G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome)


#1

Please use this Topic to provide Advice & Guidance that will help me and others sift through the myriad of options out there for reasonably affordable gear that will help us all better composers and satisfy the urge to buy gear.

First up:
A reasonably priced 88 key hammer action weighted keyboard controller with faders for expression, dynamic control and vibrato?

Fader controllers may need to be separate, EG from pallet gear.

Thanks in advance.


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#2

@Movedrill M-Audio are usually a cheap go to midi controller, look on google.


#3

So hard to give an opinion when the key aspect of a purchase - your budget is unknown, so whatever I say here is probably not applicable to you, but I will try to cover all bases.

in this demo video, you will find an M-Audio 88 note with faders and knobs. Relatively inexpensive.

But no longer available as new.

Here is what I think regarding controllers.

The most important thing you need is reliability. A reliable device will serve you for over 5 years assuredly and probably up to 10 years, and the peace of mind you get from this lack of failure, makes you a better creative person. Sometimes its worth it to pay a bit for this.

So hard to recommend something that I have not used myself, I usually recommend weighted keys from Yamaha or Roland.

Those with lots of money tend to use something from Doepfer. You see these in a lot of high end composer videos, pretty pricey.

If you do not have a whole lot of money, I would suggest something like a Yamaha P45 which will connect via USB MIDI to any USB on your computer (you most likely need to install the Yamaha USB driver to enable this) .

if you can find a Yamaha P35 it has an advantage - it has standard MIDI ports rather than USB MIDI, which could be an advantage if you wish to control other MIDI devices, without having to us a computer as a thru box. It is also cheaper than the P45, but dare say the P35 is also discontinued.

The key selling point for the “inexpensive” Yamaha keybeds is their reliability.

What I do not appreciate about the cheap Yamaha products is their lack of a Pitch bend or Modulation wheel… if these are important to your workflow.

Then pair this with a Korg Nano Kontrol 2, which is inexpensive - to add sliders and knobs and buttons.
Note this comes in other colors, in case you do not like white…

Or one of the MIDI controllers (only sliders and buttons and knobs) from AKAI or Behringer. I think AKAI still retains their reputation for reliable products.

https://m-audio.com/products/view/oxygen-88


#4

Depends on what “reasonably priced” is.

What you’ve described is something that basically every pianist who dabbles with virtual instruments has wanted since the dawn of time.

What I’ve been eyeing recently (runs about $900 USD) https://www.studiologic-music.com/products/sl-grand/
Studiologic is essentially fatar, who builds a very large number of the keybeds found on the market. It uses their favored wood Grand Piano action keybed (TP40 wood), and has 3 X/Y sticks that you can map as you desire.

Another in this price range (runs about $1000 USD) is https://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/keyboards/komplete-kontrol-s88/ Definitely has more bells and whistles, particularly with software integration. As far as I know the keybed isn’t quite as nice but still very good. Again there aren’t faders, but this one has dedicated pitch bend / mod as well as a plethora of knobs.

I imagine you want to spend less than this. Probably your best option is to:

  1. Buy a used digital piano (Casio Privia are good for the money, so are the yamaha and roland equivalent) for keyboard feel and midi in
  2. Get additional midi hardware for the extra parameter control, or use an app like Klevgrand Weeel (Mobile MIDI CC on X/Y)

This route you can most likely spend only about $400 for a good feeling board and access to the controls you want. I would call that reasonable for the requested feature set, especially in our current market.


#5

Thanks @Pierce @KeithTheodosiou58 for your helpful thoughts.

I should’ve asked a more straight forward question to the community - What keyboard do you use?

Defo going to have to get a good keybed machine and a separate controller. These look pretty tasty https://www.instagram.com/faderctrl/

Shame there’s not a simple combination of these two.


#6

@Movedrill I use the komplete kontrol s61 mk2 but that isn’t really cheap and if you havn’t got one of the Komplete packages or a lot of Kontakt libraries it’s not worth getting.


#7

@KeithTheodosiou58 thanks for the info. I use Komplete 10 and may have to admit defeat and go the way of Komplete control. Interested in Fatar keybeds. Will investigate further.


#8

Having lost the use of two different items of M-Audio gear because they don’t/won’t update their firmware to work with current computer Operating Systems (a third item seems to be about to follow the same route), then I am now cautious about buying M-Audio gear and expecting long-term support.

One of the criteria that I use when selecting new gear is to assess the quality of support - particularly firmware updates. Novation get a high score for this type of activity, with Yamaha next, then Arturia… I was about to type that it is a shame there isn’t a web resource for this type of thing, and then I realised that it was in my hands, so I’ve been playing with cloud-based shared databases like Atlassian’s Confluence, or Airtable (which may be the next big thing!). My current tester is here: https://airtable.com/shryNZ3Z1IkD8kMfI (Airtable and Confluence both allow collaborative editing, so the aim would be to share editing access with a small number of interested and trusted people…) There aren’t many entries at the moment…

I have restricted entries in the underlying database to gear where the firmware update is designed to be user-updatable, usually via a download to a computer and eventually (SYSEX dumps over MIDI or USB, data over USB, memory cards. etc.) going into internal Flash memory in the gear. Older equipment, where the Operating System would be in hardware form as an EPROM (actually an ancestor of Flash memory) are well covered by sites like the excellent DBWBP.com: http://dbwbp.com/index.php/9-misc/37-synth-eprom-dumps

In use, the idea is that people wishing to acquire a new piece of gear would look at the database for the manufacturer of a potential piece of 'gear-to-be-acquired, and would inspect it to see how many firmware updates they have released (plus notes on the relative proportion on bug fixes versus new features), or if firmware updates have stopped (M-Audio’s Firewire 410 Audio Interface, or MIDISport 8x8, for example). This would allow a more informed purchase to be made.


#9

Oof this hit me in the feels, I too lost an M-Audio FireWire interface to their lack of support


#10

@Pierce I share your pain.

One possible way to get a good result from this is a crowd-sourced resource that makes firmware support visible to all, and which might nudge manufacturers in the right direction.

I’m looking for editors to help fill in the database. As a free bonus, they will get first-hand experience of Airtable…


#11

Watch your local stores and CL for a used Yamaha P series Midi digital pianos (P-70 for ie). There are plenty out there used by students, teachers, etc. The feel of the weighted keys is very good, you can turn off the internal speakers, and then you can pickup something to do knobs/faders like the Nanokontrol or similar.


#12

I have taken all of the comments on ‘keyboard controllers’ so far, and placed them in a cloud spreadsheet/database. You can view it here: https://airtable.com/shrcIBT5ydGOzlSMv

I am looking for editors to help me maintain the database. Volunteers will get edit access and gain familiarity with Airtable (allegedly the next big thing!).

(If there are any corrections to the database, please let me know. Thanks.)