Review: Radial Key-Largo: A Mixer, USB Audio Interface & Pedal Trigger

A keyboard mixer, USB interface and performance pedal in one single unit, Radial's Key Largo could be the answer to many keyboard players' prayers.  

Radial has been a cornerstone in the direct box world for some time now. Their reputation for making rock solid gear that is noise-free (and could, quite frankly, withstand a tank driving over it) is widely known throughout the keyboard and pro audio world. A few years back they introduced the USB Pro, their first direct-box / audio interface hybrid. Building on the success of that, they recently dropped the Key-Largo - a ‘do it all in one box’ mixer, USB audio interface and pedal trigger that aims to become the ‘hub’ of your keyboard world.

The Design

As expected, this box is built to withstand a nuclear blast (all right, a *slight* exaggeration, but it’s really solid). That brings a bit of weight to your setup, but if you’re using this device, your setup is likely already pretty massive and it’s not an issue. There are three stereo analog 1/4” inputs on the back for keyboards, and each one feeds to a channel strip with volume control and EFX send. There is a USB I/O which also has its own dedicated volume/EFX slot for combining a computer/MainStage/Ableton Live type setup with your hardware synths.

On the output side, there is a stereo XLR out for your mains with volume control and ground lift, and a completely separate stereo 1/4” monitor output with its own volume control and ground lift. If you’re getting ground noise using this thing, you’ve either got a live wire sitting in a puddle on stage or something else has gone glaringly wrong.

Can You Summarize This Please?

In a nutshell, you can plug in three separate physical hardware keyboards/synths/workstations, a computer setup, have control of all the volume, and send ‘front of house’ or your mixer/recording setup a single stereo feed of everything. If you’ve got your own reverb or want to have control over which keyboard gets a specific amount of said 'verb, you can do so. If you want to completely disengage the effect loop with the press of a button, no problem. Heck, with a 1/4” cable connected to the side you can even utilize the sustain ‘button’ on the Key Largo as a sustain pedal. Oh, and did I mention standard MIDI jacks on the side that interface with the USB bus? This thing really does everything.

But Does It Blend?

In a nutshell, yes. If you’ve got a multi-keyboard setup that you want to wrap your hands around and control, the Key-Largo is absolutely the way to go. If you’ve been using a small sub mixer to do this before your sound gets to the main board or your audio interface, the Key-Largo will accomplish the same but in a smaller, more effective and likely better-sounding package. My only tiny request would have been to find a way to make the interface completely bus powered when available, but I did notice that even without the power brick, my computer detected it as a USB out audio interface. I couldn’t utilize the mixing aspect of things or power the pedal portion, but maybe we’re not too far off from seeing that added in future models.

Price: $379

Pros: Built like a tank, incredibly quiet sound, cleans up your audio chain, provides a TON of functionality in a very small package, a multi-keyboardist’s dream, allows for combination of software and hardware synths quite easily.

Cons: Not solely bus powered when using a computer

Web: http://www.radialeng.com/product/key-largo/

Learn more keyboard skills: https://ask.audio/academy?nleloc=/course/2858/keyboard-techniques-for-producers

Matt Vanacoro is one of New York’s premier musicans. Matt has collaborated as a keyboardist in studio and on stage with artists such as Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Mark Wood (Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Mark Rivera (Billy Joel Band), Aaron Carter, Amy Regan, Jay Azzolina, Marcus Ratzenboeck (Tantric), KeKe Palmer, C-Note, Jordan Knig... Read More

Discussion

Buis
This is a nice device and might I add: one if the very few compact mixers to feature stereo fx sends (many have stereo returns, but stereo send is rare and very mich needed for stereo synths).
But the price is quite high. One can get more channels and about the same connectivity for half this much.
Andy
Quality costs

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