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View Full Version : New Composer Looking for Advice on Midi Controller(s)


Gabriel_M
04-21-2016, 03:13 PM
So I have been watching this EastWest site for quite a few years dreaming of taking the leap and getting some of their products. I think it is time, ComposerCloud looks like a good way to get my feet wet.

Now the question: I need a midi keyboard and would like to know from you all, which would be better; aftertouch functionality or 88 keys? I am kinda on a budget and since I am just starting out I don't really want to go over the $300 dollar range in this department.
Aftertouch sounds really nice, but how much do you think it helps you?
For the Play software and key switching is it pretty necessary to have 88 keys?
The reason I ask these questions is that there doesn't seem to be an 88 key midi controller out there with aftertouch that is anywhere near my budget at this time.

Some of my ideas: Get an 88 key midi controller *and* a mini midi controller that does have aftertouch (which would be nice for traveling, which I am likely going to be doing), or just get a 61 key controller with aftertouch.

Also are there any brands you recommend?

Completely random (and possibly dumb) question? Does EW Spaces allow you to run live audio recordings through it or is just for samples?

NathanielJohnson
04-22-2016, 02:51 AM
I wouldn't worry about aftertouch. After spending years with 25/37/49/61 key keyboards, I fiiiinally bought an 88. One of the cheapest made - wow - what a difference. Not having to select octave ranges, being able to see the entire range of the orchestra, and key switching properly is definitely where its at. I'm using an Alesis Q88 and would recommend it to anyone. Simple, cheap.

chibear49
04-22-2016, 06:43 AM
+1 to N

However, unless you are a pianist, 88 keys in a row is probably not all that necessary. I have a keystation 61es and oxygen 8 (25 keys) which together cover all but a couple of notes at the high end, and both of which I picked up on kijiji at a huge savings. The oxygen 8 also gives the bonus of 8 programmable knobs. The only thing I've added is lemur on my android tablet (last I looked, less than $20), which gives me all the controllers I need for now.

For me there is a psychological advantage to this setup in that, for the most part, because of the 2 keyboards keyswitches are visually isolated from sound-making keys.

LMW
04-22-2016, 08:21 AM
Aftertouch sounds really nice, but how much do you think it helps you?

Edit: I have a couple of keyboards, and the one I┤m currently using the most has aftertouch.
What I was referring to below was my main MP7 which has weighted keys. That is something
else entirely. I┤ll leave the original text below as is. Very sorry for mixing that up. :(

I┤m pianist, so having 88 keys and aftertouch was definitely a requirement for me.
But this is mostly about how to play in the piano samples. For "regular"
playback etc. a keyboard without aftertouch is not really necessary.
It┤s a nice feature, but that┤s all.

For the Play software and key switching is it pretty necessary to have 88 keys?
No, 88 keys are not necessary. If I┤m not mistaken, the EW Steinberg even has 91? :cool:
For myself, I quite like having the full range.

Keyswitches can be assigned to any note on the piano. So that is no problem.
Though you┤ll, obviously, have to go through the hassle and assign it.


The reason I ask these questions is that there doesn't seem to be an 88 key midi
controller out there with aftertouch that is anywhere near my budget at this time.
For $300? No. Not that I┤m aware of. Though you might want to check eBay etc.
Just be aware of what you┤re buying and who the seller is. And you can always
check back here. ;)


Now the question: I need a midi keyboard and would like to know from you all,
which would be better; aftertouch functionality or 88 keys?

Some of my ideas: Get an 88 key midi controller *and* a mini midi controller
that does have aftertouch (which would be nice for traveling, which I am likely
going to be doing), or just get a 61 key controller with aftertouch.
I┤d go for the 61 keys. They┤re usually cheaper than 88, and you┤re still finding out if it┤s really for you.
But if you find a 88 key one and it┤s price is agreeable to you, then I┤d go for that.

I┤m afraid I don┤t know many keyboards. I tried myself through the entire keyboard
section in one of the largest music stores in Europe before choosing. :p


Some other question, you should be thinking about:
- What┤s your hardware? RAM, CPU, drives?
- What interface are you using?
- Which sequencer?

admin
04-22-2016, 11:05 AM
No, 88 keys are not necessary. If I┤m not mistaken, the EW Steinberg even has 91? :cool:
For myself, I quite like having the full range.

EW B÷sendorfer has 96 keys.

C4L88
04-22-2016, 12:08 PM
Go 88 keys

Maybe it's controlling something else (in which case someone please correct me), but EW samples do not play nice with aftertouch,

I have some small, cheap drum pads (nicely arranged like a one octave keyboard) and they have aftertouch and when you release them, whatever pressure you released them at, the sample will stay at the same volume. The standard is at "full" aftertouch pressure so if you don't release it as such, the next time you play that sample it will play at a lower volume.
This is across all the EW libraries I own (which is quite a lot)

If I ever want to use those drum pads with EW libraries I have to go into Logic's environment and adjust the aftertouch messages coming from the pads to not register in Logic (since the device doesn't have its own method of doing so)

LMW
04-22-2016, 02:23 PM
EW B÷sendorfer has 96 keys.
Even better. :)


My above text has been edited.

chlady
05-03-2016, 06:44 AM
I have a 88 key yamaha P90 controller but also keep some smaller keyboards closer to my workstation including a small Oxygen 8 25 which works well for just the keyswitches and midi learn functions and use the other keyboard for inputting.

JBlongz
05-03-2016, 07:46 AM
I use the Korg Nanokey for key switching. Its slim, neat, and cheap.

Arnaud.G.Music
05-03-2016, 08:32 AM
I can highly recommend the Nektar lx88 if you want a good semi-weighted 88 keys. The velocity response is smoother and more consistent than the m-audio/alesis 88es, plus it has different velocity curves that can be selected from the setup menu.

It also fits right into your budget: http://www.nektartech.com/Products/Impact-LX88

Cheers

trumpoz
05-04-2016, 01:54 AM
I use the Korg Nanokey for key switching. Its slim, neat, and cheap.

The Korg Nano line is fantastic for a lot of things. I've got my NanoKontrol setup as a Generic Remote in Cubase connected to the VST Mixer.

The other option for key switching is using the Korg NanoPad - the advantage there is that you get an X-Y pad (great for controlling dynamics and vibrato at the same time in HS/HOW) and also 4 scenes of 16 pads, so you can set key switches on scene and use the others to trigger various other functions.

Gabriel_M
05-05-2016, 02:53 PM
This is some great advice here! So glad I joined the forum!

So it looks like a lot of this just depends on the individual composer.
However, it does seem like having access to all the key switches is more important than aftertouch. Some would prefer to have two boards and one be the key-switching board and others would rather they all be on one board.

I ended up finding an 88 key controller within my price range and it is in the mail now.
I may try aftertouch and additional keyswitching in the future on a smaller board.
Originally Posted by Arnaud.G.Music -
I can highly recommend the Nektar lx88 if you want a good semi-weighted 88 keys. The velocity response is smoother and more consistent than the m-audio/alesis 88es, plus it has different velocity curves that can be selected from the setup menu.
This is actually the one I ordered! It is nice of you to confirm for me that it's a good board. :D

Originally Posted by LMW -
Some other question, you should be thinking about:
- What┤s your hardware? RAM, CPU, drives?
- What interface are you using?
- Which sequencer?
Good questions.
I have a gaming laptop (Win 8.1) that I originally purchased for the sake of video editing and 3D Animation, but I had music production with EW products in mind when I bought it.

It has an i7 3630QMCPU @ 2.4 GHz Processor
16 GB of RAM (with slots for another 16 if needed).
The operating system runs on an SSD and most of my files are stored on a Terabyte HDD but I also have an external 2TB HDD (that I think runs at 7200RPM) with enough space for the composer cloud gold products.

I know people use master / slave systems, and someday I might get into that.

QUESTION: How many instruments could 16GB of RAM hold?
I plan to do orchestral pieces. Am I going to be hurting with only 16GB?

I am currently learning to work with Cockos Reaper right now but I am open to other DAWs as I am just testing things at the moment. I see Reaper is supported and that people use EWQL products with it.
Does anyone find it working well for them?
Are there better options for a beginning composer on a budget :)?

Originally Posted by LMW -
- What interface are you using?
What do you mean by this? I am new to this field. Do you mean the way I plan to connect the keyboard to the computer?

Thanks everybody for your advice! I will be coming back for more of it in the days to come!

PS I am not familiar with the quoting techniques of this forum... I think I did it kinda right....

LMW
05-05-2016, 07:02 PM
It has an i7 3630QMCPU @ 2.4 GHz Processor
Ok.
16 GB of RAM (with slots for another 16 if needed).
QUESTION: How many instruments could 16GB of RAM hold?
I plan to do orchestral pieces. Am I going to be hurting with only 16GB?
This depends. Hundreds of patches, if you don┤t use the heavy stuff (e.g. HO).
A couple of dozen with the really heavy duty patches (up to 1 GB). But those
are mostly in HO.
So you should definitely be able to get a good enough template off the ground!

And, you wrote you can up it. So I suggest you check how you fare with 16 GB RAM,
and if you find it┤s not enough, you can always add a stick or two. ;)


The operating system runs on an SSD and most of my files are stored on a Terabyte HDD
but I also have an external 2TB HDD (that I think runs at 7200RPM) with enough space
for the composer cloud gold products.

Check the "On Harddrives" link in my signature.

TL;DR:
- Not OS.
- 7200rpm minimum.
- Read-only.


I am currently learning to work with Cockos Reaper right now but I am open to other DAWs
as I am just testing things at the moment. I see Reaper is supported and that people use
EWQL products with it. Does anyone find it working well for them?
Are there better options for a beginning composer on a budget :)?
Cubase fanboy here, so: Cubase!! :p

In earnest: Almost all (if not all) of the major sequencers offer trial versions
of their product. Mostly limited in their duration or in their available features.
Do yourself a favor and try them!


What do you mean by this? I am new to this field. Do you mean
the way I plan to connect the keyboard to the computer?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_card#Professional_soundcards_.28audio_interf aces.29


PS I am not familiar with the quoting techniques of this forum... I think I did it kinda right....
I think you might have noticed the quote button ... ;)

At the front, is [QUOTE=Username; Postnumber], at the end [ /QUOTE]
Or just [ QUOTE] Text [ /QUOTE], if you don┤t want to link to the original post.

Gabriel_M
05-05-2016, 07:08 PM
You are so helpful! Thank you so much. I will look this stuff up.

Fleer
05-05-2016, 07:10 PM
I'm fond of my Alesis Q88 as well, inexpensive and playful. But I also enjoy that sweet Nektar Panorama P6 and some smaller controllers like CME Xkey (with polyphonic aftertouch) and M-Audio.

LMW
05-05-2016, 07:10 PM
You┤re very welcome. :)

I forgot about the RAM: Remember that the OS will use 3-4 GB,
so you┤ll effectively have 12 GB of RAM for samples.

Jeez, Fleer, your sigs been updated, since I last saw you. Impressive. :cool:

Fleer
05-05-2016, 07:12 PM
Yeah, Lorenz, slowly but surely we're getting there :)

LMW
05-05-2016, 07:14 PM
Erm ... where is "there"? ;)

Fleer
05-05-2016, 07:15 PM
Neverland ;)

Fleer
05-05-2016, 08:25 PM
And I forgot to add the most interesting controller of them all: Native Instruments Kontrol S. I've got the 49-key version, but it also exists in 88.