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Dave Oliffe

Do Keyboard Controllers Work with Windows 10?!

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Hi folks, 

So in the last week, I've unsuccessfully set up 2 new MIDI keyboard controllers. One from Alesis and the other from Arturia. With both, I encountered the same issue. Both were class compliant USB connections and neither seemed to be able to fully operate or communicate via USB. More specifically, it was the accompanying software or extra features of each model that just wouldn't sync properly. 

So now I'm left with a brand new all singing all dancing PC, made for audio production, but unable to get myself set up with what I thought should be a pretty basic piece of kit. I've never had this issue in the past. Anyone know what the hell is going on? 

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WARNING! Incomplete answer

I have an A-Pro 500 (Roland, labelled Cakewalk)
With the A-Pro (bear in mind I installed to Win 10 three years ago) you install
the A-Pro (meaning plug in the usb cable and turn on the keyboard) while connected
to the internet and Windows "runs" and "grabs" the driver. Evidently that's what I
did because it works fine (there's also a Cake Control Surface dll that needed installing)

I guess that is  a long winded question; do the Alesis and/or Arturia have Win 10 drivers?

t

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1 hour ago, DeeringAmps said:

WARNING! Incomplete answer

I have an A-Pro 500 (Roland, labelled Cakewalk)
With the A-Pro (bear in mind I installed to Win 10 three years ago) you install
the A-Pro (meaning plug in the usb cable and turn on the keyboard) while connected
to the internet and Windows "runs" and "grabs" the driver. Evidently that's what I
did because it works fine (there's also a Cake Control Surface dll that needed installing)

I guess that is  a long winded question; do the Alesis and/or Arturia have Win 10 drivers?

t

Thanks for your answer, so my (very limited) understanding is that class compliant is exactly what you've just described above - it basically doesn't need any additional driver downloads, it just kindov uses it's own (or uses drivers that are already part of Windows, I guess). 

That's useful to hear the A-Pro 500 works, but I wonder whether Windows 10 has changed lots in the last 3 years and now has compatibility issues?

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As long as the drivers are compatible, and they actually support Cakewalk/SONAR you should be ok.

For example, I've got a Samson Graphite 49 which has a SONAR mode - this works fine with Cakewalk in Windows 10 both as a keyboard and a controller via Mackie Control.  Pity the keyboard itself is not great - the velocity is so inconsistent, I find it impossible to use for anything other than organ.

One thing you should bear in mind with these types of keyboards:  The keyboard should present itself as two MIDI devices; one for the keys, pitch bend & modwheel; and another for any knobs, sliders and transport controls.

You'll need to consult the user guide of the keyboard in question to see how exactly the second MIDI device needs to be set up. Sometimes they have Mackie emulation, in which case you can set it up as a Mackie Control surface. Others just send out CC information, in which case set it up as an ACT control surface, or just use MIDI learn on the fly.

If they only present themselves as a single MIDI device, then you're limited to using MIDI learn.  Setting it up as a control surface will render it useless as a standard MIDI keyboard, as the control surface will steal the MIDI port.

 

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15 minutes ago, msmcleod said:

As long as the drivers are compatible, and they actually support Cakewalk/SONAR you should be ok.

For example, I've got a Samson Graphite 49 which has a SONAR mode - this works fine with Cakewalk in Windows 10 both as a keyboard and a controller via Mackie Control.  Pity the keyboard itself is not great - the velocity is so inconsistent, I find it impossible to use for anything other than organ.

One thing you should bear in mind with these types of keyboards:  The keyboard should present itself as two MIDI devices; one for the keys, pitch bend & modwheel; and another for any knobs, sliders and transport controls.

You'll need to consult the user guide of the keyboard in question to see how exactly the second MIDI device needs to be set up. Sometimes they have Mackie emulation, in which case you can set it up as a Mackie Control surface. Others just send out CC information, in which case set it up as an ACT control surface, or just use MIDI learn on the fly.

If they only present themselves as a single MIDI device, then you're limited to using MIDI learn.  Setting it up as a control surface will render it useless as a standard MIDI keyboard, as the control surface will steal the MIDI port.

 

Thanks for your reply, I almost messaged you personally yesterday because I had seen you supported someone on a different thread who was having issues with the set up of the Arturia Keylab Mk2 - which is the keyboard I have (which is in it's original packaging again now, ready to be sent back). So frustrating.

So how would anyone know if the keyboard they're buying is even gonna work properly? Unless they ask very specific questions to the manufacturer beforehand. Is this just a Windows 10 pitfall? It just seems crazy to me that something as generic as a keyboard controller could require such a careful selection process. I literally don't know which models to look at now, I need a keyboard controller but have already wasted time and money on 2. 

Arturia support have just sent me the following response, which I'm guessing is connected to what you mention above...

""""[IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that Windows is not Multi MIDI, meaning that you can't use a MIDI Device on multiple applications at the same time, so for example you can't open the MIDI Control Center and your DAW at the same time and use the MIDI device in both applications. Before opening the MCC, please make sure to close all Audio/MIDI applications first and when working with your DAW, make sure is the only MIDI/Audio application open.]""""

So my initial thought on this is: What's the point in the MIDI Control Centre, if I can't use it in conjunction with Cakewalk?! So, say I have a softsynth open and I want to assign certain notes to certain drum pads, I'd have to close Cakewalk in order to do that? That makes zero sense. Am I misunderstanding this?

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From what I can gather, I think the MIDI Control Center is used to configure the device - i.e. set the various modes. You should be able to use the MCC to configure the device, then the device should remember those settings from then on.

But as it doesn't specifically list Cakewalk or SONAR as one of it's listed compatible DAW's, you'll probably find it limited in support for Cakewalk.

In saying that, it does say it supports generic Mackie Control and HUI.  You may be able to get it to work using either of those modes by setting it up using Cakewalk's Mackie Control Surface, and making sure the "Disable Handshake" setting is checked. 

As the button layout for the Mackie Control mode is DAW specific, you may find that while it connects, the buttons don't do what they say on the keyboard. So you may want to try HUI mode instead. If you've selected HUI mode, make sure you've checked HUI as the protocol within the Mackie Control Surface dialog.  

Alternatively, you might want to contact @azslow3 and see if he or any of his users has an Arturia Keylab II profile for AZController.

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3 hours ago, msmcleod said:

From what I can gather, I think the MIDI Control Center is used to configure the device - i.e. set the various modes. You should be able to use the MCC to configure the device, then the device should remember those settings from then on.

But as it doesn't specifically list Cakewalk or SONAR as one of it's listed compatible DAW's, you'll probably find it limited in support for Cakewalk.

In saying that, it does say it supports generic Mackie Control and HUI.  You may be able to get it to work using either of those modes by setting it up using Cakewalk's Mackie Control Surface, and making sure the "Disable Handshake" setting is checked. 

As the button layout for the Mackie Control mode is DAW specific, you may find that while it connects, the buttons don't do what they say on the keyboard. So you may want to try HUI mode instead. If you've selected HUI mode, make sure you've checked HUI as the protocol within the Mackie Control Surface dialog.  

Alternatively, you might want to contact @azslow3 and see if he or any of his users has an Arturia Keylab II profile for AZController.

Thank you, I've sent him a message to pick his brains. I'll set the keyboard back up and test a few things out, now that I understand a bit more about the MIDI Control Centre. 

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I have an Arturia Keylab MK II plugged into Windows 10 Pro (20H2), and it's working fine here! Plug and play!

But your issue may be due to another application on your PC grabbing the class compliant MIDI driver before your DAW does. If that's the case, your DAW (any DAW) will never see the MIDI driver if it's already in use.

The MIDI device should connect to your DAW if that is the first MIDI aware application that you run. To check this you can startup Windows in selective startup with all of the autorun programs temporarily disabled. Then just plugin in your keyboard and start your DAW.

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