Studiologic SL88 Grand VS. Roland A-88 MkII

BassClef

Active Member
Ah man, that's a lot. Also, it looks like Sweetwater won't cover the shipping cost to return it, which I imagine won't be cheap for something that huge and heavy. There's gotta be an easier way to test a couple keyboards in LA.
Sweetwater is a large company that has shipping rate contracts with major carriers who give them much cheaper rates than you can get on your own. For my return (retuned one of two keyboards I ordered from them) they set up a prepaid shipping label for me AT THEIR REDUCED RATES with FedEx and then charged me for the shipping. So it only cost me $30 to return one of the two keyboards. Both keyboards came with free shipping.
 
OP
etudes

etudes

New Member
Check the Roland and Studio Logic websites to see if they list retail dealers. There must be a lot of music stores in Los Angeles.

Then call ahead to make sure the retailer has the model you want to test in stock.
I appreciate the tip, but, I tried just that, called nearly every pro audio store around the valley and the Hollywood area, no one has 88-key weighted MIDI controllers on the floor to test. Oh well, guess I'm stuck buying two and returning one.


buy from guitar center online then you can return to local store if you need to. I love Sweetwater and buy from them often but certain things like this it’s safer to ya e a local return option
That's a pretty good idea, that'll save me the shipping costs.


Just be aware that no DAW supports MIDI 2.0 as of yet, and who knows how long will the wait be for them to catch up.


As for SL88 Grand... Yeah those joysticks were a miss. But you can get this to match it: https://www.studiologic-music.com/products/mixface/
Shoot, that's good to know, thanks for the feedback. I've looked at that mixface, not sure I really need or want the extra stuff sitting on my desk (this keyboard will fit on a tray for a desk I'm building, no extra room in there).

Sweetwater is a large company that has shipping rate contracts with major carriers who give them much cheaper rates than you can get on your own. For my return (retuned one of two keyboards I ordered from them) they set up a prepaid shipping label for me AT THEIR REDUCED RATES with FedEx and then charged me for the shipping. So it only cost me $30 to return one of the two keyboards. Both keyboards came with free shipping.
I think I might go for something more local like Guitar Center to save the extra hassle, but good to know for the future, thank you.
 

matvey

New Member
Any other updates from anyone with that specific comparison? I’m faced with basically the same choice (though also considering RD-88 since it has a bunch of nice sounds for only $200 more), and Sweetwater is a 4-hour drive away :)

I’ve played the Rolands that had the SuperNatural feel, whatever that means, and they did feel/sound pretty good. I’m wondering how the SL88 Grand compares.
 
OP
etudes

etudes

New Member
Any other updates from anyone with that specific comparison? I’m faced with basically the same choice (though also considering RD-88 since it has a bunch of nice sounds for only $200 more), and Sweetwater is a 4-hour drive away :)

I’ve played the Rolands that had the SuperNatural feel, whatever that means, and they did feel/sound pretty good. I’m wondering how the SL88 Grand compares.
I haven't bought anything yet, but I plan to buy both the SL88 Grand and the A-88 MkII and do a thorough comparison myself, and then return one of them. Just trying to sell my current Yamaha keyboard first, which is proving to be tough. Will absolutely post my thoughts here when I get them. Don't hold your breath though, it might not be for another month.
 

BassClef

Active Member
I also like the SL-Mixface with my SL88Grand. I keep mine on the desktop rather than on the SL88Grand. Then I can rest my wrist on the desk in front of it and work the faders with my wrist and fingers. I find that easier than using long faders where I am more likely to use my whole arm for control.
 

Attachments

jamwerks

Senior Member
I wanted great action, a small foot-print, etc. like the OP, and went with a Roland D1, and am quite happy. I wanted minimal to no controlers also having that elsewhere.
 

Joshua Day

New Member
I bought the SL88 Studio at the end of last year and my impressions of it are that the keys are a little sluggish, but I can't seem to find ANYTHING with 88 keys that has synth action. The feel is great for playing piano parts, but if you want to do finger drumming and playing in orchestral runs and fast brass lines... lots of virtual instrument playing for non piano-like instruments, it's going to give you a minor headache.

The joysticks were the selling point though for me. I LOVE the third stick which is completely free moving. I can program the Y axis to CC11 and the X axis to CC1 and move the joystick diagonally to control things like vibrato and expression at the same time. This is amazing for legato wind and string lines. On my particular SL88, there is a problem with the black shield just beneath the joystick port though...it seems to be catching on something so if I let go of the stick it will spring back a little. If I get hacky one day though I might be able to disassemble things and fix this.
 

whinecellar

Jim Daneker
...I can't seem to find ANYTHING with 88 keys that has synth action. The feel is great for playing piano parts, but if you want to do finger drumming and playing in orchestral runs and fast brass lines... lots of virtual instrument playing for non piano-like instruments, it's going to give you a minor headache.
There are at least (4) semi/synth-weighted 88 note controllers on the market:
- StudioLogic Numa Compact 2/2x
- Nektar LX88+ and upcoming GXP88
- M-Audio/Alesis Keystation mk2
- new Arturia Keylab 88 Essential

I tried all 4 and just grabbed the Arturia. I’m in the same boat as you, plus dealing with RSI issues post-surgery after 30+ years of banging on heavily weighted keys. I posted a mini-review in another thread - here ya go:

 

ratherbirds

Active Member
  1. Any info on the PHA-4 keybed in the Roland A-88 MkII? Is it comparable to the TP-40 on the SL88 Grand?
Roland Keyboard Actions

PHA-4 STANDARD
This is the key action featured on Roland’s entry-level and intermediate-level digital pianos, such as the instruments in the FP-series (aside from the FP-90), RP-series, etc.

The PHA in the name stands for Progressive Hammer Action, which attempts to emulate the graded feel of real pianos.

Roland PHA-4 Standard key action


On an actual piano, the lower notes are heavier and harder to press, whereas the upper keys are lighter. The PHA key actions simulate this feel by using variable weights and tends to do a good job in general.

Despite being on the lower-end of Roland’s key action selection, the PHA-4 Standard action feels surprisingly good and is arguably the best entry-level hammer action on the market.


The keytops feature synthetic ivory and a matte finish to prevent slippage, and triple sensors ensure that keypresses are detected accurately, even on rapid repetitions.

PHA-50
The PHA-50 action has succeeded the previous PHA-4 Premium and PHA-4 Concert key actions used in high-end Roland instruments.

This is a significant upgrade over the PHA-4 Standard action and incorporates a hybrid material construction featuring real wood to make it feel even more realistic.

Roland PHA-50 key action
PHA-50 Hybrid Wood/Plastic Keyboard

The PHA-50 action also uses triple sensors and they are tuned to be even more reactive to velocity, making the overall playing experience a lot more enjoyable.

Many keyboardists love the PHA-50 action and I’m also a fan. While it leans towards being lighter than I prefer, it still feels great and versatile, covering just about any kind of sound you can imagine.

HYBRID GRAND KEYBOARD
This is a variation on the previously discussed PHA-50, featured exclusively on the LX700 series digital pianos.

The main differences are longer keys and, as a result, longer key pivot lengths. This reduces fatigue and makes playing the keys a lot more enjoyable across extended periods of time.

Roland PHA-50 vs Hybrid Grand keyboard


The Hybrid Grand action also incorporates a stabilizing pin, making vertical key movement smoother and quieter.

In terms of actual feel, I’d say the Hybrid Grand action feels close to the real deal, having the heft and depth you’d expect from a real grand piano (which is what the LX700 series is trying to recreate).
 

ratherbirds

Active Member
Hi, I have a Roland A88 (mk 1) with an ivory feel G keybed. I like it because it is very silent. Its defect is that it is not very reactive on fast notes and that it lacks the modulation wheel. The presence of a third sensor and 8 rotary buttons seem to correct a lot of things on the new a88 mk 2
 

PaulieDC

1967 Bizzarini GT 5300 Strada
I also like the SL-Mixface with my SL88Grand. I keep mine on the desktop rather than on the SL88Grand. Then I can rest my wrist on the desk in front of it and work the faders with my wrist and fingers. I find that easier than using long faders where I am more likely to use my whole arm for control.
You just posted a picture of how I want my setup, I just didn't know what that was yet. Thanks!
 

BassClef

Active Member
You just posted a picture of how I want my setup, I just didn't know what that was yet. Thanks!
Carpeted floor, so the keyboard stand slides easlisy. The SL88 worked perfectly because all other 88 note controllers were too wide with the pitch bend and mod wheels on the side. So when I am not using the keyboard, It just slides completely under the desk.
 
I bought the SL88 Studio at the end of last year and my impressions of it are that the keys are a little sluggish, but I can't seem to find ANYTHING with 88 keys that has synth action. The feel is great for playing piano parts, but if you want to do finger drumming and playing in orchestral runs and fast brass lines... lots of virtual instrument playing for non piano-like instruments, it's going to give you a minor headache.

The joysticks were the selling point though for me. I LOVE the third stick which is completely free moving. I can program the Y axis to CC11 and the X axis to CC1 and move the joystick diagonally to control things like vibrato and expression at the same time. This is amazing for legato wind and string lines. On my particular SL88, there is a problem with the black shield just beneath the joystick port though...it seems to be catching on something so if I let go of the stick it will spring back a little. If I get hacky one day though I might be able to disassemble things and fix this.
This is my current concern with the SL73. I love having the piano feel in front of me but it is annoying for drumming and faster parts. Contemplating going back to my S61 in front of me and digital Yamaha piano to my side. My third joystick does the same thing btw.