Dual Keys Midi Controller Keyboard

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Is there a midi controller that can do something like Dual Key features found in Keyboards.

Dual key feature allows me to select two instruments to be played simultaneously (like piano & strings together) when i play.
 

SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
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Yes, absolutely.

There are two or three ways you can do this.

(1) If your MIDI controller supports the use of "zones," you can set up two zones to transmit the same Note On/Off events on two different MIDI channels. A "zone" is a section of the keyboard that is defined by a lowest or leftmost note and a highest or rightmost note. You can define two zones which do not overlap if you want to split the keyboard between two different voices, or you can define two zones which completely overlap if you want to layer two voices together. Many MIDI controllers support the use of four zones, and some might even support more than four, but not all controllers support the use of zones. If yours does, just define two zones that have the same lowest and highest notes, and set each zone to use a different MIDI channel.

(2) If your MIDI controller doesn't support the use of zones, you can use an external device or app to receive the MIDI coming from the controller, duplicate each of the channel events, and transmit them to your sound module on two different MIDI channels. There are MIDI boxes which can do this if you don't want to incorporate a computer or tablet in your rig, as well as MIDI apps that can do this if you're okay with using a computer or tablet.

(3) If your sound module supports it, you might be able to set up two different voices which respond to MIDI events received on the same channel as each other. Alternatively, your sound module might have a preset voice which already combines the two types of sound you're wanting to layer together.
 
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Thank you very much for the reply.

1. I'm not sure if zone will help (my controller also doesn't have it). If zone is setup, then i'd have to play the same note on two different zones, which is not possible for me.

2. This is interesting. Can you please name some devices that would do this.

3. My sound module supports dual keys. If i connect the midi out of my Keyboard (not the controller) to the sound module and select "Dual Keys" on the keyboard, i can hear both the instruments on the sound module. So, i think the sound module itself supports it. I guess I need to figure a way for the midi controller to send the "Dual Key" signal to the sound module.
 

SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
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Regarding (1), it sounds like you might be talking about two zones set up as a split rather than as layers. You would still be playing just one key and getting two sounds at once, because both of the zones would cover the same keys but transmit the keys you're playing on two different MIDI channels.

If your controller doesn't support zones, then you can use some sort of hardware MIDI box (such as from MIDI Solutions; see https://midisolutions.com/products.htm ), or a software MIDI app (such as Midiflow; see https://www.midiflow.com ).

But it sounds like you might not need that if your sound modules can handle things.

The main advantage of doing it with zones on a controller is that controllers which support zones will typically let you save a number of different setups that you can switch between by pressing a button or two, and for each setup you can typically turn each zone on or off with a simple button press.

What make and model controller do you have?
 
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I'm actually looking to buy one.

Just moved from keyboard to controllers. So far, i'm using Alesis Q49. Looking to buy something better.

The sound module i have is MidiPlus Mini Engine Pro (https://www.midiplus.com.tw/en/product-detail/MiniEnginePro/). Yes, it does support dual key (when i tried it from my keyboard midi out)

if you have any recommendations for an inexpensive controllers that support zones / layers, please suggest
 
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Yes, make and model of controller could be helpful; and also make and model of the sound module; and also any smartphone, tablet, or laptop you might have and be willing to use to make this happen.
 
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Looks like my previous reply did not go through.

I recently moved from keyboard to midi controllers and exploring things.

Currently I'm using Alesis Q49 (controller) with MIDIPLUS mini Engine Pro (sound engine). Once i have a little bit more understanding of how things work, I plan to buy a good keyboard controlleer.

I use linux (Rosegarden, QSynth, Konfyt, Audacity) for capturing and recording. But when i don't use a PC and rely on the sound module (MIDIPLUS mini Engine Pro), this is where i really miss the dual key. If somehow this can be enabled, it would be very useful for me.
 

SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
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I think most companies that make controllers have various lines with different amounts of features.

The "Q" line from Alesis (Q Mini, Q49, and Q88) looks like it's their most basic line, with the least number of features, for peopke who just need a simple controller at a bargain price.

The "V" line (Vmini, V25, V49, and V61) is a step up, with several more controls and features.

The "VI" line (VI25, VI49, and VI61) looks like it has the most controls, but is likely also the most expensive one.

I haven't checked the manuals for each, but that's the best way to see if a given model from a particular line will be sufficient for whatever you're looking for-- by downloading and reading through the manuals.

Most other companies will have similar sorts of lines and models to what Alesis offers, because they all want to stay competitive with each other. I have an Axiom 61 from M-Audio that I'm happy with, but you'll find that many people tend to have strong feelings and opinions regarding different companies based on their personal experiences with one or more controllers from that company. It seems like Alesis and M-Audio are two that regularly take a lot of flak from former users who had bad experiences with models that gave them a lot of grief.
 
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Thank you @SeaGtGruff for your replies.

The Alesis Q49, has a spring effect to the keys and I’m not very comfortable with it while playing soft notes. Also sometimes have to put more effort tiring fingers. Not sure if all Alesis models are like that. If so, i have to stay away from them.

I checked out some models at local stores. Found them to be heavy and bulky. I want some thing simple, small, portable and not heavy (preferably with 49 keys). And of course that which plays dual keys :). Looks like it may not be an easy search
 

SeaGtGruff

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Novation Launchkey 49 Mk3? Weighs less than 7 pounds.
 
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But when i don't use a PC and rely on the sound module (MIDIPLUS mini Engine Pro), this is where i really miss the dual key. If somehow this can be enabled, it would be very useful for me.
I looked at the MIDIPLUS manual and see no indication that it is capable of playing two sounds at once, except by connecting one keyboard to its USB connection and another keyboard to its 5-pin MIDI connection. In that case, to layer two sounds, your controller would need have to have both USB and 5-pin MIDI Out connections, to simulate that connection of two keyboards.

The Alesis Q49, has a spring effect to the keys and I’m not very comfortable with it while playing soft notes. Also sometimes have to put more effort tiring fingers. Not sure if all Alesis models are like that. If so, i have to stay away from them.
IME, brands that have controllers at different price points also generally use different actions in their cheapest models compared to their priciest ones, so I wouldn't rule out a brand based on not liking the action in their cheapest model. If anything, I'd be more inclined to likely avoid the cheapest model in any brand's line, if action is a concern. (As for Alesis, I like the action on their VI model).

I checked out some models at local stores. Found them to be heavy and bulky. I want some thing simple, small, portable and not heavy (preferably with 49 keys). And of course that which plays dual keys :). Looks like it may not be an easy search
Samson Carbon 49 is a simple, light, inexpensive board that should do what you need, but I don't like its action. Their Graphite 49 feels better, but the board tops 10 lbs (and also has a lot of other controls and features which make it less simple, but you can ignore those things). But there are also numerous other 49-key controllers that have USB and 5-pin MIDI connections which I haven't played. Just double-check that they can send MIDI out the USB and 5-pin MIDI Out jacks simultaneously.
 
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IMG20240331191918.jpg
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Once again Thank you @anotherscott @SeaGtGruff for your replies.

The sound module has both usb and 5pin input and the controller also has both outputs. (Alesis Q49).

Looks like i need something like
Screenshot at 2024-03-31 19-35-39.png
now to connect the controller with the sound module. I need to buy this yet.

If i connect both USB & MIDI Cable, would that get dual sound on the MIDIPLUS mini Engine Pro? OR the Q49 is simple not capable of this functionality?
 

SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
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No, using both connections at once would not do what you want.
 
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Funny thing :). Look at Jambuddy here https://www.tencrazy.com/gadgets/mfx/.
“So, you play with your friend, but do you want you to have only one keyboard? Well, with this plugin, you can divide it in half and send notes into two MIDI channels on one multi-test sound source! ”:)
By the way, how do you like your Midiplus device?
And finally - I use the good old MIDI keyboard - Roland A -49 - it is very light and ... wow! It understand the half -sustainer pedal (for example, Roland DP10!). There is not a word about this in the user's manual :)
 
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The sound module has both usb and 5pin input and the controller also has both outputs. (Alesis Q49).

Looks like i need something like View attachment 3357 now to connect the controller with the sound module. I need to buy this yet.

If i connect both USB & MIDI Cable, would that get dual sound on the MIDIPLUS mini Engine Pro? OR the Q49 is simple not capable of this functionality?

I didn't realize the old original version of the Q49 had a 5-pin MIDI jack, you're in luck! Yes, almost certainly, all you need to add to make this do what you want is a single 5-pin MIDI cable, going from the Alesis MIDI Out to the MIDIPLUS MIDI In (via its 3.5mm-to-5-pin MIDI adapter).

No, using both connections at once would not do what you want.
Yes, I believe it would, based on the manuals. The sound module routes the 5-pin MIDI input to one sound and the USB MIDI to another, period. There is no MIDI channel differentiation (both connections seem to be OMNI). And the Q49 appears to send its MIDI out both its USB and 5-pin MIDI connections simultaneously.
 
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I didn't realize the old original version of the Q49 had a 5-pin MIDI jack, you're in luck! Yes, almost certainly, all you need to add to make this do what you want is a single 5-pin MIDI cable, going from the Alesis MIDI Out to the MIDIPLUS MIDI In (via its 3.5mm-to-5-pin MIDI adapter).


Yes, I believe it would, based on the manuals. The sound module routes the 5-pin MIDI input to one sound and the USB MIDI to another, period. There is no MIDI channel differentiation (both connections seem to be OMNI). And the Q49 appears to send its MIDI out both its USB and 5-pin MIDI connections simultaneously.
I’m yet to try this as i don’t have the 5-pin MIDI cable yet (it’s on its way)

Since Q49 sends out MIDI on the same channel (on both USB and 5-pin MIDI out), how will the MIDIplus module play different instruments. I thought it can play two instruments only if two midi inputs are on different channels. Am i wrong?
 
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Since Q49 sends out MIDI on the same channel (on both USB and 5-pin MIDI out), how will the MIDIplus module play different instruments. I thought it can play two instruments only if two midi inputs are on different channels. Am i wrong?
Sorry to say, I see I've made a mistake there. While it is true that each of the two ports of the module appear to be operating in OMNI mode (meaning it doesn't matter what channel you're transmitting on), what I missed at first is that the manual tells you to set your two MIDI sources to two different MIDI channels. (It doesn't matter what they are, they just have to be different from each other.) So even though your controller has both ports (USB and 5-pin), and even though the module does not require each input to be on any particular channel (nor permit you to make any channel settings on module itself), the inability to set your two ports to transmit on different channels from each other will prevent it from working. It didn't have to be that way... in theory, it could have been designed to take the data from the USB input and assign it to one channel, and take the data from the 5-pin input and assign it to another channel, so it would have worked even if the incoming data was all on the same channel... but that's not what they did.

There are some ways to take a connection and change the channel it is transmitting on (using the kinds of things SeaGtGruff was talking about, i.e. a MIDI Solutions router or an app), or to take a single connection and make it transmit on two channels (which might or might not work in this case), but even that would be problematic here, because the only way to change one of your two simultaneously-playing sounds is to hit a key from the keyboard dedicated to that channel. So not only do you have to somehow change the channel of some of your data, but you also need to be able to selectively enable/disable the data transmission on the different channels (and/or the port the data is arriving on) depending on which of the two sounds you wanted to adjust.

I am not sure that replacing your Q49 with a 2-zone controller would help, since the module seems so specifically designed to rely on the two different physical inputs to enable its two-sound capability. I'm not certain that receiving data on two different channels over a single port will let it do what you need. Maybe, maybe not. The manual only discusses the data arriving over the two different connections. And even a 2-zone controller with USB and 5-pin ports won't necessarily fix this, since typically, controllers don't let you send on one channel from the USB connection and a different channel from the 5-pin connection.

As a test, you could use your computer to take your single-channel Q49's MIDI data and send it back out to your module on two channels simultaneously, and see if you get your layered sounds (using the computer to alternately disable one channel or the other when needing to to select the sound you want for each of the two parts). If that works, a suitably flexible 2-zone controller could do what you need. If however that does not work, then it is possible that you would need a different controller (one that sends on 2 MIDI channels) AND a different module (a multi-timbral module that receives on multiple channels over s single connection) in order to do what you want.
 
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Thank you @anotherscott for your reply.

What you are suggesting won't work for me. I want to have Dual Key with just Midi Controller and the Sound Module.

I have other setup where i use my computer (with qsynth, rosegarden, audacity and midi visualizer).

By the way, i’m not really very happy with the Sound Quality of "MidiPlus Mini Engine Pro”. Planning to return it.

I happened to watch this video
To my ears, 8030-EMU sound bank of "Piano Box Pro" sound way better than GM Sound bank of "MidiPlus Mini Engine". If any one here on the forum have used Piano Box Pro, please comment on the quality of "8030-EMU sound bank”. Might even think about getting one.

If anyone has any other recommendation for a sound module in this price range, please suggest.
 
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Thank you @anotherscott for your reply.

What you are suggesting won't work for me.

I wasn't sure anything I suggested was going to work, period. ;-)

I want to have Dual Key with just Midi Controller and the Sound Module.

Yeah, the only way to be sure this would work is to have a different controller and a different module. Neither of your two components are specifically designed to allow a single keyboard to play two independently selectable sounds. If you don't want to jump through hoops to try to see if there's a way to get it to work with external devices or whatever, I think you simply are going to want to pick a 2-zone controller, and a multitimbral module that allows you to place different sounds on the MIDI channels of your choice. Add to everything else that you're not happy with the feel of your controller OR the sounds of your module, and you're basically running into all the limitations you might expect of low cost gear. But at least you're getting a good idea of what kinds of things you really want to look for.

Which brings me to this... if you're unhappy with all of it and will start from scratch, is there a particular reason you want a separate controller and sound module? I'd look at something like a Casio CT-S500. Lots of nice sounds, above average action (as low cost boards go), and built in ability to split and layer sounds, and also save your split/layered combinations for future recall.
 
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i have a keyboard. I’m very used to its features like dual keys, touch control, etc., It is old and i have few issues with it
  • it doesn't play very well with my Linux/Synth/midi (sometimes it sends reset or wrong midi signals while playing)
  • little awkward for me to carry it to different places
  • keys are getting little squeaky
When i saw these ridiculously small midi controllers, i thought they would solve all my problems. But never thought just to have dual key support, i need to understand so many things in this midi world.
 

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