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:
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!