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Topic: Best MIDI keyboard for classical piano playing

  1. #1

    Best MIDI keyboard for classical piano playing

    Hi all,

    With all this great sale going on for PMI wonderful piano libraries, a natural concern would be to find a MIDI keyboard controller that can capture the slightest touch variations to utilize those velocity layers in the library. It should be easy using the controller to produce MIDI velocities from 0 to 127. Maybe the quality desired is to have as linear correlation possible between the force applied to the keys and the resulting MIDI velocity? So the question is:

    Which MIDI controller is best used in conjunction with PMI piano libraries so that playing classical music using it can be as close as playing on the sampled pianos?

    Anyone playing classical music has experience using Yamaha P120 / P200 / P250 with, say the PMI Grandioso Steinway D, the PMI Bosendorfer 290, the Emperor, the Old Lady, etc?



  2. #2

    Re: Best MIDI keyboard for classical piano playing

    I too am very interested in an informed response to your question. I play with a very intimate style and my Roland A-33 isn't cutting it.

  3. #3

    Re: Best MIDI keyboard for classical piano playing

    I have no experience of the following keyboard, since I just found out about it myself in a thread on the hardware board, but the Kawai MP9000 or MP9500 are apparently equiped with a real hammer action. I haven't played one yet, but from what I have read this may well be the only serious choice for serious playing.

    Its one thing when the keyboard is used for composing, but if one is actually going to play the piano on it, it has to be a hammer action... all these simulated weighted keyboards are just not up to it - as I've said before, a dull sluggishness is not in the least bit similar to the feel a real piano. Good luck achieving any sort of tonal colouring with those...

  4. #4

    Re: Best MIDI keyboard for classical piano playing


    For serious piano playing, it's the Yamaha P-series (including the PF500, which is more suitable for playing at home).

    Here is a link to Harmony Central's User Reviews of the P-250. http://www.harmony-central.com/Synth...a/P250-01.html. That site also has user reviews of the other P-series models.

    If, in MIDI controller, you include the PF500, that's the controller for you. Essentially the same feature set, but with a three-pedal "foot" that is braced against its stand's front legs.

    Many people also like the feel of the Kawia MP9000 and its replacement, the MP9500. Neither of those stage pianos will respond to sostenuto control change messages.

    Yammies are built like tanks. I still have a P80, and sold a P200 to get the money to buy a Bachmann digital grand that has the action of an acoustic verical ("piano" in Europe).

    On a bang-for-buck basis, the highest recommendation for serious piano playing by people who want a MIDI controller goes to Yammy.

    David Ferris

  5. #5

    Re: Best MIDI keyboard for classical piano playing

    i use the Kurzweil PC1X with great success

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    between this place and that place

    Re: Best MIDI keyboard for classical piano playing

    Get that PMI group Buy then get a KX-88 midi controller and you should do fairly well. Honstly though nothing beats playing a baby or Grand piano the real paino! Still I hear PMI is the Sh****
    All I can Say is...HA!...HA!...HAAAAAAA!!!!!

  7. #7

    Re: Best MIDI keyboard for classical piano playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Blaske
    If a person is particular about these things, there's no substitute for personally trying these keyboards. Don't expect miracles, either, or you're bound to be dissapointed. Progress is being made in the sampled piano world, but we're still a far cry away from perfection. It's going to be quite some time before sensitive players used to performing on great pianos are satisfied. Just because a given controller has a "hammer" action does not mean that all the parameters are going to be in line to provide a responsive instrument.
    That is certainly true - if the midi side of things is not all that it should be, then the action alone can't salvage the situation.
    But the value of having a hammer action cannot be stated strongly enough - in the end, that is the way that a keyboard is going to be really playable as a piano.

    I don't know if these Kawai's are the answer - I'm going to try and find one to try out. If anyone here has tried one and would care to report, that would be much appreciated.

    But those simulated weights... argh... even the Yamaha ones... its just not like a piano. Sure, you'll get used to it - but that isn't the point if you want a keyboard that really plays like a piano.
    Be aware of this Paul when embarking on your search.

    And unlike with a real piano with a poor touch that can be 'regulated' by giving it a good thrashing (thus working in the felt), there isn't much to be done about the dull sluggish simulated weights...

  8. #8

    Re: Best MIDI keyboard for classical piano playing


    Forgot to add that a Yamaha rep wrote, on another forum, that the "touch sensitivity" settings on Yammy's and others digital boards is an illusion. And that when you switch to a heavier setting, all you're actually accomplishing is raising the threshold before a sound is triggered.

    Unfortunately, you're also cutting off the lower numbered MIDI cc messages. This is worth considering, because the default setting is usually Medium. You mentioned that you want to be able to transmit the whole MIDI cc range, and I should have included the info from the Yammy rep that this means you'd be best served by using the Soft setting.

    David Ferris

  9. #9

    Re: Best MIDI keyboard for classical piano playing

    Well, I have a Kawai MP9500 and aYamaha P80, and the MP9500 is light years ahead of the Yamaha in midi functions. The midi funtions of the P80 are very limited and very hard to use. The info window is very small and very crypitic, and acessing and naviagating the menu is very convoluted and cryptic. You need to read the manual to do anything on it. And when you do, it is equivalent to working out an algerba equation. I am not exagerating. Anyone that pushes the P80 (and probably the P90 and P120) as a midi controler is full of it, either works for Yamaha, or don't do anything but the most simple midi things on the P80, and therefore do not know what they are talking about. Note, I am not talking about all Yamahas. The P250 is probably much better, but I have no experience with it, (or with the P90 and 120 for that matter, but I am assuming they're similar to the P80 in midi functions.)

    The MP9500, on the other hand, is an extremely powerful midi controler, loaded with feaures and controls that the P80 lacks, and the menuing system is about a hundred times easier to use.

    Don't misunderstand me, in many ways the P80 is a very good keyboard, but comparing it to the MP9500 as a midi controler is like comparing the Back Street Boys to the Beatles.

    I first got into soft samplers because I got tired of the P80's piano sounds. So I got Gigastudio, and I got what many consider the best piano library, even today. And I was disappointed in the sound of the library using the P80 as a midi controler. I then saw the MP9500 online in a closeout sale so I snatched it up. I was so pleased with the piano I didn't even worry about gigastudio for months. (But part of that was because I had reformated and hadn't reinstalled it, as I was still tinkering with my computer. this is the reason I hate copy protection. It shackles me from tinkering with my computer the way I want to.) When I finally did get around to installing it, playing samples on the MP9500 sounded noticably better then the P80. More to the point, I also purchased Colossus, which comes with Kompakt. I tried the piano in there, and it didn't sound and play right, much worse then the pianos I used with Gigastudio. Solution, I went to the menu in the MP9500 and adjusted the velocity curve, and now it sounds great. The P80 just does not give the same degree of control.

    Unfortunately, the MP9500 is no longer being made. But you can find used ones of the older model MP900 on ebay now and then.

    Or try the Yamaha P250, or the various Rolands or other makes. But I personally would not recomend the P80 as a midi controler. Perhaps others have had better luck using the P80 as a midi controller then I, (e.g. got it to work decent with their soft sampler), but one thing that is fact, and not opinion, the MP9500 has far more midi features and control then the P80 by a factor of 50.

  10. #10

    Re: Best MIDI keyboard for classical piano playing

    Thanks for chiming in about the MP9500!
    How would you rate the action? Is it really a hammer action, and how does it compare to an actual piano?

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