Which vanilla semi-weighted 49 keyboard?

Hello, folks!

World's Saddest Story

Remember that M-Audio Oxygen 61 that started having a pitch-bend drift, that I had perfomed surgery upon about 2 years ago and kept it alive? Well, arteries are clogged again, pitch-bend drift is back, my mana is too low to perform another surgery, and (THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART), the wife said: “DON’T WORRY, WE’LL GET ANOTHER ONE”.

As you probably understand, the matter is urgent!
:ninja:t3: :money_with_wings:

The requirements:

  • I need it to have good velocity response. Whether this means semi-weighted, full-weighted, hollow, invisible, I don’t care. I just want it to have good velocity response.
  • If you have a keyboard with 8 faders, 8 potentiometers, mod-wheel, pitch-bend, buttons and more buttons AND it’s still working after 5 years with perfect potentiometer and fader tracking, and it costs less than 1.000 euros, please tell which one it is.
  • If not, I’m perfectly fine with NO potentiometers or faders whatsoever, as long as the keybed is good.
  • Think stage piano, but 49 - 61 keys max. (It has to be less than 90,7 cm (35.7 inches) so that it can fit the drawer beneath my desk)

What I’ve checked:

  • I’ve seen the Roland A-49.
  • The Nectar Impact GXP61, which has good reviews for the keybed, and its little brother too, the GXP49, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to fare as well as the 61 when it comes to the keyboard.
  • I’ve seen the Komplete Kontrol A49, which looks like it would fit the bill if it had a good keybed. I don’t care for Komplete software at all, so I don’t know if it’s worth it to go for it.
  • I’ve seen the M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49, Nectar LX49+ etc etc. I would prefer to stay away from these, I’m fed up with all these controls starting to go crazy in 1 year’s time.

Please advise before wife recovers.

(If you have other ideas, for example any used synths with MIDI over USB that have a good, playble keybed, don’t hesitate to speak up.)

fwiw, I had a Nektar P6 back when they came out, the keybed feel was nice (crisp, I would say), but velocity seemed inconsistent from key to key and on individual keys, and I eventually sold it after playing with velocity curves.

Nothing beats a Fatar keybed. I don’t have one these days, but I have had 2 over the years, both bought used for very low money, both quite heavy!

These days I use this light keyboard which slides under my desk: https://iconproaudio.com/product/ikeyboard-8/ I don’t know if an actual pianist would like the feel, but velocity curves are editable. the https://iconproaudio.com/product/ikeyboard-5/ has ~49 keys

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Wow. You’ve clipped my wings. I was eyeing the P6 especially for the keyboard, and thinking that, ok, maybe the faders, motor fader included will say bye-bye at some point. Inconsistency even at that price range, huh?

The 5X seems like a good contender. Not many moving parts to break. Dirt cheap. Definitely a good suggestion.

Thanks, steve!

The Komplete Kontrol S49 Mk2 is nice, as uses a Fatar keybed - but no faders. And due to it’s screens and light guides that you may not use you’re spending money un-necessarily there. However, it does offer multiple pages of mapping and mixer control with screen feedback in Cubase.

Personally I prefer that level of mixer control than un-motorised faders which are always out of sync. If that’s what your intended use is for faders.

Arturia Keylab 49 MkII would probably be my alternative, they’re a nice solid construction, have plenty of useable control features too. (IMO) Keys not quite as good as the Komplete Kontrol S series but it’s more vanilla with it’s options, which is a good thing if you’re interested in the new MIDI Remote options in Cubase.

Would steer clear of the Nektar P6 if you want a good keybed, they’re fantastic machines on the whole, but the keys let them down massively, noisy, tend to yellow and velocity so inconsistent. LX Plus is wobbly and too light on the keys too, not tried the GXP, or the T4/T6.

StudioLogic have some nice keybeds but they’re usually in the 73-88 key range.

Not tried Komplete A49, played with an Arturia Keylab Essential 49 (Smaller model vs the Mk2) and it seemed ok, but the Mk2 is such a nicer unit to own for a period of years.

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No hesitation to recommend my Akai MPK-249.
Decent quality keybed with 49 full-size keys and plenty of knobs/faders/pads/transport/etc. + good Cubase integration (12.0.52).

And highly portable - it’s only about 29-inch wide! (The shortest 49k will full keys I found)

I’m a big fan of Roland’s PHA, but don’t know any in 49k size…

Thanks for reporting back here your conclusions and findings.

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I won’t lie, I’m ogling the KK S49 too. But, it’s all these Komplete features that I’ll not be using that are keeping me from pressing the button.

That’s my second “quality” alternative too, but I’m seeing that the essential, just as the more premium brother MK2, ALSO has a poop-ton (love discord’s “input transformer”) of faders and pots that are destined to wreck my nerves when they start doing their thing.

Surprising! But good to know, thanks for that.

Yes, damn it! I see many going around used at awesome prices too, but I’m so restricted right now when it comes to available space.

If those knobs were encoders, that would be awesome, and I would consider the KK A. The thing is, I can’t find this information in the manual. It just says “knob”. So it’s probably an endless pot?

Much to think about.

Akai would be the next logical step if I wanted to retain the “lots of faders, lots of pots” approach that I had up until today. I also have an MPD218 here, and I’m impessed at how slowly it breaks for a 80€ thing. But it’s still breaking. The response on the pads is getting worse, the pots are starting to track weird, I feel its time is coming too. But, it’s only 80€, so it stings less if I have to replace that.

Now, I see that if I went with the MPK249, I would still have room to plop the MPD218 next to that. Or I could even +marginally+ fit the MPK261 and leave the 218 aside. But… It’s 500€.

How long have you had yours? Is it holding up well so far?

I don’t know which Rolands sport this tech, but I remember that my Roland HP147Re (which is a pretty cheap electric piano from way back) was sooo satisying to play with pianoteq. Over MIDI of course, no usb port on that one.

But I’m not really looking for piano-like hammer action no matter what. I’m just looking for a decent quality keyboard up to 500€, that won’t eat up notes at pianissimo, will not have two general convoluted dynamic regions (piano around 6-35 and then forte 100 and up, the middle being a random mess), will have good consistency in response from key to key, etc.

Essentially, I am looking for a keyboard that would put the money it uses for its pads, faders, pots, into the keyboard itself instead.

Pfff, it looks like it will be easier if I buy a used studiologic and move to another house instead. :rofl:

5 years or so, and no issues, but I’ll admit I’m not too hard on my gear.
For more serious ‘drumming’, I use a Boppad instead. (incl. w/ sticks)

I don’t know how you broke your Akai MPD, but I suspect (?) the MPK pads are similar.
Akai pads have a good reputation, at least as good as any other vendor’s. Have you heard/read otherwise?

Your reliability issues could also be related to storage/transport… sometimes moving gear causes more wear than playing it. If your gear is submitted to temperature variations, internal humidity condensation can form, and cause some rust to form and degrade your pads and pots.

Note btw I hated the default velocity curve out of box for the MPK249, but they are easily tweaked. (not to confuse with the previous model, MPK49, which was not editable)
.

Maybe you could be satisfied with a kbd you already have (or any model) and tweak your velocity curve using a VST like this :

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I don’t know Y-D, maybe I’m just unlucky with hardware. I don’t gig with this stuff, I don’t move it, the 218 I keep in its little bag. I’ve not broken the 218 (yet), but it’s not like it used to be. It doesn’t trigger the same, the pots are not tracking as accurately as they used to (I’ve got them in INC/DEC mode, though, and that saves the game, I don’t get the same chaos as I do with the Oxygen MK3. And hey, it’s 80€, big deal!)

The Oxygen, I’ve done everything in my power, I had tweaked velocity curves, and I was making do. If the pitchbend didn’t break, I’d probably stay with the oxygen, even if the pots and faders have gone crazy and the keybed is of meh quality. But the pitchbend going bad is too annoying. I haven’t reached such a level of zen yet where I can play detuned and then just delete the pitchbend data. :sweat_smile:

Now, I’m thinking it would be better for me if I got a good “just-keyboard” that I would keep for over 5 or 7 years, and hopefully accompany it with something like an xtouch compact or a midi fighter twister later on.

Thank you for sparing the time! :pray:t2: You have all offered very good suggestions! Now, it’s time to decide. :thinking:

Coming back to this thread, to tell where I settled eventually.

I got this keyboard:

MIDIPLUS X6 III
The good:

  • The keyboard itself is above and beyond what I had hoped for. The touch is satisfying, much better than M-Audio’s oxygen or keystation. The keys are full, have medium weight… The velocity response is surprisingly even and full, but the keyboard is on the fast side, even when using the heavy velocity curve. It’s a good compromise. For playing synths, clavis and eps, it’s perfect. For playing the piano, a good velocity curve set up in pianoteq quickly adjusted things to my liking.
  • It has an expression pedal input!
  • It has a switch input.
  • It has MIDI out.
  • Aluminium frame.
  • 61 keys! Being just shy of 95 cm, it fits my desk, so instead of 49 keys, I went for 61. (And that’s the maximum I can fit in here for now)

The neutral:

  • Touch strips for pitch bend and modulation. I like that I can do microtonal mordents by just tapping at the same spot, I’m much better at this than a regular wheel or joystick. It’s not as fast sensing/tracking as a wheel or joystick though. Hopefully, it will last more than what wheels do nowadays. (Too many complaints about those wheels, I guess companies should do something about it.)
  • Just 4 programmable knobs. These are !HEAVY! to the touch, and seem to track very well out of the box. Let’s see if they hold up. I wouldn’t mind zero knobs either. But, oh well, it does have them.
  • 6 buttons. Same deal as with the knobs, buttons are much more durable though, I wouldn’t mind more of them. They also feel very solid and do click confidently.
  • Included Cubase LE :sweat_smile:
  • Black keys are some kind of matte finish. Doesn’t bother me in the least.

The bad:

  • No power button. I have to pull the USB plug when I turn off my PC.
  • Switch pedal. Well, ok, it borders on hubris to demand that a keyboard at this price range would support a continous damper pedal, but I secretly hoped it would. This wasn’t mentioned in any manual or specification sheets either, so it was a case of try and see. No, this keyboard supports just a switch for the sustain pedal.
  • No aftertouch. To be honest, I should list this under “The good”, because I can’t say I’ve been thrilled with the quality of aftertouch on those keyboards that did have it at this price range. I much prefer to have a solid keyboard, and then use any other means to manipulate other controller data into aftertouch.

And that’s it! A cheap keyboard, but not cheap for how lithe it is on features. I was hoping that it would offer a good touch, and this it did.

I want to thank everyone again. Even though it might seem from my choice that I disregarded everyone’s opinion, it is not so. All suggestions helped me understand and weigh my own needs better and pointed me to my final direction.

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