New Roland A-88mk2 is ALMOST perfect

charlieclouser

Senior Member

88 keys, square shape and flat surfaces, nothing in the center for those (like me) who want to put their computer keyboard there, as compact "as possible" (but still chunky as all weighted keyboards), adjustable response (but probably not mechanically adjustable feel), 8 software assignable knobs.... looks good so far.

Add in 16 banks for the 8 drum pads which can be configured to send notes, CC messages, or program changes when pressed, and have assignable colors and you have a nifty 8-pad mini-panel for your key switches. Great!

.... and then you see the freakin' Roland pitch+mod wiggle stick, which makes using orchestral libraries that use mod wheel for dynamics control utterly impossible.

So. Close. But completely unusable. When will Roland get a clue?
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
despite the mod wheel and the $1000 price tag I might return the LX88 I just recently bought and wait for that one. I have other faders I can use. I love the ergonomics of this keyboard. will git on my desk much better.
 

Wunderhorn

Senior Member
Why do some companies insist on junky alternatives to the trusted mod wheel? There is a reason why the mod wheel is standard. I completely agree. Attractive controller keyboard with a dumb stick that makes it unusable.
 

chimuelo

Star Of Stage & Screen
Ironically the perfect Master MIDI Controller for performers and composers has been discontinued.
Viscount’s Physis K4. You can buy the EX version but that has expensive weighted action, crappy sounds, etc.

I bought a spare, and enough critical spare parts to keep me happy for another decade.

Im always looking for something better, but nothing out there was built for DAW’s and Live Performance as well as this beast.
Wish there was as I get nervous when such great products get discontinued, but basically they seem to be driving consumers to the more expensive model.

I’d love a thin controller like this but 2 x 1/4” pedals and a single USB just isn’t enough.

I think I’ll keep pestering Ulli Behringer for the dream Master MIDI Controller.
He plays, he’s see trends but most importantly he listens, even to whiny guys sniveling about costs.
 
OP
charlieclouser

charlieclouser

Senior Member
You don't use faders, charlie?
I do use faders, but the mere presence of that Roland wiggle-stick on an active MIDI input creates problems. It's quite likely to send "value=1, value=0" when you play too hard, bump something, etc. Completely unacceptable piece of tech.

For years I used the Roland RS-9 synth as a master keyboard, which is an ugly gold keyboard with a JV-1080 synth engine (that I never used even once), a few handy assignable knobs, 8 quick-preset buttons right in the middle which can be configured to change the outgoing MIDI channels on the fly (perfect for a sort of key-switching thing where you have different articulations on MIDI channels 1-8), and an amazing and perfect (for me) keyboard action that is half synth, half piano. The keyboard had piano-shaped keys with the posh red felt strip at the top, but it was not a hammer-action key bed - it had a luxurious but still fast feel. I loved that thing...

.... after I opened it up and disconnected the cable from that damned wiggle-stick.

Another peeve about the A-88mk2 is that the knobs should be ABOVE the drum pads. Idiots.

Not that it will matter or help, but I'll be sure to ream the booth staff at NAMM, though I don't think I have any friends at Roland that would make my ranting matter any.
 

bvaughn0402

Active Member
Ironically the perfect Master MIDI Controller for performers and composers has been discontinued.
Viscount’s Physis K4. You can buy the EX version but that has expensive weighted action, crappy sounds, etc.
This site makes it seem that the K4 and K4 EX have the same Fatar setup. There is another version of K4 with a different one. Wonder what is up with that?

 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
How sensitive are the drum pads? That's been my complaint about all of them I've seen so far - you have to slam them to get a response. And it's why I like the Keith McMillen BopPad so much - you can play it with your fingers or sticks.

I was in the local Guitar Center the other day, and there was a weighted Casio digital piano on sale for $400 that really amazed me (with the caveat that it wasn't powered on, I'm just talking about the feel of the keys). CDP-S350. It didn't have any wheels if I remember right, so you'd have to bring your own.
 

Robo Rivard

Senior Member
How sensitive are the drum pads? That's been my complaint about all of them I've seen so far - you have to slam them to get a response. And it's why I like the Keith McMillen BopPad so much - you can play it with your fingers or sticks.

I was in the local Guitar Center the other day, and there was a weighted Casio digital piano on sale for $400 that really amazed me (with the caveat that it wasn't powered on, I'm just talking about the feel of the keys). CDP-S350. It didn't have any wheels if I remember right, so you'd have to bring your own.
I feel like I should bring back my Roland SPD-11... I don't know how many velocity levels it supports.
 

mybadmemory

Active Member
It seems most people here add faders to their setups externally, with things like nano controls, palette gears, fader masters, etc. Does anyone here actually use faders on their keyboards to control mod and expression? Are there even any good keyboards with good faders around? I always wonder why almost no midi keyboards include at least two long throw faders for stuff like this.
 

Wunderhorn

Senior Member
Does anyone here actually use faders on their keyboards to control mod and expression?
Yes, I use faders (and of course the mod wheel) on my Nektar LX88+. Maybe they aren't the best or longest faders by any stretch but it works and it is super fast to set up via MIDI Learn. They totally suffice since I don't do a lot of meticulous live recording. I rather edit or fine-tune the automation curves later.
 

tmhuud

Brown Belt
I do use faders, but the mere presence of that Roland wiggle-stick on an active MIDI input creates problems. It's quite likely to send "value=1, value=0" when you play too hard, bump something, etc. Completely unacceptable piece of tech.
couldn’t agree more. My Roland FantomX8 is ‘almost’ perfect. But that wiggle stick. Oh....Roland.... Meh.
 

SupremeFist

Senior Member
This looks like it's aimed more towards edm/pop producers really but I never understand why they build in such a weird collection of controllers to such things. Fp10 plus eg Nanokontrol and Akai LDP8 is already more flexible...
 
OP
charlieclouser

charlieclouser

Senior Member
What are you doing in the meantime? Its a problem I'm trying to solve right now and not so well so far...
I use M-Audio KeyStation 88esMK2's. They are cheap and plastic-y, with a crap action. Perfect. 88 crap-tastic keys in pretty much the slimmest, thinnest enclosure out there. The mk2 has a useless set of transport controls right where my wrist wants to rest when I use my trackball, so I buy Alesis Q-88's, which are the rebadged versions of the Keystation without the transport buttons but strangely with a different ROM that makes the USB port more flakey, and then I take the top panel from the Alesis and graft it onto the bottom half and circuit boards of the M-Audio, leaving the cable that goes to the missing transport controls flapping around inside the case. This gives me a keyboard with a nasty Alesis logo on the top but with the guts of the M-Audio (minus the transport buttons of course). I can't use a weighted hammer action piano-style keyboard - they're too slow and syrup-like to play on, and the enclosures are always too thick top-to-bottom - but I do want 88 synth-action keys, so the M-Audio / Alesis are almost the only game in town.

They are cheap and cheerful and you can buy 'em by the sack at the local Banjo Center™. So I got a stack of 'em so when one fails I can toss it in the pile and crack open a freshie. In about five years I'm only on my second one on my main rig, so they're pretty durable. For me ergonomics are more important than key feel, so if I have to suffer crappy key feel in order to have a low-profile enclosure and preserve my ideal 28.5" height to the desk surface, so be it. I've had so many setups that were torture to sit behind past hour four, but with the computer keyboard and flush-mounted trackball above the M-Audio/Alesis keyboard, using its 3" gently sloped top panel as a wrist rest, I can work indefinitely without shoulder pain.

I did keep the Roland RS-9's though, stashed in the back, just in case nothing better comes along by the time I ever get around to building a Doepfer-style custom desk with built-in controller.

But as always, at NAMM this year the thing that will get me more excited than any synth or software would be finding the perfect master keyboard. So I'll be on the hunt.
 
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Alex Fraser

Senior Member
I use M-Audio KeyStation 88esMK2's. They are cheap and plastic-y, with a crap action. Perfect. 88 crap-tastic keys in pretty much the slimmest, thinnest enclosure out there. The mk2 has a useless set of transport controls right where my wrist wants to rest when I use my trackball, so I buy Alesis Q-88's, which are the rebadged versions of the Keystation without the transport buttons but strangely with a different ROM that makes the USB port more flakey, and then I take the top panel from the Alesis and graft it onto the bottom half and circuit boards of the M-Audio, leaving the cable that goes to the missing transport controls flapping around inside the case. This gives me a keyboard with a nasty Alesis logo on the top but with the guts of the M-Audio (minus the transport buttons of course). I can't use a weighted hammer action piano-style keyboard - they're too slow and syrup-like to play on, and the enclosures are always too thick top-to-bottom - but I do want 88 synth-action keys, so the M-Audio / Alesis are almost the only game in town.

They are cheap and cheerful and you can buy 'em by the sack at the local Banjo Center™. So I got a stack of 'em so when one fails I can toss it in the pile and crack open a freshie. In about five years I'm only on my second one on my main rig, so they're pretty durable. For me ergonomics are more important than key feel, so if I have to suffer crappy key feel in order to have a low-profile enclosure and preserve my ideal 29.5" height to the desk surface, so be it. I've had so many setups that were torture to sit behind past hour four, but with the computer keyboard and flush-mounted trackball above the M-Audio/Alesis keyboard, using its 3" gently sloped top panel as a wrist rest, I can work indefinitely without shoulder pain.

I did keep the Roland RS-9's though, stashed in the back, just in case nothing better comes along by the time I ever get around to building a Doepfer-style custom desk with built-in controller.

But as always, at NAMM this year the thing that will get me more excited than any synth or software would be finding the perfect master keyboard. So I'll be on the hunt.
Charlie - I took a hacksaw to my Keystation 88 MK2 and cut the little legs off the bottom to reduce the height. Weirdly, having the entire base of the unit on a flat surface improves the action - there's less flex. Something to try on one of your spares.. ;)