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Best midi controller to B4?


jlr

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Well, it might be tough to do a forum search at this point as most of the dedicated topics are old by now as well as being spread out, but there have definitely been some issues regarding compatibility for MIDI CC mappings of pseudo-drawbars and other data. You might want to look into that.

 

Owning a VMK188plus though, I suspect the VMK161ORG might have the best ability to be re-programmed to properly drive the B4 II's controls.

 

There was once a dedicated drawbar module for B4 and maybe also B4 II, but they stopped making it; it had some technical problems (at least the first rev) and I suspect NI will eventually release a new version, as they've been getting much more aggressive with hardware controllers of late as well as improving build quality and reputation thereof.

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I use the M-Audio Keystaion Pro-88 to control the B4. Works great... I have all the knobs & buttons assigned to the various parameters- turn perc or overdrive or vibrato/chorus or leslie on/off, set volume or type of perc, amount of key click etc. etc. etc. And the sliders work great for drawbars. The only problem is that if I get carried away on a wipe I can really do a number on my hands!

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The drawbar module for B4 is called the B4D. I have one and use it a lot. As mentioned above, they're no longer being manufactured.

 

Pros: it works; it's simple. Only problem I had was I had to resolder the MIDI connector.

 

Cons: The buttons are laid out in a square grid rather than being arranged by human factors design. You pretty much have to memorize the layout, with no good visual cues. The markings are too small to be very useful during a performance.

 

Also, it's not configurable to do anything else. You'd need a separate MIDI mapper to use it to control anything other than NIB4.

 

However, the drawbars themselves are great, and the volume and drive knobs on the top are extremely useful. Also nice that they're close, so you can run up the drive while pulling down the volume with one hand, with a little practice.

 

For my rig, using MIDIOX, I mapped the keys below low C to presets, like the white-on-black keys at the bottom of a B3. Mod wheel is Leslie speed (I think that's the default), and I mapped my pitch wheel to turn percussion on and off.

 

I also mapped the sustain pedal to Leslie speed. If I could have, I would have made it push-on/push-off, but MIDIOX can't do that, so it's a momentary "fast" switch, and I've come to like it that way. It just means I can't stand up when playing Hammond, since I use both feet a lot.

 

You unquestionably need an expression pedal to play Hammond, so be sure to use a keyboard with an expression pedal input, or else get a MIDI expression pedal (and make sure you have a MIDI jack for it somewhere).

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It's just a fatar, same as the Nord Electro. That's what I was told, at any rate. And if so, that means it has a hard landing, like the Electro. Not what I'd call a satisfying organ action, even if the keys are waterfall shaped. Not sure if this is the same as what's used in the VMK161ORG though.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

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It's just a fatar, same as the Nord Electro. That's what I was told, at any rate. And if so, that means it has a hard landing, like the Electro. Not what I'd call a satisfying organ action, even if the keys are waterfall shaped. Not sure if this is the same as what's used in the VMK161ORG though.
Which "it" has a Fatar keyboard?

 

Also, I have a Fatar keyboard (weighted, Ensoniq MR76) and it feels nothing like an Electro. No hard landing, either. So, are you assuming some facts I'm ignorant of? Is there a standard Fatar semi-weighted keyboard? Why would anyone use a semi-weighted keyboard for a dedicated organ keyboard? Sorry, but I just don't follow.

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Organs are semi-weighted last I checked, but this gets back into that terminology thing again (vendors are fast-and-loose with many of these terms).

 

And yes, at least as recently as two years ago, there appeared to be a single waterfall shaped barely-qualifies-as-semi-weighted keybed that Fatar supplied to all of its OEM's. At the time, this included Nord (known then as Clavia) and Doepfer.

 

Things may have changed, but at the time, the Electro 2 and the equivalent Doepfer modular organ series were using the same Fatar keybed. I confirmed this with all three vendors at NAMM.

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Organs are semi-weighted last I checked, but this gets back into that terminology thing again (vendors are fast-and-loose with many of these terms).

 

And yes, at least as recently as two years ago, there appeared to be a single waterfall shaped barely-qualifies-as-semi-weighted keybed that Fatar supplied to all of its OEM's. At the time, this included Nord (known then as Clavia) and Doepfer.

 

Things may have changed, but at the time, the Electro 2 and the equivalent Doepfer modular organ series were using the same Fatar keybed. I confirmed this with all three vendors at NAMM.

 

There's a review at Guitar Center that compares the VKM-161 Organ to the Nord keyboard. Same Action for organ. Faders as drawbars but better than the electriconic (Nord) approach IMHO

 

On another note some have reported here using Korgs and Hammonds as controllers. There's a certain perversity in the logic because there aren't any great organ controllers. If you want drawbars and waterfall keys it's the only way to go outside of the StudioLogic w/faders or an Electro w/Voce or similar.

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Nothing for nothing but the Doepher controller looks like the height between the upper and lower keyboards is much bigger than on a real B3 or Nord or XK3C system. Maybe it's the just the photo angle but it looks huge!
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It definitely looks like a bigger gap on the doepfer, but still not much worse than you'd see using 2 separate keyboards -- probably better in many cases.

 

Thanks for clarifying, Mark. I always considered a Hammond keyboard a unweighted, but I can see why someone might use a semi-weighted keyboard for an emulator: to be able to use the same keyboard for other purposes. And the Electro/Fatar keyboard is quite light and I think suitable for that purpose. It's been a long time since I played one, and I didn't remember the hard stop. At the time, I thought it felt a lot like a Wurli keyboard. It had been a long time since I'd played a Wurli, though!

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Hmm, that VMK 161 looks pretty good, now that you mention it.

 

I was just looking into using an old Hammond XB2 with an Electro3. There's a cheap one on my local craigslist. There are two on ebay, but the price isn't that great.

 

I can't vouch for it, but one of the ads says the XB2 is easy to use as a controller for B4.

 

From the ad:

"I should also mention something I found out that is pretty cool about the XB2. If you use Native Instruments B4, the XB2 controls everything in the plugin, including the drawbars, volume, leslie, etc. "

 

http://cgi.ebay.com/Hammond-XB2-XB-2-XB-2-Ver-2-Includes-Exp-Pedal_W0QQitemZ320413223458QQcmdZViewItemQQptZKeyboards_MIDI?hash=item4a9a1dca22&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14

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