Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

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82DMC12
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Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by 82DMC12 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:22 pm

Hi everyone,

I currently have a Cakewalk A300 controller. It works fine as a keyboard but it doesn't have built-in support from Live. That means I have a hard time getting the knobs and transport stuff to work correctly. Since that doesn't work, I find myself using the mouse, a regular keyboard, and the A300 in order to use Live.

If I had a better controller, would I be able to pretty much get rid of the QWERTY keyboard? For instance I use spacebar to stop/start playback. Also use CTRL-C and CTRL-V to copy/paste, etc. Would I get a lot more functionality and find that I don't need to use the mouse so much?

I'd like something with 32 to 42 keys. I was looking at the M-Audio Ozonic, which is pretty inexpensive, but it has support from Live for auto-configuration. I think it's an older model so is it still a good one?

What do you guys recommend? I might be interested in trading the A300 for something else if anyone has a good deal for me?

Thanks,
Andy

mickybeautron
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by mickybeautron » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:33 pm

I've recently traded my Novation SL MkII for an Akai Apc40 (I know you're asking for a keyboard but, I have a small m-audio controller keyboard which I'll use for playin synths). I used to never end up using the pots on the novation much like yourself. I'm real happy with the Apc. It's the most integrated controller out there and there are many user-made templates out there to help you get started if you so desire. It's real hands on and makes me wanna use it to control all my shit as opposed always ending up just doin everything with the mouse before.

Init.
MacBook Pro 13" i5 - 8gb DDR3 - Dual ssd - Live 9 - Apogee Duet - Adam A5x

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82DMC12
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by 82DMC12 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:47 pm

Hi Micky,

I've seen the apc and launchpad and it looks great for live performances but not so good for composing. Maybe because I'm used to a keyboard. Perhaps I should consider an APC and a very simple, smaller keyboard controller? I'm still at the learning stage and not ready for performance controllers yet (I don't think!)

Andy

mickybeautron
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by mickybeautron » Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:06 pm

For me it's changing the way I approach composing, in a good way.
I've been mouse and keyboard for like 14 years and have always felt a bit limited.
Now I'm making some parts in the session view with mouse n keyboard, then using a well set up template on the apc (I'm using a slightly modified version of Will Marshall's dj template. It's quite tricky to set up but I love it. I'm sure there's other easier-to-get-working ones around) recording a loose freestyle arrangement of all my parts, having effects and eq's etc already mapped to the apc it feels like dj'ing to me. much looser than the way i was working before. Being able to cut the bass from the beats for a bar then kick in with other sh1t etc. Rather than having to pencil in automation bit by bit which is hard to find a flow with.
Then maybe go in after and clean it all up a bit
I find it's opening up a more enjoyable and loose way of working.
That's just my situation bro.

:)

Here's a vid on Marshall's dj template. Just as an example of what the apc is capable of.
http://vimeo.com/15174083
MacBook Pro 13" i5 - 8gb DDR3 - Dual ssd - Live 9 - Apogee Duet - Adam A5x

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Mill_Burray
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by Mill_Burray » Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:28 pm

I use both the launchpad and apc40 for composing and as performance tools. As far as composing and production, the apc helps me navigate and control live, while the launchpad gives me instant access to effects in the user modes. So I have almost no need to use a mouse and keyboard anymore. I use an m-audio axiom25 for recording most of my parts. The keys have aftertouch and are semiweighted. The action is nice and has a good kickback very similar to hammerweighted keyboards or pianos. It also has 8 mpc-like pads that are velocity sensitive with aftertouch and 8 rotary encoders. All of which are easy to assign. The axiom can handle all of my bass, synth, and drum parts. A lot of people have said bad things about m-audio products being poorly constructed (deservingly so), but the axiom line is definitely the exception. I've had mine for almost 5 years and it's as good as the day I bought it. It has a lot of miles on it and has survived shows at bars and clubs for nearly 3 years as my gig controller. Despite the wear I've put on it, there are no cosmetic blemishes or lapses in it's performance. If you need more than 25 keys, they have them in 49 and 61 and have the added bonus of 8 faders. I can't speak to the quality of the axiom pro line. Looks like the same thing, but with more bells and whistles and a higher price tag. I paid $189 for my axiom25 in 2007. Akai MPKs are pretty much the same thing. Sonicstate's YouTube channel has a decent review of the axiom. Hope this helps.
15" MBP 2.4Ghz, OS X Lion
Live Suite 8.2.7, NanoStudio 1.32
NI Massive & Absynth, LD Sylenth
Akai APC40, Novation Launchpad,
JazzMutant Lemur, M-Audio Axiom25
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82DMC12
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by 82DMC12 » Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:36 am

Thanks Mill. I think I'll get an APC40 to start with (eventually). For now I'm just learning how the whole package works. I'm learning pretty quickly :-)

Andy

h3rtz
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by h3rtz » Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:37 am

i'm using a cakewalk A300 pro together with an apc40 and i am loving it. ok, except for the A300's encoders not being endless but on the other hand you won't find better keys in that price range.

even being a complete midi noob when i bought it i found it quite easy to set it up using the editor software. getting into it took me just a couple of hours. try digging deeper into that, it's really worth the effort.

devices with ableton support are great, but sooner or later you will get to the point where you wish something was mapped differently to better fit your work or playing style. at this point you need to get into midi mapping anyway, so why not just learn it now?

i love the apc for its plug and play action but the A300 is just so much more flexible. i am using it for several vst instruments including complex synths and drum sequencers, controling an analog synth hardware module and plug in FX. its a charm in live, seriously.

if you ask precise questions am sure i can help you falling in love with it.

Evengy
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by Evengy » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:02 am

i played alot of midi keyboards but the best < 500 € was the roland a800. best keys and totally easy to integrate :O a300 is the same but less keys.

tinselworm
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by tinselworm » Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:40 pm

Regarding keyboard controllers, I've got an M-audio Axiom and an Akai MPK49. Akai stuff generally just WORKS straight out of the box with Ableton thanks to the built in support, this is not always the case with M-audio stuff although this is a sweeping generalisation. I've found M-audio stuff is always slightly more tricky to configure to use with Ableton or doesn't work quite how you'd expect it to or as seamlessly as you'd want it to.
The Ajau MPK49 is a great controller, plug in, select the mapping preset for Ableton and you're away. Knobs and sliders are smooth but the pads which are apparently exactly like those from the MPC are widely considered to be a bit stiff (and this is exactly what I found after using the M-audio Axiom pads although apparently they wear in but I don't use them much anyway).

jestermgee
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by jestermgee » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:33 pm

82DMC12 wrote:Thanks Mill. I think I'll get an APC40 to start with (eventually). For now I'm just learning how the whole package works. I'm learning pretty quickly :-)

Andy
Just keep at this part for now...

This forum is FULL of people that seem to have loaded themselves up with software, controllers, computer hardware, interfaces, monitors but have forgotten to actually sit down and actually learn anything. I think the consensus seems to be that if you don't have something that resembles an instant hit from the first 10 minutes of opening Live, get a hardware controller and you will be a super producer.

Once you have used the DAW of choice for a while you will probably begin to feel just what controller will help and should be able to make a choice better.

k-toh
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by k-toh » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:53 pm

jestermgee wrote:
This forum is FULL of people that seem to have loaded themselves up with software, controllers, computer hardware, interfaces, monitors but have forgotten to actually sit down and actually learn anything.
I think we're all guilty of that one to some degree or other :oops:

I initially set myself up with an M-Audio Trigger Finger and Ozonic. As I don't actually play live I never got to grips with the trigger finger and the Ozonic didn't have enough range in the keyboard for me (37). Ended up selling those and purchased a Novation Nocturn 49 - better keyboard, imho, retaining a reasonable selection of knobs and buttons for midi control. I don't use the qwerty keyboard too much but do tend to use the mouse a fair bit, not actually thought of ditching them myself - got decent Logitec wireless ones which are handy :)

Anyhow, the Nocturn 49 works out of the box and comes with Automap which makes midi assigning a more pleasant experience 8)

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82DMC12
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by 82DMC12 » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:29 pm

Lots of good discussion in here!

So far this is my most annoying problem: I have both Live 8 Suite and Reason. The A300 has about 8 knobs and 8 sliders I can assign. Unfortunately when I open Reason, set the controller up according to the instructions and turn ACT on, there are a few knobs such as in ReDrum and Malstrom that are auto-mapped. When I try to over-ride that and assign, say knob R1 to Malstrom filter cutoff, as I turn the knob it's also turning the ReDrum velocity level knob on the hi-hat. WTF? I spent over an hour last night trying to figure out how to either delete that knob assignment, delete all the Reason knob assignments so I can just do them manually, or convince Reason I have a generic keyboard with no auto-map - but then it won't let me assign any knobs at all.

I know this isn't the Reason forum but does anyone have a clue what's happening? I know auto-map would be great for the APC40 but for my A300 I just want to assign the knobs manually.

Andy

Samaritan Sound
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by Samaritan Sound » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:33 pm

tinselworm wrote:Regarding keyboard controllers, I've got an M-audio Axiom and an Akai MPK49. Akai stuff generally just WORKS straight out of the box with Ableton thanks to the built in support, this is not always the case with M-audio stuff although this is a sweeping generalisation. I've found M-audio stuff is always slightly more tricky to configure to use with Ableton or doesn't work quite how you'd expect it to or as seamlessly as you'd want it to.
Conversely, I have 2nd Gen Axiom, and with the latest version of Direct Link, after clicking 4 buttons in Live's MIDI options, it has been working superbly with both Live and Reason. Maybe they learned a thing or two, lol.

h3rtz
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by h3rtz » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:23 am

i thought this ACT thing is only working for cakewalks sonar. did you try turning it off?

sounds like you should have a look at the a300s editor. when i started creating a template from scratch i got more and more an idea of what is going on with that mystical midi thing. assigning in ableton came after.

i had the problem that my APC40and the a300 were controling the same functions, means some of the messages they were sending were equal. i made an excel list of which CCs and notes the APC is using on which channels and avoided these on my a300. its also quite useful to have the different controllers of the a300 i.e. pads and keys sending on differnt midi channels. this way u can have overlapping messages but only the right instrument will respond.

hope some of this is useful for your specific problem (although i doubt it).
Last edited by h3rtz on Fri Jan 20, 2012 10:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

tinselworm
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Re: Best keyboard controller? Using Cakewalk A300 right now.

Post by tinselworm » Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:32 pm

Samaritan Sound wrote:
tinselworm wrote:Regarding keyboard controllers, I've got an M-audio Axiom and an Akai MPK49. Akai stuff generally just WORKS straight out of the box with Ableton thanks to the built in support, this is not always the case with M-audio stuff although this is a sweeping generalisation. I've found M-audio stuff is always slightly more tricky to configure to use with Ableton or doesn't work quite how you'd expect it to or as seamlessly as you'd want it to.
Conversely, I have 2nd Gen Axiom, and with the latest version of Direct Link, after clicking 4 buttons in Live's MIDI options, it has been working superbly with both Live and Reason. Maybe they learned a thing or two, lol.
Yeah, you're probably bang on there. I'd forgotten they'd released a 2nd gen. I've got a 1st gen one so I would expect there have been some improvements since then.

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