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#2318951 - 08/23/14 03:59 PM Tablet setup for ultra portable rig
Sand Tiger Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1019
Loc: Southern California
Anyone using a tablet and a midi keyboard plus a software piano for an ultraportable rig?

Windows 8 tablets are coming down in price. Being new hardware, I am guessing that Win8 tablets have enough plenty of computing power to run virtual piano software. Someone asked separately about Android and it seems they have too much latency to run something such as Pianoteq.

The midi keyboards come in various sizes. The smaller ones are 25 keys. Two octaves seems only enough to play simple songs. Is there a work around? Or would 37 be the minimum. Going up in size goes against the ultra portability. Obviously, weighted keys are sacrificed for the small size and weight. Many have smaller than standard keys.

So is anyone running an ultraportable package? How is it?

Obviously there are some big trade offs, but the idea of something that easily fits a laptop bag is intriguing to me. If you were gifted such a package do you think you would use it? Or would it gather dust?

This would not be a good choice for classical pianists that want to improve technique. The smaller unweighted keys would work against that.

Potential uses might be for informal performances without lugging a full rig, jamming with other musicians, composing, car camping.
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#2318967 - 08/23/14 04:48 PM Re: Tablet setup for ultra portable rig [Re: Sand Tiger]
Jay Roland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/13
Posts: 268
Loc: White Rock, BC.
There's no way you can play piano on 25 keys. I would say 61 would be the minimum.

Jay
_________________________
National Piano Sales Manager for Roland Canada.
www.roland.ca
t: RCMPianoGuy

I'm sure that Jay (along with every other product manager in recorded history) is quite accustomed to hearing different customers assert "X" and "not-X" with equal conviction. - slowtraveler

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#2318980 - 08/23/14 05:56 PM Re: Tablet setup for ultra portable rig [Re: Sand Tiger]
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1733
I had in the past entertained similar ‘portability’ ideas, e.g. a short 2-manual keyboard, the bottom manual has a weighted action, the top manual has a synth action. Short could mean 49 keys, but you would have to have 2 left pedals, one for octave shift down, the other for octave shift up so that you have at least 6 octaves available for playing piano. This is an example for what hoops you would have to jump through to get both ‘portability’ and needed features.

There are other ‘portability’ ideas that you can pursue, but what I found was that by the time you get to 80% to 90% of your needed features (you never get 100%), all portable keyboard ideas have grown in terms of size, weight, and complexity, comparable to what the market already offers.

Sure, the market also offers ultra portable keyboards with limited feature sets such as small controllers for controlling software-based rigs. But again, adding features would inevitably ‘grow’ your rig negatively impacting 'portability'. You most likely need more features from your rig than at first thought.

I am not discouraging the discussion at all, though, on the contrary, I am VERY curious what others have to say about this issue.
_________________________
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Had I progressed to playing chords,
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#2318981 - 08/23/14 05:58 PM Re: Tablet setup for ultra portable rig [Re: Sand Tiger]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1258
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
I've tried "playing piano" (that is, two-handed playing with "treble" and "bass" parts) on a MicroKorg, with 37 keys.

You run out of keys _really fast_! And the "octave up/down" switch doesn't help, because you want to keep the hand that _didn't_ run out of room, playing whatever it's playing.

I agree with JR -- 61 keys is a workable keyboard. You can't handle classical repetoire, but it's usable for pop / jazz stuff.

I don't know if anyone makes a "mini-key" 61-note MIDI keyboard. That's as compact as I would want to go. "mini-keys" are nowhere near as nice as standard-size keys, but we're talking about a compromised system, here.

. charles

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#2319026 - 08/23/14 09:08 PM Re: Tablet setup for ultra portable rig [Re: Sand Tiger]
Digitalguy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/04/14
Posts: 423
Loc: Switzerland
I have 3 keyboards that you can see in my signature. One 88 (DP), one 61, one 37. All full sized keys. The only one I can put in a flight suitcase (even cabin one) is the 37 keys. While it's better than nothing it's a bit too limiting to play with 2 hands (especially if the piece is not in "C"). It's good to learn new pieces with on travel abroad (mainly with one hand). 61 keys is comfortable. My kross is one of the smallest 61 keys workstations with no mod wheel etc. on the side (under 1 meter or 37 inches and only 4.3 KG). That's what I take on trips where I don't fly. You can play it on your laps and it fits any desk. But you need to bring a pedal and headphones. All my keyboards (like most keyboards) have octave shift buttons, but shifting octave while playing is not comfortable (even with a pedal...)
_________________________
Roland FP-4F, Korg Kross 61, iRig Keys Pro, Focal Spirit Pro, Shure SRH240A, RME Babyface, M-Track Plus, Roland DuoCapture, iPad Air, iLoud, Ivory II ACD, Galaxy Vintage D, Galaxy Steinway, TrueKeys American, VILabs Ravenscroft, Kawai-Ex Pro, The Grand 2, SampleTekk Black, Addictive Keys, Ezkeys

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#2319060 - 08/23/14 10:48 PM Re: Tablet setup for ultra portable rig [Re: Sand Tiger]
MossySF Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/14
Posts: 26
Hmmm, what Korg next needs to do is make a mirrored version of MicroKorg. Then you can put 2 37 key mini keyboards side-by-side and get 74 keys.

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#2319095 - 08/24/14 02:59 AM Re: Tablet setup for ultra portable rig [Re: MossySF]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1258
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
There's a Korg "microKey61". That would be hard to beat.

Width 33.5" (85 cm). $180, with Korg "Legacy" collection of software synths.

. Charles

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#2319110 - 08/24/14 04:37 AM Re: Tablet setup for ultra portable rig [Re: Charles Cohen]
Digitalguy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/04/14
Posts: 423
Loc: Switzerland
Originally Posted By: Charles Cohen
There's a Korg "microKey61". That would be hard to beat.

Width 33.5" (85 cm). $180, with Korg "Legacy" collection of software synths.

. Charles


Personally, I cannot play satisfactorily on microkeys. I would prefer a 49 full sized keys keyboard...
_________________________
Roland FP-4F, Korg Kross 61, iRig Keys Pro, Focal Spirit Pro, Shure SRH240A, RME Babyface, M-Track Plus, Roland DuoCapture, iPad Air, iLoud, Ivory II ACD, Galaxy Vintage D, Galaxy Steinway, TrueKeys American, VILabs Ravenscroft, Kawai-Ex Pro, The Grand 2, SampleTekk Black, Addictive Keys, Ezkeys

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#2319140 - 08/24/14 07:45 AM Re: Tablet setup for ultra portable rig [Re: Sand Tiger]
anotherscott Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3195
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
Anyone using a tablet and a midi keyboard plus a software piano for an ultraportable rig?

Windows 8 tablets are coming down in price. Being new hardware, I am guessing that Win8 tablets have enough plenty of computing power to run virtual piano software.

Check the thread at
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2189473/all/Tablets:_a_Windows_Word_of_War.html

Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
Someone asked separately about Android and it seems they have too much latency to run something such as Pianoteq.

Right, there is a very limited selection of MIDI apps for Android, because the platform does not support low latency MIDI processing. However, iPads have Apple's CoreMIDI infrastructure, and there are plenty of MIDI apps, including some very usable piano apps (i.e. CMP Grand Piano and iGrand), though they are not as capable as what you can get for Windows. Nothing with the sophisticated modeling of Pianoteq, nor with the huge sample sizes of the multi-gigabyte offerings. Still very usable for the purposes you mentioned, though.


Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger
The midi keyboards come in various sizes. The smaller ones are 25 keys. Two octaves seems only enough to play simple songs. Is there a work around?

If the Miselu C.24 materializes, that would be the smallest option... a 2-octave ipad-sized keyboard that can be daisy-chained to create a 4 or 6 octave keyboard.

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#2321667 - Yesterday at 06:28 PM Re: Tablet setup for ultra portable rig [Re: Sand Tiger]
Sand Tiger Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1019
Loc: Southern California
Thanks for all the replies.

No one mentioned the CME Xkey. It is a Midi keyboard with 25 full sized keys about 15 inches wide, and less than two pounds (600 grams). Combine it with with an Ipad mini or Windows 8 tablet and it might be a neat thing to have around. At less than $100 USD it is cheap enough to just try. Reviews mention a sturdy aluminum body. It is small enough for a composer/songwriter to take along in their laptop or tablet bag. I didn't see an option to daisy-chain the Xkey units, but that would be an interesting setup, with 50 full sized keys, less than 6 pounds total for a tablet, two Xkeys, and a small speaker.

I own a 61-key Yamaha NP11, but at over 40 inches in width, 11 pounds, it is portable, but it is rather obvious when being lugged around. The 61 micro-key Korg mentioned is a more manageable 33 inches wide, and lighter, but doesn't fit into a typical day pack or laptop bag. The 25 key units would not attract huge attention. They are small and light enough (and cheap enough) to perhaps bring to work, or camping, or to the local coffee shop. I'm not ready to buy, just thinking about things.
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#2321737 - Yesterday at 10:21 PM Re: Tablet setup for ultra portable rig [Re: Sand Tiger]
anotherscott Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3195
The XKey is cool, but you can't connect them together, so you're back to the 2 octave limit. They're supposed to be coming out with a three octave version, though.

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#2321851 - 12 minutes 22 seconds ago Re: Tablet setup for ultra portable rig [Re: anotherscott]
Sand Tiger Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1019
Loc: Southern California
A person could "throw money" at it and get two tablets and two Xkeys. Figure $200 for a Windows tablet, $100 per Xkey and it adds up to $600 for two of each. Not exactly an elegant solution, but the total is still is under 7 pounds, for 50 near full sized keys, that fits into a large laptop bag or standard day pack. Old timers will remember when laptops were 7 pounds by themselves.

One downside is all that gear needs a lot of table top to set up properly. So not something for tight quarters, where there is no proper desk space. It still lacks a pedal, no weighted keys, but at 7 pounds for a 15 inch wide package (maybe 2 1/2 inches high all stacked up in sleeves) with 50 near full sized keys, it isn't all bad.

I hope Xkeys is working on a daisy chain version. I think that option would be more popular than a 37 key version. Someone else already mentioned another company that will have small keyboards that link together.
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