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Looking for help with a small MIDI controller conundrum


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So, my high school aged musical daughter and I decided to start to learn Logic Pro together this summer since a lot of the other stuff we were going to do got canceled. I play piano and have an Electro 5 I use for gigging. The last sequencer I had was Opcode Vision and I"ve never done much with home recording or any other modern DAWs. We"re both primarily players at this point. I do enjoy tweaking sounds on the Nord.

 

I"ve been doing a bit of reading on the topic and think we"ll both benefit from having some control surface knobs and faders and buttons to work with while learning Logic. I"ve zeroed in on the Arturia Keylab mk ii as an option that combines the most useful features to me as a keyboardist- enough DAW control surface stuff for the basic home recording we"ll be attempting, a keyboard controller for me, and the little 4x4 pad matrix in case the youngster wants to dip her toes into the Ableton-like aspects of the most recent Logic update. I think a lite version of Ableton comes bundled as well.

 

If you"re an experienced home studio DAW user, and particularly if your coming from a piano background and like to play wide two handed voicings normally, maybe you can help me solve this conundrum:

 

Assuming I want a lighter action for this controller (I think I do, because the Electro is 73HP), and the Arturia is my best option ( I"m willing to be talked out of it if there"s something better for my application) I"m looking at either their 61 note or 49 note Keylab mk ii.

 

The control surface features are identical, as far as I can see, except the smaller one has the pitch and mod wheels next to the keyboard, the 61 above. The 49 key version comes bundled with V Collection 6 (lots more adjustable parameters available In the software synths) and the 61 note version comes with Analog Lab, which I understand has most or all of the instruments of V collection but only a subset of the parameters can be adjusted.

 

God Bless You if you"ve read this far. Do I want a smaller 49 note controller to take up less space (home studio will be in a small room) that comes with fully programmable versions of the software synths, or will the octave less of keys from 5 octaves to 4 drive me nuts? I"m ok on the 73 note electro, but haven"t played a fewer than 73 note keyboard regularly in a long time. Will the 61 notes drive me nuts anyway, so why not take it down to 49 to force myself to think of it as a one hander for leads and basses and the like?

 

What would you do? Thanks in advance for any advice you might have. Even better if you use a 61 or 49 note midi controller to run your DAW. I imagine this controller will be used 80-90% at home, with possible occasional outings as a 2nd board.

 

If there"s some other obvious obvious hardware I should be considering that I missed, happy to hear about that too.

 

Thanks!

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I have the IK iRig Keys I/0, 49 keys. I'm used to 61 or larger, first time on a 49.

 

For myself, 61 notes is already a compromise, at least 73/76 is more like it. REALLY didn't like having only 49 notes. For your intended purposes it might be fine, but given the choice, there is no choice! 49 keys is just too damn few!

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Completely depends.

 

I your playing synth lines or chords - then 49 keys isnt a problem really. Its very rare youll play over more than 4 octaves, and actually the majority of synths have 4 or less octaves - a minority have 61 and non more than that.

 

If on the other hand your a 2 handed player, chords and melody, be that piano or organ.... your going to need a LEAST 61 notes is not more. Organs (twin maual ones) tend to have 4 octaves PER manual - but from a single board that means splitting those two sounds up - hence needing more.

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Have you considered using the Nord for keys and adding a controller box with buttons, pads, sliders, etc for DAW control ?

 

- Jimbo

 

Yes, although then I"d lose out on the software synths and the integration with browsing them that the Keylab offers. I"m thinking having more software based sound engines at least available would be handy for home recording.

 

Is there one fader box in particular you like?

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Do I want a smaller 49 note controller to take up less space (home studio will be in a small room) that comes with fully programmable versions of the software synths, or will the octave less of keys from 5 octaves to 4 drive me nuts? I"m ok on the 73 note electro, but haven"t played a fewer than 73 note keyboard regularly in a long time. Will the 61 notes drive me nuts anyway, so why not take it down to 49 to force myself to think of it as a one hander for leads and basses and the like?

 

This decision is so subjective, but here's some food for thought:

The 61 is only about 3 inches wider than the 49.

The price difference is fifty bucks.

For me, having the wheels more accessible on the left side might just tip the scale to the 49, if the purpose was to use it primarily as a one hander.

Others may differ, but when I had an Arturia product I didn't think the synth software was that spectacular.

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I would personally get 61, unless I had a larger controller (weighted) for piano and electric piano. 49 scares me a bit, it's probably fine for most things, but even with playing one-handed I think of organ stuff and portamento climbs...

 

That Arturia unit looks like a great deal if they still have the deal going where you get the full Collection (version 6, not 7) with it. I've never played one but I've heard the action is nice.

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If you use the Nord as a MIDI keyboard, you've saved a chunk of money that you can spend on software. Maybe add a pad setup with knobs and use that to manipulate synths/drums/ etc.

 

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol is free and has a MIDI Learn feature. You click on the knob in the software that controls the parameters you want to change and then turn a knob on your MIDI connected device that has control knobs. That will link the two. You can set up your own way of working.

 

It will host a variety of other programs, I can run IK SampleTank with it for one.

 

There are TONS of soft synths out there and you don't need too many - just a couple of good ones.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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There are TONS of soft synths out there and you don't need too many - just a couple of good ones.
Not to mention that the virtual instruments bundled with Logic range from pretty good to great.

 

...and the penny drops. I think you"re all correct, I don"t really need another keyboard at all necessarily and will have enough soft synths bundled with Logic itself to get us started with that aspect, so I don"t necessarily need that part of the Arturia package either.

 

I think I"m going with plan 'B,' which will be a PreSonus FaderPort (single fader) to get us enough tactile control over the DAW navigation to keep from getting mouse-frustrated. The kid can start with the iPad Logic remote app to play with the live loops, and if she gets into it to the point she wants better pads I"ll grab her a Novation Launch Pad X or some other pad based controller. Who knows, maybe I will get into the pad/loop thing too, although I fear I"m far too set in my linear ways.

 

Thanks to all for helping me think it through, I think this will be a better plan.

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There are TONS of soft synths out there and you don't need too many - just a couple of good ones.
Not to mention that the virtual instruments bundled with Logic range from pretty good to great.

 

...and the penny drops. I think you"re all correct, I don"t really need another keyboard at all necessarily and will have enough soft synths bundled with Logic itself to get us started with that aspect, so I don"t necessarily need that part of the Arturia package either.

 

I think I"m going with plan 'B,' which will be a PreSonus FaderPort (single fader) to get us enough tactile control over the DAW navigation to keep from getting mouse-frustrated. The kid can start with the iPad Logic remote app to play with the live loops, and if she gets into it to the point she wants better pads I"ll grab her a Novation Launch Pad X or some other pad based controller. Who knows, maybe I will get into the pad/loop thing too, although I fear I"m far too set in my linear ways.

 

Thanks to all for helping me think it through, I think this will be a better plan.

 

I have a sinlge channel Faderport, one of these days I'll hook it up and use it. It's a nice little box and that long throw fader is awesome!!!

 

I want to be able to control when I start my recording from my homemade mic booth with it but it looks like a very versatile tool.

 

Honestly, with the Logic syths you can get going and both Native Instruments and IK Multimedia have free soft synth and sample player packages.

If you use all of those free options and THEN really want a particular sound - you can follow all the plugin vendors and wait for a sale. There will always be a sale somewhere.

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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