Controller Keyboard for gigs


Hi Toaster, I thought I had replied to your offer. I’ve been able to pick up a older ProKeys 88 that needed some attention, so I’ve stripped it down and cleaned all the key bed and whitened the keys a little and all seems fine. Though I might sell it now and move up to the Oxygen 88 if I get rid. If you still have it I could be interested still.



Hey Chris,

No worries, it’s still here if you’re still interested…


Thank you! I’ll do this, but I’ll ask you the last question. I read that do you have kawai 5000s. This akai keys are heavier than kawai 5000s? And, are the pivot point in the akai ok? (I mean if you press the key in the maximum height, can the key go down? For example in many keyboards ps60 and if you press the key too upper, it won’t go down, and it’s more difficult to play between black keys than for example kurzweil sp4-7.


I have the Akai mpk261 myself and I love the thing. Keys feel great, and the pads are super responsive. Feels really solid and seems to be smaller than any other 61 key board I’ve owned. Well laid out.


The Kawai K5000s is slightly heavier than the MPK2xx. Both are really fast! The K5000s has longer keys, but that does not make a difference in the playability of the MPK to me. I can really fly on both, and repeat notes come off without a problem.

The pivot point is fine - I can easily press keys with my fingers all the way “inside”. Not like some, I’ve experienced those!!!

Really nice aftertouch feel on this MPK also - I like that part better than on my K5000s, which has too short a “throw” region for my liking sometimes. (I really have to baby the K5000s, while the Akai feels more natural.)



Thank you both! Really helpful information that is hard to find in google!


Hi @terrybritton and @BigTwisty,

I’m in the market for for a 61 key controller and that MPK261 looks good.
I’ve read a review that says the key width is a little less than standard.
Could you confirm if that is the case? Though it sounds like even if it is you’re having a great time playing them.



It is slightly more compact, and the keys are not as long as, say, on my Wavestation or Kawai K5000s. But they are weighted well and you don’t notice the keys being shorter. It is not harder to press the inside of the key to the point of being difficult.

If you are considering an NI one, the S-61 Mk2 was just announced officially, but it is a little way off from being released. Pricy, but amazing!



So, what was the verdict? I find myself narrowing in on these two as well. I am currently using a Roland FA-08 for the bottom tier of my rig —onboard sounds along with VSTs — but have been seriously considering something that integrates with Arturia’s V Collection…


I now have also an S-49 Mk2, and Arturia’s stuff all integrates well with NI’s Komplete Kontrol interface for it. I use it every day and really like the “energy” of the keybed. The tools on that thing are amazing. Even more so if you own a Maschine-2 compatible device like the Jam or any of the Maschine units.

I still really like the Akai MPK249 as well. It has many more controllers than I use. The keybed is FAST and always comfortable.



Thanks! I’ll have to check out the Akai as well.


Lots of discussion here about controller keyboards, but I still have some questions.
I’m currently using a Novation Impulse61 but …

Is there a controller keyboard out there (for synth/organ parts - not piano) that will sync the fader and encoder values with a Cantabile VST preset directly somehow? (without touching anything)
I’m currently sending a (Novation) sysex template per song to set up the keyboard, but the values are not stored in the template, otherwise I could do that.

The Behringer Motor61 looks promising.
Would be great to recall a VST Organ patch and have the ‘drawbars’ update themselves.

Anyone have any experience with this?


Yes. I have a Motor 61. It is fiddly and I’m not crazy about the action. It has that black-keys-sound-different thing. The Novation is better action. I use the Motor 61 with Blue Cat Audio’s controler VST for volume controls. I havent tried it for drawbars. It does have 9 faders, but #9 is master volume. It behaves slightly differently from the other 8 faders, but with Bindings and a little configuration with Behringer’s tool, it would work.

To make it work, you have to do a little thinking to avoid MIDI feedback loops, but it wasnt difficult.


I got this long time ago but didn’t like the keybed and overall quality.


I have an old M-audio Oxygen 61.
Stuck notes and bad key feeling.
To be honest that model is very cheap.
Good for no serious use.
Cannot say if higher range models are better.
I learnt that a good judgement about a controller can arrive only after serious tests.


Thanks for your thoughts… I think you’re right that controllers are hard to evaluate off the specs.
You really need to spend time with them to fully appreciate whats possible and whats not.
I think my requirements are possible if syncing to a DAW live, as this is what the designers seem to have focused on.
But Id rather use cantabile :slight_smile:


I tried to use my Arturia Keylab mkII with Reaper.
It works but not as well as I need.
Too difficult to change track and this means VST during live gigs. You need two strokes on two buttons.
With C3 you can program much more with much less.
I learnt: better having intelligence in your computer than in your controller.
So choice among midi controller is easier.