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MIDI Controller Keyboards?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by nickdahl, Dec 16, 2005.

  1. nickdahl

    nickdahl Member

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    I need to get a MIDI controller keyboard. This might not be the "right" place to ask, given our guitar focus, but thought y'all could help me out anyway.

    I'm looking for an 88-key MIDI controller. If it makes sounds, great, but I'm using it with Pro Tools and Reason mostly, for home recordings. I'D like something with weighted keys.

    Should I go with some of the new stuff out there, or with something used and a bit more rugged? Since I'm not going to use this thing very much, I didn't want to pay too much over $500.

    Any advice?

    Nick
     
  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    For $500 you can get the M-Audio 88 key controller. It's becoming sort of a studio staple lately, because it has faders and knobs that you can program easily to run software, plug-ins, etc.

    The keys have a rather long travel, in my opinion, but it's otherwise very serviceable. I have one I use as my main controller, and I like it very much.

    Incidentally, I'm principally a keyboard player, not a guitar player.

    It's amazing to me that this thing is available at its price point; only a couple of years ago, a capable 88 key weighted controller of this quality was close to 2 grand.
     
  3. tac5

    tac5 Member

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    I was facing the same question a couple of years ago. I was trained as a classical piano player when I was young, and then devoted most of my time to guitars. When I went looking for a keyboard MIDI controller it was a requirement that it felt like an acoustic piano (or as close as possible). Studio Logic uses the Fatar weighted keyboard with aftertouch and the feel is really nice. I play my 880 Pro LS through a Kurzweil ME1 Tone Generator and I can close my eyes and it feels and sounds like a grand piano. The Studio Logic MIDI controllers are just that. Controllers. They must be patched to a source. My tone generator has all the good stuff, all types of keyboards, electric and acoustic, stings, horns, percussion and on and on.
    I have seen some newer keyboards that have some onboard sound AND are also MIDI controllers. Check out Sweetwater. They have a great selection. Price is the concern. A basic controller with no built in sound is cheaper. 88 keys runs around $400. (just an estimate). Add sounds and the price goes up into the thousands. Yamaha, Korg, Roland and Kurzweil make excellent instruments. There are many others. I absolutely love my Studio Logic 880 Pro LS, and it is probably considered old technology, but it suits my needs perfectly. It records like a dream and the touch and feel of the keys are impressive.
     
  4. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    One of my students has the M-Audio controller at home and he says it's rather flimsy. There you have it, all I know about it.
     
  5. nickdahl

    nickdahl Member

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    Thanks guys. I heard about the M-Audio Keystation 88. I'd go for it, but I'm somewhat torn, because I've heard what Michael has said. What concerns me most are the "black keys." What I've read said that some people are really turned off by them.

    Still, good ideas.:AOK

    Nick
     
  6. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

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    Check out the Edirol PCR models. I have the 31 key model and like it.
     
  7. nickdahl

    nickdahl Member

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    Well, I threw the dice, and got the Studiologic/FATAR SL-880 PRO MIDI controller. $349 at Musiciansfiend. It'll be here Tuesday.

    I'll let you all know how it does.

    Nick
     
  8. tac5

    tac5 Member

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    I really think you're going to love the action. It's closer to an acoustic piano than anything I've played so far. They are also solidly built, by comparative standards. And, it's truly a bargain at that price. I payed $600 for mine just two years ago. It will sound as good as the software you control with it.
     
  9. nickdahl

    nickdahl Member

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    Thanks for the advice. I'll have it Tuesday, they say.:)

    Nick
     
  10. tedm

    tedm Gold Supporting Member

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    I've got an older Fatar/Studiologic SL-661 (66 keys), which I like the feel of better than say my Roland D-50, however, mine is velocity sensitive only, not touch sensitive and the keys are still much lighter than a real piano's of course.


     
  11. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    FWIW...

    For my weighted-key controller I use an old Yamaha P-150 that I bought new in '97. I like the piano feel on it much more than most weighted-key controllers. It has some good built-in sounds, and even though they're somewhat archaic (bit depth-ily speaking) they often sit in a mix better than others. Also, the built-in speakers give it a much fatter resonance than the audio outs. I've gotten my best electric piano sounds by miking the speakers.

    Yamaha makes an updated version that is very similar... I forget the model number. They also make one without the speakers, which is cool because with them it's kinda unwieldy.
     
  12. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    >>one of my students has the M-Audio controller at home and he says it's rather flimsy<<

    It's not, Michael. It's quite solid.

    Just my opinion.

    Useful things about it: very easy to program using computer software that is free with it, or just using its own controls; the knobs are very solidly attached, and not fiddly like most synths/controllers; the display is actually useful. It feels solid to me, and is fairly attractive.

    The Studiologic/Fatars feel nice - Fatar makes keyboards for a lot of manufacturers. If all I wanted to do was play piano, and not control software, I'd go that way. Not enough knobs for me, for controlling lots of software stuff, tho. I like knobs (don't we all? ;)).
     
  13. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Hey, I'm only the messenger.
     
  14. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    I know. I'm only the guy who replies to the messenger. :p
     
  15. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Yeah, but knowing you I'd probably disagree anyway. ;)
     
  16. slhguitar

    slhguitar Member

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    Coming from a piano-playing background, I think the action on the M-audio is too light. However, if you are used to playing synthesizers then it may be too heavy....Basically all you can do is test out everything in your price range and see which fits best.
     

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