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Fatar 88-note controller, but which one to buy?
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analogholic
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#1
28th December 2006
Old 28th December 2006
  #1
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Fatar 88-note controller, but which one to buy?

Hello,

I´m thinking of getting myself a Fatar 88-note weighted controller, but which one?

NO 1 here is the FEEL of the keyboard and the velocity curves, NO 2 would be the master functions since I have a fat midipatchbay and a sliderbox.

So, SL-880 Pro, SL-990 Pro, SL-990 XP, or the VMK-188 Plus ?

From what I understand the SL-990 Pro has the lightest action of the bunch, and VMK-188 Plus has the latest "Gran Touch" keybed, graded hammer-action.

I want to get as close to Pianotouch as everyone else, but I don´t want it to be TOO heavy. For example, I tried to make friends with the new yamaha CP-33 digitalpiano, and I no matter how much I played it, it didn´t happen. The action was a tad too heavy and slow for me. I could not express myself at all compared to a good grand or upright. Too bad, because I liked the pianosounds and would have bought it in a snap if the action was right.

Of course, action and feel of a board is very personal, but to get a general idea, since I can´t try out the boards where I live.

I tried to email Fatar in Italy twice, but no answer.

So, if anyone have any experiences with these boards, please shed some light. I would be very grateful since I need it for an upcoming gig soon.
#2
28th December 2006
Old 28th December 2006
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Having repaired quite a few Fatar controllers up until about 3 years ago, I would have to say that they were the worst built keyboards I have worked on in 22 years, and their materials were even worse. I refuse to work on them at all now as the cases usually disintegrate. These are the black 88 note keyboards that I am talking about, perhaps something has changed in the last few years and they could be OK now....
#3
28th December 2006
Old 28th December 2006
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I've never been inside the thing, but I got a Fatar Studio 90 on Craig's List a little more than a year ago. Think I paid $100. It's been great. I've never gigged with it, though. Maybe that's key (no pun intended.)

If it disintegrates, I'll shrug and toss it in the bin.
#4
22nd July 2008
Old 22nd July 2008
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Revival!

In the spirit of the new message to all of the Gearslutz to not duplicate threads- I am hereby reviving this thread to see what anyone has to say about it now.

I am looking into getting a Studiologic SL990 XP/PRO, or the Studiologic VMK 188+.

I am curious about the difference between the XP and the PRO SL990, There is a small physical difference with some switches in the middle of the board, but otherwise- I am not sure. What does the Pro have that makes it worth $100.00 over the SL990 XP?

And how do they compare to the VMK?
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#5
22nd July 2008
Old 22nd July 2008
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkEcho View Post
In the spirit of the new message to all of the Gearslutz to not duplicate threads- I am hereby reviving this thread to see what anyone has to say about it now.

I am looking into getting a Studiologic SL990 XP/PRO, or the Studiologic VMK 188+.

I am curious about the difference between the XP and the PRO SL990, There is a small physical difference with some switches in the middle of the board, but otherwise- I am not sure. What does the Pro have that makes it worth $100.00 over the SL990 XP?

And how do they compare to the VMK?
The Pro has 8 velocity curves, the XP has 1 linear curve. From what I've heard, you're better off without the curves as the Fatar electronics for this are unreliable.
#6
23rd July 2008
Old 23rd July 2008
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I thought it was CME that had velocity issues. So you're saying to get the XP? Can't I adjust velocity curves in my DAW anyways?
#7
23rd July 2008
Old 23rd July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkEcho View Post
I thought it was CME that had velocity issues. So you're saying to get the XP? Can't I adjust velocity curves in my DAW anyways?
The CME is a different issue: the black keys can't transmit full 127 velocity.

Yes, you can get the XP and adjust your velocity curve on your MIDI module or DAW.

The $100. saved on the XP could go toward this: MIDI Solutions Velocity Converter; MIDI Velocity Processor
#8
23rd July 2008
Old 23rd July 2008
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I just found a board for sale nearby, its the more expensive SL990 Pro, but its only 200 bucks used. Should I go for it, or will those velocity curve mess me up?

Just found out that it doesnt have modulation wheels though.... This one must be a lot older...
#9
20th January 2011
Old 20th January 2011
  #9
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So are Fatar Studiologic keyboards worthy or no?.. I saw Klaus Badelt using the discontinued SL-880 and I'm assuming it couldn't be that bad (old video however).. What about the new hammer-action 88-key m-audio oxygen? I'm aiming to replicate the sound of a full orchestra as close as possible... With Hans Zimmer style compositions.
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#10
20th January 2011
Old 20th January 2011
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This thread is 4 years old.

But I will just add that I plan to get the VMK-88 soon, so will probably eventually report how good it is on these boards.
#11
20th January 2011
Old 20th January 2011
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I've had two SL990 pros one of which i still have and I also have an SL880 ( got it for £120 in the last VEMIA )

All three send unwanted pitch bend data when none should be sent ( not enough to make any difference to the sounds but enough to trigger logic to register when recording ......) ALL THREE ! ! !

The first SL990 I ordered from Thomann and within two weeks it flipped out and suddenly I found random notes placed in the wrong places ... go up the scale from C3 and suddenly G7 pops up in the A3 note etc..... found out from FATAR that they were sending out the wrong power transformers which didn't work too well in the UK......

Second SL990 pro ..... still using it, love the action but the pitch data thing is a total arse !

Note that the SL990 Pro doesn't have a volume pedal option even tho it's labled on the back the hole is filled in...... which is strange seeing as the 'Pro' doesn't have this but the XL does ! \?

Action wise the 990 and 880 are the same, can't feel any difference myself.... the 880 is more sturdy and offers split zones and aftertouch ... which the 990 doesn't ..... if you can get one go for the SL880

Beer.
#12
20th January 2011
Old 20th January 2011
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by triez View Post
Having repaired quite a few Fatar controllers up until about 3 years ago, I would have to say that they were the worst built keyboards I have worked on in 22 years, and their materials were even worse. I refuse to work on them at all now as the cases usually disintegrate. These are the black 88 note keyboards that I am talking about, perhaps something has changed in the last few years and they could be OK now....
Could you be a bit more specific about this , is there any difference between the fatar controllers ( and the fatar keybeds that are used in novation ,yamaha's etc ...
#13
21st January 2011
Old 21st January 2011
  #13
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i absolutely love my Studiologic VMK 176+

it feels like i could use it to batter a wall down. the keys feel really great to play. i've had zero issues, bought it used.. think its almost 6 years old now and is in perfect condition

i didn't like the aftertouch at first... either i learned how to control pressure better or the aftertouch just needed some breaking in, but now its perfect
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#14
26th April 2011
Old 26th April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beermaster View Post
I've had two SL990 pros one of which i still have and I also have an SL880 ( got it for £120 in the last VEMIA )

All three send unwanted pitch bend data when none should be sent ( not enough to make any difference to the sounds but enough to trigger logic to register when recording ......) ALL THREE ! ! !

The first SL990 I ordered from Thomann and within two weeks it flipped out and suddenly I found random notes placed in the wrong places ... go up the scale from C3 and suddenly G7 pops up in the A3 note etc..... found out from FATAR that they were sending out the wrong power transformers which didn't work too well in the UK......

Second SL990 pro ..... still using it, love the action but the pitch data thing is a total arse !

Note that the SL990 Pro doesn't have a volume pedal option even tho it's labled on the back the hole is filled in...... which is strange seeing as the 'Pro' doesn't have this but the XL does ! \?

Action wise the 990 and 880 are the same, can't feel any difference myself.... the 880 is more sturdy and offers split zones and aftertouch ... which the 990 doesn't ..... if you can get one go for the SL880

Beer.
Hello Beermaster!

Two weeks ago I took out the keybed from my Fatar SL-990 metal case, in order to integrate it in a neat custom desk. I noticed there was a cable between the case ans the "metal feet" of the keybed but first ignore it and didn't use it in the custom desk (I had no idea why it was there in the first place...).

Then, the exact problem you described happened: random data was sent, on channel 1 and 2 (modulation and breath controller !?). The problem, it turned out, is a kind of grounding issue that I don't understand, but found a solution for it nevertheless. I connected a simple metal wire from the keyboard " electronic card" (where the midi and power connections are) to a ground in my studio. A ground can be anything metal from a properly grounded equipment. Suddenly, the random data just disappeared, completely!

So that's all you have to do. Connect a wire to a metal part of the card to a ground part somewhere else. If you are unsure and are still interested, I can take a pic of what I did. To me the issue was a fatal one, as I use the modulation wheel all the time (I'm a media composer with orchestral libraries that need lots of modulation data). I found out about the solution by holding the card in my hand (was about to break it in two... ) and then the midi data stopped Then the grounding issue/idea came.

On a side note, the Fatar keybeds are quite good and sturdy IMO, and much better than all the other junk out there (M-Audio, etc...). Doepfer use the Fatar keybeds in their products also.
#15
26th April 2011
Old 26th April 2011
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Also check your MIDI cables. A short in a MIDI cable will cause random/stuck/etc notes/data as I found out one day.

Strangely enough I found this out on an SL990!

Sent from my PC36100 using Gearslutz.com App
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#16
4th July 2011
Old 4th July 2011
  #16
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I've had lots of problems with the Fatar SL990XP

Two replacement CPUs and both were faulty. I have taken the unit completely apart and there is no physical explanation for the odd velocity inconsistency and other aberrations. The midistore arranged for a second XP board and after three months Fatar sent them the CPU for the Sl990 which of course has no midi channel switching. It also has only sustain on channel one. I've given up. I'm using an earlier ST900 which has no data glitches but the faux overthrow rail nibs have broken off so if you really smack the key the hammer will come up and hit the actual key. I've put some little felt pads where the contact happens and it has cut down on the noise. I would advise against anyone buying the SL990XP for I believe it can only transmit sustain on channel 1. If you have the XP check it out and get back to this forum since Fatar has denied there is a problem. Midistore said I should just keep the CPU since it cleared up some problems but at a cost of transmitting only on channel one and still the sustain issue. John Poole, see wyncoteacademy.org faculty for short bio. I've been using only controllers since '92.
#17
6th November 2011
Old 6th November 2011
  #17
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yes please post a picture.. this problem has been bugging me for several years now. no luck with deoxit on this one...

does anyone suppose i could just swap in this part made by doepfer?

a n a l o g u e h a v e n



i also read this online
"My analog synth experience tells me that, depending on the circuit, you can use zener diodes to create a dead spot at the bottom of the throw of a noisy pot. In the example of a diode with a "knee" voltage of .6 volts, and the wiper of the pot on the controller swept from 0V to +5V, then you can set it up in such a way that the wiper would always be at "zero" when it was in effect anywhere below .6V. You can find other diodes with smaller "knees" if you're working with a smaller voltage range, or if you want to make the "dead spot" as small as possible. You'd probably lose 2 or 3 "ticks" at the bottom of the controller scale, unless you re-tune or bias the circuit, but that shouldn't be too much of a big deal for MOD 1.

The best situation, of course, is to replace the potentiometer in question."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Melodioso View Post
Hello Beermaster!

Two weeks ago I took out the keybed from my Fatar SL-990 metal case, in order to integrate it in a neat custom desk. I noticed there was a cable between the case ans the "metal feet" of the keybed but first ignore it and didn't use it in the custom desk (I had no idea why it was there in the first place...).

Then, the exact problem you described happened: random data was sent, on channel 1 and 2 (modulation and breath controller !?). The problem, it turned out, is a kind of grounding issue that I don't understand, but found a solution for it nevertheless. I connected a simple metal wire from the keyboard " electronic card" (where the midi and power connections are) to a ground in my studio. A ground can be anything metal from a properly grounded equipment. Suddenly, the random data just disappeared, completely!

So that's all you have to do. Connect a wire to a metal part of the card to a ground part somewhere else. If you are unsure and are still interested, I can take a pic of what I did. To me the issue was a fatal one, as I use the modulation wheel all the time (I'm a media composer with orchestral libraries that need lots of modulation data). I found out about the solution by holding the card in my hand (was about to break it in two... ) and then the midi data stopped Then the grounding issue/idea came.

On a side note, the Fatar keybeds are quite good and sturdy IMO, and much better than all the other junk out there (M-Audio, etc...). Doepfer use the Fatar keybeds in their products also.
#18
6th November 2011
Old 6th November 2011
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VMK+ series has only one zone, no splits on keyboard FYI
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