88 hammer weighted keyboards

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by supergod, Oct 26, 2004.

  1. supergod macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto
    #1
    I am looking to upgrade from a Yamaha DGX to a fully hammer weighted (88) key keyboard for use with logic and other software synthesizers. Currently I'm most interested in the Casio PS-20 but I'm open to suggestions. I'm in the price range of looking for about $700-1500 CAN, but am willing to stretch that to $2000. Beyond being a MIDI controller, I need an instrument with speakers for the occasional small performance but I don't want a large bank of sounds: 10 is about right. Anyone have any experience with what I'm looking for, with the key factor being keyboard feel and action?
     
  2. Duff-Man macrumors 68030

    Duff-Man

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
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    #2
    Duff-Man says....I'd suggest having a search/read through the hardware forum at OS X Audio - you are a lot more likely to find lots of opinions there (that is not to say that MacRumors is not the best forums going...).....oh yeah!
     
  3. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #3
    88 hammer weighted keyboards

    I would separate the "Speaker" and the "Keyboard" equation, there is too much of a compromise trying to get both in one. The speakers in a keyboard are primarily meant for the player to hear, not an audience. Look for some small powered monitors for the audio portion of your programme that can double as computer/other instrument audio monitors and as small-room audience speakers. I use ESI nEar 05's.

    My favourite 88 key controller in your price range is the Roland RD100 piano. Great feel and a killer piano sound, easily the best piano under CAN$2K (it's under $1500). Looks like they have replaced it with the RD170 now http://www.roland.com/products/en/RD-170/index.html

    The RD100 isn't a superb MIDI controller, as it does not have the extra knobs and sliders for controlling soft synths and sequencers. But Evolution, Peavey, Kenton and JLCooper all have stand-alone MIDI controllers, or get a second "shorty" USB/MIDI controller keyboard from M-Audio, Evolution or Edirol that has the knobs. Then you can comp on the piano and wail on a solo synth part like Emerson.

    Other options:
    Korg has an 88 with built in speakers for CAN$1500 you might check it out.
    http://www.korg.com/gear/info.asp?a_prod_no=SP300&category_id=1

    The M-Audio Keystation 88 is a soundless controller keyboard with a weighted 88 key action It is very well priced (about $800). http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/KeystationPro88-main.html
    You'd probably want to invest in a hardware sound module to go with it -- for straight playing, computer-based samplers and synths do have a lag time of between 5ms and 50ms depending on the speed of the computer and the audio interface, which can be an annoyance. Hardware sound modules are faster to respond.

    I don't like the touch on the Kurzweil 88's one bit - or the build quality.

    If you want a full synthesizer keyboard as well as piano, you might like the Alesis QS8.2, but it will be off the top of your price range with speakers.
    http://alesis.com/products/qs8.2/
    I don't know of any other 88 weighted key synthesizers under CAN$2K

    Yamaha's touch is good on the P90 and S90 but I don't like the velocity cross-fading on their "Rhodes" electric piano sound, which is a deal-breaker for me.

    If you have played a real Rhodes, you know that the tone changes from bell-like when played with a light touch, to a meatier sound, to an outright bark and growl when you slap it hard. To check the realism of the sound on a digital keyboard, repeatedly play a note, gradually increasing the strength of the strike. The tone should smoothly move from bell to growl, not abruptly switch between the two tones.

    Thanks
    Trevor
     
  4. HiRez macrumors 603

    HiRez

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    Location:
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    #4
    I'm very happy with my Studiologic (Fatar) SL-990 Pro. The keys look and feel nice and I don't think you can find any other weighted 88-key controller for anywhere near its price. I got it on sale (new) at Guitar Center for only $299. Just be aware it's very bare-bones. There is only one pedal jack, and a single MIDI out (one channel), and doesn't support aftertouch sensing. So if you have any complicated controlling you need to do look elsewhere. But what it does, it does well (I use it for only one thing: playing the Bardstown Bosendorfer piano samples through NI Kompakt). I like the feel of the keys even though I'd have to say they have a somewhat lighter touch than an actual grand piano does, though I'd say that's also true of most "fully-weighted" controllers as well. Just make sure you get a good, double-braced stand for whatever you get. Most 88-key controllers are large and heavy, and that will cause shaking while you play due to the momentum generated, so you need something solid.
     
  5. Music_Producer macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2004
    #5
    The M-Audio 88 key controller is so far a pretty reliable and solid keyboard (we have 7 of those in the studio) Its price is nowhere near $800 as someone mentioned, its about $499.. and worth it. You want a dedicated MIDI controller keyboard, and not a keyboard with sounds as that would boost the pricing. Also, the M-Audio has tons..and I mean TONS of controller options like filters, resonance, pitch bend, modulation, osc 1, osc 2 amount, lfo, etc..which is what you need to mess around with virtual synths and samplers. Hope this helps.
     
  6. supergod thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto
    #6
    Thanks, this is all very helpful. Do you know if the Fatar keyboard is simple weighted, or does it actually have scaled hammer action? I am strongly considering the Roland, I like the feel of it, but I think the Yamaha's are overrated and have a poor action, not even as good as the cheaper Casios.
     
  7. 2A Batterie macrumors 6502a

    2A Batterie

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    #7
    Also, keep in mind Yamaha makes some great keyboards. The S08 and S88 both have great feel and sound
     
  8. jared_kipe macrumors 68030

    jared_kipe

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Location:
    Seattle
    #8
    I would recommend the yamaha P-90, I think it would fit in your budget well, and believe me (I own one) it feels and more or less sounds just like a real piano. If you want to spend more there is a P-120 which is better (not better feeling I don' think) that is like a mini upright.
     
  9. ricebag macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Location:
    Indiana
    #9
    Yamahas

    I know you were leaning towards other brands, but in case you do go for the Yamaha, it sounds like the P series would be better for you. Someone mentioned the S08 - which I have and love - but the P series has less sounds (mostly keyboards), is a little lighter, and is supposed to have better (graded) weighted action.
     
  10. HiRez macrumors 603

    HiRez

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    Location:
    Western US
    #10
    I think I remember hearing it was scaled action originally, but I can't find evidence of that now. If it is scaled, it's pretty subtle, seems pretty even across the board to me. But I really think it has a great feel, especially considering the price. Does it feel exactly like an acoustic piano? No. But it feels really nice, and you can quickly adjust to its action. The one thing I really hate about it: external power brick (the thing is easily large enough for them to have put the transformer inside it -- duh! Thankfully though, it is an "inline" brick, the brick doesn't hog outlet space.).

    EDIT: Oops, I forgot one very important thing. This thing offers several different velocity curves, but they all kind of stink, I really think there is some kind of problem with them (most too sensitive for my tastes, some just whacked). So, I use the default (flat) curve and adjust the vcurve in my software instead, that works well. I'd make sure whatever sound module or software you're using has the capability to customize velocity curves.

    Anyway, read some user reviews of it here.
     

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