On Keyboards...
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Thread: On Keyboards...

  1. #1
    Tech Guru Bassline Brine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default On Keyboards...

    So. I'm finally growing out of the korgnano series. It's nice, but I need something more serious to work forward in my production side of things.

    I recently got a laptop, and it's inspired me (a lot) further since I've been able to go to a couple different friend's places, and we've been able to hook-up and jam together. Playing around mixing my Ableton work alongside their conventional mixing, and it's been a ton of fun. Just being locked to a desktop for so long really killed a lot of my inspiration, and this is a whole new door opened for me.

    Right now I have Ableton, the Korg Nano series, and an Audio 2 DJ and a X-Session Pro. I have friends who use Traktor and Serato, and I'm planning to work on the production side of things and group up with them focusing on using Ableton to augment the overall performance. We've been talking about it, and that's the path I'm walking. It's just a matter of getting some better hardware to help put mental ideas into being.

    My friends have been mixing for years, and I've always been the tech guru of the bunch. More focused on production and software and hardware. So this integration diving further into Ableton (I can't see using it without producing my own sounds) is a natural progression so to speak.

    I've never owned a proper keyboard. Nor have I been classically trained on the piano (though I can play several other instruments and read sheet music just fine).

    I plan on using the keyboard for use with synths and such in Ableton. I'm looking for plug and play integration with Ableton. It doesn't have to be completely stupid-proof, but working well with knobs/sliders as well as the keyboard would be nice with an easy midi-learn rather than manually mapping everything.

    I do have a basic understanding of how the keyboard itself integrates, but it's getting the knobs (that I've been using MIDI-learn with the X-Session Pro) to work alongside the whole thing that would be brilliant for me.

    These are my questions when it comes to keyboards:

    Is getting a 49 vs a 25 key really that big a difference? I plan on playing around with riffs and chords, but I'm no mozart. Space isn't an issue. I do travel to a couple friends apartments though, so I've been leaning toward the 25 key versions for sheer portability for jam/creative sessions.

    Are the two keyboards listed below the two that integrate best with Ableton, or do people have other experiences with keyboards that may work better in that regard?

    My budget is to stay under $500 honestly, and realistically the less expensive the better. I prefer buying something quality once that I won't ever have to fix or want to move on from. Hell, I drive a Toyota Corolla, so you get the idea.

    As far as knob/fader/pad quality, is there anything I should be concerned about or do you have any other suggestions for a quality piece of kit within the budget?

    Right now I'm looking between:

    Novation 25 SL MK2


    Akai MPK 25

    I've been furiously reading all the threads here and in other forums, but am looking for some real world input before I throw some cash down. I know to take everything with a grain of salt, but I trust in this forum for solid information

    I plan on getting a Maschine in the future (thinking black friday deal after thanksgiving) and so having a pad controller isn't a must on the keyboard, but isn't a terrible idea for the short-term.

    I've overlooked the M-Audio rigs for the moment because I've been reading some horror stories about the feel and build quality.

    If anyone has any other solid suggestions, I'm quite open to them.

    (I'll also add that right now I'm leaning toward the Novation 25 SL MK2. It seems like it has the proper bits I'm looking for, but would love to hear if people have experience with it and love/hate it or any other keyboard.)

    ... I keep putting off buying the S4 and Traktor (or CDJ's like I was originally planning) for mixing, but right now, production is calling my name hard... at least I know my tax return next year is going to be gi-nourmous
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  2. #2


    Well owning the Akai APC40 for traktor use I would say the knobs on the Akai keyboard would be ace since they're the same ones.
    Cant say much about the novation
    --Its not the OS, It's the user--

  3. #3
    Tech Mentor
    Join Date
    Aug 2010


    as someone who owns the MKII, it is annoying as SHIT to map in traktor. BUT if you are doing it just for ableton/massive/etc etc i would suggest it over the mpk25 unless you want to do some serious live shit.

  4. #4
    Tech Guru Coldfuzion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Southern California


    I have an SL49 MK II as well, the keys feel amazing on it, the only thing I dislike is the drum pads on it. They feel... weak (for a lack of a better word).

    The other cool thing about the SL49 is after you first map it via AutoMap it does a pretty good job of keeping the mappings the same when switching between different programs. I have no idea if this is available with the Akai MPK.

    All in all, I love my keyboard. Plus got a killer deal on it, which just sweetened the deal .

  5. #5
    Tech Mentor
    Join Date
    Aug 2010


    I've got the 25 SLMKll and like ^ he said the pads are kinda crappy. They don't feel week to me, theres just no give to them. The Akai's pads are prolly better. The faders are tiny but work fine, the keys are really nice and you can go up and down octaves so unless you're a piano man you won't miss the 49 key. The pots and other buttons work well and it's really kinda laid out to use with Ableton. The joystick is fun to tweek the pitch with. I haven't been able to play with it for a few months due to a turntable taking up it's space but it will be back soon. Either one should work out well for you, I guess it just depends on what features you prefer. If you want cushy pads the Novation's not what you're looking for.

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