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Midi Keyboards?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by LPJunior, May 23, 2011.

  1. LPJunior

    LPJunior Member

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    I'm looking to buy a new midi keyboard, as my current one is... pretty terrible, it's only 25 keys and I feel I need something a bit bigger than that.

    A couple I've been browsing are the alesis Q49, M-Audio work station and the Nocturn 49

    I'm running Pro Tools LE.

    preemptive apology, as I'm sorta a noob at all this stuff (better at the playing side of things), so if the models i mentioned are utter :barf, I :facepalm myself. and any better suggestions are much appreciated.
     
  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    Each has features that you may or may not like or want, but most of the keyboards on the market are fairly comparable, so the good news is that it's hard to make a mistake.

    The Akai MPK series is getting very good reviews from my colleagues in the studio biz; I use an MPK 61 as my "synth feel" keyboard, and it reminds me of my old Roland D-50's keyboard. A close friend in the biz has the 88 key version, but for the 88 key piano feel thing, I use a Yamaha controller that I like very much and that's not in current production any more, so I can't comment. There is mapping software for plugins with the Akais, but it's not automatic as with the Nocturn; there are some presets, however, and it's very simple to do the mapping.

    The M-Audio are good keyboards with a slightly different keybed feel. They have a good reputation; my son uses one out at his studio in LA, and tours with it as well with zero problems. Their higher end models will map the knobs on the keyboards to plugins with included software.

    The Nocturn is great if you want to automatically map your plugins to the keyboard (or do it by hand in the case of some plugs, since not all are compliant). The keybed reminds me a bit of the Yamaha synths.

    Of the lot, when looking for a smaller synth style controller, I went with the Akai for the drum pads and because it felt solid with a "not too springy, not too soft" keybed. I bought a 25 key version as well, for traveling.
     
  3. mgrier1

    mgrier1 Silver Supporting Member

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    :agree

    I, too, use the Akai MPK series (I have the 49-key version) and have had great luck with it. the keyboard feel is nice and it behaves well with Logic Pro Studio as well as Ableton Live. I have had this one for a few years and it is a nice MIDI keyboard that I just don't think about replacing (a good thing in my studio)...

    I sometimes wish I had the 61-key version, but it is not an issue and I am not a formally trained keyboardist, so not a big issue...

    As LShefman suggests, there are other keyboards that map to the DAW and Plugs more easily, but the build quality is superb at the price point.

    My Best,

    Mike
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  4. Rusty G.

    Rusty G. Member

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    I know that I'm hijacking this thread. . .Are you guys using your midi keyboards as controllers and getting your sounds from computer plugins? Or, do you buy a midi keyboard and play the parts, laying down midi information, and trying various sounds on the keyboard until you get the sound you're looking for?
     
  5. mgrier1

    mgrier1 Silver Supporting Member

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    Hi Rusty,

    Mine is almost exclusively used for controlling Omnisphere, Trilian, D.CAM Synthsquad, or the like... I lay down a synth pad or line with a preset patch then just modulate that patch to make it my own desired sound or plug in an entirely new sound using the existing MIDI data.

    I used to use the MPK49 for drums (BFD2, Slate Platinum, RMX Stylus, et al), but now I have a Roland SPD-30 that covers those chores in a better way... The pads on the MPK49 are nice, though and one could easily get by on those...

    The MPK49 has no internal sounds of its own, so you are using some softsynth or another to get a tone to play to.

    My Best,

    Mike
     
  6. rdnzl

    rdnzl Member

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    Can a midi keyboard, and computer software replace a synth or a full blown keyboard with on board sounds? Realistically?
     
  7. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    >>Are you guys using your midi keyboards as controllers and getting your sounds from computer plugins?<<

    I use mine as a controller and get my sounds from both computer plugins and, occasionally, analog sound modules via midi.

    >>Can a midi keyboard, and computer software replace a synth or a full blown keyboard with on board sounds?<<

    Yes. And in most cases, because of the limitations with certain on-board sounds, especially sample-based ones (my favorite piano sample, for example, is 36 gigs all by itself), it's actually an upgrade not to use the onboard sounds, unless you're also gigging it live.

    Unless you have real deal analog synths. It's hard to beat a real moog filter, etc.
     
  8. Julia343

    Julia343 Member

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    For the OP: M-Audio Axiom Pro 61 is a pretty good deal especially if you've got Pro Tools because of the mapping, and it's got a drum pad on it, although I've adapted to just putting some sticky dots on the keys of my M-Audio Oxygen 61 for where the main drums are located so I can make custom drum loops.

    However if you don't need the drum pad the Oxygen 88 has a weighted key bed, but I'd go for the Pro Keys 88 just because it can produce its own sound -- you can listen to this instead of the instrument while you're recording and not have to deal with a lot of plugin latency.

    This is for the studio.

    For live use buy a Yamaha stage piano w/ synths.
     
  9. Scrutinizer

    Scrutinizer Member

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    Yes. I'm using a controller keyboard (Novation 49SL MkII) with Ableton Live8 and Reason 4, running on a 13" MacBook (2.4GHz dual core), for live performance.

    If I did not also play guitar, I'd want a hardware synth in case the computer-based system malfunctions during a gig.

    The biggest issue with this setup is the time it takes to load the next song. Reason files open very fast, but my Ableton Live sets take way too long to open. I am forced to combine an entire set of songs into one Ableton Live set to avoid embarrassing delays between songs.

    The drum pads on my Novation 49SL MkII have poor dynamic response. I previously used a Novation 25SL, and it has the same awful drum pads. If I needed touch sensitive drum pads, I'd get one of the Akai MPD or MPK controllers.
     
  10. HP Hovercraft

    HP Hovercraft Member

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    I like the Novation Nocturn 49 because of the LED-lit encoders. I personally use an Akai MPK49 and really like it.
     
  11. LPJunior

    LPJunior Member

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    Thanks for all the replies, will check out the Akai,

    The pads are a bit redundant for me though (yeah they were own the novation also) as I'm not really using synths more piano, strings. plus my desk is kinda limited space wise, so thats why the alesis/m-audio were attractive...
    I'll see if anywhere near me has an m-audio I can try out.
     
  12. LPJunior

    LPJunior Member

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    any opinions on the cakewalk A500s??
     

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