Mobile

Xjam Mobile Pad Controller from Artesia

Xjam Mobile Pad Controller from Artesia

Xjam Mobile Pad Controller from Artesia

Artesia Pro Follow from XKey, a beautifully built control keyboard that imitates its compact footprint on a standard Apple keyboard. the new Sleeps The Mobile Cushion Console is similar in size and aesthetic, right down to its aluminum housing.

A USB powered board controller, Xjam is equally compatible with both desktop and mobile devices. This makes it useful in the studio, livestreaming or on the road, allowing for flexible control with minimal space to comfortably fit in your desk and in your luggage.

Xjam Mobile Pad Controller from Artesia

The USB powered Artesia Xjam is for studio, stage and mobile productions.

Features

Xjam has the features you would normally expect from a console, but it has some well-executed features that make it stand out, apart from its very ergonomic size.

First let’s talk about the physical aspects. This device is small but not too small. It’s the moderate: just right. It feels comfortable enough to operate and perform, but is not obtrusive in its presence.

Xjam contains 16 pressure-sensitive pads with great elasticity.

The Xjam has 16 pressure-sensitive pads with color-coded LEDs and speed-touch. There is a single panel bank button, which is also a tri-color LED, to switch between three independent fill banks. Next, there is also a bank button, with a three-color LED to switch between three independent banks of pots.

The release button (which has one LED per panel or encoder to change the note number value or CC value) is very useful and is carefully placed.

Note: “Repeat” is in hand to allow six encoders to be turned on/off, allowing you to send continuous console messages. On the back of the console there are even MIDI out ports and a foot switch, for added flexibility while typing or performing.

You can call up up to 48 settings, which makes Xjam incredibly flexible, plus the clock source is both internal and external. It comes with a USB cable and a quick start guide, but unlike standard accessories, there are licenses included from Petwig StudioAnd the WaveLabLE10 And the Cubasis LE3 (For mobile devices!).

in use

I started with mobile apps first, as I wanted to see what it would be like to work while traveling. So I connected Xjam to my iPad Pro and started looking for different sync apps that I could interact with explicitly.

With Cubasis LE3, you have an accessible drawing board to start with for song ideas, I’ve found that Xjam works with some of my favorite mobile sync devices like Reason Compact and Animog Z, and in addition to coming with Cubasis LE3, you have a lot to start with.

I recommend keeping two things in mind: First, it is helpful to download the Xjam Editor app from the App Store beforehand. This will help you with some fine-tuning of your Xjam, and also useful links to the online user manual for quick reference.

You’ll also need some kind of USB hub, because while it’s bus powered, it’s not a mini USB for your mobile device, but a standard USB. So if you’re really planning on using this on the go, don’t forget to get one of these, otherwise it won’t be accessible. (More ideas on this later…)

USB connection makes it simple.

You have to be prepared for a certain level of trial and error on the mobile apps to see which ones work right away, which ones require some setup, and which ones aren’t compatible at all.

To get the full flexibility of some of these apps, I’d recommend using them with Xkey, so you get the built-in functionality of both (or any other keyboard-style controller you might have for mobile/live use.)

For example, part of the keyboard can be played on Xjam, but it is noticeably more intuitive on a traditional keyboard style controller, for some performance and hardware elements. Since Xjam has utensils, you can use them to control your widget parameters from there.

Setup is very easy, especially if you are familiar with working with controllers and MIDI mapping.

On the desktop, I tried it out with Ableton, and was pleased to find that many of my samples are instantly automated, providing expressive, touch-sensitive pads with touch. So not only are the drums now more tangible, but also any other samples I had that were thrown (as well as fiery drums!) This is useful for more input and dynamic performance.

It would be interesting to see an updated list of supported voice work platforms and mobile apps on their site to help guide some of these initial explorations. Ableton is integrated with it no problem as with BitWig Studio and WavelabLE10 included. I can definitely see this as a game changer for anyone looking to have a smaller footprint in their desktop workflow. For example, Xjam would be ideal for integrating a pad controller to directly perform drum parts, as well as other percussive and processing elements.

In the league with Artesia Xkey.

be a critic

The obvious pain point for me is the lack of Bluetooth. I know that the Xkey have connectivity via either 4.0 Bluetooth or USB cable models, and I was hoping they would take this design idea a step further and include it in XJam.

Taking this a step further, I also wanted to see them update to the latest type of USB connection (USB C) because Xjam requires a hub when working with mobile devices, but is still sufficiently accessible from most desktop and laptop computers.. If you still have a classic USB port.

Having a Bluetooth feature that I can toggle on and off would allow it to passively charge while in USB mode, as well as a switch to turn Bluetooth on – clearing my desktop of a messy cable, thus freeing the port.

This is really essential in using mobile devices for the reasons mentioned above. Mobile testing experiences have been difficult for me because my iPad hub accessory only allows one classic USB device at a time. As a result, I wasn’t able to try the use cases of both Xkey and Xjam at the same time, as it was one or the other. (Although the Xkey comes in a Bluetooth model, so I highly suggest if you want to use both together, get the Bluetooth Xkey!)

You can use Xjam to control a virtual tuning, in terms of running parts through pads, but I found it tricky, and wouldn’t recommend it. Despite having foot pedaling capability (which I haven’t tested), I found it very difficult to get a higher/higher speed going when playing a keyboard-style part, and in general I think XJam is better suited for parts that will be played rhythmically, or parts Least dependent on expressive dynamics. You really have to push harder to make the pad glow red, which indicates a higher speed. However, pairing your Xjam with XKey or any other portable keyboard controller should negate this problem.

Having pots on XJam provides some physical access to things like filter scans etc…, which is much better than trying to pass these nuances with your mouse on the screen or in any app or mobile or not.

A summary of the above

At $139, the Xjam is a solid buy for music makers on the go, whether writing is something you need to do while traveling, or you’re looking to keep your straightforward style as light as possible (who doesn’t need that?). You might also be looking for a desktop console that takes up very little real estate. Xjam offers an affordable and dynamic solution to both needs.

The bundled software makes this a great student-friendly option for those starting out and looking to have bedroom-sized software and hardware. Professionals and students alike will enjoy the sleek design and flexible, expressive features of this console, bringing drum programming, live performance, and mobile creation within easy reach.

– Callie Marie is a contributor to SonicScoop.com. she is an author”Conversations with Women in Music ProductionAvailable now from Backbeat Books.

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