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M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro vs. Arturia KeyLab 88

musicalweather

Senior Member
Would be interested in your opinions about these two boards. I'm looking for a weighted keyboard controller that has some sliders, knobs, and pads. These two are at the top of my list right now. I know there's the Native Instrument 88-key controller, but I don't think I would be able to take advantage of its NKS ability since most of my Kontakt libraries and NI products reside on slave computers.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts about the action of the keyboards. I'm a piano player so don't mind a realistic action. I previously had a Yamaha S90 with excellent action. Unfortunately, it is in need of repair now.

Thanks for your thoughts!

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/de...udio-hammer-88-pro-88-key-keyboard-controller

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/de...a-keylab-88-mkii-weighted-keyboard-controller
 


Here's a video describing how he initially got the Keylab 88mkii, but ended up returning it in favor of the M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro. I have the M-Audio Hammer 88 (non pro since the pro version was released like 2 months after I bought the non pro version :sad:) and I personally love it, so I'm assuming the pro version is also fantastic.
 

fourier

Active Member
Having the keylab 88mkii myself I think it's good to point out the "thud" of the keys, they are indeed heavy and for my sake it's been a bit bothersome that my daughter might wake up next room because the noise travels quite well. As for own use, I really enjoy that the keys are heavy and responsive, and the key noise is never a focus. I find it highly easy to use, and to set up user presets is a breeze. I use the knobs and faders for shaping sounds, so I agree that it's a bit excessive if CC1/CC11 is what you need to play around with solely for orchestral composition.

Never tried the M-audio Hammer Pro 88, so I have no clue how it compares. I'm a self-taught pianist, so I'm also a poor reference for what classical trained pianists might approve or disapprove of, but it suits me well and I'm very happy with the purchase.
 
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musicalweather

musicalweather

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Here's a video describing how he initially got the Keylab 88mkii, but ended up returning it in favor of the M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro. I have the M-Audio Hammer 88 (non pro since the pro version was released like 2 months after I bought the non pro version :sad:) and I personally love it, so I'm assuming the pro version is also fantastic.

Thanks! That was helpful. Looks like the action on the Arturia is not so great. Anyway, it seems the Arturia is not in stock in most places. Still, I'd be interested to hear people's impressions of either one of these keyboards.
 
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musicalweather

musicalweather

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Having the keylab 88mkii myself I think it's good to point out the "thud" of the keys, they are indeed heavy and for my sake it's been a bit bothersome that my daughter might wake up next room because the noise travels quite well. As for own use, I really enjoy that the keys are heavy and responsive, and the key noise is never a focus. I find it highly easy to use, and to set up user presets is a breeze. I use the knobs and faders for shaping sounds, so I agree that it's a bit excessive if CC1/CC11 is what you need to play around with solely for orchestral composition.

Never tried the M-audio Hammer Pro 88, so I have no clue how it compares. I'm a self-taught pianist, so I'm also a poor reference for what classical trained pianists might approve or disapprove of, but it suits me well and I'm very happy with the purchase.
Thanks for this info. I think the thud might bother me, maybe more so than the heaviness of the keys. Most of the time I use CC1 and CC11, but there are times when I need more than that.
 

Ray Cole

Member
The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro is one I've been eyeing too. It was a no-brainer for me until I saw this on YouTube. This reviewer seems to also be the one who posted a similar review in text on the Sweetwater page for the Hammer 88 Pro. Now I'm a little spooked to buy it.



I'm leaning toward buying one anyway and hoping for the best; this is the only reviewer so far who's had a problem with stuck notes on the Hammer 88 Pro (though it seems the replacement unit he got ALSO suffered from this same problem). Could it be a problem with a cable or a software bug not related to the Hammer 88 Pro? I don't know. I almost wish I hadn't seen this video. I assume M-Audio will eventually sort it out if it's a widespread problem with the keyboard. But again, no one else is mentioning it, so it's hard to know how to evaluate the issue.
 
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musicalweather

musicalweather

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The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro is one I've been eyeing too. It was a no-brainer for me until I saw this on YouTube. This reviewer seems to also be the one who posted a similar review in text on the Sweetwater page for the Hammer 88 Pro. Now I'm a little spooked to buy it.



I'm leaning toward buying one anyway and hoping for the best; this is the only reviewer so far who's had a problem with stuck notes on the Hammer 88 Pro (though it seems the replacement unit he got ALSO suffered from this same problem). Could it be a problem with a cable or a software bug not related to the Hammer 88 Pro? I don't know. I almost wish I hadn't seen this video. I assume M-Audio will eventually sort it out if it's a widespread problem with the keyboard. But again, no one else is mentioning it, so it's hard to know how to evaluate the issue.

Thanks for your thoughts. I dunno, I think his may have been a unique situation: using a 5-pin connector to trigger hardware. He said the problem did not occur as much (or at all) with a USB connection. Obviously, it doesn't work for him, especially for live gigging. But I'm inclined to think this problem will show up less with the standard USB connection.

I'll add that I have an M-Audio 88 (not the pro version), which I got a few years ago. The action is fine. I believe I did have to send the first unit back because of problems with the action. It wasn't stuck notes but more that the keys weren't depressing properly. Honestly, I don't remember it that well. I think I made a quick decision to send it back, got the new unit and everything was fine. Anyway, I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who has the pro version, just to make sure all the sliders and knobs and such work properly.
 

cuttime

Active Member
Arturia KL88 MKII owner here. I generally like it a lot, as I'm a classically trained pianist, but the keys aren't as responsive as I'd like. If I was whipping through a Scarlatti Sonata, I think my accuracy might suffer, as the keys are just a tad bit sluggish. They also have a bit of a mushy feel, but I think that is the price one pays for aftertouch (mono, only). I think it bears saying that the NI S88 uses the exact same keybed, the Fatar TP/100LR. I don't play classical concerts on it though, and the wealth of other features outweighs the flaws. I might add the pads are poly aftertouch, something that I didn't find documented anywhere. Keybeds are such a subjective preference, I really suggest trying before buying, but with stock shortages of a lot of things worldwide right now, a side-by-side comparison might be difficult.

I don't know what the YouTube reviewer is talking about when he says the build is plastic. Absolutely not so...almost entirely metal.
 
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Trentotto

New Member
I tested the Hammer 88 and found it the worst possible keyboard. The action is like dough, a filter between the emotion and the keyboard. This is of course personal. Try it out. I like Yamaha's and Studiologic's and Arturia's action and I like Fatar keybeds - and I strongly dislike M-Audio and Roland action (just so you get a bearing). I really got into searching for my ideal keyboard. I tested the Keylab 88 and it is direct which I like. Not dough or glue-like like M-Audio or Roland PHA-4. I liked the keylab88 II. You get the same keybed in the Studiologic SL88 Studio for half the price. I actually bought an old Studiologic 990 which has a very good action - lighter than today's Fatar 100. I recommend taking a look at the Studiologic SL88 Grand with the Fatar 040 keybed and wooden keys. Same price as Arturia, but a higher quality keybed. Hard to find a sample to test, though. I sent an email to Studiologic/Fatar's US distributor where I could test one and they didn't bother to reply.
 

Niah2

Senior Member
Hmm I'm considering the Arturia KL88 MKII and most reviews I find on YT seem the love the key action.
 

woafmann

Member
I tested the Hammer 88 and found it the worst possible keyboard. The action is like dough, a filter between the emotion and the keyboard. This is of course personal. Try it out. I like Yamaha's and Studiologic's and Arturia's action and I like Fatar keybeds - and I strongly dislike M-Audio and Roland action (just so you get a bearing). I really got into searching for my ideal keyboard. I tested the Keylab 88 and it is direct which I like. Not dough or glue-like like M-Audio or Roland PHA-4. I liked the keylab88 II. You get the same keybed in the Studiologic SL88 Studio for half the price. I actually bought an old Studiologic 990 which has a very good action - lighter than today's Fatar 100. I recommend taking a look at the Studiologic SL88 Grand with the Fatar 040 keybed and wooden keys. Same price as Arturia, but a higher quality keybed. Hard to find a sample to test, though. I sent an email to Studiologic/Fatar's US distributor where I could test one and they didn't bother to reply.
The SL88 Grand sounds...well, grand. However, the lack of aftertouch is a deal-breaker for me. The search continues for a good controller. I'm also considering semi-weighted or even a synth-action keybed. Even though I'm a pianist, for composing fast orchestral passages, too often, the "hammer action weighted" keybeds just don't have the response I'm looking for.

EDIT: Musician's Friend erroneously shows the SL88 Grand as NOT having aftertouch. After some research, it's been proven to have aftertouch!. I now am considering the SL88 Grand or perhaps the SL Numa Compact 2X for my new controller.

Thanks for the suggestion, @Trentotto!
 
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alcorey

Weather the Storm
I've had the Hammer 88Pro for about 4 months now and I'm pretty happy with it. I have it connected via USB to my Mac running Logic. No gigging.
I have had a few times where a note was sounding, and I could see it as depressed in the Kontakt keyboard interface, but it wasn't being held down. I then could touch the key and it would release.

This has happened maybe 3 or 4 times and was easily fixed. Never seemed to happen during a performance or while working out a tune, so for me it's not an issue and I felt that if it occurs more often to more people it will get resolved by M Audio.

That is the only negative thing I can say because other than that it has performed and felt as good or better than any other keyboard I've played.

I just noticed the OP posted this back in May and probably has found his solution by now - if so, let us know please
 

MannyF

New Member
I sent an email to Studiologic/Fatar's US distributor where I could test one and they didn't bother to reply.
Their support is apparently non-existent. I emailed Fatar with a question about their keybeds and never even got a reply.
I've had the Hammer 88Pro for about 4 months now and I'm pretty happy with it. I have it connected via USB to my Mac running Logic. No gigging.
I have had a few times where a note was sounding, and I could see it as depressed in the Kontakt keyboard interface, but it wasn't being held down. I then could touch the key and it would release.

This has happened maybe 3 or 4 times and was easily fixed. Never seemed to happen during a performance or while working out a tune, so for me it's not an issue and I felt that if it occurs more often to more people it will get resolved by M Audio.
If it only happened with Kontakt could it have been specific to a particular library or Kontakt itself? I've experienced hung notes with some plugins, even just using the mouse and the GUI keyboard, and it's always the same plugin.
 
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Niah2

Senior Member
I have the arturia keylab 88 mkii for a couple of months now and I love it. Please take notice though that I am coming from using an old and now discontinued m-audio keystation 88 pro. Being using that keyboard for more than 15 years I believe and it was already in a pretty bad shape when I left it. So coming from that to the arturia was a huge difference for me.

So far so good.
 
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