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Difference between Multi Keyboard Macros and MIDI keyboard macros

Posted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 1:41 pm
by Oscar
They all do the same thing, but with different devices.

Multi Keyboard Macro can use extra USB keyboards such as numerical keyboards and define macros on them.

The idea came first because I really liked to use macro keyboards for all kinds of things from programming to video editing, but all available are expensive and tied to the inferior macro software that comes with it. But the worst part is, I have a few of them where the manufacturer did not bother to write driver for new operating system so they basically became obsolete while there was nothing wrong with them.

So instead MKM allows you to use any standard USB keyboard that you plug as additional device in addition to your normal keyboard. This is a future proof system. The normal keyboards are HID that means they do not use driver and all future OS will support them no matter what.
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That means MKM is a cheap and future proof way to add many macro keys to your setup. You can even plug-in a whole additional full 101 keyboard and redefine each of the keys as macros - so you will have 100 keys that can be defined. Think of the possibilities!
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Now that worked fantastic, but, me as a seasonal and annoying musician have also many midi devices that are mostly unused and some of them could be actually totally fantastic as macro launcher.
Think of AKAI APC mini: it has a matrix of 64 buttons plus additional buttons all in a neat small package. What's more, these can light up!

So I realized I can extend the MKM to midi devices. Due to the way each work with different devices it would be a nightmare and pretty unsafe to make it as one application. And likely you would use one or the another in most cases. (You can use both)

So MIDI keyboard macro closely mirrors the MKM as to the functionality. That means if one is updated so is the other.
But it also offer few things extra. For example you can define the colors of the buttons light on the devices such as APC mini. You can even change it from within script so the script can notify you visually by blinking or changing the colors of the buttons. And also you can very easily see which buttons are defined and which not - unlike normal USB keyboard where you need to use a sticky tape on the keys.
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Another thing is - some keys and pads are touch sensitive (not APC mini though) so you can in fact create a clever way how that works - for example slightly different functionality if you press it light or hard. Or if you lightly brush the pad it tells you on screen name of the macro but not actually runs it unless you press it harder. I found those little things a really helpful.
The bellow image is from Steinberg CMC-PD that is small and has touch sensitive pads.
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Some of the devices even combine both, like have pressure sensitivity on buttons that can change light! I have my eye on Novation Launchpad PRO, but sadly it is pretty expensive - more than I can spend on a macro board. One day, one day...so I am staying with APC mini for now.

All those things are impossible in MKM, but also require you to spend money for the MIDI devices - which often would cost as much as a dedicated macro keyboard. But I also believe MIDI Keyboard Macros allows you to do far, far more than any macro software that comes with dedicated macro keyboard.

So in short, the MKM is a cheap way how to add really powerful macros to your desktop. Grab an external USB numerical keyboard (that nobody really wants anyway) for $10 bucks and you have 16 programmable buttons. Add a whole full USB keyboard that you probably have sitting somewhere and you have 100 programmable buttons.

The MIDI keyboard macros is a bit more luxurious way how to use the same functionality with nicer devices. Get APC mini and you have plenty of buttons that can also light up. You can even use the Sliders for some clever functions. On mine the left most slider is for example used for multiple clipboard functionality.
I personally found the APC mini with MIDI keyboard macros and indispensable tool for me. In fact I've got it specifically to be used as macro board and never used it for any music making. The fact that macro keys lights up while unused stay dim and the different color makes it easy to remember which is for what.
While I am definitely biased as the author, I found out by daily usage that even at this early stage those two apps are better than anything I had used before.