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49 keys for travel practice?

Posted By: AnalogGuy1

49 keys for travel practice? - 03/31/15 02:06 PM

I'm looking for a 49 key keyboard with sounds for my son to take traveling. He's in his third year of classical lessons and usually practices on an upright. I personally have luck with a little controller I take on business - good enough for hands separate practice, and such a wonderfully awful action that if I can nail a passage on it, transfer to a piano is easy.

But when my wife - who as a teacher shares the same vacation schedule as my kids - takes them places, she's not technically adept enough to manage to operate a cordless drill, much less a controller. One of my kids is absolutely crazy about the piano and wants to practice all the time, and he's begging me to find him a little keyboard to take over spring break. Hard to say no to that, but...do any exist? I don't care if it is synth action, but I don't want mini keys, or anything so expensive it would crush us if damaged in transit, and it seems everything I can find is either very expensive (>$650), or very cheap (<$50) with an unplayable action (e.g. keys get stuck together), or a controller.

I'm thinking a cheap controller paired with a small piano-only sound module, like the Alesis nanopiano, but that can power the controller over a USB cable. Does such an animal exist? Is there a better way?
Posted By: JeffLearman

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/31/15 02:24 PM

Yamaha MX-49 springs to mind. It's very small, light, and thin, so very portable, and has some excellent sounds, and full-sized keys (according to Yamaha ads; when I played one I didn't notice, nothing felt wrong or odd.) Its piano is WAY better than the Alesis nanopiano, of which I'm not a fan unless they've updated it. (It was OK for 1997 but I'd pick an Ensoniq MR-Rack over it for everything but portability.)

Rather than fiddle with modules, do you travel with a laptop? You can get much better and more inexpensive sound modules for that. Or perhaps an iPad, but I don't do that; other folks here can say more about it.
Posted By: JeffLearman

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/31/15 02:28 PM

Originally Posted By: AnalogGuy1
I'm thinking a cheap controller paired with a small piano-only sound module, like the Alesis nanopiano, but that can power the controller over a USB cable. Does such an animal exist? Is there a better way?
Reading that again, I don't understand. Is there now a software Alesis Nanopiano? Or a new hardware one with USB? The original nanopiano did not have USB.

The MX49 has a power brick and can't be powered via USB. But it does work standalone (with headphones, since it has no built-in speakers).
Posted By: Legatoboy

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/31/15 04:21 PM

I was going to suggest the MX-49 also! Thought you may have wanted full size non-synth keys! The piano is pretty good, I agree, as are all the other sounds!
Posted By: CEB

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/31/15 04:39 PM

I travel with the FA-06 and a set of headphones. I would rather do this than mess with modules. I can plug my iPhone into the audio input to play the tunes I am learning.

The MX49 has an aux input for playing MP3 files and a phone jack also.

Yamaha Piaggero is something to consider but starts at 61 keys. Has built in speakers come with a music rest and start at about $150 I think. The fanciest Piaggero is less than $300. That is what I would lean towards. Extermely! light and doesn't get any simplier.

The 61 key NP11
Posted By: AnalogGuy1

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/31/15 05:29 PM

Great ideas; I hadn't thought about the iPad route. That might make the most sense. Am I right that I just need to buy an Apple Camera Connection Kit to do that?

The MX looks beatiful. Almost too beautiful to justify for the rare action it would get, at $500 street. I don't think I could justify fitting it into a suitcase; at that price it deserves its own case and becomes more luggage. (But that is the solution I secretly want anyway.)

Learjeff - what I meant was that if the Nano Piano had both midi-over-USB connectivity (which it doesn't) and could power a controller over the USB connection (which it doesn't) then my search would be over - he'd just plug the module into a small controller, and a small speaker into the sound module. Not that it wouldn't work with DIN midi cables, but would require another power supply for the controller.

The Piaggero is EXACTLY it...perfect, perfect, just at 61 keys won't fit into the train overhead compartments. Just 3" less and it would fit inside (TWISS). But when all is said and done, I may get that for him anyway, and a case he can carry it in right next to his seat. (And then I'll get the MX for me when I travel).
Posted By: JeffLearman

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/31/15 06:30 PM

OK. Unfortunately, it'd still sound like a NanoPiano! sick

Piaggero is a great suggestion.

Jeff
Posted By: Michael W

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/31/15 06:41 PM

The iRig Keys Pro is cool - I just bought one and mentioned it on another thread. The good news is that it can be powered solely via an iPad, iPhone, or laptop. The bad news is that is only has 37 keys, although they are full-sized, and the action isn't half bad. The iRig Keys Pro is very lightweight and portable.

Posted By: rickp

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/31/15 10:03 PM

Originally Posted By: CEB
. . .Yamaha Piaggero is something to consider but starts at 61 keys. Has built in speakers come with a music rest and start at about $150 I think. . . The 61 key MP11


+1 on CEB's post. Can't endorse the MP11 enough. Got one to warm up/zone in vocalists in theater dressing rooms and to "woodshed" pre-show with guitarists; have since dragged it everywhere guitarists drag their guitars (its shorter than an acoustic guitar case, great for buses) and very handy to grab anytime an idea hits.

Long battery life, under 10 pounds, midi, headphone jack, touch-sensitive keys, transpose, enough volume to keep up with acoustic guitars, decent voices, ac adapter option.

Fits tightly in the original Hammond SK1 case (the dark blue lightweight one that got replaced with a much more padded case) - very handy for quick leave-in-the-case playing since the NP11's speakers face upwards; just unzip/peel back the top cover and it's set to go.

Posted By: mezzopiano

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 02/21/19 03:45 AM

Originally Posted By: AnalogGuy1
The Piaggero is EXACTLY it...perfect, perfect, just at 61 keys won't fit into the train overhead compartments. Just 3" less and it would fit inside (TWISS). But when all is said and done, I may get that for him anyway, and a case he can carry it in right next to his seat. (And then I'll get the MX for me when I travel).


I know this thread is almost 4 years old, but... today the solution would be Roland Go:Piano (GO-61P). It is similar to the Piaggero, but it's only about 34.5 inch long.
Posted By: Randelph

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 02/21/19 03:02 PM

Ipad setups work 1 of 2 ways:
1. USB port (square one) on keyboard gets the MIDI info to the iPad, from which you can attach a headphone out. Simple solution, uses Apple camera connection kit.

2. Keyboard has a 5 pin MIDI din plug. MIDI goes from MIDI out to a Korg Plugkey, then thru a lightning cable into iPad to transmit notes played on keyboard Audio then comes back out the lightning cable to a Korg PLUGKEY. From the PlugKey you can then route the audio to speakers. I prefer this method as the Korg PlugKey gives you a volume control.

By far the simplest setup would be a keyboard with decent feel and sounds, just use headphones. Onboard speakers in the cheaper keyboards are usually pretty lousy.
Posted By: mezzopiano

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 02/27/19 05:16 PM

Otherwise, the most compact solution that comes to my mind involves an iPhone and an iRig Keys I/O 49 (full-size keys, just 27.3in long). Not cheap, compared to other controllers, but should be ideal for traveling.

The keys themselves seem to be good quality, though I read contradicting reviews about whether they are unweighted or semi-weighted. One review wrote: "The unweighted keys are light and responsive, with satisfying travel and minimal lateral movement. The whole bed does bend noticeably with even moderately heavy playing, but that doesn’t prove to be a problem beyond detracting somewhat from the hardware’s perceived solidity". Other reviews say they are lightly weighted.

@Randelph: can you maybe tell us your impressions and compare it to other MIDI controllers?
Posted By: Randelph

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 02/27/19 07:20 PM

I have no other MIDI controllers to compare it to, just keyboards with built-in sounds.

I would say they're semi-weighted, they have a hard to describe resistance that feels good.

However, I would seriously dis-recommend this controller:
PROS:
- Lightweight, super small profile, full size keys
- Headphone and 2 1/4" outputs
- Can run on batteries, iPad is charged if using adapter

CONS:
- The resistance at the back of the keys is pretty strong, I find it very noticeable and it adversely affects my playing
- Sometimes the note doesn't sound, but going back to the same note it does sound. Happens often enough that it is a problem (like every minute or so)
- The touch areas used for pitch/mod/program change/basic selections, is too easily triggered, not ergonomic, and there's one of these touch area that turns off the sound to the keyboard. If I reach over the keybed I inadvertently touch these touch areas. Also, being flat and black, its pretty much impossible to view in dim light.
- I constantly use the volume knob and the data knob, but they made these two knobs 1 and the same, so I have to constantly toggle back and forth using one of the touch areas. Wish they'd just assigned 2 separate knobs to these functions.
- The software bundle is supposed to make this a fantastic bargain, like you're getting the keyboard for free, but for the most part the software is hard to use- the Miroslav Philharmonic Orchestra and Sampletank 3 have ridiculously small windows that are non-scalable- not usable for standalone applications
- What was I thinking when I bought this? I HATE the 3 letter display, means you have to memorize cryptic codes to program it.
- Uses f**cking proprietary cables from the unit to an iPad/computer.

I could do more of a review, but suffice it to say that for full-sized keys that can run off of batteries, you'll be hard pressed to a more compact keyboard. However, the software package, the keybed, the display, the touch controls (other than the great knobs and drum pads) leave alot to be desired at this price point.

I have a practically brand new one, sent from the factory a month ago after the original one glitched on me. Willing to sell at a low price!

Randy
Posted By: xKnuckles

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 02/28/19 12:23 PM

I always take two sets of xKeys with me when I go on holiday. One is three octaves, the other two. I can set them up on a table, usually overlapping a bit with the two octaves at the back and the three octaves at the front (or if there was a long table they could be side by side). I put them both into a USB hub, and the hub goes into my phone which supplies the sound. I listen through headphones also plugged into the phone.

This setup is much better than it seems like it should be. The xkeys are virtually flat and don't weigh very much, but somehow they manage to be touch sensitive. I can even have a damper pedal if I wish. Playing them is ok. Obviously nowhere neare as good as a proper keyboard, but it doesn't annoy me. I am just grateful to have that option when I am on holiday.
Posted By: zoooombiex

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 02/28/19 07:55 PM

I'd be interested in any other (current) suggestions for something along the lines of this thread. Really just looking for something small for finger exercises. So sound isn't really that important, and and 49 keys would be fine. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
Posted By: uhoh7

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/01/19 02:42 AM

this would be cool:
https://youtu.be/ajTGlaebUAE
Posted By: mezzopiano

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/01/19 02:06 PM

If the keys were weigthed / had a hammer action, I could possibly justify the price of the "Piano de Voyage", but with unweighted keys it seems very expensive to me.

There had been a other attempts at modular keyboards, including this KOMBOS modular keyboard:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/348684291/kombos-modular-keyboard
I costed less. However, the final product did not live up to the expectations (fragile USB connector, Bluetooth issues).

I'm in the marked for a 49 or 61 key hammer action keyboard, modular or not.
Posted By: mezzopiano

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/03/19 10:46 AM

This is the only 49 keys weighted hammer action keys controller I'm aware of, but it required a lot of assembly and buyers weren't generally happy with:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1200817609/vax-midi-keyboard-controller
Posted By: Rod S

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/04/19 12:11 PM

Originally Posted By: xKnuckles
I always take two sets of xKeys with me when I go on holiday. One is three octaves, the other two. I can set them up on a table, usually overlapping a bit with the two octaves at the back and the three octaves at the front (or if there was a long table they could be side by side). I put them both into a USB hub, and the hub goes into my phone which supplies the sound. I listen through headphones also plugged into the phone.

This setup is much better than it seems like it should be. The xkeys are virtually flat and don't weigh very much, but somehow they manage to be touch sensitive. I can even have a damper pedal if I wish. Playing them is ok. Obviously nowhere neare as good as a proper keyboard, but it doesn't annoy me. I am just grateful to have that option when I am on holiday.


Purchased recently an xkey. In the beginning I was alternating between impressed with the playability to being a little annoyed (keys are little noisy). Right now I got used to it and pretty satisfied. I was surprised that the ipad was able to power it. My Akai mini, doesn't, for example. The best balance of playability, size and weight, I think.
Posted By: mezzopiano

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/05/19 08:39 PM

I'm currently quite happy with my compact late-night playing setup on a budget. I spent about $125 total:
- $25 for a used Swissonic Easykey 49 MIDI controller
- $80 for a used iPhone 5S
- $10 for a 3rd-party camera connection kit
- $9 for the bismark bs-16i app
- $0 for free grand piano Soundfonts

The Swissonic Easykey 49 has nice keys for an inexpensive entry-level controller. It's quite heavy and long for a 49 keys, though. I'm thinking of modding it, for when I travel.

Anyone has a (vintage) 49-keys MIDI controller to suggest that isn't much longer than the keys themselves? I don't need any switches or wheels next to the keys. Have read reviews of the CME M-Key and Z-Key but the build quality seems to be (very) low. iRig Keys I/O 49 is too expensive. Anything else shorter than 30 inch?

Not listed above: cost for a decent pair of headphones: you can't really listen to a grand piano through the iPhone's tiny speaker...
Posted By: EricBarker

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/05/19 09:25 PM

I really wish someone made something like a Seaboard Block, but with keys. I've been very tempted to buy 2 Seaboard blocks, and get comfortable enough to play piano pieces on them (Seaboards are difficult for polyphonic piano material). A simple 3-octave controller where you can snap on multiple sections would be FANTASTIC. You could put it in your carryon. VAX77 was a glorious idea, but died a horrible death. Could go for something far simpler (the VAX77 was a legit high-end board), and more market-friendly.

Quite surprised another company hasn't followed Roli's "snap together" design.
Posted By: ITGITC?

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/06/19 10:39 AM

Originally Posted By: Rod S
Originally Posted By: xKnuckles
I always take two sets of xKeys with me when I go on holiday. One is three octaves, the other two. I can set them up on a table, usually overlapping a bit with the two octaves at the back and the three octaves at the front (or if there was a long table they could be side by side). I put them both into a USB hub, and the hub goes into my phone which supplies the sound. I listen through headphones also plugged into the phone.

This setup is much better than it seems like it should be. The xkeys are virtually flat and don't weigh very much, but somehow they manage to be touch sensitive. I can even have a damper pedal if I wish. Playing them is ok. Obviously nowhere neare as good as a proper keyboard, but it doesn't annoy me. I am just grateful to have that option when I am on holiday.


Purchased recently an xkey. In the beginning I was alternating between impressed with the playability to being a little annoyed (keys are little noisy). Right now I got used to it and pretty satisfied. I was surprised that the ipad was able to power it. My Akai mini, doesn't, for example. The best balance of playability, size and weight, I think.


This is what I use, a 3-octave xkey. Mine has the adapter for expression & sustain pedals. I also bought the case.

With the camera adapter, my iPad, and a set of (wired) earphones, it's a workable solution for traveling.



Tom
Posted By: mezzopiano

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/11/19 06:41 PM

Originally Posted By: mezzopiano
This is the only 49 keys weighted hammer action keys controller I'm aware of, but it required a lot of assembly and buyers weren't generally happy with:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1200817609/vax-midi-keyboard-controller

I'd missed the Studiologic VMK-149 from 2005. It was advertised as "the world's first 49-note hammer-action controller".
Dimensions: 30.8" x 13.75" x 4.75" (782 x 350 x 120 mm)
Weight: 24.5 lb (11.1 kg)
Posted By: mezzopiano

Re: 49 keys for travel practice? - 03/11/19 08:03 PM

And then there have been a few DIY Projects:

1) Studiologic Numa Nano compact trimmed
(machine translation from the original in German )

2) M-Audio 49 key Hammer Action USB
"Replaced the original 49keys for 48Hammer Action keys from the keystation 88keybord"
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