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#3162485 10/07/21 09:24 AM
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I am using the M-Audio Hammer 88 as my MIDI controller. I use it to just play on as well, and for me the action is just fine. Problem is, this keyboard has no onboard sounds at all, it's just a MIDI controller. So I'm having to spin up my DAW and load a sound every time I want to play it. This has turned out to be a PITA.

However, all the other DPs I've looked at have a huge assortment of sounds and effect and button and knobs, none of which I will ever use, as I do all that in the DAW. What I need is a MIDI controller with decent action and just a basic piano sound or three. I don't need all that performance stuff, nor organs and harpsichords and cheesy strings and all that. Seems like I can only get a controller with either NO onboard sounds or else A THOUSAND onboard sounds and options (which I'm having to pay for of course).

Any suggestions?


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At one side of the Yamaha range of DP, you have the P45 : just one function button you use in coordination with the 88 keys, 10 sounds, not huge !

At the other side you have AvantGrand, with typically the N1X, few buttons (9) and 15 sounds, not huge too ! (The keyboard is more than descent wink )

More seriously, don’t bother with the 1000 sounds (there are generally far less sounds), and compare the different pianos with the default piano sound or an other piano. Putting many sounds doesn’t cost much, putting one good sound costs much (this is why you have on Yamaha some resonance synthesis for example).


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Yamaha CLP150, Bechstein Digital Grand, Garritan CFX, Ivory II pianos, Galaxy pianos, EWQL Pianos, Native-Instrument The Definitive Piano Collection, Soniccouture Hammersmith, Truekeys, Pianoteq
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I believe there is a Raspberry Pi version of the Pianoteq VST. For some 40 bucks for the Raspi, plus active speakers plus Pianoteq License you can turn your M-Audio Hammer 88 into a complete system. Low-end yes, but still better than a cheap slab with integrated speakers.

Just be cafeful not to spend too much on the speakers, otherwise you will also want to buy a USB Audio DAC to really take advantage of them. The Raspi integrated 3.5mm audio-out is said to be underwhelming.

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Get a Casio PX-150 or px-160, used. They're both out of production, but the action is reasonable, they have a few built-in sounds, and MIDI-to-USB connectivity. Very few knobs and buttons.

Any of the Yamaha equivalents (P-105 / 115 / 125 ) would also be fine.


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Dexibell SX7 rack loaded with a couple of their platinum pianos will accomplish this. All the non-piano sounds can be overwritten with the large samples of the platinum pianos so that you use all of the sample memory for a couple of pianos. I believe it also can function as an outboard DAC/soundcard for your computer.

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There are many digital pianos with just a few sounds and just a few buttons.

Yamaha P-125, Roland FP-30, Kawai ES110, Korg D1 (no speakers), Casio PX-S1100, Medeli SP-201, Kurzweil KA90 etc...

These are all portable ones but there are cabinet models too.

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As a curiosity CME used to have a master controller with an optional plugin board for a piano sound or a few piano sounds. Maybe not anymore(?)

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Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
There are many digital pianos with just a few sounds and just a few buttons.

Yamaha P-125, Roland FP-30, Kawai ES110, Korg D1 (no speakers), Casio PX-S1100, Medeli SP-201, Kurzweil KA90 etc...

These are all portable ones but there are cabinet models too.


korg b2 also

Last edited by jackopiano; 10/07/21 01:20 PM.
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Originally Posted by Jim of Seattle
Any suggestions?

Yes: that controller with 88 controls, that act on hammers that hit strings (physical). And it does not require electricity to work. smile

On a serious note, I doubt you will find an option with only one sound. The gazillion sounds that some offer are more a matter of marketing than real usefulness as most are simply bad (e.g. on my RD2000) but still the rationale is if they do not offer it, they are in disadvantage.

There are some entry level DPs mentioned above that have relatively few sounds. My ES8 (not entrly level though) has, I think, around 30 sounds.


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I don't like VSTs for the same reason you don't.

The extra sounds are not adding any cost to the piano. The cost is set by what the market will bear, not what it costs to make. It's cheaper for you to ignore the organ and harpsichord sounds than for Kawai, Roland, or Yamaha to dedicate a special assembly line for pianos that have only one sound -- that would add to the cost, not make it cheaper.

Buy a keyboard for which you like the keybed and the default piano sound, at a cost you're willing to pay.

I'd suggest the Kawai ES110 if you don't need great speakers, or the ES520 or Yamaha P515 if you do.

Or, as EVC2017 suggests, get a real piano. There can be some great deals in refurbished acoustics.


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If it is simplicity you are looking for and you happen to have an iPhone/iPad then perhaps you should consider keeping your M-Audio keyboard and downloading an app with the sounds you need. Boot up is instant and there is not much to carry about.
If its just piano you need I'd recommend Pure Piano. For an extended sound set maybe Korg Module or bs-16i plus some soundfonts.

Last edited by Jonky Ponky; 10/07/21 03:34 PM.
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When I was travelling thos summer I bought an Alesis Q49 and plugged it into my phone running Perfect Piano, and then listened using headphones.

Very simple, portable and free.


I'd be a far better pianist if I spent the time I'm on this forum playing my piano instead.
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Originally Posted by Jonky Ponky
If it is simplicity you are looking for and you happen to have an iPhone/iPad then perhaps you should consider keeping your M-Audio keyboard and downloading an app with the sounds you need. Boot up is instant and there is not much to carry about.
If its just piano you need I'd recommend Pure Piano. For an extended sound set maybe Korg Module or bs-16i plus some soundfonts.


if you're on android and this solution interests you, check this thread for info on apps (free and paid)

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3113797/piano-keyboard-vsts-for-android.html

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1 sound, 1 action: Kawai ES110


Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's The Jazz Theory Book and helped develop The Jazz Piano Book. Studied with Mark Levine 1985-89 and Barry Harris 1995-99
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Originally Posted by RinTin
1 sound, 1 action: Kawai ES110

Don't care much for the sound (might not have been on default when i got it) but for pianoteq, it's the best for me. Lovely keyboard.

Last edited by peterws; 10/09/21 11:39 PM.

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Agree, best bang for the buck where I am...


Btw, am I right that the ES110 key action is a folded type?


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Originally Posted by josh_sounds
Btw, am I right that the ES110 key action is a folded type?

Yes, but who care ? You just have to try it and know if it is good or not. Only this matters.


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I believe that all DP actions are "folded", except:

(a) some "hybrid DP's" that use actions similar to (some would say "identical with") upright and/or grand acoustic actions (Yamaha NU1(x), N1/ N2/ N3,
Kawai NV series);

(b) the Kawai DP's that use their "Grand Feel" actions.

Don't take this for gospel, I haven't done an exhaustive search.

I agree with Frederic -- it's not as simple as "folded bad, not-folded good".


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We can add Casio GP310, GP510… which are not folded.


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http://humeur-synthe.sinerj.org/
Yamaha CLP150, Bechstein Digital Grand, Garritan CFX, Ivory II pianos, Galaxy pianos, EWQL Pianos, Native-Instrument The Definitive Piano Collection, Soniccouture Hammersmith, Truekeys, Pianoteq
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Even real acoustic upright actions are folded ... 90 degrees upwards.

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