Suggestions for a MIDI controller for college dorm practice?


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Hello everyone,

This next year I will be moving off to another school, and staying on campus in a dorm room. Probably a double/2-person one. I’m going to be over six hours away from my gear and it’s not possible to bring stuff with obviously, as space is at a premium. I will be at this college full time, but also am not majoring in music, so practice room access will be an issue. I don’t want to lose the muscle memory of 15 years of playing and besides, music is a huge part of me and I sort of “think” in music if you know what I mean. It’s also good stress reduction.

So, I’m looking at midi controllers. Due to space issues, I think the largest I can fit would be a 61-key model; I need no less than 49 keys however as I am not really an Edm or hip hop person, I’m an actual pianist/keyboardist/organist and that’s the bare minimum I can play much on. I can buy Mainstage for $30 (since I’ll no doubt need a laptop anyways) or use the iPad in a pinch, so I don’t need built-in sounds. I’m needing this to be pretty compact, so I can accept pitch bend and mod wheels up above the keys instead of next to the keybed on the left (my preferred setup for gigging). I also want this to be something that will be useful after college, not just a toy. Semi-weighted or synth action is just fine by me; only one board I have is hammer action which I use for piano etc but that’s not possible here.

Software aside, I would like to have the following features:

- decent keybed (aftertouch would be nice - again with the usefulness later aspect)
- pitch and mod controls (wheels are preferable)
- eight or nine faders (nine is preferable for drawbars)
- some assignable knobs
- sustain and expression pedal inputs
- pads for patch changes and drums
- 5-pin and USB midi both


This will be my main keyboard for the next few years so I want to have a lot of options and not to outgrow it. I also hope to get plugged into a church band in the area, so it needs to be roadworthy and built decently. Plastic is fine, just not really flimsy or where everything flexes when pressed. My budget is up to $500.

I’ve done a bunch of research and so far the contenders seem to be the Arturia Keylab MKII, the M-Audio Code 61, and the Akai MPK249/61 (eight faders however). Anyone who’s had experience with these or has any suggestions for other boards, please chime in! The music stores usually dot carry all of these plus there are no stores inside of four hours away. I can make a trip but it’s doubtful all would be in one location.

Thanks!

-Max
 
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SeaGtGruff

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What about the Novation Impulse? https://novationmusic.com/keys/impulse It has 9 faders, as well as both MIDI DIN and USB-MIDI, has Pitch Bend and Mod wheels to the left of the keyboard, aftertouch, and 49 or 61 keys. It's sort of an older controller-- it's been out for a while, and AFAIK hasn't been updated with a "MkII" release-- plus, its red ends apparently don't visually appeal to some people.
 
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I have the Arturia Essential and did try the Keylab mkII which was a great unit but to expensive for the use I have for a MIDI unit.

If you have the funds then add to your list a Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61, it is the best made and has the best feel of any MIDI controller that I have tried, downside is the cost and the lack of sliders.

That said you can always add a drawbar unit


As it happens I often use my iPad with the Organ App Galileo 2 which has all you need on the screen.

Additionally check out Music Studio for iPad including all instruments will be about $25 and it includes its own DAW.

I do have Main Stage on our iMac it is awesome so if you are going to get a laptop it has to be a Macbook.

Best wishes for your studies.
 
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What about the Novation Impulse? https://novationmusic.com/keys/impulse It has 9 faders, as well as both MIDI DIN and USB-MIDI, has Pitch Bend and Mod wheels to the left of the keyboard, aftertouch, and 49 or 61 keys. It's sort of an older controller-- it's been out for a while, and AFAIK hasn't been updated with a "MkII" release-- plus, its red ends apparently don't visually appeal to some people.
Thanks. I’ve read a ton of negative stuff about the automap software messing up your plugins and sort of taking over, as well as not saving things and being somewhat unstable. Aside from that, I played a little on one last year and didn’t care for the keys much; they were too light and not great for dynamic control. Otherwise, yes it’s got nice features.
 
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I have the Arturia Essential and did try the Keylab mkII which was a great unit but to expensive for the use I have for a MIDI unit.

If you have the funds then add to your list a Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61, it is the best made and has the best feel of any MIDI controller that I have tried, downside is the cost and the lack of sliders.

That said you can always add a drawbar unit


As it happens I often use my iPad with the Organ App Galileo 2 which has all you need on the screen.

Additionally check out Music Studio for iPad including all instruments will be about $25 and it includes its own DAW.

I do have Main Stage on our iMac it is awesome so if you are going to get a laptop it has to be a Macbook.

Best wishes for your studies.
Thank you!

I have heard good things about the S61. However, sliders are essential as I would probably be using layered stuff too, especially if I play a bit in a contemporary band. I don’t really want to have to add another piece of gear like the B4000 as it’s more money, more gear for someone to steal, and is one more piece that would be overkill for my use. Thank you, it’s good to hear from people who have used the other models too. :)
 

happyrat1

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I think Gary suggested what should be number one on your shortlist.

It has been suggested prior but I found these reviews by Andertons who are one of the main Music Stores here in the UK where I happen to live.


I did state earlier that I have the Essential version and here is a comparison of that v the Keylab mk II

 

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