Keyboard Controller Recommendation

I’m looking for a USB keyboard solution (preferably 49-keys) that will efficiently control Cubase functions and possibly plug-in parameters as well. Functionality and integration are more a priority than keyboard feel. Price is not an issue.

Any winners out there?

If you can still find one, the Yamaha KX series were designed with Cubase integration in mind. Specifically, they have an extension for Cubase. I use a KX61 (61-key).

Granted, they are discontinued.

Thanks but I was thinking about something with more transport functions like faders, pots, etc. Of course, the discontinued thing is a bust so the Yami won’t work anyway.

I have 2 models from Yamaha KX series and have to say i wouldn’t push the integration software on my worst enemy. Great keyboard in all other respects but just not for controlling plug ins n things. transport controls are fine though.

I also have a Novation Impulse 61 which i would completely recommend. Although past editions of the included Automap software have had issues, its now, by version 4.3, very good indeed. I use Omnisphere and it doesnt work with that, but Omni aside its a revelation and great for controlling plug ins from, and 9 faders great to control your mixer. They keyboard itself is really high quality with an amazing set of keys. For me it was a very good choice.

Thanks Goddfodder…I was looking at the model myself but saw some bad reviews on the Automap but it could have been previous versions like you stated. This model looks pretty comprehensive but I’m wondering from a user like you what are the limitations in Cubase specifically, if any? I’m probably more a basic user here so I’m really interested in transport functions and mixer functions: pan, levels, mute, solo, etc. Of course more is great but the basics are the priority for me. I’m also looking at the 49 SL mkII which is more bucks but might be a bit more functional. The Impulse seems like a budget version of the SL with less bells and whistles.


I would say that the Impulse is aimed at people who want to control their mixers, their mutes, solos, their transport control etc and some control over key plug ins n things. Within Cubase it works very well and I wouldn’t say in this respect that it has any limitations. It does what its meant to and does good job. Automap maps to cubase seamlessly. The install n things work really well and makes it pretty clear how to tweak any parameter.

I wouldnt say its as such a limitation, but it is not intended for full on hands down control of a large number of plug ins,… for that extra level of control Novation have the SL Mk 2. Again this is intended for those that want a midi controller with full control of a lot of plug ins etc. The Impulse has less buttons/knobs etc and is intended to do less than the SL MK2 in terms of plug in control. It does though have a better keyboard (than thew SL MK2) n some very high quality drum pads n things. Its built really well.

Id also say, for what i gather your after, another contender is the Akai MPK.

I was also looking at this and really rate these. Gotta be worth a lookin.

In the end i found that the extent to which you could control things with the MPK just wasnt on par with the Impulse. Its effectively missing Something like Automap. It also has slightly smaller keys which i didn’t like but many prefer.

Nonetheless another option for you…

Thanks again…good info there. However Novation states that the keyboard on the SL is superior to the Impulse…actually they are saying everything quality-wise is better on the SL which explains the extra $$$ for it. Curiously, the Automap software loads up every time you launch Cubase…what effect does this have on your computer performance, if any? I run off a MacBook Pro with 8GB ram so it shouldn’t be a big deal but I like to run lean on the resident stuff. And, do you know what the power draw is for your Impulse…a full 500mA from USB? The SL would be higher with all of the LEDs on the thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if you had to run it A/C without getting some hiccups.

I think there pretty careful about how they word it in various different places. lol I def remember reading that the Impulse is the latest key bed and has evolved from SL MK 2. There trying to sell both at the end of the day but trying to push the SL MK 2 as superior whilst still trying to sell the Impulse as something special. I tried both though and in my opinion the SL MK 2 are more synth style keys. The Impulse is more of a piano players key bed. Whilst preference is completely subjective, I really rated the keys of the Impulse way above the SL MK 2.

The Automap comes on every time you load cubase automatically. You then don’t see it (unless you choose to) until you turn a knob on the Impulse. It seems to have no effect on performance or anything like that.

And the Power runs completely through USB and without hiccup that ive ever noticed. Always amazes me how one little USB cable can power the thing and transfer all the data back n forth in an instant. :slight_smile:

For me,… The thing i do love about the SL MK 2 is the LED lit knobs and selection of faders. Its a great interface. IF your looking for that extra level of control there’s no question this thing is bad ass. definitely one to watch!! Though I do wonder if its actually at the end of its life cycle. The fall in price and launch of the Impulse suggests development in a slightly new direction. I wouldnt be surprised if sometime very soon it was replaced by a new flag ship model. Pure speculation,… but that’s what I reckon.

I totally agree with you…very subjective topics render vastly different opinions. You also might be right with the new model too as I was at NAMM in January and the hint of motorized faders could be sensed from talking to the demo reps. Of course that puts it way beyond $500 and on par with the Mackie Control, etc.

Yep, USB power is pretty amazing not to mention Firewire and Thunderbolt. Every once in a while I’ll get a power shortage if I try and connect too many items and USB carries a 500mA availability so things can add up fast, i.e. the eLicenser takes 20mA and does nothing. It’s only a problem when you want to record remotely with no A/C around otherwise it’s mostly a non-issue.