Looking for Midi Controller: Perhaps Roland A-88 and Yamaha P-155

Anything about hardware musical instruments.
KVRian
891 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:25 pm

Hello,

My old Korg SP-100 has a few broken/insensitive keys and I doubt it can be repaired. As such, I'm looking for a replacement in the $700-$1000 pricerange. I have to pay university tuition and whatnot, so I cannot spend very much.

Two keyboards I'm considering are the Roland A-88 and Yamaha P-155 (which are already almost too expensive)

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/A88/
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/P155B


The former doesn't have a piano soundbank so that's a negative though.

Features that I need:

88-Keys
Non-plasticy keys - keys that are not too loud when pressed
Obligatory MIDI in/Out
Full or near-full velocity spectrum (for 127 MIDI values) ---> the Korg SP-100 doesn't seem to output many values, regardless of how hard I press the keys

Features that would be nice:
Not too bloated in design, aftertouch

I hope that people can share their opinions on the two keyboards listed and others they may recommend.

I'm looking forward to responses. Thank you!

KVRAF
4818 posts since 6 May, 2002

Post Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:43 pm

A-88 has a really attractive profile. It would be nice to see a semiweighted Aftertouch version.
Intel Core2 Quad CPU + 4 GIG RAM

KVRian

Topic Starter

891 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:46 pm

Yes the A-88 does look really good, except that some people say that the black keys scrape against the white ones, the modulation controller isn't perfect, and that there are other manufacturing quality issues. It's too bad that I can't try it in-store somewhere. The nearest Guitarcenter only has the Roland RD-300 and RD-700s ---which apparently have similar specifications. Also, the A-88 is only a MIDI controller. I don't think there's even a simple piano sound bank unfortunately. I would try the keyboard immediately if I had the funds and if someone hadn't told me that she bought a real upright piano for the same price.

EDIT: Where is the MIDI IN/OUT? I only see the MIDI Out, but my MIDI to usb converter and my old Korg Digital Piano had two.

User avatar
KVRAF
4119 posts since 11 Aug, 2006 from Austin, TX

Post Sat Oct 05, 2013 2:03 pm

I recently purchased the Casio Privia PX-850 to practice pure piano on. The keys feel very good and do not feel plasticy at all. The piano sound is quite convincing too.

It has USB MIDI out, I've controlled Zebra with it and the velocity responded well. I'm not sure if it has the full 127 steps, I didn't check for that.

It doesn't fall into the traditional midi controllers but if you have a local Guitar Center check it out.

If you're not as concerned about the piano sound check out others in the Privia line. It's not as nice as my teacher's Steinway baby grand but (to me at least) it feels a lot closer than the Roland and Yamaha DPs I tried.

KVRian

Topic Starter

891 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Sat Oct 05, 2013 2:16 pm

Yeah, I'm not very interested in the piano sound and CAN go without it, but it's always nice to have a default soundbank in case I don't have my computer around.

I've heard very bad things about CASIO in general, but I'll look into the Privias anyway---affordable is best though.

EDIT: Actually, the Privia PX-850, but it's a bit out of my pricerange. I don't have much of a budget yet. Maybe I should just get a list of potential keyboards and go from there.

User avatar
KVRAF
4119 posts since 11 Aug, 2006 from Austin, TX

Post Sat Oct 05, 2013 2:19 pm

synchronizer wrote:I've heard very bad things about CASIO in general
I, too was very skeptical until I tried it. You know what you want best, try to demo one if possible.

KVRian

Topic Starter

891 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Sat Oct 05, 2013 8:04 pm

I'll definitely look into a few keyboards. Does anyone else have impressions and recommendations?

KVRian

Topic Starter

891 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:08 pm

Any other impressions of the Roland A-88?

KVRian

Topic Starter

891 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:55 am

Bump

KVRAF
6290 posts since 28 Apr, 2013

Post Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:53 am

electro wrote:A-88 has a really attractive profile. It would be nice to see a semiweighted Aftertouch version.

+1 and at a bare minimum. Sometimes I think Roland deliberately shorts a feature or two in their controllers for their own sense of control.

IMO: Aftertouch is a must on anything designed as a controller. (A couple of extra pedal inputs would be stellar too).

KVRAF
6290 posts since 28 Apr, 2013

Post Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:04 am

synchronizer wrote:I'll definitely look into a few keyboards. Does anyone else have impressions and recommendations?
I know people will disagree with me on this. But I've worked sales, taken keyboards in for repairs, and owned many of them myself over the last 40 years.

Roland keybeds never hold up well over time for dynamic players.
(And I've seen a few literally just fall apart.)

{Current 88 keyboard/controllers: StudioLogic VMK188+; Korg KronosX}

KVRian

Topic Starter

891 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:08 am

What would you recommend instead? (same pricerange, 88-keys, 127 or many velocity levels, compactish size, non-plasticy/cheap keys)

KVRAF
6290 posts since 28 Apr, 2013

Post Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:23 am

Honestly looking for another 88key myself.
With just these three basic requirements.
1. Graded Hammer action 2. Aftertouch 3. Multiple pedal input

I keep having to come back to the Akai MPK88. (Pedal inputs: damper/switch/expression). But it doesn't have perfect reviews and it keeps me wondering. I've only got to feel one once and the sales person wouldn't connect it to any sound source for me. The keybed felt okay and that was about the extent of what I could gather about it. It might have been 'stiff' as I've read that others complain about that, and that may end up being a good thing since they do loosen up a little after constant playing. With no sound source though, how much can you really know about how it triggers?
One of the most negative things I read about it is concerning its drum pad triggers and have even read the fixes to correct it (albeit warranty voiding).
I wonder if this is still true in last productions? The last thing was I forgot to really check out the pitch/mod wheels. I almost bought an Alesis 88 back in the nineties but was sold off of it by the 'rubberized wheels', which for some strange reason, sends a unpleasant sensation up my spine. It seems to be a certain kind of rubber though, but I'm usually very aware of making sure it's the right kind now.
Last edited by BBFG# on Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

KVRian

Topic Starter

891 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:28 am

The Akai has those plasticy/too noisy keys I described.

I don't think I need aftertouch quite as much as everything else though.

KVRAF
6290 posts since 28 Apr, 2013

Post Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:36 am

Heheh, I think I'm still waiting for someone to make one right.

Although they're out of production now, the StudioLogic VMK+ are much to my liking. Nice feel, aftertouch, only one pedal input (Damper) and it has a four-way joystick instead of wheels, which is why I'm looking for another. Not to replace it, but add to it. The Korg is a great controller, but I like to keep it as its own instrument.

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