2017 was our 20th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments.
Over 100,000 members from around the world.
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad) Piano Sight Reading
train piano sight reading with your iPhone or iPad
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Pianoteq
Steinway Spiro Layering
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
Who's Online Now
71 members (Blague, anotherscott, btcomm, Abdol, Alex Hutor, BeeZee4, ando, 19 invisible), 494 guests, and 380 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 25
J
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
J
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 25
Hi everyone,

I know this forum is used mainly for DPs, but I guess many of you have some experience with controllers/synths/arrangers too, right? So, I need keys that I can take easily on the bus to jam with a friend on weekends, and a small MIDI controller would fit the bill. I don't need any fancy capabilities, just good keys. That's what I'm after:

1) A nice 49 keybed
2) Mod/pitch wheel
3) Octave up/down buttons
4) Sustain input
5) USB-powered (non-proprietary plug), class-compliant for iOS
6) As compact and lightweight as possible, relatively well-built
7) Under $200 new

The following would be nice, but not mandatory:

8) Aftertouch
9) Expression pedal input
10) MIDI out
11) Extra knobs/pads/slides (as long as it doesn't make it bigger)
12) External power supply, on/off switch

So, these are my options:

- Roland A-49: Seems to be the gold standard. Great reviews, everyone likes the action. Even comes with a cool shiny red light. The downside? Cost twice as much as any other on the list...
- Alesis Q49: Ok brand, I'd imagine an ok instrument, right?
- Line6 Mibile Keys 49: Well known among guitar players. Again, I'd imagine an ok instrument.
- Behringer UMX490: The only one I've played before. Didn't like it at all, keys were too stiff, worse than my old cheap PSR. Included as an example of what I *don't* want.
- M-audio Keystation 49: Some like, some hate. Seems to be on the budget side along with Behringer. Which is fine for me, as long as it's good.
- Samson Carbon 49: Haven't heard about the brand before, but seems well-known.
- Acorn Masterkey 49: For what I get it's just a re-branded generic controller. Looks good on pics/vids tough.

So basically what I want to know is:

- Have you played any of these (or their 25/61 variation)? What's your opinion?
- Some of them state "synth action" (unweighted?), some "semi-weighted"... Do you think there's a difference? They all seemed pretty standard spring-loaded thin plastic keys... What exactly is "semi-weighted" to begin with??
- What kind do the famous synths such as DX7, M1, D50 have?
- If there's indeed a difference, should I be looking at a unweighted or semi-weighted keybed for general playing, piano to synth? (assuming I'll have a proper 88 hammer-action for serious playing)
- Do you think the Roland worth twice as much as the rest or will I just be paying for the brand? On pics the keys seem to be smaller (and rounder) than standard ones, is is correct? Does it matter?
- and so on...

Yes, I would love to just go to a store and try all of them out, but here in Brazil it's not that easy (most are only available online). So any input is really appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 17,299
M
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
M
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 17,299
Without being able to test them yourself, it will be a shot in the dark. However, you can go with the name brands that have good warranties and good reviews to help narrow things down.

I'm not well-versed in MIDI controllers, so I will refrain on speaking on those models and leave it to those who know better.

Look up lots of reviews on these. Of course, no matter how good something is, you will find some yahoo going in there and saying how awful it is etc and give it 1 star. Sometimes it turns out to be a disgruntled employee and has nothing to do with the product, but still if there's a lot of that and with the same issue, you may not want to take a chance on that controller.

I don't think you're going to get afertouch on any of these, btw. That's generally reserved for high-end synths (but it's good to dream, eh?).


private piano/voice teacher FT

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 243
A
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
A
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 243
What about the Novation Launchkey 49? I haven't tried that one myself, but I have a Novation SL MKii and it has the best synth-key action I've ever played. You should check if launchkey has the same action as the SL MKii.


Nord Stage 2, Nord Lead 4, Rhodes MkII, Yamaha MOX6, Novation SL MkII
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 98
R
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
R
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 98
I'm wondering why you don't have the generally highly regarded Akai Professional MPK249 on your list? I have the 61-key version, as a supplement to my Kawai DP.

Edit: oops -- I glossed over the "under $200" part...the Akai is $399 new, but maybe you can find a gently used one, particularly if people start dumping them for the newly announced "Advance" series.

Last edited by rungabic; 02/28/15 11:03 PM.
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,627
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,627
Controller is a good idea size wise. Of the lot, yeah I'd go with the Roland A49. But on the bus, how are you going to power it and hear it? You'll have to hook it up to a laptop or iPad or something, and those speakers are cr@p to hear with the background noise of a bus. You'll be able to hear it yourself with phones....

Something cooler might be a Roland Juno-Di which runs on batteries. Has its own sounds, doesn't need to hook up to a 'puter of some kind. Headphones are good for you to hear it. Hmmm, with friends....

There are battery powered amps.
KC110
But not cheap.

The Jam Hub or something like it is cool for a few people to plug in and hear each other with phones. Needs a power supply though... hmmm

I think this plan needs to be planned out some more before you spend the $.

Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 117
P
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
P
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 117
I used the M-Audio Keystation 49 as a controller for Ivory II and for iPad music apps. This was while doing international travel and was the best portable solution I could find.

It meets all of your criteria 1 through 7, not sure about the after touch etc. (I am learning Classical piano).

I can recommend the Keystation in isolation from the other candidates as I have no experience with them; it met my needs and was surprisingly playable.

Good luck in your search.


No real talent for the Piano.
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 45
L
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
L
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 45
DX7 an M1 keybeds are HQ semi-weighted.
you only can find it on middle or high priced master keyboards because it is an expensive mechanical system.

For instance you can play semi-weighted on M-audio Axiom 49 ( but not on Keystation 49...)
I think you must increase your budget...


Roland HP 503 + audio-technica ATH-M40x + M-Audio AV30 Studiophile + Roland duo capture EX

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,883
A
5000 Post Club Member
Online Content
5000 Post Club Member
A
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,883
Don't worry about semi-weighted vs. unweighted. No matter which of those you look at, some of them are decent and some of them are terrible (and this being as subjective as it is, people won't even always agree about which is which). The point is that the feel of the individual board is much more important than which of those categories it falls into.

I believe the Samson Graphite 49 has everything you want except an expression pedal input. It has an above average feel, and it has aftertouch.

Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 25
J
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
J
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 25
Originally Posted by Morodiene
I don't think you're going to get afertouch on any of these, btw. That's generally reserved for high-end synths (but it's good to dream, eh?).


Thanks for the tips. Actually the A-49 manual says the D-BEAM can work as aftertouch... I'm just not sure how, since most people don't have 3 hands ;P

Originally Posted by Auver
Novation Launchkey 49

Originally Posted by rungabic
IAkai Professional MPK249


Thanks, but they're overkill for what I need, extra money/bulk for things I won't be using...

Originally Posted by ElmerJFudd
Controller is a good idea size wise. Of the lot, yeah I'd go with the Roland A49. But on the bus, how are you going to power it and hear it? You'll have to hook it up to a laptop or iPad or something, and those speakers are cr@p to hear with the background noise of a bus.


LOL!!! I guess I haven't made it clear enough: I plan to take it (alongside my laptop) on the bus TO MY FRIEND'S PLACE! I've never thought about jamming INSIDE the bus, although I'm tempted to do it now that you've mentioned it! grin grin grin

Have you played the A-49?

Originally Posted by pspicer
I used the M-Audio Keystation 49


Thanks! Can you say anything else about it? Build quality? Have you played any other keyboard (not just controllers) you can compare it to?

Originally Posted by leesan
DX7 an M1 keybeds are HQ semi-weighted.
you only can find it on middle or high priced master keyboards because it is an expensive mechanical system,


Thanks for the info! Actually the Samson Carbon 49 is said to be "semi-weighted", although I wouldn't expect it to be in the same ballpark... (the others just state "synth action" or nothing)

So, if DX7 is semi-weighted can you give me an example of "unweighted" boards? An organ maybe?

Originally Posted by anotherscott
I believe the Samson Graphite 49 has everything you want except an expression pedal input. It has an above average feel, and it has aftertouch.


Thanks! The Carbon seems to be the same as the Graphite, just stripped down (and half the price). Have you played the Graphite? What did you think about it?

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,883
A
5000 Post Club Member
Online Content
5000 Post Club Member
A
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,883
Originally Posted by jcdamascenojr
Thanks! The Carbon seems to be the same as the Graphite, just stripped down (and half the price). Have you played the Graphite? What did you think about it?

Completely different actions. To me, Graphite feels nice, Carbon feels like typical cheap junk.

Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 25
J
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
J
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 25
Originally Posted by anotherscott
Completely different actions. To me, Graphite feels nice, Carbon feels like typical cheap junk.


Hmm, nice to know it... The Graphite does fit all my criteria (even the extras), but the 10" depth won't fit the bag I have frown

***

Anyway, I had to shrink the list so that's what it came to:
- with shipping the Line6 ends up costing almost as much as the Roland
- couldn't find the Alesis new
- already said I wouldn't get the Behringer anyway
- action in the Samson said to be very bad
- decided not to take my chance with Acorn

This leaves me with... M-audio Keystation 49 (~$160) x Roland A-49 (~$300).

Soooo, the million dollar question is: Do you guys think the Roland worth the premium price? Or should I just get the Keystation and be done with it? I don't have problem spending the extra, but obviously only want to if it means a noticeable improvement.

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,883
A
5000 Post Club Member
Online Content
5000 Post Club Member
A
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,883
Originally Posted by jcdamascenojr
[The Graphite does fit all my criteria (even the extras), but the 10" depth won't fit the bag I have frown

***
This leaves me with... M-audio Keystation 49 (~$160) x Roland A-49 (~$300).

The Graphite plus a new appropriately sized bad would still cost you less than the Roland.

If possible, maybe you should order a few of the contenders from a place with a good return policy, then keep the one you like best.

Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 25
J
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
J
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 25
Originally Posted by anotherscott
The Graphite plus a new appropriately sized bad would still cost you less than the Roland.


Actually both cost the same around here, and a new bag +$40. Add to that the the Graphite is 5lb/2kg heavier. If I was sure I´d use the extra knobs it would be exactly what I need (had no idea one could get a full-featured controller that cheap), but I don´t see myself using most of it anyway.

I´ll wait to see if anyone else will chime in, if not I´ll order both and send one back.

Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 317
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 317
I'll be interested to see how you get on.

I'm after a cheap keyboard that I can keep at work to practice on during lunchtime. I had a play with the M-Audio Keystation 49 and, although it had full sized keys, it was a bit like playing the piano on a sponge. It'll probably be good enough for a quick practice during the day, but wondered whether throwing a bit more money in and getting the Roland A-49 would offer much of an upgrade.

To be clear, I'm not looking to replace my home digital piano, just a cheap keyboard with full-sized keys to allow me to do a bit of extra practice during the day. Just wish there was a 49 key keyboard with weighted keys available.


Roland F130-R
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,883
A
5000 Post Club Member
Online Content
5000 Post Club Member
A
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,883
Originally Posted by Trevor May
Just wish there was a 49 key keyboard with weighted keys available.

If you can wait a year...

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1200817609/vax-midi-keyboard-controller

Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 317
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 317
Originally Posted by anotherscott


That looks great. I'd like one now, though, and a little more cheaply. smile

FYI, I found a Roland A-49 to demo at lunchtime today and it has a much superior action to the M-Audio. The keyboard as a whole feels a lot more solid, and the keys have less wobble. It's not like a real piano, of course, but it's nowhere near as spongey. I'd definitely spend the extra and get the Roland.


Roland F130-R

Moderated by  Piano World 

Link Copied to Clipboard
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
(ad)
Couch to Concert Hall
Couch to Concert Hall
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Newbie discoveries and breakthroughs
by SunnyKeys - 04/23/21 09:11 AM
Bach Prelude tempo
by Hakki - 04/23/21 08:59 AM
How do they do it?
by sheana - 04/23/21 07:54 AM
How to Play Blues Piano
by BB666 - 04/23/21 03:02 AM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
Forum Statistics
Forums42
Topics206,486
Posts3,085,687
Members101,286
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers

Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | MapleStreetMusicShop.com - Our store in Cornish Maine


© copyright 1997 - 2021 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5