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Do you prefer synth/semi-weighted keyboards, weighted, or digital pianos for most orchestral VSTs?

  • Synth-action or semi-weighted controllers

    Votes: 7 50.0%
  • Weighted controllers

    Votes: 5 35.7%
  • Digital pianos

    Votes: 2 14.3%

  • Total voters
    14

BGM

New Member
The answer to this question that I saw many times is that weighted keyboards are better for piano VSTs, while the semi-weighted or synth-action ones are better for synths and organ.

But there are many other instruments besides pianos, synths and organs, so I would like to know which type of keyboard is better for them.



-For example, are weighted MIDI keyboards and digital pianos better for all non-sustaining instruments, whose expression, like that of the piano, mainly depends on note velocities rather than on automation via CCs?

-By non-sustaining instruments, I, of course, mean the following:
1) Other keyboard instruments besides the piano (and excluding the organ and harpsichord, which isn’t velocity-sensitive) – such as the celesta and vibes.
2) Plucked strings – such as pizzicato strings, guitar, psaltery, and harp.
3) All staccato sounds – such as staccato woodwinds and brass, and staccato strings.
4) Pitched, melodic percussion – such as the glockenspiel, marimba, and xylophone.
5) Unpitched percussion – such as various drums, cymbals, and small percussion.

Do you find it easier to play all the above instruments expressively on weighted keys, or are some of them more awkward to play on weighted boards, especially on those that require more force to reach higher velocities, as do some digital pianos (like the Yamaha P45 that I tried out)?



And concerning sustained instruments – strings, woodwinds, brass – do you find them easier to play on weighted or unweighted keys? And does the answer to that depend on whether you are playing slower or faster melodic lines?



I am now deciding whether I will buy a MIDI controller with a solid synth/semi-weighted keybed (Roland A800 Pro or Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61), or a lower-priced weighted MIDI controller or digital piano – Studiologic SL88 Studio (Fatar TP-100LR) or Yamaha P45 digital piano, plus something like Korg nanoKontrol for knobs and faders. The prices for all of those range from 340-430 EUR.

If weighted keys are better only for piano VSTs, I would buy a synth/semi-weighted controller. But if weighted action allows for more expressive playing of most other instrument types as well, then I will buy a weighted keyboard.
 

EvilDragon

KSP Wizard
As far as I'm concerned, once you learn playing on weighted boards, with practice you can be proficient enough to play any sort of sound with it. It's all about building up finger strength with the least amount of strain on tendons, and this is what you learn in piano classes in actual music schools (been there, done my 6 years elementary music school).

There is possibly just one sound that benefits from a different type of keyboard, and that is the Hammond organ. Anything else, I can play perfectly sufficiently and precisely on a good weighted board (preferably triple sensor - that REALLY helps with key repetitions, which is important with percussion, etc.). In fact, I can get even better control over velocity compared to synth or semi-weighted boards, just because my hands/muscles are already familiar to that kind of feedback from the keys.

especially on those that require more force to reach higher velocities, as do some digital pianos (like the Yamaha P45 that I tried out)

That is a matter of setting the velocity curve to fit your playing. Sometimes available presets aren't detailed enough, then I would suggest building your own velocity curves using 3rd party MIDI processors (like pizmidi plugins, or even a Kontakt multiscript).

But yes, some actions will inevitable be heavier than others.
 

AKM

New Member
Professional pianist here. Obviously prefer weighted keyboard for playing piano. For all other instruments I feel kind of weird to use a weighted keyboard, especially for synths. The only exception I'm thinking right now is harp - better control with a weighted keyboard. For all others, like, say, organs, harpsichords (which are somewhat responsive to velocity in real world) I actually prefer the lightweight synth action as it naturally more easy to play, less force waste, more speed if needed.

edited: maybe not that very exactly "prefer", I really prefer to have both weighted and semi-weighted at reach.

edited 2: still thinking about the question. So for all instruments where velocity is not important, like synths, strings with expression control - semi-weighted. For all other, like, xylophones, harps, the ones that you need to have a control especially over the quiet tones - weighted.

added: Hi Dragon, I see you everywhere around on different forums :)
 
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T-Funk

New Member
In my project studio, I a use a weighted 88-key controller for piano-related sounds (Akai MPK88) and a semi-weighted 61-key controller (Akai MPK261) for all other instrument sounds played via keyboard.
 

TheNorseman

Active Member
I prefer a good hybrid. I guess that's what you would call semi-weighted. Light action but heavy enough to where if your finger grazes a key it doesn't press it down. To me, fully weighted keys just make no sense for midi.
 

AKM

New Member
@EvilDragon
Cmon, yes, sure, but all(?) hardware synths are naturally semi-weighted (like Moogs, DX-7's, Korgs from M1 to Triton, etc.), and, yes, sure I judge from my own perspective, I tend to use fixed-velocity "normal" synths sounds quite often.

I mean I really feel it weird playing, say, some synth pads from a weighted keyboard, it just don't connect at some level :)
 
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EvilDragon

KSP Wizard
Ever played an 88 key Triton? Or a Kronos? Or M3? They have weighted keyboards. :P

I've no problems playing any synth sound on a weighted board. Absolutely no problems with connecting to the sound at any level :)
 

chimuelo

Star Of Stage & Screen
Controlling the sound is as important as controlling the notes.
I can play the shittiest (Oberheim '80s springs) or the heaviest KX88 (not the recent junkwagon) it makes no difference in pleasure or accuracy.

Master MIDI Controllers with multiple USB & MIDI Entry and eggress ports, muliple pedals, transport with selectable CC/MMC Options is what I like.
Also if theres firmware updates. If the manufacturer charges 400 bucks for one, you should buy at least 2 as they wont be servicable and last until the first contact fails (sends constant velocity of 127).

Its better to just break down and buy the best from the get go.
Digital Pianos with extra controller options are great to have at home.
Kids can learn by having parents or teachers provide the cultural nourishment.
If you want to perform get something less expensive like Casio PX-5S.
But dont buy anything until you try it.

Velocity is as important as after touch.
If theres no programmable tables, youre going to have to accept what others consider worthy.
Linear is the usual default.
Like headphone designs meant as a one size/sound fits all.
I use several different curves for hardware (external) and internal sounds or PC Based apps.
Aftertouch curves are the same.

Then again, one size fits all might be good enough.
You get what you pay for.
 

Quasar

Senior Member
I have two keyboards, full graded hammer weighted Yamaha 88 digital piano (CP33) and a 61 Novation Impulse with IMO a very good light action and aftertouch, as well as the gamut of knobs and faders.

I am a piano player and like the weighted for anything percussive and some non-percussive VIs. I appreciate the lighter 61 key action for orchestral strings (solo especially) and to a lesser extent brass and WWs, as well as electric and acoustic virtual guitars, where the softer and more nuanced tactile experience is better for pitch-bending and the like.

But if I had to choose one, I would definitely want the fully weighted keys, on which one can play anything. The converse is not true. Trying to play piano on a lightweight synth bed is simply horrible.
 
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