Budget 61 Keys Midi Keyboard


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Hi!

I'm looking for a Midi Keyboard with 61 keys on quite a small budget.
I've narrowed the search down to 5 different models:

Icon iKeyboard 6
Alesis V61
M-Audio Keystation 61 II
M-Audio Oxygen 61 MKIV
Nektar Impact 61+

I'm mainly going to use it together with Pro Tools and software libraries to compose cinematic music.

Any input on which I should choose and why?

Cheers
 
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If you can find a used Yamaha MOXF6, they have tons of features and the sounds are good, I bought mine at $800 used, vs 1199$ retail, but that was a few years back. I'm sure they've come down in price since then. I love mine though the learning curve is steep, still learning everything I can do. If you check out some vids on Youtube, you'll see some nice compositions from other owners.
 
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If you can find a used Yamaha MOXF6, they have tons of features and the sounds are good, I bought mine at $800 used, vs 1199$ retail, but that was a few years back. I'm sure they've come down in price since then. I love mine though the learning curve is steep, still learning everything I can do. If you check out some vids on Youtube, you'll see some nice compositions from other owners.
That's way above my budget.
I would appreciate some recommendations based on the five keyboards I've listed.

Cheers
 

John Garside

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Small budget?
I had a similar need quite a while back. Eventually, back then (years ago), I bought a relatively inexpensive Edirol keyboard.
It's been gathering dust for quite some time! I found I just couldn't get on with the "joystick" controller, it didn't suit me. (Some people love them.)

More recently, later last year, I looked around quite a bit for a MIDI controller keyboard to replace it.
Eventually I dropped the need for 61 keys and settled on 49. Most/many orchestral instruments, I found, could be covered by just three octaves or so.
For reasons of cost I use a few libraries from the Garritan orchestral libraries. (Not perfect, I know, but adequate for my needs and budget.)
What I felt was more necessary (for me) was having a range of MIDI controls to "tweak" the various expressive elements in the sample player interface.

To cut a fairly lengthy story back to the essentials, I eventually settled on a Samson Graphite 49.
For what I need it provided excellent value for the price.
However, I did find that the manual was less than adequate (in my view), the programming of the keyboard could have been much better explained.
Once I'd worked it all out, I found it did what I want and quite well. Especially well given the current low selling price of the product.
It's currently available for just 111 pounds, via Amazon, in the UK.

Nice big pitch bend and modulation "wheels". Reasonable quality, slightly weighted, keyboard (not hammer action, that costs a lot more).
9 faders, 8 of which can be programmed to any MIDI controller function.
8 further rotary encoders, ditto re programming.
16 push buttons, also programmable.
These 32 controls can effectively be programmed twice, into two separate banks.
It means that for any VST instrument I can effectively have 16 sliders and 16 knobs, as well as 32 push buttons.
(I program the buttons as MIDI notes in the "key switch" zone of the "instrument" allowing rapid change of articulation.)

In bank A the control does one thing, in bank B something else.
The keyboard can be split into zones.
It's relatively easy ( a couple of button presses) to get the keyboard to swap MIDI channels.
And more.
 

Fred Coulter

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I don't have personal experience, but here are some thoughts based on the specs, etc.

Icon iKeyboard 6 - Semi weighted keys. This may be an issue for you if you want to play fast, synthesizer runs. On the other hand, if you've played piano a lot, you may be more comfortable with them. Touch strips are interesting, but most people I've seen like modulation wheels and/or joysticks. The description doesn't specifically say this, but I can't imagine a semi-weighted keyboard that isn't velocity sensitive (like a piano). But there's no mention of pressure sensitivity. Both USB and MIDI connectors means that you've kept your options open for sound modules, etc. Both sustain and expression pedal inputs is a good thing.

Alesis V61 - Looks like an unweighted keyboard, which has the opposite pluses and minuses as the Icon. The description specifically states that it's velocity sensitive, has modulation wheels. Again, nothing about pressure sensitivity. It has velocity sensitive pads, too. But the connection is USB only, which excludes the use of most direct connections to sound modules. (This won't be an issue if you're only ever going to use it to control Pro Tools.) No sustain pedal input may be an issue for you.

M-Audio Keystation 61 II - Semi-weighted keyboard. Velocity sensitive, but not pressure sensitive. Has both USB and MIDI connections, keeping your options open. Pitch bend and modulation wheels. Sustain pedal input, but no expression pedal.

M-Audio Oxygen 61 MKIV - Un-weighted velocity sensitive keys. Not pressure sensitive. Has velocity sensitive trigger pads, too. Sustain pedal input, but no expression pedal. Appears to only have a USB connection.

Nektar Impact 61+ - Un-weighted velocity sensitive keys. Velocity sensitive pads. USB only interface. Sustain pedal. Pitch bend and modulation wheels.

For ME, none of them fit all my wants. I'm not picky about the keyboard weight, but would want both sustain and expression pedal inputs, MIDI and USB connections, velocity sensitive pads. All the DAW controls would be gravy since my computer has a touch sensitive monitor. But that's me. For you? What do you think is important, and what can you live without?

(One that meets most of my needs is the Roland A-800PRO. It even has aftertouch (pressure sensitivity).

After I wrote the above, I found an interesting article at https://www.gearank.com/guides/61-key-midi-controller
 
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I don't have personal experience, but here are some thoughts based on the specs, etc.

Icon iKeyboard 6 - Semi weighted keys. This may be an issue for you if you want to play fast, synthesizer runs. On the other hand, if you've played piano a lot, you may be more comfortable with them. Touch strips are interesting, but most people I've seen like modulation wheels and/or joysticks. The description doesn't specifically say this, but I can't imagine a semi-weighted keyboard that isn't velocity sensitive (like a piano). But there's no mention of pressure sensitivity. Both USB and MIDI connectors means that you've kept your options open for sound modules, etc. Both sustain and expression pedal inputs is a good thing.

Alesis V61 - Looks like an unweighted keyboard, which has the opposite pluses and minuses as the Icon. The description specifically states that it's velocity sensitive, has modulation wheels. Again, nothing about pressure sensitivity. It has velocity sensitive pads, too. But the connection is USB only, which excludes the use of most direct connections to sound modules. (This won't be an issue if you're only ever going to use it to control Pro Tools.) No sustain pedal input may be an issue for you.

M-Audio Keystation 61 II - Semi-weighted keyboard. Velocity sensitive, but not pressure sensitive. Has both USB and MIDI connections, keeping your options open. Pitch bend and modulation wheels. Sustain pedal input, but no expression pedal.

M-Audio Oxygen 61 MKIV - Un-weighted velocity sensitive keys. Not pressure sensitive. Has velocity sensitive trigger pads, too. Sustain pedal input, but no expression pedal. Appears to only have a USB connection.

Nektar Impact 61+ - Un-weighted velocity sensitive keys. Velocity sensitive pads. USB only interface. Sustain pedal. Pitch bend and modulation wheels.

For ME, none of them fit all my wants. I'm not picky about the keyboard weight, but would want both sustain and expression pedal inputs, MIDI and USB connections, velocity sensitive pads. All the DAW controls would be gravy since my computer has a touch sensitive monitor. But that's me. For you? What do you think is important, and what can you live without?
Thank you for the thorough reply!

I'm leaning towards the Icon iKeyboard because of the semi-weighted keys, and sustain and expression pedals which comes in handy when composing.

I'm not sure if I want the 49 or 61 key-versions though. Any thought on that?
 

Fred Coulter

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I'm not sure if I want the 49 or 61 key-versions though. Any thought on that?
I'd feel remarkably squished trying to use a 49 note keyboard as my main keyboard. I'm a two handed keyboardist, and would really want the 61. (Then again, right now my main keyboard stack is an 88 on the bottom with a 76 on top. So my desires may not reflect yours.)

But people are different. If you're a one handed keyboardist, or if you don't mind working in a smaller area, then the 49 would work for you. Probably the biggest question is the difference in price. Is saving that amount of money worth the diminished space? That's a question only you can answer.
 

John Garside

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Hi Brian,
The Graphite 49 suited me well.
But, as I pointed out, initially it's not that easy to understand how all the MIDI programming works.
Do read the specs first, as it does have some limitations. These didn't get in the way of my requirements though.
John.
 
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