Alternative USB Midi keyboards for Garage Band?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by ewinemiller, Mar 4, 2004.

  1. ewinemiller macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2001
    Location:
    west of Philly
    #1
    Hi,

    I'm looking to explore Garage Band a little more. To know where I'm coming from, I played a little keyboard and guitar in college, but really haven't done much in 10 years. The wife is interested in learning how to play and the kids are getting to the point they'd like to bang around on something. I've really been twitching to get back into the music and I'd like something with more keys than the 49 on the one Apple pushes. Has anyone used any other USB Midi keyboards with Garage Band and what did you like?

    Thanks.
     
  2. vollspacken macrumors 65816

    vollspacken

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2002
    Location:
    Boogie-Down Berlintown
    #2
    - Midiman Oxygen 8 USB (doubles as a midi-interface)

    nice and small

    vSpacken
     
  3. cpjakes macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2003
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    #3
    So much of this depends on cost, honestly. Any MIDI keyboard will work with GB. The one they push is USB, meaning it has the MIDI -> USB adapter built in to it. What you might consider if you're serious about it is a full size digital piano, by Yamaha or Roland. They're more expensive (~$1000-$2000) but are more like instruments than the smaller keyboards.

    The biggest thing you should look for are weighted keys, to give the feeling of a real piano. Weighted keys are usually in the 88 key models, but can be found in the 76 and some 61 key models. I have an Alesis QS 8.1 which is more customizable than a digital piano as it is a synthesizer as well. But if GB is your synthesizer, then you don't need something with all the built in sounds.

    Think about these things:
    Will it be used as a piano, for practicing outside of GB?
    Does it need to be portable?
    Does it need to have many sounds or just some?
    Do you need a simple or advanced user interface?

    Give back some thoughts (price, usage, etc...) and we'll see what we can recommend.

    cpjakes
     
  4. ewinemiller thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2001
    Location:
    west of Philly
    #4
    Practicing outside of GB would be a plus, but not currently a priority.

    Portable around they house yes, but I'm not going to toss it in a bag and wander off with it. We've got an G4 iBook, so I can always bring the computer to the keyboard if it's really big and we have space to dedicate to a larger model.

    As for having it's own sounds while not plugged into GB(I guess that is what you're asking), just a piano is fine. This is actually being weighed against getting a used piano from a friend and cleaning it up.

    I like the weighted keys thing you mentioned, but it's not a must have.

    Not having done any midi stuff before, simple/advanced interface, I can't judge. I'd like the kids to be able to use it, but I'd also like to be able to compose and play on it without having to worry that I can't hit a note because it's not in the range covered by the keyboard. There may be ways around this on the small keyboards, I'm just ignorant of the whole thing.

    Pricewise, $500-600 would be probably the most I'd want to spend, but of course if I can meet my needs for less that would be great too.

    Thanks.
     
  5. Flowbee macrumors 68030

    Flowbee

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Alameda, CA
    #5
    The Oxygen 8 is a nice little controller, but I think he said he wants *more* keys than 49.

    http://www.musiciansfriend.com has a decent selection on their website under Keyboards>Midi Controllers. Find the keyboards in your price range, then search the web for specific reviews.
     
  6. ewinemiller thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2001
    Location:
    west of Philly
    #6
    Thanks that was a great site to give me an idea of what is even available. It's a little more than I'd originally wanted to spend, but the Yamaha P60 looks to be about what I'm looking for ~ $750, 88 keys with the lifelike action, midi (though I'll have to buy a midi-usb cable), built in piano sound. Does anyone have any thoughts on that model or other alternatives in that general space?

    Thanks again.
     
  7. cpjakes macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2003
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    #7
    If you've got a halfway decent music store near you that sells them (and other models), check them out. They're like cars, you need a test drive.
     
  8. AdamZ macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2004
    #8
    Looking for smallest weighted keyboard..

    Does anybody know of the smallest usb controller, with weighted keys?

    I too use an Alesis Qs8 that is four years old, and works great. There was a long period of time before my decision but I found them to be a good reasonsobly priced keyboard.

    I think it is very important to have a unit that includes its own sounds and functions. My kids like to play with differnt funny sounds as well as the typial ones. It turns learning into fun for them. Plus, I am usually using my computer when someone in the household whats to connects to the family's 17" powerbook to play a song, so it's nice not to have to do that all the time.

    Also I suggest that you get a semi-professional keyboard like the Alesis. Nothing is more expensive than having to by twice! I found that as I used my keyboard more often, I wanted those advanced features that are on the professional models. Basically, buy anything that doesn't have speakers, and doesn't have less than 40 or whatever sounds.

    I would also suggest getting weighted keys. While you learn, it is easier to step down to the typical synthizizers which have light plastic feeling controls. I use them on occasion when I come accros them, but it's fun to play on a REAL piano when you come accross those too. Folks who learn on non weighted keys can perhaps find in more difficult with the "touch" of playing on a real piano with its weighted keys.
     
  9. thepannist macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    #9
    I have the Fatar Studiologic SL990 and it is near perfect (pitch bend and mod wheels would have been nice, as would built in MIDI). It has a great piano feel and 88 keys. I believe that Fatar keyboards are what Kurzweil uses on their workstations (which are supposed to have the best piano feel). I couldn't be happier with it.

    If you really want to play piano, then you can't go wrong with this. If you just want to mess around with GB, then get something cheaper, smaller, and you probably won't notice the difference.
     
  10. kanker macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    Location:
    Indy
    #10
    There aren't any on the market right now (that I know of, and I'm a huge gear slut), but in a month or two M-Audio will be putting out the Keystation Pro88 which will an 88 key weighted USB MIDI controller. I've only seen one price on it, so I don't know how reliable the info is, but it will be going for about $500 if the info's correct.

    While your arguments for weighted keys are valid, it seems that a basic USB MIDI controller would work fine to me. A 61 key controller from M-Audio would be fine for someone trying to see if the whole thing interests them. About $150, and down the road, if you want to upgrade you can easily, and still have a servicable keyboard for the fam. If the main thrust of this is to use GB, you don't need anything more. Pushing pro gear at someone who's looking to have a little fun and introduce the kids to music is a bit overboard IMO. The fact is, GB pretty much does anything a low end pro keyboard can do, and a little more. Get something simple, inexpensive, and servicable. The last thing you want to do is drop $5-700 on something for the kids to plunk around on only to have them pour a coke in it.
     

Share This Page