MIDI UPGRADE - Semi Weighted (Akai MPK261) VS Hammer Action (Arturia Keylab 88)

VST, AU, AAX, etc. plug-in Virtual Instruments discussion
17 posts since 22 Aug, 2016

Post Wed Apr 01, 2020 1:32 pm

I'm looking to upgrade my Midi Keyboard to something with 61+ keys and better quality playability so improvising chords and top melody is more enjoyable.

The biggest question here is how noticeable to a NON piano player will it be from Akai's semi weighted keys to Arturias hammer action fatar Keys? Arturia normally wouldn't be in this race since the new MKII model is out now and both of these are at a higher price point than the Akai, but it happens to be on sale putting it roughly in the same budget area as the Akai.

- Current Midi Controller -
M Audio Oxygen 49

- Upgrade Options -
1.) Akai MPK261, 61 Key Semi Weighted Keys ($599)
2.) Arturia KeyLab 88, 88, Hammer Action Fatar Keybed (On Sale $799 from $1100)
3.) Maybe a Native Instrument Komplete Controller? Haven't looked in to them much yet.

I like the features on the Akai a lot better, but the main reason I'm upgrading is to have better playability. I also hear the Arturia isn't built as quality as the Akai, meaning it tends to have issues after a year or 2, and the Akai is built great.

Obviously because of COVID-19 I can't go to any stores to feel the difference, the MAIN and ONLY concern I have right now is Semi Weighted VS Hammer Action - I want the Akai but I don't want to miss out on a full hammer action keyboard IF the older model Arturia is worth the sale price still.

5980 posts since 28 Apr, 2013

Re: MIDI UPGRADE - Semi Weighted (Akai MPK261) VS Hammer Action (Arturia Keylab 88)

Post Wed Apr 01, 2020 2:35 pm

I might add the MAudio Code to your considerations.
I personally feel it has the best feel of those smaller boards you mentioned.
As far as the 88 versions, most are using the Fatar keybeds and the difference is first between the TP-40 & TP-100. I have both and while the 40 is the better feel, the 100 is up there too (and about 10 lbs. lighter.)

Then the other consideration is whether they have aftertouch (which all the ones you mentioned have) and if they're double sensor or triple sensor.

For 88 note controllers, we're now using;
* Arturia Keylab Essential 88 (semi-weight, double sensor, aftertouch, with shorter length keys.
Plays nicely - perfect for the spouse's technique.)
* Studiologic SL88 Studio (TP100 hammer action, triple sensor, aftertouch. - I like it quite well as an upgrade from my Emu XBoard 61.)
* Studiologic VMK188+ (TP40, hammer action, double sensor, aftertouch - love the feel - gets played 80% of my time.)

IIRC, the Arturia Keylab Mk1 you mentioned uses Fatar and should be the same. Although the first one has the drum triggers on the wrong side for my use. I did consider it before buying my SL88S. Which I originally bought for the spouse, but was still too heavy for her touch. So since these two use the same keybed and the Studiologic was around half the price...

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