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Old 01-30-2017, 09:14 AM   #6
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Wuxi, China
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Originally Posted by EvilDragon View Post
9/10? Nah. Viscount K4 is around there, if you need a great MIDI controller. Actually, that one is 10/10
I wasn't aware of the Viscount K4 but have just had a look. I think giving it 10/10 you are being overoptimistic. For me the ideal MIDI controller keyboard is an amalgamation of existing products. It really is quite simple:

● Price 500 max, but I'd be glad to pay a bit more if all the following requirements are satisfied.
● A quality keybed (e.g. Fatar or better). This includes no side play, no strange noises, no sticky keys, white keys and black keys offer equal amounts of resistance, etc. Common sense really.
● Keys made of scratch resistant plastic.
● Available in 37, 49, 61 keys.
● Full-size keys.
● Personal preference: semi-weighted synth action keys
● All keys flush to one another (I've seen keyboards where some keys are higher than others).
● Plenty of backlit buttons with nice tactile feel and no sideways rocking. Best avoid rubber.
● Controls should NOT be labelled because all users have different requirements.
● If it has to have drum pads, then at least 16 of them and as good as Maschine's at least.
● If it must have faders, then 9 of them, and motorised (and obviously able to accept parameter feedback). Personally I would prefer rotary encoders with a linear LED bar so they somewhat resemble sliders, the advantage of this is no electromechanical bits to go kaput.
● At least 8 high-res rotary encoders (BCR2000 encoders seem pretty good), perhaps more, with LED rings consisting of at least 15 LEDs each.
● All controls able to be programmed to send standard MIDI messages, similar level of programmability as BCR2000 (i.e. very versatile)
● All buttons, encoders and faders fully programmable to transmit any message (including SysEx and custom messages) defined by the MIDI standard.
● All LEDs are RGB and their colour can be programmable. Colours are stored as part of each preset.
● LEDs can also be programmed to respond to MIDI feedback instead of using the programmed colour (e.g. set colour to "none" and then it becomes the DAWs job to send colour info, for example like Novation Launchpad using simple CC messages or whatever).
● Dedicated octave +/- transpose buttons, backlit.
● Dedicated semitone transpose +/- buttons, backlit.
● Dedicated transpose indicator LEDs (or show info on LCD if available)
● Ability to reset transpose by pressing + & - buttons simultaneously
● Poly AT, operation force (aka sensitivity) reasonable for a typical human being (unlike Roland A-PRO).
● Good quality, separate mod and pitch wheels, with no wobble, ideally with some sort of backlighting for easy location in the dark.
● Small but functional backlit LCD, again backlight color programmable. Menu system must not be too deeply nested.
● LCD front made of scratch-resistant material e.g. gorilla glass etc. Even cheap smartphones have this.
● Menu navigation by means of tried-and-tested up/down/left/right/ok/back buttons, if needed. Data entry can be done using existing encoders. The BCR2000 is a breeze to program with zero menu diving, use that as a reference.
● Typical features such as: A choice of velocity and AT pressure curves (both keys and pads), including a fixed value; zone splits; a generous number of named presets (name stored on device itself) for easy recall; etc.
● Implements MCU protocol as a template that users can customise, not as a mode. This way users can define a fader to control master volume and the rest for normal CC messages.
● Would be nice to have small backlit LCD scribble strip above each fader, but support for these is quite poor and limited so I personally think it's better if these are omitted to simplify the design and therefore minimize the chances of bugs and things going wrong in general.
● A decent software editor.
● MIDI in, out & thru ports.
● Connections for sustain and expression pedals
● USB 2.0 interface or later, bus-powered (maybe not possible with motorised faders).
● Not a must but a built-in 3-port USB hub for daisy-chaining is always nice.
● All connections at the back and centred, not on the sides.
● Multi-client MIDI driver for Windows.
● Device fully class-compliant. Proprietary host integration usually doesn't work well over MIDI, try OSC instead. In the interest of simplicity and reliability it may be better to just forget about host integration completely and embrace, reluctantly, the many limitations of our friend MIDI 1.0.
● Firmware needs to be open-source, to create a truly future-proof product that users can continue to maintain should the manufacturer discontinue it.
● Provide a programming interface so the community can expand the product.
● Form factor as small as possible. Studio real estate is precious. For example, avoid ridiculously bulky shells such as Novation Impulse which is just a big tacky piece of hollow plastic with a terrible keyboard on it.
● Shell built from durable scratch-resistant rugged plastic, as seen in older Lenovo Thinkpad laptops.
● At all costs refrain from using rubberised plastic, as the rubberising perishes after a few years becoming an irreversible gooey mess. Always. Every time.
● Shell injection-moulding done correctly that shell is not warped (my Roland A-PRO 500 and both my Launchpads have a bit of a bow shape to them).
● Held together with either Allen or Pozidriv (not Phillips) screws. Refrain from using exotic tamper-proof screws which only annoy people.
● Discrete logos, possibly a glowing logo (RGB colour, customizable).
● Overall minimalistic, clean and simple design.
● Minimum 3-year warranty?
● Good customer after-sales support, including forum participation (e.g. thread on KVR or whatever).

Et voila! You got the perfect MIDI keyboard

Edit: Added more items to the list.

Last edited by Scoox; 01-30-2017 at 09:39 AM.
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