Have you seen the Nektar Aura?

I’m considering an upgrade from my Launchpad X. I find I mostly use just 16 pads and bigger pads with better sensitivity would be nice. What about the Nektar Aura. It looks nice. It’s $350US. I wonder how it compares with others. Not much out there about it yet but one guy rated the pads very highly. MIDI functionality looks good. It would lbe cool if you could add it to the list of gear you’ve compared.

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Ordered it today and will probably be able to test it out tomorrow!

I only saw 1 review of a guy who talked about pad sensitivity. He was very happy, but he upgraded from a Machine Studio. Not the newer mk3 models… so it might be that it’s in the same league as the maschine mikro mk3.

Anyways, I had to be sure so I ordered one. If its good, it’s a very nice new “middle” option for finger drummers.

And who knows, maybe the pads are the best ever and it’s the only thing anyone should ever buy from now on! :slight_smile:

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Just played the Aura!

Here are my findings:

  • It’s a great device!

  • Out of the box the pads don’t seem that sensitive but…

  • You can tweak the trigger sensitivity of each pad to an extreme degree. Some pads trigger more easily than others but because you can tweak them you can “fix” this yourself.

  • There is also more freedom in how you want the device to respond. You can set the dynamic range and the velocity curves more precisely than Maschine mikro mk3.

However, the pads are smaller than the Mikro and I feel they are a little less responsive if you hit them on the edges. Still good though.

I think if you do not like Maschine software and you want a controller with more customizeablility and great pads, get the nectar. I plugged it in and it worked without installing anything.

It looks nice, feels sturdy. I can recommend it!

The difference between nectar and something like Maschine mk3 or Maschine mikro is small. I think it mainly comes down to how much you can tweak them. The nectar is more tweakable, the machine (mikro) mk3 is just great as it is but you cannot change that much. In the end, I tweaked the Nectar to actually come close to the Maschine mk3 and that’s when I liked it the most :slight_smile: But if you want something different you can do that, whereas with the Maschine you’re sort of stuck with what it is (which I personally like).

I think that right now , in the budget range of 300 dollars, I would personally buy the nectar Aura, because it feels like more freedom to me. Tweakable, compatible with all DAW’s, you don’t have to install NI software. I like that.

In an ideal world I would want the nectar aura with the larger pads of the Maschine mk3 :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the review. Will there be a youtube video about it?:slight_smile:

Where I live it costs ~370$, but still, the level of customization sounds pretty good for that price. When it gets cheaper, maybe I’ll upgrade from my korg padkontrol :). But what’s up with the small pads? Why…?

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The pads are basically ‘normal’ size. The Maschine pads are just big :slight_smile:

I played it again this morning and with some tweaks I could get more dynamic range out of this thing than any other controller I’ve played. So that’s very very good.

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Thanks for looking into this. It sounds pretty good.

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Just for completeness sake, here’s the video:

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Just opened and plugged in this device!

The first thing I’m noticing is double note triggering. This was before I had changed any of the pad sensitivities.

I adjusted the sensitivities thinking that might help. I’ve set all pads to be -100 from whatever the “stuck on” value was. Still getting lots of double triggers.

I’m wondering… could these be caused by Melodics rather than the device? I’ve noticed on the Slack channel a few people reporting double note triggers (which are displayed in the Melodics UI as a “perfect” note followed immediately by a “misplayed” note. Somehow I doubt this is down to software… but I don’t know for sure.

Anyway, I’m going to play with the velocity curves too and give it a few days before I pass my final judgement.

Update: I have now set the pads to -300 from their “stuck-on” value, so the values are ranging between ~500-2000 (out of a maximum range of ±5000). I’m still getting double-note triggering, but that’s to be expected considering it was happening even when all sensitivities were set to 0.

I have however observed that the double note triggers are all very low in velocity: ~ 4-8 out of 127. It occurs to me that they could be filtered out somehow.

I know it’s possible to do this with Ableton, so I may give that a go next. Having Ableton open solely for the purpose of filtering MIDI does feel a little like “using a hacksaw to slice a loaf of bread”, and so I wonder if there is a more compact app out there that would achieve this?

I think Aura might have missed an opportunity here; considering how configurable they made the device already, building in a lower-end velocity threshold could have made it perfect. I wonder if it’s something they could add in a future firmware update?

There is a wider question here: how much of a problem are double note triggers, really? The short answer is “it depends”. I might save the longer answer for another post, as it’s relevant to all devices and not just the Nektar!

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If the double notes are so low in velocity it makes sense that they’re super annoying in melodics since melodics ignores velocity and just outputs the maximum. In software like addictive drums you could technically move the curve a little bit to the right, with the first couple of velocities being completely ignored. That would be a good filter.

BUT

Those super soft velocities of 4 happen with for example the maschine mikro mk3 as well and it’s mostly inaudible unless you use some sort of extremely compressed preset and modified velocity curve to make the softer hits louder.

In practice, what I found most important is for the controller to respond to everything you mean to play. Some soft double triggers can be removed from the midi score afterwards if they’re bothersome, but they almost never destroy my “flow” when playing. What does destroy my flow is me hitting a pad and then not hearing anything because the controller ignored my hit.

And finally: I personally havent noticed double notes with my aura devcie, but I did not analyse the midi data. I just did not hear them while playing. Just wanted to say that here for clarity.

I had to come back with some really good news - after installing a firmware update, the double triggers on the Nektar Aura disappeared instantly and completely. I was a little sceptical when Nektar suggested it could help, but it really did work!

(I was on 01.00.02 and upgraded to 01.00.05)

Interestingly, I then didn’t hear any more double triggers for a long time, until they started appearing again in the last few sessions - I think what’s happening there is my playing style is changing to adapt to the super light touches that I’m able to use with these pads. I think that once a device gives you the freedom to play lighter, you naturally adapt to that, and you try to get even more out of the device (“just how lightly can I play these pads?”) Still, this is great progress, and I’m sure I’ll eventually settle on a playing style that works.

But moving back to the question of whether double-triggers “matter” - @Robert_Mathijs, what you’ve said is pretty much what I was thinking. If you’re looking to play the drums in this expressive, “live” style, then a low velocity double-trigger doesn’t cause much trouble.

However, I did want to highlight a scenario where a double trigger would matter - and that would be when you intend a pad to be monophonic - playing only one note at a time. In my mind this would be more common in sample-based electronic music, which often has less of a “live” feel. For example, say you have a vocal sample that is a few seconds long. If you were to hit the pad three times in quick succession, you might want each subsequent hit to restart the sample from the beginning (as opposed to layering the sample multiple times over itself, in a polyphonic fashion). On the third and final hit you would hear the sample play to the end. Now, imagine you got a double trigger somewhere in there. The low velocity note would restart the sample from the beginning at an almost inaudible volume, overriding your initial intentional note. Something worth thinking about if you’re planning to play in this style.

A final thing to share here is that Melodics have a feature that will filter out low velocity notes. It is already in the Drums part of the app, but it also works unofficially in the Pads part of the app, though you have to edit your settings file manually. Hopefully they will make this an official feature soon.

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