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Re: Any decent Midi/USB keyboards these days? (37keys/aftertouch; Sculpture)

Doepfer seem to get good reviews. They're one of the few (perhaps only) companies making dedicated controller keyboards without all the plasticy bells and whistles - just really solid key-beds and nothing else. Only downside is they're pretty expensive and look like they weigh a ton.

It does seem as though the only way to get a good, compact keyboard these days is to get one with a synth built in! I understand why manufacturers want to pack their controllers with all this distracting junk but I think there's a really big gap in the market for a simple, solid, compact, reasonably priced midi keyboard. Just a keyboard and a pitch wheel/joystick and maybe a ribbon controller. I know I'd buy one. I don't know how many threads on message boards I've read where people are looking for just that. Just something you can sit down in front of and play as an instrument, without having anything else to look at or think about.

It seems that all Akai, Novation, etc. see when they look at this market is 16 year old wannabe 'producers' who want an entire studio in one box.

Anyway, having said all of that, this not-sixteen-year-old wannabe producer is very excited about Push. Not sure I'll get one - it's hellish expensive - but I will definitely try one out at the first opportunity. As I can't really play keys very well I'd be giving nothing up by learning to play that. But then, as I said: expensive!


--On 18 February 2013 19:59 +0100 Buzap <buzap@gmx.net> wrote:

Hi folks

I'm looking for a compact yet capable midi (or USB) keyboard. Year after
year, I go through the same procedure: Go to a music store, try out ALL
available midi/USB keyboards - then go home empty handed... Sure, with a
2000+ EUR/$ synthesizer, you sometimes get nice keyboard action. But usb
keyboard controllers? Once in a while, I unbox my beautiful Korg Trinity
and I'm amazed how musical & expressive the keyboard plays: My right hand
plays a wonderful (I believe Fatar) top quality keyboard with responsive
aftertouch. In my left hand, I have a joystick (x = pitch, y+/- = two
modulations), ribbon control and two switches directly available.

I have to yet recreate that experience on a midi/usb keyboard + software
setting. As for software, Logic's Sculpture was an exciting discovery
recently. Can't believe I've ignored such a great physical modeling
instrument for so long... I love it!

With hardware keyboards, I still have problems.

First a word on quality/responsiveness/aftertouch:
Is it me or do midi/usb keyboards in recent years lack the quality of
simple keyboards in the 90ies? I mean, in early 90ies, even a cheaper
Yamaha/Casio keyboard would have decent action. Even the crappy old Casio
VL-1 from the 80ies has better built quality than most laptop-sized
keyboards nowadays. Talking about responsiveness: Hardly any keyboard
seems to have aftertouch. Lack thereof completely takes the life out of
the virtual instrument for me.

Then modulation wheels (yuck):
If the compact keyboards provide any modulation/pitchbend at all, it's
mostly wheels (vs joystick). I wonder: How do you actually manage to use
two (=pitchbend+mod) wheels at the same time? With a joystick, I can
manage more parameters easily (see above). Mod wheels? I don't know...

Here a word on 37 keys:
I find 2 octaves utterly useless. First, you only get real two octaves
when you play the note "C". For any other note, you only have one "real"
full octave. And for entering chord progressions, it's never enough. With
37 keys, you can start off in the middle octave and you can always jump
up/down one octave (then realign with octave buttons). For me it's
perfect for single handed playing. For two hands, I at least need 5
octaves minimum. So don't know why people come up with 25/49-keybards.
While we're at it: Why start with the note "C"? Starting with F/G would
be much more useful...

Ok, so, what are my options? My favorite being the Korg Microkey...
KORG MICROKEY 37 (http://www.korg.com/microkey)
+ compact size
+ good keyboard action
+ pitchbend and mod wheel!
- lacks aftertouch
- no sustain pedal
NOVATION SL 37 / successor??
(http://novationmusic.de/midi-controllers/sl-mkii) + As far as I
remember, action was quite nice.
+ Expressive controls (joystick, touchpad, aftertouch)
- too bulky, faders etc. take a lot of space
? Not available anymore, any decent successor???
ALESIS VORTEX KEYTAR (http://www.alesis.com/vortex)
+/- it's a keytar! :-)
+ Has aftertouch!!
? Any experience playing it / or keytar advice in general???

As always, looking forward to your feedback :)