Best MIDI (Full Keys) Keyboard-Controller for under USD $300?


While my 61 keys Korg Trinity workstation shown above was a breakthrough in the mid 1990s owned by scores of top musicians, it keeps causing some MIDI/VST tracks to go out of tune* right in the middle of playing into Cubase which is driving me nuts.

(* Later edit: I’ve already responded to the post directly below on the cause of this glitch - rogue pitch-bend - that I brought up in a separate OP a while back).

I’m also not using the onboard combi/programs like I used to due to how advanced modern VSTi and the like are.

I’m basically using it as a controller-keyboard now. But really just for playing - I have no experience with modern controllers and how sophisticated they are in DAW integration (my Korg has little to none).


My guess is that for the price of taking it to a repair shop, I could get a modern 49 keys keyboard-controller (61 keys is nice but not necessary), yet I am drowning in the options out there.

I’ve heard that Nektar (i.e. Panorama T4 or LX49+ in this price range) is good for integration with Cubase, and while I do have NI Komplete Kontrol 13, I still don’t use Kontakt that much so far, so not sure the NI controllers would be a better choice.

Oh, and as subject line states, I want full size keys, not mini.

Input welcome.

If your VSTi get out of tune when playing with the trinity, maybe it is sending some spurious pitch bend/controller data. You could check that with the MIDI monitor plugin on the MIDI/instrument track. If you know what unnecessary data the trinity is sending, you could filter out those with the”Transformer” MIDI plugin, which is essentially the MIDI logical editor.
Doesn’t really work of course if the culprit is the pitch or mod wheel which you’d need otherwise (I have the old Korg MS20 controller, which has a broken mod wheel that sends random data)

Regarding controller keyboards I cannot really help you, but even as a non-pianist I’ve noticed when I tested some that the keybeds can be really different and it is probably very subjective whether you like one or not, at least from a “feel” standpoint. Probably not much different than with other instruments.

@fese - Thanks. But I’ve already run through this issue and looked at the MIDI monitor and for some reason it is a pitch-bend issue (but nothing shows up in data received from the Trinty), even when I haven’t touched or used pitch-bend on the Trinity it at all.

So I have to either close down Cubase and restart, and unplug the Trinity, and while that works for a while, yet somehow, it creeps back in for no discernable reason.

I bought the Trinity used in 2002 or so and so it could be just some small onboard glitch that didn’t show up in earlier versions of Cubase (I started with SX1).

It’s 25 y.o. technology, I might as well get with the times… :sunglasses:

Don’t want to keep you from buying new gear ;), and it could just be some defect in the pitch bend , but in that case, it should definitely be visible in the MIDI monitor (unless you filtered events) in some way, or be visible in the MIDI editor when you recording. If not, it can’t come from the Trinity imho.

I also recommend to confirm your diagnostic with MIDI Monitor before blaming your Korg.
If you still decide to shop for a new controller, please use the search tool of this forum first to check for previous numerous posts with the same topic.


I like my MPK249 BTW.

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@fese - As edited later in OP here, I had posted a whole OP on this issue with the Trinity and did everything I could including a hard reset, purging everything back to factory specs, etc.

@Y-D - In terms of searching the forum for this topic, I did that and read some - that’s how I learned about Nektar (I had never heard of the brand before), but I’m limited by budget so no point drooling over models I can’t afford. So that’s why I specified the USD $300 top range.

Got it.
I buy most of my gear 2nd hand and saved $1000s.
Including my MPK249 that you can find under $300 on Reverb or local ads.
Also found a T4 in your budget on Reverb, 2hrs from LA.

Also consider a Roland A500-PRO in that price range.
When not in a hurry, it does not make sense to me to buy new, when there are so many options on the used market (with a little patience).
Happy shopping… :wink:

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You can get used Arturia KEYLAB 49 for under $200 on Reverb. It’s got all you need for modern VSTi controlling. As long as you’re not looking at it for a performance keyboard ( non weighted keys, etc.) it does the controller job just fine.

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@Y-D and @Ikhaya - Thanks for replies. “When not in a hurry…”, yup, I think I need to chill and think this through a bit more.

As far the Nektar T4, it’s selling for USD $249 new so within my target budget. Due to my age (soon 68) and a somewhat failing mind at times, it’s best I don’t get something too fancy in terms of DAW integration – just trying to catch up on decades of music theory ignorance can easily overwhelm me.

In terms of keyboard action, my Trinity has synth action, not even semi-weighted and I’ve been used to that ( don’t perform live, etc.). So if I happen to get a semi-weighted in whatever I eventually get, that’s a bonus, not a necessity.

Chiming in to say that I used to have the same issue with my Triton 88 key and Cubase until the pitch bend totally died which I haven’t replaced yet.

Sorry, no advice on recommendations. :slight_smile:

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More than a year later…

My 30 y.o. Korg is still sending pitchbend anomalies and detuning MIDI and VST tracks at random. I’ve done factory resets, etc. etc. and still happens.

It would cost more to get what this internal hardware calibration glitch fixed than just getting a modern MIDI controller. I basically only use it for that, rarely to use the Korg’s sound banks.

Buying used is a good idea for some, but a used one could end up doing the same thing. It’s like my computer: I buy and build with new, not used parts.

Now it’s just a matter of deciding which controller to get… :sunglasses:

The mechanical potentiometers (“pots”) used in the pitch bend controllers of old keyboards can be revived with a single spray of cleaner such as DeoxIT, or (at a pinch) Servisol contact cleaner.

@MrSoundman - Thanks. Hmmm… interesting. Though it’s not that my old Korg’s pitchbend is mechanically deficient, just that enough bad data is sent to Cubase to mess with things. All it probably takes is a few 1’s and 0’s.

And a bit late on this info for I ordered a Nektar Impact LX49+ for USD $ 159 today to be delivered in a couple of days. Might as well enter the 21st century.

The DAW integration aspects will be interesting and useful if/when or once I figure such things out. At 68, my brain isn’t as nibble as it once was.

For now I just need the keyboard to play and record whereby I don’t have to keep shutting down Cubase and power down the Korg to have tracks go back in tune.

That said, I may try the pots cleaning thing just to see if it does anything in my situation in due course.

@MrSoundman - Well, I got a Nektar Impact LX49+… BUT I’ve been so spoiled with the fluid IMO real semi-weighted action on my Trinity, that I’m returning it. Feels like playing a Casio piano in comparison. The Trinity was top of the line in its day for a reason.

I was about to got a local store to find something with at least better action similar to the Trinity, but decided to first take your advice on pots cleaning and took the plunge:

I’ve opened up my Korg before to replace the floppy drive and saw a video on YT on how to disassemble it. Complicated, but then remembered that the joystick is over the floppy drive, and it was easy to take it out, no major disassembly needed.

I used some electronic parts aerosol cleaner after using a small air compressor to blow out any possible dust (there wasn’t any). Let more air to ventilate it all dry and put it back together.

Result: SOLVED! I purposely did some overkill pitch-bending while in Cubase and some very temporary short detuning happens (my guess to be expected if the MIDI is overloading Cubase), it went away just as fast.

One thing I have to also watch for is to make sure that I don’t have multiple tracks set to Monitor so that my Korg isn’t sending data all over the place.

The DAW integration advantages of modern controllers are nice, but I have three computer monitors and will keep mousin’ around for now. My old brain gets overwhelmed with too many options…

So again, this may be temporary or not - it’s a 30 y.o. workstation after all.

Whatever the case, thanks for your nugget of wisdom.

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Great to hear, support the right to repair! :clap:

Yes, I’m aware of the right to repair movement. In my case, I’m a natural candidate due to income: only Social Security + disability. Besides, I’ve been a DIY-er most of my life. It’s genetic - my dad was one and half of me is 3rd generation Scottish (they can tend to be a penny pinching bunch). :sunglasses: