Midi controller with built-in sounds?

Dex

Active Member
I'm not sure exactly what to call what I'm looking for.

I want a high-quality midi controller keyboard (so, pitch bend, mod wheel, faders, knobs, all that jazz) that also has some basic built-in sounds.

Why do I want the built-in sounds? Because of latency when recording midi into my DAW. The lowest latency I can achieve is 64 samples (and then only in small projects - usually I have my latency set at 128 or 256 samples) and playing with that amount of delay throws me off. What I've been doing lately is recording my midi using a cheap casio keyboard with the sound turned up on the keyboard and record monitoring off in my DAW to achieve 0 latency between hitting the keys and hearing the sounds. Needless to say, this is NOT ideal.

Does anyone have any recommendations?
 

vitocorleone123

Senior Member
What kind of sounds? I mean, what you're describing is a synthesizer, not a MIDI controller. What kind of music do make/sounds are you looking for? Monophonic? Polyphonc? Analog? Digital? How many keys on the keybed?
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
playing with that amount of delay throws me off
I'm not doubting your sensitivity, because I've met people like this before. But it is unusual to be bothered by that small amount of latency. Are you sure something besides standard latency isn't going on - plug-in delay compensation, for example?
 

jtnyc

Senior Member
I agree you should first look into what else might be causing delay. 64 samples is very small and shouldn't be very noticeable. In Logic I tend to feel latency more with live audio tracks. I can cut live guitars at 128 and not feel much latency at all. Even 256 is ok depending. 512 is too large for sure. It about the same for midi although I can deal with 256 most of the time. I program a lot of drums inputing live from my controller and it's usually fine at 256.

Do you have any plugins on your master output? This can introduce latency.
Do you have any effect plugins after the VI your recording midi for?

What DAW are you using. There may be different settings you can play with to help.
What audio/midi interface are you using?
 

Olivier1024

Member
I want a high-quality midi controller keyboard (so, pitch bend, mod wheel, faders, knobs, all that jazz) that also has some basic built-in sounds.
A solution is to add an Expander to your midi controller keyboard. You connect your keyboard to the expander with a Midi cable and connect the expander to your Audio card.

A expander can be a synthesizer, but if you need a big polyphony it could be very expensive. I own a Waldorf Streichfett, it's polyphonic and low cost, but the sound is specific and become boring if you use it everyday.

A expander can be a General MIDI Sound Module, it is polyphonic and can be low cost.
 
OP
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Dex

Active Member
What kind of sounds? I mean, what you're describing is a synthesizer, not a MIDI controller. What kind of music do make/sounds are you looking for? Monophonic? Polyphonc? Analog? Digital? How many keys on the keybed?
Just piano sounds would be fine. Polyphonic. At least 61 keys. I'm just trying to get an idea of what's out there.

I'm not doubting your sensitivity, because I've met people like this before. But it is unusual to be bothered by that small amount of latency. Are you sure something besides standard latency isn't going on - plug-in delay compensation, for example?
Yes I am sure, at least as far as PDC goes. I use REAPER, which has an easy way to display the PDC on all tracks, and I have a hotkey that I set up to disable all vst's that introduce PDC before recording.

I'm a drummer, so maybe I'm extra sensitive because of that?

64 samples is very small and shouldn't be very noticeable. In Logic I tend to feel latency more with live audio tracks. I can cut live guitars at 128 and not feel much latency at all. Even 256 is ok depending. What audio/midi interface are you using?
64 is barely noticeable, but it is still noticeable when I switch from it to my casio.

Like I said, most of the time I'm at 128 or 256 samples though, which are basically impossible to play right for me.

Interface is a Behringer u-phoria UMC204HD. It probably adds a small amount of lag. When I set it to 256 samples, it reads:

"ASIO Buffer Size 256 Samples.
Safe Mode on
Current Sample Rate: 44100 Hz
Input Latency: 454 samples (10.29ms)
Output Latency: 375 samples (8.50ms)"

(Turning safe mode off lowers latency somewhat, but results in crackles.)

and when I try to play 16th notes at say 160-200 BPM with recording monitoring on in the DAW, they frequently quantize in the wrong direction, meaning they're off by more than a 32nd note.
 
OP
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Dex

Active Member
Thanks for the sound module suggestion. That sounds like exactly what I need. I guess I could even use my current Casio keyboard as the sound module, since it has midi in. It’d be pretty bulky and annoying to keep around for that purpose alone, but it would work.
 

ryevick

Member
Just throwing it out there but I love my Yamaha MX61, great sounds all around and can be used as a controller.
 
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