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NI s88 MK2 or high quality stage piano - Is it worth to get an NI s88 just for the light guide?

romplin

New Member
I want a new master keyboard. Mostly for all my Cubase related tasks, but I want also a really good keyboard action for playing piano.

For me it's very important that the feel from the key actions and MIDI output velocity is really great. That means good dynamic response for pianissimo/forte and no difference between white/black keys. Maybe even triple sensors for the key action? And I did not read too many good things about the used Fatar key action in the s88 mk2.

I think a good stage piano would be best as it has probably a better key action than the s88 mk2. Having good internal sounds is not a must, but would be a nice to have. It's nice to sit down and just be able to play with no computer running. Also because the internal sounds are often very well adapted to the key action - I have not much experience with digital stage pianos, but at least I imagine it this way compared to using a MIDI keyboard with external Sample libs?

At the same time the light guide seems very handy when you use Kontakt to see the key switches. But as I understand it you must load the Komplete Kontrol software on a track in your sequencer to be able to use the light guide, right? So without Komplete Kontrol no light guide?

And what about aftertouch? I had a couple of synth action keyboards with after touch and actually never used it. Does anyone find it usefull for orchestral work to have it? As stage piano usually don't have aftertouch, so this could be a plus for the s88 mk2.

I'm looking for some experience from people who have used the s88 MK2 for a longer time. Do you think that the light guide is so important/useful for sequencing work that it's worth getting the s88 MK2 instead of a good stage piano with probably a better key action and internal sound?
 
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Rob Elliott

Senior Member
Here is my brutal opinion on the S88. I had the original a couple years back and had to sell after 7-8 months. The 'clanky' keys was just TOO DISTRACTING. I actually didn't mind the 'action' per se (I am a pianist) but the noise kinda took me out of the flow sometimes. Having said that - AFTER I sold the S88 - I really missed the integration with NKS libraries. And now with the mk2 THAT is even stronger.

I went back to my archaic but 'near perfect' S90 es Yamaha action - but I am again considering picking up the mk2.

I am beginning to think that the wonderful integration / Lightbridge functionality is 'worth' the inferior keybed experience.

Now someone reading this that owns the mk2 (and purchased it for similar reasons as mine) - says 'hold off Elliott - don't do it.....) It just might give me pause. So - have at it mk2 owners...… :)
 

whinecellar

Jim Daneker
Following. I absolutely hate the clanky, noisy, awkward-feeling action in those keyboards (just my $.02), and I wholeheartedly agree that the Yamaha action is about as good as it gets... which makes me wish NI would release essentially just the light guide in some sort of strip that attaches to any keyboard! Here’s dreaming...
 

Rob Elliott

Senior Member
Following. I absolutely hate the clanky, noisy, awkward-feeling action in those keyboards (just my $.02), and I wholeheartedly agree that the Yamaha action is about as good as it gets... which makes me wish NI would release essentially just the light guide in some sort of strip that attaches to any keyboard! Here’s dreaming...
Oh now that would be brilliant - BUT - the S88 sales would plummet. :)
 

TigerTheFrog

Amateur
It's a personal decision, but for me the S88 mk2 is totally worth it. The light guide is just one of a list of reasons.

Searching through your instruments on a mk2 is a completely different experience. Much better than my first gen S49. It's not just having the pictures--it's the way the knobs and buttons integrate with the browsing experience.

The Cubase integration is much more extensive. It's not just start/stop/record etc. like before. It's got mute/solo... quantize if you like that sort of thing. It's pretty amazing to see the tracks of your mixer animated in your keyboard, and then be able to set the levels on all of them with the knobs.

It works very well with a lot of non-NKS instruments and effects right out of the box. I don't know how, but it does. And there are companies like Freelance Soundlabs that create inexpensive templates for things like Omnisphere and Falcon and the Korg Collection.

Using it with effects is one of its least appreciated features. I know there is still a lot of room for improvement here, but if you are the type to just set up an effects plugin the way you like it and then leave it, KK is very useful. I don't think it works with automation, at least it didn't.

I only got it a few weeks ago and I'm still discovering new things about it. Last night I was messing around with the favorites.

There are limitations to KK though--you can't load multis with it. There are many situations where I have to use regular Kontakt. I wish that wasn't so.

But I love it my S88. The functionality more than makes up for any reservations I have about it as a keyboard. I would have liked to have had the action of my S49 instead of the S88's weighted keys, but you can't have everything.
 

Rob Elliott

Senior Member
It's a personal decision, but for me the S88 mk2 is totally worth it. The light guide is just one of a list of reasons.

Searching through your instruments on a mk2 is a completely different experience. Much better than my first gen S49. It's not just having the pictures--it's the way the knobs and buttons integrate with the browsing experience.

The Cubase integration is much more extensive. It's not just start/stop/record etc. like before. It's got mute/solo... quantize if you like that sort of thing. It's pretty amazing to see the tracks of your mixer animated in your keyboard, and then be able to set the levels on all of them with the knobs.

It works very well with a lot of non-NKS instruments and effects right out of the box. I don't know how, but it does. And there are companies like Freelance Soundlabs that create inexpensive templates for things like Omnisphere and Falcon and the Korg Collection.

Using it with effects is one of its least appreciated features. I know there is still a lot of room for improvement here, but if you are the type to just set up an effects plugin the way you like it and then leave it, KK is very useful. I don't think it works with automation, at least it didn't.

I only got it a few weeks ago and I'm still discovering new things about it. Last night I was messing around with the favorites.

There are limitations to KK though--you can't load multis with it. There are many situations where I have to use regular Kontakt. I wish that wasn't so.

But I love it my S88. The functionality more than makes up for any reservations I have about it as a keyboard. I would have liked to have had the action of my S49 instead of the S88's weighted keys, but you can't have everything.
Thanks for taking the time to explain the benefits to your workflow. These are all workflow things I would 'miss' once having and then taken away. :(

At the end of the day I LOVE my Yamaha action - BUT - my clients don't really care so much about that. :) They just want what they want - and they wanted yesterday. :(
 

StillLife

Senior Member
It's a personal decision, but for me the S88 mk2 is totally worth it. The light guide is just one of a list of reasons.

Searching through your instruments on a mk2 is a completely different experience. Much better than my first gen S49. It's not just having the pictures--it's the way the knobs and buttons integrate with the browsing experience.

The Cubase integration is much more extensive. It's not just start/stop/record etc. like before. It's got mute/solo... quantize if you like that sort of thing. It's pretty amazing to see the tracks of your mixer animated in your keyboard, and then be able to set the levels on all of them with the knobs.

It works very well with a lot of non-NKS instruments and effects right out of the box. I don't know how, but it does. And there are companies like Freelance Soundlabs that create inexpensive templates for things like Omnisphere and Falcon and the Korg Collection.

Using it with effects is one of its least appreciated features. I know there is still a lot of room for improvement here, but if you are the type to just set up an effects plugin the way you like it and then leave it, KK is very useful. I don't think it works with automation, at least it didn't.

I only got it a few weeks ago and I'm still discovering new things about it. Last night I was messing around with the favorites.

There are limitations to KK though--you can't load multis with it. There are many situations where I have to use regular Kontakt. I wish that wasn't so.

But I love it my S88. The functionality more than makes up for any reservations I have about it as a keyboard. I would have liked to have had the action of my S49 instead of the S88's weighted keys, but you can't have everything.
You can switch to normal kontakt view within KK. With any Kontakt instrument loaded into KK, go to 'view' and choose edit view. Then you can build multi's using your mouse. Just be aware that the light guide and the knobs will always refer to the instrument you loaded first.
 
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romplin

New Member
Following. I absolutely hate the clanky, noisy, awkward-feeling action in those keyboards (just my $.02), and I wholeheartedly agree that the Yamaha action is about as good as it gets... which makes me wish NI would release essentially just the light guide in some sort of strip that attaches to any keyboard! Here’s dreaming...
Yes that's a nice idea with an individual light guide strip. :) I was hoping for some 3rd party script that you could use with a launchpad pro just to show the key switches.

Do you hate the Mk1 or was it the Mk2? Noisy key action is also a thing I really dislike.
 
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romplin

New Member
By the way, it's such a relieve to hear that I'm not the only one who finds this decision difficult. ;)

I'm not so interested in the other Komplete Kontrol integration, it's really just the light guide. I'm fine nowadays to use the mouse for most things. And for the other stuff I have an midi controller with some knobs and fader (for expression and other midi CC).

Actually I would like to to have everything from the body besides the keys itself hidden below my table.

Just to get it right, you must load your VST plugin - also Kontakt - inside the Komplete Kontrol plugin to have any use from the light guide. Otherwise it's not usable, correct?
 

Rob Elliott

Senior Member
Yes that's a nice idea with an individual light guide strip. :) I was hoping for some 3rd party script that you could use with a launchpad pro just to show the key switches.

Do you hate the Mk1 or was it the Mk2? Noisy key action is also a thing I really dislike.
I had the Mk1 which was uber clanky / noisey. I understand that the 'fix' on the mk2 is ONLY a felt landing pad on each key. Helpful for sure but kind of a lame engineered solution. I can see the NI 'suits' around a table - "ok you have 8 euros to improve it - not a bit more - come back Monday with proposed options"..... :(
 

whinecellar

Jim Daneker
...Just to get it right, you must load your VST plugin - also Kontakt - inside the Komplete Kontrol plugin to have any use from the light guide. Otherwise it's not usable, correct?
Can someone verify this is the case? Must you load all NI stuff in the Komplete Kontrol plugin for the light guides to work?! That would involve a major template rebuild for me... yuck.
 

Rob Elliott

Senior Member
Can someone verify this is the case? Must you load all NI stuff in the Komplete Kontrol plugin for the light guides to work?! That would involve a major template rebuild for me... yuck.
As memory serves - that is right. Infact when I sold my Mk1 - I had to rebuild all those Komplete Kontrol instances. :( Hassle for sure.
 

TigerTheFrog

Amateur
Can someone verify this is the case? Must you load all NI stuff in the Komplete Kontrol plugin for the light guides to work?! That would involve a major template rebuild for me... yuck.
Yes. You need the software for the light guides.

When you turn on a Komplete Kontrol keyboard, the lights go on, but nothing happens.
If you load Kontakt, it is no different than any software --the Komplete Kontrol keyboard only works as a MIDI controller. The light guides do not work with the instruments, even though its the same NKS instruments.

When you load the Komplete Kontrol software, there is a handshake conversation between the software and the keyboard. Komplete Kontrol has to identify which keyboard is connected, as it works differently with every keyboard--first generation s-series, s series mk2 , A series, M32, number of keys, etc. You can't connect more than one Komplete Kontrol keyboard to the software and have them both work.

When the connection is made it says "no instrument loaded." You have to hit the browser button before you see all the virtual instruments you have installed with Komplete Kontrol. Then, when you load an NKS instrument, the light guides work.

So yes, I would say it would involve a template rebuild as you would have to load KK and then the instruments. But there's no reason you can't leave a lot of them in Kontakt.

I myself have used Kontakt only in my early attempts at using VE Pro. Maybe somebody else can speak to how well Komplete Kontrol works with VE Pro.
 

Rob Elliott

Senior Member
VEPRO works with KK - but ONLY on machine S88 is connected to - not over the network. Maybe that has changed with mk2 but I doubt it. Too bad as that would be so cool to pick up NKS libraries across the network - over multiple machines.

I generally just installed NKS type libraries on the 'main' (KK connected directly to).
 

whinecellar

Jim Daneker
VEPRO works with KK - but ONLY on machine S88 is connected to - not over the network. Maybe that has changed with mk2 but I doubt it. Too bad as that would be so cool to pick up NKS libraries across the network - over multiple machines.
Oh man, this is a shame - my template is massive (about 1000 tracks) over 4 machines, and most are Kontakt-based instruments. Oh well, never mind - I can live without light guides I guess!
 

Rob Elliott

Senior Member
Oh man, this is a shame - my template is massive (about 1000 tracks) over 4 machines, and most are Kontakt-based instruments. Oh well, never mind - I can live without light guides I guess!
Totally get it for sure - I think it a 'shortcoming' of KK (not to 'work' over the network)....BUT...the advantages of having KK on the 'main' and then weighting that machine with your NKS libraries is an acceptable compromise for me. I wanted to throw he keybed off the side of the road when I had it (Mk1) BUT, I really really missed the integration / lights when I got rid of it. :(

The more I think of THAT the more I am likely to order the mk2. Letting this decision simmer for a couple weeks. ;)
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
Can someone verify this is the case? Must you load all NI stuff in the Komplete Kontrol plugin for the light guides to work?! That would involve a major template rebuild for me... yuck.
You can make your own presets with lights in the KK software and those presets will carry over even if you don’t load your instruments with KK, but you have to manually select the preset. I rarely use the KK plugin to load instruments but I do have presets for most of the libraries I use regularly. And many companies (Spitfire, Sonikinetic, etc) have relatively consistent keyboard layouts across their line so you only have to make one preset in those cases—though you won’t have the instrument ranges laid out. (I mark a range for the key switches, though that isn’t exact either.)
 

Rob Elliott

Senior Member
You can make your own presets with lights in the KK software and those presets will carry over even if you don’t load your instruments with KK, but you have to manually select the preset. I rarely use the KK plugin to load instruments but I do have presets for most of the libraries I use regularly. And many companies (Spitfire, Sonikinetic, etc) have relatively consistent keyboard layouts across their line so you only have to make one preset in those cases—though you won’t have the instrument ranges laid out. (I mark a range for the key switches, though that isn’t exact either.)
Good idea to make and use 'presets' (for instances across the network.) Love it.
 
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