Looking for a keyboard


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Hey guys.

Before we begin, I'm a guitarist, strictly analog, so I know absolutely nothing about digital music, which means that I need a lot of help.

First and foremost, I tried Midi controllers and could not get them to work with my DAW (Ableton). I won't go into how much money and how many hours I've spent trying to get this to work. Let's just say that I have a least a couple of thousand dollars in paperweights, and probably closer to three, if you count the software.

Needless to say, that was a disaster and I'm thinking that Midi and I are not a good fit. So, what I need is something that functions more like an electric guitar, an instrument unto itself that I can either run direct or mic the speaker if need be.

Back in the day, I used to have a Roland XP30, which was amazing, intuitive, user-friendly, with a plethora of interesting sounds and presets that made creating very easy. All of that with no ******** to get in your way. It came loaded with quite a few sounds. From there, you could add sound cards, which is where things got even more interesting. I had a symphonic card, an electronic music card, and a keyboards of the 60s card.

What I liked about both the Electronic Music card and the Symphonic card, was that they had these layered sounds- such as percussive sounds layered with melodic sounds so you could create what sounded like soundtracks without having to physically track each separate instrument- all very cool.

So, here we are 25 years later, and I can's seem to find a keyboard that can do all of those things.

Am I misunderstanding, or has keyboard technology gone in the reverse of every other form of digital technology and regressed?

As far as recommendations, does anybody know of a keyboard that can do the things mentioned above? The upper end of my budget is around a thousand dollars. Hopefully less, because I'm banking on the fact that technology should be way beyond the technology of the late nineties, do all of those things and more. As I recall, I paid around a thousand dollars back then.

Here is a link to the XP30 to give you an idea of what I'm looking for:


Any suggestions?
 
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3dc

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First and foremost, I tried Midi controllers and could not get them to work with my DAW (Ableton). I won't go into how much money and how many hours I've spent trying to get this to work.

Any suggestions?

Yes. As @happyrat1 would say: RTFM. ;):)

Unless you have an extremely old PC and even older midi controller there is no way you couldn't setup your midi controller in Ableton Live. Most of them are industry compliant or plug and play for years now. You need to setup your drivers properly, fire up the PC and midi controller first and Ableton Live last. Go to Ableton Live settings and it should be enabled by default. That's it. You can actually see if Ableton Live receives midi signal in upper right corner of the DAW .

The only reason you might have problems is because you didn't setup properly your audio drivers or audio interface on your PC.
 
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Welcome.

If you do go for a new keyboard then for $1000 US you can buy what you seek in a new keyboard.

Checkout:-

Roland Juno DS

Korg Kross 2

Yamaha MX ?

I have put a ? by the MX as it is not a keyboard I am familiar with so I’ll leave it to others to say yes or no about it.

The Juno is available in 61, 76 key versions both within $1000 US and the 88 key is $1250.

The Kross is 61 or 88.

Do note the 88 keys of most keyboards tend to be hammer action whereas 61 or 76 keys are synth action, semi weighted or permutations.

I would go with the Juno DS 76 as the extra keys give more flexibility to introduce multiple splits in the keybed.

Do factor in for a pair of Monitor speakers if you do not have any or a small PA system.

If you do need a pair of Monitors then Pre Sonus Eris 5 Ex would be c$300 for a pair.
 
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Roland Juno DS is essentially the updated version of the XP30, you should be very comfortable with it. The sound structure and terminology is the same. (And as it happens, the "International" version of the Juno DS--same board with some different sounds--is called the XPS-30.) Note, though, that it doesn't have aftertouch like your old one did (the ability to alter the sound after you hit a key by pushing the key harder... though there are still other ways to alter the sound after playing it, e.g. the modulation/pitch controls and other knobs/pedals.)
 

happyrat1

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All MIDI devices use basically the same command structure.

As previously mentioned, RTFM AND search youtube for tutorial videos about whatever is giving you trouble.

Throwing money at it won't fix laziness.

You didn't learn how to play Bohemian Rhapsody in a day and you won't master MIDI without significant effort on your part.

Gary ;)
 
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I am also a guitarist and I'm just getting started with learning keyboard. I'm also a bit thrifty so I didn't want to spend much to test the waters so did some research and ended up buying a midi controller keyboard for $100 to use with my Reaper DAW. I watched a reaper tutorial that showed how to get it going and it works perfect. I also downloaded a bunch of free virtual instruments to test and I was amazed at what is offered for free. Midi is very foreign to me but I'm getting used to it and I see massive potential for recording which is my main goal. My point here is that you don't need to spend a lot to experiment with midi.
 
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Yes MIDI controllers can work

But, using my own very limited experience.

The majority of low cost MIDI keyboards have a keybed that sucks, I must have tried about ten different ones in store and during short periods of ownership.

A DAW is very much it and miss on a Computer, Ableton just would not work on my 10 year laptop, whilst Cakewalk and Reaper did.

The best keybed I found was on a Roland A800, it worked great when connected to my iPad, it would not work when connected to my Wife’s iMac but thanks to a Pro Musician on another forum who gigs with his A800 in about five minutes I got it working by following his instructions, the Roland manual and online searches were rubbish and of no help. Then I tried the A800 on my Laptop and got it working with Cakewalk, Albeton sucked in that it just would not see the A800, BUT latency made it unplayable, nothing I could find would reduce the latency on my laptop.

So yeah I can see the Op’s frustrations, why spend hours of annoyance learning about MIDI when all you want to do is turn on a keyboard and play music.

Its very easy to get sidetracked, its the draining the swamp thing.

So forget MIDI keyboards and buy the Juno, which at some point in the future you can use as a MIDI controller when you want to enter the dark side that is MIDI, but just when you do please make sure your PC/Mac is up to the task.
 
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Okay...Lots of suggestions. I really appreciate all of you. I'm researching and I'll get back to you guys and let you know how the search is going.

Cheers,
Danny
 
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Yes. As @happyrat1 would say: RTFM. ;):)

Unless you have an extremely old PC and even older midi controller there is no way you couldn't setup your midi controller in Ableton Live. Most of them are industry compliant or plug and play for years now. You need to setup your drivers properly, fire up the PC and midi controller first and Ableton Live last. Go to Ableton Live settings and it should be enabled by default. That's it. You can actually see if Ableton Live receives midi signal in upper right corner of the DAW .

The only reason you might have problems is because you didn't setup properly your audio drivers or audio interface on your PC.

All of these things are possible. However, my PC is only a year old, so the fault is definitely within the user/the user-friendliness of the product- Native Instruments in this case. I've had a few different people with a great deal of midi experience try and help me out, they ran into the same brick wall. And Native Instruments is a horrible company in regard to supporting their products. Unfortunately, I gave them way too much of my money.
 
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Roland Juno DS is essentially the updated version of the XP30, you should be very comfortable with it. The sound structure and terminology is the same. (And as it happens, the "International" version of the Juno DS--same board with some different sounds--is called the XPS-30.) Note, though, that it doesn't have aftertouch like your old one did (the ability to alter the sound after you hit a key by pushing the key harder... though there are still other ways to alter the sound after playing it, e.g. the modulation/pitch controls and other knobs/pedals.)

Hey, I saw you over on gearpage, thanks for the info, I appreciate it.
 
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I am also a guitarist and I'm just getting started with learning keyboard. I'm also a bit thrifty so I didn't want to spend much to test the waters so did some research and ended up buying a midi controller keyboard for $100 to use with my Reaper DAW. I watched a reaper tutorial that showed how to get it going and it works perfect. I also downloaded a bunch of free virtual instruments to test and I was amazed at what is offered for free. Midi is very foreign to me but I'm getting used to it and I see massive potential for recording which is my main goal. My point here is that you don't need to spend a lot to experiment with midi.

I'm with you in terms of potential, however, in practice... that's a different story.
 
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It is making sense now.

Native Instruments imo are intended to primarily interface with their own software manager and with their mass of VST’s.

I have tried the S model and really liked the feel of its keybed but:-
(1) its pretty expensive
(2) it has a reputation for being flaky with a DAW
(3) for way less than the cost of a S88 one can buy a Juno DS 88 and keep £300 in ones pocket.

That said to me the Juno DS 76 at £700 would be my choice, it has to be the best bag for bucks keyboard out there despite its design age.

Now if you are mainly interested in using the keyboard with a DAW then rather than a dumb MIDI controller the keyboard that I have could be an alternative. A Studiologic Numa Compact 2x has a Fatar keybed which imo has the best feel of any keyboard in its price range plus it has onboard sounds. At £540 it is far less than the Juno but has the all important MIDI sockets as well as USB Host.

Whatever you choose you will probably find that having onboard sounds is far better for learning how to play a keyboard as it is just a case of turning on and playing, no faffing around turning kit in, starting a DAW/programme manager keeping fingers crossed some auto update has not screwed up the system.
 

3dc

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All of these things are possible. However, my PC is only a year old, so the fault is definitely within the user/the user-friendliness of the product- Native Instruments in this case. I've had a few different people with a great deal of midi experience try and help me out, they ran into the same brick wall. And Native Instruments is a horrible company in regard to supporting their products. Unfortunately, I gave them way too much of my money.

I think you are giving up to quickly which is a shame really. Tell us what brand and type is your midi controller and what you want to control in Ableton Live.

You are probably missing a simple "remote script" for your midi controller you must manually add to Ableton Live.

 
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It is making sense now.

Native Instruments imo are intended to primarily interface with their own software manager and with their mass of VST’s.

I have tried the S model and really liked the feel of its keybed but:-
(1) its pretty expensive
(2) it has a reputation for being flaky with a DAW
(3) for way less than the cost of a S88 one can buy a Juno DS 88 and keep £300 in ones pocket.
Great post. I wish I'd known about Native Instruments reputation for being flaky with DAWs before I purchased. However, all of the reviews lauded it as the best "plug and play" option. and I also wish I'd known how horrible of a company they are. I guess this is "caveat emptor," in action.

I'll look into the keyboard that you mentioned. Although, all I really need is a keyboard that will do what I want. I can mic it and record straight to my PC is necessary.
That said to me the Juno DS 76 at £700 would be my choice, it has to be the best bag for bucks keyboard out there despite its design age.

Now if you are mainly interested in using the keyboard with a DAW then rather than a dumb MIDI controller the keyboard that I have could be an alternative. A Studiologic Numa Compact 2x has a Fatar keybed which imo has the best feel of any keyboard in its price range plus it has onboard sounds. At £540 it is far less than the Juno but has the all important MIDI sockets as well as USB Host.

Whatever you choose you will probably find that having onboard sounds is far better for learning how to play a keyboard as it is just a case of turning on and playing, no faffing around turning kit in, starting a DAW/programme manager keeping fingers crossed some auto update has not screwed up the system.
 
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I think you are giving up to quickly which is a shame really. Tell us what brand and type is your midi controller and what you want to control in Ableton Live.

You are probably missing a simple "remote script" for your midi controller you must manually add to Ableton Live.


Uggghhh... This is a nightmare. I really feel like I'm in a Franz Kafka story, with a little 2001 and Neuromancer thrown in for good measure. Even the world Controller is starting to take on a new meaning.
 
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Great post. I wish I'd known about Native Instruments reputation for being flaky with DAWs before I purchased. However, all of the reviews lauded it as the best "plug and play" option. and I also wish I'd known how horrible of a company they are. I guess this is "caveat emptor," in action.

I'll look into the keyboard that you mentioned. Although, all I really need is a keyboard that will do what I want. I can mic it and record straight to my PC is necessary.
No offense but I can't imagine micing a keyboard for recording when we have all of these new tools at our disposal. If recording is your main goal why would you want a heavy keyboard that needs AC, speakers, mic's, cables, etc, when a MIDI controller only needs one USB cable for power and MIDI? I record mostly at night with headphones and all of my guitar tracks are VST amp and cab sims. Now that I'm delving into keys I'm taking the same approach using virtual instruments. Keep in mind that this is coming from a guitarist point of view. I like that my 61 key controller weighs almost nothing and can sit on my desk when I need it and I can stash it in a closet when I don't and only one cord to manage. That said, if you need 88 weighted keys the unit I have most likely would not suffice.
 
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No offense but I can't imagine micing a keyboard for recording when we have all of these new tools at our disposal. If recording is your main goal why would you want a heavy keyboard that needs AC, speakers, mic's, cables, etc, when a MIDI controller only needs one USB cable for power and MIDI? I record mostly at night with headphones and all of my guitar tracks are VST amp and cab sims. Now that I'm delving into keys I'm taking the same approach using virtual instruments. Keep in mind that this is coming from a guitarist point of view. I like that my 61 key controller weighs almost nothing and can sit on my desk when I need it and I can stash it in a closet when I don't and only one cord to manage. That said, if you need 88 weighted keys the unit I have most likely would not suffice.

Well, my problem is that I can't get my controller working therein lies the problem. That being said, some of the best keyboard sounds I've ever heard were recorded in a mic'd room, but that is a whole other topic.
 
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Well, my problem is that I can't get my controller working therein lies the problem. That being said, some of the best keyboard sounds I've ever heard were recorded in a mic'd room, but that is a whole other topic.
The controller I bought is a Nektar Impact GX61. I bought it because it gets good reviews and it was cheap but it's actually worked well for me so far. It's a plug and play unit so I didn't need to download any drivers. I use Reaper as my DAW and I found a MIDI controller tutorial on youtube that explained the settings to make it work. It actually was easy but I would not have figured it out without the tutorial.
 
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