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What is Audiobus?Audiobus is an award-winning music app for iPhone and iPad which lets you use your other music apps together. Chain effects on your favourite synth, run the output of apps or Audio Units into an app like GarageBand or Loopy, or select a different audio interface output for each app. Route MIDI between apps — drive a synth from a MIDI sequencer, or add an arpeggiator to your MIDI keyboard — or sync with your external MIDI gear. And control your entire setup from a MIDI controller.

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Keyboard Advice

Hi I hope this isn’t out of place here. I’m looking to pick up a keyboard for playing synths and piano Etc, via iOS, so has to be solid iPad compatibility.I have a nice kawai digital piano but am staying somewhere else at the moment and want somethung much lighter but that actually plays ok, for a keyboard - I went through a whole period of trying loads a few years ago before getting my digital piano so I know that for me theyre nkt good for piano, just looking for advice and experience from anyone who plays piano or might be able to help te which actually feel ok. I did try a Yamaha once maybe the piagerro or something that’s a real word and sounds like that and it felt nice, the keys were weighted slightly more than is usual but only slightly as the more heavily weighted springs in the Roland attempt at a hybrid feel are awful for me.

So somethung light, 61 keys ish maybeee 49, nice enough feel for piano, works with iOS synths and preferably knobs and faders. Thanks

Oh just to add. I really love the aesthetics of the arturia stuff but it’s narrow keys and I’m really dubious about that. Curious if any piano players have exp on arturia narrow keys. Might be ok as somehow the full width can sometimes encourage you to play as you would on a piano which is too hard for a midi keyboard if you know what I mean, and maybe narrow keys make you play a little softer naturally as it’s easier to move around.

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Comments

  • edited October 2021

    Hi,
    What are you interested in primarily ? The closest possible to a concert grand ?
    Regarding keyboard - from a pianist point of view - , you should consider :

    • the touch quality and particularly the length of the key (the longer the better because you won’t struggle playing deep in the black keys and also because you will have more control on pianissimi)
    • the regulation : each key should have a downweight as consistent as possible all along the keyboard (standard downweight : 52 g, a little more in the basses)
    • the velocity accuracy : the same downward speed should yield the same MIDI note-on velocity all across the keyboard, with little to none randomness when the test is repeated.
      “Grand piano” style keyboards are not optimal for certain non-piano genres where a lighter keyboard is preferred (fast leads are hard to play on a heavy-weighted keyboard).

    So all depends on what you are looking for primarily 😄
    Cheers !

  • edited October 2021

    I had the piaggerio but sadly some notes stopped working. Now I am happy with my Yamaha MX mark 2, keybed feel similar to Piaggero and has a few knobs but no faders. What is great it has a built in sound card useful if iPad don’t have headphone socket.
    built in sounds and very light weight.
    For the MX it has to be version 2 for IPad integration.
    I play acoustic piano too but after a while got used to the lighter touch on keyboards.
    What I miss is the music stand on the Piaggero was great for holding the IPad.

  • My opinion, best value for cheapest all round 88… Casio PSX1100. The lightest. No wheels, though. You need the PXS3000 for that feature.

  • Thanks everyone. Yeah re the above questions - I actually dislike grands and will be using velocity curve with ravenscroft and pure piano for an intimate upright sound which is my preference. I’m aware of the difficulty playing fast stuff synths on properly weighted keys and that was part of hwo i convinced myself to get a midi controller as I will also use it for organ and synth stuff over my kawai.

    Ive been reading up on stuff and feeling like the komplete kontrol a61 is what I might go for. Seems to get a lot of comments about the keybed feel and I can cope with no sliders as it has 8 knobs. Anyone have any opinions? :)

  • heshes
    edited October 2021

    I think Komplete Kontrol A61 will be fine. As you say, fully weighted hammer actions aren't generally preferred for synth playing. I've learned to take all opinions on key action of inexpensive midi keyboards with a grain of salt. In my opinion, none of them feel very good at all, if you're used to a real piano or a good hammer action keyboard. They're cheap; they won't feel like a finely crafted instrument; but I think they're mostly all okay.

    It sounds like you realize that they won't give as much control as hammer action keybeds if you primarily want to play it like a piano. But for fast synth/organ playing, these cheap "semi-weighted" controllers are actually what you want.

  • edited October 2021

    @hes said:
    I think Komplete Kontrol A61 will be fine. As you say, fully weighted hammer actions aren't generally preferred for synth playing. I've learned to take all opinions on key action of inexpensive midi keyboards with a grain of salt. In my opinion, none of them feel very good at all, if you're used to a real piano or a good hammer action keyboard. They're cheap; they won't feel like a finely crafted instrument; but I think they're mostly all okay.

    It sounds like you realize that they won't give as much control as hammer action keybeds if you primarily want to play it like a piano. But for fast synth/organ playing, these cheap "semi-weighted" controllers are actually what you want.

    Thank you. I am almost there now with the a61. I was having a last minute bit of indecision with I think some novation stuff and wondering how compared. I’ve had the same experience as you. I don’t want to be demeaning toward them but coming from proper instruments and digital pianos, midi controller keyboards aren’t really instruments to me, and I would never pay anything over a couple of hundred pounds for what is really a box of buttons. But they’re great for synths, and it’s one of those things - I don’t know about you - where I wanted the perfect solution but really yiu need to have a digital piano for piano and a keyboard for other stuff. I tried everything at one time and settled on this and iOS app MPE controllers.

    The one thing I did glean from what I tried a few years ago was that the Roland go attempt felt horrible, and the pure synth action stuff awful very bad for me.. the Yamaha piaggerro sorry spelling was the only midi controller where I liked the feel, and could play expressively when I accept it’s not a piano and play in a different way. I’m hoping the komplete kontrol may feel similar but I’m so fussy it’s terrible. I think the feel I liked was semi weighted, not too light so it’s not there, but I was surprised to find it should feel quite light, and that the stiffer ones are horrible, i think the suggestion of some weighting works well for lighter touch playing and is the best I can expect on midi controllers. I think stiffer ones are really poor because it’s linear and there’s a misunderstanding that pianos are ‘stiffer’ or harder to press when actually it’s a non linear mechanism that creates inertia and momentum and draws your fingers in as well as providing feedback rather than just resisting.

  • If you wanna go full piano size and still keep it light, have you looked at the studiologic numa compact 2x?
    Also an audio interface, midi interface, and some midi controls as well.

  • heshes
    edited October 2021

    @wingwizard said:
    I’m hoping the komplete kontrol may feel similar but I’m so fussy it’s terrible. I think the feel I liked was semi weighted, . . .

    My impression is that "semi-weighted" is just some marketing words that get thrown in there, doubt whether keyboards described as "semi-weighted" are reliably different (i.e., reliably lighter or reliably stiffer) than ones that for some reason lack the designation.

  • heshes
    edited October 2021

    @AlmostAnonymous said:
    If you wanna go full piano size and still keep it light, have you looked at the studiologic numa compact 2x?
    Also an audio interface, midi interface, and some midi controls as well.

    I haven't used one, but from what I've read that sounds like a good suggestion. I have the impression that these have a light synth-type keybed that has a more quality feel than most of the less expensive keyboard controllers. Is that right? I have thought about the Numa Compact 2, which seems to have the same keybed, all the features of the Compact 2x that I want, and is a couple hundred bucks cheaper ($500).

  • edited October 2021

    @wingwizard said:
    I think stiffer ones are really poor because it’s linear and there’s a misunderstanding that pianos are ‘stiffer’ or harder to press when actually it’s a non linear mechanism that creates inertia and momentum and draws your fingers in as well as providing feedback rather than just resisting.

    So true, only inertia matters when talking about “weighted keyboard”. It’s far better to have a light keyboard with high inertia than the opposite. Marketing…

  • I once read a text review that said that "KK A" keys have a strong force to return to their original state when the user removes his fingers. It was "strong" in a negative sense. It said that for piano players, the strength might be uncomfortable. It also said that when the user took his fingers off the keys, the sound came from the keys themselves because the force of the return was so strong.
    I wondered if there was a video somewhere on youtube where people were saying similar things. I think the video below says something similar. The keybed topic starts around 4:21 in this one.

    One Year Later...What Do I Really Think About It?|Native Instruments A61 Post Review|
    John Mike

    Also, I remember reading a text review somewhere with the following content.
    "The movement of the wheel on "KK A" is heavy and does not return in an instant.
    It returns slowly. I don't like that."
    I read that both the modulation wheel(?) and the pitch wheel(?) are heavy. (I think the reviewer was referring to the two wheels on the left side of the keyboard. I am not a music equipment expert.) For the reviewer, that feature was personally unacceptable, so it was written as a negative factor.

    (Caution: The information above is based on my memory. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. There is a possibility that I may have mentioned other products due to my misremembering.)

    The rest of the story has nothing to do with "KK A". I once read a post on the Internet by a fan of piaggero. The fan was praising the key touch of piaggero. I think he felt that the quality was good for the price. I saw OP mentioning piaggero in a thread here and it reminded me of a post by a piaggero fan.
    (I am not a good reader or writer of English. I could not read the exact meaning of the part where OP mentions piaggero. I interpreted it as follows.
    -OP has a positive impression of the key touch of piaggero.
    -OP has a negative impression of the key touch of something by Roland.)
    That fan of piaggero did not limit the key-touch comparison to digital pianos, as I recall. I recall that the fan included synthesizers and midi keyboards in piaggero’s comparisons. It occurred to me that if I used the piaggero as a midi keyboard, would its key touch be better or worse in quality and performance than a midi keyboard in the same price range? (Just a thought, not a question. I have no plans to buy a midi keyboard or any other keyboard at all)

  • @cramdog said:
    I once read a text review that said that "KK A" keys have a strong force to return to their original state when the user removes his fingers. It was "strong" in a negative sense. It said that for piano players, the strength might be uncomfortable. It also said that when the user took his fingers off the keys, the sound came from the keys themselves because the force of the return was so strong.
    I wondered if there was a video somewhere on youtube where people were saying similar things. I think the video below says something similar. The keybed topic starts around 4:21 in this one.

    One Year Later...What Do I Really Think About It?|Native Instruments A61 Post Review|
    John Mike

    Also, I remember reading a text review somewhere with the following content.
    "The movement of the wheel on "KK A" is heavy and does not return in an instant.
    It returns slowly. I don't like that."
    I read that both the modulation wheel(?) and the pitch wheel(?) are heavy. (I think the reviewer was referring to the two wheels on the left side of the keyboard. I am not a music equipment expert.) For the reviewer, that feature was personally unacceptable, so it was written as a negative factor.

    (Caution: The information above is based on my memory. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. There is a possibility that I may have mentioned other products due to my misremembering.)

    The rest of the story has nothing to do with "KK A". I once read a post on the Internet by a fan of piaggero. The fan was praising the key touch of piaggero. I think he felt that the quality was good for the price. I saw OP mentioning piaggero in a thread here and it reminded me of a post by a piaggero fan.
    (I am not a good reader or writer of English. I could not read the exact meaning of the part where OP mentions piaggero. I interpreted it as follows.
    -OP has a positive impression of the key touch of piaggero.
    -OP has a negative impression of the key touch of something by Roland.)
    That fan of piaggero did not limit the key-touch comparison to digital pianos, as I recall. I recall that the fan included synthesizers and midi keyboards in piaggero’s comparisons. It occurred to me that if I used the piaggero as a midi keyboard, would its key touch be better or worse in quality and performance than a midi keyboard in the same price range? (Just a thought, not a question. I have no plans to buy a midi keyboard or any other keyboard at all)

    Thanks this is very interesting and helpful.

  • @cramdog said:
    The rest of the story has nothing to do with "KK A". I once read a post on the Internet by a fan of piaggero. The fan was praising the key touch of piaggero. I think he felt that the quality was good for the price. I saw OP mentioning piaggero in a thread here and it reminded me of a post by a piaggero fan.

    With Piaggero there is the additional problem that the different models seem to have different keyboards. The NP-32 has a 76-key "Piano style keyboard" with "Graded Soft Touch" , while the NP-12 has merely a 61 key "Piano style keyboard". ( Specs are here: https://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical_instruments/keyboards/piaggero/np-32_12/index.html ). Which of these was reviewed? Would I prefer the same one as the reviewer? Who knows?

    IMO, there's way too much difference in subjective expectations and desires for people to think keyboard reviews will reliably indicate that you will like a keyboard. So best course of action is to test a keyboard before you buy it. If you're buying online without chance to test first, best course is to read some reviews, make an educated guess about what you want, and (probably most importantly) order from a seller that has a good return policy.

  • I use a Roland A800 and A49. I don't have any training, but I like the keybed feel. Synth-y but with a quick return and seems like consisten velocity on and off data when I watch a midi monitor.

  • @hes said:

    @AlmostAnonymous said:
    If you wanna go full piano size and still keep it light, have you looked at the studiologic numa compact 2x?
    Also an audio interface, midi interface, and some midi controls as well.

    I haven't used one, but from what I've read that sounds like a good suggestion. I have the impression that these have a light synth-type keybed that has a more quality feel than most of the less expensive keyboard controllers. Is that right? I have thought about the Numa Compact 2, which seems to have the same keybed, all the features of the Compact 2x that I want, and is a couple hundred bucks cheaper ($500).

    I don’t know how many midi controls you need to control the iPad, but the non drawbar version has next to none. You can find the 2x fairly easily on the used market in like new condition without the extra premium.
    What country are you looking to purchase in?

  • A good idea is to hit the nearest music store and touch/play some of the stuff they have available, even if you don’t buy it there you can get a feel for the keys, and playability.

  • @Poppadocrock said:
    A good idea is to hit the nearest music store and touch/play some of the stuff they have available, even if you don’t buy it there you can get a feel for the keys, and playability.

    Absolutely. I used to think I needed a weighted keyboard to get a greater “piano feel” for my synth playing, but found I just need a quality keyboard with aftertouch capability instead. Testing in person is critical.

  • Sorry to take this on a slight tangent but I wondered if anyone who is keeping up with the thread had any thoughts on a nice cheap knobs and sliders midi box thing. If I end up going for something based on feel I was thinking of getting a separate controls thing like that to play with effects ccs. Actually, being a but greedy now but anyone with any experience or advice about a powered usb hub for iOS that would be great too as I understand that’s how to use multiple midi devices simultaneously. Ive always been a fan of satechi stuff

  • @wingwizard said:
    Sorry to take this on a slight tangent but I wondered if anyone who is keeping up with the thread had any thoughts on a nice cheap knobs and sliders midi box thing. If I end up going for something based on feel I was thinking of getting a separate controls thing like that to play with effects ccs.

    Theres a bazillion midi controllers with knobs and faders and whatever. Its important to keep in mind, 99% of them are going to give you jumping values if you map between banks, and anything with lights and such, they will not illuminate without some scripting involved.

    You have any idea which ones you were looking at?

  • edited October 2021

    @AlmostAnonymous said:

    @wingwizard said:
    Sorry to take this on a slight tangent but I wondered if anyone who is keeping up with the thread had any thoughts on a nice cheap knobs and sliders midi box thing. If I end up going for something based on feel I was thinking of getting a separate controls thing like that to play with effects ccs.

    Theres a bazillion midi controllers with knobs and faders and whatever. Its important to keep in mind, 99% of them are going to give you jumping values if you map between banks, and anything with lights and such, they will not illuminate without some scripting involved.

    You have any idea which ones you were looking at?

    Thanks, I’m being stupid but not sure what you meant by jumping values if you map between banks. The mapping between banks bit? Yeah, I googled them and realised I have no idea about these products, my knowledge is all guitars and keyboards, pianos etc. Ive never really looked into it so have no clue other than knowing familiar brands from keyboards.

    Really I was just looking for something as cheap as possible but reliable and with normal finite knobs not infinite. Just a few knobs a few faders, small scale, reliable. I feel like it should be cheap it’s just a bunch of buttons but I know prices get crazy for everything and markets constructed.

    Oh wait I think I just realised what yiu meant. I was going to mention I’ll use it for mapping to various effect and synth parameters and think yiu meant jumping values if I do this simultaneously. Does that mean the values jump and are skittish on individual faders or knobs in that usage scenario? I’d rather just use my iPad screen if that’s the case. Thanks for mentioning as that would be a definite no for me.

  • This is a comparison video of MIDI keyboards. This is not a form of introducing one by one in order. All products are lined up in the screen. This makes it easy to see the differences in keybeds. It also mentions whether or not aftertouch is available.
    (I used the subtitle function. The video was quite easy to understand. I felt that the speaker in the video was speaking in a way that the viewer could easily understand.)

    Top 5 Midi Controllers From $200-$300! | Launchkey MK 3, Nektar T6, Keylab 49, A61 & Oxygen Pro|
    John Mike

    I'm not exactly sure if OP's other question is about midi controllers. I have not seen this video. There seems to be a product specific review video on the same channel for these midi controllers.

    Top Midi Control Surfaces From $50-$150
    John Mike

  • I use a Studiologic SL73 Studio which is a very compact and lightweight hammer-action keyboard with aftertouch and 3 small but surprisingly handy joysticks for parameter manipulation.
    I think I paid about £330 for it new which is outstanding value.
    When I need extra knobs and faders I plug in a Korg Nanokontrol 2.

    I also use a Roland A300 Pro for more synthy stuff. I like it’s bidirectional joystick and it also has aftertouch, as well as tonnes of knobs and faders. Think I paid about £75 for it on eBay.

  • @cramdog said:
    This is a comparison video of MIDI keyboards. This is not a form of introducing one by one in order. All products are lined up in the screen. This makes it easy to see the differences in keybeds. It also mentions whether or not aftertouch is available.
    (I used the subtitle function. The video was quite easy to understand. I felt that the speaker in the video was speaking in a way that the viewer could easily understand.)

    Top 5 Midi Controllers From $200-$300! | Launchkey MK 3, Nektar T6, Keylab 49, A61 & Oxygen Pro|
    John Mike

    I'm not exactly sure if OP's other question is about midi controllers. I have not seen this video. There seems to be a product specific review video on the same channel for these midi controllers.

    Top Midi Control Surfaces From $50-$150
    John Mike

    Just to mention thanks for this Ive found it very helpful.

  • Caution:
    -Some MIDI keyboards do not allow the use of half-damper pedals. For example, the Nektar T6 in the video I posted in this thread is an example. (I don't understand the standard for half damper pedals, so I don't know if "all" half pedals can't be used.)
    -There are several types of aftertouch functions. One is polyphonic aftertouch, and the other is channel aftertouch. (There may be others, but I don't know). Roland's A-PRO series probably has a polyphonic aftertouch function. I believe there is a corresponding description in the manual.
    I don't know which aftertouch is supported by other MIDI keyboard products.
    -Another name for each aftertouch.
    polyphonic aftertouch = polyphonic key pressure
    channel Aftertouch = channel pressure
    -I have no knowledge of the importance or necessity of the half damper pedal and polyphonic aftertouch. I can't judge if those are common knowledge or not.
    However, I'm posting this just in case. (I personally have no questions about half damper pedals or polyphonic aftertouch.)

  • The keybeds in the plastic Roland/Edirol controllers don't send polyphonic aftertouch, iirc. Some can send channel aftertouch but you really need to pound the keys. It could be that its drum pads send poly AT, but I don't remember.

    Many inexpensive pad controllers can send poly AT, but it's rare for keybeds to have this feature, since poly AT requires an extra sensor for each key. Keybeds with channel AT usually have a single bar sensor that spans the width of the keybed.

    As far as half-damper pedals, it could be that the Nektar only supports on/off messages, not CCs.
    https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/half-damper/

  • If @ocelot's description of "Roland/Edirol plastic controller keybed" refers to the A-PRO series, then my understanding of polyphonic aftertouch and the information I wrote is incorrect. Since I am the biggest newbie in this forum, please trust and refer to what @ocelot says rather than what I say.
    (I reread the manual for the A-PRO series. I think I understood wrongly that polyphonic aftertouch is included in the keybed of A-PRO series).

  • @cramdog I took a look at the A-Pro's manual and it is indeed confusing.

    Page 50 states A-PRO Editor lets you assign aftertouch messages for individual notes (Polyphonic Key Pressure) as well as channel aftertouch (Channel Pressure).

    And page 34 discusses Polyphonic Key Pressure, (which is polyphonic aftertouch as you stated above), but it can only be assigned to individual controllers, like each of the drum pads (which can also be assigned a MIDI note number).

    I had the 32-key version and the keybed only sent channel aftertouch, and it took a tremendous amount of force to trigger it. Plus its drum pads were way too stiff to finger drum on, imo.

    Here's a metal and wood MIDI controller with a Fatar keybed:
    https://www.extradeluxemfg.com/

  • And if you don't mind a plastic case and don't need USB MIDI, then an old used Studiologic SL61 or SL161 can be found used for around $100. I believe it has the same semi-weighted Fatar keybed as the Access Virus and Novation Supernova keyboards.

  • The Roland A-Pro aftertouch is indeed hard to trigger but there is a trimmer inside the keyboard which comes factory set at around 75%. You can remove the back of the keyboard and adjust it making it much more useable.
    A used Studiologic SL161 is a great controller. Nice feeling keys and aftertouch.

    That controller pictured above looks awesome!

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