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[Urgent] M-Audio Axiom 61 (2nd gen) VS Roland A-800 Pro VS ROLAND PCR-800
Old 3rd January 2013
  #1
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[Urgent] Need new equipment!

Hi,
OK so I had a little problem with my studio gear and lost some of them... Anyway, I have work to do (and that's why this is urgent) and I need to buy new equipment being one of the most essential, the keyboard:

Which one is better?

M-Audio Axiom 61 (2nd gen) B-Stock - Thomann UK Cyberstore

Roland A-800 Pro - Thomann UK Cyberstore

or

ROLAND PCR-800

My use:
Sometimes, I have to do retro music which require those arpeggios (pitch modulation is all good here) but my primary use would be for orchestral music, so my main concern is volume curve knobs and volume faders (I have a pad and a digital drum just for percussion).

I just want to know everyone's opinion before making the final decision.
Thank you.

ALSO,

I might have to travel sometime and would have to buy a 25 key keyboard. Should I go for the Alesis QX25 or the Akai MPK25
Old 13th January 2013
  #2
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Hi warkeil, I assume you've already researched the options and by now you should be well aware that all MIDI controllers suck, but you need one anyway to produce music, therefore you are trying to choose the lesser of two evils.

The reason I tune into this thread is that recently I was battling with the same decision as you, and yesterday I finally made up my mind, so hopefully my reasoning will help you decide as well.

Firstly, I have owned Axiom 49 (1st gen) for 3 years (later sold on eBay), and currently own and regularly use an Oxygen8 v2 and a Keystation 61es which I have been using for the past 3 years. I had the opportunity to compare side by side the above keyboards and the following: Axiom (2nd gen), Oxygen 49 (2nd gen), A-800 Pro and many of Novation SL mk2 and Novation Nocturn.

My conclusion is that none of these keyboards quite cut it, and it is very clear that the people who designed them don't actually use them, but out of that lot I would recommend (and I am going to buy myself) the Roland A-800Pro, which is not ideal but suits my needs best for the reasons outlined below.

Keybed (best first):
Novation SL mk2: Best keys of all by far.
Novation Nocturn 49, Roland A-800Pro: Very similar key feel, but Nocturn keys have a little more travel. A-800Pro keys felt a little more solid (less play sideways).
Axiom 2nd gen: Keys clanked when bottoming out, which I didn’t like. Also, they are smaller than the 1st gen Axiom keys.
Axiom 1st gen: Sticky keys problem, still quite playable and full size.
Keystation : Very similar to Axiom 1st gen, but black keys are stiffer than white keys, which is not good. However, I modified my Keystation to correct this problem (applying heat to the black key springs with a small blow torch) and now it’s just as good as the Axiom 1st gen.
Oxygen 1st gen: Quite nice actually, but it’s hard to control note velocity accurately.
Oxygen 2nd gen: I was going to say this is sh*t, but I’ll refrain from that.

Now that we have established which keys are best, there is no point including the toyish keyboards in this comparison. I will also exclude the Nocturn as it has been discontinued and it’s not available in 61 keys which is one of your requirements.

Build quality (best first):
A-800Pro: Light yet solid. Looks like a quality product. Knobs don’t wobble, everything feels like it’s made to last.
Axiom 2nd gen: Built like a tank, heavier (because keys are semi-weighted). My experience with M-Audio knobs has been hit and miss. Both my Oxygen and Keystation occasionally send random MIDI CC data due to vibrations that reach the knobs (Oxygen) or the master fader (Keystation) while playing.
SL mk2: The whole thing feels cheap except the keyboard, which was made by Fatar... the knobs and faders wobble.

General hardware features (best first):
(All three models have aftertouch.)
SL mk2: Very complete feature set, loads of buttons and LEDs etc. Would have been nice to have an extra fader for master volume, an omission I seen only too often.
A-800Pro: High quality traditional pots. 9 faders. Loads of buttons.
Axiom 2nd gen: Has 9 faders thank god for that. Also loads of buttons. Features are similar to A800Pro.

Top panel layout and user interface (best first):
Axiom 2nd gen: LCD in the middle the way god intended.
A-800Pro
SL mk2

Connectivity (best first):
SL mk2: Has the most connectors, which makes the unit very versatile. Connectors are located at the rear.
Axiom 2nd gen: Standard connectivity, located at the back of the unit.
A-800Pro: Similar to Axiom, however the connector panel is located on the end of the unit rather than at the back, which depending on your studio set-up it may or may not be advantageous. In my case, I'd rather have it at the back because my PC is located to the right, so longer cable runs are needed.

Trigger pads (best first):
Axiom 2nd Gen
A-800Pro: Could be bigger though, but I like the fact that they are backlit. Probably better for triggering commands rather than one-shots.
SL mk2: Worst pads ever.

Pitch bend and modulation (best first):
Axiom 2nd gen: Good old separate pitch bend and modulation wheels, and very nice and big ones.
A-800Pro: Feels solid BUT I am not completely sold on the modulation part being spring-loaded.
SL mk2: Stick feels flimsy. The XY pad doesn’t work well either.

Knobs (best first):
A-800Pro: Sports same knobs as many of Roland’s synths. Spacing could be a bit more generous.
Axiom 2nd gen: Rotary endless, but I don’t think they accept controller feedback from the DAW. Also resolution is too low. They feel good though, but I don’t know how usable they are. Spacing is also generous, which means it’s hard to hit adjacent knobs by accident.
SL mk2: Flimsiest of the three, and too crammed.

Faders (best first):
A-800Pro: Nice big fader caps, with a bit of lateral wobble.
Axiom 2nd Gen: Flush fader caps, virtually impossible to break, good for gigging.

Semitone transpose (best first):
Axiom 2nd gen: hit both + and – keys simultaneously and the octave transpose buttons go into semitone transpose mode. Neat.
SL mk2: Semitone transpose can be achieved also but there are more buttons to press before you can get to it.
A-800Pro: Worst of all, even worse than the Oxygen 2nd gen. You have to navigate through LCD menus, twiddle the data enry knob before you can get to this setting. Earlier Roland MIDI keyboards could achieve this with just two button presses, so I don’t know what they were thinking.

Editor software (best first):
A-800Pro: A simple traditional editor that’s both easy to use and reliable. It's a simple .exe file that can be run without installing anything.
SL mk2: Automap’s offerings are great, but it can be buggy at times.
Axiom 2nd gen: Does not have an editor. You can of course write one and use SysEx messaging to dump your settings into and out of the Axiom.

Drivers (best first): (Edited on 2013-06-27)
M-Audio and Roland provide multi-client drivers, which are a must IMO. I imagine Novation do too.
M-Audio MIDI drivers have given me no trouble at all, ever.
I now own the a-800Pro, drivers are solid as well, never had a problem.
Cannot comment on Novation drivers but they are probably OK.

Programming (best first):
SL mk2
Axiom 2nd gen
A-800Pro: not too bad but main problem is a lot of basic settings require too much LCD menu diving.

Looks (best first):
SL mk2: Lights up like a Christmas tree.
Axiom 2nd gen, A-800Pro: The Axiom looks more macho, while the Roland looks more oozes class.

Price (cheapest first):
A-800Pro
Axiom 2nd gen
SL mk2

I didn't get a chance to test aftertouch and note velocity ranges, although I had no problems with either of these on my Axiom 1st gen, and I expect all three models will be satisfactory in this respect. Note velocity at least can be corrected in software, so it's not a biggie for me.

As you can see, they all have strengths and weaknesses, and they all suck. Therefore it’s a tough choice. I need synth action keys so in my case the Axiom would be off the list. Since neither the A-800Pro nor the SL mk2 quite meet all of my requirements, I am going to get the A-800Pro mainly because I don’t plan to use Automap and the fact that for about half the price you get a very similar controller. I don’t want to spend a fortune on a product I am not fully happy with. Perhaps a couple of years later there will be much better MIDI controllers, and so replacing a less expensive unit (i.e. the A-800Pro) will hurt less.
Old 26th January 2013
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoox View Post
therefore you are trying to choose the lesser of two evils.
Scoox, since you have experience with all of these controllers, what about the semi-weighting of the Axium 61, does it make it more difficult to play than a non weighted keyboard?
Old 27th January 2013
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CadErik View Post
Scoox, since you have experience with all of these controllers, what about the semi-weighting of the Axium 61, does it make it more difficult to play than a non weighted keyboard?
Yes and no. It depends on what sounds you are playing. However, since I got my Roland A-800PRO last week, my Keystaion has been relegated to just playing piano-like instruments, and not even that as I can still play piano no the A-800PRO.

I think the biggest difference these boards is not whether the keys are semi-weighted or un-weighed. The Keystation is semi-weighted, but it could be turned into an un-weighed keyboard very easily by removing the pieces of metal attached to the underside of each key, yet it would still not feel the same as the A-800PRO. The difference is the amount of key travel, i.e. how far a key can be depressed before it bottoms out. Piano action keys have longer key travel than synth action keys.

The shorter the key travel, and the lighter the keys, the greater your ability to play faster (because less time is required for keys to bounce back after being released). The un-weighted A-800PRO keys are both light and short-travel, which makes them very versatile. I can comfortably use them for triggering drum samples a-la-MPC, which was messy on the Keystation.

Synth style keys can be un-weighed and semi-weighted. Semi-weighted keys are a bit slower and may rattle if released quickly as they hit their top un-depressed possition, but feel nicer. Un-weighed keys are faster and therefore more versatile, but are less tactile due to the lack of weight. To be honest, when I tested the Novation SL mk2 and the A-800PRO side-by-side, although both had very good key feel, I was more impressed by the semi-weighted Novation keybed. Not becasue it was better, but because I enjoyed the extra weight. In fact, I also tested a Novation Nocturn which, like the SL mk2, sports a Fatar keybed, and it felt almost indistinguishable from the A-800PRO, the only difference being that the A-800PRO keys had slightly less travel (1-2 mm less). However, the A-800PRO felt more robust in terms of build quality, and costing about half the price of the SL mk2 it was not hard making up my mind.

I don’t have an Axiom here to compare, but white keys on the A-800PRO can be pushed down 10 mm, measured from the very edge of the key, whereas white keys on the Keystation will go down 15 mm. I remember the Axiom mk2 keys being a tad lighter than the Keystation keys. Both are very well built but the A-800PRO will obviously be lighter owing to the un-weighted keys, which may be a good thing if the board will be used in a mobile setting.

I’ve opened two M-Audio boards, a Keystation and an Oxygen8 v2, and also the A-800PRO. M-Audio use spring flex in their key mechanism, while Roland use spring pull. I read somewhere that the Axiom mk2 key mechanism had been redesigned (vs Axiom mk1), but it may still use spring flex. I find Spring pull works better and is quieter. The A-800PRO keys are also used on other more expensive Roland synths and workstations, which is reassuring.

You should really try both the A-800PRO and the Axiom mk2, both are quite good and a while ago I was going mad trying to decide between the two. Once thing I like about the A-800PRO is the fact that it sends note-off velocity, which the Axiom apparently does not (it just sends note-on = 0). Note-off velocity is detected by many VSTs, and if you write your own MIDI programs like I do you’ll find you can do some crazy stuff with it.

The A-800PRO is a mint keyboard. I don’t know why Roland don’t put all this info in their marketing crap. It really is much better than I thought. The main thing I don’t like about it is the way semitone transpose works, but I can live with that.

Sorry for the messy post but I hope it helps.
Old 27th January 2013
  #5
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Scoox's Avatar
If you can please do try them all. For piano style keys the the Axiom will be good and, in the same price range, for synth style keys the A-800 Pro will be good. If you want semi-weighted synth style keys then go for SL mk2, although expect lesser build quality.

Would anybody be interested in a thorough review of the Roland A-PRO controllers?
Old 28th January 2013
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoox View Post
Yes and no. It depends on what sounds you are playing. However, since I got my Roland A-800PRO last week, my Keystaion has been relegated to just playing piano-like instruments, and not even that as I can still play piano no the A-800PRO.
Million thanks for your comments! You sold me, I will look for a good deal on a A-800PRO. I use to play drums on my current controller MPC style so I don't think I want weighted keys. My grief with my current controller is that the white keys have less velocity than the black ones (I have an old Evolution MK-361c). Another major reason for me to go with that Roland one is that I use Sonar and I bet all the controllers will be mapped out of the box.
I am not sure I will have much time to try all of them (and not sure how many my local store has) so I am glad I got your opinion.
Old 29th January 2013
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CadErik View Post
Million thanks for your comments! You sold me, I will look for a good deal on a A-800PRO. I use to play drums on my current controller MPC style so I don't think I want weighted keys. My grief with my current controller is that the white keys have less velocity than the black ones (I have an old Evolution MK-361c). Another major reason for me to go with that Roland one is that I use Sonar and I bet all the controllers will be mapped out of the box.
I am not sure I will have much time to try all of them (and not sure how many my local store has) so I am glad I got your opinion.
The one thing that really sucks about the Roland is the way semitone transposition works, not that I use it that often but with so many buttons I am really surprised Roland didn't just put a pair of +/- buttons for semitone transpose, like most other controllers. Maybe we should start bugging Roland for a F/W update.

Aftertouch doesn't start working until you press the keys really hard, which is not usable. A lot of people have complained about this and I don't understand why the f*ck Roland haven't provided yet. Fortunately, this is extremely easy to fix, and all you need is a Philips screwdriver. Inside the unit, next to the Expression Pedal connector, there is a small yellow variable resistor; if you turn it clockwise that will increase the sensitivity of the aftertouch strip. I turned mine nearly all the way (but not all the way so that aftertouch does not kick in accidentally).

Another thing I didn't mention is that I can easily transmit note velocity values up to 127 with my Roland, which on the other boards I've used was nearly impossible. For example, on my other boards I can hardly transmit a value of 120. The black keys and the white keys on the Roland require similar amounts of force.

It isn't the perfect board but it seems the perfect board does not exist at present...
Old 29th January 2013
  #8
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I've just sent a feature request to Roland and posted about this one their forums. I won't hold my breath though, large corporations tend to ignore insignificant users such as myself.
Old 20th June 2013
  #9
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I registered myself into GS to say a SUPER HUGE THANKS TO SCOOX. Thanks a lot for an indepth take with that midi controller comparison, bro. Just awesome. I have been banking on getting myself an A-800Pro and this has nearly sold me off.

As you said, there's no 'best midi keyboard in the market' as of now. So if that's the case, should I look into a synth with midi/usb capabilities? Or should I go with the A-800Pro itself?

I have been using a Yamaha PSR e413 via USB as my controller for nearly 3 years (never used to use much of the dedicated voice sounds except for pianos and strings). I am a seasoned piano player too. But most of my recording tends to go with orchestral sounds. So keeping all this in mind, I was thinking of getting a midi keyboard PLUS a 88 key simple digital grand piano (less expensive.. just for the keys). And I am stuck there itself, I am not able to find a good midi keyboard and every model I check for reviews online sports some flaw or the other. But comparing the huuuge lot in the market, the A-800Pro seems awesome.

Is it possible you do could do a good review on it? If that happens, I might just book my keyboard now itself. :D

Thanks again, bro.
Old 27th June 2013
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ath007 View Post
I registered myself into GS to say a SUPER HUGE THANKS TO SCOOX. Thanks a lot for an indepth take with that midi controller comparison, bro. Just awesome. I have been banking on getting myself an A-800Pro and this has nearly sold me off.

As you said, there's no 'best midi keyboard in the market' as of now. So if that's the case, should I look into a synth with midi/usb capabilities? Or should I go with the A-800Pro itself?

I have been using a Yamaha PSR e413 via USB as my controller for nearly 3 years (never used to use much of the dedicated voice sounds except for pianos and strings). I am a seasoned piano player too. But most of my recording tends to go with orchestral sounds. So keeping all this in mind, I was thinking of getting a midi keyboard PLUS a 88 key simple digital grand piano (less expensive.. just for the keys). And I am stuck there itself, I am not able to find a good midi keyboard and every model I check for reviews online sports some flaw or the other. But comparing the huuuge lot in the market, the A-800Pro seems awesome.

Is it possible you do could do a good review on it? If that happens, I might just book my keyboard now itself. :D

Thanks again, bro.
You are welcome! Right now I am very busy with a million things and work so I don't have time to write a review but if you have any specific questions, no matter how technical, I'll be happy to answer. I've got the A-800Pro right in front of me all the time. I've been using it for quite a while and, in spite of it's various stupid little flaws, I am absolutely pleased with the keybed.

I wish it had more buttons. I also wish it had mod and pitch wheels as well as the stick thing. The knobs, as I found later, don't feel all the same: the torque required to turn some of the knobs varies as you turn them, which is kind of annoying, although they do send the right MIDI values and at least I am not getting any random CC data, which has been a problem with two of my M-Audio boards.
Old 28th June 2013
  #11
I just sold my Axiom 2nd Gen 49...POS IMO. The pitchbend started developing a mind of its own about 18 months after I bought it. No amount of factory resetting or even cleaning would rectify it, so I had to disable it. I baby my instruments, and this was a huge irritation for me. I eventually bought an Akai MPK and that thing is built like a tank.

Axiom pitchbend wheel issues are well documented around the web. I swear I won't buy another M-Audio product if I can help it.
Old 28th June 2013
  #12
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Go for the roland, i just got the A-49. Roland makes quality products even if there's features some people don't like, like the combined knob.

Love it
Old 27th July 2013
  #13
rjx
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Scoox, Thank you VERY MUCH for taking the time to share your thoughts. I really appreciate it.

I think my needs are more on the simple side.

I'm 100% ITB. My DAW is Ableton 9. I just need a controller to use with Ableton, NI Synths, Arturia synths, my sample library and that's pretty much it.

I was leaning towards the SL mk2 but now I think the A-800 Pro is at the top of my list. Plus the savings is much welcomed.

Thanks for all your help.
Old 27th July 2013
  #14
I like the pcr-800 keys. The faders, knobs and pads are useless. Also no mod wheel sucks.

I had an axiom 25 1st gen that had good action. It was huge though. And the front panel wasn't intuitive at all.

i had an MPK49 which was awesome... Except for the keys and pads.

Based on the minibrute, I would bet that the action and quality on the new midi controllers from them is good, but that's hearsay.

I do like the Max49 Keybed and modwheel, but it doesn't have faders!

I just got a Keith mcmillen quNexus and i think it's fantastic. It is literally 10 times better than the korg nano keys for only 3 times the price.

I got a broken Alesis qx25 recently which other than it being broken seemed perfect and cheap!

Seriously I think I will be playing almost all keys on Ableton Push from now on.
Old 8th August 2013
  #15
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i'm thinking of picking up that A-800 Pro. does anyone know for sure if it has the same exact keybad as my Roland JP-80? If I know for sure its the same feel, then I'm all over it. I can't stand any of the other midi controllers I have ever seen anywhere from anyone, except for the Yamaha KX61, its pretty good too.
Old 8th August 2013
  #16
If your main concern is mapping knobs and faders via MIDI CC, I can say that the M-Audio Axiom line is horrible at this. I've not successfully programmed one, and have stayed away from them because it doesn't work with Enigma. Enigma works great, and I've used it quite extensively (and functionally) with other M-Audio MIDI controllers. It's a great little editing program, but alas... does not work with the Axioms. Lemur is the only way to fly as far as MIDI maps are concerned IMO.
Old 20th October 2013
  #17
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M-Audio Axiom AIR in Reaper

How is MIDI assignment of M-Audio Axiom AIR 49 in Reaper. I heard that Novation SL MkII doesn't work very well.
Old 21st October 2013
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by br11san View Post
How is MIDI assignment of M-Audio Axiom AIR 49 in Reaper. I heard that Novation SL MkII doesn't work very well.
As far as I know most controllers are able send generic MIDI CC messages, which means parameter assignments are always done the same way regardless of controller, unless you use a proprietary system such as Automap.

As for Novation SL mk2, it has two operation modes: 1) Automap and 2) Advanced Mode. If you want to use the controller without Automap you basically enable Advanced Mode and it will behave like a generic MIDI controller. The user manual vaguely hints at the fact that MIDI feedback is not possible in Advanced Mode, which means 1) no LED feedback and 2) software and hardware will disagree if you change a parameter with the mouse. Since the LED's are already there and they are fully functional in Automap mode, and considering Behringer were able to implement bi-directional comms for significantly less money in their legendary BCR2000 and BCF2000, I can only guess that Novation are just too sexy for their shirt and decided to impose this artificial limitation.

Personally I do not enjoy an extra layer of complexity and I especially don't enjoy artificial limitations that force me to use some crappy software, so I steered clear of Automap and bought myself a Roland A-PRO which works right out of the box and for the price was, an sadly continues to be, the "least bad" generic MIDI controller on the market (sadly because it could still use some work).

Automap was hot back in the day when mapping controllers was tedious, but now that most DAWs offer adequate mapping facilities Automap is no longer a strong selling point and, in my particular case, a deterrent.

Although the perfect controller could easily be made for under £200 (Roland were pretty close with their A-PRO line), the people who design these things don't actually use them themselves and so they suck. Don't wait for the perfect controller because it it not coming any time soon. Do what I did: get something with nice keys and a Behringer BCR2000.
Old 22nd October 2013
  #19
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Gearslutz gets another new registration just to say thanks to Scoox for taking the time. I'm looking at options for a controller, and since I'm using Sonar anyway it looks like I might be going an A800. Cheers mate.
Old 22nd October 2013
  #20
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I have a A800 Pro that I bought over a year ago. It has been rock solid I have had no problems with this board, not one One option I really like is that it has a lot of different velocity curve settings. It has more selections than any of the other midi boards I played. If you have a problem with playing sounds and the velocity is too finicky, the A800 pro works really well.
Old 31st October 2013
  #21
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As mentioned above, this is the best thread around on this, thanks! A question: I am deciding between the novation mkII SL 61 and the Roland A-800 .. I was on the verge of grabbing a novation Launchkey when I stumbled on the fact that its keys are smaller than standard. I thought the feel was decent (much better than comparable maudio lines) but the size is a deal breaker. I played the launchkey and mkii SL In a guitar center today and the mkii does not have the smaller keys. They didn't have the Roland...

After reading this post I started to lean towards the Roland but tonight I came across this link: Roland A-800 key question | Cakewalk Forums claiming the roland keys are smaller as well. Can anyone confirm this? I'm also concerned about what people describe as 'spongey'.. Since I haven't played one, could anyone who has played both compare the action to the mkii? Starting to lean towards the novation now. Thanks for all of the details here. They were a lot of help in wading through this less than ideal midi controller landscape!
Old 31st October 2013
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c0wfunk View Post
As mentioned above, this is the best thread around on this, thanks! A question: I am deciding between the novation mkII SL 61 and the Roland A-800 .. I was on the verge of grabbing a novation Launchkey when I stumbled on the fact that its keys are smaller than standard. I thought the feel was decent (much better than comparable maudio lines) but the size is a deal breaker. I played the launchkey and mkii SL In a guitar center today and the mkii does not have the smaller keys. They didn't have the Roland...

After reading this post I started to lean towards the Roland but tonight I came across this link: Roland A-800 key question | Cakewalk Forums claiming the roland keys are smaller as well. Can anyone confirm this? I'm also concerned about what people describe as 'spongey'.. Since I haven't played one, could anyone who has played both compare the action to the mkii? Starting to lean towards the novation now. Thanks for all of the details here. They were a lot of help in wading through this less than ideal midi controller landscape!
Funny you mentioned this thread because I saw a Roland A800 Pro up for sale too and I tried it out and immediately noticed it much much better than my current axiom 61 1st gen.

It's also disturbing how crappy midi controller keyboards are made so poorly nowadays because in comparision to all the ones they sell in GC now this Roland is noticeably better than the novation, akai, maudio ect.
Old 31st October 2013
  #23
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If you need total integration with a DAW the Axiom 2 has Hypercontol and decent action. The Roland has more pro features and better action but has to be set up.
Old 1st November 2013
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJRAZZ View Post
If you need total integration with a DAW the Axiom 2 has Hypercontol and decent action. The Roland has more pro features and better action but has to be set up.
In my opinion integration is the last of your worries. Any standard MIDI controller will work, the only difference is that you won't have the fancy tiny blue LCD.

It's worth pointing out that Hypercontrol does not support all DAWs. Axiom controllers don't even have LED ring feedback around encoders, so the only feedback you get is on the tiny blue LCD which at best is able to display truncated versions of the parameters associated with each control. Not a strong selling point if you ask me. You'd be much better off with an iPad and TouchOSC.

The majority of all-in-one MIDI controllers have faders with short throw, which is unsuitable for mixing (although it's OK for controlling plugin parameters). In addition, currently not many DAWs support parameter soft takeover, and with no motorized faders I guarantee you'll end up using the mouse. For mixing you really need a couple of BCF2000s or MCUs.

From what I remember the encoders on the Axiom, although they felt nice, had very low resolution, which means you have to turn them through much more than 360° to go from 0 to 127. The Behringer BCR2000 provides high resolution encoders, has LED ring feedback, is a lot cheaper and has 32 encoders instead of just 8. The A-PRO has traditional analog pots, they are a bit crappy but you can go from 0 to 127 with one twist of the wrist. On my A-800Pro I find myself using the knobs very rarely, but I do use the faders a lot for controlling plugin parameters.

The A-PRO has definitely better keys than the Axiom, I compared the two side by side in a shop and it was very evident. I also checked out a Roland Juno-G and I couldn't find any differences in term of key action (although the Juno-G has no aftertouch...).

I will mention too that on my M-Audio Keystation and my M-Audio Oxygen8 v2 the pitch wheel has developed a fault whereby pitch is not longer centred when the wheel is in the centre position, so it will play out of tune. Both of these units also send random MIDI CC data from time to time, originating from slight movements of the knobs or temperature variations. Maybe the Axiom line is better. I've only had the Roland for a year so I can't say for sure it won't happen, but so far no problems.
Old 1st November 2013
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c0wfunk View Post
A question: I am deciding between the novation mkII SL 61 and the Roland A-800 .. I was on the verge of grabbing a novation Launchkey when I stumbled on the fact that its keys are smaller than standard. I thought the feel was decent (much better than comparable maudio lines) but the size is a deal breaker. I played the launchkey and mkii SL In a guitar center today and the mkii does not have the smaller keys. They didn't have the Roland...
Key dimensions for two keyboards (actual measurements):

Roland A-800PRO
White key length: 131 mm
Black key length: 80 mm
131 - 80 = 51 mm

M-Audio Keystation 61es
White key length: 138 mm
Black key length: 82 mm
138 - 82 = 56 mm

The white-to-black difference in length is very small. Initially I was worried about this too but now I hardly ever use the Keystation.

Key width, however, is important. If you have chunky fingers then narrow keys are going to be hard to play. Both of the following measurements were taken from the left-hand edge of the C key. In addition I just measured key width on my M-Audio Oxygen8 v2 and basically they are all the same:



However, the new Axiom mk2 line keyboards have narrower keys, whereas the original mk1 line had standard width keys like the Keystation.
Old 1st November 2013
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoox View Post
Key dimensions for two keyboards (actual measurements):

Roland A-800PRO
White key length: 131 mm
Black key length: 80 mm
131 - 80 = 51 mm

M-Audio Keystation 61es
White key length: 138 mm
Black key length: 82 mm
138 - 82 = 56 mm

The white-to-black difference in length is very small. Initially I was worried about this too but now I hardly ever use the Keystation.

Key width, however, is important. If you have chunky fingers then narrow keys are going to be hard to play. Both of the following measurements were taken from the left-hand edge of the C key. In addition I just measured key width on my M-Audio Oxygen8 v2 and basically they are all the same:



However, the new Axiom mk2 line keyboards have narrower keys, whereas the original mk1 line had standard width keys like the Keystation.
Thank you for the info.


You're like a keyboard scientist!
Old 1st November 2013
  #27
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Scoox's Avatar
Another thing I like about the Roland A-PRO is the fact that the black keys have rounded edges, the main advantage of this being that it's easier to stick your finger between two black keys without hitting them. All M-Audio keyboards I have owned and tested have sharper edges. You can more or less appreciate this in the picture I just posted.

For electronic music and organ-style playing I definitely recommend the A-PRO, for something that feels more like a piano the Axiom may be a better option if you can get one with standard key width. When I play piano I use the Keystation, but for everything else I use the Roland.

The Novation SL mk2 is a slight step up from the A-PRO as far as the keybed goes, but also a huge step up in price. My problem with the SL mk2 is that the build quality was very similar to the A-PRO and, since I didn't plan to use Automap, LED feedback wasn't going to work anyway so from a functional standpoint both keyboards were pretty similar. Eventually I got the Roland and bought a nice microphone with the rest of the money.
Old 1st November 2013
  #28
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DJRAZZ's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoox View Post
In my opinion integration is the last of your worries. Any standard MIDI controller will work, the only difference is that you won't have the fancy tiny blue LCD.

It's worth pointing out that Hypercontrol does not support all DAWs. Axiom controllers don't even have LED ring feedback around encoders, so the only feedback you get is on the tiny blue LCD which at best is able to display truncated versions of the parameters associated with each control. Not a strong selling point if you ask me. You'd be much better off with an iPad and TouchOSC.

The majority of all-in-one MIDI controllers have faders with short throw, which is unsuitable for mixing (although it's OK for controlling plugin parameters). In addition, currently not many DAWs support parameter soft takeover, and with no motorized faders I guarantee you'll end up using the mouse. For mixing you really need a couple of BCF2000s or MCUs.

From what I remember the encoders on the Axiom, although they felt nice, had very low resolution, which means you have to turn them through much more than 360° to go from 0 to 127. The Behringer BCR2000 provides high resolution encoders, has LED ring feedback, is a lot cheaper and has 32 encoders instead of just 8. The A-PRO has traditional analog pots, they are a bit crappy but you can go from 0 to 127 with one twist of the wrist. On my A-800Pro I find myself using the knobs very rarely, but I do use the faders a lot for controlling plugin parameters.

The A-PRO has definitely better keys than the Axiom, I compared the two side by side in a shop and it was very evident. I also checked out a Roland Juno-G and I couldn't find any differences in term of key action (although the Juno-G has no aftertouch...).

I will mention too that on my M-Audio Keystation and my M-Audio Oxygen8 v2 the pitch wheel has developed a fault whereby pitch is not longer centred when the wheel is in the centre position, so it will play out of tune. Both of these units also send random MIDI CC data from time to time, originating from slight movements of the knobs or temperature variations. Maybe the Axiom line is better. I've only had the Roland for a year so I can't say for sure it won't happen, but so far no problems.
The Roland does have much better quality control. Now the M-audio has the new Axiom Air which looks better. But M-audio is never gonna be high quality.
Old 1st November 2013
  #29
Lives for gear
 
Scoox's Avatar
Other than the looks, the extra row of drum trigger pads and the pretty lights, are there any compelling differences between the Axiom Air and the other Axioms?
Old 12th November 2013
  #30
227861
Guest
I bought the Roland A-800 Pro used at Guitar Center about 5 days ago and.....


1 )the keys are great. I mean feel really great. No midi controller currently has this feel or quality. It's a real case study on how bad Midi controllers are currently. What the heck is going on. No really?


2) very nice and simple interface

3) firm quality sliders, knobs and pads but.......


CON

---- when I hit the pads it sticks notes, when I hit keys near the pads notes stick. Something is clearly broken on this used model though!


I have to take it back today. I like everything about it and don't even want to take it back but have to. Hopefully one day I can get a good working one.
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