1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

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Ser_Yo
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1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by Ser_Yo » Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:12 am

Hello!

I will use Ableton 90 for live looping, together with an Octatrack.
I have a launchpad and a faderfox lv2.
I want to complement them with a midi keyboard to be able to control the Ableton sznths, or even an external synth.
I was interested in the Akai MPK49 because of its pads which they say to be like the MPC ones (but now I read they are not so good) and which have the "note repeat function" which is very cool if, as I understood, it is a sort of looping function which repeats that sample all the time. Very useful for drums. And also there is a built in arpeggiator which I am not sure what is it for.
Then I saw the Arturia Experience Laboratory 49.
It comes with fully editable 3500 sounds from Arturia collections. Considering that for a long time I will not have money to boy extra synths from Ableton, this can be good. If they are not out of fashion sounds.
It also has got input for a breath pedal for brasses.
4 pads (not good it seems) and many controls.
Then the Novation Remote 49, mkI or mkII.
Or even the remote 37 (not sure about that, I like the portability and also normally for loops I could loop before the bass pattern and then the higher notes, so theoretically even a 25 keys should be good, but if sometimes I want to play something more wide, I suspect I need at least a 49).

Suggestions, experience, pro and con, and also alternative options, are welcome!

Thanks

yur2die4
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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by yur2die4 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:50 am

I can tell you my experience with the Remote.

I LOVE that I can see parameters on the display. I take transport and fader controls for granted on it.

The 'drum pads' are pieces of shit. I keep meaning to remap them to a different midi channel to give them some kind of purpose.

The xy touchpad is also pretty shitty. It is not nearly as graceful of that of the Korg products. It has sort of a layering of materials. You can feel that you sort of have to 'squish' to do any adjustments. On the bright side, it means you won't accidentally brush it haha

Aside from those cons, I dig mine. I have just a 25 key version. But even that is larger than I prefer in build. And then not as much key range as I'd prefer. So I think you're making a good decision aiming for extra keys.

There is also free Automap. It is handy, yet when compared to the mkii's Ableton abilities, pales in comparison. It does let you do most (not all) keyboard commands, and allows a pseudo-one-knob-controls-all function.

One last 'bonus' trick with the mkii is that it has a tempo setting hidden in one of its pages. You can straight up change the tempo directly from the keyboard.

So yeah, I like it, almost love it. It just has shortcomings on what you'd 'expect' in those two instances.

grunzlaut
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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by grunzlaut » Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:50 pm

automap is a buggy pita and literally redundant if you rack up your instruments and fx and use the macros (at least in a live setting where all your instruments are prepped according to what you want to do with them). Novation Keyboards have good keys but the rest is of poor built quality. especially the encoders are very flimsy.
I´d go for an AKAI keyboard. They´re of a way better built quality. But check out the keys first: They´re quite stiff. Not everybody likes that. The built in arpeggiator of the AKAI keyboards is quite redundant when you use it as a controller for live, because live has a better arpeggiator as a midi-fx plugin. But in case you also want to control a hardware synth without live hooked up between the keyboard and the synth, the arp is a very interesting feature.

Ser_Yo
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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by Ser_Yo » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:52 pm

Hello! Thanks :)

the novation sl mkii is also a Remote?
I was anyway thinking about a used one, I can't afford a new one.
And used I can find the remore mki which many say to be better than the mkii. And then eventually there is also the 37 keys which is less limiting than the 25 and smaller than the 49... Still wondering if to do some keyboardism the 49 would not be the minimum needed...

I also was more for the Akai because I like the velocity sensitive pads with note repeat (I will do live looping, so that if I can use note repeat for a drum pattern, I do not need to loop those patterns, nice...), so if I buy the Novation I would have to look for a used MPD18 for example.
And yes, I was also planning to use it as controller for a hardware synth.
But what do you mean for "live hooked up between the keyboard and the synth"?
I thought the only way was to send midi controls to the hardware synth from the keyboard, and to then send audio from the synth to the looper (Ableton or Octatrack).
Do you mean that I can send the midi from the kayboard to ableton and add the ableton arpeggiator, and then send the midi to the hardware synth?

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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by Tarekith » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:01 pm

I like the Akai the best, I felt the keys and overall build quality were much better feeling than the others.

grunzlaut
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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by grunzlaut » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:06 pm

Ser_Yo wrote:
I also was more for the Akai because I like the velocity sensitive pads with note repeat
you will not like them anymore once you tested them 8) but there are lots of tutorials around how to modify the pads to make them actually work.
Ser_Yo wrote:
so if I buy the Novation I would have to look for a used MPD18 for example.
MPD18 pads are crappy as well. If you go that way rather check out a korg padkontrol. -Cheaper and the pads are way more sensitive.

Ser_Yo wrote: Do you mean that I can send the midi from the kayboard to ableton and add the ableton arpeggiator, and then send the midi to the hardware synth?
Yes. And then you send the synth´s audio into live.

h3rtz
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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by h3rtz » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:28 pm

i am madly in love with my cakewalk A300 pro. out of my 6 midi controllers its by far the most flexible, i learned all i know about midi with this thing. 32 keys is a good compromise, and those keys are superb compared with akai and novation models (didn't compare impulse though). drum pads are not amazing but usable. only thing i am missing are endless apc style encoders but i learned to live with that using abletons scale-my parameter-until-i-got-to-the-right-value function. i would buy it again anytime.

Ser_Yo
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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by Ser_Yo » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:04 pm

h3rtz, thanks for the tip, Iìll check that out...

Grunz, how can I get the note repeat function with the korg nano?
Because with the Akai I understand it is sort of automatic, you just need to choose the time. Which is cool.

Supposing that one day I want to do a short setup and use only the octatrack as looper, without ableton, then the built in arpeggiator would be a good thing to have some sort of "note repeat" facility?
I mean, if I want to play a synth note (or a synth drum sound) with a rhythmic pattern, the akai arpeggiator could do that?
Now I am also thinking I could do that with the pads plus note repeat plus swing.
I am 0 in midi so I would have no idea how to program the korg nano so to make them do note repeat with swing too.

I have no way to test the keyboards here. No shops has got them as far as I know.

I am a bit worried that a 49 keys may be a bit big to move but then 32 is for me a bit few.
THe Novation mki 37 keys looks interesting.
But I am very intetested in all what can make my life easier so I am concerned about the missinf note repeat, swing, and arpeggiator.
...

login
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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by login » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:36 pm

If you want a synth check the novation ultranova (which also has an audio interface). Use your launchpad as pads maybe? have you checked native kontrol scripts for it?

Ser_Yo
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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by Ser_Yo » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:58 pm

I already have a synth, the Blofeld desktop. I just need a keyboard/controller for both the Ableton synths and the BLofeld.

THe launchpad is not velocity sensitive. It is not a big deal, but if I can get some velocity sensitive pads with note repeat and swing (which I can easil mod to make them better), it just makes thinks easier at the moment of playing Ableton synths but especially the BLofeld or other synths.
FOr this reason eventually I would buy a mpd18 (used is very cheap) if I would not buy the mpk49.

Mmm...
About the keys, which unfortunately I cannot test myself in my city, to have more control over the single note and on the nuances of the aftertouch function, when I control a synth with the keyboard, it is better the harder keys of akai? I had the idea that yes, beying more, how do you say, stiff?, it would be easier to release a mey slowly and to push it slowly.

Ser_Yo
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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by Ser_Yo » Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:24 pm

funken wrote: can you tell me how the Akai controls devices in Live? Is it a case of selecting a Rack by the blue hand and then it controls the knobs? Or does it have software like Automap? How many devices can it control simultaneously? And how does it control plugins? Can it do anything like this?

Image
Good question, I also would like to know that.
I was taking for granted that the Akai should be very easy to setup to control Ableton, as they make the APC.
But it is a pain in the a to make it work for a newbie to midi, than something a bit more automatic can be good.
I was just wondering it the automatism of automap has got flexibility or if it force me to use the controller like the automap software wants?

About the Arturia what I liked was that the 49 keys one as far as I know you can have full edit over the sounds. I know that only the smallest models are with limited edit functions.

Mmm, the novation mkii has 2 midi out, which would be probably useful if I want to control at same time the ableton synths and the hardware synth.
The same with a keyboard with one midi out what should I do? Going from keyboard to ableton and from ableton to the hardware synth?
Unfortunately the Blofeld has no midi out!
mumble...
Does anybody know if the mki has also automap and two midi out? (thanks for the explanation about automap!)

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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by yur2die4 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:24 pm

What kind of audio interface are you using? If your interface has midi in or out, you can take advantage of that and experiment with controlling things via that route.

If you want to test some of the features of Automap, the Launchpad often times ones with a serial or something (maybe just a free download on the Novation site??) for a limited version of Automap. I think they limit how easy it is to copy parameters, and do not give you keystroke functionality. I have to admit, for the Lauchpad, it really doesn't shine in the manner anything with knobs or faders would.

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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by glitchrock-buddha » Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:30 pm

grunzlaut wrote:automap is a buggy pita
Not buggy here at all. User error?
grunzlaut wrote: and literally redundant if you rack up your instruments and fx and use the macros (at least in a live setting where all your instruments are prepped according to what you want to do with them).
yeah redundant if you only want to control 8 parameters with 8 knobs, ever. But I suppose not if you want to control buttons? Or an entire device? Or if you want to be able to call up control of devices without taking the blue hand of and existing device or change focused tracks? I guess not so redundant...
grunzlaut wrote: Novation Keyboards have good keys but the rest is of poor built quality. especially the encoders are very flimsy.
I´d go for an AKAI keyboard. They´re of a way better built quality. But check out the keys first: They´re quite stiff. Not everybody likes that.
[/quote]

I have used several akai devices (including still owning the APC40 and a couple mini controllers) and I'll admit I find the akai knobs more sturdy than Novations. The akai knobs are tanks. However they are also much slower to turn. Novation ones are quite quick. I've had a few novation keyboards over the past 7 or 8 years and never had a broken part.
Professional Shark Jumper.

grunzlaut
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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by grunzlaut » Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:03 pm

funken wrote: Well I've used Automap for over year and not found any bugs.
I had no probs, too with a nocturn and AM 3.7. But then I bought an impulse and installed AM 4.0 and this screwed up my whole system. It took me hours to get my computer up and running again ( yes I know PC 8) ) just to realize that the new version works completely different in live like I was used to :evil: . I wanted to downgrade to 3.7 again, but the manual said that this is not recommended and due to my previous experience I didn´t dare to ignore that reccomendation. returned the impulse, sold the nocturn. Bought an apc 40 and am happy everafter.
funken wrote: You have to negotiate to the device and select the title bar to control it.
The blue hand always jumps to the devices of the currently selected track -if you don´t have an apc just map some buttons to the track title bars. An MPK 49 should have a a lot of buttons.

But you´re right if it works, automap isn´t that bad. you can assign all the parameters of a plugin to your controller. this is good in the studio, when you want to make patches from scratch. But imagine a live situation: you have a synth patch loaded and now you want to tweak for example the oscillator mix. -where was that dial? was it on bank three assigned to encoder 4 or on bank 4 assigned to encoder three? and then you want to crank up some parameter on an fx on a return track simultaneously -no way: automap has currently mapped all your encoders to your synth...

I guess you get the point 8) In this situation imho it´s better to map only the parameters you want to edit in track macros. MPK 49 is blue hand enabled and has loads of faders left for example return tracks.


Ser_Yo wrote:
Mmm, the novation mkii has 2 midi out, which would be probably useful if I want to control at same time the ableton synths and the hardware synth.
The same with a keyboard with one midi out what should I do? Going from keyboard to ableton and from ableton to the hardware synth?
Unfortunately the Blofeld has no midi out!
mumble...
Does anybody know if the mki has also automap and two midi out? (thanks for the explanation about automap!)

there´s no need for two midi outs. Just plug in your keyboard into your computer via the usb cable. set up live´s midi preferences properly to enable communication between live and the keyboard.

I don´t know the blofeld, but it won´t need a midi out. it will need a midi in.

I assume it has two ways to get midi in:
1. an old school midi in jack. this midi in you connect to the midi out of your soundcard.
2. midi over usb. if that´s the case just hook up the blofeld to your computer.(btw. this way it will probably have midi out, too and will even be able to send midi to live to control other synths 8O )

then you connect the audio outs of the blofeld to your soundcard.

After that you create a midi track in your set. insert an "external instrument" plugin. choose your keyboard in the midi from tab and the audio ins your blofeld is connected to in the audio in tab and you´re ready to go.

I´m more concerned about your audio ins: assuming your octatrack uses two audio ins for stereo operation and the blofeld will need two ins, too you might run out of audio ins if you only have a small interface.

And concerning the PadKontrol: It´s not possible to control hardware with it without hooking up a computer in between because it only has midi over usb and no old school midi jacks :roll: in that case you should go for a mpd 18. if not: the padkontrol also has a built in arpeggiator which will work quite similar to a hold/roll/note repeat function. you could even modulate the speed and the velocity of the repeats with the x/y pad :wink:

Ser_Yo
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Re: 1 more VS thread. Midi Keyboard: Akai, Novation or Arturia?

Post by Ser_Yo » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:56 am

yur2die4 wrote:What kind of audio interface are you using? If your interface has midi in or out, you can take advantage of that and experiment with controlling things via that route.
I have a Roland Quad Capture. 2 in, 2 out, 1coax in, 1 coax out, 1midi in, 1 midi out.
What do you have in mind? Tell me, tell me :)
grunzlaut wrote:The blue hand always jumps to the devices of the currently selected track -if you don´t have an apc just map some buttons to the track title bars. An MPK 49 should have a a lot of buttons.
Could you explain this again please?
But imagine a live situation: automap has currently mapped all your encoders to your synth...
Mmm, sorry but I can't understand if that is good or bad. I mean, it seems to me that you are make a Akai Novation comparison but I do not get who is the "bad one" and why.
there´s no need for two midi outs. Just plug in your keyboard into your computer via the usb cable. set up live´s midi preferences properly to enable communication between live and the keyboard.
Yeah, I just thought for a moment "mmm, I will have to put is as last in the midi chain because it cannot route again the midi to other devices" and I felt it limiting but probably it is not a problem. Thanks for the nice tip about the usb, yes, it has got usb and midi in. I have to see if it can send/receive midi via usb.
I´m more concerned about your audio ins: assuming your octatrack uses two audio ins for stereo operation and the blofeld will need two ins, too you might run out of audio ins if you only have a small interface.
I may be wrong but I think I am covered by my two mixers. Or not?
My plan was:
1) hardware instruments through the mixer to the Octatrack and to the Ableton (so I can decide what to loop with one and what with the other)
2) from ableton to the octatrack (which has got 4 input so I can do that). THis way I can loop with the Octa the synths of ableton or even resample in Octa the loops made with ableton
3) from octa to the KP3 and from there to the speakers


AS you both know both keyboards, I would like to as you (and whoever wants to give a contribution) for a direct comparison:
-Keys: which is better to have more control over the synth sounds (aftertouch, velocity, weight)?
-mapping: which makes the life easier at the moment of having everything mapped, manually and/or automatically?
-quick use: I will do 90% use in live performances, so I need easy of use, fast access to functions, and more functions available. In a live-looping context it is vital.
-pads: which has got better pads?

I also wonder which are the differences between novation sl mki and mkii? Because the mki is cheaper, used.

THe nano seems interesting :)
If it is cheap it could be a good complement for both keyboards.
Still, the Novation would miss the integrated arpeggiator and the note repeat+swing pads for when I would like to play an hard synth without help from ableton.

Thanks!
Last edited by Ser_Yo on Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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