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#1325134 - 12/14/09 11:53 AM Which midi controllers are touch sensitive?
Ramin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/12/09
Posts: 11
Loc: Montreal, Canada
Hello all,
I am an absolute (adult) beginner in piano and would like to purchase a midi controller that I can connect to my computer in order to practice piano. My sole objective is that the controller should simulate the action of an acoustic piano as closely as possible. Midi features and extra bells and whistles are unimportant for me. I have done a fair bit of research and have learned about crucial features they must have. So I am going to purchase one 88-key weighted with graded hammer effect. Equally I have learned it is very important to have a touch sensitive keyboard so that the intensity or softness of the sound depends on how gently or crudely a key is pressed. While, it is easy to point out which controller features weighted keys, GHE, aftertouch or that how many velocity levels it has, manufacturers seem silent about touch sensitivity or, perhaps they use a different name for it of which I am not aware.

I know for example Numa midi controllers feature touch sensitivity (it is mentioned on their website). Unfortunately they are out of my budget. Besides, at their price level I would probably better off buying a digital piano like Yamaha CP33. I assume I can also connect CP33 to a computer and use it as a midi controller if I need, right?) and it is as portable as an 88key midi controller.

My question is the following: among the less expensive models which ones feature touch sensitivity? I am primarily thinking of Studiologic SL-990XP or Pro, Yamaha CX8, Akai MPK-88, M-Audio Keystation Pro 88 or any other model in the same price range (though I don't know if there are other options around)?

Thanks in advance.


Edited by Ramin (12/14/09 12:24 PM)

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#1325139 - 12/14/09 11:59 AM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: Ramin]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
I use a Yamaha P-85 piano for my controller needs. It also is a lovely stand alone piano as well(with speakers, no less!).

It has dedicated MIDI ports.

It does not have pitch and modulation wheels.

It comes with a sustain pedal.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325148 - 12/14/09 12:10 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: Ramin]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
All weighted keyboards are "touch sensitve" In fact all but cheap toy keyboards (and organs) not touch sensitve. The MIDI standard allows for 127 different velocity levels.

The web site do not list this as a feature for the same reason car web sites donot say that cars come with four wheels.

What you will find is that a digital piano with it's own buit-in tone generation system is about the same price as a midi controller. You may as well buy the piano. You'd think it might be cheaper to build a controller than a piano but but no, the controllers add features missing from the pianos

As for "after touch" You will not find that on any piano. Acoustic pianos don't have it so it is not built into DPs. The feature is useful for playing voices like flute or saxophone where a note might be modulated while it sounds. Same for pitch bend wheels, not something you'd use for piano sounds but you need to to play a convincing guitar sound

You were looking for "GHE" (or "GH" I assume as this is Yamah'a new name.) If so then the P155 is the lowest priced digital piano with GH action.

But seeing as you asked specifically for a midi controller the CP33 is the same price as the P155 but has features that make it a better controller.



Edited by ChrisA (12/14/09 12:16 PM)

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#1325189 - 12/14/09 12:58 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: ChrisA]
Ramin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/12/09
Posts: 11
Loc: Montreal, Canada
Thanks for clearing things up in my head. You mention a controller would cost as much as a digital piano. I see a CP33 or P-155 sells for about $1100-$1200 while the less expensive controllers sell for half of that or even less. For example, the Studiologic SL-990XP sells for $400 and even the pro version sells for just $100 more. Now I wonder what extra I would gain of buying a DP like CP33 (pr P-155), considering that I don't need the built-in speakers since I already have a good sound system at home. If the keyboard performance is the same, I would rather go for the less expensive option.


Originally Posted By: ChrisA


What you will find is that a digital piano with it's own buit-in tone generation system is about the same price as a midi controller. You may as well buy the piano. You'd think it might be cheaper to build a controller than a piano but but no, the controllers add features missing from the pianos

But seeing as you asked specifically for a midi controller the CP33 is the same price as the P155 but has features that make it a better controller.


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#1325198 - 12/14/09 01:14 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: Ramin]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
My buddy Zeke uses a Studiologic SL-990 Pro in the studio. It has 88 weighted hammer action keys that feel real nice...I believe it is a Fatar action.

It does not have aftertouch.

Works great for him...not too expensive either.

It also has pitch and modulation wheels; I wasn't too fussy about their location, but Zeke says you get used to it.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325225 - 12/14/09 01:53 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: Ramin]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: Ramin
Thanks for clearing things up in my head. You mention a controller would cost as much as a digital piano. I see a CP33 or P-155 sells for about $1100-$1200 while the less expensive controllers sell for half of that


Yes, and less expensice digitasl pianos like the CDP-100 sell for $300. Some midi controllser sell for $3,500 too. You can find examples of both DP and controller for ant price you want to pay.

Many Guitar canters have the Yamaha KX8 in stock for about $385. These are midi controllers that use Yamaha's "GHS" key action. But to get Yamaha's "GH" action you have to buy at least the CP33 or P155.

What you pay for is the keys action. Cheap $100 keyboards hace only spings under each key. The next level uip is simply to glue metal eights under the plastic keys and use stronger springs. Then they strarting using hammer actions and then some use better hammer actions and then you get into the best Kawai action that uses real wooden keys witht e same phisical design as a real grand piano. FInally there are people who will sell you an actualy grand piano keyboard, made of wood that has sensors fited.

So you can't simply go by price. You have to play the keys yourself find the one you like that you can aford. Some people are lucky and find they like the low cost keys. You can't buy based on specs. You have to try each keyboard.

After you try a few you mmay discover that in the Yamaha line you must have at least GH keys. If so then the lowest price GH is the CP33. If you find the GHS key acceptable then you can save quite a bit of money. Then try the Roland line, and then the ohers

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#1325346 - 12/14/09 04:44 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: ChrisA]
Ramin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/12/09
Posts: 11
Loc: Montreal, Canada
I am not sure I am adequately qualified myself to compare these keyboards and come into a conclusion. There is an upright piano at home which belongs to my roommate who also owns an inexpensive keyboard. I can certainly see the difference between these two in numerous aspects. However, when it comes to some decent weighted, GH(E), touch sensitive keyboards, even if I try them side by side, I may not be able to judge which one is the best. So, at this point I better off trust experienced pianists. Besides, I am not sure if I can find them all here in Montreal, Canada to make a comparison.



Edited by Ramin (12/14/09 10:03 PM)
Edit Reason: grammer correction

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#1325348 - 12/14/09 04:47 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: ChrisA]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
I used a Yamaha KX-8 controller for about a week. The action is very nice...well balanced, and responsive.

It did not allow transposition from the keyboard...it had to be done at the module, or VST.

Definitely a deal-breaker for me. I returned it.

The action on the P-85 is very similar to the KX-8 so it was an easy choice to go with the former.

I didn't need pitch/mod wheels as I was using the P-85 to control only the piano sounds on my arranger keyboards.

Your needs may be different.

The Studiologic SL-990 Pro is a nice piece of work, and I highly recommend it if you are wanting more extensive controller features. The action is very good.

For just controlling piano sounds, the P-85 does the job admirably. You can spend more, but you won't necessarily get more.

Again, as has already been said...try before you buy, if at all possible.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325531 - 12/14/09 08:29 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: Ramin]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: Ramin
I am not sure I am adequately qualified myself to compare these keyboards and come into a conclusion.


You and every other beginner have this same problem.

Most will not admit it but I think what "everyone" does is just buy something. Then after some time they replace the first keyboard with something that suits them better. They repeat this as required.

The other thing to note is that "everyone" seems to recommend whatever they happen to own. This means that people are generally happy no matter what they buy.

A good guess is that you will be a lot like "everyone" in both cases.


Edited by ChrisA (12/14/09 08:30 PM)

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#1325540 - 12/14/09 08:45 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: ChrisA]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Originally Posted By: ChrisA
Originally Posted By: Ramin
I am not sure I am adequately qualified myself to compare these keyboards and come into a conclusion.


You and every other beginner have this same problem.

Most will not admit it but I think what "everyone" does is just buy something.


Ha Ha...that's my problem too, Chris.

If I could only control it better, but all the mistakes I made buying, can at least qualify me a little bit towards helping someone just startin' out.

I've also learned that I am not young enough to know everything. wink

Thankfully, we have this great forum where we can all share our wins and, hopefully, our losses.

Sometimes a new poster gets so much good advice, he's more confused than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. wink

But there seems to be one common thread running through all our posts, and that is, "Try before you buy, if at all possible."

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325634 - 12/14/09 11:14 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: snazzyplayer]
Ramin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/12/09
Posts: 11
Loc: Montreal, Canada
Can you tell me what advantages P-155 has over CP33 and CP33 over P-155?

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#1331584 - 12/22/09 02:59 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: Ramin]
Ramin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/12/09
Posts: 11
Loc: Montreal, Canada
Hello,
I think I have got a good deal on a Yamaha P150. Can you confirm it has the same quality keyboard as the recommended P155 (GHS or GH)?

Thanks.

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#1331598 - 12/22/09 03:18 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: Ramin]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
The P150 is an older model that uses a key action that pre-dates both GH and GHS.

I don't know how it compares to Yamaha's current key action mechanisms. But I think in it's day the P150 was a high end stage piano so I'd guess the keys where pretty good.

I notice the p150 has pitch bend and modulation wheels. These would make the P150 a good midi controller for non-piano sounds

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#1331620 - 12/22/09 03:42 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: ChrisA]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
If you can get a P150, it will make a terrific MIDI controller.

It would be good if it saw mostly studio and/or home use.

They are built like tanks, and the action is very good, and very similar to a CLP-155...the pitch and mod wheels are first class.

The P-150 was introduced in 1995 so you're looking at a fairly old instrument, but if it was well cared for, you'll be getting a great controller.

Had one in the studio for about three years, and it worked flawlessly.

Snazzy

PS...you should be able to get one for around $300 USD
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1331633 - 12/22/09 03:55 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: Ramin]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: Ramin
Can you tell me what advantages P-155 has over CP33 and CP33 over P-155?


I looked into the what I noticed the CP33 and P155 sold for the exact same price

First off the CP33 lacks speakers. You need either headphones of some monitor speakers to hear what you play. I think (maybe) it also lacks a music rest, but you can buy one as an accessory.

The CP33 has much better controls. some of the items that in the p155 are down in the menu system are exposed as slides and buttons. For example if yo split the keyboard and play two sounds the balance between left and right hands is set with a slide control on the cp33 but but you have to work a couple levels in the P155's display and remember the correct code number. The CP33 works better on stage because you'd never be able to deal with function code number on a live stage. The CP33 has pitch band wheels and many other functions that make it a much better MIDI controller.

The P155 has a newer technology sound engine and some built-in speakers and has an available matching stand.


Edited by ChrisA (12/22/09 03:56 PM)

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#1332309 - 12/23/09 12:17 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: ChrisA]
Ramin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/12/09
Posts: 11
Loc: Montreal, Canada
Alright; he is asking for $300. So that's pretty a standard price for an old model. I am going to check it out and if nothing is broken, I will probably buy it.

Thanks for the info.

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#1332499 - 12/23/09 04:09 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: Ramin]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4274
Loc: Northern NJ
We have a Studiologic 880 Pro and a Yamaha P-120. The keys on the Yamaha are definitely better. The Studiologic uses a Fatar action that is OK, but the return springs are harder than the Yamaha, and the triggering isn't as piano-like (can't do fast repeated notes on it as easy).

Yamaha makes the best key actions IMO. But you should definitely feel for yourself. Try playing a key, then see how high you have to return the key in order for it to play again (Yamaha P-120 it's about 1/2 way). Press a key slowly and feel the strength of the return spring. Press a key quickly and feel the hammer. Play keys quickly on the ends and in the middle to see if the hammers are "graded" (heavier on the left, lighter on the right, often subtly so).

The Studiologic controls are primitive & unintuitive, I have to get the manual out to change any parameter (and even then I'm not 100% sure), but it does have aftertouch and the pitch-bend and mod wheels. Several months ago all the plastic posts for the screws holding the top on spontaneously cracked apart, and I had to repair it. Not very durable, avoid.
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#1332518 - 12/23/09 04:46 PM Re: Which midi controllers are touch sensitive? [Re: dewster]
Glenn NK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 457
Loc: Victoria BC
A little caution is advised when buying a keyboard or controller.

While MIDI can assign 127, values to velocity and other MIDI variables, not all keyboards/controllers do this. (128 levels including zero).

Many if not most piano MIDI files I have downloaded from the internet only have two or three damper control values (these were embedded by the keyboard during recording).

The value of zero is for dampers on the strings (the value of 127 is for dampers completely off the strings).

Some files have values of 64 which is so called "half-pedaling".

A good controller will generate values from zero to 127 inclusive - which means one can "feather" the dampers on the strings - quite useful at the end of a song where one releases the dampers to avoid an interminably long decay.

Glenn

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