Considering Buying a Midi Keyboard

Discussion in 'Technical Discussion' started by Mercury, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. Mercury


    His Name Is Sonic Tech Member
    I now have the means to buy a Midi keyboard, which I've always needed. I have a Creative Prodikeys already, which I was able to get cheap years ago but I don't like the fact that it only plugs in via the PS2 keyboard port and has pretty terrible lag. I have no idea which brands are the best, or what kind of features (besides the obvious) I should be looking for and I thought I'd turn to the experts at Retro for advice.

    I only have a few requirements of it:

    • It must have more than 36 keys. 88 would be ideal, but something in between wouldn't kill me.
    • It must have midi - duh.
    • It must work via USB
    • And lastly I'd prefer it not to be packaged with garbage software with a million preset drumbeats for the "slap together your first song!" crowd.

  2. Covarr


    Sentient Cash Register Member
    Trapped in my own thoughts.
    Two stageplays, a screenplay, and an album
    Pretty much no keyboard is gonna be packaged with decent software. In fact, many of the better ones are packed with NO software, because it's assumed that the people who pay that much are going to buy their higher-end DAW of choice anyway.

    Avoid the shit out of Casio. Seriously. They make cheap garbage. Roland, Yamaha, and Korg all make decent products, depending on what your price range is.

    If it has a MIDI out port, you can connect it to a PC using a cheap adapter. I'd use caution with keyboards that have a direct USB out, because they often have it *instead* of a proper MIDI out, which means that you can't really use it with other MIDI-compatible devices. My keyboard has that issue, so I can't use it with Rock Band 3 :/

    You gonna be doing serious recording with it? Don't worry too much about the quality of the included sound, as you will want a soundfont or VSTi anyway. But if you're going to be doing live performances, make sure to find audio samples of a keyboard before committing to an online purchase, or trying it out if you buy it in person.

    Some cheap keyboards don't have a pedal jack. Watch out for that.

    One of the biggest indicators of a cruddy keyboard is the feel and sensitivity of the keys themselves. If you're serious about this, you'll want something with good tactile feedback and good pressure sensitivity. For MIDI recordings, the volume of each strike can always be fixed afterwards, but it's much easier and more natural sounding to be able to play it as you would a real piano and have the midi data match that properly.

    I can't give specific model recommendations, as I only have a shitty Casio CTK-3000 myself (which I don't recommend, by the way), but I hope something I said is of use to you.
  3. Mercury


    His Name Is Sonic Tech Member
    Yes it was. There was a lot of good advice packed in there.
  4. Chibisteven


    Yamaha XG is pretty good. You can do alot of stuff with it. The downside is that your computer may need an Intel processor. Roland has GS, not exactly sure what you do with that.
  5. amphobius


    doing more important things with my life Member
    ...are you dense? That's not even remotely linked to this discussion.

    Anyway, I'm considering picking up a keyboard myself, but I'm strapped for cash. There's a dealer local to me with Akai products; anyone recomend them?
  6. Rosie


    aka Rosie Member
    M-Audio stuff is generally reasonably priced and bloody well built. Also if you have MIDI I/O on your soundcard, I'd suggest you use connect the keyboard via MIDI, and power it externally, as it will produce much lower latency.

    Also, if you're a pianist I'd suggest you get weighted keys, you'll pay a little more for it but they feel much nicer.

    And I certainly wouldn't recommend the lower end Edirol keyboards, such as the PC-50. Every one I've come across has ended up with velocity issues.
  7. steveswede


    Ask my hand
    Fighting against the Unitary State of Europe
    I think these may be the best as all their products have weighted keys. After I had a mess around with a Roland Fantom G8 some years ago, weighted keys have an incredible feel to them. The Studiologic keyboards are supposed to be incredibly close to the feel of a real piano and are in a better price range than a Fantom.
  8. Chibisteven


    Oooo. It's peference if anything. And I've spent like $200 on an XG-Lite USB keyboard from Yamaha in 2005, when I got a new computer I found out it didn't work with AMD Processors the hardway. So it's a cautionary tell. I like to engineer sounds and having more sounds to experiment with even for composing can be helpful.
  9. TmEE


    Master of OPL3-SA2/3 Tech Member
    Estonia, Rapla City
    T-04YBSC-A !
    I very much like this :

    Worked wonders over MIDI too, albeit in a limited manner due to being monotimbral and limited to 6 notes of polyphony
  10. Mercury


    His Name Is Sonic Tech Member
    This is what I went with, a Yamaha YPT-320:
    I'm pretty happy with it.