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Midi keyboards


zbd1960
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I have a Mac mini and a MacBook Pro. I'm thinking of getting Logic Pro, but I'll need a midi keyboard. Not an area of expertise! Prefer to spend less than £100. I'm guessing any midi keyboard will work (since 'midi' is a standard...). Does anyone have suggestions or recommendations?

Thanks.

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Things to consider:

- are you happy with minikeys or do you want full-sized ones?

- how many octaves do you need?

- will you only be using it to play / control vst synths in the computer, in which case a USB output is all you need, or will you want to control other hardware via MIDI or gate/cv?

- is it just the keys you want, or would you prefer to have other assignable MIDI controls (knobs, sliders, buttons etc) which can be used to control vst (or hardware) synth parameters?

- how important is the feel of the keyboard or you? 

- how important is portability - will it be permanently located on a desk or other stand, or do you want to be able to use it with a laptop wherever you want?

Answering these questions will help narrow down your options.

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The last keyboard controller I had was a Novation Launchkey Mk2 - 61 full size keys. They are well regarded, full size keys, light up touch sensitive pads, faders etc..., quite solid & just the ticket for controlling Logic, nice synth type action from the keys. I sold mine for about £100 so it would fit your budget nicely.

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Useful info. I've been down some YT rabbit holes today... One thing that has popped up is that M-Audio doesn't seem to get on very well with Big Sur OS on Mac - looks like it's pending an update from M-Audio. I had an awful experience with my NAS storage which is Western Digital when Big Sur was launched.

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Under £100 is going to very much compromise your choices. I have a Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49 but they're about £168.50 new (I don't know how much secondhand). Its "semi-weighted" and I think this makes a difference for serious playing. Its no where near the quality of a proper piano keyboard but you don't really want the weight for "synth style" lines (but you would, if you're playing "piano style" music). Also I'd say for anything serious, avoid mini keys and go for full size.

There is the Komplete Kontrol A25 for £122.50 but 2 octaves is restrictive if you're playing with both hands. I've been able to get by pretty well with 4 octaves with a good portion of piano music, but obviously some just won't fit.

You didn't really give any detail on what you'll be using/playing the keyboard for, so its difficult to know if 2 octaves will be fine or restrictive.

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11 hours ago, sammybee said:

I'd give anything with M-Audio on it a wide berth!

Why's that? 

I've used their stuff for years without any serious problems. I have the audio interface and I've had three of the keyboards, and never had any problems that were solely attributable to the hardware. In fact, the interface has been (touch wood!) faultless since I bought it. 

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45 minutes ago, Jakester said:

Why's that? 

I've used their stuff for years without any serious problems. I have the audio interface and I've had three of the keyboards, and never had any problems that were solely attributable to the hardware. In fact, the interface has been (touch wood!) faultless since I bought it. 

I flagged them up as they seem to have some compatibility issues with the Mac Big Sur OS... not sure if it's been resolved or not. 

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56 minutes ago, Jakester said:

Why's that? 

I've used their stuff for years without any serious problems. I have the audio interface and I've had three of the keyboards, and never had any problems that were solely attributable to the hardware. In fact, the interface has been (touch wood!) faultless since I bought it. 

 

Although, I'm not using anything by them at the moment, one of my boys has The M-Audio Keystation, 88 MK3 (semi Weighted full size keys) from what I've read in reviews, one of the best budget price controllers out there, certainly for playability. Between £150/£160, I think. I play a Piano a lot and it's feels great to play.

 

As someone mentioned above, it might be worth upping your budget and considering a Native Instruments Kontrol A49 or A61.

Apart from the playability, the NI Kontrol series comes bundled with a decent set of free VSTi's (instruments) and a few VST FX's.

 

 

 

Edited by lowdown
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53 minutes ago, paul_c2 said:

Under £100 is going to very much compromise your choices. I have a Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49 but they're about £168.50 new (I don't know how much secondhand). Its "semi-weighted" and I think this makes a difference for serious playing. Its no where near the quality of a proper piano keyboard but you don't really want the weight for "synth style" lines (but you would, if you're playing "piano style" music). Also I'd say for anything serious, avoid mini keys and go for full size.

There is the Komplete Kontrol A25 for £122.50 but 2 octaves is restrictive if you're playing with both hands. I've been able to get by pretty well with 4 octaves with a good portion of piano music, but obviously some just won't fit.

You didn't really give any detail on what you'll be using/playing the keyboard for, so its difficult to know if 2 octaves will be fine or restrictive.

I have a nice full size Yamaha upright piano... 🙂 I'm not a brilliant pianist.

I would probably aim at 4 octave device, as I can see 25 key one being a bit limiting.

I'm a novice at using this technology, so want something to enable me to key in music but also provide some control over the DAW. So, some level of functionality, compatibility with Logic Pro X and Big Sur, four octaves. 

Having spent a lot of time these last few days going through reviews and user guides online, I may need to spend a little more.      

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1 hour ago, Jakester said:

Why's that? 

I've used their stuff for years without any serious problems. I have the audio interface and I've had three of the keyboards, and never had any problems that were solely attributable to the hardware. In fact, the interface has been (touch wood!) faultless since I bought it. 

Generally they don't support their stuff for long. If you like to keep up to date with OS updates etc, then you'll probably find what ever you buy from M-Audio becomes a brick after a couple of years

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4 hours ago, sammybee said:

Generally they don't support their stuff for long. If you like to keep up to date with OS updates etc, then you'll probably find what ever you buy from M-Audio becomes a brick after a couple of years

This seems to have been the issue when Apple updated the OS to Big Sur at the end of last year 

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I have an Alesis Q25 - I wanted full sized keys and as a complete novice didn't really know what to do with all the midi controls anyway.  In hindsight the 25 key option isn't a great choice so I'd go for the Q49 but otherwise I've been pleased with it.  Really easy to set up and very responsive - although I'm a PC user mainly on Cubase.  It comes with Ableton live lite which is OK but not great and Xpand Air 2 which I think is a fantastic VST.

Edited by Nicko
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  • 2 weeks later...
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There is zero reason for any MIDI controller keyboard to stop working simply because the host computer changes its OS, unless it has been poorly designed. These days any MIDI interface whether it be external unit with traditional DIN sockets or built into the keyboard using USB should be class-compliant and work whatever OS it is presented with. I'd steer clear of anything that requires a "driver" as at some point it will top being supported by the manufacturer, at which time it will just turn into an expensive paperweight.

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55 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

There is zero reason for any MIDI controller keyboard to stop working simply because the host computer changes its OS, unless it has been poorly designed. 

Yeh, I thought that. Most things are class compliant. I had a midi interface (M-Audio) that had been in my draw for a decade. I needed 3 actualy midi ports, so I dug it out although I remembered I had an issue with it. It didn't work. I took it apart but it looked clean inside. I did a web search and found there were drivers for it, which seemed odd. Installed them and now it works.

I was a bit surprised, it was all a bit last century, haven't needed a driver for anything usb since.. the original iMac!

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