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I'm looking for MIDI keyboard controller advice


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I'm thinking about getting a new MIDI keyboard controller as my old one has started to get a few moody keys (sometimes they work, sometimes they don't) & I'd really appreciate if anyone could give me a bit of advice about any which may be suitable.

 

The controller wouldn't leave the studio & other than the standard velocity & aftertouch must haves the only other things I would like it to have are some kind of good quality finger drum pads & an XY controller.

 

So far I've had a look at the Novation Impulse & the Akai MPK49, I thought I preferred the feel of the Akai over the Novation & I'm not sure if Automap would be a help or a hindrance - how easy is it to share projects if the other set up doesn't use Automap? Also, I don't think either of these have any kind of XY control do they?

 

Does anyone know how the M-Audio Axiom compares to the other 2? Are there any others out there I should be considering?

 

Randomly, I've also thought about just getting a Korg Nanopad2 instead - has anyone got any experience using those with Logic?

 

The ideal solution would be if my local music store were good enough to let me test drive these things over a weekend, but that's not going to happen any time soon.

 

Any ideas?

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I would like it to have (...) an XY controller.

 

(...) I don't think either of these have any kind of XY control do they?

 

Out of the 4 keyboards you mention, only the Nanopad 2 has an XY controller... so ... how important is the XY controller to you? Note that you could also consider getting a controller keyboard without XY controller and then get the nanopad or a kaoss pad on top.

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I personally use a Novation Impulse 61 and I couldn't be happier with the quality for the money I spent. It's a studio-only controller for me since it can only be powered by your Mac's USB port (which kinda sucks). But I really love the way the keys feel. I have yet to install and configure Automap, but I'm just fine with using the 'MIDI Learn Function' to use the sliders and rotary knobs.

 

- xpander

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how important is the XY controller to you?

 

It's not the end of the world if it doesn't have one, I just thought I would put it on the wishlist to see if anyone knew of the "perfect" controller for me.

 

Note that you could also consider getting a controller keyboard without XY controller and then get the nanopad or a kaoss pad on top.

 

Yeah, that's why I mentioned the nanopad. I have a few keyboards lying around that I could use if I didn't end up getting a new controller & my current one got to the point of being unusable, the only trouble with that though is they are all synths (apart from one even older MIDI controller, which has dead keys too & is frustrating to use) & I've never been keen on using any of my synths as generic MIDI controllers.

 

So, with the XY controller being more of the "it would be nice if it was there but not ultra important" variety, what do you think about any of the others I've mentioned - or even any others that I might not have considered yet?

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I personally use a Novation Impulse 61 and I couldn't be happier with the quality for the money I spent. It's a studio-only controller for me since it can only be powered by your Mac's USB port (which kinda sucks). But I really love the way the keys feel. I have yet to install and configure Automap, but I'm just fine with using the 'MIDI Learn Function' to use the sliders and rotary knobs.

 

- xpander

 

How do you find the quality of the pads & other controls? Do they feel like they might break easily?

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I'm a happy M-Audio Axiom Pro user, although the keys do become sticky when unused. Meaning for example now, I haven't used the keyboard since yesterday, and if I try to press the keys down, the first time it takes a bit more effort, then it reacts normally. So to play the keyboard normally I first have to run through all the white and all the black keys. Then it plays as expected. A bit annoying but not the end of the world. Pads and knobs feel great, faders are ok but I don't use them that much. I like the transport buttons.

 

If I had to buy a keyboard today I would give serious consideration to that Novation Impulse. But since I've never played one I can't comment on the quality of the keybed, although Novation is pretty reputable in that domain.

 

I don't like the position of the pitch and mod wheels on the AKAI MPK.

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Thanks for that David, that's really helpful.

 

I had a quick tinker about with the Impulse & Akai but didn't really get much further than running my fingers up & down the keyboards, they weren't actually controlling anything at the time but from that quick shot I thought the Akai had a nicer feel to it. I didn't even register the pitch & mod wheels, I'm used to using the Roland pitch/mod joystick style arrangement so they might not bother me too much, I think I'll go back to the shop & try to get a proper feel for them.

 

I have a couple of Novation rack synths & they are pretty solid, even after years of use the only thing wrong with them is they look a bit grubby.

 

I'd love to hear about what people thought about Automap & how easy it is to transfer projects from Automap equipped to non Automap equipped systems. From what I think I understand about it you need to use different versions of your plugins if you want to have them Automap enabled, if that's right then I'm guessing the non Automapped system won't necessarily have these plugins & that could mean the project is incompatible?

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