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Mini keys? Yes or no? Keyboard Synthesizers
View Poll Results: How do you feel about synths with mini keys?
I love mini keys!!
14 Votes - 7.04%
They're kind of fun, on certain instruments.
21 Votes - 10.55%
I don't care about key size at all.
16 Votes - 8.04%
I prefer full-size keys, but mini keys might not stop me from buying something I wanted.
83 Votes - 41.71%
I do NOT like mini keys. I won't play them or buy them. Keep them away.
65 Votes - 32.66%
Voters: 199. You may not vote on this poll

Old 7th August 2014
  #31
Gear Maniac
 
Transistores's Avatar
 

No. And I played them for years. That's why:

1. Small keys will break in a year or two.
For example, microKorg mk1 and Akai LPK use the same type of keybed used in Cheap casio toy keyboards - each octave is just one detail made of plastic. No springs, no levers - it's returned up after pressing just by tension of plastic. So each time you press it, you wear it and eventually most played keys will break. And, unlike sstrings of the guitar, you can't go to shop and buy new. In fact, where I live (capital of quite notorious country), there's only one supplier of spare parts for microKorg, and they tried to charge me around 100 bucks for "diagnostics" plus the price of the part. I bought LPK25 instead and cannibalized it for keys.

However, I have no information if MS-20 mini has the same system with one detail for several keys (I imagine if Odyssey will be mini, it'll use same keys). Could somebody clarify it?

2. Small keys kill the timing and would not let me play freely. Shure, there are some masters (and I recently saw one guy virtuosely rocking his mK with the local band The Horse and the Corpse-Eyed Frogs), but when I switched from microKorg and DX-100's small keys to full-sized keys, my playing instantly improved. It not only matters when performing live, it affects the range of the lines I come up with when composing and programming notes into DAW.
Old 7th August 2014
  #32
Gear Maniac
 
Transistores's Avatar
 

No to mini-keys. And I played them for years. That's why:

1. Small keys will break in a year or two.
For example, microkorg mk1 and Akai LPK use the same type of keybed used in cheap casio toy keyboards - each octave is just one detail made of plastic (meaning one for white keys and one for black keys). No springs, no levers - the key returns up after pressing just by the tension of plastic and resistance of rubber button under it. So each time you press the key, you wear it and eventually most played keys will break. And, unlike strings of the guitar, you can't go to shop and buy new. In fact, where I live (capital of quite notorious country), there's only one supplier of spare parts for microKorg, and they tried to charge me around 100 bucks for "diagnostics" plus the price of the part. I bought LPK25 instead and cannibalized it for keys.

However, I have no information if MS-20 mini has the same system with one detail for several keys and key-return mechanism based on the tension of plastic (I imagine if Odyssey will be mini, it'll use the same keys). Can somebody clarify it?

2. Small keys kill the timing and would not let me play freely. Shure, there are some masters (and I recently saw one guy virtuosely rocking his mK with the local band The Horse and the Corpse-Eyed Frogs), but when I switched from microKorg and DX-100's (much better than mK's and CZ-101's) small keys to full-sized keys, my playing instantly improved. It not only matters when performing live, it affects the range of the lines I come up with when composing and programming notes into DAW.

But I still use mini-key synths either as a module, if it has features other synths don't (like mK's vocoder) and if the line that should be played isn't too complex.

sorry for doublepost
Old 7th August 2014
  #33
Gear Addict
 

Nothing against them philosophically, but I have big gorilla hands.
Old 7th August 2014
  #34
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lain2097 View Post
I personally don't care about this bantering about a supposed Korg synth but I really have no dislike of mini keys. One of my favourite samplers actually had mini keys (Yamaha vss30) very cute and fun machine. My current MIDI controller has mini keys so I have a three octave taking the space of a two octave.

In actuality I strongly dislike fully weighted / semi weighted keys on any synth - it makes no sense. Why bring the legacy and slowness of an acoustic instrument on one without a need for it? Just to appease its user?

Yes I started on acoustic piano and have been playing keys of all sorts for over 20 years. Everything from banged up uprights, grands, clavichords, harpsichords, transistor organs, cheap synths, expensive synths and even messed about with an accordion. They all have vastly differing key response and size despite all being standard keyboard layout instruments. I don't treat one key type as being better than another, they're all different instruments.

The breakneck response of say a clavichord is far superior to a piano, playing the same fast passages on a piano feels slow and drunk. Again different interfaces serving different needs.
Well, I think it depends on your preferences and what you want to use them for. I wouldn't want a fully-weighted, graded hammer action on most synths, but I don't like unweighted actions all of the time either. Monophonic synths are generally acceptable with that sort of action, but if I'm playing a polyphonic instrument where I am playing parts that are more derived from pianistic technique, it doesn't feel right unless there's some resistance. I like the keybed of the Virus TI as a good compromise, or even something like the Nord Electro, where they have a semi-weighting which feels good for a variety of different playing styles, though perhaps not optimal for each particular style.
Old 7th August 2014
  #35
This, to me, is why minikeys are good to have. The shift in the thread focus to what weight of keys is best shows we prefer a range of options in our keyboards.
  • minikeys allows wider voicing options for pad chords, but gorilla hands can't play mini/micro keys
  • and full-weight keys are inappropriate when faster lighter playing techniques are required, but great for serious moderato dramaticus. (i used my SV-1 to drive my Tetra; had to voice carefully but with the right sound it was a lot of fun to play)
  • while non-velocity keys encourages use of left-hand for mod wheels, filter sweeps, etc... which on synths is a good thing to encourage.
  • i always liked waterfall keys cuz Roland had them on their early gear; the plain feel, clean look... and it referenced organ, its closest relative.
  • but velocity w/aftertouch semi-weighted fullsize keys is the most expressive for finger hand
    phrasing (or most modulated if the left hand is controlling the mod-wheel and/or a foot controller is involved)
  • and a ribbon-controller is pretty cool once-in-a-while too if it's on the right synth

great topic btw. thx!
Old 7th August 2014
  #36
Deleted User
Guest
Well, there is one good things with a smaller keyboard with mini keys. I almost always have a small setup with a mini keyboard, a laptop and earphones with me when travel to make music at the destination when feel inspired by the environment. When traveling it's easy to take it in a briefcase or carry on bag. It doesn't take a number of lbs of the weight plus space of a bag when check Ina's for instance my Axiom Pro 25.
Old 7th August 2014
  #37
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Analog Prophet View Post
Some Indians put heads in some liquid and then in a bottle. Maybe something in that direction Korg plan to do to musicians worldwide - shrink the fingers and take monopoly of the keyboard market when regular keys be to large. Smart business plan.
Thinking big by thinking small.
Old 7th August 2014
  #38
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by lain2097 View Post

In actuality I strongly dislike fully weighted / semi weighted keys on any synth - it makes no sense. Why bring the legacy and slowness of an acoustic instrument on one without a need for it?
I, too, am a pianist, and like the weighted keys on my Yamaha piano. And I don't mind having weighted keys on digital pianos, or even when playing pianistic music using piano sounds on a workstation.

But that's it. I have zero interest in using weighted keys to play synthesizer sounds, or organs, or strings, or anything else for that matter. A synthesizer is not a piano... I agree with you... what's the point of having heavy, weighted keys on a synthesizer? A nice, synthesizer action keyboard is what I want.

This is another topic altogether, and doesn't have anything to do with mini keys, but is something I have never understood about so many keyboardists, who insist on having 88-key, weighted action synthesizers.
Old 7th August 2014
  #39
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lain2097's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by keybdwizrd View Post
This is another topic altogether, and doesn't have anything to do with mini keys, but is something I have never understood about so many keyboardists, who insist on having 88-key, weighted action synthesizers.
Good so I am not the only one who thinks this is sort of crazy. I guess so it can double as a full piano action but frankly I always find any of these to be poor. Most "band" type playing is usually flat bar chords anyway. So why suffer with it and have the extra size of the (almost) useless top and bottom octaves.

Really the only piano action I find to be close is a Yamaha AvantGrand. However this instrument is expressly made to BE a grand.
Old 7th August 2014
  #40
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by keybdwizrd View Post
This is another topic altogether, and doesn't have anything to do with mini keys, but is something I have never understood about so many keyboardists, who insist on having 88-key, weighted action synthesizers.
Well, some people dislike change. They grew up playing piano, after years of resistance, finally gave in and bought a keyboard to expand their sound palette, but want to stick to the action that they are used to and comfortable with. I felt similar at first, but over time acquired more keyboards, learned more about the purpose and function of different actions, and accept that one size does not fit all.
Old 7th August 2014
  #41
227861
Guest
uh.... this isn't about weighted keys.....just about mini keys vs full size. Don't know why weighted is being brought up.

Weighted keys doesn't make sense on a synth.
Old 7th August 2014
  #42
Lives for gear
 
BTByrd's Avatar
I hate them. They look and feel cheap and are never included to make an instrument better, only smaller or less costly to produce. Most synths with mini keys are targeted toward those without much space, money, or actual interest in playing the keyboard as an instrument.
Old 7th August 2014
  #43
Lives for gear
 
cryophonik's Avatar
 

I'm also a formally trained keyboardist/pianist and I pretty much hate mini keys, with one exception: small portable controllers like my M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 are very convenient for travelling, throwing in a laptop bag, etc. Yeah, the keys feel like crap, are difficult to play, etc., but it sure beats penciling parts in by hand or lugging around something with full-sized keys when I want to make music away from my home studio. My Keystation and MacBook Air/Logic are a pretty powerful and very portable combo.
Old 7th August 2014
  #44
Lives for gear
 
Quantum7's Avatar
Mini keys should stay in the Merry Old Land of Oz..... where they belong!
Old 7th August 2014
  #45
Lives for gear
 
cryophonik's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by keybdwizrd View Post
I, too, am a pianist, and like the weighted keys on my Yamaha piano. And I don't mind having weighted keys on digital pianos, or even when playing pianistic music using piano sounds on a workstation.

But that's it. I have zero interest in using weighted keys to play synthesizer sounds, or organs, or strings, or anything else for that matter. A synthesizer is not a piano... I agree with you... what's the point of having heavy, weighted keys on a synthesizer? A nice, synthesizer action keyboard is what I want.
Not to continue to go OT, but yeah, I totally agree with this. I like my PC3X for weighted keys and primarily when I want to perform piano parts, but I prefer my Virus for, well, everything else, I guess.
Old 7th August 2014
  #46
Lives for gear
 

Not only do I not like mini keys but I don't prefer full sized ones.

What I do like are the extra long full sized keys that are found on Kurzweils. These allow my large hands to play for long periods of time without strain and gives me more space for different fingering options of chords, etc.
Old 7th August 2014
  #47
Gear Guru
Best I've played = Yamaha CS-01
Worst I've played = Casio CZ-101 (especially with poly sounds)
Old 7th August 2014
  #48
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R3Member's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Transistores View Post
1. Small keys will break in a year or two. For example, microkorg mk1 and Akai LPK use the same type of keybed used in cheap casio toy keyboards - each octave is just one detail made of plastic (meaning one for white keys and one for black keys). No springs, no levers - the key returns up after pressing just by the tension of plastic and resistance of rubber button under it. So each time you press the key, you wear it and eventually most played keys will break.
This is actually something that is starting to become more common on full-sized synthesizers, not just ones with minikeys. With the exception of the higher end Korg Kronos, pretty much all current Korg products I've tried out have this type of keybed now, even the King Korg.
Old 7th August 2014
  #49
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by draven5 View Post
uh.... this isn't about weighted keys.....just about mini keys vs full size. Don't know why weighted is being brought up.

Weighted keys doesn't make sense on a synth.
Well, the discussion is about mini keys, the "mini" being a variation of the sort of key that more people are familiar with, those of a piano. You can have variation in size, weighting, action/feel, texture, color, etc., but the first three in particular are very correlated and the most significant. The point of discussing mini vs. full is how if affects users in terms of production, performance, value, space. So perhaps weighting is in strict terms OT, and possibly worthy of a different and separate discussion, but to me they're quite closely related and go hand in hand.

And as background for my point of view, in some of my earlier gigs I had to use a 76-key, unweighted synth action board for a period of time because my main 88-key weighted board was in need of repair. I was using the board to control a module, triggering everything from pads to leads to organ to piano to electric piano to synthesized bell-like, chromatic percussive sounds, and the experience was less than pleasant trying to play the latter three categories. Others may be equally irritated if they had to play their leads from a full-size ROMpler.

But this is why I favor a semi-weighted board like a Virus as a compromise when there are a multitude of different types of parts and sounds required. It's also one of the reasons why I like having multiple boards when playing live now rather than dealing with playing everything from just one. A lot of people here spend all or most of their time in the studio or mostly program parts, so I'm just offering a bit of a different perspective as someone who is more of a live player.
Old 7th August 2014
  #50
Gear Maniac
 

I'll never purchase anything with mini-keys, regardless of how cool the product might be.
Old 7th August 2014
  #51
227861
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheherezadeh View Post
Well, the discussion is about mini keys, the "mini" being a variation of the sort of key that more people are familiar with, those of a piano. You can have variation in size, weighting, action/feel, texture, color, etc., but the first three in particular are very correlated and the most significant. The point of discussing mini vs. full is how if affects users in terms of production, performance, value, space. So perhaps weighting is in strict terms OT, and possibly worthy of a different and separate discussion, but to me they're quite closely related and go hand in hand.

And as background for my point of view, in some of my earlier gigs I had to use a 73-key, unweighted synth action board for a period of time because my main 88-key weighted board was in need of repair. I was using the board to control a module, triggering everything from pads to leads to organ to piano to electric piano to synthesized bell-like, chromatic percussive sounds, and the experience was less than pleasant trying to play the latter three categories. Others may be equally irritated if they had to play their leads from a full-size ROMpler.

But this is why I favor a semi-weighted board like a Virus as a compromise when there are a multitude of different types of parts and sounds required. It's also one of the reasons why I like having multiple boards when playing live now rather than dealing with playing everything from just one. A lot of people here spend all or most of their time in the studio or mostly program parts, so I'm just offering a bit of a different perspective as someone who is more of a live player.
Thanks for sharing. Good stuff.
Old 7th August 2014
  #52
No toy keys for me.

Real keys or a proper module, preferably with the option to rack mount.
Old 8th August 2014
  #53
227861
Guest
I went to Sam Ash and tried out an MS20 to compare with what I had back home to check to see if something was broken on mine. The keys on that weren't that bad but I'd say that's the exception. Definitely wouldn't put them in the same category as minikeys.

I still hate real mini keys though. It's the most important part of the instrument to be able to play it, and to make a product cheaper because of minikeys seems absurd to me. That's like making smaller drums with very tiny drumsticks for a drummer. Are we talking about playing instruments or what?
Old 8th August 2014
  #54
Lives for gear
I was one of the original Kickstarter purchasers of the McMillen QuNexus. I really wanted to like it, but the small keys didn't work for me.
Old 8th August 2014
  #55
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GeorgeHayduke's Avatar
 

I think the option "I prefer full-size keys, but mini keys MIGHT not stop me from buying something I wanted" should be:

"I prefer full-size keys, but mini keys WILL not stop me from buying something I want."

Iow., if one wants an Ody but one does not buy it for 600 dollars because of mini-keys, one does not want it enough!

While I'd personally rather have module or full-size keys, eventually the question is this: Do I want a 600 dollar ARP Odyssey, or not?

One can always chop off the keys if it's such a constant offense to ones sensibilities. And saws are pretty cheap too
Old 8th August 2014
  #56
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Santiago's Avatar
 

I like them on some instruments, they allow you to have tiny portable keyboards and, as an untrained keyboard player, they are even inspiring for playing. I like the keys on my Micro Korg XL.

However, I can completely understand that for someone with formal training on piano or keyboards (as many of the posters above seem to be), they may be really bad, as they do not allow them to use their knowledge and highly trained touch.
Old 8th August 2014
  #57
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R3Member's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeHayduke View Post
One can always chop off the keys if it's such a constant offense to ones sensibilities. And saws are pretty cheap too
And with the way the Arp's keybed is laid out, if people end up hating the smaller keys, they could actually just smash them out with a hammer and then use the extra space as a swanky drink holder for a whole flight of tiki drinks. Everybody wins!
Old 8th August 2014
  #58
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erdi's Avatar
 

I prefer full-size keys, but mini keys might not stop me from buying something I wanted. especially when its cheaper.
Old 8th August 2014
  #59
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grasspike's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Transistores View Post
No to mini-keys. And I played them for years. That's why:

1. Small keys will break in a year or two.
that is why then I have a TON of cheap Casio and Yamaha keyboards that are from the 1980s that have mini keys and all of them work fine and do not have any broken keys. Many of them were purchased used over the years at thrift stores, yard/garage/boot sales, ebay, craigslist etc and were subject to untold abuse by the kiddies before I got them for $1. My Casio SK200 had crayon marks all over it where a very young toddler wrote all over it, yet all the keys work fine

My 10 year old Microkorg still has all it's keys, as does my Microstation, Microsampler, Microarranger, and Microkorg XL

if you are breaking off keys, you must be pounding on them EXTREMELY hard
Old 8th August 2014
  #60
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robinkle's Avatar
I will never buy minikeys. I'm allways looking for high quality semi-weighted keys.
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