Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Anything about hardware musical instruments.
Tino Fiumara
KVRist
46 posts since 18 Feb, 2020

Post Sun Feb 23, 2020 2:51 pm

First of all, ''Hello'' to everybody.

After watching a bunch of reviews on YouTube, blogs and opinions from users I decided to buy the Novation 49SL MKIII. As an Ableton Live user, aspiring synth head and studio keyboardist seemed like the best option. I bought it from Amazon and received it a few days ago, so far the build quality is good (even though is plastic), the feeling of the buttons and pads are great, the faders knobs feels a little bit cheap, but the slide sesation is good too. The same with the features and connectivity options. In general this is a beast of a MIDI controller.

ABOUT THE KEYS: I'm coming from an Akai MPK 225, that was my first MIDI keyboard, comparing the keys quality and feel of the Akai vs. The Novation, the Akai keys are more robust, maybe made of a better quality of plastic, and when it comes to feel they are more rigid, more resistant to press, like they were trying to emulate a ''piano feeling'' I guess, on the other hand, the Novation ones feels softer, easier to press, they are ''synth-style semi-weighted with a sprung action'', that's what the box says. At the beggining it felt weird (obviously, I was used to the Akai's ones), but now I'm getting use to it, different style of keys for differente purposes, I get it.

MY ISSUE: Now, my real concern is that when I play the keys for the first time, any key of any octaves, black, white, C,D, etc... That first press feels like the key is slighty embedded or stick, doesn't feel normal, the second time I press the same key that sesation is gone and feels good and normal. Let's say that I stop playing for an hour and comeback and play again, that sensation of ''stiffness'' returns until I play the same key or chord for a second time and is gone again.

Is it maybe because the keyboard is new? I don't remember the initial feeling of the Akai when I first bought it, that was a few years ago so I can't compare it.

Is this common on new MIDI keyboards? Is it a Novation SL MKIII thing? Or is my keyboard defectuous?

For those who have more experience with MIDI keyboards than me, especially the ones who own this model, I would appreciate the help, because if the keyboard is defectuous I would return it.

Thanks.
Last edited by Tino Fiumara on Mon Mar 30, 2020 2:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
thecontrolcentre
KVRAF
27496 posts since 27 Jul, 2005 from the wilds of wanny

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:02 pm

Do you mean the keys are sticking on first press? Needing more pressure to press down or sticking after being pressed?

Tino Fiumara
KVRist
46 posts since 18 Feb, 2020

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:22 pm

thecontrolcentre wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:02 pm
Do you mean the keys are sticking on first press? Needing more pressure to press down or sticking after being pressed?
Sticking on first press, needing more pressure (just a little bit) to press down. The second time I press the sensation is gone.

AdvancedFollower
KVRian
636 posts since 8 May, 2018 from Sweden

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Mon Feb 24, 2020 12:52 am

Tino Fiumara wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:22 pm
thecontrolcentre wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:02 pm
Do you mean the keys are sticking on first press? Needing more pressure to press down or sticking after being pressed?
Sticking on first press, needing more pressure (just a little bit) to press down. The second time I press the sensation is gone.
I've had something similar with some brand new MIDI keyboards in the past. It might go away on its own after some time, but if it's really bad and affects the playability I'd return it.

I have an MPK61 (1st gen) and the Akai keys do indeed provide quite a bit of resistance compared to most other MIDI keyboards. It does make other keyboards fill a bit too soft at first, but you quickly get used to it.

Tino Fiumara
KVRist
46 posts since 18 Feb, 2020

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Mon Feb 24, 2020 5:44 am

AdvancedFollower wrote:
Mon Feb 24, 2020 12:52 am
Tino Fiumara wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:22 pm
thecontrolcentre wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:02 pm
Do you mean the keys are sticking on first press? Needing more pressure to press down or sticking after being pressed?
Sticking on first press, needing more pressure (just a little bit) to press down. The second time I press the sensation is gone.
I've had something similar with some brand new MIDI keyboards in the past. It might go away on its own after some time, but if it's really bad and affects the playability I'd return it.

I have an MPK61 (1st gen) and the Akai keys do indeed provide quite a bit of resistance compared to most other MIDI keyboards. It does make other keyboards fill a bit too soft at first, but you quickly get used to it.
Thanks for the reply. It's not really bad, you don't have to press it hard in order to play, and once you press it twice the sensation is gone. I would return it for a different unit of the same model, but what if all the units have the same ''issue''?

Maybe is what you said, and might go away with time and use, I hope so.

Tino Fiumara
KVRist
46 posts since 18 Feb, 2020

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Wed Mar 11, 2020 11:07 am

The other day I made a video to send it to the Spanish technical support (they couldn't help me), again, it's more about how the touch feels than how it sounds, but still, the video could be a reference.

Here is the link (is in Spanish but I put English subtitles): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQcl7mHI7pg
Last edited by Tino Fiumara on Mon Mar 30, 2020 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

person147
KVRer
5 posts since 28 Apr, 2017

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Fri Mar 20, 2020 7:10 am

Hi,

I have the EXACT same issue with my SL MKIII. It is rather annoying but I decided that the effort in boxing it all back up, shipping it off back to the vendor, etc. was far more effort than simply running my finger along the keyboard once every time I go to use it to remove the 'stickiness'.

I have not experienced this with other MIDI controllers I have, but most have been used, so likely had time to 'wear in'. It isn't a big deal to me in terms of use, but my concern its impact on resell value. I'd have to disclose this to any potential buyer and given two at the same price, any sane person would choose the on without the sticky keys. So that means selling it below market value, when the time comes. If you can be bothered, return it. I just can't and am dealing with it.

Tino Fiumara
KVRist
46 posts since 18 Feb, 2020

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Fri Mar 20, 2020 3:36 pm

person147 wrote:
Fri Mar 20, 2020 7:10 am
Hi,

I have the EXACT same issue with my SL MKIII. It is rather annoying but I decided that the effort in boxing it all back up, shipping it off back to the vendor, etc. was far more effort than simply running my finger along the keyboard once every time I go to use it to remove the 'stickiness'.

I have not experienced this with other MIDI controllers I have, but most have been used, so likely had time to 'wear in'. It isn't a big deal to me in terms of use, but my concern its impact on resell value. I'd have to disclose this to any potential buyer and given two at the same price, any sane person would choose the on without the sticky keys. So that means selling it below market value, when the time comes. If you can be bothered, return it. I just can't and am dealing with it.
Thanks for your reply.

That's one of the problems, I have the 49 version, let's say that in the future I want to upgrade to a 61 or more keys keyboard and I have to sell this, it's going to be hard to sell it because of the sticky keys.

I made a video in Spanish talking about this issue but it has English subtitles, so I would appreciate if you leave a comment just saying that you too have the same issue. I sent the link and the video to Novation, maybe they will see that I'm not the only one and will support me.

Here is the Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQcl7mHI7pg

Much appreciated.

person147
KVRer
5 posts since 28 Apr, 2017

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:05 pm

YouTube comment done :tu:

chk071
KVRAF
24155 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:24 pm

Tino Fiumara wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 2:51 pm
MY ISSUE: Now, my real concern is that when I play the keys for the first time, any key of any octaves, black, white, C,D, etc... That first press feels like the key is slighty embedded or stick, doesn't feel normal, the second time I press the same key that sesation is gone and feels good and normal. Let's say that I stop playing for half an hour and comeback and play again, that sensation of ''stickness'' returns until I play the same key or chord for a second time and is gone again.

Is it maybe because the keyboard is new? I don't remember the initial feeling of the Akai when I first bought it, that was a few years ago so I can't compare it.

Is this common on new MIDI keyboards? Is it a Novation SL MKIII thing? Or is my keyboard defectuous?
Totally normal IMO. Both my keyboards (Novation Impulse 49 and Arturia MiniLab mk2) have that, and my former keyboard, a M-Audio Axiom 49 2nd gen had it as well. Not sure what the mechanical explanation is, but, be assured that it's pretty common.

Most people probably won't even notice, that's the problem with us sensitive people, we notice stuff like that. ;)
Plugins and a DAW. On a operating system. Which runs on a computer.

PAK
KVRian
908 posts since 20 Feb, 2003

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Sun Mar 29, 2020 4:05 pm

Likely the keys are making slight contact with something inside the keyboard. After being left untouched for a while the key "sticks" to whichever surface it's coming into contact with. Once pressed it won't adhere unless left alone again. Room temperature and humidity may play a role in stuff like this.

Previous generations (MkI and MkII) had a rubber strip which ran along the top of the keys. The idea was to deaden the sound they made (less clacky), but it didn't really work. I don't see it on the MKIII photos, but perhaps something equivalent is inside there, just out of sight?

On the previous keyboards you could remove the strip without issue. Though, I must add, even with it IIRC they didn't have this issue even from new.

I'd open it, examine what the keys are coming into contact with, and - if it doesn't seem like you can easily realign anything by 1 or 2mm, lubricate the likely contact point with a small amount of something like silicone grease. Less is more, especially if the contact point is the velocity measurement strip! Try it on a single key or two first, if unsure.

If the MKIII is anything like previous ones there's about 40 screws to get there. If more than one of you have the issue, and it bothers you enough, I'd contact Novation to ask as it seems like a materials / assembly issue which could be avoided. If it's something like the springs themselves then there's maybe not a whole lot you can do..

chk071
KVRAF
24155 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Mon Mar 30, 2020 1:41 am

You shouldn't really do all that if you're still on warranty, though...

Apart from that, I don't really see a rubber strip on my keyboards, and they still have this behavior. It might be there though, I never disassembled them or anything. If you never noticed this behavior, it's likely that you simply... didn't notice it (it's very, very subtle on my MiniLab keyboard, for example). As I said, I have/had it on 3 different keyboards here.
Plugins and a DAW. On a operating system. Which runs on a computer.

PAK
KVRian
908 posts since 20 Feb, 2003

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Mon Mar 30, 2020 4:21 am

chk071 wrote:
Mon Mar 30, 2020 1:41 am
I don't really see a rubber strip on my keyboards, and they still have this behavior. It might be there though, I never disassembled them or anything. If you never noticed this behavior, it's likely that you simply... didn't notice it (it's very, very subtle on my MiniLab keyboard, for example). As I said, I have/had it on 3 different keyboards here.
The rubber dampening strip is specific to the Novations, though other keyboards also use things to dampen sound. You can actually pull it off of the MKI/MKII without opening anything. If it's still there, on the MkIII, it'd be the prime candidate for the cause, as would anything else making contact at the top of the keys (where the lights are). So you wouldn't really "disassemble" anything, unless you count lifting the lid off as that. :roll: :D

The key mechanism will be its own self-contained unit, because they all buy them in from 3rd parties. Taking that apart would be more involved, but it'd let you see what's going on if you couldn't figure out the cause. The construction method is very basic on most of these keyboards. The plastic keys push down on a rubber pad. If you've ever seen inside an old telephone keypad it's not a million miles from that.

I'm not a fan, of most of the low-cost dedicated controllers out there, because the velocity response isn't good enough for me to want to use. So I don't use a whole lot outside of Fatar, Yamaha, or Roland actions. I don't know who Novation switched to from Fatar, for the mkIII, but most of the "non-premium" actions out there are pretty awful, unfortunately.

chk071
KVRAF
24155 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Mon Mar 30, 2020 4:46 am

Yep, that makes sense. Might well be a "phenomenom", which is only present in lower tier controllers. Even though the SL mk3 is rather mid tier, but, who knows? In my experience, hardware gets cheaper and cheaper, not in price, but in terms of build quality.
Plugins and a DAW. On a operating system. Which runs on a computer.

Tino Fiumara
KVRist
46 posts since 18 Feb, 2020

Re: Problems with my Novation SL MKIII keys... Or Not?

Post Mon Mar 30, 2020 1:24 pm

person147 wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:05 pm
YouTube comment done :tu:
Thank you, we paid money for these devices, we have to speak out about it.

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