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For four months I have been practicing piano daily on pianomarvel and now I need an 88-key midi controller or midi-capable digital piano - the sound is created by the app connecting to the site.

My goals are learning classical piano and doing electronic music and soundscapes, particularly for my short films (I'm a photographer and filmmaker by profession and cannot stand music stock libraries)

Playback is via a MacBook Pro and M-Audio AV-40 speakers

I have tested a few digital pianos, the problem was that the guitar center installed the Yamahas at chin height and the Roland ten inches below waist so it was difficult to test.

1. Yamaha P-45 and P-125. I liked the keyboard action best from what I tested. Very responsive. My question is if the P-45 is OK as midi controller. I read somewhere here on this site that the P-45 is not good as a midi controller and would be too sluggish and I would have to get the P-125. Is this correct?

2. Roland PF-30X. After reading the reviews and seeing the great looks I thought this would be it, but I felt the action was not for me - for me it felt a bit indirect and the keys took long to come up again for playing the same note again.

3. Korg B2... I had literally no impression from this one. No like, no dislike....

In regard to sound I wasn't impressed by any of them and I prefer a computer to create the piano sound.

I didn't get around, unfortunately, to the Kawai ES 110 - what's your take on this one?



What about Midi controllers? Some have hammer action.


I researched and found the following - but didn't test any so far : please comment:

1. M-Audio Hammer 88 (reviewers said it has a very direct action) Same price as a Yamaha P-45.

2. Studiologic SL 88 Grand with Fatar 40 wooden keybed and hammer action. I read there are quality issues with this keyboard (like stuck keys) not sure if this is still valid or ever was, the Grand is expensive, costs a grand.

3. Studiologic SL 88 Studio no hammer action

4. Arturia Keylab 88 mark2 with hammer action (also 1000$)

5. Komplete Kontrol S88 - while it is also a hammer action keyboard I read it's not as good an action as the SL 88 Grand. Costs a grand, too.



My personal preference was to buy a used digital piano first and then spend more money when I'm more experienced, but the asking prices of 450 for a Yamaha 45 and 500 for a 125 is just pointless. It's as if people in LA think their old keyboards are made of gold - appreciating with age.

I only found an old Studiologic SL 990 pro for an asking price of $ 325.00 - the owner said it had a sticky key but now he can't find the sticky key no longer. Would this be an option for now? (If that sticky key is truly gone?)

Comments, tips, suggestions much appreciated !

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Originally Posted by Archipelago
I read somewhere here on this site that the P-45 is not good as a midi controller and would be too sluggish and I would have to get the P-125. Is this correct?

They both have the same key action ("GHS" as they call it), so that doesn't make sense.

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Hello,

Last fall I was on a similar search. I can share a few impressions from my own selection process.

As @clothearednincompo said, the reason to disregard the P45 cannot be its keybed. However, its MIDI implementation is too limited (e.g. poor velocity readings and range) to make it a good piano controller. The P125 is better in that aspect.

If you're serious about piano, I'd no longer look at the MIDI controller category. They are relatively expensive compared to digital pianos, and their keybeds--for serious piano playing--are sub-par at best and unpleasantly noisy in many cases.

My choice turned out to be the Roland FP-10, with the same keybed as the FP-30X and with great MIDI behavior. I would certainly recommend one of these Rolands as a good MIDI piano. But you already established that this action is not for you.

Then, filtering your post further, it seems as if for you it boils down to the P125 which you like best so far, and do a thorough comparison at one or two good stores with the ES110. I'd not be surprised if your preference would then land on the Kawai.

Three last tips:
- Try before you buy;
- Try before you buy;
- Try before you buy.

In that order 😉.

Cheers and happy decision making,

HZ

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I would check what you are trying to achieve. I got the SL88 Grand yesterday and it's basically a great instrument but has flaws (for me). The key action is heavy, similar to a CLP-685 but without the initial resistance. The second is its default velocity curve. You have smack the keys very hard and don't reach the 127. The highest i could reach was around 80 - 90. You can edit the curve with the SL Editor, so fiddling around with it is necessary to find the sweet spot. The build quality is great. I will return it because i don't like the heavy keys.

I still own a Yamaha P-115 for use as Midi Controller and it does its job. The action isn't stellar but playable. Therefore i would also suggest one of the usual suspects:

- Roland FP30X
- Yamaha P-125
- Kawai ES-110


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I would add a Korg D1 to the evaluation list, and also Casios. It's subjective, but in this price range, I prefer the Casios to the Yamahas and Rolands, at least. There are two categories of 88-key Casios to look at... the ones with an S in their model name, and the ones without. The ones with the S are newer and generally lower-priced, with the improvements being a quieter action with less bounce and in a smaller cabinet, though some people prefer the older non-S models that feel more consistent to the rear of the keys and have 3 sensors vs. 2.

As for a sub-$1k soundless controller, I don't think any of them are any better than the models with sounds, except maybe the SL88 Grand. But even that is subjective. I haven't played the M-Audio boards, opinions about those are mixed. Though I guess opinions about all of them are mixed. ;-)

BTW, it is incorrect that the SL88 Studio does not have hammer action, it does. It actually uses the same Fatar TP100 action that some of the other (more expensive) soundless controllers listed use. Generally not considered an especially good action, though.

If you come across a Kurzweil SP1, that is yet another different action you could consider.

I was not aware of any difference in the MIDI suitability of the P45 and P125, that was news to me.

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Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
Originally Posted by Archipelago
I read somewhere here on this site that the P-45 is not good as a midi controller and would be too sluggish and I would have to get the P-125. Is this correct?

They both have the same key action ("GHS" as they call it), so that doesn't make sense.

I think the person didn't refer to the keyboard action but to the electronics.

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Originally Posted by HZPiano
Hello,

Last fall I was on a similar search. I can share a few impressions from my own selection process.

As @clothearednincompo said, the reason to disregard the P45 cannot be its keybed. However, its MIDI implementation is too limited (e.g. poor velocity readings and range) to make it a good piano controller. The P125 is better in that aspect.

If you're serious about piano, I'd no longer look at the MIDI controller category. They are relatively expensive compared to digital pianos, and their keybeds--for serious piano playing--are sub-par at best and unpleasantly noisy in many cases.

My choice turned out to be the Roland FP-10, with the same keybed as the FP-30X and with great MIDI behavior. I would certainly recommend one of these Rolands as a good MIDI piano. But you already established that this action is not for you.

Then, filtering your post further, it seems as if for you it boils down to the P125 which you like best so far, and do a thorough comparison at one or two good stores with the ES110. I'd not be surprised if your preference would then land on the Kawai.

Three last tips:
- Try before you buy;
- Try before you buy;
- Try before you buy.

In that order 😉.

Cheers and happy decision making,

HZ


Thanks, I will definitely look at the Kawai. Too bad the P-45 is out. It has a more minimalist look than the P-125. Yes, the midi controllers are insanely expensive.

Even though I'm already stuck in some exercises as I can't advance without a larger keyboard I'll put testing time into it as I spend quite some time at the keyboard.

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Hello,

Originally Posted by Archipelago
I'll put testing time into it

That is the wise way to go.

Others have suggested the Korg D1 as well. While there's a lot to like about it, to me it has a considerable deal-breaker for serious piano playing/learning. Here's my adventure with the Korg:

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...med-cant-choose-a-piano.html#Post3095844

Cheers and happy testing,

HZ

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Originally Posted by Tyr
I would check what you are trying to achieve. I got the SL88 Grand yesterday and it's basically a great instrument but has flaws (for me). The key action is heavy, similar to a CLP-685 but without the initial resistance. The second is its default velocity curve. You have smack the keys very hard and don't reach the 127. The highest i could reach was around 80 - 90. You can edit the curve with the SL Editor, so fiddling around with it is necessary to find the sweet spot. The build quality is great. I will return it because i don't like the heavy keys.

I still own a Yamaha P-115 for use as Midi Controller and it does its job. The action isn't stellar but playable. Therefore i would also suggest one of the usual suspects:

- Roland FP30X
- Yamaha P-125
- Kawai ES-110

Thank you, this is great information. For me event the Roland FP-30x has too heavy and action so the SL Grand would be no good (It's actually a tough one to get even to try out these midi controllers anywhere - I read on a lengthy forum post where someone called up many many shops in the LA area and nobody had any of the higher end midi controllers on sale.

I like a very responsive action as it transfers emotions better.

And I will definitely check out the Kawai.

(If only the guitar center wouldn't mount them on walls where you have to reach up or down to try them out -and they are mounted at an angle as well)

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Hello,

Originally Posted by Archipelago
(If only the guitar center wouldn't mount them on walls where you have to reach up or down to try them out -and they are mounted at an angle as well)

That is silly. To get a good feel for any instrument, you need it (and yourself) to be in a proper playing position. So if that guitar center takes you serious as a customer, they'll have to take down the instruments you're seriously interested in, and place them on proper stands and at the right height, with a bench to match. And give you plenty of time with those instruments.

If they don't, they're not worth your business--look for better/specialized stores to help you instead.

Cheers and happy shopping,

HZ

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Originally Posted by anotherscott
I would add a Korg D1 to the evaluation list, and also Casios. It's subjective, but in this price range, I prefer the Casios to the Yamahas and Rolands, at least. There are two categories of 88-key Casios to look at... the ones with an S in their model name, and the ones without. The ones with the S are newer and generally lower-priced, with the improvements being a quieter action with less bounce and in a smaller cabinet, though some people prefer the older non-S models that feel more consistent to the rear of the keys and have 3 sensors vs. 2.

As for a sub-$1k soundless controller, I don't think any of them are any better than the models with sounds, except maybe the SL88 Grand. But even that is subjective. I haven't played the M-Audio boards, opinions about those are mixed. Though I guess opinions about all of them are mixed. ;-)

BTW, it is incorrect that the SL88 Studio does not have hammer action, it does. It actually uses the same Fatar TP100 action that some of the other (more expensive) soundless controllers listed use. Generally not considered an especially good action, though.

If you come across a Kurzweil SP1, that is yet another different action you could consider.

I was not aware of any difference in the MIDI suitability of the P45 and P125, that was news to me.

I have heard quite a few bad things about M-Audio's product quality.

I currently have an Oxygen midi controller by M-Audio and even though I'm hitting keys very hard (otherwise you don't get any accent on this cheapie) it has so far not shown any problems. The same goes for the AV-40 speakers I have had for years and others posted reviews of them going out within a year.

But when I check out what people are talking about when they like a keyboard I have seen few voices for the M-Audio.

Many love the Roland FP-30 (the FP 10 is I think discontinued) and it's not my thing.


Thanks for the tip with the Casios and the Korg D1. Keyboard action is my decider. It has to feel right for me. And of course I will avoid semi-weighed keys.

A tri-sensor system would be nice but I read repeatedly that for a beginning player it's not so important.


What's your take on buying an old controller like the STudiologic sl990?

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The Korg D1 has no USB connection and one needs to buy a separate USB-midi interface.

Could this cause a problem in latency?

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Hello,

Originally Posted by Archipelago
The Korg D1 has no USB connection and one needs to buy a separate USB-midi interface.

Could this cause a problem in latency?

Latency wouldn't be a problem. I tested the D1 (please see my post above) and those 5-pin MIDI connections work nicely.

The Kawai ES110 also only has 5-pin MIDI. In combination with a USB audio Interface that also has these MIDI connections, as many do, that will work just fine.

Cheers,

HZ

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Originally Posted by Archipelago
I think the person didn't refer to the keyboard action but to the electronics.

Maybe. But then the word "sluggish" is a strange choice. 😀

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Originally Posted by HZPiano
Originally Posted by Archipelago
The Korg D1 has no USB connection and one needs to buy a separate USB-midi interface.

Could this cause a problem in latency?

Latency wouldn't be a problem. I tested the D1 (please see my post above) and those 5-pin MIDI connections work nicely.

The Kawai ES110 also only has 5-pin MIDI. In combination with a USB audio Interface that also has these MIDI connections, as many do, that will work just fine.
Yes... in fact, you probably don't even need a USB audio interface, unless you'll be recording audio. On a Mac, you should get great results by just plugging your keyboard into USB and taking audio from the heapdhone jack. If your keyboard has USB, it's just a USB cable. If it's 5-pin MIDI, you just get a 5-pin-MIDI-to-USB interface, like a Roland UM-One or an iConnectivity mio 1x1. As HZP said, latency is not an issue there.

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Originally Posted by HZPiano
Originally Posted by Archipelago
(If only the guitar center wouldn't mount them on walls where you have to reach up or down to try them out -and they are mounted at an angle as well)

That is silly. To get a good feel for any instrument, you need it (and yourself) to be in a proper playing position.
Not only that, but the hammer mechanisms depend on gravity. Unlike non-hammer actions, the key return will not be right if the action is substantially away from level. (In fact, if you tilted it enough the keys would stop returning entirely.)

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Hello,

Originally Posted by anotherscott
Not only that, but the hammer mechanisms depend on gravity. Unlike non-hammer actions, the key return will not be right if the action is substantially away from level. (In fact, if you tilted it enough the keys would stop returning entirely.)

Great additional observation @anotherscott!

Cheers and happy leveling,

HZ

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I didn't describe it well, but you got the idea. ;-)

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Hello,

Originally Posted by anotherscott
I didn't describe it well

Not bad at all!

Cheers,

HZ

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Originally Posted by HZPiano
Hello,

Originally Posted by Archipelago
(If only the guitar center wouldn't mount them on walls where you have to reach up or down to try them out -and they are mounted at an angle as well)

That is silly. To get a good feel for any instrument, you need it (and yourself) to be in a proper playing position. So if that guitar center takes you serious as a customer, they'll have to take down the instruments you're seriously interested in, and place them on proper stands and at the right height, with a bench to match. And give you plenty of time with those instruments.

If they don't, they're not worth your business--look for better/specialized stores to help you instead.

Cheers and happy shopping,

HZ

It's all about marketing. Its slanted so they let you 'see' the items they're selling without having to take it down. Now you have to sell the idea that you are a serious buyer and ask for it so you can test it out, smile Most employees in these stores are paid the same salary whether they sell you anything or bother to help you at all...


Hard at work while waiting for my dream DP....
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