Keyboard - Small, light, cheap with MIDI - Can anyone help?


Zeh

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Hi All,

Can anyone help me to find a keyboard that fits my uncommon necessities?

I´m not a keyboard player (I play bass) but once I compose my songs alone, keyboard helps me to develop melodies for other instruments. Nowadays I use a MIDI Controller to do that but I´d like to be more independent of the laptop.

So, my main requirements are:
  • Could be used as MIDI controller (and Record MIDI to transfer to computer)
  • Small and light (Casio SA-76 is a good example)
  • Has speakers (so I can play without plugin phones or amps)
  • Very Cheap (Casio SA-76 is a good example again but let´s consider a budget around 100€)

I did a research and Casio SA-76 would be the ideal one IF it records and could be used as MIDI controller. :-/

What do you recommend me?

Thanks
 
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Welcome.

Alas cheap keyboard and MIDI that is actually to the standard do not really go together. I do not know enough about the Casio you quote to comment further except to say that at its very low price point it is aimed at children.
 
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Zeh

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Hey Biggles,
Thanks for your time and attention.

To be totally sincere, I´m not demanding great sounds and lots of resources. So, there´s no problem if it´s under children keyboard category once my use is just be able to find melodies at home. That's why i listed my main requirements (and recognize them as uncommon necessities - LOL) ;-)

If you are interested in taking a quick look over Casio SA-76, here it goes:

Welcome.

Alas cheap keyboard and MIDI that is actually to the standard do not really go together. I do not know enough about the Casio you quote to comment further except to say that at its very low price point it is aimed at children.
 

tjw

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I would not recommend SA-76 keyboard to anyone who is serious about producing music. The specs say it has "mini-keys" which will make good articulation difficult. The specs also do not say it has MIDI, and do not say that it will record. They seem to imply that the play-along and practice songs are built-in.

@Biggles is right, it's aimed at children and for the money? It's a great way to see if your kid has any real interest in music before spending big $.

Your stated budget is more than twice the price point of this keyboard here in the states. I'm not very familiar with what's "out there" these days, I have been living and working in a studio which is outfitted splendidly for my own needs and haven't looked about.

Besides, I'm very lazy and prefer to watch the ball game and drink beer instead of trying to learn new gear :)

@Biggles is correct, too, that cheap and standard MIDI don't appear in the same product.

You might check out Ebay or the European equivalents..... there are sometimes used boards on there, or your local music emporium....
 
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Zeh

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Hey TJW,
Thanks,

Maybe my english was not clear enough (I´m not native speaker) but what you mentioned as CONS, I had already noticed. That´s why I said: "Casio SA-76 would be the ideal one IF it records and could be used as MIDI controller "
So, I'm aware that is not a good option for my purpose. Thanks anyway.

I know that in this forum themes will be more oriented to Pros and students... that's not my case. I'm not intended to learn or play keyboard as my main instrument. It will be a simple tool to find melodies and tunes at home. I will not use it to record or play it live. I'm not sure if I´m making myself clear enough.

You had mentioned that I could found used keyboards for 100€.
What models do you recommend me that has MIDI and record?
I could try to found them in European used sites.

Thanks.

I would not recommend SA-76 keyboard to anyone who is serious about producing music. The specs say it has "mini-keys" which will make good articulation difficult. The specs also do not say it has MIDI, and do not say that it will record. They seem to imply that the play-along and practice songs are built-in.

@Biggles is right, it's aimed at children and for the money? It's a great way to see if your kid has any real interest in music before spending big $.

Your stated budget is more than twice the price point of this keyboard here in the states. I'm not very familiar with what's "out there" these days, I have been living and working in a studio which is outfitted splendidly for my own needs and haven't looked about.

Besides, I'm very lazy and prefer to watch the ball game and drink beer instead of trying to learn new gear :)

@Biggles is correct, too, that cheap and standard MIDI don't appear in the same product.

You might check out Ebay or the European equivalents..... there are sometimes used boards on there, or your local music emporium....
 

tjw

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One I could recommend is Roland W-30. I used to have one, I loved it, it had a good sequencer and excellent MIDI - I could record in the Roland and transfer to computer later. But you'd need some speakers.

Yamaha PSR-E363 looks like a good choice for you, but new, it's about 150% of your budget requirement.

There's a few Yamaha PSR-E313 on Ebay right now. This has internal speakers, 2-channel record, and MIDI. A couple of them are under your budget, and couple more are just over.

You're best off to get the opinions of some other people on here before you invest. I'm not in the current scene and may be missing something.

You're also probably best to look at marketplaces in Europe, shipping from US is not going to be cheap.
 

Zeh

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Thanks again.

At this kind of keyboard I had read some reviews that indicates RockJam RJ761 (around 120€) or Yamaha YPT-260 (120€). So, if I don´t find a smaller/cheap option, I'd probably go to one of these.

I'll wait for more comments. Really thanks for your attention.

Best Regards

One I could recommend is Roland W-30. I used to have one, I loved it, it had a good sequencer and excellent MIDI - I could record in the Roland and transfer to computer later. But you'd need some speakers.

Yamaha PSR-E363 looks like a good choice for you, but new, it's about 150% of your budget requirement.

There's a few Yamaha PSR-E313 on Ebay right now. This has internal speakers, 2-channel record, and MIDI. A couple of them are under your budget, and couple more are just over.

You're best off to get the opinions of some other people on here before you invest. I'm not in the current scene and may be missing something.

You're also probably best to look at marketplaces in Europe, shipping from US is not going to be cheap.
 

SeaGtGruff

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Regarding the YPT-260, be aware that it does NOT have a velocity-sensitive keyboard, so you can't play softer or louder depending on how hard (or rather, fast) you strike the keys.

The least expensive Yamaha with velocity sensitivity is the YPT-360, AKA the PSR-E363.
 
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Regarding the YPT-260, be aware that it does NOT have a velocity-sensitive keyboard, so you can't play softer or louder depending on how hard (or rather, fast) you strike the keys.

The least expensive Yamaha with velocity sensitivity is the YPT-360, AKA the PSR-E363.
Michael

I though that there was MIDI issues with the 3 series where the 4 series are OK.
 
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How expensive are the Casio CTK-3500 or CT-X700 where you are? I know the latter is USB MIDI class compliant, I think the former is as well. Built-in speakers, standard size velocity-sensitive keys.
 

SeaGtGruff

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Michael

I though that there was MIDI issues with the 3 series where the 4 series are OK.
I don’t know about MIDI issues per se.

The 3 series don’t have a port for connecting a flash drive, which means there’s no function for converting a User Song into a Standard MIDI File. Perhaps that’s what you mean?
 

Zeh

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Casio CTK-3500 around 145€

CT-X700 around 210€

How expensive are the Casio CTK-3500 or CT-X700 where you are? I know the latter is USB MIDI class compliant, I think the former is as well. Built-in speakers, standard size velocity-sensitive keys.
 

Zeh

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Hmmmm... you let me aware of a new issue: "there’s no function for converting a User Song into a Standard MIDI File"
This is what I´d like to have.

I though that everytime a MIDI connection exists, you could export a recorded song as MIDI file :-(
It seems that my thought is wrong... Am I?


I don’t know about MIDI issues per se.

The 3 series don’t have a port for connecting a flash drive, which means there’s no function for converting a User Song into a Standard MIDI File. Perhaps that’s what you mean?
 

tjw

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MIDI files and the distilled MIDI physical layer are not the same. The device must have a specific function to export MIDI files. One convenient method may be to output the MIDI along the electrical connection and record it into a sequencer or DAW on the computer.
 
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SeaGtGruff

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Yes, if there is MIDI output of some kind-- either a standard MIDI OUT port or a USB-MIDI port-- then you can play back a user-recorded song on the keyboard and record the MIDI in a DAW on a computer. However, that generally requires a little bit of setting up if you want the resulting MIDI recording to be "just right," such as capturing the instrument setup of the voices and effects before the Note data, setting the tempo and time signature in the DAW to match the tempo and time signature used on the keyboard if you expect the measures to come out the same in the DAW, and possibly adjusting the position of the first Note event so the measures actually line up with the notes as desired. Of those things, capturing the instrument setup of the voices and effects is the most important thing, since failure to do that may cause all the tracks of the resulting recording to play back with the Acoustic Grand Piano voice for most channels, and the GM Standard Drum Kit for channel 10. But getting the tempo and time signature correct, and getting the notes lined up as desired with the measures, can also be important if you plan to add more tracks to the song inside the DAW, or use music notation software to display or print the musical score for the song, etc.

The PSR-E4xx series have a USB TO DEVICE port for plugging in a USB flash drive-- at least, the later models in the series do, beginning with the PSR-E433; the earlier models in the series did not. None of the models in the PSR-E3xx series have a USB TO DEVICE port. On models which have this port, there is a FILE CONTROL option that's accessed by pressing and holding the FUNCTION button. The FILE CONTROL menu includes options for converting a User Song recording to a Standard MIDI File which is written directly to the flash drive, as well as functions for loading style files from the flash drive, plus you can play MIDI song files from the flash drive. There is also an option to save or load the keyboard's setup-- including any and all User Songs, Registrations, and User Styles which happen to be in the keyboard's system memory (as opposed to its internal flash storage)-- as a "User File," which is a kind of backup file. The ability to convert a User Song to a Standard MIDI File is nice because it conveniently saves the tempo and time signature information to the file, creates a preliminary "SInit" (or "Song Initialization") measure at the beginning of the song containing all of the setup information for the voices and effects and other things (such as scale tuning), and then the actual notes begin in the second measure on the appropriate beat so all of the notes and measures are lined up exactly as you want them to be. And the ability to load styles, songs, and user backup files directly from a USB flash drive is nice because without that ability you must connect to a computer and use the Yamaha Musicsoft Downloader program to transfer styles and songs to the keyboard's internal flash storage, or to save or load a backup file.
 
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Casio CTK-3500 around 145€
CT-X700 around 210€
Looking further, while I think the MIDI compliance of the CTK-3500 is fine, I don't think it has any kind of song recorder, so I think that brings you to the CT-X700, unless you have another device like an iPhone or iPad that you'd be willing to attach to function as the song recorder, in which case, I think the CTK-3500 could work. As for the CT-X700, it does record songs and allow them to be transferred to computer, but it is not clear from the manual that the result is a standard MIDI file. So it may be that neither of these is ideal for you.

As for you your query in general, I think probably ANY keyboard today with a USB port can function fine as a MIDI controller for your laptop... I don't agree that cheap and MIDI don't go together. Recording songs as a standard MIDI file that you can simply import into a laptop's DAW looks like the bigger stumbling block to me, I'd really consider connecting a smartphone/tablet for that. And then, as SSG alluded to, the main other thing to check for would probably be for the keys to have velocity sensitivity (touch response).
 
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