61-key midi controllers - trying to pick the best compromise

Discussion in 'Instruments' started by realitybytez, Jun 5, 2016.

?

please read my list of priorities first. and then vote

Poll closed Jun 12, 2016.
  1. Novation 61 SL MkII

    1 vote(s)
    7.1%
  2. Novation Impulse 61

    1 vote(s)
    7.1%
  3. Akai Professional MPK261

    4 vote(s)
    28.6%
  4. Nektar Panorama P6

    5 vote(s)
    35.7%
  5. Other - please tell me why in your post below

    3 vote(s)
    21.4%
  1. realitybytez

    realitybytez Producer

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    i know i have seen other threads that asked the same (or similar) question - so i do apologize for starting another one. but i am having a heck of a time making a decision. my budget is $500 or less, so please do not suggest one of the exotic $1500 - $2k controllers. i can't afford it.

    most important things for me:

    1. daw control/integration - this is why i have not listed the native instruments or akai advance keyboards. i plan to use either reaper or sonar, but i may also look at s1.
    2. keybed - i keep reading reviews, but there are so many contradictory views that i just don't know what to believe. for example, one guy says the keybed on the p6 sucks (huge mismatch between the white & black keys) and another guy says it is the best keybed of any controller in this price range.
    3. faders - want to be able to do a decent job of a rough mix from the faders on the controller.
    4. knobs - useful and easily configured.
    5. transport controls - would like to have full control of recording & playback.
    6. pads - the least important feature to me.
     
  2.  
  3. robbin_banks

    robbin_banks Newbie

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    Okay, so I have a Novation Impulse 61. Keyboard is nice and it has nice features. Automap is a disgusting mess. In theory supposed to be great but it isn't which really just destroys the value of the controller. If I were to upgrade, I'd get the Akai mpk2, the first mpk series was pretty good but it had its drawbacks (which seem to have been fixed with the mpk2).
     
  4. timer

    timer Kapellmeister

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    While I can't comment on features, the feel of a keyboard highly depends on your taste, so do yourself a favor and play them before you buy. I've been checking out some keyboards myself a few weeks ago. The only ones I could bear were NI and Novation SL (and the "Oberheim" Synth keyboard). But that's just me and I'm spoiled from using old Ensoniq (poly pressure) keyboards. Imho you can't buy anything comparabletoday, at any price.
    Otoh, if you rather need an input device for notes than a keyboard to play, the feel is not really critical.
     
  5. Willum

    Willum Platinum Record

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    I have Panorama P4, works great with reaper and bitwig. There is also a script for using with S1 i believe.
    Using any controller with sonar seems to be a bit of a mess, they have their own system that, going by the forums, doesn't seem to work too well. Theres a guy that has programmed an interface to make their system work better but it still dont seem to be much use.

    If you dont really need pads, maybe the Nektar P1 would be better for you. You could then buy just a midi keyboard and theres probably more choice of keybeds that way.

    I wish i had done that myself, i dont need the pads either and for the way my desk is setup seperate controller and keyboard would have been better.

    Although the pads on my P4 do make a great place to put my android tablet for touch osc. :)
     
  6. realitybytez

    realitybytez Producer

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    yeah, i haven't read many glowing reviews of automap. have you updated to the latest version (4.9)? is it possible o configure the daw features outside of automap - (i.e. can i just completely ignore automap and still get all the functionality)?

    the reason i listed the sl first is because even though it is the oldest option, the keybed is supposed to be fatar and a pretty decent fatar at that. when i see pinheiro thiago still using the sl to do vst plugin product demos, it makes me think that it must be a pretty good controller.

    i thought about that too, but i don't know. most of the keyboard only products out there are at the bottom end of the price spectrum, and i really doubt that they are very good. i was toying with the idea of just keeping my dusty old axiom 25 and buying one of the behringer x-touch controllers.
     
  7. SineWave

    SineWave Audiosexual

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    I use Kurzweil K2000VP and Novation Remote SL 37 keyboards. I've settled for these after trying a couple of other keyboards like M-Audio [god forbid], Roland A49, and Akai Max49. I like half-weighted synth action keyboards like my first Rolands D-10 and D-20 are. I can tell you a couple of things: Novation or Akai. Roland is not what it used to be any more. M-Audio keyboards break a lot and too soon. Akai feels good, but I picked Novation Remote SL 37 because it is small, transportable, and easier to use and adjust. I don't even use that Autobananas software as I don't seem to need it. I programmed a couple of my own controller templates and I use them for everything.

    Of all these, Kurzweil K2000VP has the best feeling keybed hands down, but it's got only one fader which can act as controller. That's why I bought Novation, too. I also have Akai MPD32 and Behringer BCR2000 so I really don't need any more knobs and controllers. It's best to combine controllers, I think. Not single one of them is good for everything, the closest being Novation Remote SL and Akai MPK. MPD32 is great for drumming and BCR2000 is great for controlling synths with many parameters, or for mixing. It is one of the rare MIDI controllers that can control my hardware samplers.

    I think a great combo is to have an older but still great keyboard like Kurzweil, and some of these controllers: Akai, Novation, Behringer. Obviously. :rofl:

    I hope I helped some. Cheers! :wink:

    edit: Novation keybeds feel good, but the quality of the whole thing is a bit dodgy, so don't plan on touring with it. Akai is more sturdy, so if you're looking for an all in one controller that can take some abuse go with Akai MPK2. :wink: I voted for Novation SL MKII, though. I'm not sure why. :rofl:
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
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  8. spacetime

    spacetime Producer

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    i would buy any cheap maudio keyboard, the keys are the best for the price

    the nov sl is cool but you wont be able to open your project without automap anymore
     
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  9. SineWave

    SineWave Audiosexual

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    Good point about autocrap software. Maybe that's why I don't use it. Never even tried it. :)

    But M-audio keyboards... the quality of keys and faders suck, and editing templates sucks. They just fall apart after a couple of years, sorry. :( Many of the people I know have them. They fell for the low price. After playing with them and seeing how they work I just decided to ignore them completely. Not the people, M-audio. :rofl:
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2016
  10. realitybytez

    realitybytez Producer

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    well, i want to thank the few people who did respond. i do appreciate your input.

    unfortunately, i'm not much closer to making a decision. i know that the best thing is to try out several and pick the one you like best. i don't have that option because there's not a store close enough to me that carries any of these keyboards. i'll probably just have to roll the dice with one of them.
     
  11. superliquidsunshine

    superliquidsunshine Audiosexual

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    M-Audio is the "snake eyes" of your crapshoot and is to be avoided at all costs. If baby needs a new pair of shoes, your 7-11 would best be one of the Novations. I have an older 61 variety that still chugs along, no broken anything and the keyboard action is okay but really, really noisy and impossible, literally impossible to try to get a vocal take while playing along. I just foolishly bought another guitar or else I would possibly have been on the lookout for a shiny and new Novation 61 SL MkII
     
  12. SineWave

    SineWave Audiosexual

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    When I think about it a bit more, AKAI would probably be the best bet for you after all. It's really well built, and it is easy to configure, too. The keys are as good as Novation's in my opinion, although some people wouldn't agree. It is a real shame you cannot test them yourself and decide! You would notice that AKAI keyboards feel better in general than Novation ones. I bought my Remote 37 just because I needed a little additional keyboard with faders and pots, yet not 2 octave little, but not 4 or 5 octaves big. It just fits perfectly for my needs and it is unique in that regard. Otherwise - If I didn't have Kurzweil and MPD32, I'd buy an Akai Max49 or Akai MPK249 in a blink. My AKAI MPD32 is such a pleasure to use - the knobs and faders feel just right and you can feel its quality, and Novation faders and knobs feel just as M-Audio ones. :/

    I changed my vote to AKAI. I also think Novation's SL MKII are way overpriced for the quality you get. AKAI is just a tad overpriced in comparison. IMO It feels weird to say that because AKAI is known to overprice their goods, but I don't think their best keyboards and controllers are so overpriced. Their low end equipment is.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016
  13. realitybytez

    realitybytez Producer

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    thank you for the additional insight. if you take into account that the novation sl mkii can be purchased brand new for $399 on amazon, while the akai mpk261 is $499 pretty much everywhere, do you feel that the akai is worth $100 more?
     
  14. SineWave

    SineWave Audiosexual

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    Damn, here in EU [thomann.de] AKAI is cheaper than Novation. AKAI MPK261 is 510 Euro and Novation Remote SL MKII is 570 euro. For me it is obvious which one I would take. ;) However, at $400 Novation SL MKII is very tempting. I think the deciding factor should be sturdiness then. AKAI is obviously better quality and it can take abuse. If you think you need such a keyboard then go for AKAI, but if you take good care of your keyboards you can save $100 and go with Novation. That's my additional 2 pennies. ;) Good prices on Amazon, mate, but I have to pay additional taxes... :sad: Anyway, I don't need anything else, so I'm not that sad. :winker:

    Good luck with whatever you choose! :wink: Cheers!

    p.s. and if you take the e-bay route, I would never buy 2nd hand Novation. Yes, they are fragile. Loads of plastic. :sad: MKII feels a bit better though than older Remote SL. One client has SL MKII 49, so I checked it out. It still doesn't feel like AKAI, and it lacks the very handy 2nd screen. I think I'm being rather objective as I'm not a fanboy of any of these, really. All these new MIDI keyboards suck in one way or the other for me, and it's usually the build quality that sucks IMO. It's just that in general AKAI keyboards suck the least, I think. Keyboards in the 90s used to be of so much better quality, but also much more expensive... so it is understandable OTOH why their build quality is not exactly top notch.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016
  15. realitybytez

    realitybytez Producer

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    yeah, no kidding. the korg t3 that i bought back in the 90s was $3600.00. i sold it a few years ago for $400. i really wish i would have kept it and bought some sort of daw controller instead of what i'm doing now. oh well . . .

    thanks again for your help.
     
  16. SineWave

    SineWave Audiosexual

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    Ahhh, don't feel sorry. What's done is done. I had a full room of synths that I regret selling to this day. :mad: I could buy a house if I kept them and sold them now. :hahaha: <-- that's laughing and crying at the same time.

    You're welcome mate, anytime! :wink: Cheers! :headbang:
     
  17. Moleman

    Moleman Ultrasonic

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    Roland A-800 Pro:

    -knobs, faders, transport (and other stuff i dont use), but the most important : EXPRESSION PEDAL input
     
  18. spacetime

    spacetime Producer

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    the best midicontroller are of course the ableton pushs, most versatile

    maudio has cheap robust keys for a cheap price, of course they are not as good as native or akai as they only cost 1/3, the best is to try out what you want

    if your wallet allows you can buy the best equipment and still pay only a fraction of what a studio would cost in the 90s, it costs much less now then what it cost just a few years ago
     
  19. CousinKeiron

    CousinKeiron Newbie

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    I also have the Nektar Panorama P4, and has assigned many of FL Studio and Studio One controls to it. I added a function to Add Plugins, Add Patterns, All Four Arrow Keys, Enter, Save, Add to Mixer Track and so on. I spend a lot of my time now messing with the DAW instead of reaching for my mouse.
     
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