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Looking for inexpensive controller
#2303326 07/17/14 09:41 AM
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In the stickied thread "Comparison of Portable Digital Pianos under 1000 US$" the author makes this comment
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the best "bang for the buck" option is to buy a cheap digital piano, or MIDI controller, with a good key action, and connect it to a computer (a cheap new laptop should be enough) to let a great software produce the piano sound
I posted in that thread but didn't get a response.

What are some good options for "a cheap digital piano, or MIDI controller, with a good key action"?

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Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303327 07/17/14 09:55 AM
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Take a look at the Casio PX-5S. It will do all that and more. Other newer PXs have the same action if you don't particular like the 5S but like the feel. If you need built-in speakers, maybe the Yamaha DGX-650. These are under $1K and both good enough that you should get a lot out of them with or without needing to use the computer.


Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303330 07/17/14 10:08 AM
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Any digital piano with MIDI connections or MIDI over USB will work as a controller. That's all digital pianos. Most agree that the Casio PX 150 (which has the same keyboard as all Casio's higher level pianos) has the best action in its price range.


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Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303331 07/17/14 10:09 AM
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Thanks. In the stickied thread I mentioned, the author liked the Kawai ES100, which sells for about $800. So I had the impression you can get a good controller for less than that.

The Casio PX-5S sells for about $1,000.

Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303334 07/17/14 10:13 AM
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If you intend to use the computer as your sound-generator, the Casio PX-150 is a less-expensive option than the PX5s. It has the same keyboard mechanism.

The PX-150 doesn't have "real MIDI" jacks. It has a "MIDI-over-USB" jack, which (with a proper cable) lets your computer _think_ that it has MIDI jacks. For computer-to-keyboard communication, that works fine.

. Charles


. Charles
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Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303335 07/17/14 10:13 AM
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I think this is a contradiction:
Originally Posted by PeterRT
the best "bang for the buck" option is to buy a cheap digital piano, or MIDI controller, with a good key action ...
You can get a cheap piano, or you can get good key action ... but not both.

Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
Charles Cohen #2303337 07/17/14 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
The PX-150 doesn't have "real MIDI" jacks. It has a "MIDI-over-USB" jack, which (with a proper cable) lets your computer _think_ that it has MIDI jacks.

I'm currently using an old Kawai synth hooked up to a Focusrite interface with ASIO drivers. Do you happen to know if there is an ASIO driver for the PX-150?

Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303342 07/17/14 10:30 AM
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The ASIO driver is for the sound card (Focusrite), not for the piano keyboard.

Unless the keyboard came with specific USB driver software, it will need no driver. Just plug it in to your PC.

Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303348 07/17/14 10:40 AM
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there HAVE BEEN FOLK ON THE aDULT bEGINNERS fORUM WHO`VE PLAYED WONDERFUL STUFF ON THE cASIO px150 COMBINED with software piano. Makes this about the cheapest option for good results imo. They make great controllers by all accounts.


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Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
MacMacMac #2303357 07/17/14 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
The ASIO driver is for the sound card (Focusrite), not for the piano keyboard.

Unless the keyboard came with specific USB driver software, it will need no driver. Just plug it in to your PC.

In that case it would use the built-in Windows driver. My concern is with latency. Whenever I've used non-ASIO drivers the latency has been significant.

[edit] After thinking about it some more I realize I only experienced latency with interfaces. I once tried a controller plugged directly into a computer and it was fine.

Last edited by PeterRT; 07/17/14 11:15 AM.
Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303359 07/17/14 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by PeterRT
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
The ASIO driver is for the sound card (Focusrite), not for the piano keyboard.

Unless the keyboard came with specific USB driver software, it will need no driver. Just plug it in to your PC.

In that case it would use the built-in Windows driver. My concern is with latency. Whenever I've used non-ASIO drivers the latency has been significant.


The ASIO4all driver usually works well for most people. You won't really know about latency until you get your DP hooked up to your PC, so that shouldn't influence your DP purchase.


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Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
Morodiene #2303362 07/17/14 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by PeterRT
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
The ASIO driver is for the sound card (Focusrite), not for the piano keyboard.

Unless the keyboard came with specific USB driver software, it will need no driver. Just plug it in to your PC.

In that case it would use the built-in Windows driver. My concern is with latency. Whenever I've used non-ASIO drivers the latency has been significant.


The ASIO4all driver usually works well for most people. You won't really know about latency until you get your DP hooked up to your PC, so that shouldn't influence your DP purchase.

I'm not looking for a DP though. I'm looking for a controller or a DP to use as a controller.


Last edited by PeterRT; 07/17/14 11:19 AM.
Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303370 07/17/14 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by PeterRT

I'm not looking for a DP though. I'm looking for a controller or a DP to use as a controller.


Are you looking to use it for a synth controller and not necessarily piano software? In that case, yes, there are a lot of low end options with not-so-good actions you could use. I don't think you'll get a lot of specifics here because most people here aren't poking around in the really low-end market. I used to have a Yamaha YPG with "soft touch" that I picked up for $300. It had a USB MIDI port that worked fine with my iPad. The really low end won't even have MIDI.

Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303374 07/17/14 12:18 PM
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Do you want the controller to be like a piano, or like a normal electronic keyboard? If it's the first, then the Casio PX series (cheapest is PX150) is generally considered best - at around $500. It has a full 88 weighted hammer action keyboard, so feels something like a grand piano's keyboard.

Of course Yamaha, Kawai and Roland etc also do budget level DPs, but not with this quality of keyboard, for this price.

If you need a normal sprung action keyboard, then the cheapest home keyboard with midi or USB will do.

If you need the controller for more advanced MIDI control, like dividing the keyboard into zones, pitch bending and modulation, then a stage keyboard such as Casio PX5s would be ok.

But there are lots of quite well equipped controllers, such as CME UF70 if piano action is not required , and you needn't spend more than 2 or 3 hundred dollars.


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Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303377 07/17/14 12:27 PM
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I'm looking for a controller with piano like action that will control piano software.

I'm surprised a $500 DP is better than a $500 controller. I guess that has something to do with Casio's economies of scale.

Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303382 07/17/14 12:42 PM
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Usually, a DP will cost a lot more than a non-piano type keyboard - even one which has advanced control functions can be pretty cheap. The development, manufacture and assembly piano hammer type keyboards is expensive, and other generic type keyboards can be used in all kind of instruments, so the cost comes down.

The PX5s is a stage keyboard with sound engine, control functions and a piano type keyboard, so it's more (@ $1000) than the cheapest DP with that quality of keyboard, which is the PX150 (@ ~$500).


Roland HP 302 / Samson Graphite 49 / Akai EWI

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Focusrite Saffire 24 / W7, i7 4770, 16GB / MXL V67g / Yamaha HS7s / HD598
Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
toddy #2303477 07/17/14 05:00 PM
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I'm running a PX-350 (using the MIDI-over-USB) into my laptop PC, and using Pianoteq as my sound generator.

The ASIO4ALL driver is running the laptop's built-in soundcard. There is no special driver installed for the MIDI-over-USB connection; Pianoteq just picks it up.

I have no discernable latency. That is, when I have both the PX-350's sound generator running, and Pianoteq running, and hit a key, I hear _one_ attack, not two.

. Charles

PS - I guess I should try recording both sound generators with Audacity, and check the first 20 msec of the "attack" to see if there's a lag. But I can't hear it, or feel it, and I'm going to let sleeping dogs lie.


. Charles
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Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303490 07/17/14 06:04 PM
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If you don't need advanced MIDI controller functions (like splits, zones, etc) as suggested the cheapest option with good piano action is Casio PX-150
A big step up in piano action is Kawai ES100, at $800 US.

Last edited by gg22; 07/17/14 06:04 PM.
Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303499 07/17/14 06:43 PM
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I'd recommend the PX-5S over the PX-150, as a MIDI controller. The reason is the old style MIDI jacks of the PX-5S. At least get a piano with MIDI jacks, although it's best to have both, that is, MIDI over USB as well. Using MIDI over USB can introduce a ground loop, with it's undesirable humming.

I got it in my setup of the PX-5S. Can't remember exactly how my setup was, think I was setting up for a software piano, but as soon as I unplugged my USB cable, and swithced to the MIDI jacks, no hum whatsoever.

Last edited by TheodorN; 07/17/14 06:44 PM.

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Re: Looking for inexpensive controller
PeterRT #2303541 07/17/14 10:03 PM
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What about Oxygen 88? It has weighted keys. I'm between this and the cheapest DP (in my place) Korg SP 170S.
I already have Oxygen 49 and I love it as a controller. The Oxygen 88 seems even with a better built quality.

The problem with Korg SP 170S is it has only Midi Out, but I have (like the OP) a focusrite audio interface with Midi in/out so it won't be a big problem.

I think we just need to check the velocity response. Some keyboards have a problem in that. Anyway, I'm a beginner in Piano learning, so I don't know if Oxygen 88 (or Kurzweil using Fatar in their keyboards) is on par with Casio PX 150 for example (which is higher than my budget) and if it will be suitable for learning Piano?

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