Piano World Home Page
Posted By: PeterRT Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 02:41 PM
In the stickied thread "Comparison of Portable Digital Pianos under 1000 US$" the author makes this comment
Quote
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"?
Posted By: David Farley Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 02:55 PM
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.

Posted By: toddy Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 03:08 PM
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.
Posted By: PeterRT Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 03:09 PM
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.
Posted By: Charles Cohen Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 03:13 PM
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
Posted By: MacMacMac Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 03:13 PM
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.
Posted By: PeterRT Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 03:19 PM
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?
Posted By: MacMacMac Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 03:30 PM
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.
Posted By: peterws Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 03:40 PM
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.
Posted By: PeterRT Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 04:03 PM
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.
Posted By: Morodiene Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 04:13 PM
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.
Posted By: PeterRT Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 04:18 PM
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.

Posted By: David Farley Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 04:57 PM
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.
Posted By: toddy Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 05:18 PM
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.
Posted By: PeterRT Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 05:27 PM
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.
Posted By: toddy Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 05:42 PM
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).
Posted By: Charles Cohen Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 10:00 PM
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.
Posted By: PwYm Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 11:04 PM
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.
Posted By: TheodorN Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/17/14 11:43 PM
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.
Posted By: EnGee Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/18/14 03:03 AM
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?
Posted By: Charles Cohen Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/18/14 06:12 AM
FWIW --

The Oxygen 88 weighs 46 lbs (21 kg). If you're moving it around, that could be a factor.

. Charles
Posted By: EnGee Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/18/14 08:12 AM
Yes the Oxygen 88 is not that portable especially it is a midi controller only, so you need a laptop (computer) to make it work and monitors (speakers) or headphone to be able to hear what you are playing, while the DP doesn't need to be plugged into the computer to function.

Anyway I think it is a good choice in the studio or at home especially if you have all Software/hardware configured right, but we should go to the shop and test/compare it with other DPs before ordering it.

For me, if I decide to choose Oxygen 88, then I would sell my Oxygen 49, Otherwise I would have a DP beside my Oxygen. Finito! I solved my problem and no need for a new thread :-)
Originally Posted by PeterRT
In the stickied thread "Comparison of Portable Digital Pianos under 1000 US$" the author makes this comment
Quote
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"?

Casio PX-150.
Posted By: Kbeaumont Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/18/14 02:21 PM
For the best dollar value a PX-150 is hard to beat as a software controller for things like pianoteq & Ivory. Decent action, inexpensive, 3 sensors and highly portable. At $499 USD & 24lbs its really a great value.

There are other, better 88 key piano controllers. But you start to go up in price & weight. The Kawai VPC1 is probably the most realistic grand piano action & the Roland A-88 is a decent controller with a good feel. But the VPC1 is $1850 USD & 65lbs.
The A-88 is about $1000 USD and 35lbs.

It seems as you double the dollar amount you also nearly double the weight.
Posted By: TheodorN Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/18/14 03:14 PM
Except the PX-5S, it's the same weight as the PX-150.
Posted By: Digitalguy Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/18/14 06:26 PM
A nice thing about A-88 is that it is bus powered, so the pc can power it, without the need to plug it anywhere else. Same thing for the cheaper Oxygen (but heavier and with a fatar action that I don't like, too sticky in my opinion). I know PX-5S can be battery powered. I don't know if Px-150 is battery powered too, but it has one more vote from me as the best option for playing software piano (and with the added possibility of being a full DP if needed every now and then).
Posted By: Morodiene Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/19/14 12:56 PM
Originally Posted by Kbeaumont
For the best dollar value a PX-150 is hard to beat as a software controller for things like pianoteq & Ivory. Decent action, inexpensive, 3 sensors and highly portable. At $499 USD & 24lbs its really a great value.

There are other, better 88 key piano controllers. But you start to go up in price & weight. The Kawai VPC1 is probably the most realistic grand piano action & the Roland A-88 is a decent controller with a good feel. But the VPC1 is $1850 USD & 65lbs.
The A-88 is about $1000 USD and 35lbs.

It seems as you double the dollar amount you also nearly double the weight.
I wouldn't recommend the VPC1 as a MIDI controller. It's a virtual piano controller (thus the name). So unless you are only going to do piano sounds and have no need for pitch bend, mod wheel, and the ability to control other sounds via sliders, the VPC1 won't be a good fit.

I recommend the Casio privias. If you don't need the on-board sounds and will do most of your work on a DAW, go with the PX-150, but the downside is you have less control (no assignable knobs or sliders) - but can't beat the price and you'll still get a decent action and portability. If you want some of the other sounds and sequencing capabilities as well as assignable sliders, then the PX-5S is a better choice.
Posted By: EnGee Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/19/14 02:00 PM
Well, I didn't expect to buy a Privia but I found a used one (PX-5S) at less than the half price (and about $250 less than a new PX 150). So, I took the risk and bought it without even seeing it!

To tell you the truth, I would be very disappointed if I bought it for the full price (the one I bought is almost new). The reason is the very clumsy navigation/interface and the screen. so small? even my Casio watch has more lines and words inside lol! The sounds? Hmmm mostly are not nice, but about 10% are very nice indeed like the first Piano and some Electric Piano, Organ and Electric guitars and some few sounds scattered here and there.

It has a synth and 6 hex layers with some modulations for the lfos ..etc. It is a good synth but not great. It can't beat the virtual synths I have, no way! But if you like to work like crazy in three lines small screen and keep pressing buttons here and there, then it might be a nice option. For me, I even didn't bother to try making my own presets.

I thought to sell my Oxygen 49 because PX-5S has knobs, sliders and modulation wheel. Now I'm not so sure. I prefer the knobs/sliders and modulation wheel in my cheap Oxygen (I couldn't make the knobs in PX-5S "midi learn", so I'm not sure if they are assignable [update: yes they are assignable], the sliders are ok though). Another thing is I couldn't believe how noisy the keys are! I could hear the noise even with the headphone on (closed type)! I didn't play late at night because I think the neighbours would complain.

But in the end I'm really very happy to have it. The noise of the keys is not important really. The feel is fantastic. it is just one day and I feel I got used to the feel that I'm typing the same way playing! :-) It fits exactly my need which is a DP with good weighted keys, and an acceptable Piano sound that I can practice with. The Midi is good, I can send and receive Midi with the interactive tutorial and the notation software :-)

In conclusion, I'm with most of the above advices. PX 150 is really a good option and it is a better option than PX-5S IMO(considering it has the same keys). If you need a midi controller, then it is better to buy a separate cheap one like Oxygen 49 or similar controller.
Posted By: TheodorN Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/19/14 02:44 PM
You can download presets from the Casio forums, need to register as a user first, though. Some of them are good, in my opinion. You might want to get the Data Editor, downloadable at the Casio website, for a better overview of the controls and parameters. That is, if you want to have your computer hooked up to the piano, not everybody wants that.
Posted By: Charles Cohen Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/19/14 09:39 PM
Originally Posted by Morodiene
. . .

I recommend the Casio privias. If you don't need the on-board sounds and will do most of your work on a DAW, go with the PX-150, but the downside is you have less control (no assignable knobs or sliders) - but can't beat the price and you'll still get a decent action and portability. If you want some of the other sounds and sequencing capabilities as well as assignable sliders, then the PX-5S is a better choice.


Also the PX-150 (and PX-350, unfortunately) have a "pitch bend" wheel, but no "mod" wheel.

The price difference between PX-150 and PX5s will pay for a _very_ expensive mod wheel and multi-knob, multi-slider MIDI controller box. THen you have to multiplex the MIDI signals, but I suspect that's easy with Pianoteq (or other software).

. Charles

PS -- see following post by Kawai James -- there's no "pitch bend" wheel on the PX-150. Oops! THere is one on the PX-350.
Posted By: Kawai James Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/20/14 02:56 AM
Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Also the PX-150 (and PX-350, unfortunately) have a "pitch bend" wheel, but no "mod" wheel.


There is no pitchbend wheel on the PX-150. This feature is introduced with the PX-350.

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: brooster Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/20/14 05:44 PM
If you plan on using Pianoteq wouldn't it be best to have a controller that had half-pedal capability? If so, which lower cost piano type controllers correctly transmit half-pedal data?
Originally Posted by brooster
If you plan on using Pianoteq wouldn't it be best to have a controller that had half-pedal capability? If so, which lower cost piano type controllers correctly transmit half-pedal data?

The PX-150 does, with the SP33 pedal board.

Or surely you could connect up another midi pedal device that could be configured to provide fully variable sustain pedal input?
Posted By: theoak Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/21/14 08:55 PM
I found this video that compares the action between a VPC and PX-5S.

Youtube Video

The point of the video is to compare triple sensor keyboards and demonstrate that not all are created equally.

I think it will give you an idea of what to expect at least from an action perspective.

The clear winner is the VPC; however, perhaps the 5S can be configured???

FYI


Posted By: slowtraveler Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/21/14 10:19 PM
The Arturia KeyLab 88 MIDI controller is scheduled to ship in a couple of weeks. It has a Fatar hammer-action keybed with a fairly comprehensive-looking inventory of knobs, sliders, buttons, and whatnot, and appears to come bundled with Arturia synth software.

It weighs 29 lbs and will retail for $800 in the U.S.

Could be a good choice if onboard sounds and speakers aren't required.

http://www.arturia.com/evolution/en/products/KeyLab88/intro.html
Posted By: anotherscott Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/21/14 10:55 PM
Originally Posted by slowtraveler
The Arturia KeyLab 88 MIDI controller is scheduled to ship in a couple of weeks. It has a Fatar hammer-action keybed

I believe it is the TP100, so it probably won't be one of the better feeling 88s.

If the question is, low cost controller with good action for driving software pianos (and it seems that's what the OP wants), I'd say the answer is PX-150. PX-5S is nicer for having programmable buttons, knobs, sliders, wheels... but strictly for driving software piano, while not useless, they are not essential. (And the triple pedal attachment for the PX-150 could be advantageous.)

The Casios also have the third sensor. While again it may not be essential (nor as well implemented as in the VPC1), it's still a nice extra perk for the cheap PX-150.
Posted By: slowtraveler Re: Looking for inexpensive controller - 07/22/14 02:48 AM
Originally Posted by anotherscott
If the question is, low cost controller with good action for driving software pianos (and it seems that's what the OP wants), I'd say the answer is PX-150.


Yeah, for that particular application, it's hard to argue with the PX-150. That's an amazingly good action for its price point and weight, and even with stand and pedalboard it would still cost less than the KeyLab 88.
© Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums