Best Keyboard Midi Controller 2016 – When you make a purchase through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Here’s how it works.
In an era where the term “MIDI controller” conjures up images of octave keyboards for push-key music producers, the options for a dedicated 88-key master keyboard are limited.
Best Keyboard Midi Controller 2016
There seems to be an unspoken sentiment “If you want 88 keys with weight, get a stage piano or a workstation.” But you’ll probably need a place to stretch out even if you don’t like the interior noise of your black ‘n’ white slab. What is the good news?
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Out there is well divided into categories, so that the keyboard match of your needs is not a headache. In this quick guide, we will collect the main players that players should know.
There are two main reasons for looking for an 88-button controller. One is that your playing is focused on the piano; in particular, premium software pianos such as Synthogy Ivory, Modartt Pianoteq, or Spitfire Hans Zimmer Piano (reviewed in the May 2016 issue). Another reason, if you are a musician and/or arranger, 88 keys give you more than enough spread to prepare many places to split and insert, so that you can produce all the sounds you need when doing a counter work. before you.
There are other benefits. If the price of a keyboard does not reflect everything that goes into building an instrument with internal sound (eg, session sampling, memory, DSP, audio I/O, etc.) the price is more indicative of the quality of the action and anything else. -time control. the instrument has. So if you’re invested in good sound that resides in the software, a controller that costs X dollars can give you a better keyboard and playing experience than a piano synth or stage for the same price.
We put this first because it’s still the best bang-for-buck in an 88-key controller that’s firing on all cylinders—ten infinite knobs, nine faders (thanks, from the organist), sixteen drum pads, and full size. keyboard weight. Oh, and Analog Lab’s software includes a “synth and vintage key museum” with sounds from Arturia’s expansive V Collection, an automatic mapping much needed for Key-Lab’s physical controls. It’s also a gift that the KeyLab 88 comes with two high-end real pianos—the UVI Acoustic Grand, which is a sample, and the Pianoteq 5 Stage, which is a physical model.
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MIDI In and Out ports are available for external hardware in addition to computers, and the KeyLab is USB powered. In addition to the speaker and support pedal jacks, there is a 1/8″ breath controller input.
In my opinion, the performance of the Fatar hammer-source skews a little on the heavy side-pianists may consider this a plus-but it can be simplified through 11 velocity curves. Aftertouch, which is also adjustable, has a wide sweet spot and responds to subtle changes in finger pressure. The top of the button is designed, the button sits firmly without lateral movement, and we cannot emphasize enough that this experience feels much more expensive than it is. The drum pads feel so good that MPC purists can’t wrinkle their noses here.
Analog Lab Tools uses the same sound engine as the full-priced version, the difference is that it’s built-in and you don’t get the vintage mockup interface that you do with the full V Collection. However, anything you want to edit – oscillators, filters, envelopes, etc. – is already there and shown on the screen in the KeyLab display panel. We found that whether we ran Analog Lab stationary or hosted in a DAW or MainStage, the setup was specific to the actual hardware control function even when we switched from Arturia instruments and then back again. This is important, because if you want to run UVI Piano or Pianoteq alongside it, you need a host program; Analog Lab itself cannot accept.
For quick use, a music rack and/or laptop rack extension is attached to the back. We’re not sure how Arturia managed to get a piano-pleasing keyboard
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Solid build quality in a package that weighs in at 30 pounds, but they do. “It will sell for twice the price” is a cliché, but one reason clichés stick is that they are sometimes true.
If your workflow requires a lot of time in the Komplete/Kontakt ecosystem of musical instruments, the case of the Komplete Kontrol S series 88-key model is interesting. All three, the compact synth-action model (revised December 2014) and the same hammer-action 88 (revised February 2016) sport a very smooth Aftertouch that responds to pressure perfectly. Thanks to the memory-foam on the buttons, they go down well with a small bounce but quickly bounce back after letting go. Both USB and five-pin MIDI are available, although the keyboard does not work on USB power; AC source included. Pedal input is available for boost and expression. Instead of wheels Pitch and modulation of two vertical bands with LED ladder to show their position.
Several killers distinguish Control S. First, integration with soft synths and the NI library itself is strong, with important parameters automatically mapped to eight rotary encoders that feel touchable and visible with names in a crisp. a display accompanies each button. Click one, and the settings will appear on the screen. You can add chord generation, custom arpeggiation, and custom scales to your setup, and use keyboard controls to view patches and multiples by section and character tags in the Control browser.
Since we first saw the S88, NI introduced the NKS (Native Control Standard) protocol, enabling third-party developers to take advantage of that browsing and parameter mapping connection. Signed companies include Arturia, u-he, Heavyocity, Spitfire, and XILS, among others.
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The controller’s Light Guide feature, which is a colored LED strip above the buttons, is more than eye candy. It can be divided and color-coded areas, with key-changing articulations, drum kits (one color for the kick, one for the snare, etc.), and even notes in the selected scale – a great educational tool. Any software that supports NKS can take advantage of this functionality. In addition, DAW integration is very strong with Ableton, Cubase, Logic, and Nuendo.
Last but not least includes soundware. The NI bundle in Komplete Selection, includes nine instruments and soft synths—Massive, Reaktor Prism, Monark, The Gentleman piano, DrumLab, Retro Machines, Vintage Organs, West Africa, and Scarbee electronic piano. An SSL-style bus compressor finishes things off.
The only thing that might leave some players wanting? Although the individual knobs and displays are undeniable, you don’t get any fades or drum pads like you do on the KeyLab. Still, the S88 is a professional and no-brainer for musicians who already use Native Instruments software.
If what you want is a one-horse that does tricks well, the VPC-1 (revised January 2014) is for you. There are no buttons, dials, wheels, or screens; Only the best performance is, in part, as close to that of a real grand piano as any electronic instrument can get. The actual wooden buttons move in seesaw mode with a medium size. Grading (feeling heavy to the bass) comes from the weight attached to the hammer body. Let-the tiny little sensation under the movement of the keys of a real piano-made by machine. While most hammer actions use two sensors, the VPC-1 uses three, designed to facilitate true legato playing and single-note trills. The iconic elephant key surface improves grip and repels moisture. In other words, the point here is to provide a perfect musical interface for a high-end software grand piano.
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The other half of the equation, of course, is actually matching the speed response to the software you have. Kawai has partnered with software developers to create custom acceleration curves for Synthogy Ivory II, Modartt Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D, and Native Instruments Alicia’s Keys. You can further edit your answer using the downloadable VPC Editor software (Mac or Windows but not yet the phone/tablet version). It offers a simple graphical interface where you can draw curves with broad strokes or tweak the feel one key at a time. It will also read the keys to adjust the speed depending on the playback.
In addition to USB, MIDI output allows you to control external modules at the same time, and MIDI In helps piggybacking, for example, a synth action controller to control some soft notes on other channels, because incoming data will pass. via USB. However, this does not fit well with the slightly curved top of the VPC-1. A flat top (think Rhodes Mk. II vs. Mk. I) would be better for stacking other keyboards.
The optional triple pedal unit supports una corda (soft), true sostenuto, and a half-damper that supports the effect, and is fully reversible so that the foot will not be pushed down.
If you can deal with the price and weight, the VPC-1 is the gold standard in grand piano controllers. Synthogy was using the Ivory ax at NAMM. Artisanal pianist Ravenscroft arranged the digital version