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Thread: Midi controller keyboards and audio interface

  1. #1

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    Midi controller keyboards and audio interface

    Hey guys, I am starting to learn about computer music and would need some advice here.

    I am now looking for a decent Midi controller keyboard and I have kinda zoomed in on the Akai MPK49 as it looks like an all-in-one keyboard with 49keys, drum pads and knobs. I will be using DAWs like Propellerhead Reason and probably Cakewalk Sonar, my interest areas are on music arrangements, sequencing and some recording of vocals and wind instruments.

    However, I am not a pianist nor keyboardist, and I am quite new to Midi. I would like something comprehensive so that I won't need to add additional controllers in the near future. So will this keyboard be an overkill for me? Are there other inexpensive alternatives?
    I have seen the Korg Nano series but they look like toys to me, especially the keyboard

    Also about audio interface, I already have the Zoom H4n and B2.1u which can double up as audio interfaces. Are these 2 devices good enough or I need a dedicated interface instead. Also, as I will most likely be recording 1 track at a time so I guess mixers are not necessary now, am I right?

    Some pointers on what books to read would be nice too

    Thanks in advance
    Last edited by anonpersona; 16-11-10 at 09:06 PM.
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  2. #2

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    The mixer definitely not needed at all if just doing single track recording at anytime and later doing all arrangement within daw.

    The mpk49, basically can be a one off controller you need. It has everything that you would prolly need for now and infact more than enough for most, using it to trigger vsti, control daw, drum pad triggering and parameter changing etc. There are other controllers from m audio or novation which also have similar configurations and slightly cheaper than the akai one. Novation ones has their own automap software which prolly make it much easier to setup the controller with various daws, vsti etc, so can consider that as well.

    For the korg nano controllers series or other mini series(akai lpd8/lpk25) etc, it prolly has its own market. I have those and love it for the portability. It will not replace my mpk49, but since iam always moving around with my laptop, nano controllers like those are much easier to setup, bring around and play around as well. Basically it suit my workflow, thus i use those.

    Anyway, for gear wise like those, the more you use it, the more you will develop own preference and workflow. At least for now, MPK 49, ZOOM h4n and B2.1u is more than enough to record and learn bout the basic of midi sequencing and connection between gear. If theres any books that i can recommend, its always the manual of individual gear, daw etc. The manual for reason, sonar etc, is actually pretty good reading material, especially if really going to use those software for making music(heh, lotsa folks never learn to read the fricking manual when trying out new stuff, thus dont know where to begin).

    Of course, other than reading, hands on the software tweaking, recording is always the best way to learn.

    If really wanna read additional info, borders at wheelock has also books on reason and sonar as well. It aint cheap and if i remember correctly, its books on reason 4 and sonar 7. Dont think they have stuff on reason 5 and sonar 8/8.5

    Oh yeah, if still wanna more learning source on those, theres lotsa tutorials videos on reason and sonar available online by different company. I have watched some of those, its pretty useful and easy to follow.

    http://www.macprovideo.com/
    http://www.cakewalk.com/products/SWA/SONAR8/

    Oh yeah, youtube has loads of tutorial videos as well, best of things, its free.
    Last edited by PatheinRaindropMoe; 16-11-10 at 09:31 PM.
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  3. #3

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    You might want to consider something with at least 61 keys. Easier to play piano style stuff. Drums are usually map out nicely on 61 keys too.

    The other thing you need to look out is where is the sound source? Cos midi controllers are simply triggers, they do not have any sound on board. You either need to run samples in your sequencing software or have a sound module.

  4. #4

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    Sonar has some useful tutorial in their help manual. Don't really need to buy book.

  5. #5

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    Thanks to everyone for the advice, especially PatheinRaindropMoe I read in some reviews that the MPK49's drumpads have some problems, you need to tap very hard to get the sounds. Since you have this keyboard, did you experience this issue on your keyboard?

    James, I have an old 61 keys Yamaha PSR at home but it is too big to rig it up to my computer due to space constraints. So, I have to look for smaller (but not too small) alternatives and by the way, I can't play piano well enough to save my life Yes, I understand that most midi keyboards do not have internal sounds. So, the sound source will primarily be the soft synth in Reason.
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  6. #6

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    What genre of music do you sequence? Depending on your genre, the type of controller you need differs as well. That will include:

    1. Number of keys. If you are into sampling, particularly orchestral, you may need more keys as some have key-switching mapped onto the lower keys. 76 is a minimum; many times, you may need 88 keys. Some controllers with fewer keys also come with smaller keys. This may affect playing depending on your genre.
    2. Knobs and/or faders. If you are into electronic music, knobs are the preference. However, many acoustic arrangements (during when you need to dynamically control expression and volume), a fader is preferable.
    3. Mod/Pitch wheels vs mod/pitch stick. This is a personal preference. Some prefer the use of a stick while others the wheel. That's mainly for pitch bending. For modulation, the wheel as the added advantage in that it's not "spring loaded" - it stays in the position you stop. The stick when used for modulation springs back into the resting position. I use the mod wheel a lot, and I certainly prefer the wheel to the stick. But there are certain live applications for pitch bending which I may prefer the stick over the wheel.
    4. After-touch. This again depends on the genre of music and the sound generator you are triggering from (whether after-touch has been programmed into the patches and how important it is to you).
    5. Drum pads. Unless you are really into drum sequencing, you may not really need pads (ie you are a drummer in heart!). I can play drum just as well on the keys. All you need is keys with good response.
    6. There are various other controls like ribbon controller, various kinds of sticks etc. All these depends on the type of music and how you want to control them.
    7. Assignability. Most controllers will let you assign the controllers to any cc control number. The main difference between controllers is the ease of assigning the controls. Here's where I find Novation's Remote SL mk2 shine above the others. The Automap function lets you assign different controls very quickly.

    These are a few things you should consider when getting a midi controller.

    What sound generator/VSTi are you using?
    Last edited by Cheez; 19-11-10 at 08:09 AM.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by anonpersona View Post
    I read in some reviews that the MPK49's drumpads have some problems, you need to tap very hard to get the sounds.
    Those pads on the mpk 49 is indeed stiffer than the pads i have tried on the korg nanopad and padkontrol. That said, The pads on the mpk49 is still pretty much usable, its not as bad as some reviews put it.

    As mentioned by cheez, the keys can also be used to triggering drum pad as will, so that could be an alternative.
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  8. #8

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    Is there any music school that conducts classes on writing midis ?

  9. #9

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    Why don't you try Novation Nocturn Keyboard 49???

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