I Prefer Synth Action

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Baron von Case
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I Prefer Synth Action

Post by Baron von Case » Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:07 pm

Does that make me crazy?

I pretty much trained myself on a crappy, flimsy Yamaha PSR, but now that I've made so much progress as a writer and player, and now that I've had extensive experience with Studiologics and Axioms and Tritons and all the real keyboards out there... I kind of miss the old days.

I think I'm so acclimated to the feather-weight, ultra-fast keys and playing style that comes with it to where I can't ever get the full grasp of this weighted, semi-weighted, or hammer action deal. I'm the opposite of the classically trained pianist whose fingers can't get anything but full velocity out of synth action boards.

It's like I can't tell for sure WHEN the key is going to sound on non-synth boards, or how loud for that matter. I never have any reliability issues on non-weighted boards, though. Kind of strange that I can play more expressive "piano" on a home keyboard than on an actual piano...

Anyone in the same boat? Anyone know of any halfway decent synth-action controllers? I'm betting on a unanimous "no" to both answers... :wink:
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Pitch Black
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Re: I Prefer Synth Action

Post by Pitch Black » Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:11 pm

Baron von Case wrote:Kind of strange that I can play more expressive "piano" on a home keyboard than on an actual piano...

Anyone in the same boat?
Nope. That is truly weird. :wink:

Baron von Case wrote:Anyone know of any halfway decent synth-action controllers?
I rate the Novation ReMote's action, personally.

anthroid
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Post by anthroid » Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:25 pm

i agree with you completely.
i use an alesis qs6.1 as a midi controller (synth action semi-weight) because i am too clumsy on anything else.

Pitch Black
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Post by Pitch Black » Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:32 pm

I'm a bit dubious on all this "semi-weighted" bollox. What does that actually mean? I mean, it's either a shitty keyboard action, a decent keyboard action, or a piano action, innit? :wink:

anthroid
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Post by anthroid » Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:36 pm

it means there is a lead weight attached to the underside of each key.
'synth action' usually implies no weights.
'full weighted' is piano action eg. 88-key synths/clavinovas

Angstrom
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Post by Angstrom » Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:45 pm

I prefer "synth action"

I'm a synth guy at heart, not a piano guy.

Mr Man
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Post by Mr Man » Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:57 pm

i had an old used midi keyboard with loose used keys that i liked

my new novation remote had stiff new keys so i cut wood strips. one the lenght of the black and another for the white keys , placed on them over night and gently weighted down with a small book

next morning they feel nice with the springs broken in.

rozling
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Post by rozling » Wed Nov 19, 2008 2:08 pm

Depends on the application - I'm classically trained, and for years played ragtime to vent my rage on the stiffest-action piano ever.

Now when I'm playing stuff that needs a good dynamic range I'll use a weighted 88-key controller, and that makes sense for me in another way which is that it feels more natural to have a range of 88 notes laterally to play. Also if you're playing anything which requires more than an octave of a fast run, or 'balancing' - kind of using the bounce of the keys/balance of your hand muscles as a way to get a rhythm - you pretty much need that feedback (think of Butterflies & Hurricanes by Muse).

On the other hand, I recently had the experience of playing mostly Hammond stuff (through B4II) on the 88-weighted-key for several weeks of rehearsals on the basis that I wanted to have the option of piano/electric piano, and then out of pure laziness/backache switching to my AX-7 (synth-weighted keytar). I couldn't believe the improvement - there's just nothing like riffing Hammond stuff with a nice light action. In fact I'd go as far as saying that where you'll end up is just too far from what a Hammond should feel like, and your playing will suffer for it. Also, try doing those hand slides on a weighted keyboard and you'll end up bringing your hand to A+E!

Playing synth material - I suppose it depends on the patch, but I don't think it really bothers me whether it's weighted or unweighted.

On a slightly related topic I played a Nord Stage at the weekend for the second time in two or three years, and I have to say... that's an instrument. Actually both myself and the shop guy noted how the action is almost artificially springy, but immensely satisfying to play. I knew there was a reason I'd a hard-on for those expensive b*stards... but then obviously Nord saw fit (& saw a market) for waterfall (hammond-like) and synth/semi-weighted controllers, which just goes to show everyone has their tastes.

BTW remember that with most controllers (and if not on the controller, in software) you can apply different velocity curves which dictate how 'soft' or 'hard' the keys are to play. Often it's surprising how much of a difference this can make.

Baron von Case
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Post by Baron von Case » Wed Nov 19, 2008 2:33 pm

rozling wrote:Depends on the application - I'm classically trained, and for years played ragtime to vent my rage on the stiffest-action piano ever.

Now when I'm playing stuff that needs a good dynamic range I'll use a weighted 88-key controller, and that makes sense for me in another way which is that it feels more natural to have a range of 88 notes laterally to play. Also if you're playing anything which requires more than an octave of a fast run, or 'balancing' - kind of using the bounce of the keys/balance of your hand muscles as a way to get a rhythm - you pretty much need that feedback (think of Butterflies & Hurricanes by Muse).

On the other hand, I recently had the experience of playing mostly Hammond stuff (through B4II) on the 88-weighted-key for several weeks of rehearsals on the basis that I wanted to have the option of piano/electric piano, and then out of pure laziness/backache switching to my AX-7 (synth-weighted keytar). I couldn't believe the improvement - there's just nothing like riffing Hammond stuff with a nice light action. In fact I'd go as far as saying that where you'll end up is just too far from what a Hammond should feel like, and your playing will suffer for it. Also, try doing those hand slides on a weighted keyboard and you'll end up bringing your hand to A+E!

Playing synth material - I suppose it depends on the patch, but I don't think it really bothers me whether it's weighted or unweighted.

On a slightly related topic I played a Nord Stage at the weekend for the second time in two or three years, and I have to say... that's an instrument. Actually both myself and the shop guy noted how the action is almost artificially springy, but immensely satisfying to play. I knew there was a reason I'd a hard-on for those expensive b*stards... but then obviously Nord saw fit (& saw a market) for waterfall (hammond-like) and synth/semi-weighted controllers, which just goes to show everyone has their tastes.

BTW remember that with most controllers (and if not on the controller, in software) you can apply different velocity curves which dictate how 'soft' or 'hard' the keys are to play. Often it's surprising how much of a difference this can make.
I don't assume there's any "macrovelocitycurve" in Live, though. ...?

It's really just a matter of the hardware feel. I can make a shitty semi-weighted board as sensitive as I like, but it's only going to create another problem. Playing the lightest sound possible is very hard for me on certain boards because I'm not sure when the note will play. If it's louder than I like, I have to play softer, and that often results in no note at all coming out. It's very unreliable. My fingers just know how hard to play on totally unweighted boards to get the results I want. It feels like a much more direct experience, and it's nice not having to break a sweat and praying to the synth gods that nothing revolting is going to come out.
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3dot...
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Post by 3dot... » Wed Nov 19, 2008 4:59 pm

+1 for the synth action..
I also love the Nord Lead's pitch clitoris-thingie... very expressive !!!
(and I can make believe...)
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rozling
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Post by rozling » Wed Nov 19, 2008 5:07 pm

Baron von Case wrote:I don't assume there's any "macrovelocitycurve" in Live, though. ...?
Doesn't the Velocity MIDI effect apply a velocity curve? I don't know if it does now, I actually can't remember. I assume it does. Or do you mean a global program preference?

robotsound
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Post by robotsound » Wed Nov 19, 2008 5:12 pm

my favorite action is on my old roland JX8P. its stiff and springy but it's a lot of fun to play.

darkenedsoul
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Post by darkenedsoul » Wed Nov 19, 2008 6:01 pm

I prefer synth as that's what I am used to playing when I was in a band until last year. As Rozling said, there are settings in most synths that allow you to at least adjust how the notes sound velocity-wise within the synths somewhere in global settings. There's usually a range of 3-4 settings for this. I forget what I set mine to.

I'd love to have a semi-weighted board but it'd take me some time to get used to playing it, then how will it affect synth playing on a non-weighted then? That's part of the trick I guess....

Mike
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abort
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Post by abort » Wed Nov 19, 2008 6:17 pm

I like the real piano feel ..or maybe just not a xboard25. I just can't stand that spring action shit I can also hear the springs when I play.

nathannn
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Post by nathannn » Wed Nov 19, 2008 6:22 pm

synth action + after touch here.. i dont like to try to hard
The Push / Novation Launch Pad / Novation Launch Pad Pro / Novation Launch Key
/ Launch Control XL / Machine MkII / Machine Studio / BeatStep / Livid OhmRGB / Livid Code V2 / Apc 40 MKII

no computers or synths

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