I purchased my M-audio CTRL49 to replace my ageing Yamaha Tyros Keyboard, seeing as this came with specialist software to file my extensive libraries of VST sound banks and be able to create multi layered sounds using multiple VST's I decided to get this model. I also looked at the offerings from Alesis and Akai and got the M-audio as it has eight faders onboard for controlling Mackie HUI controls within the DAW (mine being Cubase's Mixer and Transport controls). It can also integrate with track mutes, solos and track record and select, very much like some of the larger Mackie DAW Controllers.
I found the included software very hard to install, coming up with a 1935 error which pointed to errors within my own systems windows registry and .NET framework mainly because the software uses the older package from 2005, which hasn't been a problem until now. This means I have to reinstall windows, as well as my DAW's and VST's to install the included VST's and FX packages. Our major problem came from trying to install PACE which handles the iLOC package for security, again we had problems installing this due to missing files, which took half an afternoon to find on the net.
I thought I would add this as I don't know if the problem is due to my error or poor programing and is something which has appeared on the M-Audio support forums multiple times, as well as the next problem I had with Mackie HUI integration. This other problem was everytime I used a fader it changed the pitch and was resolved only when we found something in a FAQ found in a dark corner of their website. Why it wasn't in the manual I don't know.
I have now got the Software VIP installed and all I can say it is easy to use, but is somewhat unpredictable and can be quite unstable. I've been mainly using this at the moment as a nice MIDI controller which has the onboard transport controls conveniently placed above the keys. The key bed and weighted keys are a joy to use, and the HUI integration and arpeggiator functions, as well as tap tempo are nice additions, to some VST's like Z3ta, Hydra and Junglist which don't have built in arpeggiators. Tap tempo works better than the tap tempo on my MPC Studio Black, and has subsequently made sampling easier.
The pads feel quite nice and since the controller has taken prime spot on my desk in front of my PC, my MPC has now been relegated to the unused equipment shelf. It won't replace it, but my new keyboard in part with the Akai software, kind of makes the Studio black redundant.
The keyboard finally has a bank of knobs for changing CC values on set via a lovely colour screen, I've currently set it up to do cut off and resonance in Nexus and Vanguard.