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What type of keyboard controller for Orchestral programming?

Levon

Member
Hello,

What type of keyboard controller would people recommend for programming orchestral ensembles? (E.g. Albion One, MA Ark)

Can I get away with 61 keys or do I really need 88 keys?

Also is semi weighted synth action keys ok or would I be better off with fully weighted piano style keys?

Thanks,
Levon
 

guydoingmusic

Senior Member
You can program on a 2 octave keyboard with mini keys... it really just comes down to personal preference. I prefer using an 88 key so I have the full keyboard right in front of me at all times without having to octave up and down to reach other keys. I also would rather have weighted keys for most things - mainly because of being a piano player. Having said that - there are some very successful composers on here using smaller, non-weighted keyboards.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
Hi Levon -- there have been a few threads about this. Most strong piano players prefer fully-weighted keys, but if you plan to be at the keyboard for 12 hours a day or more, that can be a bit tiring. In that case, semi-weighted can be better.

I would cast around for other, recent threads, as this is territory that has been covered in (ahem) excruciating detail fairly recently.
 

gsilbers

Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com
what johng and guydoingmusic said.

i ended up getting the acorn masterkey61 because it was small in size and it had 4 controller plus volume and wheels.
i wanted to keep it simple and i like being close to the pc screen. i used to have a virus ti big keyboard and it was too big. then an maudio49 but needed an octave more. so slowly i kept evolving to what i liked most.
my next one might be the behringer deepmind 12 which is a synth. so back full circle but this time smaller synth.

my point is that everyone prefers something different. if you want the most and best answer it would be this

http://www.doepfer.de/lmk2.htm

thats the one covetet the most by composers. it can be installed into the desk and hans zimmer uses it so whatever he has everyone buys ;)
 

nenad3rd

New Member
Hi Gsilbers, can you share few words about masterkey61, I'm thinking of ordering it online, can't really test it.How does key's feel? I use to have maudio 49 and it was ok to me.
Thanks
 

hyperscientist

New Member
When you do a research on the internet looking for a quality keyboard with good action that is not weighted / piano-like, then it seems that two most voted for are Novation SL mk2 and Roland A-800 Pro. Both seem to have a good, consistent action with some giving slight edge towards SL. On the other hand A-800 seem to have better quality all around, which means sliders and pots. Probably both are pretty much just as good.

If you need a weighted keyboard with a grand piano feel (and aesthetics), then simply get a Kawai VPC1.

And if you would like to build it into your desk and are only interested in keys, then Doepfer LMK2.

Another keyboard controller that is worth taking a look at is NI Komplete Kontrol S88 - it shows up in MANY YouTube videos of professional composers and alike nowadays.

Last but not least interesting is VAXMIDI - a sequel to a highly regarded VAX77 for third of its price. Most likely a very good 48/72/96-key controller that is a lot like Doepfer but with very interesting keybed tech.
 

Puzzlefactory

Senior Member
I use a the NI S88 and really like it. Particularly as a lot of developers are making their libraries with NKS support.

It's a slight shame that it doesn't have faders but encoders seem to work ok for dynamics automation (on the patches that don't automatically route it to the mod wheel).
 

ZenFaced

Active Member
If you want high resolution velocity and ability to trigger fast repetitive notes make sure you get a keyboard with triple sensor technology
 

Daniele Nasuti

New Member
i ended up getting the acorn masterkey61 because it was small in size and it had 4 controller plus volume and wheels.
i wanted to keep it simple and i like being close to the pc screen. i used to have a virus ti big keyboard and it was too big. then an maudio49 but needed an octave more. so slowly i kept evolving to what i liked most.
how is it the acorn 61? I'm undecided between that and nektar gx61.
How the keys feel? Did you have any problem with that keyboard??
 

gsilbers

Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com
how is it the acorn 61? I'm undecided between that and nektar gx61.
How the keys feel? Did you have any problem with that keyboard??
i havent seen that nectar before. seems cool. the acorn has the more common synth type keys and the nektar seems to have the full keys so that might be different and i couldnt tell.
i like the low profile and 4 assianable knobs.
the acorn is very much like the m-audio keyboards. i have the keystation 49 and its almost the same. if that helps.
as for issues, sometimes the acorn spits out midi cc that i dontknow where its comming from. i just turn it off and on. im sure its some random settings im not finding. or it can be a small issue.
IF i found a midi keyboard with low profile that has aftertouch i might jump to that but for a simple midi controller the acorn fits the bill. but as any cheapo midi controller, (maudio etc), there is always the possibility of gettings a dud that breaks down withtin a year or getting a good one that lasts for 5+ years.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
It is widely used, but I can't see much compelling reason for that. Doepfer uses Fatar keybeds, and the exact same keybeds can be found in much less expensive keyboards. So with Doepfer you are paying hefty premiums for a sturdy case.
Well, a lot of keyboard manufacturers use Fatar. For me, the best thing about the Doepfer is its simplicity and reliability. Many of the keyboards I tried were shockingly flimsy and some have a reputation for sending "ghost" cc information from sliders or wheels, a defect that makes them practically useless.

I've had a number of good years out of my Doepfer and no complaints. That said, a lot of new keyboards (NI among them) have been released since I bought it and I would certainly check those out.

@chimuelo has a lot of good practical advice on keyboards and he plays live in Las Vegas, an unforgiving gig if there ever were one.
 

fixxer49

Bouncing Consultant
some have a reputation for sending "ghost" cc information
can you name some of these? i'm about to replace my 88 controller - for exactly the reason above - and don't want another experience like that... (if you are not comfortable posting publicly, please PM) thnx
 

Daniele Nasuti

New Member
i havent seen that nectar before. seems cool. the acorn has the more common synth type keys and the nektar seems to have the full keys so that might be different and i couldnt tell.
i like the low profile and 4 assianable knobs.
the acorn is very much like the m-audio keyboards. i have the keystation 49 and its almost the same. if that helps.
as for issues, sometimes the acorn spits out midi cc that i dontknow where its comming from. i just turn it off and on. im sure its some random settings im not finding. or it can be a small issue.
IF i found a midi keyboard with low profile that has aftertouch i might jump to that but for a simple midi controller the acorn fits the bill. but as any cheapo midi controller, (maudio etc), there is always the possibility of gettings a dud that breaks down withtin a year or getting a good one that lasts for 5+ years.
no, I found on internet that also nektar gx has normal keys (synth action)

I wanted one little for having on my desk at disposal immediately if I need or I have a sudden idea and being able to immediately record, without set up the audio interface etc...
I already have an 88 masterkey but I needed something more pratical with 61 keys.

however with m audio I had several problems so I don't want another of that brand.
I only need something little like acorn or nektar but I don't know which is better also in terms of durability.

can you name some of these? i'm about to replace my 88 controller - for exactly the reason above - and don't want another experience like that... (if you are not comfortable posting publicly, please PM) thnx
sorry, what 88 controller do you have to replace?
 

gsilbers

Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com
no, I found on internet that also nektar gx has normal keys (synth action)

I wanted one little for having on my desk at disposal immediately if I need or I have a sudden idea and being able to immediately record, without set up the audio interface etc...
I already have an 88 masterkey but I needed something more pratical with 61 keys.

however with m audio I had several problems so I don't want another of that brand.
I only need something little like acorn or nektar but I don't know which is better also in terms of durability.
if i didnt know any better i would think the acorn and maudio where made in the same factory/design/firm. its almost exactly like grabbing the keystation and adding the fader and 4 knobs.
but the rest could be exactly the same. key feels, mod wheel feel and back side.
even the programming is about the same. i guessing its the factory next door to m-audios in china that saw the model, said, adding 4 knobs will sell better and went with it. oh the wonders of china this decade. anyways.. hope it helps.
 

Alex Fraser

Senior Member
I have the "bargain basement" combo of Keystation 88 under the desk (the semi-weighted version) and Korg Nano Kontrol. The Keystation isn't great as a performance instrument, but for the actual reality of day-to-day writing, it's fine. Goes under the desk, thin enough for favourable ergonomics.

And when it wears out and breaks (and it will) - swap it over for the spare. ;)
 

JohnG

Senior Member
can you name some of these? i'm about to replace my 88 controller - for exactly the reason above - and don't want another experience like that... (if you are not comfortable posting publicly, please PM) thnx
I can't quite remember actually. I tested a number of them at a reasonably well-stocked Guitar Center and some I read about online. I was amazed at how cheap some of the wheels and toggles and joysticks felt. Like crumby game controllers.
 

Daniele Nasuti

New Member
hope it helps.
of course!! At least now I know that keys are normal feeling. :)
I'm only a bit worried about that midi problem, but if isn't nothing too much problematic(like if it changed some parameter or notes on the actual recording or on vst) and you can solve simply turn off an on, then it's ok. (I mean if it's not a thing that happens too much often...)

However I know that sometimes brands change only something but the instrument it's exactly the same. For ex. there is an electric drum that the only different thing is the name on it (Millenium md 90; Alesis compact kit 7; PylePro Portable Drums, gear4music DD70, are all the same instrument!!!) ahahah

alesis q88
so did you hav problem
Keystation 88
M-audio? I had a masterkey but after something like 2 years the B central key didn't play anymore so the whole keyboard was unusable.

I've also had a pair of little monitors of m-audio but after 2 year didn't work anymore.
So if I can give some advice: M-audio never again.
 
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