Nektar Impact LX25+ Review – Is It worth It?

8

Value for money

9.0/10

Features

8.0/10

Playability

7.5/10

Build Quality

7.5/10

Pros

  • Full-sized keys give an authentic feel and help you avoid cramping fingers
  • 8 velocity-sensitive drum pads with responsive LED backlight and pad maps
  • Great value for a relatively low price
  • Customizable user presets and versatile mixer controls
  • Easily compatible with most DAWs with almost no configuration

Cons

  • Non-weighted keys
  • Limited rotation on knobs
  • Relatively bulky in comparison to other small MIDI controllers
  • Limited integration with Ableton Live (though a script is available as a starting point)

The Nektar Impact LX25+ is a compact, sturdy controller that combines a classic look with modern functionality for a very affordable price. Here we take a look at what it has to offer, its qualities, and some of its drawbacks.

Nektar Impact LX25+ – Price Comparison

Main Features 

The Nektar IMPACT LX25+ features all the basics of a MIDI controller. It provides a little of every tool used in various specialized controllers in one place.

The Nektar IMPACT LX25+ comes equipped with 25 full piano-sized and touch-sensitive keys, 8 backlit velocity-sensitive pads, and a pair of mod/pitch jog wheels. To the left of the pads, you’ll find 8 customizable limited rotary control knobs that rotate around 280 degrees.

It also has handy octave shifting buttons, along with standard transport buttons, and with a handy page button to easily transition between different user presets. 

Its sturdy build features a black chassis that gives it a cool vintage look. It’s 18.75” wide, 10.5” inches tall, and 2.75″ high, making it compact enough to carry around but a little more challenging given that other controllers have the same features with less bulk. 

In the back, the LX25+ conveniently has a USB 1 port for both power and connectivity, an assignable sustain jack (pedal not included), and a standard on/off switch.

The Keys

A big part of what drew me to the Nektar LX25+ were its full-sized keys. Having full-sized keys on a MIDI controller is not to be underestimated. Not only does it give it an authentic feel when making melodies, but it also simplified transitioning the skills I learned onto a real piano. 

The larger keys also made it easier for me as a beginner keyboardist at the time. Going into this, I didn’t want my music to just be randomly pressing keys to make melodies. This is where the LX25+ was useful. Knowing that I can possibly play the real piano through it encouraged me to learn different aspects of music theory.

The challenge, however, is that the keys aren’t semi-weighted and lack the bounce-back feel from real piano keys. They also feel a bit wobbly at times and are frustratingly touch-sensitive. 

However, Nektar does advertise 7 different adjustable velocity curves to choose from. This determines how sensitive the keys are to how you touch them. The higher the curve the more sensitive the keys are to how you press them. 

Pads 

The 8 drum pads on the IMPACT LX25+ are quite pleasant to look at. They light up at switch on and as you press them. 4 colors of LED illumination options make for simple visual references for different customizable settings, or pad maps.

They are easily customizable, with the “Pad Learn” feature allowing you to simply select a pad, play the note you want on the keyboard, and the assignment is done. You can also easily assign samples on the pad on most DAWs. 

I found the velocity sensitivity on the pads accurate. The pads are responsive enough to make pumping out quick rhythm schemes more natural. Moreso, you can easily change pad mappings through the page button to the left side. This makes it easier to quickly switch between up to 5 preset configurations.

One downside to the pads is that they’re not customizable to sensitivity. Similar models in the same price range give you the ability to customize how pressure-sensitive the pad is. The Nektar IMPACT LX25+ does not.

Control Center, Navigation, and Mixer Control 

The control center and navigation functionality on the LX25+ are perhaps the most impressive features of the controller.

The versatile and highly customizable knobs and control buttons make it possible to fully navigate a set or a track without touching your mouse. 

A small LED screen on the top-left indicates the octave, user preset, or channel you’re on. The 33mm crossfader automatically recognizes the instrument channel and adjusts accordingly.

Basic transport controls like play, pause, stop, next track, and previous track cuts out much of our keyboard and mouse use with your DAW once the controller is configured. Don’t underestimate how far this seemingly simple feature goes to streamline your process. I know I did!

The transpose buttons allow you to shift octaves up or down as if moving pitch on an actual piano.

For the synth masters out there who know their way around pitch and oscillation, 8 adjustable knobs are available and readily customizable. You can assign them to the effects you like and adjust them for your desired sounds.

I usually went through plugin presets and found the sounds I like without touching the knobs. Once or twice, I stumbled onto some interesting sounds by adjusting a knob sound. 

This feature remains handy for advanced users who know what they’re doing with it. 

Three handy buttons allow you to shift between presets, choose your presets, and switch between the mixer and instrumental modes.

DAW Integration

As advertised, the Nektar IMPACT LX25+ functions smoothly in most DAWs. FL Studio, GarageBand, Logic Pro, and Reason all integrate the LX25+ seamlessly with little to no configuration.

Unlike other MIDI controllers in the same price range, the LX25+ does not come with Nektar proprietary software. Instead, Nektar offers a free Bitwig 8-track license with the box. 

I think this is a smart move from Nektar. Let’s be honest, people often don’t use the software that comes with controllers unless they are well-known applications or plugins. The fact that you don’t need to install additional software to configure it to your DAW is also a major point.

The IMPACT LX25+ automatically configures almost every DAW I’ve used it with. It works great with GarageBand, and all I needed to start jamming was to plug in my controller and open the software. 

This seamless integration also works with the control center and navigation. Even more impressively, my pad presets transferred to every DAW I used.

The one caveat I found in this department was Ableton Live integration. While the Nektar LX25+ does automatically work with Ableton Live, it only functions as a generic controller. 

This means that the keys and pads work, but none of the controls and presets operate without configuration.

Even with some attempts to configure my mixer controls into Ableton Live, I was not able to get it to function as smoothly as FL Studio or GarageBand. I’ve also heard that there may be similar problems when using this controller with Pro Tools, but I’d suggest you do some research before buying it if you mainly use that DAW.

Nektar does offer a live script for integration with Ableton Live here. It’s adequate but should only really be seen as a starting point.

Pros

Overall the main advantages for the Nektar IMPACT LX25+ are its full-sized keys and wide range of mixer controls.

It offers a wide array of control functionalities, from 8 customizable knobs for the synth-wiz to responsive pitch and mod control wheels. These functions give you the ability to fully control your sounds without ever touching your mouse. 

For keyboardists and pianists, this is a great option since the keys give you authenticity not offered by other models in the price range of the LX25+. The sturdy pitch/mod wheels are also great fun to play with.

The control center enables you to freely switch and mix between tracks, presets, and pad calibrations. This makes it a great choice for live sets and organic jam sessions. You’ll have the freedom to shift between sounds at the click of a button.

All these specs for its price point make it a great MIDI controller for beginners, and a valuable tool for the collection of advanced producers/musicians.

Cons

The main downside of all the functionalities offered for the price is some loss of build quality. While the Nektar offers a solid body, the knobs and keys can sometimes feel a little unsteady.

The keys, for one, are full-sized but are not weighted. You won’t find the same bounce-back from regular piano keys, making it difficult for beginners to adjust their fingers for pressure. The advertised pressure sensitivity is questionable at times, with minimal customizability.

Perhaps a matter of personal preference, but I prefer infinite rotation on the mixer knobs. This is provided on similar products and it makes them handier.

The body is also a bit bulky, which technically could be seen as an advantage, but it also makes it hard to carry around in smaller backpacks.

Verdict

Overall, the Nektar IMPACT LX25+ is a great MIDI Controller for someone just getting into music production. It offers everything you might need from a standard controller and adds control options that its competitors simply overlook. 

With the mix control and customizable crossfaders, you can even start mixing sets through DJ software and add your own synth or basslines to it!

For the experienced producer, especially someone with a background in piano, it offers a great portable controller for when you don’t want to lug around your standard keyboard.

At its price point, I would consider it a great purchase, one that I’m not regretting any time soon!

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