I thought I was set on the Roland VR-09b as my portable 61-key all-arounder. Figured it would be a nice match with the iPad, especially the drawbars for the Hammond B-3X.
But I visited a music store today and the staff reminded me that the Korg Kross 61 has a built-in usb audio interface. It was such a clean iPad setup:
- one cable for audio+MIDI
- edge-to-edge keys (no side panel)
Yeah, as with pretty much everything else, no single board ever seems to have everything you'd like. The obvious big trade-off of the Kross approach is no drawbar control, which is okay if you only call up presets.
I actually like the idea of a Casio XW-P1 rather than VR-09 for this purpose...
* the 9 sliders send MIDI CC instead of sysex so configuration is simpler (for B3X or any other apps you may want to integrate)
* it has a place to actually put the iPad
* it has much more flexible splits and layers
* its 100 user setups can all be selected with buttons (on the VR09, only the first 16 are directly selectable, the rest require scrolling)
* its 100 user setups can be recalled via MIDI Program Change
* it functions as a 4-zone MIDI controller (VR09 is basically single zone MIDI, in terms of its internal capabilities)
* its internal sounds can be panned to one output or the other (IIRC)
* it's much lower priced (though unfortunately now discontinued so you'd have to look for a used one)
* it has a regular mod wheel that doesn't spring back (my personal preference, though the Roland lever is kinda cool for rotary control)
* synth editing can be done on-board (instead of only via external app)
* action may be better... the Casio action seems to vary somewhat from unit to unit, but I think many will find it superior to the VR09
* it's even a hair lighter (about a quarter pound)
The big trade-off? While it's strong on synth tones, its acoustic instrument tones (pianos/EPs, strings, horns, winds, etc.) are generally not nearly as good as those in a VR09 (or Kross). So one one hand, I think it's a better iPad mate than the VR09 is, but the flip side of that is that you actually NEED the iPad to get comparable quality for some of these bread and butter sounds. Also, as I recently mentioned in another thread, the Roland has more pleasing aesthetics/ergonomics... e.g. drawbars instead of small sliders, more modern display, button sizing/layout/labeling that is a bit more "musical instrument" and a bit less "computer".
Another alternative to consider is the Vox Continental. It also has a place to put the iPad, and 9-drawbar control via its LED strips, and would have the best action of the bunch. Weaknesses: very limited internal split functions, minimal patch editing, no MIDI zoning, no sound panning. Though at least its 64 user setups are recallable via MIDI and direct button selection. So... different trade-offs. My conclusion in another thread was that, personally, I'd lean toward the Vox over the Roland if using it as a bottom board, but the Roland over the Vox as a top. But I also talked about what may be a particular advantage of the Continental as a B3X controller at http://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3052225/re-super-light-2-board-rigs#Post3052225
The YC61 mentioned by others could also be worth a look, I haven't seen one of those in the flesh yet. But kind of mirroring your VR09 vs Kross eval, if you don't actually need an internal organ angine and 9-drawbar control, for less money than the YC61, you can get the far more capable MODX6 or MODX7, which--apart from the organ--should sound as good or better than the YC61, and is far more flexible overall, and the really nice Live Set screens for touch-panel named patch recall. Though you do trade-off some easy real-time tweaking (e.g. for effects and split/layer manipulation), and possibly a nicer action. The MODX7 also provides the advantage of a place to put the iPad (though the MODX6 might be able to work for that okay too, if you don't mind a bit of overhang), and the Kross feature you like of handling audio over USB. The Kross does have a few advantages over a MODX... full sequencer, trigger pads, 16-zone MIDI control instead of 8, the ability to assign any of 16 parts to any MIDI channel, light weight/small size, lower price... but MODX has seamless sound switching, more real-time controls, touchscreen interface, FM sound engine, 1 GB of use sample memory, and personally I prefer its sounds and action.
One thing I don't *think* I can do (on the moxf8 at least) is to integrate the ipad sounds into Performances,that appears to be internal sounds only. From reading the manual, looks like if I want to do a split (eg. internal piano on the left, an ipad synth or organ on the right) I'd probably use Master mode.
That's exactly what Master Mode is for (well, I guess one of the two things Master mode is for). Copy your Performance into a Master location, and now you have the identical Performance except with the added function of 4-zone MIDI control.
The left side would be midi transmit off, local on, with the piano assigned. The right would be midi transmit on, local off.
Just to be a little picky about the vernacular, no, you're not using local on or off, which is a specific MIDI function, and not restricted by key range or channel. But I know what you're getting at. What you'd be doing is just a matter of whether you do or do not assign an internal sound to a specific region of keys in that Performance.
I got Model D when it was free and I have Zeeon and Model 15--those synths sound incredible and better than anything in the modx for old-school "analog" to my ear.
Yeah, the MODX does not have a virtual analog engine.