What keyboard do you have as controller?

I have several keyboards I use in different situations, according to gig type, venue, and which band I am playing with. I have a few permanently planted in rehearsal rooms, such as my ancient E-Mu Proteus MPS 61 key (still working great since my purchase in 1992?) 5-pin MIDI cable required :wink: And my Kurzweil 2000 V3, also working great. They both serve as controllers now. My Yamaha MOTIF XF6 was the last workstation type I bought, and is mostly used as a controller/backup sound source on differing gigs. I sold the other workstations I had years ago.
When I switched to controllers, my 1st purchase was my very dependable E-MU Xboard 49 which is at every gig I play. I have 2- M-Audio 88es, and 3-49es, mostly for backups and smaller gigs, and rehearsal. An Arturia Mini Lab 25-key for when I need a triggering device or testing away from full rig. A Roland A-88 for special gigs and studio work…great weighted key action. An old Roland PC-300 for rehearsal room and a Roland A-800PRO.
AND…still shopping for a couple more to replace the well worn ones I have.

  • MOTIF XF7 - gigs
  • Numa Compact2 and Controlkey88 - rehearsal rooms
  • KAWAI MP7 SE; Crumar Mojo61 and various synths - studio
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Roland A-800 Pro.
It has a good keyboard which supports after touch.

One of the really great things about the Roland A-800 for use with Cantabile is that you can assign the controllers to one of two virtual MIDI outputs, meaning that it acts like a controller keyboard AND a control surface in one. I typically send all of the transport controls to output 2, which is dedicated to providing input to my Background Rack.

It’s also very light to carry and is USB-powered. Wish they did a non-weighted 88-note version!

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I’m thinking of buying the A-500

I narrowed down my choice to the A-800 or Axiom 61 and then went with the Axioms because there were lots for sale used.

OK, I’ve now made my choice for my upper keyboard and gone for the Akai MPK-249 - a great little beast with a nice keyboard (less “clacky” than my Alesis and M-Audio 49ers!) and an overall great feel to it.

The only little disadvantage is that the transport keys cannot be assigned freely, but only to either MIDI transport controls or fixed CCs - but that only meant reworking my background rack bindings and re-programming my rehearsal room Alesis 49ers so everything works nicely again.

Interesting fact that caused me a bit of confusion: when setting the Akai’s transport buttons to send CCs, they ONLY send CC values of 127 when pressing, but NOT values of 0 when releasing! When my buttons stopped working after the first press, I discovered this behavior in the MIDI monitor - fortunately, @brad provides the NoEdge Button binding, which takes care of this nicely…




Just out of curiousity. The NanoControl has 8 sliders, which drawbars are you matching to each slider?

Korg NanoKey2, NanoPad2 and NanoKontrol2 :wink:

(but I’m a guitarist :smiley: )

Ok I bought the A-500 second hand.
Some things I’m not happy with:

  • Transpose function: you need to dig few steps into the menu to change the value !
  • Hold/expression bus is kinda cheap connector (you can wiggle the jack)
  • Roland mod wheel is in the joystick, it’s ok, but I assigned an extra rotary for it, to keep the value sometimes
  • Connection panel to the right: it’s just to risky for me to accidentaly hit it when moving.
  • Keybed is very good quality but the action is a bit short for me (or I’m to much used to my Samson)

Anybody got a arturia Keylab 61 mk2? Is it better then the mk1 shitty keys?
And hopefully the usb connection etc also?

My setup is not so much for playing live right now, but in my own personal studio (I’m still working out the bugs). For keys, I use a StudioLogic SL88 Studio (newer) and a Novation Impulse 61 (older), in conjunction with a Crumar/GM Lab D9X drawbar/controller (brand-new, which I just built from a kit).

For winds I have two setups: 1) I use a modified Akai EWI USB, and 2) I also use a Shadow 4001 transducer (on my sax mouthpiece) into a Sonuus i2M Musicport pitch-to-MIDI/USB converter/controller to trigger a trumpet VST. Both setups are further controlled by a Line6 FVB MKII pedalboard controller.

It’s interesting to hear others’ impressions of the A800. perfect it isn’t, but it does have some really good features.
[quote]__* Transpose function: you need to dig few steps into the menu to change the value![/quote]
But surely you’d do this in Cantabile? I’ve never even looked for it!

[quote]__* Hold/expression bus is kinda cheap connector (you can wiggle the jack)[/quote]
Mine is actually fine; they’re solid. Could be worth checking inside?

[quote]__* Roland mod wheel is in the joystik, it’s ok, but I assigned an extra rotary for it, to keep the value sometimes[/quote]
Yep, I’d also prefer wheels in the main. Roland seem to believe in their bender, and it does have an advantage at times, but sprung mod isn’t always appropriate.

[quote]__* Connection panel to the right: it’s just to risky for me to accidentally hit it when moving.[/quote]
Agreed. For me this is the worst thing about these controllers. I’ve no idea why anyone would consider putting the connections hanging out on the right to be advantageous. Similar with some of the latter-day Moogs - I would never use Taurus 3 live!

[quote]__* Keybed is very good quality but the action is a bit short for me (or I’m to much used to my Samson)[/quote]
Also very much agree. I find the short keys can affect my ability to make clean fast runs.

But the controllers on the second virtual MIDI port are a significant advantage that I would miss greatly now. It’s almost made for Cantabile!

I’m interested what other controllers people are using that might have the advantages of the A800, and maybe fix its shortcomings?

I use a Yamaha MODX7 and a Kurzweil SP6. I’ve always loved Kurzweils to play, both for the feel of the keybed and for certain sounds. I used to use a Yamaha EX5 and a Kurzweil PC3x. The button pressing between songs and the weight of the PC3x eventually drove me to investigate other solutions.
For a while I used a Yamaha MOXF8 and a Keylab 61 with Cantabile hosting a variety of plugins. However, at a gig last year, having behaved flawlessly for the first set - you know what’s coming - I went to play the opening brass riff to Sledgehammer and … nothing. Not only nothing but no idea why not. So while the band filled in with some guitar rock I frantically rebooted the laptop (thanking my lucky stars I’d installed an SSD) and away we went for the rest of the gig. It froze twice more in subsequent rehearsals and I went cold on the whole idea.
So I sold the MOXF8 & the EX5 and bought the SP6 & the MODX7. The two together weigh less than the PC3x … aand Cantabile runs everything and has been stable ever since. Double plus good!!


I just had my gig with the mpk261.
Some comments:


  • 61 quality keys
  • small width of the keyboard
  • led lighted pads
  • the DAW control keys on the left i’ve set as up/down= song up down and left/right as states
  • large faders
  • led lit buttons
  • pretty lightweighted for the quality


  • missing knob values in the screen
  • only 8 faders, not 9 for drawbars
  • missing easy midi channel switch button
  • low quality pitch/mod wheels, will eventually break, it’s a know problem


I’ve got the MPK249 and MPK225. I had to add my own lithium grease to the mod wheel! (Squeaked like mad out of the box!) Looks simple to repair, at least.

I do miss the lights on the knobs, but that’s what I got the Behringer BCF2000 for, heck! :slight_smile:

I have the MPK’s both working nicely with Cantabile. Did you see the rack I made for the MPK249 in the Community Rack Exchange? Should work fine with the MPK261.


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Thx Terry,
I’m not sure how this works via a rack?
What’s the advantage?
I just added my mpk to the midi input setting and assigned the knobs on it.

The rack does what Torsten dubbed as “abstracting” the controllers so they become easy to reassign via states to different uses. Make sure you read this article and perhaps some of those that follow it in that thread.


So little to so much to learn ! :slight_smile:
thx Terry !

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I again nominate this topic (abstract the controllers using racks) for an in depth video lesson :grinning: If there is any way I can help I would be happy to do so.


Ok Ok… coming right up!
(I’ve been struggling with tech issues with cameras freezing or otherwise you’d have a dozen vids by now!)