Recommendation for a decent to great MIDI keyboard controlle

Time has come to replace my old Roland A-33 76 key MIDI keyboard with something I can use to control Cubase and VST synths with.

I initially wanted a 88 key controller since I don’t like the idea of removing an octave from the controller I already have and get a 61 key controller (and since nobody seems to make 76 keys controllers - unless they are hideously expensive), but in my price range, it either leaves me with the Akai MPK 88 or losing an octave.

Yeah I know I can get cheaper controllers, but I want something flashy with a backlit display and all. :sunglasses:

Anyho, there’s a much broader range in the 61 key department, so I’ve nailed it down to (I think) the M-Audio Axiom Pro 61, the Axiom 61 2nd generation, the Roland A-800PRO or the Novation Impulse 61.

Personally I like the Axiom Pro 61 best, judged solely on how it looks, but I need something that is easy to map to Cubase and VST synths, so any opinion is most welcome.

I am demoing an Axiom 49 (not the Pro model) and while okay for VSTi input etc - it’s no great shakes in the areas of controlling the DAW (Nuendo and Studio One) or VST plugin parameters. M-Audio has no Directlink support for Nuendo or Studio One - so it’s probably going back soon.

And after thinking it through -I think I have given up on the idea on finding any “keyboard” controller out there that can properly do “duel duty” - that is controlling the DAW (Mixer/Plugin control) AND be a good VSTi input device so I will probably get a Presonus Faderport for DAW control and look at a small 25 key midi controller to do VSTi duties (note input and midi mangling)

I am still leaning towards Novation - as I feel they still build the best controllers out there.



Shortly after I wrote the forum post, I “discovered” the Novation 61 SL MkII. I’ve done a lot of research and this one seems like the best choice. Everything M-Audio is out of the question. People are hammering them on their forums, they haven’t updated their controller software since 2009, it simply doesn’t work with 64-bit plugins so that’s a definitiately dead end.

Not sure what 64bit has to do w/controllers as they are on off switches…but I agree the M Audio stuff feels cheap and I don’t like the feel on the 88 version. I have an Akai MPK 88 which feels good but you have to be willing to program it and it’s not easy to get around inside the software. I also have a Studio-logic VMK-176 which plays and programs easily it is also lightweight if that is important to you. The downfall of that keyboard for me is there is no Mod/Pitch wheels which I use a lot of. I agree that the 88 note keyboard is essential as I do a lot of key switching for string articulations.

Have to agree with kza re: M-Audio. I was using an Axiom-25 (not pro) for a while. It was a lot of work to program, although I was able to get everything working eventually. I swapped it out for a Yahamha KZ-61 - it is a pretty no-frills controller with no pads, but the AI integration is very sweet. I’m checking out the new CMC mini pad controller - seems an ideal add on to a good enough keyboard.

I have one and I like it. I am NOT a keyboardist though, so I can’t really talk as to comparative feel, but I’m very pleased with the functionallity. I also very much like Automap, although its far from perfect.