Cre8audio NiftyKEYZ, a modular keyboard for your dream 4-voice synth

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Cre8audio NiftyKEYZ, the basis for your modular 4-voice dream synth: a powered 112 HP case, a velocity/AT keyboard topped with neat extras.

Modular synthesis is a fascinating field for exploring sound. Many musicians use modular synthesizers to experiment and create new sounds. Often as an additional sound source in the studio. Others work exclusively with it. The workflow is a key point here. Working purely with modular requires rethinking how to come up with sounds. Without presets, and more important the signal path starts where you want.

The possibility to design your very own Synthesizer with the sound characteristics (VCOs, filters… Moog, Oberheim, Roland…) is what many people want. If you want this freedom, the path automatically leads you to modular synthesis. However, many cannot cope with this (cables, missing patch storage…). With the NiftyKEYZ, Cre8audio is showing a hybrid keyboard that brings together classic keyboard players and the modular world.

Cre8audio NiftyKEYZ

Cre8audio NiftyKEYZ

NiftKEYZ is a new MIDI to CV keyboard that brings the fun and flexibility of the Eurorack modular Synthesizer format to keyboard instruments. It’s more than just another MIDI to CV keyboard. It’s a feature-rich keyboard and a powered case in one.

It has 112HP of space which gives you plenty of room to house many different modules. It is powered by a newly designed power supply providing 1500mA +12v, 1000mA -12v, and 1000mA +5v power. That should be enough juice for purely analog, digital, or even hybrid setups.

Docked to the case is a 49-key 4-octave synth-action keyboard with velocity and aftertouch support as well as pitch bend and mod wheel. NiftyKEYZ gives you a total of 4 CV/Gate outputs enabling you to create polyphonic setups with up to 4 voices.

On top, you can launch different keyboard zones to either play it in monophonic, polyphonic, or split mode. Here you can split the voices across the keyboard.

Cre8audio NiftyKEYZ

There is also an advanced arpeggiator with a freely programmable sequencer mode and an auto-chord function. Controls for transpose, glide, and swing are also onboard.

“NIFTY” KEYZ

That is not all. There are other clever functions above the case that make the keyboard only nifty. Next to the 4CV/Gate outputs, you can find dedicated CV outputs for the velocity and aftertouch. Then, the mod wheel hides a multi-wave clock-synced LFO that you can control with the same wheel.

The internal clock also continues the modular concept. It gives you internal and external clocking options as well as a handy clock divider controllable with the keyboard. Further, you get 2 buffered multiples allowing you to replicate signals. Very clever, so “multiple” module takes up the precious space in the case.

Cre8audio NiftyKEYZ details

Audio & MIDI I/O

A clean signal path is also taken care of. The four voices can be conveniently routed to a stereo audio output dock where it is output on two (l/r) 6.3mm jacks and on a stereo headphone out on the back. Both signals can be adjusted with a potentiometer.

Lastly, you get MIDI in/out via classic 5-pin DIN and via USB. This allows you to use the NiftyKEYZ as a class-compliant MIDI keyboard or as a 4-voice MIDI-to-CV converter for your signals from your computer.

First Impression

Modular keyboards are a niche within a niche. Yes, but I think it’s awesome that there are keyboards that give you the opportunity to put together your dream Synthesizer from modules. And if you want something new, you swap a few modules and in no time you have a new Synthesizer.

Whether analog, digital, hybrid, mono, or polyphonic, you can play Synthesizer designer here without engineering and soldering. The keyboard is also super useful to covert the Behringer Eurorack boat synths (Neutron, Pro-1, K-2…) into a keyboard Synthesizer. And there is room left for an effect module, modulation… A Nifty keyboard test unit has been in my studio for a few days. A video and full review will come in the near future.

Cre8audio NiftyKEYZ is available now for $599,99 USD /599,99€ from their official website or retailers.

More information here: Cre8audio

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5 Comments

  1. Waldorf did this a while back for about the ame price didn”t they? Not sure they sold many. Perhaps Modulists are just not keyboard players and keyboardists are happy with current hardware synths?

    • The Waldorf KB37 initially started at 899€ but dropped last year to 599€. Now it’s discontinued.
      The Cre8audio gives you more for the price.

  2. Quality is a little lower though too. Ribbons vs bus boards, etc. I would be curious to see the keybed and if it is a Fatar. The Waldorf had a high-quality keybed and the whole thing was built like a tank.

    • It’s not Fatar but the keybed is decent and can be found in many keyboards today.
      It also has a nice weight and feels very solid.

  3. this definitely fills a gap in the eurorack products. it will likely sell very well like the Nifty cases. I hope it’s as deep too as you can fit the Doepfers who have quad modules. I think more folks are building separate systems so this will be a gateway to building your own four voice.

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