Jump to content
Gerry 1943

Best keyboard for Cakewalk.

Recommended Posts

I am thinking of adding a keyboard controller to my set-up.

Can anyone please recommend a reasonably priced unit that will work...be compatible with..... Cakewalk by Band lab?

Thank you in advance for any feedback.

Regards

 

Gerry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In general, if you've got a MIDI interface then any MIDI compatible keyboard controller will work with Cakewalk.

Most keyboard controllers are USB nowadays (the good ones are both USB & MIDI), but again, most will work with Cakewalk. I'm unaware of any that don't.

As far as recommendations, it's a bit difficult to answer this without knowing a bit more about what you're wanting to use it for.

There's basically four types of keyboards:

  • 88 Note weighted keyboards (basically like a piano). 
  • 25, 37, 49, 61, 76 note full size keyboards - these can be semi-weighted or not. So basically your standard organ or synth type.
  • 25, 37, 49 & 61 "Minikey" keyboards - like the old Yamaha portasounds.
  • 25, 32 & 37 note nano keys - really small keyboards, usually used for non keyboard players, portability (i.e. will fit in a laptop bag), or for triggering keyswitches on some VSTi's.

All of them may or may not come with the following:

  • Velocity Sensitive - the harder you play, the louder the sound. Most have this, but check just the same - IMHO it's really a must.
  • Aftertouch (Pressure sensitive) - this is rarer nowadays, but basically it can alter the sound by "pushing" the key with more pressure whilst you have the key held down. I quite often use this for vibrato.
  • Pitch Bend Wheel - for doing pitch "bends" ( a bit like bending a string on a guitar, or using the whammy bar)
  • Modulation Wheel - usually used for introducing vibrato, but can be assigned to most things like filter cut-off, or a leslie speaker effect.
  • DAW Controls (such as faders, transport controls), extra knobs & sliders to alter your synth sounds

Obviously that's a lot of features to take in, and there's dozens of keyboards out there depending on what you want.

I'd take a think about what you're going to use it for, then shop around. If you've found something you like feel free to ask for opinions here.

[Edit]

Ones I'd personally recommend:

88 note:  Studiologic SL88 Studio

Full size: Too many to mention, but Alesis & Native Instruments do good ones, as do M-Audio. Cheaper options are Samson & Behringer.

MiniKeys: The Korg microKey range

NanoKeys: M-Audio Keystation mini32, Korg nanoKey

 

Edited by msmcleod
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agree with @msmcleod, the Studiologic recommendation, I use an older SL-880 with a nonoKONTROL. As far as a nice portable righ I have been using an IK Multimedia iRig Keys I/O 49 which I am really enjoying. I am actually working on a review and video to share my experiences.

Best,

Simeon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use an M Audio Oxygen 49. It has faders, knobs and buttons which can be linked using ACT. Its about 170.00 USA dollars.

Im not a huge fan of M Audio but there basic keyboard controllers have been decent in my experiences.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unless you really need a small form factor for portability, I would recommend to get at least full size keys, and at least 49 of them (4 octaves) for synth use. The really tiny mini keys are difficult to play if you actually want to play the thing. The 88-key weighted controllers should be a serious consideration for playing piano, but probably not so much for synth.

The full size keys 49 and 61 key units from Akai, M-Audio,  Alesis, Nektar, or Novation are usually sufficient for home studio use. Features will vary, but velocity sensitivity, aftertouch, and a mod wheel should be must haves on the feature list.

The main thing is that without knowing the budget or intended use, it's a shot in the dark.

 

Edited by abacab
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a 25 key Alesis (older version) with drums pads and faders (less than$70 usd). I also have  a Korg triton 25 key controller with sounds, drum pads and lots of DAW features ( good prices for those features). They have playable sounds, so latency does not need to be a problem when playing. 

My main studio axes are:  MX49 from Yahama for lightning fast synth scales, and just upgraded to a MX88 graded hammer with the same sound set as the MX49 to replace my S-08. Both use the same editor. But no so cheap. 

korg nanokontrol studio looks very cool, I might get one too! ($150usd)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm using an Roland A500 Pro. Has a descent synth type of key bed and nice amount of faders, pots, buttons and pads. A nice all round type of keyboard, controller ... but I'm on the lookout for a Studiologic 76/88 keys something to add to my setup for piano style playing.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're all in on Native Instruments (e.g., you own Komplete) then one of their S-series controllers would be ideal. However as a pure MIDI controller, it doesn't have deep integration with CbB (like transport and mixing) like it does with Cubase, Live, and Logic (no Pro Tools, Studio One, or Cakewalk). Nektar used to tout Sonar support for their Panorama controllers, but don't any more. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, iRelevant said:

but I'm on the lookout for a Studiologic 76/88 keys something to add to my setup for piano style playing. 

I had 88 Key one I'd pass on it. Not that great in my opinion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/5/2019 at 6:37 PM, InstrEd said:

I had 88 Key one I'd pass on it. Not that great in my opinion.

Could you recommend something better ? I'm particularly focused on the "hammer action" feel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I ended up getting a Casio Privia PX5s and use it both ways as a MIDI controller and keyboard with sounds. Hammer action and only 25lbs. Does the job for me now. I want to add a small MIDI keyboard controller myself but haven't went looking seriously yet. I also have an old Alesis QS61 keyboard that has synth keys that I use for organ sounds.  My problem with the Studiologic is several keys stopped working and the sensors were not available. Plus I actually like the Privia PX5s keyboard better.  I personally go the route with get a good 88 Hammer action piano that has MIDI out and get another small keyboard with all the controllers buttons that you might need and use them together :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also be aware that MIDI compatibility and DAW integration are two different things. Any MIDI controller will be compatible with standard MIDI messages for playing notes, or sending MIDI CC messages for expression and modulation. In most cases you can also use MIDI learn in a generic way manually with virtual instruments and some DAWs, subject to availability in the software. 

Hardware keyboard integration with a DAW is less common because it requires a partnership between the two companies. 

There have been attempts at control surface standards, but in practice that hasn't always made perfect!

But the basic MIDI standards have been around for decades, and still work well. The only drawback with generic MIDI is that you will not get automatic plug and play setup for keyboard control mapping that a fully integrated setup could potentially provide.

Edited by abacab

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/4/2019 at 9:56 PM, Gerry 1943 said:

a reasonably priced unit

When you say "reasonably priced," what is your budget?

Lots of great advice here but you haven't really given an idea of spec. I mean, is it just the black and white keys that you want and perhaps a pitch bend and modulation wheel? Or are you thinking about something that has additional pots and sliders, and perhaps a few drum pads to boot?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The OP hasn't followed up yet, so this thread so far is just general advice for anybody reading it with the same question.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, abacab said:

The OP hasn't followed up yet, so this thread so far is just general advice for anybody reading it with the same question.

Good point, in which case, I can offer two suggestions of my own.

I use an Arturia Keystep for compactness and portability:-

https://www.arturia.com/keystep/overview

Reasonably priced, in my opinion, but I could understand the purists being disappointed with the small sized keys. Pitch bend and modulation is by way of two strips, rather than wheels, and they work quite well.

If I fancy something that covers more octaves then I break out my Acorn Masterkey 49:-

http://www.acorn-instruments.com/usb-keyboards/masterkey_49

Very competitively priced.

That said, it won't stand up to being taken on the road. Already the USB jack, although still usable, has broken. I use a bit of bluetac to hold the cable in place.

Would I get another Acorn Masterkey? Yeah, for the price it is a no brainer, if all you want is a straight forward keyboard. It does not require any drivers but that hasn't given me any issues and it totally usable in Cakewalk (and SONAR of course), Studio One and REAPER.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The biggest lesson I learned in buying a keyboard controller is always try them before buying. If keybed action is something you care about on then dont listen to any opinion coz everyone likes different keyboard action. For eg: There are tons of good review and opinions on the keyboard action of Nectar Impact series and M audio Keystation series and I bought both of these one after the other and totally disliked them. I would say even the bottom range of Yamaha PSR and Casio CTK has much better keys. Now im saving money on buying something else my options are Novation slmk3 or NI Komplete A Series or S series. Which ever it is I'm not gonna buy before I demo them. If you are looking for Hammer action you better off buying a digital piano, the casio privia and yamaya p115 are good ones, even better choices Roland FP30 and Kawai ES110. Always demo before buying.  These dont come with mod wheel and pitch bend though. 

If controlling CbB with pads, knobs, and faders is your necessity then there is a wide range of options all with soo many pros and cons. The nectar impact is very good in that but the keybed sucks. But who knows you might like it.

Edited by Sonarman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Sonarman said:

The biggest lesson I learned in buying a keyboard controller is always try them before buying. If keybed action is something you care about on then dont listen to any opinion coz everyone likes different keyboard action. For eg: There are tons of good review and opinions on the keyboard action of Nectar Impact series and M audio Keystation series and I bought both of these one after the other and totally disliked them. I would say even the bottom range of Yamaha PSR and Casio CTK has much better keys. Now im saving money on buying something else my options are Novation slmk3 or NI Komplete A Series or S series. Which ever it is I'm not gonna buy before I demo them. If you are looking for Hammer action you better off buying a digital piano, the casio privia and yamaya p115 are good ones, even better choices Roland FP30 and Kawai ES110. Always demo before buying.  These dont come with mod wheel and pitch bend though. 

If controlling CbB with pads, knobs, and faders is your necessity then there is a wide range of options all with soo many pros and cons. The nectar impact is very good in that but the keybed sucks. But who knows you might like it.

+1 to this.

Make sure you try them working too, i.e. have it actually playing a sound rather than just trying it out without it switched on.

I bought a Samson Graphite a while back. It looks fantastic on paper, feels great to play, but every time you hit a key you get a wildly different velocity. At first I thought it was just dirt on the connections, but it's not. It's a bad design.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, msmcleod said:

I bought a Samson Graphite a while back. It looks fantastic on paper, feels great to play, but every time you hit a key you get a wildly different velocity. At first I thought it was just dirt on the connections, but it's not. It's a bad design.

Yes, some of them can be terrible with velocity, the worst one I ever played was an Alesis V61. It was unplayable with random velocities all over the place.

If your starting out though, I would recommend the Nektar LX 49/61 (if you want the pots/faders etc) or the Nektar GX49/61 (straight keyboard). They are well priced, you don't get aftertouch, but the keys are reliable and you have 4 different velocity settings. They also integrate completely with Cakewalk, you just download the Sonar drivers for them from the Nektar website, nothing to do, everything works EXACTLY as it should.

I've got both at the moment, I liked the LX61 but too big for my setup so I got the GX61 but was surprised that the keybed was completely different to my original LX model, more piano like than synth like. Still ok, just a difference I wasn't expecting.

If I were upgrading, I would probably get a slightly more synth like action (semi weighted?) with aftertouch, but still simple keyboard only, not sure, the GX is growing on me. I don't think there are many to choose from, maybe the Studio Logic 61?

Unless your planning to both learn and play piano style with heavier keys then I would avoid 88 keys. I tried the Behringers (springy, tiring keys), the Korg microkeys (tiny, spongy keys) The Alesis V series (the worst keyboard I have ever played, unplayable random velocities). Also the M-audio  Axiom (horrid sticky keys) and Oxygen and Novation impulse.

These last 3 were difficult to set up, lots of stuffing about and depending on which DAW you are using as to how well they perform.

I don't think aftertouch is essential, especially if you are starting out however, the keybeds of keyboards that have aftertouch are generally better feeling than those without.

My experience has taught me that the Nektar Impact GX/LX series rules when it comes to budget midi controllers. The M-audio keystations are good as well though.

An M-Audio Keystation 49 is a fantastic start out keyboard, plug it in use it, unplug it and put it away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/8/2019 at 6:11 PM, Tezza said:

I've got both at the moment, I liked the LX61 but too big for my setup so I got the GX61 but was surprised that the keybed was completely different to my original LX model, more piano like than synth like. Still ok, just a difference I wasn't expecting.

It seems some of these low end models have poor quality management, my GX61 keybed was pretty hard like piano keys yet totally uninspiring to play with terrible plastiky springy responce . I sent it back. Recently i met a friend of mine who had the same model and when i tried playing on it it had a pretty decent synth responce. The keys were much easy to press. This and a few more experiences demoing midi controllers in shops makes me think these manufactures have very little quality control and they keep experimenting with the responses often. I found varying responses in m-audio keybeds accross the keys in diff octaves in the same keybed o.O. Also some of the maudio keystation keybeds have very hard black keys and some of them are fine to press but if you happen to buy the fine to press boards they are gonna give you some strange velocity problem while pressing the black keys. :/ Its pretty messed up, I'm speaking from my own experience and lots reviews I found online also agrees with it. But who knows you might have a smooth experience, however make sure you buy from a shop that accepts returns. My retailer charged me 15% for using it. These manufactures are playing with quality in case of midi controllers. The low end Yamaha and Casio keyboards actually come with a 3year warranty. Which shows their level of quality maintenance compared with these so called midi controller manufactures.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems like there were some kind of compatibility issues with NI keyboards not too long ago.  Have these been resolved, or am I not remembering correctly?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...