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Blacklight
KVRist
 
51 posts since 16 Mar, 2011

Postby Blacklight; Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:32 pm I need some advise on midi controllers

I have the need for a small, compact, portable, midi controller, that I can use to play VST's live, that allows me to tweak synth parameters on the fly while playing, and that has keys that aren't just stiff, glued in place sticks of plastic like the Akai APC Mini keyboards that are eventually going to break. I've been researching midi controllers and every single one of the small, 25 key ones that I've found has gotten confusingly mixed reviews. And it's usually people who use Ableton Live who love most of them and people who don't who hate them. Apparently these keyboards are ALL made to interface with Ableton Live and from what I gather from reviews, they all become clunky messes when they integrate with anything else or people try to use them for the purpose I want to use them for, playing VST's live and maybe some Sonar usage, but I don't use Ableton. Also I don't even know if I can TRUST any reviews because I'll see half the reviews saying build quality is amazing while the other half is saying that the thing feels like a toy. So to every musician, these things are VERY subjective. I need some help with this on a direction to go. The very conflicted reviews that I'm finding on every single product, which almost makes me feel like the products are being developed almost proprietary for certain applications, are confusing the hell out of me.
I just recently returned an Akai 25 Key Professional keyboard because the keyboard was just horrible, stiff, hurt my fingers, and the software was really clunky. It had a VERY difficult time interfacing their software with my older VST's and I had to fight like hell for two days on tech support to even get it to see them.
"What the hell is that godawful noise !?! Oh. It's just you."
Zexila
KVRAF
 
2906 posts since 17 Mar, 2008

Postby Zexila; Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:38 pm Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

Your best bet is to carry your laptop with you and test them all yourself in closest audio store, as you noticed, someone's gold is other persons trash and so on.
This entire forum is wading through predictions, opinions, barely formed thoughts, drama, and whining. If you don't enjoy that, why are you here? :D ShawnG
Blacklight
KVRist
 
51 posts since 16 Mar, 2011

Postby Blacklight; Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:56 pm Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

That would be wonderful to do in theory, but the problem is, to get these midi controllers to interface with VST's and see how they play, you have to download their software. This also requires resistration of the product with the companies, etc.. because they're all crazy with DRM as well. None of them come with the software in box. They don't just plug in and go. So the only method is to just keep buying and returning midi controllers until I find a diamond among the garbage? The local music store is going to hate me. Haha!
"What the hell is that godawful noise !?! Oh. It's just you."
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zerocrossing
KVRAF
 
9278 posts since 26 Jun, 2006, from San Francisco Bay Area

Postby zerocrossing; Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:24 pm Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

I’m using old Novations, which I like, but word on the street is the new ones blow, and from a short amount of time with one in a Guitar Center, I think they do blow. I’m not sure if there’s a higher end line than the one I tried, or they just now all suck. In a similar thread on GearSlutz, I saw the Native Instruments Kontrol keyboard got mentioned over and over again as being good. If my controllers die, that’d be the first once I’d look at. I’ve got a Maschine Mk1 and it’s very solid in every way. If the controllers are as good, I’m in.
Zerocrossing Media

4th Law of Robotics: When turning evil, display a red indicator light. ~[ ●_● ]~
jdnz
KVRian
 
693 posts since 2 Oct, 2011, from Christchurch, New Zealand

Postby jdnz; Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:25 pm Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

not cheap but what about building a solution that suits you using ROLI blocks (keyboard block is 25 key and add whatever controller blocks you need)

https://roli.com/products/blocks/seaboard-block
Blacklight
KVRist
 
51 posts since 16 Mar, 2011

Postby Blacklight; Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:07 pm Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

zerocrossing wrote:I’m using old Novations, which I like, but word on the street is the new ones blow, and from a short amount of time with one in a Guitar Center, I think they do blow. I’m not sure if there’s a higher end line than the one I tried, or they just now all suck. In a similar thread on GearSlutz, I saw the Native Instruments Kontrol keyboard got mentioned over and over again as being good. If my controllers die, that’d be the first once I’d look at. I’ve got a Maschine Mk1 and it’s very solid in every way. If the controllers are as good, I’m in.


I was actually looking at the Novation Launchkey 25 today and that seemed like it was the absolute best of the bunch at the very top of my price range. The keys seemed to feel good. It felt decently built And of course, once I got home and researched it, reviews were all over the place and confused the hell out of me. It was 50/50. Some were praising it as fantastic. Others, saying that it was a crap, piece of junk. And this has been the case with EVERY midi controller that I've researched in this price range.
It's confusing me because I don't know if the products actually ARE junk or if it's a case that we have musicians who are really picky about their gear, who are used to high end production gear buying these things, and then writing reviews, who are used to using $400 studio midi controllers and keyboards which would explain why some would comment "This thing feels like a toy." while to someone like me, it feels sturdy.
"What the hell is that godawful noise !?! Oh. It's just you."
Blacklight
KVRist
 
51 posts since 16 Mar, 2011

Postby Blacklight; Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:14 pm Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

Also, Ableton must have a damn near monopoly deal with these companies that make these midi controllers because every single one of them that I've seen almost seems to have have their layout and software designed for Ableton Live first and everything else as just an afterthought. There's so many of these midi controllers that just lose a lot of features the minute you switch to another DAW.
"What the hell is that godawful noise !?! Oh. It's just you."
jdnz
KVRian
 
693 posts since 2 Oct, 2011, from Christchurch, New Zealand

Postby jdnz; Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:55 pm Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

Blacklight wrote:It's confusing me because I don't know if the products actually ARE junk or if it's a case that we have musicians who are really picky about their gear, who are used to high end production gear buying these things, and then writing reviews, who are used to using $400 studio midi controllers and keyboards which would explain why some would comment "This thing feels like a toy." while to someone like me, it feels sturdy.


launchkeys are pretty low-rent, the impulse line is better (but to me still didn’t feel as good as my old nocturn49). Like you said it all comes down to expectations and what you’re used to.

Novation still do a 25 key version of the SLmkII - which has a really decent action, but again isn’t at all cheap. It’s a fatar action so very similar to the NI komplete kontrol line (which I’ve tried and also didn’t mind) - but of course the SLmkII has heaps more mappable controllers than the NI
bbtr
KVRist
 
384 posts since 21 Nov, 2005

Postby bbtr; Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:03 am Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

bbtr
KVRist
 
384 posts since 21 Nov, 2005

Postby bbtr; Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:08 am Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

As a side note, I'm reading A LOT about people returning fully functional hardware because it is not working as they expected, or because it doesn't have this or that function that the buyer wants.

That's such a waste and a nightmare to be a hardware manufacturer. Guitars, TV monitors, you name it. Throwaway mentality at its finest.

SAD...
Steve Bolivar
KVRist
 
354 posts since 24 Aug, 2006

Postby Steve Bolivar; Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:21 am Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

bbtr wrote:https://www.thomann.de/intl/bg/cakewalk_a300pro.htm?ref=search_prv_7


Looks nice. Also available domestically in US for about $200

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... controller
Zexila
KVRAF
 
2906 posts since 17 Mar, 2008

Postby Zexila; Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:29 am Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

This entire forum is wading through predictions, opinions, barely formed thoughts, drama, and whining. If you don't enjoy that, why are you here? :D ShawnG
chk071
KVRAF
 
16412 posts since 10 Apr, 2010, from Germany

Postby chk071; Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:35 am Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

About Ableton's "monopoly": I'd think it's the other way round. Hardware manufacturers realized that many people use Ableton for live performance, and are therefor offering controllers for use with Ableton. Plus it lends itself to controller use, more than other DAW's.

About the Launchkey: If you like it, why not go for it? I don't think there's really much choice in the price range you stated. If you'd want something better, i would have proposed the Komplete Kontrol S25 from NI, but, those are 300 € here. Also, i wouldn't base my choice so much on reviews on the net. Seriously, most of those are utter cr**, and either praise keyboards in the skies, sometimes even or the way they look, and how blinky the lights on them are, or they criticize points which in my eyes won't even matter much.

For example, i didn't read about the relatively loud noise floor on my speakers in ANY of the reviews i read about them. I only noticed it after i bought them. And those were reviews from big sites. Frankly, i wouldn't care about reviews at all.
low_low
KVRist
 
350 posts since 19 Jul, 2018

Postby low_low; Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:42 am Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

Pair w/ your favorite keyboard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFrqLm3R7XY
sprnva
KVRian
 
1257 posts since 16 Jan, 2013

Postby sprnva; Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:58 am Re: I need some advise on midi controllers

FWIW, I looked into MIDI controllers a lot a few years back and concluded that none of them were worth the money. Even the more expensive controllers seemed to have issues going by reviews. In most cases buying an old 90s synth would get a better quality keybed for almost the same price. The downside would be the need for MIDI and power cables while a lot of the current MIDI controllers use a simple USB cable for both.

However, eventually I picked up a LaunchKey 49 and haven't had any issues with it. In the end I rarely used the knobs or sliders to control VSTs as I just couldn't be bothered mapping stuff all the time but the drum pads were handy for banging in some beats. I got it half price when the MkII Launchkeys were announced. It's not getting any use now because it's just a bit big for my current setup so I'm using a KeyStep instead. But I couldn't really fault it for my needs.
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