What's new

Tried the new NI S88 Mark 2. Keyboard still doesn't feel good.

Headlands

Active Member
I went to GC (ack!) this morning just to try the S88 Mark 2, hoping the keyboard would feel better than the Mark 1. Unfortunately, it feels even worse to me. It's spongy and feels "smooshy". Total bummer. I was all ready to buy one...not quite sure what I'll do now. The other parts of it are excellent, especially lighting up the zones on the keyboard and other things like the extra expression strip, but the feel...

I don't need an "authentic piano feel", but I do need playability, and for me the S88 fails here.

Maybe I can get used to it. Hmmmm.

Anyone else tried it yet?
 
Last edited:

Nathanael Iversen

Active Member
Previous one was said to be TP100, which makes sense given the weight. It's not heavy enough to have a TP/40 in it. I've pretty much just accepted that unless you are paying about $2k and up, something that approximates a real piano isn't going to happen. The Yamaha CP4's can be found under $2k, also the Roland RD-2000. If you want something that is as good as it gets? That's the Kawai MP11. It is better than a lot of acoustic pianos. Not high end grands, but shockingly good.
 
OP
H

Headlands

Active Member
Previous one was said to be TP100, which makes sense given the weight. It's not heavy enough to have a TP/40 in it. I've pretty much just accepted that unless you are paying about $2k and up, something that approximates a real piano isn't going to happen. The Yamaha CP4's can be found under $2k, also the Roland RD-2000. If you want something that is as good as it gets? That's the Kawai MP11. It is better than a lot of acoustic pianos. Not high end grands, but shockingly good.
I hear you, yeah. This one feels much spongier/smooshier than mark 1 -- I compared them side-by-side at GC and the mark 2 is definitely different. I guess whether it's better or worse will be individual preference. Personally I would pay more to get a better keyboard, but c'est la vie.
 

Nathanael Iversen

Active Member
I think there are two paths forming in the "weighted controller" world.

1. There are actions and keyboards with the express intent of providing a piano-like experience. They are stage pianos, and then the whole world of digital console and "digital grand" pianos. Only the stage pianos have any real portability, and you can't get the very best actions in stage pianos or synths. They are reserved for consoles and "digital grands". As good as the MP11 is, Kawaii has even better actions in their console pianos.

2. There are "weighted actions" that offer more resistance and generally better feel than synth actions. There are plenty of musicians who need 88 keys to run samples, but who would not identify as pianists. There are pianists that would happily sacrifice feel to get something really light to gig with, and if they can be expressive enough for the band they are in... they will deal. Some want a compromise action that is also light enough to play synth or organ on. Nord makes these kinds of things - based on TP100.

If you need/want #1, there is nothing else going to satisfy.

If you want/can accept #2, the best actions are in the premium workstation boards: Kronos, Montage, Kurz Forte, etc. It is pretty rapidly downhill from there the more you want #1, but with other benefits.

Turns out the piano is a specific thing. It's keyboard is ideally suited for playing piano. But arguably, it is not superior for a lot of other things. So, we get a whole world of #2 that caters to all the needs other than "plays as close as possible to a piano". The marketing for a lot of #2 devices would tell you they are trying to make #1 happen, but its easy to spot. There are no really credible #1 instruments that are less than 40lbs. Some are much heavier. Anything that is 25-30lbs isn't #1.

That's my quick take
 

Nathanael Iversen

Active Member
You will also notice that the best #1 pianos are made by companies that make acoustic pianos. Yamaha CP4, Kawaii MP11. Roland RD-200 is a close mention, but it is still not in the same league, even though it is quite nice to my fingers.
 
OP
H

Headlands

Active Member
I think there are two paths forming in the "weighted controller" world.

1. There are actions and keyboards with the express intent of providing a piano-like experience. They are stage pianos, and then the whole world of digital console and "digital grand" pianos. Only the stage pianos have any real portability, and you can't get the very best actions in stage pianos or synths. They are reserved for consoles and "digital grands". As good as the MP11 is, Kawaii has even better actions in their console pianos.

2. There are "weighted actions" that offer more resistance and generally better feel than synth actions. There are plenty of musicians who need 88 keys to run samples, but who would not identify as pianists. There are pianists that would happily sacrifice feel to get something really light to gig with, and if they can be expressive enough for the band they are in... they will deal. Some want a compromise action that is also light enough to play synth or organ on. Nord makes these kinds of things - based on TP100.

If you need/want #1, there is nothing else going to satisfy.

If you want/can accept #2, the best actions are in the premium workstation boards: Kronos, Montage, Kurz Forte, etc. It is pretty rapidly downhill from there the more you want #1, but with other benefits.

Turns out the piano is a specific thing. It's keyboard is ideally suited for playing piano. But arguably, it is not superior for a lot of other things. So, we get a whole world of #2 that caters to all the needs other than "plays as close as possible to a piano". The marketing for a lot of #2 devices would tell you they are trying to make #1 happen, but its easy to spot. There are no really credible #1 instruments that are less than 40lbs. Some are much heavier. Anything that is 25-30lbs isn't #1.

That's my quick take
I totally agree with this. I'm in the #2 camp, and the new S88 is too heavy and mushy feeling for that kind of use IMO (plus it's not good for #1 either, also IMO), which is kind of what most producers/composers these days would prefer, I would think, given the multitude of things a single keyboard has to do.
 
Last edited:

whiskers

Perpetual student
Bummer to hear, I'm going to check it out this weekend. Not digging the clunky action of my mpk88
 

Carlos Lopez-Real

New Member
I'm really curious what the actual Fatar Keybed is? I can't find that information anywhere.
Hi Luke, the most I got out of NI was this: "the Keybed used in the S88 Mk2 is not the same as in the S88 mk1. It is a Fatar Keybed, customized for our new S88 MK2". They wouldn't be drawn on any other specifics, e.g. whether it has triple sensor tech or anything else.
 

jononotbono

Luke Johnson
Hi Luke, the most I got out of NI was this: "the Keybed used in the S88 Mk2 is not the same as in the S88 mk1. It is a Fatar Keybed, customized for our new S88 MK2". They wouldn't be drawn on any other specifics, e.g. whether it has triple sensor tech or anything else.
I feel like NI not releasing this information is a red flag to me and not to get one. Why the secrecy? Is it because the keybed could possibly be bad enough to lose potential sales? I mean, the LMk4+ has all details on the Doepfer site. As a consumer, I expect details.

I really wanted to love the MK2 but I think I’m just going to look at other options. Perhaps a S61 would be a good compromise to have a synth action controller alongside a different 88 weighted. Might just get drunk and let the booze make the decision because choosing the right one has got exhausting.
 
OP
H

Headlands

Active Member
I feel like NI not releasing this information is a red flag to me and not to get one. Why the secrecy? Is it because the keybed could possibly be bad enough to lose potential sales? I mean, the LMk4+ has all details on the Doepfer site. As a consumer, I expect details.

I really wanted to love the MK2 but I think I’m just going to look at other options. Perhaps a S61 would be a good compromise to have a synth action controller alongside a different 88 weighted. Might just get drunk and let the booze make the decision because choosing the right one has got exhausting.
I'm the same boat. The mk 2 is a major disappointment after waiting for so long for what I was hoping would be an improvement, not something that's bad in other ways (to me). I'm not sure what to do because the lighted zoning would be amazing, but with only 61 keys there would be a lot of octave switching to see the different zones for many instruments I use, plus it would be too small for more than a few drum VSTi's that I have.
 

sostenuto

Big NKS Fan !
No clue what MIDI Keyboard Users expect. I spent more every year for regulating and tuning a Grotrian Concert Grand, than the best of these MIDI keyboards cost.
Maybe some can get close with a MIDI'd grand …

https://www.spectrasonics.net/video/videos.php?VideoTypeID=all&InstrumentID=all&q=trilian&Search+Video+Button=Search
(DUO #1 or #2)

Then, no ModWheel, etc.

imho ….. no way anything KK (or much else) gets close. Roland KR577 has been myn attempt to get in the ballpark, but …. good luck!
 
OP
H

Headlands

Active Member
No clue what MIDI Keyboard Users expect. I spent more every year for regulating and tuning a Grotrian Concert Grand, than the best of these MIDI keyboards cost.
Maybe some can get close with a MIDI'd grand …

https://www.spectrasonics.net/video/videos.php?VideoTypeID=all&InstrumentID=all&q=trilian&Search+Video+Button=Search

Then, no ModWheel, etc.

imho ….. no way anything KK (or much else) gets close. Roland KR577 has been myn attempt to get in the ballpark, but …. good luck!
Yes, agreed.

I should have been clearer with my original post: I personally don't need totally authentic piano action, but the S88 is the only 88-key thing NI makes. The "authentic" thing is secondary to playability for me, and a mushy feel that's heavy like the S88 mk 2 doesn't make for good playability as far as I'm concerned. The better hammer-action keypads are great playability-wise, but I do understand the cost and weight factor for NI. Honestly, I'd be happier with semi-weighted keys on the S88 than what's on there now.
 

sostenuto

Big NKS Fan !
Yes, agreed.

I should have been clearer with my original post: I personally don't need totally authentic piano action, but the S88 is the only 88-key thing NI makes. The "authentic" thing is secondary to playability for me, and a mushy feel that's heavy like the S88 mk 2 doesn't make for good playability as far as I'm concerned. The better hammer-action keypads are great playability-wise, but I do understand the cost and weight factor for NI. Honestly, I'd be happier with semi-weighted keys on the S88 than what's on there now.
I am biased, but trust Roland to provide as well as I can expect.

Having Alex Acuna setting a background can extract amazing creativity from most of us ……….. :thumbsup:

Lyle Mays can always do better on the 'least' of keyboards, than many ….
Checkout his Video #2 with Alex A ……...
 
Last edited:

Nathanael Iversen

Active Member
No clue what MIDI Keyboard Users expect. I spent more every year for regulating and tuning a Grotrian Concert Grand, than the best of these MIDI keyboards cost.
Maybe some can get close with a MIDI'd grand …
A Grotrian! What a nice (and not as common) instrument! I've got a Kawaii RX-7 here with an optical MIDI rail in it, but it is pretty hard to get the velocity ranges right. A real grand action is far more expressive than 8 bit MIDI allows - I've been unable to get a curve that matches in software what my piano is doing acoustically. I get why Bosendorfer's $50k system for their grands uses 1024 levels.
 

Bill the Lesser

Active Member
So OK, does the S88 MK2 have a feel that's more towards "synth" than "real piano?" I'd actually like that. Been hearing conflicting things about this.

I heard somewhere that the keypress ends up against a piece of memory foam, which explains the "smooshy" comment. Weird, I doubt if that would even last very long. The S61 MK2 stops against something pretty hard after about 7 or 8 mm. It's nice and positive, tells me when to stop trying.

I like my S61 MK2 for its kinda firm synth feel, the fast spring back keeps me from fumbling adjacent keys. The LEDs are great for narrow range instruments where I can fit the keyswitches inside the 61 key range, but for most instruments it's a wash, there's no good way to fit the LEDs in view without too much shifting up or down. 88 keys is a must-have to justify the LED concept. I'd buy the S88 MK2 in a flash if I thought I could deal with the feel.

BTW, the displays on the MK2 are almost pointless as far as browsing goes, just sayin'. I do like the mixer display, however.
 

Greg

Senior Member
Wonder if they went with a cheaper keybed to cut costs and keep it at $999 with the LCD screen upgrade. I really like the mk1, I even ditched the much more expensive Doepfer LMK4+ for it.
 
OP
H

Headlands

Active Member
So OK, does the S88 MK2 have a feel that's more towards "synth" than "real piano?" I'd actually like that. Been hearing conflicting things about this.

I heard somewhere that the keypress ends up against a piece of memory foam, which explains the "smooshy" comment. Weird, I doubt if that would even last very long. The S61 MK2 stops against something pretty hard after about 7 or 8 mm. It's nice and positive, tells me when to stop trying.

I like my S61 MK2 for its kinda firm synth feel, the fast spring back keeps me from fumbling adjacent keys. The LEDs are great for narrow range instruments where I can fit the keyswitches inside the 61 key range, but for most instruments it's a wash, there's no good way to fit the LEDs in view without too much shifting up or down. 88 keys is a must-have to justify the LED concept. I'd buy the S88 MK2 in a flash if I thought I could deal with the feel.

BTW, the displays on the MK2 are almost pointless as far as browsing goes, just sayin'. I do like the mixer display, however.
Yeah, the foam is a bad move. There's no way I would buy this keyboard personally -- it doesn't feel more synth or more real piano...it just feels mushy and...bleh.

If they made an 88-key version with the S61 keyboard I'd be happy. The S88 mk 2 is just a weird mushy situation, to me, and I won't buy it even though I would love to for its other great features. Such a drag.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom