Old 05-17-2019, 03:15 PM   #1
Anarchron
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Default 88 Keys with knobs - which is the right keybed?

Hi all
I hope I'm not asking anything stupid, being a newbie, but I'm looking for a keyboard, and I'm beginning to feel desperate, so asking kindly for your help

Not sure if this is important, but my music style is on the edge between classical, experimental and jazz. So lots of acoustic sounding VST instruments (cello, piano, double bass, orchestra's etc) that I need to be able to play with nuance.

I'm looking for a good keyboard, close to a real piano. There's a big market for that, but most are digital piano's, not suitable to use as a master for reaper.
Also, I need knobs, prefarably transport buttons, pads, sliders and the works. But it seems all keyboards made for that are dance oriented, and have mostly keyboard action in stead of good hammer action keybeds.

So there are a few exceptions. Arturia Keylab 88 seems to be one. I like what I read about it. But I tried two of them, and the keys feel like I'm pushing them in mud. Much too heavy for me, and certainly much heavier than my 130 year old standing piano. After playing it for 7 minutes in the shop my hands really start to hurt.

As I don't see much alternative, I'm now looking to buy a good keybed and a second small keyboard on top of that, just for the sliders, wheels and knobs.

My questions are:

1. Is this possible? Can you use the pitch wheel on one keyboard to influence the notes you play on another keyboard?

2. I find the Arturia 88 keylab too heavy. It's a TP/100LR Fatar keybed. However, the Studiologic SL88 Studio has the exact same keybed, but feels much lighter to play. How is this possible?

3. I'm not looking forward to mapping everything. But as I understand it, it's only the Novation and Nectar keyboards that automap everything in Reaper. Is that right, or are there more brands that do that?

(And I hear Nektar and Novation keybeds are not even close to real piano keybeds, so that seems a no go for me, however suited they may be for people producing dance etc.)

4. I'm playing on a cheap M-Audio code 49 now, which is an awful thing, making as much noise with the amplifier off as when it's on. So looking for silent keys. Anybody got a tip for a small keyboard with durable sliders, wheels, pads and knobs? (Keys not even needed, as I will get something like Roland FP-30 or Studiologic SL88 Studio for that)

Thanks a lot for any help!
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Old 05-17-2019, 07:33 PM   #2
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I research stuff all the time...

Stay away from the overpriced 88-key controllers. Keylab 88... nah. The NI Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2 ($1050)... nah.

Studiologic Studio boards, I've looked at a lot. But, found this video.... made me a bit weary of the boards. The SL88 is $500, and so is the SL73. I want the SL73... but... if this is something common with it, I'll choose something else.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwGEMZhk1tA

By far, your cheapest (and best) option is any Casio or Yamaha. $400 new, usually. The CDP-135 isn't made anymore, but a great Casio board, and was $299 for a time. My friend who is a classically-trained player bought one and LOVED it, especially when connected to Kontakt, and Sampletekk's libraries (White Grand, Black Ground, 7CG, etc). He said it blew him away, with headphones and/or his 2.1 speaker setup. Felt insanely realistic and he loved it.

The downside-- the newer Casio and Yamaha boards are USB-to-MIDI only. No standard USB ports. But, not a dealbreaker, as you seem to want to use Kontakt and stuff like that, anyway.

You can also consider a Yamaha MX88 or Roland Juno DS88, or a Casio PX-5s. They're all $1000 each. All have built-in sounds, and pretty damn good feel. Would be nice to have the convenience of just writing/noodling around with the built-in sounds.

I'm still trying to figure out what I need for my studio... I want a good 73 or 88-key controller... but after seeing that Studiologic SL88 video, I'm like "ehhh..."

As far as knobs go... get an Arturia Beatstep and have it sit on top of your piano. 16 endless encoders, 16 drum pads. In Controller mode, they're insanely configurable. Thing is only $99 and probably the most solid MIDI controller on the market (plus, it's a fun step sequencer). Take the time to map it how you like, with the Arturia MIDI Control Center software. Automap stuff SUCKS because it's just annoying, having them map it the way they wanted to, and not the way you want. Take the time.

Pitch, yeah... you can pitch-bend on one board and have it affect another. All MIDI boards (when connected at the same time) control each other, as long as Reaper is "seeing" them on the right channel.

M-Audio Code... no. The Axiom 49 (2nd gen) are pretty cool for the money, but I don't like the feel/look/style/key feel of the Code. Sell it and get a dope 88-key controller or digital piano. Small keyboard with durable sliders, wheels, pads and knobs.... I would go for the Keylab 49 or 61 (MK2) from Arturia. It's metal, built like a tank, and has everything you need on it, including a 4x4 pad grid. Runs $450 new. The keys feel pretty good.

Or, save a little money... get a used Maschine MK2 ($150) and use it in General MIDI / Controller Mode... you have transport, tons of other stuff. Maybe a Keylab Essential 49 ($200). If keys aren't needed at all (and you'd prefer weighted ones)... you could do far worse than that Beatstep, or a Novation Launch Control XL (24 knobs, 16 assignable buttons, 8 faders). I'm a MIDI nerd... have done a ton of research.

The most customizable midi controller PERIOD (and has the software to prove it-- Controller Editor RULES).... is a Maschine MK2, Studio, or MK3. The MK3 isn't cheap, but the Studio currently is, and the MK2 still is. A used Studio can go for about $250... you have two full color screens, PAGES of endless encoders to assign exactly how you like (like literally, hundreds of pages if you want), eight banks of 4x4 drum pads (can be midi notes OR CC assignments)... a clickable jog wheel (6 pages that can change the function of the jog wheel depending on which page you're on)... and all buttons can be assigned to any function you like. Nothing is more customizable than Maschine MK2, MK3 and Studio. Honestly I'd go for a Studio used, and a new Beatstep. $350 total. And oh man, the possibilities. Spend $350 on those two, and a $400 digital piano. Or, add an Arturia Keylab Essential to the mix... that's $950 total.

Hope this helps!

Last edited by themixtape; 05-17-2019 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 05-18-2019, 10:33 AM   #3
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It mainly depends on what keyboard feeling you want.

As I was after a keyboard with decent grand piano feeling, and felt I only would be happy if I had motor faders, I bit the bullet and bought a Kawai VPC 1 plus a Behringer XToch Compact. I am very happy with that combination.

See -> https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=213568#5

-Michael
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Old 05-24-2019, 10:50 AM   #4
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Midi controllers are the most frustrating purchases. They never make exactly what you're looking for. You're always compromising on something and paying way more than you wanted.

Why don't they make a hammer action controller without any software or sounds? I just want to control the sampled instruments I already have.
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Old 05-24-2019, 12:06 PM   #5
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???

There are lots of those. (e.g. the Kawai VPC 1 that I use).

But making a decent hammer action keyboard is not cheap,just due to the mechanics. (compare a Grand piano keyboard's price).

-Michael
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Old 05-24-2019, 12:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mschnell View Post
???

There are lots of those. (e.g. the Kawai VPC 1 that I use).

But making a decent hammer action keyboard is not cheap,just due to the mechanics. (compare a Grand piano keyboard's price).

-Michael
Yeah, that Kawai is pretty cool, but I don't care for the price. It doesn't make sense to me that it's so much more expensive than a Yamaha digital piano with graded hammer action. At least the latter has integrated sounds. The markup is insane on hammer actions to my mind.

I've not seen any other plain, hammer-action controllers like the Kawai. What am I missing?
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Old 05-24-2019, 01:42 PM   #7
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There are lots more simple hammer action master keyboards. A rather cheap one is the "SL 88 Studio".

The Kawai has straight wooden keys with the hammers "behind" the keys, while others have plastic keys with the hammers "folded back" below the keys. This of course makes a difference in the playing feeling - and the price.

-Michael
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Old 05-24-2019, 08:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mschnell View Post
There are lots more simple hammer action master keyboards. A rather cheap one is the "SL 88 Studio".

The Kawai has straight wooden keys with the hammers "behind" the keys, while others have plastic keys with the hammers "folded back" below the keys. This of course makes a difference in the playing feeling - and the price.

-Michael
$700 CAD isn't cheap (not to me anyway). Cheap would be under $500 CAD. I can get an actual piano for that.
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Old 05-24-2019, 10:46 PM   #9
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You need to compare the feel of the keys. Supposedly due to the marketing chances there are really low end hammer keyboard "pianos", but no such master keyboards.

And the new Yamaha P-112 piano that does feature decent key mechanics costs substantially more than the SL 88, even though it only has 73 keys.

-Michael

Last edited by mschnell; 05-25-2019 at 12:00 AM.
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Old 05-25-2019, 08:22 AM   #10
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Casio doesn't make the CDP-100 anymore but they do make an upgraded CDP-S100 for the same price. I had an M-audio midi keyboard but hated having no action on the keys. Got the Casio and was very happy with the weighted keys and it works great driving any vst. No midi controller tho. I picked up a Novation Nocturn but hated it; barely worked and the software installs a second copy of ALL your vsts in a novation wrapper. This was a few years ago so I imagine newer stuff exists for vst paremeter control. Anyway, for fully weighted keys, Casio CDP series is worth looking at.
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