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Topic: Velocity response of keyboards & does a cheap weighted keyboard exist?

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  1. #1

    Velocity response of keyboards & does a cheap weighted keyboard exist?

    Hello everyone,

    This is my first post here. I wish it wasn't, because I wish I didn't have to ask this in the first place, but I have a question for anyone that owns a MIDI controller keyboard.

    I recently bought M-Audio's Keystation 61es. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a keyboard. I have a nice digital piano, but I'm living in a different state, and I need another option that is not too expensive, and more 'portable'. I am learning to play the piano, so I figured I would also try to buy a weighted midi keyboard of some sort. So I thought, the 61es, $150, would be a good choice.

    Well, so far, I'm afraid that it wasn't. The keys are velocity sensitive, but it seems that sensitivity has a limited range. I can play the keys softly (though, to do so, I press the keys lightly, and they only have to go down halfway), and I can get velocity's as low as 5. However, if I play the keys with more force (or speed I suppose), I can only get the velocity up to 100. When I play a piano piece, the parts that I play 'harder', only usually reach the 90 vel. mark, and, actually, everything stays in the 60-90 range because I don't usually play a piano without pressing the keys all the way down. I suppose I would have to adjust to be able to use this keyboard and play softly. It is almost impossible for me to get a velocity in the 120's, as I have to slam my fingers into the keys. Of course, this is difficult, and impractical; after all, I want my keyboard to last, at least long enough for me to sell it if I have to.

    So my question is, what are other people's experience's with your midi keyboards? Are you able to play notes with more than 100 velocity, without you becoming worried you might break your keyboard? I'm just wondering whether I have, a bad keyboard, a bad investment, or is this just normal, and something I have to get used to? If there are keyboards with better velocity sensitivity, I'd probably buy it and sell this one, because I don't want to be forced to come up with some sequencer workaround.

    My second question is, is it impossible to find a cheap(er) weighted keyboard. The 61es is "semi-weighted", and it's okay, but really feels nothing like a real piano, and it also feels kind of cheap (but I guess that's to be expected). I don't really want to buy an 88 key keyboard, as space is a concern, but is that my only option if I want a good weighted keyboard? I noticed there are more 49 key keyboards, than 61, but I'm afraid that would be too few keys. Maybe I should just give up the weighted option, and go for a nicer un-weighted keyboard with better velocity response? (If my current keyboard is abnormal in that respect)

    Any personal experiences, comments, advice, would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
    Michael

  2. #2

    Re: Velocity response of keyboards & does a cheap weighted keyboard exist?

    Velocity response is a source of frustration for everyone.. as you can see the 4 most recent posts here all concern velocity.

    Most keyboards will let you set a velocity curve, like light, medium, heavy.. with the light curve allowing you to reach higher velocity numbers more easily, as opposed to the heavy curve. So you can try to find that in the manual. Also, around 100 for a ff area sounds okay to me. Keep in mind that you don't get into the max area too often. I'd be worried if you punch the keyboard as hard as you can, and it maxes out at 100.

    The most expensive full weighted digital piano will still feel like a toy compared to the real thing, so understand that throwing money at the problem won't really solve it. There's a limit as to how awesome these things can be. That said, if portability is a major concern, I'd suggest a non-weighted 61key. I'm not too sure how light your requirement is, but it seems to me that most weighted keys are just play too heavy to lug around. Besides, they're quite expensive.

    A good compromise is the casio privia series. They're certainly more expensive than $150.. more like $500 and above depending on model. But they're light, and have 88 keys. They're also weighted too.

    But I guess space is an issue? Then how about VMK 61 or 76? I believe they're heavier than a privia, but many peopele love the VMK's action. Price is $619 and $659 at musician's friend. With VMK, you'd need to hook it up to a laptop with a piano vsti running. If you don't have a working laptop rig, then this won't work for you.

    The thing is, most weighted pianos only come in 88. It's rare to find a 76key one.. VMK and Kurzweil PC3 are the only two that comes to mind.. maybe there are others. But anyway, you're looking for a rare item. And full weighted controllers aren't cheap at all. Probably none below $500. If you've got a working laptop rig, then you might be able to buy a used full weighted controller, and just use up to date samples with that.

  3. #3

    Re: Velocity response of keyboards & does a cheap weighted keyboard exist?

    I have a studio logic TMK88 - one of the first ones out of the fatory, actually. It was dirt cheap and it's still going strong.

    What I'd really like to find is an UNweighted keyboard. Weighted keys only make sense for piano samples. If you're playing organ samples, or non-keyboard instruments, unweighted makes more sense to me (but just try to find one with 88 keys these days).

  4. #4

    Re: Velocity response of keyboards & does a cheap weighted keyboard exist?

    I have a studio logic TMK88 - one of the first ones out of the factory, actually. It was dirt cheap and it's still going strong.

    What I'd really like to find is an UNweighted keyboard. Weighted keys only make sense for piano samples. If you're playing organ samples, or non-keyboard instruments, unweighted makes more sense to me (but just try to find one with 88 keys these days).

  5. #5

    Re: Velocity response of keyboards & does a cheap weighted keyboard exist?

    There are plug ins that will allow you to re-map the velocity levels.
    So, if the hardest you want to be hitting the keys gives 100, you could remap it to 127.
    If the lowest is 50, you could re-map that to 1.

    If the keys have uneven response you can even re-map on a key by key basis.

  6. #6

    Re: Velocity response of keyboards & does a cheap weighted keyboard exist?

    Thanks this was very helpful. I think it's safe to say that the keyboard I have currently isn't functioning like a velocity sensitive keyboard should, but I think I'll just get used to it.

    The ability to change the velocity curves would be nice, but sadly, the keyboard I have doesn't allow this; probably should have gotten one that does, but I'm not too worried.

    I have also found that weighted key pianos usually are 88 keys. Certainly they are way more expensive than what I have currently. While I would love to spend the money on a nice 88 key weighted keyboard, I just don't have the space right now. You're right, an unweighted keyboard would be fine for me; or at least semi-weighted.

    I'll look into the plug ins that could remap the velocity levels. I think that's probably the best solution right now. It's good to know though that my keyboard doesn't have a very good vel. response, but I've decided it's not worth pursuing anything else.

  7. #7

    Re: Velocity response of keyboards & does a cheap weighted keyboard exist?

    Studiologic is currently selling the TMK88 for $300 (that's list price, it should retail for quite a bit less). I don't think weighted 88 key MIDI controllers get any simpler or cheaper than this.

  8. #8

    Re: Velocity response of keyboards & does a cheap weighted keyboard exist?

    You're right ejr. That is a really good tip. I would really like to go out and buy it, but I'm confined to a small space, so as much as I would love to have 88 keys, I just can't. Ah well. It was really tough for me to pass up a SL-990XP for $250 on craigslist. Must stop thinking about it...

  9. #9

    Re: Velocity response of keyboards & does a cheap weighted keyboard exist?

    no space? No problem!



    just kidding. :-)

  10. #10

    Re: Velocity response of keyboards & does a cheap weighted keyboard exist?

    Btw, if your keyboard doesn't have a velocity curve editor you can use software like "Velocity Curve SM" (plug-in) to design your own if the host supports it. Otherwise there are ones like "Piano Tuner" or "Velocity Editor" [EDIT: I meant "Velocity Curve Changer"] that can be used with virtual MIDI cables.
    Last edited by Per Lichtman; 02-22-2009 at 01:01 PM. Reason: Wrong plug-in name.

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