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Researched newbie looking for advice in keyboard midi controller purchase!
Old 17th October 2013
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Researched newbie looking for advice in keyboard midi controller purchase!

Hello guys. First post here. To keep it short i'm looking for a starter 61 key midi daw interface controller. This is due to the fact that initially i wanted and will try to learn playing the piano, so it has to be a keyboard with min 61 keys. I'm mainly interested in "edm" production if that will make more sense. Since i'm a university student (MEng Mechanical engineer) my budget is located around 300gbp (for the controller only - note i'm located in UK). DAW will be software based (Ableton Live - after lots of researching and trialling it's the only one it can get through my workflow - or better, mindset workflow). Please understand that i know the differences between analogue and digital synthesizers and i appreciate their respective qualities but digital is the only cost-effective and logical solution at the moment. PC is an ASUS G73jh + second 24" lcd i'll already have. For "monitors" i'll use my Vsonic GR07 BE earphones which have i would say a pretty good flat frequency response, a bit bass biased like Rokit's in a way (experimental measurements: http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/...assEdition.pdf ). Ok i know they can't be compared with actual monitors, but hey, i won't be mastering tracks anytime soon!

I've already set up my DAW with vst's all installed neatly in a separate internal hdd, and played a bit with it as well. To continue, my biggest consideration at the moment is if any new keyboard midi controllers at my budget are going to be released anytime soon (i.e. NAMM 2014). This would not only downgrade any purchase i'll be making right now, plus i'll theoretically lose money assuming any price drops (should i wait until the holiday season at least?:p). So please keep that in mind. So here are the controllers i've found out:

Novation Impulse 61:
Pros:
- Arp
- Quality keybed (Fatar made??)
- Live clip launch?
- Keybed can be split zoned up to 4 zones
Cons:
- Pads are unbankable? No button to change banks on the fly, so you are limited to 8 pads at a time, where usually a drum rack will have 16?
- Faders cannot be used to control a vst with Automap? You can only use CC to manually map them?
- Questionable quality (most of the problems i know where fixed with firmware updates - like the unstable fader value, or the acceleration of the encoders)

Akai MPK 61:
Pros:
- Quality made
- Good customer support
- 16 pads
Cons:
- Pads are unresponsive (they can be cheap fixed/modded although) - Will void warranty?
- More expensive
- General keyboard configuration a bit messed up? Mod/Pitch wheels in front instead of directly left to the keybed, Faders to the right, pads to the left?
- No "Automap" type software for direct vst control

Maudio: Bad quality? Sticky keys

Nektar P6: A lot more expensive, lots of pros, good integration with Reason only

Note that the Novation and AKAI keyboards are generally a bit old by this moment, so i think there is a great chance of an upgrade coming out soon. Pad count is not so important because it can be upgraded later with an Ableton Push/Novation launchkey. As for polyphonic aftertouch there is something a lot better i found out coming which can be installed in any keyboard: TouchKeys Multi-Touch Musical Keyboard by Andrew McPherson — Kickstarter

So what's your thoughts? I don't believe i've covered everything so please be free to ask.

Thanks in advance,
Ken
Old 18th October 2013
  #2
Here for the gear
 

247 views and not a single reply??
Old 20th October 2013
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Seriously guys, sorry for bumping but i need some advice!
Old 18th November 2013
  #4
Gear Head
 

I bought a used MPK49 about a month ago and am very happy with it. I don't think the pads are that bad and I liked the feel of the keys on the Akai better than the Nektar or Novation. I would suggest you try before you buy.

PJ
Old 18th November 2013
  #5
Have you looked into Arturia Keylab 61? At $399 USD, it comes out to around 248 GBP. It also comes with Atruia's Analog Lab soft synths.

Check out these videos:





The keyboards have semi-weighted keys with aftertouch. You can midi map everything. All controls are pre-mapped to the Analog Lab software, which is pretty impressive.

I ordered the Keylab 25, since I already have plenty of full size keyboards. I'll take it with me to my regular job to work on sound design or getting down simple ideas.

Here are some other links:

Keylab 61

Analog Lab

Hope that helps!!!
Old 22nd November 2013
  #6
*UPDATE*

I received my Arturia KeyLab 25. This is a hybrid synth that comes with Analog Lab software and a 25 key MIDI controller. This thing is built like a tank! I keep it in my studio backpack and take it with me to work usually. I would have no problems taking this to a live gig. This thing is awesome! Very high quality, and the keyboard is semi-weighted with aftertouch, which can be routed to whatever modulation you want. Even if you're not using the supplied software, you can map everything in the DAW of your choice. 10 knobs, 9 sliders, transport buttons. Check out the video. If you get the Keylab 49 or 61, you get all the 25 has along with 16 MPC-style, touch-sensitive pads That's my recommendation to you. You get a keyboard controller, and a software bundle that includes 5000 sounds, and some of the best analog emulation around.

Word
Old 22nd November 2013
  #7
Gear Addict
 
fantomaxis's Avatar
 

I have the Nektar P4 which is an awesome piece of equipment, but I use it it with Reason. I know Nektar has developped an integration with Nuendo. not too sure about Ableton though.
2 things to consider:
I'm not overly impressed with the pads I really have to hit the things hard (even after adjusting the velocity curve, I might need to go to the gym and work on that maybe!)
the keys aren't terrific (I don't care as I'm not a keyboard player by any means)

You could always set it up for your needs
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