Review: Samson Carbon 49 USB MIDI Controller

If you are looking for Piano or Rhodes-like feel for serious playing, Samson’s Carbon 49 USB MIDI Controller may not be right for you.

However, if you need a keyboard for some light playing or sample triggering, why not keep the expensive Kronos at home and bring the Carbon 49 out for the dangerous outdoor gigs that require expendable equipment? (I have seen many an expensive keyboard dragged end over end behind a golf cart after a show, or dropped or had beer spilled all over it while it was being underutilized at a gig as a mere MIDI controller).

Don’t get me wrong, the Carbon 49 — originally announced at NAMM but available May 15 — is a decently constructed keyboard controller and it comes complete with the usual on-board tools of the MIDI trade (modulation wheel, pitch wheel, data knob). Most importantly, it’s fairly portable and can use a laptop or even an iPad (not included) for both its MIDI brain and complete power supply (which makes for light travel). That’s a pretty great feature actually!

The thing about the Carbon 49 I like the best is the price point. At $89 it’s inexpensive and I think it plays pretty well for that price range!


  • Price – $89
  • Integrated iPad stand
  • Dedicated Transpose and Octave buttons, classic Pitch Bend and Modulation wheels
  • Velocity-sensitive keys
  • Shift key adjusts up to 14 performance-related control parameters
  • Features traditional MIDI out, sustain-pedal input and USB connections


  • Not trully weighted keys, which could make it hard for more serious or sensitive playing
  • 49 keys…you would have to balance portability with your playing needs
  • iPad Camera Kit connector not included

Bottom Line

I liked it. It’s inexpensive and worked right out of the box for me with both my MacBook and my iPad. It’s a decent option for playing or sample triggering.

More info at