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Good semi-weighted keys?
#1591829 01/06/11 12:18 PM
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Hello everybody

Can anybody recommend a semi-weighted masterkeyboard that has a good keytouch? It should allow expressive playing and have a consistent velocity response. I'd use it mainly for mocking up orchestral stuff. I'm playing the piano for many years now and have an upright at home, so I'm quite picky about the keys. The keyboard I'm using right now is an M-Audio Oxygen and it's just no fun at all to play. I'd be grateful for any help

Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
goodkeys #1591907 01/06/11 01:40 PM
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"Semi-weighted" and "good key touch" are mutually exclusive in my experience and opinion. Could you elaborate on what you mean by semi-weighted and good key touch? Are you looking for hammer action? If so, I always thought "semi-weighted" was a marketing euphemism for "not hammer action". If not, then the M-Audio 88 ES seems to be a popular choice. If you are not opposed to buying used then there should be an abundance of older digital pianos to be had online which were made before hammer action became popularized.

Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
goodkeys #1591914 01/06/11 01:48 PM
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What is semi weighted?

I always thought the keys were either cheapo spring action like low end casio keyboards they use at school, or weighted hammer action, possibly graded.

Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
goodkeys #1592127 01/06/11 06:31 PM
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Bobbo: Semi-weighted keys generally have that same spring-loaded action you describe, but generally in a full-sized piano-style key configuration. They are normally a little sturdier than the cheapo Casio's (and Yamaha's for that matter) but the feel is comparable.

Some are different than others. The older Kurzweil SP76, for example, really fights you. It's probably not bad once you get used to it, but you can definitely feel the keys pushing against your fingers. Others may simply feel 'light'.

OP, I assume you're looking for 76 keys? The Yamaha NP30 may be something to consider. It has a good action for a semi-weighted, and the piano sounds are really expressive. The keys are supposed to be "graded" semi-weight, but I don't have enough experience with the board to really tell a difference. YMMV.

Last edited by LesCharles73; 01/06/11 06:32 PM.

Les C Deal




Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
goodkeys #1592205 01/06/11 08:32 PM
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I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked
Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
goodkeys #1592290 01/06/11 11:09 PM
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Goodkeys,

Take a good headphones to the store and spend some time on the Yamaha NP 30. I have all four types of keybeds to play with, from the M-Audio with its little coil spring action, to an old acoustic console. The NP 30, or for that matter any of the boards that Yamaha advertises as "Graded Soft Touch" seem to have a unique keybed. Instead of metal springs, each key is supported by an elastic donut that holds the contacts (I took mine apart). There is a little more resistance at the top of the key travel as the "donut" collapses--hence a keybed that feels more like the action of starting a "hammer" from rest on an acoustic instrument. For me, it is much more pleasant to play than my M-Audio, though it is a light, unweighted action (I don't know what "semi-weighted" really means either--an EMU board I bought and sold was built like the M-Audio controllers, but had metal slugs glued under the white keys--who were they kidding*##**!!).

The NP 30 might meet your needs--76 keys starting with "E", and Midi in/out. (Before Christmas BestBuy was selling a 76 "Grand piano, graded soft touch" keyboard for $200, which struck me as an incredible buy, since these boards all seem to have the same excellent piano samples built in). You might also "google" "yamaha NP V80--this is a new offering based on the same keybed as the NP 30, with more of the "controller" bells and whistles.


Bob M

Charles Walter Model 1520
Yamaha NP 30, NP 11, PSR E333
Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
goodkeys #1592321 01/07/11 12:18 AM
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As a pianist, you might actually prefer a lightweight hammer action. I think of my Casio PX-330 as being half way between "semi-weighted" and "full weighted" and I like it.

Greg.

Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
goodkeys #1592344 01/07/11 01:02 AM
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+1 for the Casio PX series. I have a slightly older PX-310 and it is in a comfortable 'middle' between heavy stiff at one end of the spectrum and cheap organ feel at the other end. Although, you have to wear it in a little - it started out on the stiff side. But now it is more easy to press the keys all the way to the keybed in rapid succession.
Personally, I prefer super-light action on acoustics, and another DP controller you might check out is Yamaha's P-95. It is only 500 bucks at Guitar Center and to me has a very fast, light, responsive action. I know most here at PW would refer to the lightness as cheap-feeling, but I prefer it to fighting against stiffer, higher-end DPs in the Roland, Kurzweil, and Yamaha lines (especially on fast runs and soft chord voicings where you want one note to stick out a little. Also the Roland 300-GX and the old FP4 have very light actions (Alpha II) that don't hurt your hand muscles after lengthy playing.
Good luck with your search! :-)

Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
goodkeys #1592390 01/07/11 04:30 AM
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Thanks for all the tips. Will check these keyboards out.
Actually it's not that I wouldn't like hammer action. The point is that I can't get it because I'd love to have only 61 keys, which would fit nicely under my desk (and which are enough for the mockup purpose). There's absolutely no space for more in my cramped room. So it has to fit under the desk.
The only 61 keys model with hammer-action is the Studiologic VMK 161 plus and that's not for sale in my country. Hence the question if there are any good semi-weighted keys. The Yamaha graded soft-touch might be a good tip

Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
goodkeys #1592447 01/07/11 09:29 AM
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goodkeys,

Then the Yamaha NP boards may not work for you--they are 49 1/2"", 1250mm wide. If cost is no concern, there is a really neat controller that folds in half for travel, the VAX 77, that would fit under a desk. Since you thought about the VMK161, I assume you will be connecting to your laptop, though the VAX has its own soundset and would probably work with headphones.

Here's the link: http://www.infiniteresponse.com/


Bob M

Charles Walter Model 1520
Yamaha NP 30, NP 11, PSR E333
Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
LesCharles73 #1592469 01/07/11 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by LesCharles73
The Yamaha NP30 may be something to consider. It has a good action for a semi-weighted, and the piano sounds are really expressive. The keys are supposed to be "graded" semi-weight, but I don't have enough experience with the board to really tell a difference. YMMV.


The NP30 is actually technically unweighted, not semi-weighted. However, it serves as an example of why not to choose something just based on its specifications, because it actually feels better for piano playing than some (most?) semi-weighted boards. And yes, they are graded, i.e. they offer more resistance at the bottom than at the top, though I think the benefit of that is very over-rated (like... none).

The piano sound is pretty good too, as you mentioned... though I don't think the OP cares about the board's internal sounds...

Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
goodkeys #1592473 01/07/11 10:34 AM
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When I read this my first thought go to this keyboard:

Korg PS60

[Linked Image]

Maybee something for your needs?

Last edited by Richard Stark; 01/07/11 10:36 AM.
Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
Bob M #1592474 01/07/11 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob M
You might also "google" "yamaha NP V80--this is a new offering based on the same keybed as the NP 30, with more of the "controller" bells and whistles.

I don't think the NP-V80 has any controller capabilities over the NP-30, except for having a pitch wheel. However, it does have a USB port so you don't need a separate interface. I'd still prefer the added flexibility and obsolescence protection of the true MIDI connectors on the NP-30.

Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
erichlof #1592480 01/07/11 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by erichlof
+1 for the Casio PX series. I have a slightly older PX-310 and it is in a comfortable 'middle' between heavy stiff at one end of the spectrum and cheap organ feel at the other end...
Personally, I prefer super-light action on acoustics, and another DP controller you might check out is Yamaha's P-95. It is only 500 bucks at Guitar Center and to me has a very fast, light, responsive action. I know most here at PW would refer to the lightness as cheap-feeling, but I prefer it to fighting against stiffer, higher-end DPs

Greg said he felt that the PX-330 was a lightweight action, but I found it to feel heavier, more sluggish than a real piano. I think your PX-310 was much better than the new PX-330 in that respect.

I used to have a 310, it's a nice instrument, I would generally take it over the 330. Better feel, much better EP sound, easier to read labels that can actually be seen when on stage... and even though its piano sound is less "authentic" its piano somehow felt more musical to play. The only thing I really like better about the 330 is that you can cleanly switch to a new sound while holding a chord. (OTOH, the new PX-3 is quite nice, I like it much better than the 330... though for its other features, not strictly for its function as a piano, which is about the same as the 330.)

I like the feeling of the Yamaha P95 too. It's closer to your PX-310 than to the newer PX-330 or PX-3.

Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
goodkeys #1592482 01/07/11 10:49 AM
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As I mentioned in another thread, key weight (full-, semi- or unweighted) and action type (spring action vs. hammer action) are two different attributes of a keyboard.

The key weight refers to the actual weight of the keys and affects their momentum. "Fully weighted" means the keys resemble the weight of the wooden keys of an acoustic piano. This is done either by adding led weights or by using actual wood (cf. Kawai MP8/10 and CA series).

The action type refers to the mechanism that returns the key on release. This is done either by attaching a spring that is compressed while the key is played, or a little hammer that is lifted and returns the key with its weight.

How "heavy" or "light" a keyboard feels is not directly related to key weight. A "light-feeling" hammer action will most probably have fully weighted keys all the same (personally, I know of no hammer action that is not fully weighted). On the other hand an unweighted spring action could feel quite "heavy" if the used springs are rather strong or the keys' travel distance is rather short.

Re: Good semi-weighted keys?
goodkeys #1593089 01/08/11 06:06 AM
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Yeah I don't care about internal sounds, only really about the keys.
The Korg PS60 looks interesting, I'll try it out.
@LaRate Thanks for that clarification, I didn't know that

Overall it's good to know that you think non-hammer-action keys can be good. It let's me start my tour through the stores with more confidence. So thank you all smile


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