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New controller keyboard ...


dregsor

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After my recent Kronos disaster I am looking for a new controller keyboard. Some general requirements ...

 

This is for studio use so weight is not an issue.

73+ keys are a must. Weighted or synth key bed is fine.

Mod and pitch bend controllers.

No price restriction but everyone loves a deal.

Quality is a must. This has to last under heavy use.

 

So beyond that I can take or leave on board sounds as 80% of the stuff I do is VI. I've read the other controller threads but I don't get a real feel for what the current preferred controller is for studio use. A few I've seen generally recommended ...

 

Privia PX-330

Yamaha Cp33

 

I've also had a fellow studio guy recently tell me he uses a Akai MPK88 and likes it as a controller. So before I make a move I thought I'd throw this out there and get a few more ideas?

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So why aren't you considering a "controller" instead of stage pianos that have "some" controller functions?

 

Most people complain that there aren't enough choices for a LIVE application controller, but studio controllers are a plenty.

 

Just curious, what Kronos disaster are you speaking of? I'd imagine Kronos would be as complete a controller solution as anything else out there, but I might be wrong.

 

You don't really say what you're going to be controlling, and action doesn't appear to be much of an issue, since you're content with either weighted or synth keybeds.

 

The only big MUST seems to be durability.

 

Perhaps a little more info as to how you plan to use it, since your consideration of the PX330 or CP33 doesn't suggest that a "power user" controller would be necessary, since both of the above mentioned keyboards make good "compromise" controllers for live application.

Yamaha C7 Grand, My Hammonds: '57 B3, '54 C2, '42 BC, '40 D, '05 XK3 Pro System, Kawai MP9000, Fender Rhodes Mk I 73, Yamaha CP33, Motif ES6, Nord Electro 2, Minimoog Voyager & Model D, Korg MS10
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Those two:

Privia PX-330

Yamaha Cp33

 

I don't consider these controllers. They are two digital piano slabs that happen to have midi.

 

What exactly do you want to control? How many concurrent zones. For Home use I like the Kawai MP8II but it out of production and the MP10 doesn't have the controller functionality of the MP8. The MP6 has 4 Control Zones. But you may hate the graded action. The Kawai actions are somewhat and closer to my piano than most other stuff I see on the market.

 

What I do is visit the manufacturer website and read the owner manuals pdfs then come up with a short list of models that fit my control needs. After that I would think in the action has to the primary concern. It getting so darn difficult to find instruments to physically tryout though.

 

The leading candidate for my next stage piano is currently the Yamaha S90XS. But If I didn't need internal sounds I would probably stick with my Kawai MP-5 but I want to ditch my rack. If I was starting from scratch and didn't need internal sounds but wanted go with the major manufaturers then .... I kind of like the action on the CP300 myself.

 

But I'm just a piano player.

 

"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

 

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So why aren't you considering a "controller" instead of stage pianos that have "some" controller functions?

That's what I am considering. Sorry if that was not clear.

 

Just curious, what Kronos disaster are you speaking of?

Yea I could have left that out. I got a 73 after a four month wait and had a few problems with the key bed, some build issues and a software bug or two. So for now just a new controller I think. Will take another look at Kronos down the road.

 

You don't really say what you're going to be controlling

I did mention I use VIs. Several packages, Vienna, Garratin, NI to name a few. I use a dedicate PC running W7 64bit.

 

The boards I mentioned just seemed like they got a lot of attention in the controller threads. Sorry if I wasn't specific

enough.

 

 

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so you don't care if it's weighted or not, semi or hammer action???

weird. Using kronos for a controller is also strange considering its price. Anyway check out studio logic controllers like numa or vmk. Korg SV-1 can be a nice controller too.

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Those two:

Privia PX-330

Yamaha Cp33

I don't consider these controllers. They are two digital piano slabs that happen to have midi.

 

I think the CP33 actually is somewhat of a decent controller - Master mode, 2 zone sliders, aux pedal input...

 

I've been looking into adding a Motif Rack ES to my rig, controlled by the CP33.

Stuff and things.
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I'd go for one of the Kurzweil PC3 range - PC3x if you'd like 88 note weighted, PC3 if a shorter, semi-weighted is ok. They're incredible MIDI controller keyboards in terms of flexibility and feel, and also come with superb on-board sounds.

 

Spherical

Kurzweil PC3x, Muse Receptor 2+ Pro, Nord G2 Modular, Mellotron M400, Nord Electro, Motif Rack ES, D50, JV1080, Triton / Prophecy / MS10, Logan String Synth
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73+ keys are a must. Weighted or synth key bed is fine.

Mod and pitch bend controllers.

No price restriction but everyone loves a deal.

Quality is a must. This has to last under heavy use.

Infinite Response VAX77 is probably the state of the art in virtual instrument controllers these days, notable especially for its polyphonic aftertouch, and an action that functions well for both weighted piano and unweighted organ/synth uses. It is designed primarily to be used as part of a computer or Receptor-based rig. (And since you love a deal, PM me if you'd like to save some bucks on a used one.)

 

 

A few I've seen generally recommended ...

 

Privia PX-330

Yamaha Cp33

PX-330 is a terrible controller, almost no external MIDI functions at all. PX-3 is much better. CP-33 is better still, with a mod wheel (instead of just an on/off button), zone faders, and expression pedal input (it weighs a lot more, but that's not an issue for you). But as has been pointed out, these are stage pianos with some MIDI control functions as a bonus. Certainly not in the same league as the VAX.

 

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Those two:

Privia PX-330

Yamaha Cp33

I don't consider these controllers. They are two digital piano slabs that happen to have midi.

 

I think the CP33 actually is somewhat of a decent controller - Master mode, 2 zone sliders, aux pedal input...

 

I've been looking into adding a Motif Rack ES to my rig, controlled by the CP33.

 

Oh, the CP33 is a more than decent controller, but it does take some menu diving to get things set up, and it's not great for any "on the fly" knob twiddling. I use it as my live rig controller, but if I were needing real time control over anything more than the most basic synth functions, I'd likely look elsewhere.

 

Similarly, I use my MP9000 as a master controller in the studio, with its 4 zone capability (2 internal/2 external), however if I need to control soft synths and I need lots of knobs and sliders for RT tweeking, I use my EMU Xboard for synths, as it has 16 assignable knobs and mapping is pretty simple.

 

I went through the higher end dedicated controller thing in my studio and blew through three CME VX8's (all dogs that didn't work correctly so they went back), and a Yamaha KX-8 (it was really hard to navigate, counter intuititive, bad to map (unless you were using Cubase, and it was lousy with ProTools) and the build quality was crap, so it went back too.) No surprise that Yamaha discontinued it a year after it was introduced.

 

I can't speak for the crop of new controllers personally, but whatever you buy, make sure you buy somewhere with the 30 day return guarantee, so you can take it back if you don't like it.

Yamaha C7 Grand, My Hammonds: '57 B3, '54 C2, '42 BC, '40 D, '05 XK3 Pro System, Kawai MP9000, Fender Rhodes Mk I 73, Yamaha CP33, Motif ES6, Nord Electro 2, Minimoog Voyager & Model D, Korg MS10
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The trickiest part of your question is perhaps the word 'controller' itself. It means radically different things to different people.

 

To a lot of folks here, it's hard to think of a 'controller' without zones. In the days before VIs, this made perfect sense. The only value of a board without sounds, lay in its flexibility.

 

But once you throw a computer into the mix, it's a completely different ballgame. Flexibility is no longer a premium. FOr example, it's a breeze to assign any number of zones on any keyboard with software. So even with a Privia PX-120, you could have 6 zones controlling 12 different VIs with 3 different velocity curves, simultaneously! Much more 'flexibility' than the PX-3, which is touted more as a 'DP+controller'.

 

What do you look for in a VI-specific controller?

  1. Action
  2. Wheels
  3. Knobs/Sliders
  4. Pedal inputs
  5. (optionally) Aftertouch

I'll stick my neck out and make this claim -any other feature is simply redundant. Action is the key deciding factor here. And only *you* can decide which one suits you best. Remember - knobs/sliders, and perhaps even pedals and wheels, can all be supplemented to your system. So again, it all boils down to the action that suits you best.

This is really what MIDI was originally about encouraging cooperation between companies that make the world a more creative place." - Dave Smith
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The trickiest part of your question is perhaps the word 'controller' itself. It means radically different things to different people.

 

To a lot of folks here, it's hard to think of a 'controller' without zones. In the days before VIs, this made perfect sense. The only value of a board without sounds, lay in its flexibility.

 

But once you throw a computer into the mix, it's a completely different ballgame. Flexibility is no longer a premium. FOr example, it's a breeze to assign any number of zones on any keyboard with software. So even with a Privia PX-120, you could have 6 zones controlling 12 different VIs with 3 different velocity curves, simultaneously! Much more 'flexibility' than the PX-3, which is touted more as a 'DP+controller'.

 

What do you look for in a VI-specific controller?

  1. Action
  2. Wheels
  3. Knobs/Sliders
  4. Pedal inputs
  5. (optionally) Aftertouch

I'll stick my neck out and make this claim -any other feature is simply redundant. Action is the key deciding factor here. And only *you* can decide which one suits you best. Remember - knobs/sliders, and perhaps even pedals and wheels, can all be supplemented to your system. So again, it all boils down to the action that suits you best.

+1 The best explanation I've heard to date

Triton Extreme 76, Kawai ES3, GEM-RPX, HX3/Drawbar control, MSI Z97

MPower/4790K, Lynx Aurora 8/MADI/AES16e, OP-X PRO, Ptec, Komplete.

Ashley MX-206. future MOTU M64 RME Digiface Dante for Mon./net

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Here you go. Right here is what you want. But only one hour left on this auction!

 

A very cool controller if it is as advertised

:love: I'm GASsing for one of these! Unquestionably a dream controller (barring the VAX77, perhaps)...

 

... for live use. For the studio/VIs, OTOH, all of it's functionality (and then some) can easily be replicated. With perhaps better action.

 

PX-330 is a terrible controller, almost no external MIDI functions at all. PX-3 is much better.
True for a hardware-only rig, simply untrue for the OP's context. Why pay $300 more for a 4-zone PX3 when you can have 40 virtual zones on a PX-130?

 

To the OP - here's a more specific recommendation. Currently it's virtually impossible to find functionality like wheels/knobs/sliders/pedal inputs, and quality action in the same keyboard. But why should it be in the same keyboard, for the studio? I would choose 1 keyboard just for the action - nothing else. And combine it with a 25-key Novation Impulse or a 32-key Roland A-300. Best of both worlds - no compromise on functionality whatsoever.

This is really what MIDI was originally about encouraging cooperation between companies that make the world a more creative place." - Dave Smith
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Maybe you should have a look at the Kurzweil SP4-7

 

http://www.kurzweil.com/Product.php?id=207

 

76 keys, low weight, pitch and mod wheels, low price etc.

 

 

And I must strongly disagree with Offnote - the Korg SV1 won't make a good controller - no midi functions whatsoever, and no pitch/mod wheels either.

Nord Stage 3 sw73, Yamaha CP88, KeyB Legend Live, Kurzweil PC3K7, EV ZXa1 + sub. K&M stands, Hammond E112, Leslie 3300, EHX V256, Roland SE-02, Yamaha EX5R & TG77, Novation Nova desktop & much more...
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so after all these suggestions I'm sure you are where you were in the beginning and you have to go to GC to try for yourself anyway :grin:

Your just a little off, offnote. :)

 

Actually this has been very helpful. I'll still need to try some of suggestions here out and I agree completely with those that said it comes down to feel. My wife says I spend to much time at GC already. I've been blackballing them because of the Kronos thing, but that will have to end now since they and Sam Ash are closest to home.

 

I thought I'd get a good discussion here and I did. Plus I think I was only called one name which was great! I'll be researching all the suggestions and I'll get back with any questions and results. Thanks to all who took the time to reply. I know this type of question gets asked here a lot.

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To a lot of folks here, it's hard to think of a 'controller' without zones. In the days before VIs, this made perfect sense. The only value of a board without sounds, lay in its flexibility.

 

But once you throw a computer into the mix, it's a completely different ballgame. Flexibility is no longer a premium. FOr example, it's a breeze to assign any number of zones on any keyboard with software. So even with a Privia PX-120, you could have 6 zones controlling 12 different VIs with 3 different velocity curves, simultaneously! Much more 'flexibility' than the PX-3, which is touted more as a 'DP+controller'.

 

Another way to get complex MIDI settings (zones, velocity curves, etc.) to ANY basic MIDI keyboard is to add a MIDI Patchbay to your setup:

 

http://94.246.113.69/images/56/5633885603.jpg

 

This is an old MX-8 MIDI patchbay, which I connect to my Yamaha Clavinova digital piano that ONLY has basic MIDI, no fancy controller functions. It can do up to 4 zones with MIDI filtering, velocity curves, MIDI merging, and more. It'll turn any MIDI keyboard into a master controller.

 

Of course as you said, this can all be done within your computer nowadays, but for live use or if you don't have a PC, this is a great solution.

Kurzweil PC3, Yamaha MOX8, Alesis Ion, Kawai K3M
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No need to buy an extra keyboard just to get knobbage and slideage.

True. I can attest to this - I gig with a Korg Nanokontrol (actually prefer it over the Zero :whistle:).

 

But the Impulse or the A-series can give you (a) wheels (b) pedal inputs and © aftertouch - which the Zero or the NanoKontrol can't. Now you can combine it with a bare-bones, quality weighted action of your liking - P-155/FP-7. Or even an SV-1, if you're offnote.

Like I said, no compromise whatsoever :cool:.

 

This is really what MIDI was originally about encouraging cooperation between companies that make the world a more creative place." - Dave Smith
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but for live use or if you don't have a PC, this is a great solution.

 

Assuming you can find one. For what it's worth, I'm not selling my JL Cooper MSB+ anytime soon. ;)

 

Which is why I deeply, deeply envy you of the Midi generation. Stuff like this is why I started the hardware-module thread. Midi is such an incredible, wonderful invention. You guys had it all - controllers like the A-90, sound modules, patchbays... and you let it all go to the dogs. It happened on *your* watch.

 

I feel like Charlton Heston at the end of The Planet of the Apes... :cry::mad:.

This is really what MIDI was originally about encouraging cooperation between companies that make the world a more creative place." - Dave Smith
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I feel like Charlton Heston at the end of The Planet of the Apes... :cry::mad:.

 

Whaddaya mean?

 

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2796/4125120853_3b925171c1.jpg

 

;) ;) ;)

 

I, for one, fought tooth and nail against the complete neutering of gear... and continue to rail against the misuse of the term "controller" when describing completely anemic pieces of plastic & metal that do no such thing, in the proper sense of the word. :mad:

 

And now, I'm going to go play my Roland A-80 and A-50 until the urge to cut up USB cables subsides... ;)

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Just curious, what Kronos disaster are you speaking of?

Yea I could have left that out. I got a 73 after a four month wait and had a few problems with the key bed, some build issues and a software bug or two. So for now just a new controller I think. Will take another look at Kronos down the road.

Sorry for de-railing this (excellent) discussion, but this is the first I've heard of problems with the action and software bugs. Can you be more specific? Thanks.

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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Sorry for de-railing this (excellent) discussion, but this is the first I've heard of problems with the action and software bugs. Can you be more specific? Thanks.

Instead of going over the whole thing again here, below is a link to the Korg forums where the debate rages on ...

 

Korg forums

 

Let me say right off that this was my experience with a single Kronos 73. While others have had some of these same issues many owners seem to have gotten perfect boards and have no problems at all. I said in that post that there was a quality control issue, but this is a new keyboard, and as such was bound to have a few problems. Oh well.

 

The Sweetwater rep told me today they are sending the board back to Korg and if I can get any more details I will. I'll be happy to answer any other questions you might have after checking out the link.

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Yeah, Roland used to make a bunch of nice controllers. I have an A-50 I'm toying with selling too. Great feeling keyboard, two different kinds of pitch and mod controllers, tons of pedal jacks... also polyphonic aftertouch, which is what first drew me to it, but I've never gotten around to playing with! As reports say, it does take a lot of force to trigger the aftertouch, and there's a mod that can be done to alter that, but I haven't really pursued it. My other criticism of it is that I think it's a bit too eager to put out the higher velocities (though someone who hits with less force than I do might draw a different conclusion). I hate selling stuff that I think is cool even if I don't have a real use for it! But I have a feeling this may be showing up in the Garage Sale section before too long too...

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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I'm using a Roland Fantom-G6 now as a my main gig axe and a MIDI controller for the studio. Working out well for me. Great build quality, carries audio/MIDI over USB, quite simple to use, 8 sliders, 4 knobs, 2 switches, 3 pedal, pitch/mod lever, aftertouch and, ahem d-beam. There is a G7 model. I also have the Korg NanoKontrol, which is great for what it is with Logic, they wrote a driver for logic so it does what the novation one does without wrapping plug-ins.
Roland Fantom G6, D-70, JP-8000, Juno-106, JV-1080, Moog Minitaur, Korg Volca Keys, Yamaha DX-7. TG33, Logic Pro, NI plugs, Arturia plugs etc etc
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I'm using a Roland Fantom-G6 now as a my main gig axe and a MIDI controller for the studio.

Which MIDI controller?

 

Also curious if anyone has thoughts on the Akai MPK88 I mentioned? Heading to GC and SA over the weekend to see

whats on the floor.

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