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Old 08-04-2019, 10:16 AM   #1
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Default Advice on a Starter MIDI Controller/Keyboard for Game Audio

Accidentally posted this in the spam general. Please ignore that one.

Hello, noob here. I'm sure you get this question a lot, but I've been hoping to not buy more than what I initially need for what I want to do in Reaper. I want to make game audio and I would like for my songs to be made in chiptune first and then remade using virtual instruments.

I live in a state of constant movement, so I would like for the keyboard to be portable. 25/32/37 keys would be ideal and I have found a few of them that I like. Also, I use a Macbook Pro 2017. Here is what I see so far:

Arturia Keystep 32 - this looks good and has 3 octaves, but I'm not sure if I need a sequencer?

NI Komplete Kontrol 32 - looks solid, but I hear that this is only good if you like NI software.

CME XKey Air 25 - portable, but worried that I need more keys. Nothing extra - not sure if that's good or bad for a starter.

Nektar SE25 - I hear that Nektar products integrate well with Reaper. two octaves concern me a little.

Korg Microkey 37 Air - Portable and 3 octaves. Hope that I'm not missing out on anything, by just having keys and nothing else.

Nektar LX25 - Nektar products seem to be recommended. Not sure if this is really portable from the looks of it though.

Also not sure if I should have aftertouch as a beginner, or if drumpads are necessary for game dev. Some of these have them, some don't.

Any advice would be helpful!

Last edited by Imkaizer; 08-04-2019 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 08-04-2019, 10:50 AM   #2
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You're going to be pretty much limited to a 25 key controller since there are not very many 37 key options these days...if you could manage a 49 key controller your options will really open up...

25 key controllers have octave up/down buttons to quickly shift them into different registers, so once you have become accustomed to the workflow you will probably have no issues with the limited number of keys...

I have the Nektar LX25...it's an excellent controller, has a good number of extra assignable knobs, and the drum pads are assignable inside the unit...true portability may be an issue with it, but if you need full size keys it's going to be an issue no matter which controller you choose...
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Old 08-04-2019, 10:52 AM   #3
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Hi, hope I can help.

If you're a total beginner, don't go overboard. I think if you like smaller-key controllers, go with an Arturia Minilab MK2. It comes with a light version of Analog Lab 4, which has about 500 presets of classic synths and very usable sounds (as a plugin inside Reaper). $100, and you get a lot. Plus, you get 16 encoders, 8 drum pads, and pitch & mod sliders. And you can configure the encoders and drum pads to do anything you want, using the Arturia Midi Control Center software.

If you need/want big keys-- go with the same company's Keylab Essential 49 or 61 ($200-250). You still get Analog Lab 4, but this time, you get thousands of presets (like 5,000 or something).

NI stuff is fine but the learning curve can be big and then you'd be tied to their ecosystem, which isn't for everyone. Their cheapest controller is the M32, but it does not work with Windows 7 (10 only) and you can't customize the encoders to do what you want.

I would avoid Akai products like the plague because they never work and/or break easily (I'm speaking from personal experience). Don't buy into the MPK Mini MK2 hype... and there's a lot of it. Go with the Minilab MK2 instead.

A lot of places offer the 3-month no interest payment plan (American Musical, Zzounds, Sweetwater). Get it in 24 hours, for $40 or whatever, with the installment fee.. then just pay $33 for the next two months.


this actually offers a 6-month payment plan ($16/month). Worth it.

Good luck, and keep us updated!
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Old 08-05-2019, 08:40 PM   #4
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I have a Nektar LX25+. I used to own an M-Audio Axiom 49, but I found I never played it often enough, cause it was a pain in the ass. lol I just don't have the desk space for it, so it would sit on a keyboard stand beside me, and my workflow felt awkward with it there.

Now, this Nektar is tucked under one of my monitor stands when not in use. It feels fairly light, although it isn't much thinner than my old Axiom. I am very very happy with this keyboard.

The only thing is I wish I had one more octave to play with for when I'm playing in some keys, but that's not really a big deal. You can actually transpose the notes on the keyboard though so that say your middle C key is actually G, for example (and of course every other note is equally shifted).

There's a lot of knobs, pitch & mod wheels.. pads...transport controls... lots of controls, and they all work right out of the box with Reaper, iirc. I like how I can toggle through presets on VSTis easily with a button, for example, and just jam out on the keyboard while I stumble around for a hook.

The price on this was also great too. I have no regrets about the keyboard. See pic, how this thing slides nicely under my monitor stand (I have it out a bit here, but it actually goes all the way under there).
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:43 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone,

Sorry for the late response. I went with the Minilab MKII. I appreciate all of you guys' help.
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:58 PM   #6
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Old 09-21-2019, 12:32 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Imkaizer View Post
Thanks everyone,

Sorry for the late response. I went with the Minilab MKII. I appreciate all of you guys' help.
Please let us know how it works for you!
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