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Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards #3003046 08/13/19 03:13 PM
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paulkondig Offline OP
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I have seen a lot of synths as of late, with microkeys. Not that the idea is new, Casio has used them since the late 70’s and early 80’s, even YAMAHA? I was curious as too what everyone else, thought of them?


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003056 08/13/19 04:04 PM
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Not my choice but you can get good at playing anything. That’s one of the amazing things about humans.
And like other keyboard actions. Some are nicer than others. The Yamaha reface mini keys being about as good as they get in recent models.


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003057 08/13/19 04:12 PM
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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003058 08/13/19 04:17 PM
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Dr(!)Mike Metlay Offline
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The advantage of microkeys is portability and low price, the disadvantage is that, well, they're "micro".

I have had a lot of said keyboards because so much of my work involves traveling by air, and I refuse to check a full-sized keyboard for fear of never seeing it again. Some random thoughts:

The vast majority of these devices use what seems like the same action: velocity sensitive, no aftertouch, very light keys with no resistance at all. That's what Akai, M-Audio, Korg, Yamaha, and others tend to use. There are variations among these; as ElmerJFudd pointed out, the Reface keyboards are better quality than most (although I wish that at least the CS had aftertouch). Korg's sort of an amusing outlier, building controllers and synths with full 5-octave microkeyboards, which sort of does my head in... you don't think of microkeys being used in anything over, say, 3 octaves.

My two favorites in this realm are the Arturia KeyStep, which has an excellent 32-key action with velocity and aftertouch, very snappy and playable, and the CME Xkey series, which offer low-profile nearly-full-size keys that can do poly aftertouch (although they feel odd, even more than other microkeys, compared to traditional keyboards).


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003060 08/13/19 04:20 PM
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Minikeys actually go back to the 1940's with instruments like the Ondioline, Clavioline, Solovox, and Univox. These are all monophonic instruments intended for playing solo lines. Small keys seem to work fine where there is no need for playing chords. In the early 70's Wurlitzer used Minikeys for their Orbit 3 synthesizer included on several organ models. Yamaha did the same on the GX-1 and other 70's Keyboards.

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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003063 08/13/19 04:25 PM
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Microkeys are a deal killer, I refuse to adjust my playing technique. Yes I recently bought a USB controller but those keys are the same displacement as piano keys so no adjustment to my playing.

Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003070 08/13/19 04:43 PM
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paulkondig Offline OP
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As far as micorkeys goes. KORG seems to have the dominance in this area. Especially with the MicroKey controller keyboards. I love the idea of a blue tooth controller keyboard as well, just be nice to have full size keys.

I guess the reason for micro keys is space and portability.


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John Cage
Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003073 08/13/19 04:54 PM
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mate stubb Offline
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No microkeys on my Mellotron Micro, and still darn portable.

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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: The Real MC] #3003088 08/13/19 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by The Real MC
Microkeys are a deal killer, I refuse to adjust my playing technique.


Back in the 80's I owned a Casio CZ-101. I wanted that "digital sound" but couldn't afford a DX-7.

Only had it for a year or so--finally sold it. Tried mini keys but never again.


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: mate stubb] #3003089 08/13/19 07:07 PM
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paulkondig Offline OP
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I can’t even afford that!


I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry as I need it!
John Cage
Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003090 08/13/19 07:20 PM
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I'd prefer having my testicles stapled to my thighs, than play on these #$%^^ micro keys.


David
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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: EscapeRocks] #3003092 08/13/19 07:29 PM
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paulkondig Offline OP
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Originally Posted by EscapeRocks
I'd prefer having my testicles stapled to my thighs, than play on these #$%^^ micro keys.


No, No, David. Tell us how you really feel? wink razz


I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry as I need it!
John Cage
Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: EscapeRocks] #3003094 08/13/19 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by EscapeRocks
I'd prefer having my testicles stapled to my thighs, than play on these #$%^^ micro keys.


If you can't lick 'em, join 'em !!


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003108 08/13/19 10:03 PM
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You will not see me pull off a ripping lead on one, but I have no problems using them as secondary keyboards.

Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003122 08/13/19 11:02 PM
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Korg Microstation gives me 5 octaves in a tiny board that weighs under 6 lbs. I can take it on vacation without thinking about it. The action is perfectly usable, and actually fun to play organ on.


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: Dr(!)Mike Metlay] #3003123 08/13/19 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr(!)Mike Metlay
The advantage of microkeys is portability and low price, the disadvantage is that, well, they're "micro".

My two favorites in this realm are the Arturia KeyStep, which has an excellent 32-key action with velocity and aftertouch, very snappy and playable.

Another advantage with mini keys is you can have extended range, I can reach 2-3? more notes than with a full sized keyboard. And apparently there's a difference between mini and micro, some of the Korgs for example are super tiny micro keys.

I haven't tried mini keys with a full sized board (at least 49 keys), but I'd rather have a good feeling mini keyboard with AT, than a lousy feeling full sized keyboard.

After playing a 49 note controller, I realized that 61 notes is the minimum # of keys I'd want if it was the only board I was using. I have the IKM iRig Keys I/O, 49 full sized keys, about as small and light for 49 keys as it gets, but it gets harder approaching the fall board, kind of a drag to play. The touch strips are also problematic, too easy to inadvertently trigger stuff. And having a 3 character display, a real drag.

I've seen Harmoniums (typically 37-49 keys) that use mini keys. My melodica, a 37 note Yamaha pianica, uses mini-keys, and I'm always glad to be able to play more notes with my outstretched hand, but it also suffers from an inferior action, mostly cause it's hard to play near the fall board.

A keytar seems like a likely candidate for mini keys, though the Roland Edge with its full sized keys and a full 49 keys, apparently is well liked.


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003124 08/13/19 11:26 PM
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Some prefer macrokeys

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Others prefer to assign keyboard shortcuts to their macro keys.


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: AnotherScott] #3003125 08/13/19 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by AnotherScott
Korg Microstation gives me 5 octaves in a tiny board that weighs under 6 lbs. I can take it on vacation without thinking about it. The action is perfectly usable, and actually fun to play organ on.

Cool. Although the Korg MicroStation only has 49 MB of wave ROM, you can get
SW Virtual B3 for $29.

Sound on Sound did a review and mostly liked it, and you can get this board that came out in 2010 for $250-300 used, it's no longer made and a good deal compared to its original $600 price.


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003141 08/14/19 02:39 AM
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Minikeys proved to be incredibly comfortable to play once i got used to them.

I even look at full sized keys now as being freakishly big crazy

Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: rod76] #3003152 08/14/19 07:21 AM
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Randelph Offline
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Originally Posted by rod76
Minikeys proved to be incredibly comfortable to play once i got used to them.

I even look at full sized keys now as being freakishly big crazy

Thata funny!


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003153 08/14/19 07:53 AM
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+1 for the Keystep, it’s far and away the best of a not-very-good bunch. I can just about get by with the Reface. My solution is the IK Multimedia Keys Pro 37.
You get full size keys, and it’s still fairly portable. The only downside is that it’s very basic, no pads or faders. I tend to use it with an iPad.


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: Six-string-man] #3003163 08/14/19 11:09 AM
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paulkondig Offline OP
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It’s too bad, the IK multimedia Keys Pro, does not come with 61 keys.


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John Cage
Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003186 08/14/19 02:16 PM
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Some people's finger's may just be too big for them. Mine are average-sized (no jokes, please), and I feel like I'm borderline unable to play. And then there's that petite woman on youtube who's fingers fly over her Reface CP keyboard.

So for that reason alone they're not going to work for everyone. But mini-keys are an interesting stab at solving the keyboard player's longstanding albatross -- that unlike the majority of other instrumentalists, we can't easily carry ours around. The ability to have an impromptu jam, for instance, on an airplane through headphones is well worth the compromises involved in playing mini-keys.


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003198 08/14/19 03:59 PM
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I’m very comfortable playing the Yamaha Reface CP. I don’t need to consciously adjust to the key size which is surprising. Perhaps it’s because I play Melodica which has almost exactly the same size keys.

Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003202 08/14/19 04:10 PM
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The IKM Keys Pro is their first generation, haven't played it, the action may be better than their 2d generation.

I have the IKM iRig Keys I|/O, and as I said in an earlier post in this thread, I strongly dis-recommend it. My scoring: Action gets a 4 out of 10, 3 character display gets a 3/10, various touch pads for mod, pb, parameter pads gets a 2/10, software included gets a 4/10, low volume mic input gets a 2/10, proprietary USB cord to iPad or PC/Mac gets a 0/10, battery operation and built in audio interface both get a 10/10.


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003306 08/15/19 03:16 AM
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Roli lost a LOT of points with me when they released the Lumi last month. They proceeded to release a video with a teacher talking about how micro keys are actually SUPERIOR. Granted, the Lumi actually is it's own scale size, and not as small as normal micro, but I just can't get behind companies spewing pseudo-science to justify their cost-cutting measures in the face of hundreds of years of keyboard history. Everyone knows I'm a huge Seaboard fan and have been courting them for an endorsement. But I ended up writing them a very stern email outlining my feels on the matter.

That said, micro keys go back even further than we've been talking. Piano Accordions have micro keys, which first appeared around the turn of the century. The logic for micro keys is all about portability, an accordion with full-sized keys would be a nightmare or have very limited range. Table-top keyboard have almost no business having micro-keys, in that case it's all cost-cutting.

I forgave the Seaboard Block because it's not a typical keyboard, and you need to approach it differently anyway, so scale size isn't that big of a deal. But the MicroKorg, Lumi, and others would simply be BETTER if they were full sized.

Last edited by EricBarker; 08/15/19 03:17 AM.

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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: EricBarker] #3003350 08/15/19 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by EricBarker
Roli lost a LOT of points with me when they released the Lumi last month. They proceeded to release a video with a teacher talking about how micro keys are actually SUPERIOR. Granted, the Lumi actually is it's own scale size, and not as small as normal micro, but I just can't get behind companies spewing pseudo-science to justify their cost-cutting measures in the face of hundreds of years of keyboard history. Everyone knows I'm a huge Seaboard fan and have been courting them for an endorsement. But I ended up writing them a very stern email outlining my feels on the matter.

That said, micro keys go back even further than we've been talking. Piano Accordions have micro keys, which first appeared around the turn of the century. The logic for micro keys is all about portability, an accordion with full-sized keys would be a nightmare or have very limited range. Table-top keyboard have almost no business having micro-keys, in that case it's all cost-cutting.

I forgave the Seaboard Block because it's not a typical keyboard, and you need to approach it differently anyway, so scale size isn't that big of a deal. But the MicroKorg, Lumi, and others would simply be BETTER if they were full sized.

Roli started out targeting the high end pro-player keyboard market. But could any business pay for itself selling $10k specialist boards? So they took a sharp turn to keep the business afloat: target a younger demographic with widgets and software for more EDM oriented music. I doubt their target market will have any problems with mini keys since I doubt they ever gained any proficiency on traditional keyboards, and will be playing neither Chopin or Leon Russell.

Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: paulkondig] #3003353 08/15/19 02:07 PM
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They suck, period. I had a McMillen QuNexus and I just couldn’t get used to playing it.

Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: Marzzz] #3003376 08/15/19 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Marzzz
They suck, period.


I'd say it depends what you're trying to get from it. To me, the most common application is where you're on a trip, let's say, and you're sitting in an airport for 2 hours, or on the plane itself, or a long bus ride, etc . . . Busting out a minikeys, you're not going to improve your chops, but you can nevertheless engage your mind and fingers in a keyboard mode, and that might be a great way to spend time that would otherwise be spent reading, sleeping, or just contemplating. On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with reading, sleeping, and contemplating . . .

I haven't been able to perform well with the Reface CP. But the Reface CS has worked well enough in performance. I think that has to do with playing synth patterns versus piano patterns. Mini-keys don't work well for piano but can be adequate for synth.


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Re: Thoughts on MicroKey Keyboards [Re: PianoMan51] #3003421 08/15/19 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoMan51
Roli started out targeting the high end pro-player keyboard market. But could any business pay for itself selling $10k specialist boards? So they took a sharp turn to keep the business afloat: target a younger demographic with widgets and software for more EDM oriented music. I doubt their target market will have any problems with mini keys since I doubt they ever gained any proficiency on traditional keyboards, and will be playing neither Chopin or Leon Russell.


This is what saddens me, until the Lumi, they were straddling the Pro/Novice market very flawlessly. I own both a Rise49 and a Seaboard block, and I use both extensively for different purposes. I have no problem with blocks as a concept, they are fresh and new and don't really step on traditional keyboard philosophy at all. But the Lumi is solidly a toy for novices that has practically no use for Pro's, and claims of microKey superiority are a major blow to their reputation. They need to stay away from making traditional keyboards. As long as they're doing keywaves, it's all their own new territory and they're free to call the shots. I understand their interest in putting out a traditional keyboard to fit together with the Seaboard Block system, but they really could have done it with a lot more grace and less snark.


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