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New Roland A-88mk2 is ALMOST perfect

ckett

New Member
I've been trying a few 88-key keyboards. Here are my subjective observations:

Roland A88mk2- This is a very excellent controller. The build quality is typical Roland, mostly solid. I actually like the pitch stick for doing pitch bends. Having the knobs and buttons is a nice add but not very usable given how far to the left they are located. The keys are very well constructed. Quiet, not clacky. They are on the heavy side. After an hour of playing my fingers began to tire out. Even though they are heavy you can still play faster phrases. I find the slower/heavier feel to be more in how fast the keys release back up. They are a little slow in this regard. All in all a very good product.

Casio PX-S3000- This was a surprise. Build quality is not too bad. All plastic and very light weight. Very thin and compact. The key action is very interesting. It is the lightest action of all that I have tried out. Very fast key action with just enough weight to feel like you are playing something like a piano. Works really well for synth work and other instrument sounds that need to be played faster. The keys are mostly on the silent side. They make a strange kind of rattle when you release the keys. It isnt a fault in quality but part of the compact design mechanism. And this keyboard includes a pitch wheel!

Korg D1- Fairly good build quality. Had to order 3 as the other 2 had damaged keys during shipment. Korg use a very small box with very little foam protection so any shock during shipping can break the keys. The key action is very good. Quick, responsive action. Lighter weight than the Roland PHA-4 but not a light action either. The keys have a little bit of a hard bottom that makes a distinct contact sound even when playing softly. Kind of a very soft pop to it. Compact size with no pitch or mod controls. No USB midi.

Roland RD2000- Very good build quality. Very heavy! You get the Roland pitch stick plus two mod wheels. Knob encoders and sliders are so so. This keyboard is all about the action. The PHA-50 key action is fantastic. Lighter than the A88 with a faster release response from the keys. The weight is very similar to the Korg D1. Quiet downward contact, no clacky sound. Just a pleasure to play on.

Other mentions:

Native Instruments S88 mkii - This was the keyboard I wanted to work the most. It is such an impressive design. Pitch mod wheels on the side, 8 encoders with beautiful LCD screens. No sliders though. It came down to the keys. Sluggish, heavy, not a joy to play. I tried out 5 different boards and they all had one or two defective keys that would click or clack. If this keyboard had any of the above listed keybeds it would be amazing!

M-Audio Hammer 88- Not bad! Heavy-ish action. A little clacky at times.

Hope this helps some people with their search!
 

dcoscina

Senior Member
I've been trying a few 88-key keyboards. Here are my subjective observations:

Roland A88mk2- This is a very excellent controller. The build quality is typical Roland, mostly solid. I actually like the pitch stick for doing pitch bends. Having the knobs and buttons is a nice add but not very usable given how far to the left they are located. The keys are very well constructed. Quiet, not clacky. They are on the heavy side. After an hour of playing my fingers began to tire out. Even though they are heavy you can still play faster phrases. I find the slower/heavier feel to be more in how fast the keys release back up. They are a little slow in this regard. All in all a very good product.

Casio PX-S3000- This was a surprise. Build quality is not too bad. All plastic and very light weight. Very thin and compact. The key action is very interesting. It is the lightest action of all that I have tried out. Very fast key action with just enough weight to feel like you are playing something like a piano. Works really well for synth work and other instrument sounds that need to be played faster. The keys are mostly on the silent side. They make a strange kind of rattle when you release the keys. It isnt a fault in quality but part of the compact design mechanism. And this keyboard includes a pitch wheel!

Korg D1- Fairly good build quality. Had to order 3 as the other 2 had damaged keys during shipment. Korg use a very small box with very little foam protection so any shock during shipping can break the keys. The key action is very good. Quick, responsive action. Lighter weight than the Roland PHA-4 but not a light action either. The keys have a little bit of a hard bottom that makes a distinct contact sound even when playing softly. Kind of a very soft pop to it. Compact size with no pitch or mod controls. No USB midi.

Roland RD2000- Very good build quality. Very heavy! You get the Roland pitch stick plus two mod wheels. Knob encoders and sliders are so so. This keyboard is all about the action. The PHA-50 key action is fantastic. Lighter than the A88 with a faster release response from the keys. The weight is very similar to the Korg D1. Quiet downward contact, no clacky sound. Just a pleasure to play on.

Other mentions:

Native Instruments S88 mkii - This was the keyboard I wanted to work the most. It is such an impressive design. Pitch mod wheels on the side, 8 encoders with beautiful LCD screens. No sliders though. It came down to the keys. Sluggish, heavy, not a joy to play. I tried out 5 different boards and they all had one or two defective keys that would click or clack. If this keyboard had any of the above listed keybeds it would be amazing!

M-Audio Hammer 88- Not bad! Heavy-ish action. A little clacky at times.

Hope this helps some people with their search!
Yup your assessment is pretty much the same as mine. I'm actually dreading when my PC3x dies because I love the action. It's light enough for orchestral composing but still heavy enough for piano playing. The 8 faders are terrific and it's got a low profile so it can sit on top of my desk without causing carpal tunnel.
 

ckett

New Member
Yup your assessment is pretty much the same as mine. I'm actually dreading when my PC3x dies because I love the action. It's light enough for orchestral composing but still heavy enough for piano playing. The 8 faders are terrific and it's got a low profile so it can sit on top of my desk without causing carpal tunnel.
Have tried the keys on the PC4? Wondering if they are any good.
 

dcoscina

Senior Member
Have tried the keys on the PC4? Wondering if they are any good.
I have indeed! They seem very similar to the PC3 and were it not for the high price, I probably would move to that. My only issue is that the keybed is housed in a cheap plastic case, unless the PC3x which is a metal chassis. I think this somewhat affects the aesthetic appeal of the key action. But they are similar in balance and throw. I also like that the PC4 has those programmable sliders. It is much superior to the S88mk2 which I think I'd get frustrated with. I had one in my studio on loan from the store I work at and I recall not loving it. I had the A88 for a good month and loved the key action but it is a very deep set keybed and really needs to be under a desk not on top. And I missed the mod wheel and sliders.

The PC4 also has some nice newer samples from the Forte and Artis series so it's nice as a stand alone instrument as well. And the built in sequencer is far more intelligent than the previous one. It's a good board but I think it's already been discontinued... :(

Kurzweil should gut the PC series and just sell a controller with no sounds for let's say $1295 CAD. That would put it in direct competition with the Roland and Native INstruments. I'd buy that in a second.
 

Markrs

Complete Beginner
I've been trying a few 88-key keyboards. Here are my subjective observations:

Roland A88mk2- This is a very excellent controller. The build quality is typical Roland, mostly solid. I actually like the pitch stick for doing pitch bends. Having the knobs and buttons is a nice add but not very usable given how far to the left they are located. The keys are very well constructed. Quiet, not clacky. They are on the heavy side. After an hour of playing my fingers began to tire out. Even though they are heavy you can still play faster phrases. I find the slower/heavier feel to be more in how fast the keys release back up. They are a little slow in this regard. All in all a very good product.

Casio PX-S3000- This was a surprise. Build quality is not too bad. All plastic and very light weight. Very thin and compact. The key action is very interesting. It is the lightest action of all that I have tried out. Very fast key action with just enough weight to feel like you are playing something like a piano. Works really well for synth work and other instrument sounds that need to be played faster. The keys are mostly on the silent side. They make a strange kind of rattle when you release the keys. It isnt a fault in quality but part of the compact design mechanism. And this keyboard includes a pitch wheel!

Korg D1- Fairly good build quality. Had to order 3 as the other 2 had damaged keys during shipment. Korg use a very small box with very little foam protection so any shock during shipping can break the keys. The key action is very good. Quick, responsive action. Lighter weight than the Roland PHA-4 but not a light action either. The keys have a little bit of a hard bottom that makes a distinct contact sound even when playing softly. Kind of a very soft pop to it. Compact size with no pitch or mod controls. No USB midi.

Roland RD2000- Very good build quality. Very heavy! You get the Roland pitch stick plus two mod wheels. Knob encoders and sliders are so so. This keyboard is all about the action. The PHA-50 key action is fantastic. Lighter than the A88 with a faster release response from the keys. The weight is very similar to the Korg D1. Quiet downward contact, no clacky sound. Just a pleasure to play on.

Other mentions:

Native Instruments S88 mkii - This was the keyboard I wanted to work the most. It is such an impressive design. Pitch mod wheels on the side, 8 encoders with beautiful LCD screens. No sliders though. It came down to the keys. Sluggish, heavy, not a joy to play. I tried out 5 different boards and they all had one or two defective keys that would click or clack. If this keyboard had any of the above listed keybeds it would be amazing!

M-Audio Hammer 88- Not bad! Heavy-ish action. A little clacky at times.

Hope this helps some people with their search!
Fantatstic review of similar 88 key keyboards, appreciate the effort in this. I have the FP10 with Roland PHA-4 keybed which I find a bit sluggish with a slower than ideal release. But this is my first digital piano so will do for me for a few more years.
 

ALittleNightMusic

Former Member
Ask and ye shall receive


holy shit...

MAP is $599 USD... yeah, no sliders and no mod wheel (why Kurzweil, why???) but at that price I will plunk a Korg Nano Kontrol on top and that's it.

No release date? Sweetwater says “expected in a few months”.
 

dcoscina

Senior Member
No release date? Sweetwater says “expected in a few months”.
yeah that's about right... This model was announced at NAMM 2020 but aside from a mere glimpse from PianoMan Chuck's YT video, there was nary any info about it. Looks like development took a little longer... But great price if it's the same keybed as the PC4
 

bill5

Senior Member
Casio PX-S3000- This was a surprise. Build quality is not too bad. All plastic and very light weight. Very thin and compact. The key action is very interesting. It is the lightest action of all that I have tried out. Very fast key action with just enough weight to feel like you are playing something like a piano. Works really well for synth work and other instrument sounds that need to be played faster. The keys are mostly on the silent side.
FWIW (maybe nothing) I haven't tried that model, but every Casio keyboard I ever tried had loud, klunky keys. I only wish I lived near someplace that had it on demo...
 

Henrik B. Jensen

Senior Member
I haven’t read the thread, but just a quick tip about Rolands “modwheel”:

You can remove a steel spring ”under the hood” to make the modwheel stick not jump back to 0 when pushed upwards.

I did that with my Roland A-49 - works fine.
 

ckett

New Member
FWIW (maybe nothing) I haven't tried that model, but every Casio keyboard I ever tried had loud, klunky keys. I only wish I lived near someplace that had it on demo...
The lower end Casio keys have kind of made a rattle noise in the past. This new series is much improved. I would take this key-bed over any synth key-bed midi controller out there.
 

bill5

Senior Member
Not sure where you're drawing the line, but I'm including the Privia line in there (granted not controllers).
 
Oh good to know! I had an SL73 Studio for a bit and felt that was much too heavy for non-piano parts. Wonder how the S88 compares to that. Maybe I will just prefer a semi-weighted 88 key controller (have the grand in the other room if I want a real piano anyway).

I have my Yahama P-155 which has pretty nice action for me. Easy to play double-tongued trumpets, so can't be that bad!

Just to add to this, I had a SL88 Studio and found it too heavy, too sluggish, so i swapped it for the M-Audio Hammer 88 and it was love at first play! For me, the Hammer-88 is certainly a crisper action than the more sluggish SL, it's also lighter too. I got it to play piano, but now use it for everything, synths, leads the lot. i was going to use it with my Novation SL61 Mk3 which has a semi-weighted keybed, the Hammer for the piano stuff, the Novation for everything else. I've ended up using the Hammer 88 for everything and the SL61 is under dust covers in the corner, practically redundant!

If you can get to a store give the Hammer 88 try, it's a great controller and when you take into account the price, it's an amazing deal. If you can't visit a store,get a good returns option when you buy online, well worth the risk of trying it if you're tempted. I love mine!
 

ALittleNightMusic

Former Member
Well tried out my Yamaha P-155 under my desk today. Must tip my hat to those of you who have figured out a working solution of the keyboard under the desk, but for me, it was just ergonomically horrible. No space for the legs unless you raise the desk, but then the computer keyboard and mouse height is awkward. Stretching over the MIDI keyboard to type something in or edit via the mouse gave me a back ache after 20 minutes. I've gone back to my trusty setup of an S61 on the desk surface in front of me, with my computer keyboard and mouse in front of it.
 

IFM

Senior Member
Well time to dig this thread up. I possibly am looking to replace the S88mkII with a controller that doesn't have anything in the center so that I can place the Mac's wireless keyboard there instead.

So far I see that leaves the LMK2+, Hammer 88, and the A88mkII.

From any photo and video, it's somewhat hard to tell the angle that the H88 has on the casing as I'd be concerned about the keyboard moving. The Roland and Doepfer are flat. I noticed Christian doing this same thing with his LMK. I also would need to attach the tiny tablet I use for CC on the left, but that gets mounted down so not worried about pitch angle there.
 
Well time to dig this thread up. I possibly am looking to replace the S88mkII with a controller that doesn't have anything in the center so that I can place the Mac's wireless keyboard there instead.

So far I see that leaves the LMK2+, Hammer 88, and the A88mkII.

From any photo and video, it's somewhat hard to tell the angle that the H88 has on the casing as I'd be concerned about the keyboard moving. The Roland and Doepfer are flat. I noticed Christian doing this same thing with his LMK. I also would need to attach the tiny tablet I use for CC on the left, but that gets mounted down so not worried about pitch angle there.
I've done exactly this with my Hammer 88 and I love the setup, there's nothing to get in the way! I've a couple of midi controllers and either a laptop or a QWERTY keyboard and monitor on mine and it's working a treat.

I made a little shelf at the back on the H88 so that there's a little more space to put things on. I bought a simple length of decking timber. I it cut to the length of the H88 and with the off-cuts I made too legs to the height of the H88 and fixed the shelf across it, worked out way better than I thought, love this setup now!

There is a little slope, I'd guess less than an inch drop from the back of the H88 to the very front where it meets the keys. But the QWERTY keyboard sits on it fine without sliding etc. I've got some of those self adhesive felts protector pads under the kit, so it doesn't scratch the H88 panel and that gives it a bit of grip too.

The little slope that is there is great as it angles the gear to a more readable position, if totally flat I found I was having to look down and over them, whereas with the tiny slope, they're angled towards me.

Because this works so well, I'm not worried about sliding the H88 under a desk when not in use, it's pretty much in use all the time! Also, I am tempted to buy another piece of timber and make a keyboard cover for it, so if I do a lot at the PC, I'll simply layer this piece across the keys and it'll become an arm rest - similar to a piano keyboard lid on a real piano.

Also, I'd said before, I love the H-88 for the price it's unbeatable and it feels a lot more expensive than it is!

Hope this helps, give me a shout if you'd like more accurate dimensions, I'm away from the H-88 right now, but can update later etc.

Cheers,

Andy.
 

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IFM

Senior Member
I've done exactly this with my Hammer 88 and I love the setup, there's nothing to get in the way! I've a couple of midi controllers and either a laptop or a QWERTY keyboard and monitor on mine and it's working a treat.


Cheers,

Andy.
Thanks for this! May just end up getting one. The S88, which I do like, would go to replace the Keylab 88 (original) in my live/synth set since the KL88 has some issues with worn graphics and a faulty slider. It can be a spare.
 
Thanks for this! May just end up getting one. The S88, which I do like, would go to replace the Keylab 88 (original) in my live/synth set since the KL88 has some issues with worn graphics and a faulty slider. It can be a spare.
Sounds a good plan, I've said it before, but I do love the Hammer-88, but then one person's dream keybed is another's nightmare, you never know until you play them! But i highly recommend the H-88, best purchase I've made in ages!
 
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