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In the late 1990s Tim Ryan, an engineer and California Institute of Technology graduate, founded the company finding solutions for MIDI, audio and computer integration in music production. He also took part in developing such famous software as Studio One.
That’s how Midiman was constructing MIDI and synchronization devices, interfaces. The first product made by the brand was called Midiman as well – it was a MIDI synchronizer for a tape recorder followed by successful VITC-LTC/MTC converters Syncman and Syncman Pro. The most commercially profitable products appeared to be MIDI units Midisport and Bi-Port. Later analog/digital converters were released Flying Cow and Flying Calf.

In 2000 Midiman created M-Audio – the new brand for launching audio products. In subsequent years Midiman activity concerned only virtual studios such as Propellerhead, Ableton VJ software ArKaos and Groove Tubes microphones. The designs, dealer and distribution business as well as M-Audio products brought immediate profit to Midiman making the brand the most promising American music company in 2001-2002.

When the brand gained a foothold as a MIDI and audio interface developer it started to produce MIDI controllers. In 2002 a portable 25-key Oxygen8 came out and its release actually defined the new category of instruments and the main future production activity of M-Audio. That was the time when M-Audio began to launch Studiophile SP5B studio monitors. Later that same year Midiman went through rebranding releasing its production under M-Audio name – the name Midiman developers have been using for their audio devices since 1999.

In 2003 Midiman acquired Evolution Electronics LTD – MIDI controllers manufacturer. In 2004 Avid Technology took over Midiman which had already been known a.k.a. M-Audio. Tim Ryan maintained his position of chief manager.

Under the supervision of Avid M-Audio and Digidesign launched Pro Tools limited version called M-Powered compatible with M-Audio devices. M-Audio kept on focusing on compact controllers for music software. Among controllers made by the company there were Oxygen series keyboards, more affordable and basic Keystation series and Axiom premium series.

Besides mainstream controller lines the brand released a digital piano Prokeys 88 in 2005 which appeared to be quite convenient for live performances and nice in use receiving fair enough praise. M-Audio cared about the tuning and adjusting so that parameters wouldn’t distract you from the actual performing process making all the settings clear and quick. In 2006 they designed Mid Air wireless controller.

Audio interface kept on dominating among company’s priorities. Now the brand is busy with FastTrack USB audio interface making as well as ProFile firewire audio interface production.

Together with Roger Linn they developed Black Box guitar processor, collaboration with Ultimate Ears brought them IE series headphones while Torq release put them firm on the DJ market.

Oxygen and Axiom series come out in various keyboard versions (25, 49, 61 and 88 keys) including mini models offering 32 keys. Oxygen 49 MK IV, for example, features a dynamic keyboard, 8 assignable knobs for plugin effects and VSTi, 8 sensitive pads for samples and drum beating as well as 9 assignable faders. It has special knobs for playback start, pause and record in DAW. The controller allows automatic integration with popular digital audio workstations as Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase.

Axiom got a parallel Axiom Air series where HyperControl technology is responsible for immediate and clever interaction with the studios and AIR Music Technology – for programming.

Code series with X/Y Touchpad technology, serious efficiency (ASCII/HID and Mackie Control/HUI support) and a keyboard with a 4-zone split function is also worth mentioning.

CTRL49 is another controller of the company. It’s stuffed with VIP (Virtual Instrument Player) software allowing even more elaborate integration with DAW. The model also has a color display.

For those who don’t want to use notebook during performing M-Audio created Accent Module turning MIDI controller into stage piano. This compact unit is easily connected via USB and MIDI 5 pin jack. It offers 20 built-in voices, ability to layer two simultaneously and includes AIR Steinway Piano and AIR Structure virtual studio.

In 2011 M-Audio definitely surprised – they constructed the first synthesizer called Venom which was unfortunately discontinued in 2014. Anyway this virtual analog synthesizer had enough time to gain huge popularity even among professional musicians (Depeche Mode, Skrillex, The Crystal Method). In order to avoid criticism about analog oscillators or digital sound generating saving the good name of the company and staying afloat on the quicksand market smart M-Audio developers decided to act cannily – to build a machine based on samples of analog synthesizers sounds among which there were most popular vintage models of the 70s and 80s as well as extremely rare retro representatives. Analog samples, of course, didn’t make the instrument alive, vulnerable to external factors and impact or a capricious hardware but M-Audio didn’t even try to do that. M-Audio presented a widest range of sample processing owing to which it was possible to achieve completely new and unique sound – toxic, acid, edgy. Multimode filters and powerful modulation matrix (16 routes) will let you play with recorded samples any way you want. All the waveforms are available for each of the three oscillators allowing sync of the second and third ones. You can resort to frequency and ring modulation or you can emulate that flightiness of a real analog circuit with the help of random function in the initial waveform phase and oscillator drift imitation. Mixer allowing you to connect external audio sources to Venom goes through multimode resonant filter. The pre-filter will help to achieve classic overdrive. The instrument has one AHDSR per amplifier, filter and oscillator pitch. To sculpt the sound you may tweak the low pass filters, apply two effect busses (Reverb, Delay, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser), equalizer, compressor, distortion, bit reduction and AutoWah. Venom’s possibilities compensate some limitation in its multitimbrality due to 12-voice polyphony. The synthesizer is full of nice specification details: multimode filter has a vacuum tube saturation, arpeggiator – 3 modes with a decent set of patterns, the architecture offers 512 single and 256 multi patches, 41 sampled waveforms and 53 drum sounds. There’s a Vyzex Software Editor which comes with Venom. Despite its derisively primitive keyboard (actually M-Audio might have done it on purpose, again having this perverted “my way or highway” approach and deliberately deviating from a traditional notion about synthesizers) the company took risks and didn’t fail releasing the instrument which had no identical alternatives.

In 2012 Avid sold M-Audio inMusic which in its turn acquired all the AIR software team responsible for many virtual instruments and plugins for Pro Tools. All what Avid has left is Mbox audio interface line and some other M-Audio ex-products.