Need MIDI controller suggestions

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Choikdoi
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190 posts since 11 Jun, 2020

Post Mon Nov 28, 2022 11:42 pm

I've been making music for a while, but I have never owned a keyboard other than my PC one and I'm feeling a bit clueless looking for one, so I'd be grateful if anyone can offer some advice.

Can someone clarify for me... can I expect to run into any issues when trying to choose one, when my main requirement is using the keyboard as a MIDI CC controller for the VSTs that I own? Is that something that will be affected by price range, or will any keyboard that comes with assignable knobs / faders be able to control any parameter that I could want, in any VST?

Also, do I have to worry about DAW functionality at all? I mean in terms of how the keyboard interacts with VSTs inside the DAW, as I really don't care about using the keyboard for performing tasks like creating patterns or using the piano roll, for example. Just in case the type of DAW matters, does anyone know of any to avoid as an FL Studio user? I've looked at FLkey, but wasn't too impressed with features outside of controlling the FL Studio software, compared to others.

I started out looking for something in a £200 budget range and would love to stick to that, if the best of that range do not have any problems doing what I'm looking for. Some of the ones that interested me the most were Nektar Impact LX49+, M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 & Arturia Keylab Essential 49 (or any of their mini equivalents).

But, I'm also very tempted to splash out more if I can get all of that in a keyboard that is also a synth too. Do most hardware synths have the ability to be used as MIDI controllers too? I had been looking at the ASM Hydrasynth Explorer, which can do both. So, is that a norm? Or is that synth different in that regard?

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DJ Warmonger
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4577 posts since 7 Jun, 2012 from Warsaw

Post Tue Nov 29, 2022 12:06 am

It will just work.

There are some synths tht don't support MIDI mapping out of the box and need extra configuration (Massive X and LuSH-101 for instance). There are also controllers or integrations dedicated for specific DAW, but it only adds extra features on top of basic functionality.
Do most hardware synths have the ability to be used as MIDI controllers too?
Yes. Every modern synth has MIDI input and output, direct or via USB.
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Choikdoi
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190 posts since 11 Jun, 2020

Post Tue Nov 29, 2022 12:22 am

DJ Warmonger wrote: Tue Nov 29, 2022 12:06 am There are some synths tht don't support MIDI mapping out of the box and need extra configuration (Massive X and LuSH-101 for instance)
What does that (the "extra configuration") include / is it easy to do?

And so, your'e saying that while some may need that extra configuration to make things work, there won't be any instances of MIDI keyboards (just keyboards, not synths) that simply won't allow some VSTs to be controlled?

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DJ Warmonger
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4577 posts since 7 Jun, 2012 from Warsaw

Post Tue Nov 29, 2022 2:18 am

Choikdoi wrote: Tue Nov 29, 2022 12:22 am
DJ Warmonger wrote: Tue Nov 29, 2022 12:06 am There are some synths tht don't support MIDI mapping out of the box and need extra configuration (Massive X and LuSH-101 for instance)
LuSH-101 - you need to specify which parameters can be MIDI-controlled
Massive X - you need to assign parameters to internal macro knobs, as only these can be controlled via MIDI

This is caused by the fact these synths have a very large number of parameters.
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rod_zero
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3490 posts since 28 Jan, 2011 from MEXICO

Post Tue Nov 29, 2022 1:35 pm

Just don't have high expectation of the level of control this controllers provide with its 8 faders and 8 knobs, it is so limited that you end just mapping filter cut off and resonance and call it a day. I prefer controllers without controls these days, just use the keys to play and tweak with the mouse.
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Choikdoi
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190 posts since 11 Jun, 2020

Post Tue Nov 29, 2022 4:51 pm

So, forget those such as the Nektar, M-Audio & Arturia if I want assignable performance? Or does that include hardware synths as controllers too, even with something like the Hydrasynth (if I were to spend the extra)? It already has dedicated cut off, resonance & drive / morph knobs, but the video I saw on it shows you could use it to assign a combination of 5 LFOs, 5 envolopes & a 32 slot mod matrix. These are talked about in this video, from about 3:28 onwards...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_TtBC7OIek

Unless I'm completely misunderstanding it, as I'm really not educated on this stuff.

ElVincente
KVRist
347 posts since 22 Jun, 2019

Post Tue Nov 29, 2022 11:04 pm

I use my hydrasynth keyboard a lot as a midi controller (keyboard version,not explorer), and yes dedicated filter control and macro work really well to control softsynth, and poly at is really great too.
The thing you have to workout is the setup with your daw, because you won't be able to change the CC's sent by the hydrasynth. Works a treat with reaper and bitwig after some config work, you can even have midi feedback (macro control updating themselves when you switch track selected) elilinating parameter jumping, but I don't know about how fl studio works on that subject...
The only drawback for my setup is the hydrasynth's size, I really wished they did a smaller size controller, but the synth is great to have too because it's fun and sounds great imo.

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Choikdoi
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190 posts since 11 Jun, 2020

Post Wed Nov 30, 2022 2:42 am

Thanks for the input! If it wasn't for the timing of having spent a shit-load during the sales, right before deciding now was the time I wanted a controller, I'd go for the Hydrasynth immediately. I was kinda hoping someone would talk me out of it, haha. But I guess it is the kind of thing I'm looking for then, with the added bonus of a great synth on top.

I've seen some other videos of Hydrasynth being used in FL Studio and with positive reviews in those videos, so it shouldn't be an issue. Although (sorry, I'm being a complete noob with this subject), I'm still not fully understanding the difference between it's abilities controlling VST parameters as opposed to controlling / working with the DAW. I wouldn't even want to use it to control any aspect of the DAW, literally only the parameters inside of any given plugin. So, have you been able to assign the macros to anything you could want / imagine in your VSTs (taking into account what DJ Warmonger said about extra configuration being needed for some)? Or are you only saying it's great for doing so with the parameters for the Hydrasynth's onboard synth?

Also, a little confused by what you mean though when you say the size is a drawback for you and you wish they did a smaller one. But you also acknowledged that you know there's an Explorer (smaller) version!

ElVincente
KVRist
347 posts since 22 Jun, 2019

Post Wed Nov 30, 2022 11:34 am

Yeah, I found that really confusing when I started to look into that myself.
But the thing is it really depends on your DAW and how it handles that. I don't know FL studio at all

But for exemple, in reaper I like to use an extension called realearn witch is deep and awfull to learn and you pretty much have to set up all the mapping for each plugins, but it's worth it if you know what you want.

Bitwig is less powerfull but less work too, still you often have to set up Moss script and configure it to your controller.
You have daw control, and eight macros at the same time for the focused device.

In the end what is hard is knowing what you need, what will be the real advantage of a midi controller over the mouse.
For my part mixing wise, I really like to set volume and pan by ear, without looking at the screen. It's great to equalize that way too. And it's nice to control several compressor settings at the same time too.
Performing with synth I enjoy using the macros and 8 are more than enough for me.

Then if a particular softsynth suits you well, you could probably map it more extensively to rely more on muscle memory and be quicker controlling it that way.
I tried to go that road but in the end it did not worked for me because I enjoy to switch softsynth and it become impossible to remember all mappings for too many instruments.

Good luck :)

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Choikdoi
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Topic Starter
190 posts since 11 Jun, 2020

Post Thu Dec 01, 2022 11:56 pm

Thanks for all the replies, they helped me to reach a decision. I'm going for the Oxygen Pro 49 without worrying about how the MIDI mapping functions work and getting a separate device to take care of those needs instead. Cheers guys! :tu:

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sl23
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2147 posts since 28 Mar, 2008 from a Galaxy S7 far far away

Post Thu Dec 15, 2022 5:19 am

Thing is, you won't know what you need until you buy something that doesn't do what you want. No matter how much you try to plan it out, reviewing what's out there, only once you've made your decision and try working with it will you realise there's something missing. No matter what hardware you buy, that statements always rings true. Because they design it that way to sell the next big thing.

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Tj Shredder
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8219 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Post Thu Dec 22, 2022 1:32 am

If you didn‘t played a keyboard yet, you have the freedom to take one of those expressive controllers which go far beyond the on/off switches of a keyboard. A LinnStrument for example… Its even much easier to learn beside being expressive…
If you want to go wild, an Embodme Erae Touch is usable as much more than that and has some nice templates. Its cheaper than LinnStrument and still reasonable and sturdy…

tapper mike
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6412 posts since 20 Jan, 2008

Post Sat Dec 31, 2022 3:25 pm

Midi learn. Most days and vats have a midi learn function click on the specified cc in daw and adjust physical control on your hardware. The daw will learn.
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