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 Post subject: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:52 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 2:22 pm
Posts: 12596
I have a real problem with the keyboard controller market. It's collectively lost its mind and nobody seems to call them out on it. I feel like I taking crazy pills here.

In recent times we've seen a plethora of interesting drum and grid controllers, fancy and innovatively focussed on providing expression. Meanwhile: Keyboard controllers seem to be having a schizophrenic breakdown. Rather than adding new methods of interaction and expression for keyboard players they seem locked into a "me too" frenzy of Frankenstein feature additions that could only appeal to a first time buyer, or a lunatic.

What I need on keyboard is keyboard expression controls. I do not need drum pads, I do not need transport controls, I do need expression!

As a keyboard player of digital synths in the 1980s I really appreciated Pitch Bend and the modulation wheel, because they allowed at least some expression control over digital synths. But why no progress? Did somebody say: "Yep two expression controls, that should be enough for anyone, forever!" . Oh no wait - of course we have the ubiquitous eight mystery dials. How marvellous, how innovative it was when I bought a Yamaha SY85 twenty years ago.

Dear Keyboard Manufacturers.
Drum controllers are now cheap and plentiful.
Transport controls on every object I own? it's ridiculous.
If you have budget to spare on pots and switches - perhaps spend it on some trackpads? Or some multitouch keys? Keys that respond to lateral motion? To vertical position? Please lose your half-arsed drum pads and transport buttons and try adding add something actually useful on your keyboards.

Please, stop with the franken-controllers

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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:11 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:55 am
Posts: 565
Location: Atlanta, Ga
Angstrom wrote:
I have a real problem with the keyboard controller market. It's collectively lost its mind and nobody seems to call them out on it. I feel like I taking crazy pills here.

In recent times we've seen a plethora of interesting drum and grid controllers, fancy and innovatively focussed on providing expression. Meanwhile: Keyboard controllers seem to be having a schizophrenic breakdown. Rather than adding new methods of interaction and expression for keyboard players they seem locked into a "me too" frenzy of Frankenstein feature additions that could only appeal to a first time buyer, or a lunatic.

What I need on keyboard is keyboard expression controls. I do not need drum pads, I do not need transport controls, I do need expression!

As a keyboard player of digital synths in the 1980s I really appreciated Pitch Bend and the modulation wheel, because they allowed at least some expression control over digital synths. But why no progress? Did somebody say: "Yep two expression controls, that should be enough for anyone, forever!" . Oh no wait - of course we have the ubiquitous eight mystery dials. How marvellous, how innovative it was when I bought a Yamaha SY85 twenty years ago.

Dear Keyboard Manufacturers.
Drum controllers are now cheap and plentiful.
Transport controls on every object I own? it's ridiculous.
If you have budget to spare on pots and switches - perhaps spend it on some trackpads? Or some multitouch keys? Keys that respond to lateral motion? To vertical position? Please lose your half-arsed drum pads and transport buttons and try adding add something actually useful on your keyboards.

Please, stop with the franken-controllers



I would wish that controller manufacturers actually put some emphasis on some controllers with actual good key action. Most controllers I've worked with action is either too light or too clunky.

Most pitch bend wheels are also pretty horrid. I would like more Joystick action pitch wheels (but many people hate these as well).

Also don't make drum pads if you don't intend to give them good action. Maschine's drum pad action is superb btw. But the ones built into most controllers are horrible.


I think overall, most controllers put too much emphasis on cutting cost over quality.


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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 2:13 pm 

Joined: Fri May 18, 2012 4:40 pm
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Location: Syracuse, NY
I get what you mean, though I do enjoy my MPK. I mapped out the pots, faders and buttons to parameters of Sylenth. So I have a tactile, versatile synth which controls exactly what I want it to. Envelopes, filter controls, arpeggiator, delay, reverb, gate, toggle different oscillators, toggle filter types. I just wish Sylenth could route aftertouch! But then again, not much more expressive than any other synth/controller out there. Don't really use the drum pads, though. If they were little track pads, being able to route X/Y and pressure/velocity would definitely add expression.

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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:10 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 2:22 pm
Posts: 12596
I often think things like:
why can't I wobble a key from side to side to greate vibrato? The CS80 ribbon was so loved , so why does no key controller incorporate one (especially now they are much cheaper)? When basic laptop trackpads are pence and multitouch pads are dollars - why spend on crappy drum pads for a keyboard? It's like putting a sax reed on a bass guitar.

While the 8 pots/ 8 buttons thing is OK for parametric editing, they have never seemed like a true expression control to me. A an example of true expression : on a guitar I can damp and choke notes, hammer on, pull off, bend, slap, pick, pluck ... All without removing my hands from the playing surface. On a keyboard the keys are that surface, and since the advent of iPad apps like AniMoog we can see where this should be going. I can controll expression straight from the "key" position, at least as much as a slab of glass will allow ( no haptics).

Keyboard manufacturers seem oblivious to actual key playing. Editing parameters is not the same thing.

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Last edited by Angstrom on Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:11 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2002 3:44 pm
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http://www.weareroli.com/#products

good stuff costs money...

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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:13 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 2:22 pm
Posts: 12596
borg wrote:
http://www.weareroli.com/#products

good stuff costs money...


yeah, that and the Continuum seem to be among the few who are actually attempting to do something innovative.

However, surely there must be a middle ground. Scrap the drum pads and transport controls, take the $28 and spend it on lateral key movement sensors. Anything !

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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:22 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:21 pm
Posts: 4864
Angstrom wrote:
It's like putting a sax reed on a bass guitar.


I'm going to look into this…

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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:24 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 2:47 pm
Posts: 339
I've had a mighty disappointing experience with this company, so I can not in good conscience recommend any of their products, but this sort of sounds like some of the things you are talking about.

http://www.keithmcmillen.com/qunexus/overview

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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:28 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:29 am
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I assume you've seen this already too?

http://www.endeavour.de/evo/overview.html
http://createdigitalmusic.com/2012/03/e ... s-evolves/

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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:36 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 6:21 pm
Posts: 4864
^ dope

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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:38 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 2:22 pm
Posts: 12596
Matt_Quinn wrote:
I've had a mighty disappointing experience with this company, so I can not in good conscience recommend any of their products, but this sort of sounds like some of the things you are talking about.

http://www.keithmcmillen.com/qunexus/overview


Well, if Jordan Rudess endorses it, then surely it cannot be bad ;)

Actually, I don't like the look of that thing. It looks like a glowing Casio VLtone "keyboard" for someone who doesn't play keyboard. It's the equivalent of a GuitarHero guitar

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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:39 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 2:22 pm
Posts: 12596
8O wrote:


wow, I'd not seen that. That looks more like it.

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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:41 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:29 am
Posts: 5466
Location: Berlin
Buy one and tell me what it's like. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:46 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 2:22 pm
Posts: 12596
8O wrote:
Buy one and tell me what it's like. :)

the 49 key version is £725 in UK money, but I'm going to investigate this and have a think about it. It looks like the perfect keyboard to indulge Vangelis fantasies on.

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 Post subject: Re: Why are keyboard controllers so terrible?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:48 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 11:46 pm
Posts: 12974
Location: Seattle
jlgrimes wrote:
I would wish that controller manufacturers actually put some emphasis on some controllers with actual good key action. Most controllers I've worked with action is either too light or too clunky.


A-Freaking-Men! This has been driving me crazy for years, too many cheap midi contollers and not enough small but solid controllers with decent key beds.

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