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Semi-weighted 88 key MIDI controller


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My 10+ year old M-Audio controller is dying, so I am looking for a replacement / upgrade.   Must-have features are 88 keys and semi-weighted action, as  hammers wear out my scrawny arms too quickly nowadays.  Extra points for low (sub-$500) price, multiple pedal inputs, faders, and well-placed mod and bend wheels.

 

The controller's job would be for live performance, feeding MIDI into a Kurzweil PC4.

 

The current front runner based on specs and a couple of reviews is the Nektar Impact GXP88.  It lacks faders, but has aftertouch (!), as well as taking two switch and one CC pedal.  I also like the mod and bend wheels to the left of the keys. 

 

Arturia keylab looks pretty good too, with enough faders to control an organ, but pedal inputs seem to be lacking.

 

Any endorsements?  Warnings?

-Tom Williams

{First Name} {at} AirNetworking {dot} com

PC4-7, PX-5S, AX-Edge, PC361

 

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Arturia, and now Novation with the faders on the right.  Tsk, tsk. But if it has a “premium” semiweight action, one might forgive.   If you get your hands on it, please let us know what you think.  

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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On 8/1/2022 at 11:01 PM, Tom Williams said:

The current front runner based on specs and a couple of reviews is the Nektar Impact GXP88.  It lacks faders, but has aftertouch (!), as well as taking two switch and one CC pedal. 

The LX88+ has nine faders, but no aftertouch FWIW, same price.

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1 hour ago, Reezekeys said:

 

And no expression pedal input. Pick your "poison", I guess.

Same for the LaunchKey 88. Nine faders and no expression pedal.  Personally, I would go this route and use a volume pedal instead. 

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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Exactly, that was my point. These companies make sure to leave that one thing out so you have to spend a few extra hundred dollars to get it - be it the expr. pedal input, faders, aftertouch. I wonder how much any of those features actually costs them to add. That's business of course.

 

Of course a volume pedal doesn't work if you need to use your foot to send midi data.

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On 8/1/2022 at 8:01 PM, Tom Williams said:

The current front runner based on specs and a couple of reviews is the Nektar Impact GXP88.  It lacks faders, but has aftertouch (!), as well as taking two switch and one CC pedal.  I also like the mod and bend wheels to the left of the keys. 

The only caveat for me would be in the manufacture quality. I returned an LX88 that came with a warped keyboard that crested like a wave at middle C. I think some of the lightweight materials used in these l boards are to blame. I’d rather pay a premium for a more substantial semi-weighted action.

 

I’d be interested in hearing if the GX is an improvement over the LX.

____________________________________
Rod

victoria bc

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I've actually got my eye on the Studiologic Numa compact 2x....not sure if that counts as "semi-weighted", I reckon (and hope) it's the same Fatar action from the sledge and my Kurzweil pc361.  I find that synth action "beefy" enough to work for just about everything including piano.   Studiologic calls the action "semi-weighted" so I'm not positive on what it is.

I honestly wish it was 73 or 76 though.  It's more money, but it also has its own sounds and a built-in audio interface if those are useful features.

The launchkey 88 does look very nice, I hadn't noticed it because I was focused on 61 key controllers other than the Studiologic, and had restricted my search to ones with aftertouch.  For piano-centric controllers though I wouldn't need that.

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4 minutes ago, Stokely said:

I've actually got my eye on the Studiologic Numa compact 2x....not sure if that counts as "semi-weighted", I reckon (and hope) it's the same Fatar action from the sledge and my Kurzweil pc361.  I find that synth action "beefy" enough to work for just about everything including piano.

I honestly wish it was 73 or 76 though.  It's more money, but it also has its own sounds and a built-in audio interface if those are useful features.

The launchkey 88 does look very nice, I hadn't noticed it because I was focused on 61 key controllers other than the Studiologic.


I am very pleased with the Launchkey 88. I originally purchased it for an emergency backup that I could keep in my car, but am now also using it in my studio, and for smaller gigs and rehearsals.  All I have to bring is this 18lb keyboard, my stand, volume pedal, and my IPad. 

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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20 minutes ago, stoken6 said:

That view is a perennial favourite, and one I subscribe to as well.

 

Cheers, Mike

I find the 88 quite useful for splits. Especially at that weight. 

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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At the moment, it looks like I will pull the trigger next week for the Nektar GXP88.  I'll get it from the candy folks, so that if I hate it I can return it with minimal fuss.  Since I will be using it as a secondary controller on a Kurzweil PC4, I care less about the faders and more about the immediate playability I hope to gain from the aftertouch.  It's been years since I had two aftertouch keyboards in a stack, and I miss it.

 

Extra brownie points: mod wheels to the left of Low A instead of above it; an assignable potentiometer; and support for two switch pedals plus a continuous pedal.  Some 88 controllers support a damper pedal, period.  Unconscionable, at least for a live performer.

 

Biggest pre-purchase downer for me is that no one seems to make a gig bag that would fit a board that long + that shallow.  I plan (at least initially) to use the shipping box as a case.

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-Tom Williams

{First Name} {at} AirNetworking {dot} com

PC4-7, PX-5S, AX-Edge, PC361

 

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1 hour ago, Tom Williams said:

At the moment, it looks like I will pull the trigger next week for the Nektar GXP88.  I'll get it from the candy folks, so that if I hate it I can return it with minimal fuss.  Since I will be using it as a secondary controller on a Kurzweil PC4, I care less about the faders and more about the immediate playability I hope to gain from the aftertouch.  It's been years since I had two aftertouch keyboards in a stack, and I miss it.

 

Extra brownie points: mod wheels to the left of Low A instead of above it; an assignable potentiometer; and support for two switch pedals plus a continuous pedal.  Some 88 controllers support a damper pedal, period.  Unconscionable, at least for a live performer.

 

Biggest pre-purchase downer for me is that no one seems to make a gig bag that would fit a board that long + that shallow.  I plan (at least initially) to use the shipping box as a case.


If your keyboard is less than 51” long, Check out the Gater 73 slim.  Both my Numa Piano X 88 and LaunchKey 88 fit perfectly in that case. 

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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18 minutes ago, D. Gauss said:

numa compact 2x works and you get sounds.

Thanks!  I had forgotten about the Numa. That's a winner, I agree.  But in this particular case, for compact gigging, the Nektar is already an upgrade, costing less than half the already very affordable Numa. 

-Tom Williams

{First Name} {at} AirNetworking {dot} com

PC4-7, PX-5S, AX-Edge, PC361

 

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19 minutes ago, John H Carter said:

I have both the GXP88 and Numa Compact 2x - the former is fine, but I find it tiring to play over a rehearsal or gig. The latter is good, but the mod and pitch "wheels" aren't so good for performance.

John

I have wimpy forearms, so "tiring" is important to me.  Can you elaborate a bit on that?  Is it due to the funny angle of the black keys, or due to the spring resistance overall?  My plan is to use the GXP88 primarily for EP and AP parts, although I'm also hoping that the aftertouch will facilitate some guitar and synth action as well.

-Tom Williams

{First Name} {at} AirNetworking {dot} com

PC4-7, PX-5S, AX-Edge, PC361

 

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11 hours ago, HammondDave said:


If your keyboard is less than 51” long, Check out the Gater 73 slim.  Both my Numa Piano X 88 and LaunchKey 88 fit perfectly in that case. 

Good suggestion - believe it should be Gater 76 slim. Dave - I took your suggestion for the Numa X.

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5 hours ago, Tom Williams said:

I have wimpy forearms, so "tiring" is important to me.  Can you elaborate a bit on that?  Is it due to the funny angle of the black keys, or due to the spring resistance overall?  My plan is to use the GXP88 primarily for EP and AP parts, although I'm also hoping that the aftertouch will facilitate some guitar and synth action as well.

Problem is quite a shallow and very synthy key action, lighter action than most of my synths. BTW the aftertouch works really well on the 2x.

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