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Which Midi Keyboard Controller to Purchase? Dynamic Microphones
Old 6 days ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Which Midi Keyboard Controller to Purchase?

I apologize in advance for this long post

I’m new to digital recording, and I am looking for advice and insights to help me choose the most appropriate midi keyboard controller for my home recording studio.

A little about my background …

I’ve been playing guitar for many years. The last year or so, I started to focus on recording myself for practice, learning and personal enjoyment. I incorporate a drum machine, vocals and bass, and enjoy the process of recording tracks, mixing, and applying some basic enhancements (compression, reverb, etc.).

I recently purchased an 88-key Yamaha digital piano, to learn to play (at a basic level), and ideally gain a more rounded understanding about music theory and composition. This is more about the fun of learning and less about becoming super proficient on that instrument.

Regarding my recording equipment …

My DAW is a Windows 7 PC running Cubase 8.5 Artist. I have a variety of condenser and dynamic mics (Avantone Pro CV-12, Shure SM7B, TC-Helicon MP-75, Shure Beta 58A, Sterling Audio ST77, and others) that are interfaced via a Steinberg US28M audio interface. My acoustic guitars are recorded with mics and/or built-in pickups, and my electrics are connected via processors, all through the Steinberg.

Things I am looking to do …

Until now, all my recording has been done with a drum track that is not synchronized with the recorder’s timeline (simply recorded as an analog signal from a Zoom RT-223 drum machine) … so I don’t currently take advantage of all the digital recording capabilities available to me.

I would like to explore the use of VST instruments and other digital tools, and utilize the internal click track and VST instruments (like Groove Agent, HALion, etc.) to enhance my recording and editing capabilities.

I would like to streamline the overall production process, through use of a midi keyboard controller … which gets to the essence of this post (deciding which one to purchase).

Some additional thoughts about the midi keyboard controller …

Keys - 49 is my target, which provides a reasonable bit of room for melody development and two-handed play. 25 seems too limiting, and my available desktop space will be stretched to accommodate 61 or more keys. Playing keyboards is not my main priority … and I feel comfortable that 49 keys allows room for some growth.

DAW Control - Efficiency in controlling Cubase is a priority. The more I can easily do via the controller, versus using the PC mouse and keyboard, the more I can streamline the overall process. However, I would not like an interface that requires multi-key combinations (shift + another key) for basic process steps. In other words, the controller interface should be simple, straight-forward, and generally intuitive.

Drum Pads - I would like the controller to have pads that are velocity sensitive and accurate. The number of pads is less important, as long as there are a minimum of 8 (which seems to be quite common).

Build Quality - Control reliability and accuracy is desired. A device that sends phantom signals, lacks decent precision (sliders, knobs, etc.) or has a poor feel (key action) would be frustrating to use. In this regard, mini-keyboard keys are not interesting to me.

Cost - Since this is a new area for me, and potentially something that may not pan out (hard to know where this will go), I would like minimize the cost. This is not to suggest I want an entry-level device, but to simply indicate that I also do not want a top-of-the-line device.

With the aforementioned information, I tentatively identified two midi keyboard controllers that seem appropriate to consider:

Nektar Impact LX49+ - What I like about the Nektar is its’ lower cost ($160) and deep integration into Cubase.

Akai MPK249 - What I like about the Akai is its’ weighted keys and better-quality build / layout, although at a higher cost ($400).

I am leaning towards the Nektar, but I am unsure if I am overlooking or undervaluing some aspect of the Akai. Possibly, there is another controller I should be considering.

I would greatly appreciate any thoughts or comments to help me with my decision.
Old 6 days ago
  #2
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martinman55 View Post
I apologize in advance for this long post

I’m new to digital recording, and I am looking for advice and insights to help me choose the most appropriate midi keyboard controller for my home recording studio.

A little about my background …

I’ve been playing guitar for many years. The last year or so, I started to focus on recording myself for practice, learning and personal enjoyment. I incorporate a drum machine, vocals and bass, and enjoy the process of recording tracks, mixing, and applying some basic enhancements (compression, reverb, etc.).

I recently purchased an 88-key Yamaha digital piano, to learn to play (at a basic level), and ideally gain a more rounded understanding about music theory and composition. This is more about the fun of learning and less about becoming super proficient on that instrument.

Regarding my recording equipment …

My DAW is a Windows 7 PC running Cubase 8.5 Artist. I have a variety of condenser and dynamic mics (Avantone Pro CV-12, Shure SM7B, TC-Helicon MP-75, Shure Beta 58A, Sterling Audio ST77, and others) that are interfaced via a Steinberg US28M audio interface. My acoustic guitars are recorded with mics and/or built-in pickups, and my electrics are connected via processors, all through the Steinberg.

Things I am looking to do …

Until now, all my recording has been done with a drum track that is not synchronized with the recorder’s timeline (simply recorded as an analog signal from a Zoom RT-223 drum machine) … so I don’t currently take advantage of all the digital recording capabilities available to me.

I would like to explore the use of VST instruments and other digital tools, and utilize the internal click track and VST instruments (like Groove Agent, HALion, etc.) to enhance my recording and editing capabilities.

I would like to streamline the overall production process, through use of a midi keyboard controller … which gets to the essence of this post (deciding which one to purchase).

Some additional thoughts about the midi keyboard controller …

Keys - 49 is my target, which provides a reasonable bit of room for melody development and two-handed play. 25 seems too limiting, and my available desktop space will be stretched to accommodate 61 or more keys. Playing keyboards is not my main priority … and I feel comfortable that 49 keys allows room for some growth.

DAW Control - Efficiency in controlling Cubase is a priority. The more I can easily do via the controller, versus using the PC mouse and keyboard, the more I can streamline the overall process. However, I would not like an interface that requires multi-key combinations (shift + another key) for basic process steps. In other words, the controller interface should be simple, straight-forward, and generally intuitive.

Drum Pads - I would like the controller to have pads that are velocity sensitive and accurate. The number of pads is less important, as long as there are a minimum of 8 (which seems to be quite common).

Build Quality - Control reliability and accuracy is desired. A device that sends phantom signals, lacks decent precision (sliders, knobs, etc.) or has a poor feel (key action) would be frustrating to use. In this regard, mini-keyboard keys are not interesting to me.

Cost - Since this is a new area for me, and potentially something that may not pan out (hard to know where this will go), I would like minimize the cost. This is not to suggest I want an entry-level device, but to simply indicate that I also do not want a top-of-the-line device.

With the aforementioned information, I tentatively identified two midi keyboard controllers that seem appropriate to consider:

Nektar Impact LX49+ - What I like about the Nektar is its’ lower cost ($160) and deep integration into Cubase.

Akai MPK249 - What I like about the Akai is its’ weighted keys and better-quality build / layout, although at a higher cost ($400).

I am leaning towards the Nektar, but I am unsure if I am overlooking or undervaluing some aspect of the Akai. Possibly, there is another controller I should be considering.

I would greatly appreciate any thoughts or comments to help me with my decision.
I've had the MPK249 for about four years now. It's built a lot better than most. I guarantee it will last longer than something under 200. If you buy the cheaper controller, you will end up replacing it within a few years. I have more than a few old M Audio controllers collecting dust.
Old 5 days ago
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jammiedodger666 View Post

I've had the MPK249 for about four years now. It's built a lot better than most. I guarantee it will last longer than something under 200. If you buy the cheaper controller, you will end up replacing it within a few years. I have more than a few old M Audio controllers collecting dust.
Thanks ... good advice.
Old 5 days ago
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Hey. Yeah, I use the Akai too (61 key, but it is the same). I love the build quality, very solid, better than my Sledge synth. Feels professional, or semi-pro anyway, instead of all plasticky. But like you said, at more than twice the price. It does have extensive midi mapping, you can assign pretty much any knob or fader to control whatever you like in your DAW. You can also map VSTs the same way- the ones that support mapping- and then save the map as a preset and have it waiting. The free synths that it comes with are premapped. I would guess that most folks would agree it has better pads, and the fatar keybed would be at least as good as Nektar's. I have other Akai stuff that also pulled me that way, so I can see why you would lean toward the Nektar. In your situation, the little I know of it, I might go that way too. If I were you I would get really drunk and see what I woke up with. Hope this HELPS.
Old 4 days ago
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beerphart bob View Post
Hey. Yeah, I use the Akai too (61 key, but it is the same). I love the build quality, very solid, better than my Sledge synth. Feels professional, or semi-pro anyway, instead of all plasticky. But like you said, at more than twice the price. It does have extensive midi mapping, you can assign pretty much any knob or fader to control whatever you like in your DAW. You can also map VSTs the same way- the ones that support mapping- and then save the map as a preset and have it waiting. The free synths that it comes with are premapped. I would guess that most folks would agree it has better pads, and the fatar keybed would be at least as good as Nektar's. I have other Akai stuff that also pulled me that way, so I can see why you would lean toward the Nektar. In your situation, the little I know of it, I might go that way too. If I were you I would get really drunk and see what I woke up with. Hope this HELPS.
Your comments, and those from they previous reply, have me leaning towards the higher quality option. I appreciate the input.

Regarding the "what I woke up with" approach ... maybe as a last resort!
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