Help with 88 keys midi keyboard purchase! (budget/amateur)


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Hi everyone. I hope you could help me with finding a suitable midi keyboard which suits my needs. I made a quick search for similar topics without finding anything that specifically answer my questions, however please excuse me if this is already answered elsewhere.

Okay, I'm a hobby musician mainly playing keys. I used to play on a Korg Triton (very nice keys before they stopped responding), and for the last years I have been using a M-audio keystation 49 midi keyboard together with Ableton and vst's, mainly spectrasonics atmosphere and Massive. I prefer using presets, my knowledge about tweaking/making sounds are minimal. I like playing ambient stuff, piano, orchestral, and adding atmosphere/effects to field recordings.
I have finally decided to buy a 88 key midi keyboard and I am thinking of going a little bit deeper into the tweaking part of the vst's. Since I find it utterly frustrating using a mouse turning knobs in the software, I would like a midi keyboard with some faders and knobs, tweaking stuff like cut-off's and LFO's. My budget is about €3-400. I have been looking at the M-audio oxygen 88 as it got some knobs/faders and the keys seem pretty decent. Another option is buying the cheap M-audio keystation 88 + a dedicated midi controller with knobs, but if the keys are the same quality as the keystation 49 I would prefer something a little bit more weighed/piano-like. The M-audio keystation pro 88 seems kinda nice. but I cant find it in any norwegian stores. Could it be this is a discontinued model by manufacturer? Do you have any experiences using any of these keyboards or other suggestions that will suit my needs?
I am of course also open to other brands, and maybe stretching my budget a little if great value/quality are to be gained I am very grateful for any help!!
 
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Thank you for your reply, but first I need more information about the different keyboards, especially the keystation 88 in the link since I suspect the keys are too springy :)
 
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Hi granskog and welcome to keyboardforums,

I have an Alesis Q88 and I can say it is exactly identical (made by the same factory with the exact same parts) to an older M-Audio Keystation 88es which I also had. Both of these keyboards are semi-weighted and I must say they both feel fantastic for costing next to nothing. The M-Audio Keystation 88 MkII is basically the same as the other two except for the addition of a few buttons on the front panel so yes, it is also semi-weighted.

As a general rule of thumb keys that are covered from the front are weighted/semi-weighted and keys that are hollow underneath are synth type which means they are not weighted.

Just one more very important factor to take into consideration when buying any of these keyboards. Maybe they have corrected it since but the last time I checked but they do not transmit velocities between 111 and 126. In other words any key pressed harder than 110 will be sent as 127. That means that if you have a patch with different samples for different velocities and one of them is within this range you will never be able to play it on these keyboards.

Like I say. It is possible the newer versions take care of this issue but you should ask for confirmation before buying. Don't trust the manual because it doesn't mention this anywhere. The only way to know for sure is playing into MidiOx or a similar program and looking at the data streaming out.
 

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