Looking for a solid 61 key synth-action midi controller to be my main studio keyboard.

Which keyboard would you vote for?

  • Arturia Keylab 61 MK2

    Votes: 2 40.0%
  • Yamaha MX61

    Votes: 1 20.0%
  • Juno DS61

    Votes: 1 20.0%
  • Novation SL61

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Novation SL61MK III

    Votes: 1 20.0%
  • Numa Compact 2x

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Komplete Kontrol S61 MK2

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Something else (reply with your choice)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    5

Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
2
So far in terms of a midi keyboard controller in the $700 and below range with a good keybed for playing softsynths (mainly retro analog emu ones) in the studio I have:

-Komplete Kontrol S61 MK2 (I would be chained to NI's software, I have a Maschine Mikro MK3 and went through that whole thing already. Idk if it's easier on the keyboards to just use it a general midi controller with a god keybed.)

-Arturia Keylab MKII (I have a Keylab Essential 61, I like it....kind of. If there is something with more solid synth action keys then I'll take it over the essential.)

-Yamaha MX61 (Using a "synth" as a controller, any opinions?)

-Juno DS61 (same as above)

-Novation SL61 MKII (Fatar keybed, tempting...)

-Novation SL61MK III (Don't know anything about this one really, I heard the keys feel good.

-Numa Compact 2x (talked to the company and they said it's more geared towards customers who wanted a more piano-like action and not so much synth action.)

Another weirder/more inconvenient option was looking at MIDI to USB solutions for the DX7II, Alpha Juno 2, Ensoniq ESQ-1 etc. to use as a main midi controller...not ideal...but an idea.


So what's good right now? Should I hold out for whatever is coming next cycle?
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Sep 6, 2017
Messages
3,784
Reaction score
2,310
Location
Lancashire, UK.
I have tried the Arturia and Novation models but would discount both on build quality and longeviety, plus the user reports are not of the standard I would expect. The Novation SL is a step up in their product range over what I have played but as I have not tried it I cannot comment on it.

Komplete S series has the best action of any MIDI controller that I have tried but it is geared for its own software and DAW use can be flaky, or so my research points to.

Yamaha, I would not touch a synth, but that is my personal bias against their build quality, after sales lack of service and keyboard menu system.

Do have a good look at the Studiologic SL range, way cheaper than your budget and they get great reviews.

If all else fails the Juno may be the one to go for but do consider the 76 key version
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
2
I have tried the Arturia and Novation models but would discount both on build quality and longeviety, plus the user reports are not of the standard I would expect. The Novation SL is a step up in their product range over what I have played but as I have not tried it I cannot comment on it.

Komplete S series has the best action of any MIDI controller that I have tried but it is geared for its own software and DAW use can be flaky, or so my research points to.

Yamaha, I would not touch a synth, but that is my personal bias against their build quality, after sales lack of service and keyboard menu system.

Do have a good look at the Studiologic SL range, way cheaper than your budget and they get great reviews.

If all else fails the Juno may be the one to go for but do consider the 76 key version

Ok so Komplete, Novation, and the Juno.

Did you mean the MKII Novation or the MKIII?

I looked up Studio Logic's offerings, but they're all weighted keys. The Numa is the only one on my list that kind has at least semi weighted keys.

Really the Komplete seems to be the only solid choice. If I don't use NI software though, would it be a waste to throw the money at it just to use it in basic midi mode (keys and wheels only, maybe reassign knobs).
 

3dc

Joined
Apr 3, 2020
Messages
164
Reaction score
71
Location
Slovenia
If budget is not a problem for you I would strongly suggest Novation SL MKIII. Its the best midi controller currently on the market. Check the video on YouTube for more information.
 
Joined
Sep 6, 2017
Messages
3,784
Reaction score
2,310
Location
Lancashire, UK.
Whatever you shortlist I would suggest that you see if there is an INI file for the controller with the DAW you use.
 

happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
10,269
Reaction score
4,412
Location
GTA, Canada
The Juno DS has built in DAW integration for Cubase and Cakewalk Sonar.

Add that to the built in 1400 patches and I say it's no question which one offers the best bang for the buck.

Gary ;)
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
2
Whatever you shortlist I would suggest that you see if there is an INI file for the controller with the DAW you use.

Will do, although having pre-assigned controls doesn't bother me too much as I don't mind customizing different midi cc assigns myself. ReaKontrol for Reaper for instance, makes the Komplete Kontrol seem like not a bad choice. So right now it's really just down to build quality and keybed.

Thank you for the reply btw.

The Juno DS has built in DAW integration for Cubase and Cakewalk Sonar.

Add that to the built in 1400 patches and I say it's no question which one offers the best bang for the buck.

Gary ;)

How's the keybed though? I hear they're not quite regular sized and are bit short in fact.
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
2
If budget is not a problem for you I would strongly suggest Novation SL MKIII. Its the best midi controller currently on the market. Check the video on YouTube for more information.

I'll look more into it, seems to be a lot of flash to it but I hear i feels nice so it's on my list.
 

happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
10,269
Reaction score
4,412
Location
GTA, Canada
Will do, although having pre-assigned controls doesn't bother me too much as I don't mind customizing different midi cc assigns myself. ReaKontrol for Reaper for instance, makes the Komplete Kontrol seem like not a bad choice. So right now it's really just down to build quality and keybed.

Thank you for the reply btw.



How's the keybed though? I hear they're not quite regular sized and are bit short in fact.


I currently have the 88 key model. I had a 61 for a short while a couple of years ago but traded it in for an upgrade.

As far as I recall it was an OK synth keyboard, very quick action, but I found the keys to be just a tiny bit on the loose and wobbly side.

The hammer action version though, is a trooper. I've been pounding it daily for the past two years and it shows no signs of wear and tear. Very nice and responsive action. Even so, my favorite action is the Fatar TP40 on my Kurzweil PC3K8. Those keys are nice and quick and cause very little fatigue in my fingers.

Gary ;)
 
Joined
Aug 13, 2008
Messages
813
Reaction score
235
Location
South Carolina
I currently use (2) MOXF boards. My top board is a MOXF6 (61 key) and it is a great sounding board with lots of features. In comparison, the MX61is a dull sounding cheap feeling board. I would highly recommend a nice used MOXF6 over the newer entry level Yamaha. YMMV Don aka B3maniac
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
2
I currently use (2) MOXF boards. My top board is a MOXF6 (61 key) and it is a great sounding board with lots of features. In comparison, the MX61is a dull sounding cheap feeling board. I would highly recommend a nice used MOXF6 over the newer entry level Yamaha. YMMV Don aka B3maniac

Even used that one is out of my price range, but something to think about for the future.

Thanks for the suggestion.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
2
I currently have the 88 key model. I had a 61 for a short while a couple of years ago but traded it in for an upgrade.

As far as I recall it was an OK synth keyboard, very quick action, but I found the keys to be just a tiny bit on the loose and wobbly side.

The hammer action version though, is a trooper. I've been pounding it daily for the past two years and it shows no signs of wear and tear. Very nice and responsive action. Even so, my favorite action is the Fatar TP40 on my Kurzweil PC3K8. Those keys are nice and quick and cause very little fatigue in my fingers.

Gary ;)

I wish I could play synths fast with weighted keys but man I just couldn't get into the feel with my last weighted keyboard. Great For laying down expressive piano tracks, too heavy for quick synth playing. The Kurzweil PC3K8 is a beautiful board though just design wise.
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
2
If budget is not a problem for you I would strongly suggest Novation SL MKIII. Its the best midi controller currently on the market. Check the video on YouTube for more information.

By the way, have you tried the Komplete Kontrol against the Novation? How do they stack up?
 

3dc

Joined
Apr 3, 2020
Messages
164
Reaction score
71
Location
Slovenia
By the way, have you tried the Komplete Kontrol against the Novation? How do they stack up?
Fortunately I learned early on that in music you should buy high quality products that will last.
I recently compared the two in music shop and in my honest opinion Novation is way better than Komplete Kontrol in terms of options and connectivity. Its main advantage is a sequencer you can use with external hardware and custom setup software for any DAW.
On the other hand if you need something to play without the computer then I would suggest you 61 keys Roland FA-06 workstation. Just like MOXF the FA-06 is older model but still a strong music production workhorse which happens to be on sale right now. Next to it is newer Yamaha MODX6 but you should try the keybed for yourself. Some people like it but some don't. Its a extremely capable "budget" version of Montage synth. My third option would be Korg Krome EX the most popular music workstation in the world I hear. These workstation/synths are all around 1000 EUR.
In the end its extremely important that you clearly define your end usage of keyboard: Serious music production in DAW, casual playing, stage playing, ...
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
2
Fortunately I learned early on that in music you should buy high quality products that will last.
I recently compared the two in music shop and in my honest opinion Novation is way better than Komplete Kontrol in terms of options and connectivity.

I assume the keys felt pretty much the same too? I know they both use a Fatar bed (or at least Novation uses something that's Fatar-like).

I would look at your other suggestions, but my budget really can't go that far as my work really isn't $1000 serious. $700 serious though sure. Not for stage playing, studio only for sure. The main thing I specialize in is 80s throwback stuff. Analog softsynths, DX7 piano sounds, the whole deal. I'm not making hit records so it's not that serious, but I'm also not a novice at all...upper intermediate user at least. Heavy Reaper and Ableton user. But that's why I'm so fixed on a good synth action keyboard over the weighted key options from Studio Logic and such (except for the Numa Compact 2x, I haven't heard too much about its action). Not going too cheap because I want this to be the main keyboard that lasts a while, but not going to expensive because I would have no real use for any features much more than that.

Have you ever tried the Novation SL61 MKII btw? Has the good Fatar TP9 synth keys and the prices on Reverb and Ebay are not bad.
 

3dc

Joined
Apr 3, 2020
Messages
164
Reaction score
71
Location
Slovenia
Heavy Reaper and Ableton user.

If so then you will not go wrong with Novation SL61MKIII. Although SL61MKIII will work with any DAW including Reaper its specifically designed for Ableton Live workflow. Keep in mind that KK61MK2 is specifically designed for KOMPLETE 13 environment first and then for all other DAW.
To me the keybed were more or less the same. Slightly more firm for KK61MK2 but the SL61MKIII is more fluid and therefore more faster. Its a matter of personal preferences really. If possible you should definitely try them yourself in music shop.

P.S. I am in the same "upgrade" process from my educational Yamaha PSR-E463. I will probably order SL61MKIII. Its perfect for my FL Studio All Plugins Edition DAW. :)
 
Last edited:
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
2
If so then you will not go wrong with Novation SL61MKIII. Although SL61MKIII will work with any DAW including Reaper its specifically designed for Ableton Live workflow. Keep in mind that KK61MK2 is specifically designed for KOMPLETE 13 environment first and then for all other DAW.
To me the keybed were more or less the same. Slightly more firm for KK61MK2 but the SL61MKIII is more fluid and therefore more faster. Its a matter of personal preferences really. If possible you should definitely try them yourself in music shop.

P.S. I am in the same "upgrade" process from my educational Yamaha PSR-E463. I will probably order SL61MKIII. Its perfect for my FL Studio All Plugins Edition DAW. :)

Man I wish I could try them in person, my local music shop doesn't have any of these and the next big retailer is many miles away.

Well at least I have 2 to narrow it down to now. I already own the Maschine Mikro MK3 so I already have a foot in the door of the Komplete environment, it's just having those NI plugins on every instrument channel really eats up the cpu. I'm leaning towards the Novation now. If only I could ask someone who tried the MKII how that one was seeing as though it has that good Fatar bed and it's much cheaper right now on the used market.

Anyone here try the Novation 61SL MKII and can tell me know how that one is?
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
10
Reaction score
2
Welp, got talked out of it because, when I think about it, I really have no use for the LED lights, the screens, the scale mode, etc.

What it really comes down to is I just need a studio keyboard with a quality keybed, pitch and mod wheel, and some knobs/faders. I use Reaper and Ableton exclusively. The sequencer, scale mode, screens, etc. won't really make my production time any more efficient (also I already own an Akai APC 40 for Ableton controls). Just looking to upgrade from the Keylab Essential to something with better keys for recording my playing (mostly retro analog emu softsynths). I could save money on features I won't use if I go with one of the other 2 but I'll put the money down on the MKIII if the keybed is really that good.

So I'm back to either a 61SL MKII, Keylab MKII, or a used KKS61 in midi mode.
 
Last edited:
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Jun 11, 2010
Messages
95
Reaction score
19
Location
Tasmania, Australia
Novation SL61MKIII not the MKII is the way to go. Look into the reviews on the MkIII and you will see that it ticks a lot more boxes for your needs and is a great keybed. The NI 'board is a little bit restrictive ( in my opinion) in comparision to the Novation for software and abilities onboard. The Nocation also has CV1 and CV2 - 2 x control voltage /gates,8x2 velocity-sensitive pads, Synth-style, semi-weighted keyboard with aftertouch strip. Still, it is up to you and what you are after, so think hard about where you spend your money bro.
 

Attachments

  • Mkiii.jpg
    Mkiii.jpg
    67.2 KB · Views: 14
Ad

Advertisements


Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top