Which simple MIDI keyboard for arranging music?


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I'm going to buy a MIDI keyboard for arranging music on Finale. I figured this would be a good forum to join and get some shopping opinions from!

I have a $50 giftcard to BestBuy, so I think I'll just get it from there because I'm not looking for anything fancy (am I? Is there a difference in the cheap and expensive ones?).

I want at least 49 keys, and don't need any knobs or pads etc.
Would like it to just be able to just need one MIDI-to-USB cable and not it's own power cable. At this juncture I don't really see the need to spend more than like $100 because what I want seems to be in that price range.
I found 4 best-buy links and wanted to know what people thought was the best. I know fully-weighted keys are really where the cost is, but I'd be happy with semi-weighted I think.

Which of these do you guys think is the best? Are they all crappy and I should get a better one? Any thoughts are welcome.

1.Alexis MIDI Q49
2.Samson Carbon 49key USB MIDI Controller
3.M-Audio - Keystation 49es 49-key USB Controller
 
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happyrat1

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One piece of advice is to avoid low end M-Audio like the plague. Cheap and unresponsive keys. I own an Oxygen 49 so I know that of which I speaketh.

Alesis makes some great products. Dunno about the Samson though I've heard some good things.

Gary
 
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Thanks for the input happyrat! I've heard mixed reviews about the M-Audio line, but unless anyone else has other input I'll probably steer clear of it.
 

SeaGtGruff

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I have an M-Audio keyboard that works well enough-- other than the keys being a bit noisy-- but it's one of the more expensive models, an Axiom 61-II. I've no personal experience with the cheaper models like the Keystation, but I've seen some bad user reviews for them-- and some good ones, too. But the bad reviews seemed to be from people having more experience with keyboards, whereas the good reviews seemed to be from people "just getting started" who needed a low-cost controller and who had no real experience with better-quality equipment. So I guess it depends on your particular level of expectations regarding build quality, the feel of the keybed, etc. One person's trash can be another person's treasure.

I've no experience with Alesis, but have at least heard of them. On the other hand, I've no experience with Samson and hadn't heard of them until now-- although that doesn't mean their equipment isn't any good.

To be honest, if you're shopping for a 49-key controller with a maximum budget of $100, your choices will be rather limited, and it's possible that one controller will be pretty much on a par with the rest as far as build quality and such-- in which case it's probably best to go with a manufacturer who has a good track record in customer support, and a model that has the kinds of controls you want. A pitch bend wheel and modulation wheel seem to be standard, and you said you don't need any knobs or pads, but you'll want to look at things like how easy it is to select between different programs, shift the keyboard's octave range, and transpose it. Also, you ought to consider getting a controller that has at least a few assignable knobs and pads-- especially knobs, because they'll let you make real-time changes in sound parameters, such as attack time, release time, cutoff frequency, resonance amount, reverb depth, and/or chorus depth. You don't necessarily need a lot of knobs, because you can still do quite a bit even with just a couple of assignable knobs-- although it's obviously better to have more knobs, sliders, and pads than fewer if you want to be able to use them for several different things at once without having to change their functions on the fly while you're performing or recording.
 
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Thanks for responding @SeaGtGruff

It's now looking like BestBuy isn't the move (options are limited and they won't let me use my gift card online).

Anyone have thoughts on a decent brand or model that I can get for cheap or should look at?
 

SeaGtGruff

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I'm surprised that Best Buy won't let you use your gift card online.

The following controllers (arranged alphabetically) seem to be on the "best of 2015" lists, but I don't know if the lists are reliable:
  • Akai MPK49
  • Alesis Q49 and Alesis VI
  • Arturia Keylab
  • Behringer U-Control UMX
  • M-Audio Axiom AIR, M-Audio Keystation, M-Audio Oxygen
  • Novation Impulse and Novation Launchkey
 
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