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88-key controller advice
Old 9th May 2006
  #1
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
88-key controller advice

Been reading reviews and it seems like most people have love/hate relationships with main brands (i.e., CME too stiff; M-Audio too spongy, etc.) I don't have a lot of time to audition in person and might need to make this purchase online.

Any advice in the $600 range?

I may have some flexibility in price if I sell some other gear. Thinking about selling my Motif 7 to get a Motif ES Rack and then kicking in some extra dough for an 88-key controller.

Cheers,
Old 9th May 2006
  #2
Lives for gear
 
jdjustice's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
$600 88-Key Controller that is good? Nope.

I am sorry to report that all of the "controllers" I have tested in this price range are severely lacking in action and are a nightmare to play, generally. Luckily I have an old Korg 01/WproX 88-Key Workstation that I use as my controller... I think I paid $3500 for it new in 1992-93... you should be able to find, for a bit more money, a good, weighted (I assume you want weighted keys), used keyboard workstation that you could use as a controller. M-Audio controller? HORRIBLE. This is just my very humble opinion but I am a classically trained pianist and I have to play on weighted keys; my technique falters on the non-weighted and poorly-designed-action controllers.

If I find a good one, I'll PM you and let you know but I am not holding my breath.. you may not have a problem with the controllers that I did, though... you really need to test them out.. do not commit to a purchase if you can't return it if it sucks.

Hope this helps,

j.d.
Old 9th May 2006 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Ruudman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I had an A-90 for a couple of days, then I tried a Yammie...


ruudman
Old 9th May 2006 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks for the feedback. Souds like the selection is pretty weak. Man, I've always regretted getting the Motif 7 instead of the Motif 8.

I'm wondering if I should just try trading the Motif for something like the S80, which I guess has sounds that are similar to the Motif (I only really use the motif for its more organic sounds, not it's other sequencing and sampling features or synthy sounds as I have other synths).

I've heard that the Yammy action is nice.
Old 9th May 2006 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
jomo1234's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Try looking for a used yamaha s-80....88 keys, very nice action, and lots of nice sounds.
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #6
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
IMO, 88 weighted keys is mainly for piano sounds, and therefore there is no need for mod wheels and deep diving midi menus and stuff. I would recommend buying a digital piano, rather than a midi controller, and get the one that feels right. Forget the sounds, forget the features, just play it. If it has a piano sound you like, that's a bonus.

You'll need a fast lightweight synth keyboard for the fast stuff anyway, and that will give you the mod wheels and other stuff you need. Once again, buy something that feels right and don't worry about sounds and features.

I ended up with a Roland RD100 and a Korg Z1. They just feel right to me - and the sounds are just a bonus.
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
littledoodler's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Got to be a yammie, best action anywhere.
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
I remember asking around a few years back before I bought my 88-key weighted controller. Everybody had their own opinion on which brand had the best action. I had to go out to the shops and play for myself. How a musician responds to a keybord's action is very personal and unpredictable. Truly, nobody can tell you what works best for you.

If you REALLY TRULY cannot try out some controllers before purchasing, then I'd also suggest going with a Yamaha. The S80 is a great-feeling keyboard with some cool sounds--particularly the many wonderful electric piano patches--to boot. Perhaps a used S80 could fall into your budget, unless the other current owners are all like me and won't even think about parting with theirs until it snaps in half and kills their cat.
Old 10th May 2006 | Show parent
  #9
Registered User
 
astrovic's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've got the M-Audio Keystation Pro - I don't recommend it for its action, that's for sure. It's ok for a non-piano player like me - I bought it as I need a midi controller and I am gradually learning how to play piano. Once/if I've got the hang of it, I'll be getting something much better.

In the meantime, I can overlook the average action given that it gives me what I need for now. If you're looking for something that feels good to play, look elsewhere IMO.

Cheers
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks for all of the helpful responses! I really appreciate the feedback. I think I will take some extra time and audition a few different options, including the Yammy.

BTW, since it hasn't been mentioned, any opinions on the Studiologic/Fatar 88 key weighted controllers?

Cheers,
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Roger Starr's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I like the Fatar 800, the same as in Kurzweil...

Roger
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
if you want it to feel like a piano, go with the yamaha
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
synthoid's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Used RD700! Great action, quite easy to set up splits and layers, good build quality. Since the RD700SX came out the plain RD700 is a good buy.
-synthoid
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
Ok, thanks again. After looking into things a bit, I have decided not to sell my Motif7. I actually use it quite a bit and won't really get enough back on the used market. Thus, I'm just going to stretch a bit and get the best 88 keys I can afford at the moment without resorting to a trade. (Hey, my wife is not going to be thrilled with having another keyboard around the house, but that's life I guess...) This means I don't have to focus on sounds at all (between the Motif and my other synths and softsynths, I should be covered).

Here's what's on my short list to audition as of now:

Yamaha p70 digital Piano -- would get me the Yammy action without paying for an s80 to get the sounds I already have in the Motif.

Kurz SP88x -- Would only do this if I can get a really good deal (might be worth paying of Kurz sounds)

Fatar 800 if I can find one

Used Roland or Korg if I can find one in my range that I can audition

M-Audio -- I know it's not really a piano feel, but I feel obligated to try one given the price (hey, you never know, I could like it...)
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #15
D K
Lives for gear
 
D K's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Yammy - KX88 - Oldie but a great - saw one of ebay for 3 bills about 3 months ago
Old 11th May 2006
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Phil Cibley's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
My Studiologic SL 880 isn't horrible, but If you really want a Piano
feel, and don't need mod and pitchbend, why not try out a
Moog piano bar?
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Albert's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The problem with most of the "piano" style controllers is that they don't have aftertouch. If you do a lot of synth sounds, just check to be sure the controller has aftertouch.
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #18
AjD
Gear Addict
 
AjD's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Are you buying this mostly for yourself, or for various clients to use in your studio?

If it's for you, audition them all - one will speak to you. If it's for others, good luck.... that's like trying to buy one pair of shoes for everyone on a basketball team. Keyboardists are notoriously varied in their +/- reactions to "keyboard feel" - and that's just on different pianos, let alone different MIDI controllers!

Speaking for myself though, I'm not a 'proper' piano player. Rather, I'm a "producer-playing-keyboard-parts-on-people's-albums." And I'm sure I'm about to get vegetables thrown at me but...

I really like my Keystation Pro.

Yes, all the knobs and faders are useful too. But it has been a trusted daily production tool for me, and I'm talking about the feel. Maybe it's because I play a VERY wide variety of things on it - Wurlitzer parts, upright piano samples, the occasional grand, Mellotron, Hammond, even percussion triggering. Previously, I'd been using a synth-action controller, and the improvement in feel, particularily for acoustic piano parts, has been wonderful. It's hard to describe - you have to try it yourself - but it feels to me like a slightly heavier late '60s Rhodes. And often, I'm using it to trigger a Rhodes. So it's a perfect compromise.

Now, if I was seeking to dedicate a controller to replicating a real piano, I'd probably be far less forgiving. But for my more varied purposes, it's definitely in the ballpark enough. Truthfully, if I want a real piano on a record, I'll use a real piano. But there are hundreds of things I want to use my master MIDI controller for. And some of those things are pianos, some are not. For me, feel-wise, the Keystation splits the difference just right.

That said... I've also had excellent 'real' piano players sit down and knock out quick parts (often with the idea we'll replace it later on a real instrument). Every one of them has been pleased. Now, I suspect most of them don't expect much of *any* controller. I think their reaction is more like, "Wow, that actually doesn't suck" than "Holy crap, it feels better than my 9-foot Mason Hamlin!"

It's kind of trendy to talk trash about the Keystation Pro - maybe because it tries to do so many things, and does all of them pretty well, but none of them superbly. However, for people like me who are looking for a more versatile solution, it has been excellent.

Adam

Last edited by AjD; 11th May 2006 at 06:18 PM..
Old 11th May 2006 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Nut
 
SushiConQueso's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
if you like Motif Sounds....

and are looking for 88 key action, why not opt for the S90 or the S90ES? Same wave ROM in as Motif/ES (S90 ES = Motif ES) minus all the sequencer/sampler features that you probably wouldn't be using if you're connected to any DAW?

This will allow you to sell your Motif 7 and pick up an S90 in the ballpark of your budget of $600. Shop around or score a deal and you might even be able to upgrade to an S90ES at which point you'd have a great bank of sounds to use in live/production environments as well as a wonderful controller.

just my .02

And to the guys who mentioned KX88s, yea oldie but goodie. Plenty of session/live/strudio players still have them in their rigs. Heavy as ****e but built like a tank.

and yes i seem to like yamaha and yes i'm affiliated with them. bottom line though, hopefully you'll get to try out a few and as mentioned, one will speak with you. good luck on your search.
Old 12th May 2006 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Head
 
leeja32207's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Close, but no cigar?

Studiologic VMK-188 Keyboard MIDI Controller

If you like the feel of a piano-style, weighted hammer-action, velocity, and aftertouch keybed, this is the controller for you. 88 full-size keys with the aforementioned action are perfect for digging out great drum and piano sounds. Features a joystick pitch/mod controller; loads of programmable knobs, buttons, and sliders; 3 programmable pedal inputs; and a MIDI output jack. Deluxe padded carry bag, sustain pedal, and MIDI-to-USB converter included!

Only one problem...its $800.00

I copied and pased this advertisment.
Old 12th May 2006 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
2A Batterie's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I may be wrong, but I believe that the M-Audio keystation pro has had at least two generations. Most forums I read had posts saying that the first generation's action sucked; they were merely keys with hunks of plastic in them to give them weight. I've heard that the newer models have much better and realistic action. I have one of the earlier keystations, and while the action isn't great, the instrument is a good value. You can actual setup the keystation to be your DAW's controller (even Pro Tools) if you do your homework. In myopinion, the Yamaha S-90's action blows away that of the keystation. However, for $600, I think your options may exclude the s-90.
Old 12th May 2006 | Show parent
  #22
AjD
Gear Addict
 
AjD's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'd heard that about the 2nd vs. 1st gen Keystations...

Any idea how to tell which is which? I bought mine in October, if that helps (but who knows how long it was sitting at the vendor.)

In any case, I find it a very useful tool.

Adam
Old 12th May 2006 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Avoid the M-Audio Keystation. I installed it last year at a studio and they've had nothing but problems w/ it.
Old 12th May 2006 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Fatar is the supplier for almost all weighted electric pianos out there. I have a 88 Key Studio Logic keyboard controler with the weighted Fatar keys. If you are only interested in triggering sound modules and don't care that much about "Piano feel" any brand name controler will work fine.
Old 13th May 2006 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
Started auditioning this weekend. The Yammy p70 felt nice, so that might be a good way to go (actually felt better to me than the s series yammies, but that might be all in my mind.

Also, I might be able to get a good deal on a Kurz sp88x. anyone familia with this? I can't seem to find one (or a Fatar) to audition, but I've heard good things about the Kurz piano sound, which could be a good bonus.

FYI, this is for home studio use only. So weight is not a big factor for me.
Old 13th May 2006
  #26
Gear Guru
 
theblue1's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by djk
Been reading reviews and it seems like most people have love/hate relationships with main brands (i.e., CME too stiff; M-Audio too spongy, etc.) I don't have a lot of time to audition in person and might need to make this purchase online.

Any advice in the $600 range?

I may have some flexibility in price if I sell some other gear. Thinking about selling my Motif 7 to get a Motif ES Rack and then kicking in some extra dough for an 88-key controller.

Cheers,
I'm coming from a 'real' piano (a 110 year old upright grand) and I LOVE my CME UF8. (And, YEAH, I personally thought the M-Audio was really wrong. For me.)

But these things are very subjective. What pleases me will not please someone who grew up on a typical synth controller, electronic organ, or other 'plastic key' 'board.


I would say to you -- if at ALL possible -- get out there and play them all.

You're going to be pounding on this thing for many years (hopefully) it might be worth a day's trip (if you're out in the sticks) to go somewhere where you can try out all the options.


But, hell, I really love my UF8. One thing, though, there was a bit of 'rattling' when I played it that bugged me. At first, I thought it was just all the plastic parts but then, one day, I just decided to make sure all the external screws were tightened up.

Sure enough, the screws along one side of the underpanel were all in 'loose' as though the assembler was doing it the semi-right way, finger tightening everything and then going back to torque the screws down -- and then forgot to torque one side. Anyhow, I gently but firmly tightened them up and -- VOILA -- a nice, physically quiet 'board.

And -- for me -- the action is just about right. For someone else, it's not gonna be.
Old 13th May 2006 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
Ruudman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
For me, it's only Yammy P-140 at the moment. Yeah, it's oriented to the consumer market with its rca connectors and so on, but the interaction between the samples (esp. Piano 3) and the keys are outstanding. The best keybed from Yamaha in the range under P-250.

Of course, IMO.
And yes, I've tried all of them .


ruudman
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