Looking for recommendation - 61 key controller with 9 sliders

I’ve been using a Roland XP-80 as controller. It works great but its big and heavy. I was thinking of finding a 61 key controller for use with VB3/Blue3 to take to open mic nights.

I’m looking at:
Novation Impulse 61
M-Audio Oxygen 61 MKIV

The below model doesn’t have key weights and is USB powered (not really considering it at this point unless someone who has it convinces me):
Novation Launchkey 61 MK2

Thanks for any input.

I’ve heard good things about the Arturia Keylabs. They had issues early on, but allegedly have buttoned things up. USB powered. You probably want to look for any recent reviews though.


The Keylab Essential 61 looks good. I’m going to try to find a comparison review of these keyboards

I own two M-Audio Code 61. The 16 Pads on the left are perfect for controlling Cantabile and it has 9 faders too :wink:

In case of choosing best keybed action take a look at Novation SL61 MKII and AKAI Mpk 61 keyboards.

kind regards

Hi, the only good master keyboard is the Akai mpk 261.
best redgards

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I whole-heartedly agree with the MPK261… (only 8 faders though - OP was for 9) but this is an excellent keyboard action and good robust faders, controllers AND pads!

I’ve been using the Novation Impulse 61 for a couple of years.No complaints.

Thank you for all your replies. I bought the MPK61 for $200 shipped on ebay from a seller one state over (NJ, I’m in CT). From the photos it appears the unit has lived in a studio, it doesn’t have the look of a unit that’s been on the road. After taking the XP-80 completely apart and cleaning the glue off the keys and chassis I figure I can clear up any issues with this one if any.

Follow up: Doing my usual after purchase shopping I read that the MPK261 has a bit lighter action in the keys. If the MPK61 has a feel like my XP-80 I’ll be happy.

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Roland A800. Light as a feather and great design (apart from the side-mounted ports…).

The A800 looks really good. I really didn’t know anything about it until you mentioned it. What I like about it is the sliders are very close together which is good if they assigned to drawbars. I also like Roland’s joystick which I have on my XP-80. The keys are apparently not weighted, some reviewers thought the action was too light but that would be fine for synth and organ which is what I’m looking to do.

I absolutely hate weighted keyboards, so for me it’s ideal. One really useful aspect of the A800 is that it presents its keyboard and controls on two separate virtual MIDI ports over USB, which plays to the strengths of Cantabile to make use of them.

I was surprised to see only one on ebay used selling for practically the price of a new one. I watched a Roland video where Peter Gordeno walks though the Depeche Mode stage setup which includes two stations of double A800’s, he comments that they hold up well on tours.

Unfortunately it looks like my ebay seller of the MPK61 may not come through. Today was target delivery day - I haven’t gotten a tracking number and no response to my inquiries about it. Two people who bought items several days before me have already posted negative feedback - their target delivery date is past and no response from this seller.

I’m leaning towards the M-Audio Code 61 from Sweetwater for $350 at this point.

Novation impulse. 9 Faders, and more than enough buttons and knobs. For me it’s the ideal controller.

I own a Keylab Essentials 61 and a Code 61. I use both of them in my setup with Cantabile. I’d call the action on the Keylab “squishy” and on the Code 61 “bouncy.” The Code has more buttons and pads than the Keylab. As far as weight, the Keylab is definitely lighter. They are both good options. For better synth-action feel, you probably can’t go wrong with the Roland A800, but no big difference in sliders, etc. I’ve demoed Novation keyboards and I’m not a big fan of the feel. You can always adjust the velocity curve in Cantabile to make the keys “feel” heavier or lighter. Good luck!

Here’s another way to ask this question. Which midi controller will be most like the Roland XP-80? It sits right between between hammer action and pure synth action. Aiming for no more than 15 lbs. I keep reading the A800 has smaller keys than normal.

Sorry to drag this discussion on but I hope this info will be valuable to others moving over to VST instruments.

The A800 has very slightly shorter keys than normal, but not narrower. It makes for a slightly firmer key action, but not so much that it really bother me - and I am VERY fussy about proper sized keys!

Hi Elf,

Thanks for the clarification on the A800, as long as the keys aren’t more narrow I’m fine with them being slightly less in length.

Since I’m asking for a 61 key controller as much like the XP-80 as possible I should probably try to find an A800

Just to buy time I purchased an m-audio Axiom 61 1st gen on ebay for $60. I figured even if I don’t like it much it would be good to have an extra keyboard around and I can take my time going forward shopping for the ideal one.