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Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
#3002184 07/13/20 01:53 PM
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Hi,

I recently bought a Roland A-88mk2 midi controller for work in Logic Pro X. A-88mk2 has piano action, ie. the PHA-4 standard keyboard.

However, I've noticed that the black keys (some more than others) often create loud clunky noises when released, especially when repeating notes, eg. a trill. It's almost like the chassis is too small, and the hammer mechanism is hitting the casing or something.

Are there other A-88mk2 owners here? It would be great if you can confirm if this is a "feature" of this particular keyboard (or keyboard action), or if I received a defective unit.

Thanks!

Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3002206 07/13/20 02:53 PM
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How long has it been out of its packaging and did you inspect the bottom (i.e. base) of it when you unpacked it? I'm asking because my first A-88mkII had a severely broken base due to some sort of accident in transit and I didn't even notice at first. It powered up, it looked fine, it played fine, no cosmetic damage to top, front, back or sides, I was totally happy with it. Then I went to put it on the stand where it would be staying, got my first look at the base and oh dear, that was very broken. Having seen that I could look at the top again and see that actually some things were not quite at their intended angles.

The replacement arrived undamaged and no, I don't get various clunking noises on release of the black keys. There's just the same dull thud on each black key as it hits whatever padding or whatever I assume it is supposed to be hitting. They sound different from the white key releases, but all sound similar to each other.

Unrelated to your issue, but crucial for trills on the A-88mkII: The original factory installed firmware is garbage where key repeats are concerned. (It sends note off as soon as the key comes *up* through the middle sensor) but this is fixed by an update available on the website. Unless they have started factory installing something more recent it is essential to update to the latest version.

Last edited by xooorx; 07/13/20 02:53 PM. Reason: typo
Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3002291 07/13/20 07:03 PM
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I've had the previous edition of this controller, the original A-88, and yes the sharps do exactly what you describe. I think it's just the mechanism's design with no hard linkage between the key and the 'hammer' part. If you grab a sharp key and press it up and down quickly, you'll feel the inertia of the hammer is slower than the speed at which you can raise the key. So the hammer part comes up on its own due to gravity while the key itself returns a bit quicker because it's not tied to the more slowly returning hammer. You can do the same thing with the naturals, but perhaps the key is bigger, it's slower to return than the sharps thus no clunk noise results. Seems the mating surface between key and hammer is rather hard, causing a more pronounced clunk. Compared to my VPC1 here with a much softer hammer to key mating material, there's no similar clunk coming from the VPC1 action. So I think this is just the design and not a defect of any sort.


Lance @ VI Labs
Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3002499 07/14/20 01:47 PM
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Thanks for the helpful replies. smile It seems that this is a "feature" then, and not a defect. I would have liked to upload a video clip of the issue, but it seems there's no way to this here. Thanks again.

PS: Xooorx, thanks for the tip about the firmware, though I always upgrade to the latest firmware when I purchase a new keyboard, which is a good idea. smile

Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3002512 07/14/20 02:23 PM
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Btw. here is a video of the issue. It would be great if you could take a look at it, and see if your A-88(mk2) keyboard does the same thing. Certain black keys has this issue, but some don't. It could be the different key weights that make the difference, but it would be great to know if my keyboard is working properly or not. Thanks!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE48_zBs7J4&feature=youtu.be

Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3002514 07/14/20 02:30 PM
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I had the first FP8 long time ago, I remember that it developed some issues like that.
But when I got it, was already a very old piano.
Strange this happening with this brand new keyboard.

Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3002534 07/14/20 03:25 PM
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It could have been poorly handled in shipping, as the packaging had a large hole that was covered over with tape. The keyboard is sitting by my computer for Logic Pro X work, so the noisy keyboard is very noticeable. Hmm, think I'll have to contact the web store and hear what they have to say about it.

Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3002535 07/14/20 03:28 PM
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You definitely should contact the store for a replacement.

Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3002560 07/14/20 04:51 PM
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I've had a similar thing with the Roland FP-10, so apparently the same keyboard - but only when releasing the keys really fast - kinda like they would stick to the finger and that would pull them up quicker than they would naturally want to. And that was actually on the white keys. But always, just sometimes, depending on how I would play. Maybe on the black keys it's easier to induce such behavior in your case?

Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3003330 07/16/20 12:11 PM
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I recently bought an A-88 Mark 2 and when I tried the black keys after reading your post, I find that I can generate a clicking noise on some black keys when I hit them in a certain place. But I am not sure I would have noticed this if I had not read your post, and it is not loud enough to be irritating. Having watched your video a few times, the keys sound very similar to mine with the possible exception of the B flat. One factor that has occurred to me is the stand. Mine is on the type of stand where the keyboard rests on two ‘bars’. The keys sound a little different depending on how near they are to a bar. Maybe it might be better on a stand where it is supported over its full length e.g. a desk?

The issue I am having is that the response of the keys differ when I am listening to the sounds generated by VST instruments. For example, with Apple’s Steinway Grand preset, the E above middle C is noticeably more responsive than the keys either side. That is to say that for the same pressure, the volume is louder. I have only recently started using VST instruments to play classical piano, so maybe this is a typical weakness in ‘bundled’ VST instruments or could it be an issue with the AK-88 key bed? The strange thing is that when I use the Bosendorfer preset or even Roland’s Tera Piano, other keys have a similar problem although not quite as pronounced. Maybe I just need a dedicated piano VST such as Ivory etc? I have also read somewhere that the PHA-4 key bed can take time to ‘settle in’. Have you had any of these kinds of issues?

Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3008815 07/31/20 03:56 PM
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Thanks for all the comments. I received a new A-88mk2, and its keys don't have clunky keys (so far anyway). Good to know. smile

Kramda, if the noise doesn't irritate you, I wouldn't bother with exchanging the unit. I tried out some different stage piano models in a local music store, and most keyboards have some keyboard action noise. I'm rather sensitive to keyboard noise, because I use the keyboard in a quiet environment.

On another note, what do you think of the velocity levels Kramda? To me they seem really poor, surprisingly so from Roland. Almost all the velocity levels are too heavy, but the lightest one is too light. Yes, I can tweak things in Logic Pro X, but used as is the velocity response from A-88mk2 feels weird IMO. Definitely some room for improvement here, if/when Roland releases a new system program update for A-88mk2.

Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3008843 07/31/20 05:12 PM
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For crying out loud, on the new keyboard both the F and G in the one-line octave doesn't work properly (no sound when played softly). Where is the quality control from Roland? Now I have to return the second unit? Jeez...

Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3008861 07/31/20 06:11 PM
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Beside the noise problems, it's strange those velocity problems on the A88 mk2, a lot of reviews emphasize how good the default velocity curve is.
On the Sound on Sound magazine, from August, the reviewer talks about it.

Last edited by Otavio; 07/31/20 06:12 PM.
Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Otavio #3009172 08/01/20 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Otavio
Beside the noise problems, it's strange those velocity problems on the A88 mk2, a lot of reviews emphasize how good the default velocity curve is.
On the Sound on Sound magazine, from August, the reviewer talks about it.

Well, the velocity curves are very heavy, and the lightest one is too light again. Of course, you can always improve the velocity curves within the VSTs anyway, so it's not a big problem.

Anyways, I'm starting to think the keyboard here is totally borked. I also notice some other keys being damped immediately after struck. Nope, definitely have to return this one also. Geezz... frown

Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3012991 08/12/20 10:52 AM
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OK, finally got my third A-88mkII, and this one works perfectly. i could swear the velocity curve on this one felt better too, as I really like the velocity curve when just playing around with it. Anyways, I can highly recommend this keyboard, it has a very good keyboard action and plenty of useful features. I guess I was unlucky with the two first items, but the third one is great. smile

Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3013856 Yesterday at 02:56 PM
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Nope, I spoke prematurely. It seems some of the white keys double-trigger on the third keyboard, and Roland support had nothing to add to the issue, other than "return the item". At this point, I have to find another keyboard model/brand, because this is getting ridiculous. (And yes, I doubled and triple tested in various ways to exclude any outside error.)

This is probably the best overall weighted midi keyboard on the marked for general use - theoretically speaking, but Roland has some serious quality issues here. IMO, stay away from A-88mkII, at least for a few months, until Roland has this figured out.

Re: Roland A-88mk2 - clunky black keys?
Karnevil #3013877 Yesterday at 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Karnevil
Nope, I spoke prematurely. It seems some of the white keys double-trigger on the third keyboard, and Roland support had nothing to add to the issue, other than "return the item". At this point, I have to find another keyboard model/brand, because this is getting ridiculous. (And yes, I doubled and triple tested in various ways to exclude any outside error.)

This is probably the best overall weighted midi keyboard on the marked for general use - theoretically speaking, but Roland has some serious quality issues here. IMO, stay away from A-88mkII, at least for a few months, until Roland has this figured out.


Shame on Roland....


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