When Nektar first released its Panorama P4 MIDI keyboard a few years ago, I was really impressed with what it offered at the time. For those of you who remember its release, the P4 was solely designed for use with Reason and offered deep integration with the software that other MIDI keyboards didn’t. It was a groundbreaking release, and being a Reason user, amongst other platforms, it certainly ticked all the boxes for me and many others. The product has since grown to add Cubase and other platforms for the P4, and now I’m privy to one of the first units of the newest incarnation of this keyboard in the Panorama T4. Gone is the slick white fascia – the T4 now sports a menacing black casing and a range of new features and integration abilities.
Those of you who owned or had the chance to play a P4 will no doubt remember the curved case design that saw the keys at either end seemingly climbing out of the box. That same look and feel is still there in the T4, and the great key bed with a firm, yet springy synth action is very much a part of it. The keys are, along with the eight pressure pads, velocity sensitive and feature after touch. There are nine faders, eight knobs and a host of buttons for assignment or standard control features.
Some new additions include the Pad Repeat and Key Repeat buttons on the left of the unit above the Pitch and Mod wheels. When these are engaged, the following key or pad that is pressed will repeat until the button is released, adding a cool new element to performances. You can set the rate of the repeats and even add some swing to them for a more lively performance. This is just one of the new features found in the T4. Also of note is the chord function that allows you to enter a learn stage and set a specific chord, which can then be played back with just a single note or pad press.
Of course, the real pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the T4’s integration with your DAW. Nektar has come a long way since the original Reason integration, with most major DAW platforms compatible with the keyboard and the Nektarine host platform allowing for VST and audio unit plugins to be controlled by the T4. This means less looking at the computer and less use of the mouse when you’re all set up and mapped to your chosen DAW and plugins. Information from the software you’re controlling comes up on the Panorama’s screen, so you can see what you’re controlling and browse through banks and presets right from the keyboard. It almost makes it feel like you’re using a digital synth with an extremely powerful engine under the hood.
In all, this is a great advance from the previous model and one that I think will be greatly appreciated by a wider user group looking for better control and integration than what most MIDI keyboards can offer.
Hits and Misses
Deep integration with your DAW
Nektarine plugin control
Great look and feel
I wasn’t a fan of the fader motion