The "Best" 61 Keyboard Midi-Controller on the Market?

RICKYMEDINA

New member
I'm looking for a 61 keyboard midi-contoller to compliment the Reason 5 software and the Akai MPD32. I dont mind spending extra bucks on good quality. My philosphy is why spend $$ on a product if just 300 bucks extra could of got you something that was a better investment. I've lurked on a couple forums and heard of different brands like EMU,ROLAND,NOVATION,EDIROL, just to name a few. I love the MPD32 and use it primarly for the drums. Its has knobs and faders.. does that play a role in buying a keyboard? I'm looking to purchase a keyboard within the next 2 weeks. I would appreciate the suggestions.. Thanks
 

ProDeus

New member
i got a novation sl mk2 49 and i love it
cant lose with the whole automap thing, and the keys have a nice weight etc
ive had an axiom and a behringer before, and its a clear winner
 

Salem Beats

Ki from Salem-Beats.com
I own Novation's SL 61 mkII.

I've also either owned or used all of the major MIDI controller keyboards currently on the market (Axiom, Oxygen, MPK, Xboard, Keystation, PCR, etc.), and these are my observations:

- The Novation's keys are excellent. None of the major offerings in this price range (and even some above this price range) have keys that feel this good. Pick it if good-feeling keys are what you like most about a MIDI controller.

- The drumpads on the Novation keyboard are either so-so or really bad, depending on your skill in finger drumming and depending on the complexity of your drum parts. However, the drumpads on every other MIDI controller keyboard (except the Axiom series) aren't any better at all. The best drumpads come from a dedicated drumpad controller, which you already have.

- Automap is excellent, but you must read the manual to use it to its potential. Don't expect it to read your mind in how to create mappings; create your own mappings that it will automatically switch to when you switch plugins. Up until I found Automap, I only used the faders and knobs on my controller keyboards because I felt that I had wasted my money otherwise. After finding Automap, knobs and faders are more than a cheap gimmick.

- The X/Y pad on the Novation is disappointing. It requires you to REALLY lay some pressure on the surface, and as of this moment, there is no way to calibrate it to be more sensitive. Picture it this way: It requires 5x the force of the touchpad on the padKONTROL, and some people whine that even the padKONTROL's isn't sensitive enough. I was worried that I had a broken keyboard at first; that's how much pressure it takes.

- The large LCD strip at the top left of the Novation makes the keyboard one of the easiest and fastest for changing settings: Creating zones, changing velocity settings, changing MIDI channels, re-mapping controls, transposing the drumpads, sending bank changes, tap-tempo, etc. All of the settings tend to display in plain English rather than some crypic 3-character display.

- The Roland-Ish joystick is pretty cool, and it has a nifty feature: The modwheel axis can either be sprung (like the pitch bend axis) or unsprung. There's a switch on the bottom of the keyboard for changing modes.

- Aftertouch works great on the Novation, just a slight bit smoother than the Xboard, which had a pretty good aftertouch capabililty.

Both the Novation SL mk2 61 and M-Audio Axiom Pro 61 are really nice boards.

This right here is the battle of the heavyweights:



VERSUS

 
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Salt-Slasher

New member
I don't see why someone would buy the axiom or any keyboard controller for it's pads.

THere are good you tube videos that do comparison, I think that the axiom pro is cool, but not that cool.

THe novation is a far better choice, the automap 3 is easily the coolest thing I have seen on a keyboard, not to mention the overall limitless of the built in Zero Sl controllers up top. If you watch the comparison videos you get a lot of a/bing, but in one of them, there was a key that was stuck throughout the video on the axiom pro, which I would question the overall engineering of m-audio.

The novation well I haven't own any but have used their equipment in other peoples houses, but it costs to get good quality! So you get what you pay for, so if your thinking of getting this caliber I would really look at what they overall can do. Pads are pads, but keys are keys and thats what your gona use is the keys and controls, and comparing those, no question in my mind, the novation is better.

Like I said I haven't owned either, but I am looking at getting the SL mk2, and I have seen and read a lot that would keep me from ever getting any axiom over a novation.
 

Redwave

New member
The M-Audio oxygen series is a good buy that is nice and cheap if you're not looking to spend a lot.
 

Salt-Slasher

New member
Oh yeah the oxygen would be a way nice board if it's your very first midi keyboard. I got one of their lower lines the keystudio or prokey. Then I got the MPK line.

Now I am going to go for the Novation SL Mk2 since it's the very top of my budget, which is raised just a little high for my usual purchasing. However I know when spending big on something like this, it pays off in the studio.

Just like when my buddy in highschool spent all summer working some jobs, which he saved 3 months pay(all of it) to get the Nord Lead 3, which was a beautiful synth, I wish I would of got my hands on it, but he unknowingly hocked it because of his tastes for a "high" state of mind!

Anyways I would get what your budget can afford but doing so with good research on what you plan on buying so that you can spend less and get more, like I don't need to spend 2,000$ on a kurzweil PC3, when I can get incredible performance for the SL mk2!
 

Salt-Slasher

New member
You mean the axiom pro's drum pads? In cubase you got groove agent one and then in ableton you got 4x4 w/ like 5-6 banks.

You can either pull in full presets or you can put an individual sound for each pad. So you could potentially use it for a drum machine or just use it to trigger certain sounds. Or if you want just set the button to play a whole song, just what ever you want.

For the difference between hyper control and automap3, here is a video that will go over some of the differences:
YouTube - M-Audio AXiom Pro vs Novation SL MK2

---------- Post added at 12:32 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:25 PM ----------

Pretty much novation has a learn option that you just touch the knob and then click on the thing in the daw you want it to control.

It can do this case all the buttons and knobs are touch senstive.

When using the automap 3 program, Novation worked with ableton, cubase, logic and pro tools(the actual companies) to make sure there board can understand the midi being transfered. So the board can work with in any enviroment. When mapping yourself you can put them on top of eachother and it will fade out the automap 3 program so that you can see the DAW behind it, that way if you don't have two screens like me, then you can see everything your doing!

THen they have made it possible to control the indivudual plugins that you might have within cubase, like for my cs-80v or just other built-in plugins!
 

Redwave

New member
Oh yeah the oxygen would be a way nice board if it's your very first midi keyboard. I got one of their lower lines the keystudio or prokey. Then I got the MPK line.

Now I am going to go for the Novation SL Mk2 since it's the very top of my budget, which is raised just a little high for my usual purchasing. However I know when spending big on something like this, it pays off in the studio.

Just like when my buddy in highschool spent all summer working some jobs, which he saved 3 months pay(all of it) to get the Nord Lead 3, which was a beautiful synth, I wish I would of got my hands on it, but he unknowingly hocked it because of his tastes for a "high" state of mind!

Anyways I would get what your budget can afford but doing so with good research on what you plan on buying so that you can spend less and get more, like I don't need to spend 2,000$ on a kurzweil PC3, when I can get incredible performance for the SL mk2!

That is true. I only do production for a hobby, so dishing out around £300 for a midi keyboard would leave me feeling pretty guilty!!! The novation looks so nice though.
 

Salt-Slasher

New member
I never said the axiom couldn't use all the same DAWs, I was pretty much going through what makes novation cool.

If I had the axiom pro at my house right now, I love it. If I had the SL mk2 and the Axiom Pro in my house right now, I would use the SL mk2 and my axiom pro wouldn't get the attention it would get if it were an only child.

It's not so much it can't make the same songs as the SL, it's more of how you can make songs. The SL mk2 has a full blown controller seperate from the keys, which is sold as the Zero SL Mk2.

So you want to know what you can do with the keys on your keyboard?

Well if you haven't used one, you can control it with in these daws(cubase and ableton etc). There are "soft" synths, drums, sounds effects and so much more. Automatically all your keys will be set to the key they are.

You will maily use the keys to play your notes and measure, while your knobs will control faders, volume, limitless effects, and so on.

Then when playing your keys you have a touchpad and a y-x axis, that is pretty much the equivlant of a mod wheel and pitch.

Pretty much in a nutshell your keys will be the what triggers everything, drums, sounds, music, efftects, and having all those knobs and buttons allows for more control of your 'sounds', making it more hands, which makes your workflow, much smoother.

So just between the actual keys, knob/slider controls, and the workflow, the Novation wins on a one on one!

---------- Post added at 01:25 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:07 PM ----------

THe words that I would use to actually describe the axiom pro, would be "budget" pro gear! Since it's price is lower and is in the same caliber as all the +$500 midi's.
 

Salem Beats

Ki from Salem-Beats.com
I don't see why someone would buy the axiom or any keyboard controller for it's pads.

I actually liked the Axiom Series' pads more than the pads on the MPD/MPK/MPC series. They're also worlds better than the drumpads on my SL61 mkII.

The padKONTROL still beats the Axiom in terms of drumpad sensitivity, but the Axiom's pads are much more than enough for "line-at-a-time" drum programming (kicks and snares first, then hats, then shakers, etc).
 
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Salt-Slasher

New member
Thats why I wanted the padKontrol, because they have them super nice pads! But since I am not getting an APC, maybe in summer I will get one.

I was just saying I rather pay nicely for the SL and get nice keys, then to pay less and get good pads with less of the keys.

---------- Post added at 05:19 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:08 PM ----------

Thats why I wanted the padKontrol, because they have them super nice pads! But since I am not getting an APC, maybe in summer I will get one.

I was just saying I rather pay nicely for the SL and get nice keys, then to pay less and get good pads with less of the keys.
 

Salem Beats

Ki from Salem-Beats.com
Thats why I wanted the padKontrol, because they have them super nice pads! But since I am not getting an APC, maybe in summer I will get one.

I was just saying I rather pay nicely for the SL and get nice keys, then to pay less and get good pads with less of the keys.

---------- Post added at 05:19 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:08 PM ----------

Thats why I wanted the padKontrol, because they have them super nice pads! But since I am not getting an APC, maybe in summer I will get one.

I was just saying I rather pay nicely for the SL and get nice keys, then to pay less and get good pads with less of the keys.

If you're interested in the SL mkII series, I would also look into the SL mkI. Neither is an "improvement" on the other -- they're both just different, and the better one is whichever one you like better. The mkI series has TWO LCD screens, one for the knobs section and another for the faders section. The tap-tempo on the mkI is also front-and-center, whereas it is two button-presses away on the mkII.

On the other hand, the mkII has touch-sensitive knobs, encoders, and faders. The buttons have LCDs to show their status, and each encoder has a ring around it to represent its position. The mkII has only one LCD screen.

Both keyboards have the same keybed.

If you're interested in buying used, you can find quite a few of the mkI keyboards in good condition for sale from people who decided to "upgrade" to the mkII.

On another note, I love the padKONTROL, since its such an easy choice over the other pad controllers.
 
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Salem Beats

Ki from Salem-Beats.com
i find these threads pretty funny... my man went to GC and watched a few videos and is now a expert on the subject... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

here is a little advice... buy one controller at a time... find out how the exchanges/refunds work... make sure you have the time for testing... test out the products with "your" work flow... and then come to your conclusion...

i personally own a novation sl zero (it has just the controls and no keys) that uses automap 3... on paper the features look great and when putting those features into practice is a different story... most DAWs have Midi Learn or a controller profile for any given device... therefore the "mapping" things is marketing... more than a function... i.e. omnisphere has 100s of parameters... it would be easier to map omnisphere manually than using "auto map 3"... because you would have to flip thru a 100 parameters to get to the one you are looking for...

the videos shows the high lights of the products but do not address the negitives... that is what i find so funny about "your" threads... if seem like all the controllers you like do not have negitives... but they do... the only way to find out, in my opinion, buy one controller at a time and take it for a test drive using "your" work flow...

another point... whatever DAW you are going to use... "you" should learn it first... understand how "your" workflow and the DAW will work together... i have read your posts about "all" these controllers and you talked about ableton live... with novation product... how would you open and close a plug-in window without touching the mouse? the bottom line "with me" is to use the mouse as little as possible and even with the automap features "you" will find yourself using that mouse a lot... using the mouse a lot may be part of "your" workflow... but then again... why have a controller in the first place!!!!

Do you suppose that your workflow could change to accomodate a great keyboard? You say that he should test all of the keyboards to see which goes well with his workflow, but what if he doesn't have a great workflow to begin with? Isn't that the reason that he's switching devices in the first place?

Since a mouse is one of the most natural and comfortable methods for interacting with a computer, you bring up a good point: "Why have a controller in the first place?" It is interesting to note that some of the top-level workstations have a port where you can plug in a mouse. Your "Omnisphere" example can be countered with the observation that you shouldn't try to map absolutely every parameter to your midi controller. You shouldn't even try to map most of them. Omnisphere is best controlled using a mouse, and there is no way around that fact. MIDI controllers are great for quickly getting to the most commonly-used parameters, or automating multiple parameters at the same time.

I had to get over this phobia when putting together my music-station, and I think you do too: Fear of mice - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I think that people get this ego-trip that makes them feel like "more of a musician" if you control as much as possible with some sort of knob. I think, also, that people start getting into trouble with using a mouse in a music setup when they have so much gear that they have to turn 180 degrees away from the computer screen in order to use a device.

PS -- Buying absolutely every keyboard and exchanging it until you get the one you like is very disrespectful to the store whose time you're wasting and whose product you're de-valuing.
 
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Salem Beats

Ki from Salem-Beats.com
I will once again re-iterate how disrespectful it is to take advantage of a store's return policy. Don't start pretending that anybody cares about you; that's merely self-deception. It's not their responsibility to cater to your every little whim. The prices might be lower if people didn't do the kind of thing that you suggest. I don't understand where you get the idea that a 30 day return policy is for "testing gear out". Maybe, maybe, for testing between two pieces of gear. But all of them? No. The policy is in place in case you get a "lemon", so you get feel assured in spending your money that you won't have to keep a broken device (I've received a BCF2000 that was crushed inside of the box before).


just curious... are we talking about "workstations" or "controllers"... actually... how many controllers that are on the market have a "mouse port"? and if the "mouse" is one of the most natural and comforable methods for interacting with a computer... why would you need to have two of them connected to your system (one from the actual computer and the controller mouse port one)?

Controllers don't have a mouse port because a controller is a small part of a system. A workstation, on the other hand, is an entire system in itself. The purpose in demonstrating that a workstation has a mouse port was illustrating that a computer mouse is not something that should be avoided in a music-making system. Whether your system has a workstation or a computer at its heart, a mouse is a useful tool.

not sure what you point is here...

View and reply to the post paragraph-by-paragraph rather than sentence-by-sentence and you will understand the part that each individual sentence plays in developing a core idea.

My main point is that he doesn't need to find anything that matches his current workflow. He needs to find devices that, when learned, will enable him to use a more effective workflow. There's a bit of a "leap of faith" (trusting in something without a particular reason to) necessary to achieve that, which is why it's useful to come to a forum and get opinions. You won't know what you're getting into until you're knee-deep; 30 days isn't even enough to develop a solid workflow with a complicated device.
 
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Salem Beats

Ki from Salem-Beats.com
i perfer my way... ok?

That's perfectly fine, as long as you understand that "your way" of seperating sentences from their contexts is the only reason you might not comprehend their meanings.

my main point is... first learn the software (vst/i, DAW) that one is going to use... give 5 people the same app and all 5 may use that same app differently... therefore... learn and understand "your" workflow... then get a feel of what functions you use the most... i.e. if an individual uses ableton live he/she may not use "scenes"... therefore may not need a controller that handles the "scene" function....

And at the same time, there are certain workflows that a DAW makes reasonably simple, and certain workflows that are a pain in that specific DAW. If you don't use scenes, I imagine that you'd be better off with a different DAW once you've passed the hump of its learning curve. Live's improv features are its selling point (hence its name, "Live"). If you don't use these improv features, a traditional DAW like Pro Tools, Logic, or Cubase would most likely suit your needs more nicely. You can treat Live like it's Cubase, but Cubase plays that job much better.

it just makes more sense that the device fit "you" instead of "you" fitting the device... that is why all these devices have the same basic functions but are different in their own way... companies know individuals work and think differently... hypecontrol, directlink, automap, etc in theory do the same exact thing... just the workflow is different... that is why it is a good idea to test "all" the controllers under consideration out....

like buying a hammer action keyboard but cant play a lick... that feature would be a waste for an individual who cant play a keyboard... if may look nice in your studio... but...

If you do everything right the first time and you're "never wrong" about anything, I can see how you could adopt this viewpoint.

I would contend that dropping a large amount of money into a very expensive fully weighted controller becomes motivation in-and-of-itself to learn some chops.

You seem to be ignoring the potential for forward progress in life. You can learn to become a master of an instrument that is currently far above your ability to use it. You can learn new workflow ideas from a new device that might not have entered your mind had you not owned and learned how to use the device. Baby birds don't know how to fly until they jump; likewise, you aren't going to learn chops until you've invested in something worthy of practicing chops on.

last point... the reason i entered this thread is that individuals buy sh!t so that the photo of their studio looks "cool"... or want to impress someone with the gear they own...

... says the person whose signiture contains all of the hardware and software in his "tool box". Don't bother trying to trick me into believing that you're not trying to show off:

tool box - hp i7 920 w/ 9 GB of ram|ableton live 8|cubase5|apc40|apc20|axiom pro 61|mpd24|oxygen 88|stylus rmx|omnisphere|trillian|komplete7|east/west composer's bundle|halion sonic|kontakt powered libraries...
 
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Salem Beats

Ki from Salem-Beats.com
my tool box is an indication to other of what gear i have "actual" hands on experience with...

p.s. i own tons more than that... if you look at the software... they are all 64-bit apps... my 32-bit apps are not listed... my hardware i.e. mpc2000|akai s2000|tone modules are not listed either... also... keep in mind... my tool box is a by product of my music proceeds... i call it re-investing and not showing off...

Sigh... I figured you would try to save face on your gear list. You're proud of your i7 computer with 9GB of RAM. Really proud. Who really cares what name you ascribe to your showing off? That's just semantics.

why if you do not use scenes are you better off using a different DAW? just hit the "tab" key and you have a linear sequencer just like pro tools, logic, or cubase...

Oh boy...

Live, like other software products, is designed to fulfill a specific purpose. Design choices are made one way or the other depending on the main purpose of the software, which is improvisation for Live.

For example, Live's built-in FX plugins are very simple. They're not intended for precise mixing or mastering chores. They're designed so you can implement artistic changes in broad strokes. A simple bass rolloff is the kind of task that the built-in plugins are suited for. They have simple (and small!) GUI screens so that you can get your basic ideas down quickly. These are all examples of Live's design for a particular purpose (simplicity for inspiration's sake).


not sure what this means... i believe in testing things out.. find out exactly how things work...

What I was getting at is that, paradoxically, sometimes there isn't a reason for doing something until after you've done it.

For example, I didn't feel as though I needed Automap before I bought my first Novation product, but then I came up with all kinds of ways I could use it after I understood what it could do and how it worked.

As another example, you might consider yourself a moderately good musician. Your first pro-level purchase (say, the new KORG KRONOS) might influence you to take your skills to the next level to justify your spending. In this sense, buying the pro-level keyboard was the catalyst that let you grow to the point where you became "worthy" of that pro-level keyboard.
 
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Salem Beats

Ki from Salem-Beats.com
there is not need to save face... i am proud to be able to afford what i want... there are tons of individuals that cant... dont be mad at me... what is the big deal with having an i7 machine anyways... just go to hp.com and order one... that is what i did... i think you are making it bigger than it is...

about the i7 9 GB of ram... in order to use those large sample based plug-ins you need a powerful machine... if i just listed the software the next logical question is... what type of machine are you running?

I understand your reasoning for having an i7 machine with a bunch of RAM. It makes perfect sense. I understand why you have Omnisphere. It's awesome. I understand that Stylus RMX has some of the best drums around. Cubase is my favorite DAW out of all of the ones I've tried so far. EastWest makes some great stuff.

I understand why you have all of these things
but...

My question to you is simply, "Why are you telling people about it?"
 
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