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

IFM

Senior Member
I too ha the vanishing pedal assignment problem. I actually kind of like the action and find the velocity to be quite accurate. I had a KL88 and a KL88 II and the latter was terrible in action and it had a completely random velocity response so I got rid of it. The MKI still lives as a spare controller but it is klunky so when I got the s88 II it was a breath of fresh air...but yes for the money it should have been made of metal and not plastic. My trackball doesn’t sit flat on it so I keep a trimmed thin pad underneath.
 

Thundercat

Active Member
I think I read over on the NI forums that the pedal assigment problems are a known bug. Who knows when it will be sorted, however.
When I reached out to NI about it, they too said they knew about it. Then they invited me to be a beta tester.

I’d rather they just fix it, if they are aware of it.
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
One weird quirk which I have yet to resolve deals with the MIDI assignment in Komplete Kontrol. It keeps wanting to revert back to a stock pedal/footswitch MIDI assignment. I build and save a new template in the stand-alone app, but from time to time, it just vanishes, and I don't know why. Then I have to open up the app again (and wait for the time-consuming scan), and set up the MIDI assignments again. Sure wish I could find a way to lock those things in.
This happens occasionally to me on my S61 mk2. I keep a copy of the Komplete Kontrol Mk2 settings.dat file and restore it whenever it loses its presets, which happens about once a month.

 

Shad0wLandsUK

Senior Member
At random, my S88 mk2 loses the pedal assignment. Which means it doesn’t work. Then I have to go and set it up again through Komplete Kontrol.

soooooooo annoying when I just want to sit down and play or record.

However - I DO like keyboard action, and I’m a piano player too. But I’ll admit it’s not as good as my Kawaii MP9.
My friend has a Kawaii, but they are super heavy aren't they?!
So no good, since I want to get a desk with a keyboard shelf that will hold considerably less than a one tonne-truck ;)
 

TigerTheFrog

Reid Rosefelt
Using NKS has provided a monumental improvement to my workflow. I have invested a lot of time with the manual and YouTube videos to learn all its features, and create my own templates. I have spent some money on Freelance Soundlabs templates so I can use NKS with Omnisphere, Falcon, M1, and dozens of others. For example, with M1 I could sort by tags and audition sounds without loading anything--it was never an issue for me that the old GUI was so awful unless I was programming. (I plan to make a video about the FS templates someday.)

For the record, the light guides work perfectly with many instruments that don't have NKS, if you load them in KK. Not just Kontakt instruments, either. For example, the light guides on Karoryfer's Sforzando Hadziha works fine. And with many non-NKS products all the knobs are mapped too.

It doesn't have to be a hassle to load instruments within KK. I put the instruments I use most in de-activated templates and use Cubase to copy the tracks into my project. You could also save them as track presets.

I would never consider working without NKS, and I want the NKS 88 keys because that's the most keys they happen to sell. If NI sold a controller that had over a 100 keys I'd get that. There are lots of libraries where you can't see all the keyswitches on 88 keys.

For the above reason, MKII 88 is my only choice, until NI comes out with something better. Does it have the best keyboard action I've ever owned or played in a music store? I don't think so, but I adjust the velocity curve within the software, and make similar adjustments in software like Keyscape, Artvista, KeySuite, etc. I'm satisfied. It's my normal.

But I have never used a MIDI controller just for piano or piano-like keyboards. Those kinds of instruments represent only a small part of what I play into Cubase, and a weighted piano action is not necessarily the best way to play drums, or a saxophone, or even an organ.

I have two ROLI devices sitting on my MKII 88. The little Lightpad square can be used in lots of ways: it can be configured as an XY pad or pads, or sliders, but also, when I'm playing a frame drum, I can plot out the samples of the drum in the positions they have on the drum itself. This to me is more intuitive than using a keyboard, and I get more velocity sensitivity out of the lightpad. The same samples sound better on it. (It cost me $100 in the BF sale.) I do similar things with my cheapie ROLI Seaboard block. Both of these sit on my mkii all the time, always ready for use. I also have a dinky IK Controller in my desk that I sometimes bring out when it is useful.

I'm always experimenting with what does the best job for me. Maybe I'll buy a wind controller someday.
 

DS_Joost

One day I'll fly away!
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 am not an expert but I think my Studiologic actually comes pretty damn close.
 

Laptoprabbit

The game is afoot
I am not an expert but I think my Studiologic actually comes pretty damn close.
I'm considering Studiologic - could I ask which one?

Edit: Specifically thinking about Numa Compact 2 vs SL88 Studio if anyone has those.
 
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Lee Blaske

Senior Member
BTW, another update on my S88MkII...

I've had the continual vanishing pedal assignment problem since I got it, but that's nothing new. Sometimes it keeps the assignment, sometimes I have to launch Komplete Kontrol and reassign. Glad to hear others are having the same issue and it's not just me.

But, my S88MkII just developed some new problems. It would sometimes jump pitch. And an additional problem, the range of the pitch bend wheel has become restricted. All of the bending, up and down, happens in the first quarter inch or so of wheel movement. The rest of the travel does nothing. Makes it really impossible to use.

So, just to check things out, I opened it up. FWIW, ALL of the screws on the bottom and in the side bell need to come out with the exception of the four holding the rubber feet on and two of them in the back that are holding some plastic spacers.

Once inside, I discovered one of the problems... The middle wire of the potentiometer for the pitch bend was NEVER SOLDERED! It was just laying in the connection. Very shoddy workmanship. Soldering that wire seems to have taken care of the sudden pitch changes, but not the control travel problem. I checked to make sure all connectors were secure. Not worth troubleshooting this any more, because I don't think there's a way to get parts from NI.

Anyway, I wish I could unsee what I saw inside the S88MkII. The construction and the build of the action is HORRIBLE! This is a disposable piece of junk. Huge glops of lubricant slathered over the action. And, if you ever needed to repair a key, you have to completely disassemble the instrument to get at it. If you have one of these, play it lightly to be SURE you don't break a key! Way too much plastic in this instrument.

Honestly, I really liked the idea of NKS, and the LEDs indicated key switching. Very handy. I owned the original S88, and didn't like the action on it. I upgraded to the MKII hoping it would be an improvement. It was slightly nicer, but not great. It has the typical inconsistency of velocity from key to key of Fatar keyboards. No way around it. This is an inferior action.

I've emailed and gotten an initial response from NI support. It's out of warranty. I imagine I'm going to have to send it in for repair (and that's going to be fairly expensive for a large instrument). Waiting to hear on that.

I don't think, though, that I can ever go back to having that instrument front and center in my studio (I have some other nice options, but obviously, without NKS). NKS is a great idea, but if it requires a sub-standard key action, it has no place in a professional studio.

So currently, I've got my Korg KronosX 88 key front and center. No NKS, but the action is ENORMOUSLY better. I can see, now, that I was really cutting the S88MkII a lot of slack, because I really wanted to have the NKS capabilities (I've got a lot of Kontakt libraries).

If the S88MkII is out of the picture, I'm kind of at a loss for what else I might want, in terms of a MIDI controller. I DEFINITELY don't want anything else with a Fatar action (that rules out Doepfer, StudioLogic, NI, Nord, and a bunch of others). I really like the high-end Korg action, the high-end Yamaha action and the weighted Kawai action. Unfortunately, Yamaha and Korg don't make 88 key weighted controllers. The Kawai VPC1 is great, but has no MIDI controls or pedal inputs, and is too tall to put in front of a screen.

Maybe MIDI 2.0 is going to bring a whole new round of options. The Roland A88MkII looks like a well-made keyboard (with the way I have things positioned in my setup, though, I'm a little concerned about the thickness of the case - the key tops would be higher off of my desk than what I'm used to).

Hopefully, there will be more new MIDI 2.0 options in the near future from quality manufacturers.
 

emilio_n

Active Member
I want to buy a NI Komplete S88 but after reading all your experiences... I will search for other options. The light guide is the thing I will miss more. I have a lot of Kontakt libraries and I think for all the Sonokinetic ones the lights are super useful.
I will follow it to see your suggestions. I like the KAwai VPC1 but is expensive and I didn't know that doesn't have pedal input!
 

Thundercat

Active Member
BTW, another update on my S88MkII...

I've had the continual vanishing pedal assignment problem since I got it, but that's nothing new. Sometimes it keeps the assignment, sometimes I have to launch Komplete Kontrol and reassign. Glad to hear others are having the same issue and it's not just me.

But, my S88MkII just developed some new problems. It would sometimes jump pitch. And an additional problem, the range of the pitch bend wheel has become restricted. All of the bending, up and down, happens in the first quarter inch or so of wheel movement. The rest of the travel does nothing. Makes it really impossible to use.

So, just to check things out, I opened it up. FWIW, ALL of the screws on the bottom and in the side bell need to come out with the exception of the four holding the rubber feet on and two of them in the back that are holding some plastic spacers.

Once inside, I discovered one of the problems... The middle wire of the potentiometer for the pitch bend was NEVER SOLDERED! It was just laying in the connection. Very shoddy workmanship. Soldering that wire seems to have taken care of the sudden pitch changes, but not the control travel problem. I checked to make sure all connectors were secure. Not worth troubleshooting this any more, because I don't think there's a way to get parts from NI.

Anyway, I wish I could unsee what I saw inside the S88MkII. The construction and the build of the action is HORRIBLE! This is a disposable piece of junk. Huge glops of lubricant slathered over the action. And, if you ever needed to repair a key, you have to completely disassemble the instrument to get at it. If you have one of these, play it lightly to be SURE you don't break a key! Way too much plastic in this instrument.

Honestly, I really liked the idea of NKS, and the LEDs indicated key switching. Very handy. I owned the original S88, and didn't like the action on it. I upgraded to the MKII hoping it would be an improvement. It was slightly nicer, but not great. It has the typical inconsistency of velocity from key to key of Fatar keyboards. No way around it. This is an inferior action.

I've emailed and gotten an initial response from NI support. It's out of warranty. I imagine I'm going to have to send it in for repair (and that's going to be fairly expensive for a large instrument). Waiting to hear on that.

I don't think, though, that I can ever go back to having that instrument front and center in my studio (I have some other nice options, but obviously, without NKS). NKS is a great idea, but if it requires a sub-standard key action, it has no place in a professional studio.

So currently, I've got my Korg KronosX 88 key front and center. No NKS, but the action is ENORMOUSLY better. I can see, now, that I was really cutting the S88MkII a lot of slack, because I really wanted to have the NKS capabilities (I've got a lot of Kontakt libraries).

If the S88MkII is out of the picture, I'm kind of at a loss for what else I might want, in terms of a MIDI controller. I DEFINITELY don't want anything else with a Fatar action (that rules out Doepfer, StudioLogic, NI, Nord, and a bunch of others). I really like the high-end Korg action, the high-end Yamaha action and the weighted Kawai action. Unfortunately, Yamaha and Korg don't make 88 key weighted controllers. The Kawai VPC1 is great, but has no MIDI controls or pedal inputs, and is too tall to put in front of a screen.

Maybe MIDI 2.0 is going to bring a whole new round of options. The Roland A88MkII looks like a well-made keyboard (with the way I have things positioned in my setup, though, I'm a little concerned about the thickness of the case - the key tops would be higher off of my desk than what I'm used to).

Hopefully, there will be more new MIDI 2.0 options in the near future from quality manufacturers.
I think you have to understand what you are buying. It’s a controller and NKS system first, keyboard second. To vilify it I think is unfair - it was never billed as the finest action known to man.

I own the s88 mk2 too - and I’m a pianist and it acceptable for composing on, for me. Perhaps not for you.

I also own a Kawai mp9. Superior action. That’s what I use to really play piano on.

I just think youneed to realize the purpose of the product. To compose things.

That’s my take anyway. I’m sorry you’re not happy with it. I hope you get this resolved.

best,

mike
 

Thundercat

Active Member
I want to buy a NI Komplete S88 but after reading all your experiences... I will search for other options. The light guide is the thing I will miss more. I have a lot of Kontakt libraries and I think for all the Sonokinetic ones the lights are super useful.
I will follow it to see your suggestions. I like the KAwai VPC1 but is expensive and I didn't know that doesn't have pedal input!
Try to find one somehow and try it out. It’s not as bad a keyboard as some are making it out to be.

we’d probably all be shocked to open electronics to see what’s inside.

now an unsoldered wire - yeah that’s pretty bad. there’s alwaysan occasional lemon in every product line.

my s88 mk2 performs excellently. I just used it to record a very fast and intricate piano part. No problem.
 

emilio_n

Active Member
Try to find one somehow and try it out. It’s not as bad a keyboard as some are making it out to be.

we’d probably all be shocked to open electronics to see what’s inside.

now an unsoldered wire - yeah that’s pretty bad. there’s alwaysan occasional lemon in every product line.

my s88 mk2 performs excellently. I just used it to record a very fast and intricate piano part. No problem.
I studied piano in the past but I am far to be professional. I am not very picky with the keybeds. I tried the touch of the S88 in a local shop and is ok. Maybe a little bit "rubbery". In the past I had a Casio Privia (I don't remember the model) but I remember that I like more.
If I by the S88 Mk2 I will need to use both for composing and to play because I don't have too much budget and space on my tinny home in Hong Kong!
Thanks for your opinion Thundercat. Maybe I will give it a chance. ;)
 

Thundercat

Active Member
I studied piano in the past but I am far to be professional. I am not very picky with the keybeds. I tried the touch of the S88 in a local shop and is ok. Maybe a little bit "rubbery". In the past I had a Casio Privia (I don't remember the model) but I remember that I like more.
If I by the S88 Mk2 I will need to use both for composing and to play because I don't have too much budget and space on my tinny home in Hong Kong!
Thanks for your opinion Thundercat. Maybe I will give it a chance. ;)
Of course I want you to be happy! Whatever will work for you. I just wanted to balance the extremely negative review with a positive, also true, one. I respect everyone's experience.
 

DS_Joost

One day I'll fly away!
I'm considering Studiologic - could I ask which one?

Edit: Specifically thinking about Numa Compact 2 vs SL88 Studio if anyone has those.
I have had an old SL880 Pro, loved that thing to death, but it wasn't the best electronics wise. Got it secondhand and got a few years out of it. So I was satisfied.

I now have a Numa Nano. Bought secondhand, 130 euros. Almost new. Feels like a right bargain to me. I am in love with it's velocity response (as I was with the 880). This one also feels better build, I can be very agile in playing it, and feel totally in control of my playing style. Like a one on one relationship between the keyboard and me. Keys are heavy, but I like that. Not spongy. It's a loud sucker though, but honestly, I've never had a silent keyboard and you get used to it pretty quick.

Studiologics shine in their playability. Beautiful keyboards. Be ware of their internal electronics though. Handle them with care.
 

Lee Blaske

Senior Member
I think you have to understand what you are buying. It’s a controller and NKS system first, keyboard second. To vilify it I think is unfair - it was never billed as the finest action known to man.

I own the s88 mk2 too - and I’m a pianist and it acceptable for composing on, for me. Perhaps not for you.

I also own a Kawai mp9. Superior action. That’s what I use to really play piano on.

I just think youneed to realize the purpose of the product. To compose things.

That’s my take anyway. I’m sorry you’re not happy with it. I hope you get this resolved.

best,

mike
Well, my problem then is having NKS put forward as an important new standard, and having a bunch of other companies sign on to configure their libraries to support that new standard. A LOT of effort has been put into that. What's the point of it, then, if you can only access the NKS system with a sub-standard keyboard? It doesn't make sense to me.

I don't mind that an inexpensive, poorly made keyboard exists. But, if NKS is going to be an important standard that a large swath of the industry will be wasting time on, there should be QUALITY keyboard options available.

And yes, the problem with NI's current products is that way too much of the purchase price is going to the NKS system and display screens. That means that they really have to cut corners on the keyboard action to bring in a unit at a specific price point (obviously targeting about $1k for the 88 key model).

I would say the S88MkII is an ineffectual tool for composition. If the velocity response from key to key is inconsistent, how are you supposed to be able to play in parts that need a lot of velocity response?
 

Lee Blaske

Senior Member
Try to find one somehow and try it out. It’s not as bad a keyboard as some are making it out to be.

we’d probably all be shocked to open electronics to see what’s inside.

now an unsoldered wire - yeah that’s pretty bad. there’s alwaysan occasional lemon in every product line.

my s88 mk2 performs excellently. I just used it to record a very fast and intricate piano part. No problem.
They feel okay, if a bit viscously damped out of the box. The action will change for you, though, if you use it often. All of that lubricant glop works its way out of the action pivots, and the keyboard will get progressively more clattery and noisy with time. And again, if you break a key - MAJOR surgery is required.
 

Lee Blaske

Senior Member
I want to buy a NI Komplete S88 but after reading all your experiences... I will search for other options. The light guide is the thing I will miss more. I have a lot of Kontakt libraries and I think for all the Sonokinetic ones the lights are super useful.
I will follow it to see your suggestions. I like the KAwai VPC1 but is expensive and I didn't know that doesn't have pedal input!
I haven't tried one yet, but you might want to take a close look at the new Roland A88MkII, if the size fits your work setup. MIDI 2.0, so it's future proof. And, the construction and action of it is getting rave reviews (they're actually using wood!). About $1k, like the S88MkII, but most of the money you're paying for the Roland is actually going into the keyboard action, NOT the display screens.

Again, I haven't tried it, and I haven't had one apart to look at the construction, but I have a better feeling about the larger companies that have the deep pockets to really design and manufacture their own action, rather than buy an inexpensive Fatar or Mendeli action and shoehorn it into their product.
 

dcoscina

Senior Member
I'm testing out the new Roland A88mk2 - I got a review model but sadly have to give it back after my review is done. :(

It's really nice. Action is the Roland PHA-4 but feels WAY better than when it's housed inside their FP30 or FP10 line (probably because those boards have plastic casing, whereas the A88 has a metal chassis except for each end which is plastic).
 

spacepluk

New Member
I want to buy a NI Komplete S88 but after reading all your experiences... I will search for other options. The light guide is the thing I will miss more. I have a lot of Kontakt libraries and I think for all the Sonokinetic ones the lights are super useful.
I will follow it to see your suggestions. I like the KAwai VPC1 but is expensive and I didn't know that doesn't have pedal input!
FWIW the VPC1 has pedal inputs and it comes with a three pedal unit with half damper function. It also has MIDI in/out connectors and USB. What it doesn't have is any knobs of faders.