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#2392154 - Yesterday at 07:52 PM Can you folks give any input about "unweighted" keybeds?
jcdamascenojr Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/11
Posts: 22
Hi everyone,

I know this forum is used mainly for DPs, but I guess many of you have some experience with controllers/synths/arrangers too, right? So, I need keys that I can take easily on the bus to jam with a friend on weekends, and a small MIDI controller would fit the bill. I don't need any fancy capabilities, just good keys. That's what I'm after:

1) A nice 49 keybed
2) Mod/pitch wheel
3) Octave up/down buttons
4) Sustain input
5) USB-powered (non-proprietary plug), class-compliant for iOS
6) As compact and lightweight as possible, relatively well-built
7) Under $200 new

The following would be nice, but not mandatory:

8) Aftertouch
9) Expression pedal input
10) MIDI out
11) Extra knobs/pads/slides (as long as it doesn't make it bigger)
12) External power supply, on/off switch

So, these are my options:

- Roland A-49: Seems to be the gold standard. Great reviews, everyone likes the action. Even comes with a cool shiny red light. The downside? Cost twice as much as any other on the list...
- Alesis Q49: Ok brand, I'd imagine an ok instrument, right?
- Line6 Mibile Keys 49: Well known among guitar players. Again, I'd imagine an ok instrument.
- Behringer UMX490: The only one I've played before. Didn't like it at all, keys were too stiff, worse than my old cheap PSR. Included as an example of what I *don't* want.
- M-audio Keystation 49: Some like, some hate. Seems to be on the budget side along with Behringer. Which is fine for me, as long as it's good.
- Samson Carbon 49: Haven't heard about the brand before, but seems well-known.
- Acorn Masterkey 49: For what I get it's just a re-branded generic controller. Looks good on pics/vids tough.

So basically what I want to know is:

- Have you played any of these (or their 25/61 variation)? What's your opinion?
- Some of them state "synth action" (unweighted?), some "semi-weighted"... Do you think there's a difference? They all seemed pretty standard spring-loaded thin plastic keys... What exactly is "semi-weighted" to begin with??
- What kind do the famous synths such as DX7, M1, D50 have?
- If there's indeed a difference, should I be looking at a unweighted or semi-weighted keybed for general playing, piano to synth? (assuming I'll have a proper 88 hammer-action for serious playing)
- Do you think the Roland worth twice as much as the rest or will I just be paying for the brand? On pics the keys seem to be smaller (and rounder) than standard ones, is is correct? Does it matter?
- and so on...

Yes, I would love to just go to a store and try all of them out, but here in Brazil it's not that easy (most are only available online). So any input is really appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

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#2392172 - Yesterday at 09:03 PM Re: Can you folks give any input about "unweighted" keybeds? [Re: jcdamascenojr]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12383
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Without being able to test them yourself, it will be a shot in the dark. However, you can go with the name brands that have good warranties and good reviews to help narrow things down.

I'm not well-versed in MIDI controllers, so I will refrain on speaking on those models and leave it to those who know better.

Look up lots of reviews on these. Of course, no matter how good something is, you will find some yahoo going in there and saying how awful it is etc and give it 1 star. Sometimes it turns out to be a disgruntled employee and has nothing to do with the product, but still if there's a lot of that and with the same issue, you may not want to take a chance on that controller.

I don't think you're going to get afertouch on any of these, btw. That's generally reserved for high-end synths (but it's good to dream, eh?).
private piano/voice teacher FT
Petrof 9'2, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

#2392177 - Yesterday at 09:13 PM Re: Can you folks give any input about "unweighted" keybeds? [Re: jcdamascenojr]
Auver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/11
Posts: 234
Loc: Norway
What about the Novation Launchkey 49? I haven't tried that one myself, but I have a Novation SL MKii and it has the best synth-key action I've ever played. You should check if launchkey has the same action as the SL MKii.
Nord Stage 2, Nord Lead 4, Moog Minitaur, Yamaha MOX6, Novation SL MkII

#2392195 - Yesterday at 10:01 PM Re: Can you folks give any input about "unweighted" keybeds? [Re: jcdamascenojr]
rungabic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/14
Posts: 79
I'm wondering why you don't have the generally highly regarded Akai Professional MPK249 on your list? I have the 61-key version, as a supplement to my Kawai DP.

Edit: oops -- I glossed over the "under $200" part...the Akai is $399 new, but maybe you can find a gently used one, particularly if people start dumping them for the newly announced "Advance" series.

Edited by rungabic (Yesterday at 10:03 PM)

#2392198 - Yesterday at 10:07 PM Re: Can you folks give any input about "unweighted" keybeds? [Re: jcdamascenojr]
ElmerJFudd Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 218
Controller is a good idea size wise. Of the lot, yeah I'd go with the Roland A49. But on the bus, how are you going to power it and hear it? You'll have to hook it up to a laptop or iPad or something, and those speakers are cr@p to hear with the background noise of a bus. You'll be able to hear it yourself with phones....

Something cooler might be a Roland Juno-Di which runs on batteries. Has its own sounds, doesn't need to hook up to a 'puter of some kind. Headphones are good for you to hear it. Hmmm, with friends....

There are battery powered amps.
But not cheap.

The Jam Hub or something like it is cool for a few people to plug in and hear each other with phones. Needs a power supply though... hmmm

I think this plan needs to be planned out some more before you spend the $.

#2392210 - Yesterday at 10:25 PM Re: Can you folks give any input about "unweighted" keybeds? [Re: jcdamascenojr]
pspicer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/10/11
Posts: 116
Loc: California, USA
I used the M-Audio Keystation 49 as a controller for Ivory II and for iPad music apps. This was while doing international travel and was the best portable solution I could find.

It meets all of your criteria 1 through 7, not sure about the after touch etc. (I am learning Classical piano).

I can recommend the Keystation in isolation from the other candidates as I have no experience with them; it met my needs and was surprisingly playable.

Good luck in your search.
No real talent for the Piano.

#2392297 - Today at 06:01 AM Re: Can you folks give any input about "unweighted" keybeds? [Re: jcdamascenojr]
leesan Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/14
Posts: 43
DX7 an M1 keybeds are HQ semi-weighted.
you only can find it on middle or high priced master keyboards because it is an expensive mechanical system.

For instance you can play semi-weighted on M-audio Axiom 49 ( but not on Keystation 49...)
I think you must increase your budget...
Roland HP 503 + audio-technica ATH-M40x + M-Audio AV30 Studiophile + Roland duo capture EX

#2392300 - 59 minutes 11 seconds ago Re: Can you folks give any input about "unweighted" keybeds? [Re: jcdamascenojr]
anotherscott Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3599
Don't worry about semi-weighted vs. unweighted. No matter which of those you look at, some of them are decent and some of them are terrible (and this being as subjective as it is, people won't even always agree about which is which). The point is that the feel of the individual board is much more important than which of those categories it falls into.

I believe the Samson Graphite 49 has everything you want except an expression pedal input. It has an above average feel, and it has aftertouch.


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