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Lightweight MIDI controller


MoodyBluesKeys

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I know there are threads on MIDI controllers, but there are some new issues for this post.

 

I now have a 32G iPad mini2, and Korg's Module and Gadget, Garage Band, and Animoog. I'm wanting an easy to move controller to use with the iPad for jams and gigs where carrying all the Hammond & Kurzweil stuff is not needed. Thinking like my K10 in one hand, the controller in other, cables in pocket, ipad in pocket. Also thinking that I can use the controller as lower keyboard along with the SK1.

 

I want something that feels decent. I did have an eMu X-Board 49 (which has been sold), and it felt better than the other stuff I played back in 2007 when I got it. My PC361 is a good controller, but way too big and heavy for this purpose (plus all the sounds that are in it kind of make the iPad not necessary).

 

I've also heard of Bluetooth Low Energy, which supposedly is supported by the iPad. Not finding much info yet on possible MIDI keyboard controllers that use it. Wireless connection would be nice (if it doesn't add much latency).

 

Some forumites that have been using iPads, I'd appreciate your opinions.

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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57 Hammond B3; 69 Hammond L100P; 68 Leslie 122; Kurzweil PC3; M-Audio Code 61; Voce V5+; Neo Vent; EV ELX112P; GSI Gemini & Burn

https://dyinbreedband.wixsite.com/dyinbreedband/home

facebook.com/smokingunsrock

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I don't know about bluetooth, but I have a Novation sl mk2 61 that I really like. It's about 13 pounds. I use a mono m80 keyboard case, which I would highly recommend for this purpose. It has backpack straps and a pouch that I use to keep a sustain pedal, an expression pedal, and a pair of cables.

 

I walk in to a lot of gigs these days with that thing on my back, my laptop in a messenger bag, and an x stand in my hand.

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I believe the Novation SL MkII uses the same action as the PC361 you like (and better than the other Novations), available in 49 and 61. The Samson Graphite 49 is another nice feeling action, weighs a little less than the 49 key Novation, and has 9 sliders instead of 8, obviously making it more suitable for organ. These all have aftertouch, too.

 

If you want to drop some more travel weight, you could also replace your K10 with an EV ZXa1... 19 lbs instead of 32.

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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Controllers seem to be taking up a lot of floor space in the big box music stores these days so trying out the action on a number of models should be easy to do if you have one close by.. something I would recommend if you are picky about the action.

 

Even if there were such an animal, wireless really wouldn't do you much good as you will need to swap a CCK and USB cable for a power cable for the KB - not saving you much there.

 

Finally, I know you want to keep it light, but you may want to think about a docking station that will charge your iPad while you play (and provide RCA's out). Nothing worse than firing up your iPad to play and getting the low battery warning. If you don't decide to do the dock thing, make sure your iPad is FULLY charged and in Airplane Mode when you are playing.

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I like the Roland A800Pro, and Arturia Keylab 61. Both have well designed front panels, and seem closest to pro, hardware synths in build. I'd give the edge to the Roland for action and ease of use; the Arturia has more options, control-wise. I've owned and gigged an Edirol PCR800 (the A800Pro's very similar predecessor); pretty durable piece, live. Had a Keylab 61 in my home workspace. Never gigged out with it, but it also felt very solid.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I rather like the Novation Impulse. Works well for computer stuff and I have gigged with it controlling my Roland JD 990. It uses USB power. Lots of controls. It also has AT, but you can use another surface control if the AT doesn't suit you.
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I just saw Steve Hackett (of Genesis fame) in concert last night. I don't know anything about the Impulse but for what it's worth both the main keyboardist and the multi instrumentalist were playing them...

Nord Stage 2 Compact, Yamaha MODX8

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Well, I thought I posted my thanks first thing this morning, but the post isn't showing. So:

Thanks for the answers based on what is working. Really looks like the Novations are getting a lot of love here. It is a bit pricier than what I want for this particular application. My PC361 doesn't have the light weight, but it is a fine controller.

Same with the Roland A800.

 

@AnotherScott - I agree, the EV speaker would be a bunch lighter than my K10. But, I'm still strong enough to carry the K10, and it has the advantage of being present and paid.

 

I see a recommendation for the Sampson Carbon 49 or 61. I'm thinking of using the Carbon 49 for the purpose. For the times I'll use this - think short gigs like when the church goes to a choir fest and we only do a couple of songs, jams, and so forth - battery life shouldn't be a problem. I'll just make sure the iPad is fully charged. For the longer gigs, I'll still be using the Hammond and/or Kurzweil, maybe use the iPad with Animoog and the Waldorf synth as an add-in. I've got the Camera Connection Kit and a super-thin 3.5mm phone plug to RCA cable on order.

 

Now - the wife is already asking what I want for Christmas. Hmmmmmmmmm.

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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You should take a look at the Akai MPK261. I just got one last week and it is on of the best actions I have ever played. The build is solid and well layed out. There are only 8 sliders and encoders, so if you need to control B3 software, it is not the best. Otherwise, I really like it.
Yamaha CP-73, Kurzweil PC1SE, Kurzweil PC361, Korg CX-3, Dexibell Combo J7, Roland VK-8M, Yamaha FS1R
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For a cheaper Novation with the PC361 action, this is slim and light. You didn't say if MIDI is required; the Nocturn is USB only.

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Novation-Nocturn-49-Keyboard-/121496862120?pt=Keyboards_MIDI&hash=item1c49c6fda8

 

Be advised that the action on the Samson Carbon is flimsy -- nearly identical to the Yamaha MX49 and 61, actually. The Samson Graphite action and build is better.

 

The Impulse is bulky, and the plastic casing creaks. Action is similar to the Kurzweil SP4-7.

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Its not totally unfair to call the Carbon 49 action "flimsy," but I've been playing one for a year and its certainly earned its $100 price. I've only used it at home, of course, but despite it exhibiting a bit of 'clackiness,' the feel is not half bad. Velocity response is acceptable (4 levels of choice) and the buttons n' wheels are holding up. I taped a loop of the USB cord to the body for strain relief. For your modest needs, it deserves a look. My good Samson experience over the years with mics and speakers is why I bought this 'board. I use 2 Korg workstations, the Carbon and an Xkey. Its four different feels from high to "low," but they form a group sweet spot for me. There are cheap builds and BUDGET builds. This one is the latter, IMO.

 

 

 

"What's the password?"
"'I have bourbon.'"
     ~ Joe Hill, "Full Throttle Stories"

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I see a recommendation for the Sampson Carbon 49 or 61. I'm thinking of using the Carbon 49 for the purpose.

I don't see anyone recommending a Carbon. The Graphite is much nicer.

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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Moody,

 

If you're thinking about a Sampson Carbon 49, then perhaps a Novation Impulse 49, which is $100 cheaper than the 61 key ($299) and only 11 pounds.

57 Hammond B3; 69 Hammond L100P; 68 Leslie 122; Kurzweil PC3; M-Audio Code 61; Voce V5+; Neo Vent; EV ELX112P; GSI Gemini & Burn

https://dyinbreedband.wixsite.com/dyinbreedband/home

facebook.com/smokingunsrock

facebook.com/acoustaxx

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One thing to note about the Novation Impulse which really only affects live use. Program changes are accessed by a 2 button push (similar to shift+prog change). Once another controller is moved, the screen monitors that change. You must perform the 2 button push again to access program change and see it on the screen and change it.
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It took a while for deciding what direction. My wife and I located a Carbon 49 new open box on EBay for under 70. The iPad Camera Kit came in today late, I'll check it tomorrow using the PC3X in the shop.

I realize that this is not the ultimate board, but for the intended purpose, I think it will work. If not, I can use the PC361 for a better feel. We both have spent lately on phones, tablets, and seasonal gifts, and this fit the budget.

Thanks for all the opinions.

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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Some of the Sampson boards have an iPad "slot" where the music rest normal goes. You my try to get one of those if you're looking at that line.

 

There are also two Sampson keybeds. I forget the product names, but one is way better than the other.

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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I got the needed cables, so I setup the iPad today connected to my PC3X in the shop, audio out into a K10.

Very pleased with the sounds from the Korg Module, especially the organ sounds. The Leslie effect sounds better than the PC3's KB3. Impressed enough to buy the Ivory piano add-in today while it is still on sale. Brass sounds not as much. Wurly and Rhodes are good.

The Sampson Carbon is the lesser quality, but it is the one with an iPad slot and connectors for USB, Lightning, and 30-pin.

 

If the board gets here in time for next Friday's jam, I'll have the board in hand, iPad in a pocket, cables in a pocket, and plug into the PA. Talk about an easy load in.

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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First public appearance with the iPad as sound source:

Load in: right hand - QSC K10 in bag. Left shoulder - gig bag with Carbon 49 MIDI controller, cables, DI, iPad. Left hand - K&M 18880 stand, crossbar removed. 1 trip. Setup time 10 min or so.

Prep for iPad - fully charged, Airplane Mode, Lock Screen never come on. The iPad is a mini2 32 Gig, with about 7.5 G of space left on it.

 

This is the country, gospel, oldies band - an irregular set of folks, mostly older, mostly guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, singers, acoustic bass, one drummer. Located at a local fire department, usually about 100 in audience. Most have been playing for decades, and many play multiple instruments. A decent PA system, some guitarists have amps.

 

The only app I used tonight was Korg Module, with added Wurly and Ivory. In the past, I've been carrying (I don't go every week) either PC361 or SK1, bag of cables and misc, stand, and K10, all on extended RockNRoller cart. This rig is MUCH easier to load in and out.

 

Patches used: Ivory, Wurly, some Rhodes, Organ, Clav - various patches among them. The touch screen interface works well for changing patches between songs.

 

I got there, setup, turned the iPad on (I had shut it down completely), checked operation and levels, shut it down. Turned it back on about 15 or 20 minutes before start time. We Played for about 2 and a quarter hours, and I powered off at the end. Battery remaining 61% - for close to 3 hours operation, with screen on most of the time (it still plays with screen off, but can't change patches unless there is some way using MIDI - I'm going for keep it simple).

 

It gets the job done well. Of course, not as versatile as the Kurzweil or Hammond (but I don't usually use more than 6 to 10 patches on either of them during the evening). The Hammond/Leslie is not as varsatile (I do have Galileo, but wanted simple), but it is good enough in this context. Other apps I have but didn't use include Garage Band, Animoog, and Alchemy.

 

The controller: This is a cheap controller, I got it for about $80 new (with NI Komplete Elements Mk 2 for my DAW included). It doesn't feel great, but if I want precision control, I'll use my PC361 or even PC3X for a controller (using it as an added sound source). What do they say, "good enough for rock n roll." Well, I wouldn't want to play Romantic era classical piano on it, but the light touch leaves me with no fatigue at all. (found a little extra thing I can do - I can use the on-screen keyboard on Module for a REALLY quick glissando). I realize I could have gotten a really good controller for about $350 to 400, but my PC361 IS a really good controller (a bit heavy, but over 1000 internal sounds).

 

Loaded out in 10 minutes. Back home, iPad is charging. K10 is in kitchen, will move it to shop tomorrow. Leaving gigbag and stand in home - I'll use this rig Sunday for my regular church gig (they are doing a Christmas play, I moved all my regular stuff (PC2 & PC3, Z-Stand, EON15G2, and UPS) out during the week.

 

I'm pleased. It works in real life for the several uses I have in mind: the Friday night jam, church when my regular stuff has to be moved, church when they do an outside the building event, choir festivals where we accompany the choir on just a couple of songs, any time that quick and easy are high on the priority list.

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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