Making music with M-Audio on Linux

M-Audio has supplied hardware and software to computer-based musicians for 20 years. Its new "make-music-now" line of products, aimed at musicians just getting into computers or PC users with an interest in music, includes a microphone, speakers, drum machine, and DJ mixer deck. Unfortunately, its bundled software, called Session, is for Windows only. Our challenge was to try out this hardware -- specifically the KeyStudio MIDI keyboard and Fast Track audio interface -- with Linux applications. We were half successful.

The KeyStudio keyboard is well made, with 49 full-size, touch-sensitive keys. The action feels a little light, but the 'touch' is OK and you soon adjust to playing forte or pianissimo. Like Fast Track, it is USB-powered. There are Pitch Bend and Modulation wheels on the keyboard to tweak the sound as you play, and Octave buttons for when you want to emulate a piccolo or double bass.