack sockets for sustain and expression pedals. There are four 1/4in audio output jacks, three 1/4in audio input jacks, an XLR socket with associated phantom power switch that can be used to hook up any stage or studio microphone, and a headphones socket.
You get a cut-down version of Reason free with Ozonic to get you started. You also get a software control panel that provides basic audio mixing and metering facilities. And now that Avid/Digidesign owns M-Audio, for another £240 you can buy Pro Tools M-Powered software to use as the software front end for Ozonic.
Ozonic is ideal for laptop and home studio users who want to set up a compact MIDI and audio-recording system with the minimum of equipment. The 37-key velocity-sensitive keyboard feels much nicer than my aging 25-key Oxygen 8 (which is much more limiting when it comes to playing long lead lines or ambitious basslines). The MIDI interface is fine for hooking up just one or two extra devices, and the audio interface has twice as many inputs and outputs as Digidesign’s Mbox for about the same price.