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What is the best ready to go keyboard controller for VSTi use?

Discussion in 'SAMPLE Talk' started by Virtual Virgin, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. Virtual Virgin

    Virtual Virgin Senior Member

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    I'm talking about out-of-the-box plug-and-play ready with mapped controls for all the major players:

    Komplete
    Omnisphere 2
    Spitfire
    Cinesamples
    Embertone
    U-He

    etc.
     
  2. mac

    mac Senior Member

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    I guess it has the be the native instruments s series, by a country mile. That is as long as you don’t mind running your instruments through komplete kontrol.
     
  3. Sovereign

    Sovereign Senior Member

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    Komplete Kontrol MK2 by NI. Got it a couple of days ago and it's really good.
     
  4. conan

    conan Senior Member

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    The best thing about the Kontrol MK2 is its good synth key action. Most MIDI controllers fall short in that area. Of course, the integration with Kontrol is without equal if that matters to you.
     
    Sovereign likes this.
  5. Geoff Grace

    Geoff Grace Senior Member

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    If the plugins in question offer NKS support, then I'd second the NI Komplete Kontrol S Series recommendations above. Otherwise, Akai's Advance Series might be as good of a choice, if not better, depending on your needs.

    Akai didn't wait for other manufacturers to get on board. Instead, they went through the painstaking process of mapping their keyboards to third-party plugins before they even released version 1 of their VIP software. They've since added support for effects plugins, adding to the platform's versatility. Both of these aspects work in Akai's favor.

    Of course, a lot of third-party developers have since updated their products with NKS support, and users might trust them to make better mapping choices for their plugins than Akai did. Also, if you want an 88-note keyboard, then there is no Akai Advance option. Both of these arguments favor Native Intsrtuments over Akai. (That said, if you do want an 88-note keyboard now, you'll have to either settle for the older S88. The MK2 version has yet to be announced, let alone released.)

    Best,

    Geoff
     
    clisma likes this.
  6. Sopranos

    Sopranos Senior Member

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    Can you still choose libraries the traditional way in kontakt (within Logic) with the MK2 or do you have to navigate through the onboard screens?
     
  7. Mornats

    Mornats Senior Member

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    Bristol, UK
    Yep, you can just load up Kontakt in the usual way and choose libraries as you would either any other keyboard. If you go through Komplete Kontrol you can open up Kontakt in edit view and choose libraries the same way too. That will give you access to the lightguide for non-NKS libraries too which is handy. You won't get the mapped controls or access to the chord mode and arp though.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Virtual Virgin

    Virtual Virgin Senior Member

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    How do libraries like Cinesamples and Spitfire fare right out of the box on the Komplete Kontrol 2?
     
  9. Mornats

    Mornats Senior Member

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    I've got Albion One (non-NKS) and a mark 1 S61 and I saved a selection of Albion One instruments as presets. So these are accessible via the user option in Komplete Kontrol. The only functionality you get is the lightguide (very useful for seeing where keyswitches are and where the instrument range starts/ends). Here it is in non-edit mode (in edit mode Kontakt looks and works just the same as regular Kontakt).

    upload_2017-12-7_17-38-52.png
     
  10. LFO

    LFO Senior Member

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    Jul 8, 2009
    FWIW, 88 keys are essential to me, especially given all the keyswitches in todays libraries. 61 keys means a lot of octave switching...
     
  11. OP
    OP
    Virtual Virgin

    Virtual Virgin Senior Member

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    TBH I hate the way keyswitches are implemented as MIDI note numbers. It is particularly stupid given the acrobatics you have to do on a keyboard with less than 88 keys.

    I wish there was a standard set for them and hence a standard set of switch controls to appear on MIDI controllers (like pitch bend and mod wheel are a common standard).
     
  12. Sopranos

    Sopranos Senior Member

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    Jul 22, 2010
    Thanks for the info!

    So on the MK2, does the chord and key/scale feature only work through kontrol on certain libraries or is it a feature of the keyboard itself regardless of library?

    I'm not a great keys player or know 100% theory so I'm hoping the MK2 can assist me there? Does that feature seem to be helpful for anyone using it?
     
  13. TintoL

    TintoL Senior Member

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    Toronto
    I just went through this conundrum a while back. I tested every single keyboard possible (I needed a secondary keyboard for programming, not for piano playing).

    I ended up buying the komplete kontrol. It's not perfect, but, after my research, it's definately the best in the market. But, it has it's weakness.

    The main reason I got it is because the key bed is awesome and the mod wheel's feel and layout.

    I was not too into the komplete integration, but, after I got it (just because it's for sure the best key bed) I started testing all the spitfire symphonic orchestra and I was blown away by the flawless feedback between the vst's controlls and hardware controller.

    This komplete kontrol totally makes useless a motorized fader system, plus ALL, and I mean ALL is mapped for you.
    What I mean with feedback is that if you move lest say the easy mix fader on a knob then all the mics will update in real time in the screan. So, you get totall feedback and no jumps between switching tracks.

    The downside is that it doesn't work in an instance of vienna ensamble pro hosted in a slave machine.
    You are also limited to load single instrument per instance of komplete kontrol. If you are fine with this, then, this is your guy.

    In my case I have limited use, because all my instruments are in a slave so I use it most of the time in midi mode. The downside of this is that the knobs are just simple endless encoders. They are stable and don't jump when switching tracks.

    Another downside is that when in midi mode, the transport buttons and main navigation knob are turned off and turn into a lot of useless space. I don't know why they did that. They should be mapable.

    You also have the akai advance. Has the vip software, but, it's not as stable as komplete. The mod wheel layout is a big negative on this one. See the akai forum and you will see.
    Lastly, in terms of features and prise, you have the maudio ctrl 49. It has the layout and all features needed. The downside is that the keybed is relatively basic compared to the kontrol. It only features a steped curve. If you are not into too much fast playing, this is the one. It also uses vip software.

    NOTE: the scales and chord mods only work with a fully implemented nks instrument, as far as I can tell.

    Without the kontrol software, it really is a brick. The arpegiator works, but, is kind of a hack.

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  14. Mornats

    Mornats Senior Member

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    I have a Maschine MkII that I could put into midi mode and set the pads to the range of keyswitches. That sounds like what you described. A bit overkill to get one just for that (although the Maschine Mikro is around £240 so isn't too excessive).

    I only have the MkI so I'm assuming it's the same. The chord/scale feature works in Komplete Kontrol regardless of the library you've got loaded in. The library doesn't have to be NKS compatible.

    I find the scale feature incredibly useful when composing. I'm not a great keys player either and my old method involved googling a scale and looking between a screenshot of it and the keyboard. Now I just load the scale in and noodle away. You can't swap scales easily when you're playing though but I'm finding that I'm learning my scales far quicker now than I was before due to the lightguide and often don't use it for some scales that I now know well.

    The chord mode is useful too and I love using it with the ostinatum in Spitfire libraries. It makes it very easy to play a series of smooth chords. You could get that with something like Obelisk from Frozen Plain which also has the benefit of allowing you to swap between chords using keyswitches and is more versatile in which notes from the scale it will play in your chord.
     
  15. Sopranos

    Sopranos Senior Member

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    Fantastic info - thanks! This is exactly what I'm looking for I think. I currently use an M-Audio Code49 and I want to step up to the 61 key MK II. I really like the idea of some common parameters being automatically mapped to the knobs. And I can really use some assistance in the chord/scale theory. Sounds like this would be an upgrade to my current keyboard?
     
  16. OP
    OP
    Virtual Virgin

    Virtual Virgin Senior Member

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    I was thinking about doing that with an old Akai MPD24 I have sitting around, but I don't seem to have a comfortable place to put it for that purpose. It's cumbersome.
     
  17. Mornats

    Mornats Senior Member

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    I upgraded from an M-audio keystation (I think that's what it was called). It's their most basic, cheapest 49 key keyboard and the action on the S61 blows it away. I'm not sure what the Code 49's is like but I suspect it's much better than the basic M-audio one. It's worth having a go of the S61 in a music shop if you can. Make sure an instrument is loaded up as you get much of a feel for it when you can hear what you're playing.

    My Maschine is part of my music setup so it's quite nicely placed for me. Also, even though we're not discussing it here, the Maschine Jam lets me assign the touchstrips to any midi cc using the controller editor so I can assign dynamics, expression, vibrato and whatever else (the variation on Orchestral Swarm for example) to it and have up to 8 sliders. They're probably not as good as a good set of 100mm real sliders but it's saved me having to go out and buy a dedicated unit. Also note that my PC monitor isn't in sight here. You can just see corner of the table it's on over on the left. Using NKS instruments (and especially when writing in the Maschine software I tend not to need to look at the screen much. I've since put a computer keyboard on the glass table below the S61 and dragged my mouse over (it's on a really long lead) so I can sit in front of the S61 and my Yammys and work away no problem. Then when I'm in midi editing mode and mixing mode I can either sit at my PC (midi editing works best there as I can use headphones for that) and I mix by listening to the Yammys and tweaking volumes etc. without seeing much of what I'm doing. It kinda pushes me more towards working with my ears not my eyes which is quite a good thing.

    upload_2017-12-7_18-44-27.png
     
  18. procreative

    procreative Senior Member

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    Actually if you can be bothered you can edit this patch and assign any GUI control to a physical knob providing it can be automateable (which is why Orchestral Tools stuff wont work as none of theirs are). I have done this for several "non NKS" libraries. They have to be Kontakt Player to work fully (if not the presets save into the User generic Kontakt tab in KK).

    In the end after doing it I ditched many as in a heavy duty template, too many instances of Komplete Kontrol plugin get very memory hungry and projects take longer to load. Also if you use VEP, forget about running these through Komplete Kontrol as the keyboard needs to be physically connected to the DAW and Computer the instruments are hosted on.
     
  19. Jake

    Jake Senior Member

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    I'm probably missing something very easy here but I cannot find how to instigate the Edit Mode in Komplete Kontrol when KK is opened within a track in Logic Pro.

    I see that command 3 will open the edit mode when KK is in standalone mode, but when KK is opened in a track within Logic then command 3 is a Logic command and is not recognized by KK.

    Anyone have the way to get into edit mode in KK within Logic?

    Thanks :)
     
  20. Mornats

    Mornats Senior Member

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    Yes, take a look at the screenshot of KK above. Just above the Albion One logo is a down arrow. Under there is a menu and select View > Edit view and that'll open it up into edit mode. I'm on a PC not a Mac but the KK interface should work the same on both.
     
    Jake likes this.

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