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88-key Midi Controllers #2989638 05/15/19 08:06 AM
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Hi Everyone,

My Uncle used to play in a rock band until he rocked too hard and had to step out and take care of himself. He disappeared, and during this hiatus, I was the temporary caretaker for all the high-end synths he had. Eventually, his problem would grow above him, and sure enough, he came to take back the synths to sell for money to keep going. I loved the synths but wasn’t ever in a financial situation to get my hands on something nice.

Fast-forward 10 years to today. I am currently saving for a top-shelf synth, examples Korg Kronos, Yamaha Montage 8, Roland RD-2000 etc. In the meantime, while I put the funds together I am using Reason 10 (have been a Reason user since version 6). My friends and I who jam together wanted to mix up the traditional band a little, and I decided to try and jam using a Midi controller and Reason 10. Results are ‘ok’ the major let down is Midi controller I currently own. I own a Samson Graphite 49, which is an ok midi controller, but the keys, although weighted, still feel plastic and it has only 49-keys.

The jam sessions were enough of an experience to sell my friends on synths, and they all went out and purchased various synths, mostly the brand Moog, and now I need to up my game a little.

I have been researching high-end Midi controllers, and I was watching a review on Native Instruments S88. I went to my local music shop which has one on display but unfortunately wasn’t powered or plugged into anything. The feel is great, and in the review, it appears the reviewer was able to simulate actual synths like the Juno-8, which just blew my mind. I have no experience with NI as a hardware company, and I wanted to reach out to the community to get feedback or perhaps even a recommendation on other products.

Budget: $1500 CAD

Last edited by No Name; 05/15/19 08:09 AM.
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Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: No Name] #2989643 05/15/19 08:30 AM
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Top shelf, high end 88 key controllers? The market is about dead because of the power of computers and flagship workstations. There is only one real controller available and that is the Physis.

Last edited by CEB; 05/15/19 08:31 AM.

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So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt
Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: CEB] #2989652 05/15/19 09:18 AM
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For what it's worth I think the Arturis Key Lab 88 is pretty cool for the money and you get some neat software.


"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!
So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt
Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: CEB] #2989655 05/15/19 09:53 AM
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1. Do you have a budget?
2. Do you have any specific requirements? I'm thinking controller features: PB/mod wheels, expression pedals, knobs/buttons/sliders...

I reckon the Casio PX5 makes a pretty cool 88-key controller, as it's got a relatively nice action, it's light and it's fairly well equipped for controllers.

Cheers, Mike.


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Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: stoken6] #2989669 05/15/19 11:03 AM
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Five years ago I was looking into an 88 key MIDI controller to take to gigs. Having been spoiled by my Kurzweil MIDIBoard, I was disappointed enough that I just bought a 2nd MIDIBoard used. No one makes a top shelf high end 88 key MIDI controller anymore.

Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: The Real MC] #2989680 05/15/19 12:09 PM
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While I agree that top shelf 88 key controllers don't exist. There are some that are perfectly serviceable depending on your needs and what keyboards feel acceptable to you. If the OP could be more specific about features. The Arturia KeyLab88 that CEB noted has a decent amount of controls, sliders etc and comes with their Analog Lab software. If feel is more important than physical controls their is the Studio Logic with the TP40 wood action. The NI controller you mentioned doesn't have a lot of physical controls. The Nectar 88+ is semi-weighted but has more physical controls and a template mapped to Reason.

Last edited by Toano88; 05/15/19 12:10 PM.

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Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: Toano88] #2989683 05/15/19 12:37 PM
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I was going to recommend a decent controller well under budget but then started thinking if the OP is saving up for a Kronos or a Montage, anything in the range of his/her budget of $1500 CDN would be just throwing good money after bad. But hey, that's what we do here!

So if the OP is into spending $1500 on a Komplete Kontrol S88, my take on it is that if you're going to use any VI's other than NKS, virtually the identical keybed can be found on a Studiologic SL88 Studio for half that price, or an Arturia Keylab 88 at about $1K. Minimal (or opaque) controls on the former, many assignables on the latter.

If I were saving to buy a high-end workstation such as a Montage or Kronos however, I'd seriously consider a used controller which no doubt are available from CL or local Pawn; or better yet, rent one from a local company such as Long & McQuade.

Just my 1.7˘ CDN.



Rod
Arturia Keylab MKii 88 | Mojo61 A/B | iConnectAudio4+ > iOS / MacOS
VI Ravenscroft | Neo-Soul Studio | Acoustic Samples V-Tines | iSymphonic | Pure Synth Platinum | iFretless Bass
Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: drawback] #2989684 05/15/19 12:49 PM
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I'd also consider going for good feel (my old Studiologic has tp40 and I like it, they still make something comparable) and then get a separate unit with all the controls. Needing both in one unit considerably narrows options. (Obviously for live use the separate unit wouldn't work I guess)

Last edited by Stokely; 05/15/19 12:49 PM.
Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: Toano88] #2989685 05/15/19 12:51 PM
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Surprised you want weighted action. For synths many people prefer semi-weighted or 'synth action', which is completely unweighted.
For most folks, weighted action pairs well with acoustic and electric pianos. IME, most people want 2 boards if they can- a weighted action for pianos, semi-weighted for organ and synth.

There are a number of 88 note semi-weighted boards out there, none of them are controllers AFAIK. 73/76 note boards give you yet more options.


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Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: Randelph] #2989691 05/15/19 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted By: Randelph
Surprised you want weighted action. For synths many people prefer semi-weighted or 'synth action', which is completely unweighted.
For most folks, weighted action pairs well with acoustic and electric pianos. IME, most people want 2 boards if they can- a weighted action for pianos, semi-weighted for organ and synth.

There are a number of 88 note semi-weighted boards out there, none of them are controllers AFAIK. 73/76 note boards give you yet more options.


Perhaps an LX88+ as mentioned earlier... and can be had new for about $500 CDN.


Rod
Arturia Keylab MKii 88 | Mojo61 A/B | iConnectAudio4+ > iOS / MacOS
VI Ravenscroft | Neo-Soul Studio | Acoustic Samples V-Tines | iSymphonic | Pure Synth Platinum | iFretless Bass
Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: drawback] #2989692 05/15/19 01:13 PM
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How about a Privia S-1000? And you can still save up for a Kronos 61. That way you can use the Casio for piano duties as either a controller for your piano/eps vsts or to control the Kronos pianos. It also comes handy if you have a gig that requires only some bread&butter sounds.

Last edited by Keepitsimple; 05/15/19 01:13 PM.
Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: drawback] #2989694 05/15/19 01:16 PM
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Come to think of it, the Numa Compact 2x for $700 is semi-weighted, 88 keys, has a built-in audio interface and MIDI ports, as well as built-in sounds.

The Casio PX-S1000/3000 doesn't have MIDI jacks, which you need for direct 1 cable control of other boards/modules. It only has MIDI thru USB.

Last edited by Randelph; 05/15/19 01:25 PM. Reason: additional thoughts

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Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: Randelph] #2989696 05/15/19 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted By: Randelph
Come to think of it, the Numa Compact 2x for $700 is semi-weighted, 88 keys, has a built-in audio interface and MIDI ports, as well as built-in sounds.

The Casio PX-S1000/3000 doesn't have MIDI jacks, which you need for direct 1 cable control of other boards/modules. It only has MIDI thru USB.


Best idea yet.


Rod
Arturia Keylab MKii 88 | Mojo61 A/B | iConnectAudio4+ > iOS / MacOS
VI Ravenscroft | Neo-Soul Studio | Acoustic Samples V-Tines | iSymphonic | Pure Synth Platinum | iFretless Bass
Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: drawback] #2989699 05/15/19 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted By: drawback
Originally Posted By: Randelph
Come to think of it, the Numa Compact 2x for $700 is semi-weighted, 88 keys, has a built-in audio interface and MIDI ports, as well as built-in sounds.

The Casio PX-S1000/3000 doesn't have MIDI jacks, which you need for direct 1 cable control of other boards/modules. It only has MIDI thru USB.


Best idea yet.


I currently use a NUMA Compact2x as a controller:

  • Nice Keybed
  • Mappable MIDI controls appear to be limited to the drawbars.
  • Internal speakers are next to worthless.
  • Internal sounds require a lot of tweaking to be usable.
  • Most of the effects have a very small usable range.
  • No ability to access the 1GB sample memory.
  • Audio interface is WASAPI rather than ASIO.

Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: djdisbro] #2989706 05/15/19 02:44 PM
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You could get a lightweight slim 88 with decent action and use software for further needs.

I use a Physis K4 and it is top shelf, but somebody will surely say it isn’t.

If you want to cover many parts without worrying about keystrokes, etc. this is the controller.
It’s better than software and a single performance can automate up to 32 parts per song.

Just depends how much automation you need.

I’m covering at least 4 parts per song, so there’s really no better option for me.

Action is fine.
I’m not concerned with weighted etc. semi weighted works just as well.

If I were playing love songs and sought seductive dynamics, maybe.
But I played so many recitals as a kid, you walk in and play.
Leave your complaints in the box on the door.
No warm ups, just do it.

So I could even play shitty Oberheim OBX spring loaded keys and get the job done.


Magnus C350 + FMR RNP + Realistic Unisphere Mic
Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: djdisbro] #2989710 05/15/19 03:14 PM
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Quote:
I currently use a NUMA Compact2x as a controller:

  • Nice Keybed
  • Mappable MIDI controls appear to be limited to the drawbars.
  • Internal speakers are next to worthless.
  • Internal sounds require a lot of tweaking to be usable.
  • Most of the effects have a very small usable range.
  • No ability to access the 1GB sample memory.
  • Audio interface is WASAPI rather than ASIO.



djdisbro,
I've considered getting a NC2x, but there have been alot of question marks, your post is helpful.

However, for the task of controlling other keyboards/modules, most of your minuses are addressing its shortcomings as a keyboard with sounds in its own right.

To have 9 faders mappable to MIDI controls is not bad, certainly enough for many of us. As far as WASAPI, what issues are you having? For those of us that love having an audio interface that is built into the keyboard, this is of great interest. Thanks


Korg PA 1000 / NS 88 Classic / iRig Keys I/O 49
Win10 laptop i7 8GB 500GB
Yamaha melodica, alto recorder / Congas
Roland Street Cube EX / QSC K10, K8.2 / SS V.3 / Klipsch KMC 3
Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: hardware] #2989713 05/15/19 03:21 PM
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So let's talk a bit about the S88 and Native Instruments as a company.

First the S88...I assume you are talking about the MK2? If this is going to be your main controller, I would suggest not getting the MK1. It's a fine keyboard, but not having real pitch bend and mod wheels will become a real issue unless you absolutely don't use them.

The S88 has a Fatar action I believe...others here will be able to tell you about the various versions of those, but I have found the one in the S88mk2 to be excellent. As a MIDI controller, especially with Reason, it's fine, since Reason can take care of the master controller functions...get really familiar with Combinators and how to create them. The other features, like the lights on the keys and the dual displays, are much less useful within Reason itself. They work great with NI's Kontrol software, and the keyboard will be bundled with the cut down Select version, but there are very few other apps that utilize them.

That software, Komplete Select 12, can be upgraded to the full, ultimate, or collector version, but keep in mind, if you ever sell the keyboard, you either need to pay the difference to keep the software you purchased as an upgrade, or you need to transfer it to a new NI keyboard. This is because the software and keyboard are considered a single entity, which is good and bad. There is a relatively recent post that shows the hoops i had to go through because of this. But all of the instruments work great within Reason as long as your computer can handle it. It's a great solutions, and it's exactly what I use (although i have an S61 mk2).

As a company, NI has a very robust and stable platform to maintain your licenses, get updates, etc. Their tech support is a little slow but extremely thorough. They tend to not make exceptions, though, so make sure your ducks are in a row before you call upon them.

I'm happy to answer any other questions you may have about it. i don't know if its your best option, but it's not a BAD option. Oh, and it doesn't come with a power supply. It can use USB for power, but I bought a 12 dollar supply just in case.


"For instance" is not proof.
Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: Randelph] #2989717 05/15/19 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted By: Randelph
Quote:
I currently use a NUMA Compact2x as a controller:

  • Nice Keybed
  • Mappable MIDI controls appear to be limited to the drawbars.
  • Internal speakers are next to worthless.
  • Internal sounds require a lot of tweaking to be usable.
  • Most of the effects have a very small usable range.
  • No ability to access the 1GB sample memory.
  • Audio interface is WASAPI rather than ASIO.



djdisbro,
I've considered getting a NC2x, but there have been alot of question marks, your post is helpful.

However, for the task of controlling other keyboards/modules, most of your minuses are addressing its shortcomings as a keyboard with sounds in its own right.

To have 9 faders mappable to MIDI controls is not bad, certainly enough for many of us. As far as WASAPI, what issues are you having? For those of us that love having an audio interface that is built into the keyboard, this is of great interest. Thanks


I agree with you in that having 9 drawbars is great, but depending on your needs buttons to increment/decrement presets, toggle effects on/off, etc. might be desired.

As far as ASIO vs. WASAPI a lot of that will be determined by what your computer/software you are running.

Historically ASIO was the more stable up until more recent versions of Windows 10.

Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: djdisbro] #2989722 05/15/19 03:56 PM
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I don’t know, but ispend more money on software then hardware..
And i never see a dime back, where selling unused hardware brings back much of the cost..

Like komplete ultimate, every 2 years a few 100 dollars for an update..
Software solutions are only cheap when you use hacked software
And that does not fit my book..


Where it comes to software, i moved to the ipad, there is enough great synths to keep me busy for years, at acceptable prices... but in general i stick to hardware.. mostly bought used..


The best 88 key controller?

I would say used : kronos, montage, modx, fa08..
all make great controllers and come with great onboard sounds

Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: KorgyPorky] #2989730 05/15/19 04:29 PM
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Hi Everyone;

Thanks for all the replies.

Originally Posted By: CEB

Top shelf, high end 88 key controllers? The market is about dead because of the power of computers and flagship workstations. There is only one real controller available and that is the Physis.


I apologize as the original post blends a conversation regarding top shelf synths like the Kronos and then the question about a decent 88-key midi controller.

Yikes, the Physis 88-key is in the $3000, which is double the budget.

Originally Posted By: CEB

For what it's worth I think the Arturis Key Lab 88 is pretty cool for the money and you get some neat software.


The Arturis Key Lab 88 looks great, and I will read some reviews. How would you rate the brands between Arturis vs Native Instruments?

Originally Posted By: stoken6
1. Do you have a budget?
2. Do you have any specific requirements? I'm thinking controller features: PB/mod wheels, expression pedals, knobs/buttons/sliders...

I reckon the Casio PX5 makes a pretty cool 88-key controller, as it's got a relatively nice action, it's light and it's fairly well equipped for controllers.

Cheers, Mike.


I do have a budget, and it is $1500 CAD.

Requirements:
• PB/Mod Wheels = yes
• Expression pedal = nice to have
• Sustain pedal = yes
• Knobs/buttons and sliders = no
• USB connectivity = yes

The Casio PX5 looks decent and I will check out reviews.

Thank you.


Originally Posted By: The Real MC

Five years ago I was looking into an 88 key MIDI controller to take to gigs. Having been spoiled by my Kurzweil MIDIBoard, I was disappointed enough that I just bought a 2nd MIDIBoard used. No one makes a top shelf high end 88 key MIDI controller anymore.


I just looked up the Kurzweil MIDIBoard and looks amazing. I think I would personally need something that supports USB connectivity as I am not connecting via a MIDI connector as my audio interface does not support the MIDI connector. Thanks for sharing.

Originally Posted By: Toano88

While I agree that top shelf 88 key controllers don't exist. There are some that are perfectly serviceable depending on your needs and what keyboards feel acceptable to you. If the OP could be more specific about features. The Arturia KeyLab88 that CEB noted has a decent amount of controls, sliders etc and comes with their Analog Lab software. If feel is more important than physical controls their is the Studio Logic with the TP40 wood action. The NI controller you mentioned doesn't have a lot of physical controls. The Nectar 88+ is semi-weighted but has more physical controls and a template mapped to Reason.


The Arturia Keylab88 does seem pretty decent. I checked out reviews on the Studio Logic SL88 Grand and looks decent. I found the Nektar Impact 88+, which looks like it would do the job. If you had an option between the three which would you pick and why?

Originally Posted By: drawback

I was going to recommend a decent controller well under budget but then started thinking if the OP is saving up for a Kronos or a Montage, anything in the range of his/her budget of $1500 CDN would be just throwing good money after bad. But hey, that's what we do here!

So if the OP is into spending $1500 on a Komplete Kontrol S88, my take on it is that if you're going to use any VI's other than NKS, virtually the identical keybed can be found on a Studiologic SL88 Studio for half that price, or an Arturia Keylab 88 at about $1K. Minimal (or opaque) controls on the former, many assignables on the latter.

If I were saving to buy a high-end workstation such as a Montage or Kronos however, I'd seriously consider a used controller which no doubt are available from CL or local Pawn; or better yet, rent one from a local company such as Long & McQuade.

Just my 1.7˘ CDN.


I am happy to spend less; I was just under the belief I wouldn’t be able to find a quality 88-key MIDI controller for less than $1000. For reference, the Native Instruments S88 MIDI controller has the cost of $1349.00 CAD, and for comparison, the Studiologic SL88 is $1199.99 CAD.

Originally Posted By: Stokely

I'd also consider going for good feel (my old Studiologic has tp40 and I like it, they still make something comparable) and then get a separate unit with all the controls. Needing both in one unit considerably narrows options. (Obviously for live use the separate unit wouldn't work I guess)


I can understand the logic. Thank you. grin

Originally Posted By: Randelph

Surprised you want weighted action. For synths many people prefer semi-weighted or 'synth action', which is completely unweighted.
For most folks, weighted action pairs well with acoustic and electric pianos. IME, most people want 2 boards if they can- a weighted action for pianos, semi-weighted for organ and synth.

There are a number of 88 note semi-weighted boards out there, none of them are controllers AFAIK. 73/76 note boards give you yet more options.


I don’t think my experience with synths is great enough for me to weigh in on the weighted vs not weighted. I am told the slow release of a weighted key prevents the attack from being fast, which you would want for a synth. I assume the synth I would buy would have semi-weighted by design, which raises the question. Does the Korg Kronos act as the piano or does the MIDI controller paired with the software act as the piano?

I am willing to change my plan. What would you suggest?

Originally Posted By: drawback

Perhaps an LX88+ as mentioned earlier... and can be had new for about $500 CDN.


$500 is a very fair price. How would you compare the Nektar LX88+ against the Arturia keylab88 or Studio Logic SL88?

Originally Posted By: Keepitsimple

How about a Privia S-1000? And you can still save up for a Kronos 61. That way you can use the Casio for piano duties as either a controller for your piano/eps vsts or to control the Kronos pianos. It also comes handy if you have a gig that requires only some bread&butter sounds.


I have contemplated this with the Roland FP-10, and people recommended the same setup but replaced the FP-10 with the Casio Privia S-1000. Something to strongly think about – thank you.

Originally Posted By: Randelph

Come to think of it, the Numa Compact 2x for $700 is semi-weighted, 88 keys, has a built-in audio interface and MIDI ports, as well as built-in sounds.

The Casio PX-S1000/3000 doesn't have MIDI jacks, which you need for direct 1 cable control of other boards/modules. It only has MIDI thru USB.


The Numa Compact 2x does have a great price. Seems a little too good to be true but maybe I am getting lost in the pricing models of various companies.

Originally Posted By: drawback

Best idea yet.


Thank you.

Originally Posted By: djdisbro


I currently use a NUMA Compact2x as a controller:

  • Nice Keybed
  • Mappable MIDI controls appear to be limited to the drawbars.
  • Internal speakers are next to worthless.
  • Internal sounds require a lot of tweaking to be usable.
  • Most of the effects have a very small usable range.
  • No ability to access the 1GB sample memory.
  • Audio interface is WASAPI rather than ASIO.



Ah – this paints a little more of a clear picture. Would you recommend the controller? I wouldn’t use the built-in speakers. I send everything through a powered, loudspeaker.

Originally Posted By: hardware

You could get a lightweight slim 88 with decent action and use software for further needs.

I use a Physis K4 and it is top shelf, but somebody will surely say it isn’t.

If you want to cover many parts without worrying about keystrokes, etc. this is the controller.
It’s better than software and a single performance can automate up to 32 parts per song.

Just depends how much automation you need.

I’m covering at least 4 parts per song, so there’s really no better option for me.

Action is fine.
I’m not concerned with weighted etc. semi weighted works just as well.

If I were playing love songs and sought seductive dynamics, maybe.
But I played so many recitals as a kid, you walk in and play.
Leave your complaints in the box on the door.
No warm ups, just do it.

So I could even play shitty Oberheim OBX spring loaded keys and get the job done.


When looking up the Physis K4-EX 88-key, I found a company that has the sales price of $1930.00 down from $4825.00. Sounds suspicious to me but it is a major instrument, online seller. I do not use a lot of automation outside of recording, which is managed by Cubase. I am probably misunderstanding what you mean by automation. The device seems wonderful.

Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: No Name] #2989737 05/15/19 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted By: zeronyne
So let's talk a bit about the S88 and Native Instruments as a company.

First the S88...I assume you are talking about the MK2? If this is going to be your main controller, I would suggest not getting the MK1. It's a fine keyboard, but not having real pitch bend and mod wheels will become a real issue unless you absolutely don't use them.

The S88 has a Fatar action I believe...others here will be able to tell you about the various versions of those, but I have found the one in the S88mk2 to be excellent. As a MIDI controller, especially with Reason, it's fine, since Reason can take care of the master controller functions...get really familiar with Combinators and how to create them. The other features, like the lights on the keys and the dual displays, are much less useful within Reason itself. They work great with NI's Kontrol software, and the keyboard will be bundled with the cut down Select version, but there are very few other apps that utilize them.

That software, Komplete Select 12, can be upgraded to the full, ultimate, or collector version, but keep in mind, if you ever sell the keyboard, you either need to pay the difference to keep the software you purchased as an upgrade, or you need to transfer it to a new NI keyboard. This is because the software and keyboard are considered a single entity, which is good and bad. There is a relatively recent post that shows the hoops i had to go through because of this. But all of the instruments work great within Reason as long as your computer can handle it. It's a great solutions, and it's exactly what I use (although i have an S61 mk2).

As a company, NI has a very robust and stable platform to maintain your licenses, get updates, etc. Their tech support is a little slow but extremely thorough. They tend to not make exceptions, though, so make sure your ducks are in a row before you call upon them.

I'm happy to answer any other questions you may have about it. i don't know if its your best option, but it's not a BAD option. Oh, and it doesn't come with a power supply. It can use USB for power, but I bought a 12 dollar supply just in case.


I am talking about the MKII. The MIDI Controller would be my main controller. I am confused with the relationship between the Komplete software and the S88 Midi Controller. If I understand you correctly, the S88 comes with software with the version of “Select”, and you can upgrade the software to “Ultimate”, but if you sell the MIDI Controller you are also selling the “Select” version which you would then need to buy to retain ownership?

Originally Posted By: KorgyPorky
I don’t know, but ispend more money on software then hardware..
And i never see a dime back, where selling unused hardware brings back much of the cost..

Like komplete ultimate, every 2 years a few 100 dollars for an update..
Software solutions are only cheap when you use hacked software
And that does not fit my book..


Where it comes to software, i moved to the ipad, there is enough great synths to keep me busy for years, at acceptable prices... but in general i stick to hardware.. mostly bought used..


The best 88 key controller?

I would say used : kronos, montage, modx, fa08..
all make great controllers and come with great onboard sounds


I don’t mind paying for software IF the software is worth it. $300 over 2-years is the cost of $6.25/month. I can imagine it becoming annoying but do you also have the option of just not upgrading? Regarding the iPad, can you describe your setup?, I assume you are using an iPad where-as I am using a PC. Also, the Kronos, Montage etc. – Are you suggesting I skip the purchase of a MIDI controller and instead use the workstations as a MIDI controller?, Can you make the Kronos into a USB MIDI controller and use it with Reason 10?

So much good content, so many questions.

Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: No Name] #2989739 05/15/19 05:36 PM
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If your intended destination is a Kronos (or similar), get the least-expensive, great-feeling 88 key digital piano you can find and drive Reason 10 while you save.

At present, I'm a fan of the Casio PX-S1000 and a USB cable. I'm using it right now to drive Scarbee in Kontact Player. The Casio's $599 most places. And there are less-expensive options out there, I'm sure.

If you start going down the path of buying more software, there's great options out there.

But every $ spent is one $ less saved for your top-tier workstation.


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Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: timwat] #2989742 05/15/19 06:08 PM
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Just to clarify a couple of things...

The new Casios will be $800 CDN and $1,000 CDN.

The Studiologic SL88 I was posting about was the Studio, not the Grand. I paid $670 CDN and close enough in quality for its lower price while you're saving for a workstation.

The LX88+ is not a weighted board (semi weighted but not diving board), hence the price – but lots of control, 88 keys for splits etc. I haven't played one but it can't be much different than a Nord SW keybed and that was "close enough for now" for me.



Rod
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Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: drawback] #2989744 05/15/19 06:32 PM
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The Casio PX-S3000 comes very close to your requirements (i.e., it’s just missing the mod wheel). I bought one last week and have been using it as a midi controller. Action is very nice — it’s fun to play!

Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: No Name] #2989799 05/16/19 03:35 AM
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Originally Posted By: No Name
Hi Everyone;

Thanks for all the replies.

Originally Posted By: CEB

Top shelf, high end 88 key controllers? The market is about dead because of the power of computers and flagship workstations. There is only one real controller available and that is the Physis.


I apologize as the original post blends a conversation regarding top shelf synths like the Kronos and then the question about a decent 88-key midi controller.

Yikes, the Physis 88-key is in the $3000, which is double the budget.

Originally Posted By: CEB

For what it's worth I think the Arturis Key Lab 88 is pretty cool for the money and you get some neat software.


The Arturis Key Lab 88 looks great, and I will read some reviews. How would you rate the brands between Arturis vs Native Instruments?

Originally Posted By: stoken6
1. Do you have a budget?
2. Do you have any specific requirements? I'm thinking controller features: PB/mod wheels, expression pedals, knobs/buttons/sliders...

I reckon the Casio PX5 makes a pretty cool 88-key controller, as it's got a relatively nice action, it's light and it's fairly well equipped for controllers.

Cheers, Mike.


I do have a budget, and it is $1500 CAD.

Requirements:
• PB/Mod Wheels = yes
• Expression pedal = nice to have
• Sustain pedal = yes
• Knobs/buttons and sliders = no
• USB connectivity = yes

The Casio PX5 looks decent and I will check out reviews.

Thank you.


Originally Posted By: The Real MC

Five years ago I was looking into an 88 key MIDI controller to take to gigs. Having been spoiled by my Kurzweil MIDIBoard, I was disappointed enough that I just bought a 2nd MIDIBoard used. No one makes a top shelf high end 88 key MIDI controller anymore.


I just looked up the Kurzweil MIDIBoard and looks amazing. I think I would personally need something that supports USB connectivity as I am not connecting via a MIDI connector as my audio interface does not support the MIDI connector. Thanks for sharing.

Originally Posted By: Toano88

While I agree that top shelf 88 key controllers don't exist. There are some that are perfectly serviceable depending on your needs and what keyboards feel acceptable to you. If the OP could be more specific about features. The Arturia KeyLab88 that CEB noted has a decent amount of controls, sliders etc and comes with their Analog Lab software. If feel is more important than physical controls their is the Studio Logic with the TP40 wood action. The NI controller you mentioned doesn't have a lot of physical controls. The Nectar 88+ is semi-weighted but has more physical controls and a template mapped to Reason.


The Arturia Keylab88 does seem pretty decent. I checked out reviews on the Studio Logic SL88 Grand and looks decent. I found the Nektar Impact 88+, which looks like it would do the job. If you had an option between the three which would you pick and why?

Originally Posted By: drawback

I was going to recommend a decent controller well under budget but then started thinking if the OP is saving up for a Kronos or a Montage, anything in the range of his/her budget of $1500 CDN would be just throwing good money after bad. But hey, that's what we do here!

So if the OP is into spending $1500 on a Komplete Kontrol S88, my take on it is that if you're going to use any VI's other than NKS, virtually the identical keybed can be found on a Studiologic SL88 Studio for half that price, or an Arturia Keylab 88 at about $1K. Minimal (or opaque) controls on the former, many assignables on the latter.

If I were saving to buy a high-end workstation such as a Montage or Kronos however, I'd seriously consider a used controller which no doubt are available from CL or local Pawn; or better yet, rent one from a local company such as Long & McQuade.

Just my 1.7˘ CDN.


I am happy to spend less; I was just under the belief I wouldn’t be able to find a quality 88-key MIDI controller for less than $1000. For reference, the Native Instruments S88 MIDI controller has the cost of $1349.00 CAD, and for comparison, the Studiologic SL88 is $1199.99 CAD.

Originally Posted By: Stokely

I'd also consider going for good feel (my old Studiologic has tp40 and I like it, they still make something comparable) and then get a separate unit with all the controls. Needing both in one unit considerably narrows options. (Obviously for live use the separate unit wouldn't work I guess)


I can understand the logic. Thank you. grin

Originally Posted By: Randelph

Surprised you want weighted action. For synths many people prefer semi-weighted or 'synth action', which is completely unweighted.
For most folks, weighted action pairs well with acoustic and electric pianos. IME, most people want 2 boards if they can- a weighted action for pianos, semi-weighted for organ and synth.

There are a number of 88 note semi-weighted boards out there, none of them are controllers AFAIK. 73/76 note boards give you yet more options.


I don’t think my experience with synths is great enough for me to weigh in on the weighted vs not weighted. I am told the slow release of a weighted key prevents the attack from being fast, which you would want for a synth. I assume the synth I would buy would have semi-weighted by design, which raises the question. Does the Korg Kronos act as the piano or does the MIDI controller paired with the software act as the piano?

I am willing to change my plan. What would you suggest?

Originally Posted By: drawback

Perhaps an LX88+ as mentioned earlier... and can be had new for about $500 CDN.


$500 is a very fair price. How would you compare the Nektar LX88+ against the Arturia keylab88 or Studio Logic SL88?

Originally Posted By: Keepitsimple

How about a Privia S-1000? And you can still save up for a Kronos 61. That way you can use the Casio for piano duties as either a controller for your piano/eps vsts or to control the Kronos pianos. It also comes handy if you have a gig that requires only some bread&butter sounds.


I have contemplated this with the Roland FP-10, and people recommended the same setup but replaced the FP-10 with the Casio Privia S-1000. Something to strongly think about – thank you.

Originally Posted By: Randelph

Come to think of it, the Numa Compact 2x for $700 is semi-weighted, 88 keys, has a built-in audio interface and MIDI ports, as well as built-in sounds.

The Casio PX-S1000/3000 doesn't have MIDI jacks, which you need for direct 1 cable control of other boards/modules. It only has MIDI thru USB.


The Numa Compact 2x does have a great price. Seems a little too good to be true but maybe I am getting lost in the pricing models of various companies.

Originally Posted By: drawback

Best idea yet.


Thank you.

Originally Posted By: djdisbro


I currently use a NUMA Compact2x as a controller:

  • Nice Keybed
  • Mappable MIDI controls appear to be limited to the drawbars.
  • Internal speakers are next to worthless.
  • Internal sounds require a lot of tweaking to be usable.
  • Most of the effects have a very small usable range.
  • No ability to access the 1GB sample memory.
  • Audio interface is WASAPI rather than ASIO.



Ah – this paints a little more of a clear picture. Would you recommend the controller? I wouldn’t use the built-in speakers. I send everything through a powered, loudspeaker.

Originally Posted By: hardware

You could get a lightweight slim 88 with decent action and use software for further needs.

I use a Physis K4 and it is top shelf, but somebody will surely say it isn’t.

If you want to cover many parts without worrying about keystrokes, etc. this is the controller.
It’s better than software and a single performance can automate up to 32 parts per song.

Just depends how much automation you need.

I’m covering at least 4 parts per song, so there’s really no better option for me.

Action is fine.
I’m not concerned with weighted etc. semi weighted works just as well.

If I were playing love songs and sought seductive dynamics, maybe.
But I played so many recitals as a kid, you walk in and play.
Leave your complaints in the box on the door.
No warm ups, just do it.

So I could even play shitty Oberheim OBX spring loaded keys and get the job done.


When looking up the Physis K4-EX 88-key, I found a company that has the sales price of $1930.00 down from $4825.00. Sounds suspicious to me but it is a major instrument, online seller. I do not use a lot of automation outside of recording, which is managed by Cubase. I am probably misunderstanding what you mean by automation. The device seems wonderful.


1800 Kraft Music.
Read the manual about custom VST instruments and check out the USB in and out ports.
I can run a few hardware synth editors at the same time, plus a USB Powered 15.6 LCD that sits on a mic stand above the K4, mouse is on the upper right space.

There’s no way you sit and play one of these, not because your busy, that’s automated (programmed so there’s no hitting of multiple keys, etc. ) but because it’s so much damn fun.


Magnus C350 + FMR RNP + Realistic Unisphere Mic
Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: hardware] #2989805 05/16/19 07:42 AM
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Both of these points have been touched on in one way or another throughout the thread, but I'll bring them full circle in case it wasn't clear.

1) The Kronos will work with any Class Compliant USB MIDI device, so you don't necessarily need DIN MIDI to use with the Kronos.
2) My preference (and that of many others) is to use the Kronos 61 unweighted keys for synth/organ stuff, and use an external Weighted controller to play the Kronos pianos/EP's, etc.
3) The internal combi setup of the Kronos is such that the MIDI controller only needs to transmit on one zone and everything is done in the Kronos, so the Controller doesn't need a lot of functionality.
4) Finally, don't limit yourself to controllers. You could pick up a used workstation or stage piano with a good action at a good price and then you have some internal sounds as a backup if needed.


Dan

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Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: No Name] #2989810 05/16/19 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted By: No Name
Requirements:
• PB/Mod Wheels = yes
• Expression pedal = nice to have
• Sustain pedal = yes
• Knobs/buttons and sliders = no
• USB connectivity = yes

You also made reference to also getting a Kronos, Montage 8. or RD2000. Any of those also function as perfectly capable controllers for a VST system. So if you're going to get something like that anyway, I'm not sure why you need to buy a controller at all.


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Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: AnotherScott] #2989818 05/16/19 09:56 AM
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Not sure what is up. Using my phone I can't find K-series Physis controllers at Kraft. Just the H series pianos. Thomann won't ship Physis to the US. Maybe contact Viscount US directly and find out what's going on. But yes it should be around 1800. Or go a cheap route and save for a Kurz or if two CV pedals isn't a priority get a Kronos.


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Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: CEB] #2989820 05/16/19 10:52 AM
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https://www.viscountinstruments.com/digital-pianos.html

Possible they aren’t stocking it or not carrying a slow seller.
But viscount has US distribution. So Kraft might special order for you if you call.


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Re: 88-key Midi Controllers [Re: timwat] #2989833 05/16/19 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted By: timwat
If your intended destination is a Kronos (or similar), get the least-expensive, great-feeling 88 key digital piano you can find and drive Reason 10 while you save.


As usual, sound advice from Tim (and also from Dan in his post.)

I agree with getting a digital piano with a decent feeling keyboard. It gives you back up for soft-synth failure scenario. This combined with a 61-note synth action Kronos will cover a LOT of bases. You had asked about whether you get the weighted (88 note) Kronos or not. I have no experience with it but will point out the following:

a) the Kronos 88 is relatively heavy and unwieldy (53 lbs, 56 inches long before you add the case). Many of the acceptable low end digital pianos are way more portable (25-30 pounds).

b) I have no experience with the RH3 weighted action but there is a definite contingent of people who do not like it.

c) On the other hand, the Kronos-61 is moderate weight (31 lbs) and the unweighted synth action is generally considered to be among the better ones out there.

So if it were me, I would go low-end DP + Kronos-61 when you can afford it.


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