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Travel controller : MPK mini or Quneo
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lysander
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#1
15th February 2013
Old 15th February 2013
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Travel controller : MPK mini or Quneo

I'm looking for a small compact controller for travel and holidays.
Given the size requirements the keys are always going to be very restricted, so I could potentially do without them altogether like on the Quneo.
I do want some good pads though to practice finger drumming, since I should be able to have the "real experience" with a compact size.

I'm enough of a gearslutz to be also tempted by the Maschine Mikro but that is starting to get very expensive for something I'm only going to use a few weeks a year ( I already have a Maschine ). Not to mention it's also not that small.

Does anyone have experience with above options ? I've never tried any of these in person.
lysander
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16th February 2013
Old 16th February 2013
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Anyone ?
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16th February 2013
Old 16th February 2013
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I didn't like the QuNeo, it never worked right for me, very buggy and would randomly not power on. I sent it back. So I'm going to give it a -1.
lysander
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16th February 2013
Old 16th February 2013
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Hmm that's good to know thanks for that.
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17th February 2013
Old 17th February 2013
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I've tried a few of these mini keyboard controllers and there is one that I love and other not so much. The Korg Nanokey isn't that great. I tried the Icon iKey also and it sucked, but the ribbon controllers were awesome on it. I wish more companies would put ribbons controllers on mini keyboards. The Akai Lpk keys are horrible.

But the M-Audio mini Keystation 32 is fantastic. The feel of the keys and the velocity sensitivity is great. If you want controls with it, go for the M-Audio Axiom Air Mini 32. Same keys, but with 8 knobs, 8 drumpads, and transport controls. Nice small compact package and your not constrained to a limited 25 keys. There are also the Korg Microkey controllers, which I heard are pretty good, but have never tried one.
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17th February 2013
Old 17th February 2013
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MPK Mini
rlg
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17th February 2013
Old 17th February 2013
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I like the QuNeo as a travel controller. Cheap-ish, very compact, it has velocity sensitive pads for music-making, and plenty of Ableton functionality if that's interesting for you. I wrote a script for it as well, which mixes Live functionality, finger drumming, and note playing from one preset. Should be easily locatable on the QuNeo forums.
#8
17th February 2013
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The new minilab, out in march



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17th February 2013
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Minilab gets a big from me. Love that it has the ribbons on the side. I wish they would make that into a Mini-45 key controller, keep the ribbons, but take off the knobs and pads. I just want a compact controller with enough keys and ability to modulate a couple parameters with the ribbons.

Lysander, don't trust the people reviewing any of these controllers on youtube. I watched some by a few companies and they are completely aimed at selling products and promoting it, no matter how bad they fell/work. Try to go to a guitar center or something to demo some of the mini keys out. The Akai Mpk sucks. Well the keys are terrible and the knobs are kind of slippery as well as small and not easy to grab. The pads are fine, but if the keys suck I won't touch it. They were as bad as the Icon iKey I had.

If the Korg Microkey keys are the same as in the Korg Microsampler and MicroKorg XL, then they are pretty nice. But the best imo is the M-Audio Mini Keystation 32/ Axiom Air Mini.

I would check out some reviews of the Quneo. I thought I remember some issues people were having with them, but am not sure. But I do think it's a cool controller and would like to try one myself.

To sum it up: M-Audio Axiom Air Mini > Akai MPK Mini
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17th February 2013
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For playing/practicing pads Korg's small NanoPad2 ($60) has 16 pads and an X-Y touchpad.



It's really useful when at home too. But the $99 Axiom Air mini seems pretty good if you need something primarily for travelling and want keys plus pads.

lysander
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17th February 2013
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Thanks for all the suggestions !
The m-audio looks pretty good although towards the max of reasonable size - I can already see my wife's face when packing this into a suitcase
More worryingly though the consensus seems to be that while the keys are decent the knobs and pads are very poor ?

I had thought about the nano pad 2 but the review of the pads are quite mixed - a number of people seem to have units where they are stiff and unresponsive. What's your experience Skira ? I read people say the pads on the mpk mini were better quality.

The Arturia minilab could be a winner if the pads are good, unlike the Arturia Laboratory 49 controller I used to have were they were completely unusable.
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17th February 2013
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Never used the MPK mini, but I like the NanoPad for its tiny size and X-Y controller and iPad connectivity.




(Photos not mine, linked from Flickr.) The 1st-gen Nano hardware were reported to have had various problems but I think they've pretty much been ironed out with the Nano2 series. Korg's editor software lets you choose 3 velocity curves or fixed velocity, specify note numbers, and assign chords. Decent for the price.
lysander
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18th February 2013
Old 18th February 2013
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Thanks for that Skira.

Now I've also added the Livid instruments Base to my short list.
Quite expensive, but definitely something I would use day to day and would double as a travel controller.
My only questions are how responsive the pads are, when does it come out, and how easy it is to program. I've emailed Livid Instruments about it.
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18th February 2013
Old 18th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
I didn't like the QuNeo, it never worked right for me, very buggy and would randomly not power on. I sent it back. So I'm going to give it a -1.
They had a batch of bad cables, when I had one it acted up like that, too, until they sent me a good cable.

At the end of the day, it is great if you like 4x4 pads, but at the same time it spits out so much MIDI it can overwhelm Reason and some of the pads were weirdly glitchy, I think due to the CC they spit out as well as note data (would get strange cutoffs and parameter changes). I think it's a great concept, but I didn't have time to sit down and carefully set it all up to work nicely for me, so I sent it back.
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18th February 2013
Old 18th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KrisM View Post
They had a batch of bad cables, when I had one it acted up like that, too, until they sent me a good cable.

At the end of the day, it is great if you like 4x4 pads, but at the same time it spits out so much MIDI it can overwhelm Reason and some of the pads were weirdly glitchy, I think due to the CC they spit out as well as note data (would get strange cutoffs and parameter changes). I think it's a great concept, but I didn't have time to sit down and carefully set it all up to work nicely for me, so I sent it back.
Not just the cable. I tried a different cable and it worked better, but was still unusable. After all the bs with the heavy delays on the Kickstarter and glitchy software I was not interested in swapping with another unit. They tried to tell me I was the first person to return one. Glad to know I'm not crazy. I just returned mine about a month ago, after finally getting through to KMI (their support department is nonexistent and unhelpful on a good day, rude on others). The rotaries were a cool concept but totally unusable. The pads usually worked okay, the faders I had issues making respond right. It always sent way too much MIDI data, even when I tried to dumb it down and use it as a very basic controller. The lack of a hard power switch is also a horrible design idea, as well as lack of integrated MIDI (instead having to use the janky MIDI expander...um yeah that will totally get lost in 2 seconds on the road). For a guy that claims to be the second coming of Bob Moog, they have issues.
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18th February 2013
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One intriguing element of the Quneo controller is that the long slider can send continuous midi note, cc or osc data for two points and/or the space between the two points, giving you two-note polyphony for $200.
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20th February 2013
Old 20th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lysander View Post
Thanks for all the suggestions !
The m-audio looks pretty good although towards the max of reasonable size - I can already see my wife's face when packing this into a suitcase
More worryingly though the consensus seems to be that while the keys are decent the knobs and pads are very poor ?
The keys are the best out of all the minikeys imo. The knobs feel really good too (same as the single knob on the Keystation mini), much better than the Akai Mpk mini. I'm not sure about the pads since I haven't played on them, but M-Audio have done a pretty good job with pads in the past.
lysander
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20th February 2013
Old 20th February 2013
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Update : I have decided to pre-order the Livid Instruments BASE.
Livid Instruments

I spoke to LI and they said that the responsivness of the pads was comparable to Maschine , and that they should start shipping around March 1st.

What sealed the deal for me though, was the fact that the behaviour of the controller is scriptable in Python, which is something that I have been looking for for a while.
So, not only will this be a good travel controller, but also something that I think will be very useful at home.
Looking forward to putting it through its paces and hopefully do some crazy stuff with it in Reaktor
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