Best overall keyboard controller

Peter Ostry

Administrator
Staff member
The "best" keyboard controller does not exist.
Specify your wishes ("don't care" is a valid specification ;-)
  • Generally – simple or sophisticated/programmable?
  • Usage – home, studio, stage, mixed?
  • Music – classical, contemporary, experimental?
  • Prefered instruments – keys, plucked, bowed, blown, all?
  • Size of device – small, medium, big, portable?
  • How many keys – 25, 49, 61, 76, 88?
  • Which key mechanics – hammer, weighted, semi-weighted, unweighted/waterfall?
  • Aftertouch – none, channel, poly?
  • MIDI controls for hardware and/or software – buttons, knobs (potentiometer or encoder?), faders, pads?
  • ModWheel and PitchWheel – both? Separate wheels or combined?
  • MIDI via USB, MIDI connectors (cables), both?
  • Power supply – external, USB, both?
  • Price range?
 

donnchaidh

New Member
Dear Pete,

Thanks so much for your reply and expertise in this matter. I have answered your bulleted questions. At this point I have an old M-Audio OX8 which works. I spend a lot of time tweaking and adding parameters to the piano roll and I am looking towards a controler that allows me to manipulate the signal on-the-fly, capturing the performance. I am in the process of evaluating keyboards. So far I have purchased the Arturia KeyLab 61. It works great with the software it comes with but doesn't play nice with logic's synth library. I am going to eval the Arturia MicroFreak today and NI Komplete control 61 MkII and Nektar's T4 in ther near future. Also, I am a Chapman Stick player so eventually I want to delve into the Roland gtr synthesis.

I really do appreciate any suggestions and guidance that you have

Thanks Again.

Sincerely

Duncan

The "best" keyboard controller does not exist.
Specify your wishes ("don't care" is a valid specification ;-)
  • Generally – simple or sophisticated/programmable? Not sure at this point, but sophisticated with ease of use would be preferable.
  • Usage – home, studio, stage, mixed? Home studio and stage
  • Music – classical, contemporary, experimental? Ethereal Electronica, EDM, rock, roots ragga ska...
  • Prefered instruments – keys, plucked, bowed, blown, all? Keys for this stage of endeavor.
  • Size of device – small, medium, big, portable? Medium up and portable
  • How many keys – 25, 49, 61, 76, 88? 49 and above
  • Which key mechanics – hammer, weighted, semi-weighted, unweighted/waterfall? not concerned at this point, I'm a bass/gtr player, Although I understand and have experienced the feel of weighted keys.
  • Aftertouch – none, channel, poly? Don't know at this point.
  • MIDI controls for hardware and/or software – buttons, knobs (potentiometer or encoder?), faders, pads? Yes, Yes and More Yes.
  • ModWheel and PitchWheel – both? Separate wheels or combined? Yes Yes
  • MIDI via USB, MIDI connectors (cables), both? yes, I think.
  • Power supply – external, USB, both? Yes, both.
  • Price range? I pay for a device that will best interface with the LogicX and its plugins and third party plugins. If the price is up in the thousands I will concider the devise if it fill the requirements which are fluxuating at this point.
 

Peter Ostry

Administrator
Staff member
I am surprised that you do not like the Arturia KeyLab 61. It should work well with Logic, maybe you tried an older one or you have to use the custom MIDI mode, which lets you control everything yourself. The Arturia Keylab MKII would be my first choice for evaluation. Plenty of connectivity, USB and external power supply, longer faders than most others.

My second candidate would be the Nektar Panorama T6. In comparison to the KeyLab it has very short faders, USB power only, and accepts just a sustain- and one expression pedal. DAW integration may be a little easier to get.

Both are robust devices with semi-weighted keys.
 

donnchaidh

New Member
Thank you Peter, I have not yet evaled the Arturia Keylab MKII. It was the Arturia keylab essential 61. I am going through the Native Instrument Komplete Kontrol and I really like the build, layout and feel of the instrument but getting into the MIDI assignments is laborious. (I did mention I'm a bass player ;-) The Arturia Keylab MKII and T6 are on their way to the studio and the NI KK is being sent back. I'll let you know how I make out. Can't wait to fool around with the MicroFreak Looks like a fun little synth. And I'm going to look at the Nektar P6 as well. Wish me luck!
 

Peter Ostry

Administrator
Staff member
You are welcome.

I would like the sheer number of control elements on the Nektar P6, the longer faders and especially the motorfader. But somehow I don't trust this controller without knowing it. Will it push you very deep into parameter fiddling and writing cheat sheets instead of playing? The motorfader itself is a good product, but 5V from USB? Normally, quick motorfaders need power like from an external 12V/1A supply or such. Maybe one should have a very strong active USB hub for this keyboard. Overall that's just a feeling, I may be wrong.

Regarding the KeyLab MKII, if you finally decide to keep it and if you are sitting at the keyboard (not standing), think about adding a couple of expression pedals and control parameters hands free.

I think we are through for now and I wish you good luck.
 
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