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What 61 key MIDI controller (only) do you have and do you recommend?

LPF83

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I'm in search of a 61-key MIDI controller.  I prefer to have a non-synth controller for desktop modules and plugins.   Currently I'm using a Novation 61 SL MkII that is now 8 years old.  It gets the job done, and I have to say it has held up very well, I cannot complain about overall quality, however there are a number of things I don't like about it.   The main problem is it's just noisy when striking keys... it always was, but its not getting any better with age.  The clank of the keys hitting the bed is enough to be musically uninspiring.  All of my Sequential synths with keyboards (P10, P6, OB6, Rev2) do not exhibit this problem.

What I'd really like to find is a controller that "feels" like my Prophet 10.  I don't want to use the P10 as a master controller, both for physical placement reasons and the whole local mode on/off thing, but I love the feel and sound of the keys (and of course knobs).

Other features I would like is enough empty space for a small module (such as my Toraiz AS-1) to rest on the keyboard.  I'm able to do this with my Remote SL MKII and would miss it greatly if I could not with my next keyboard.  Desk real estate is a real concern. 

Of course I've already looked into the most obvious possibilities.  I was starting to think the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61 MK2 was the one, but I've seen many videos indicating the key action is quite noisy, and the overall quality seems to be questionable:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnEZ1z1yGi8 ...   The feature set is tempting, the displays and DAW integration look really nice, but at the end of the day if its klacky, I'll be disappointed.  They say it is a Fatar keybed, but apparently not a Fatar TP/9S like (I think) Sequential uses.

The Roland A-800 Pro is a contender.  One concern there is that supposedly the keys are slightly slimmer than standard.  I guess if this keybed is good enough for Depeche Mode to take on tour with them, it should be good enough for me, but I'm weird about even slight size changes when it comes to keys and I'm not sure I would be happy with it.  Roland tends to make very durable gear though, and the price is something like half of the NI KK S61.

I'm not completely opposed to trying another Novation, but the noisiness of my current unit forces me to look elsewhere.

So does anyone have a 61 key controller they really like?  Is there a controller that offers that Sequential feel/quality/quietness?




Prophet 10, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland SPD-30, Roland SPD-SX Special Edition, Roland KT-10, Maschine, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen + Octopre, Strymon Pedals, Cubase Pro 11.

LPF83

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Re: What 61 key MIDI controller (only) do you have and do you recommend?
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2021, 05:27:27 PM »
I'm now eyeballing the Novation Remote SL 61 MK3... I did not realize at first it has an 8-track sequencer.  Even if it is as clacky and noisy as my current MK2, that's kind of a compelling feature in itself (and it does have some space on the right for a module, which is high on my wishlist).
Prophet 10, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland SPD-30, Roland SPD-SX Special Edition, Roland KT-10, Maschine, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen + Octopre, Strymon Pedals, Cubase Pro 11.

Re: What 61 key MIDI controller (only) do you have and do you recommend?
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2021, 10:11:02 PM »
@LPF83 I'll say this for the KK S61:  I own it (and love it); plus I spent some time at the Sweetwater showroom and played the Prophet X and that keyboard felt exactly the same to me as the S61.  The key size is standard: 16.5 cm to an octave.  The acoustic "thwack" to me is not annoying at all, but if you're sensitive to that you should really put your hands on one to decide.

I did have to return the first S61 I got because some keys didn't have aftertouch, but the exchanged one has been flawless for a couple of years now. 

While I was at Sweetwater, I tested out some other keyboards, and I did notice some models don't follow the 16.5 cm standard still, particularly the Arturia Keylab 49 mk II.  Watch out for any Arturia, Roland or Yamaha non-88 key models, as they tend to be skinny keyboards around 16.2/16.3 cm an octave.  (Montage, System-8, etc for sure).

Hope that helps.

LPF83

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Re: What 61 key MIDI controller (only) do you have and do you recommend?
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2021, 03:00:33 AM »
@LPF83 I'll say this for the KK S61:  I own it (and love it); plus I spent some time at the Sweetwater showroom and played the Prophet X and that keyboard felt exactly the same to me as the S61.  The key size is standard: 16.5 cm to an octave.  The acoustic "thwack" to me is not annoying at all, but if you're sensitive to that you should really put your hands on one to decide.

I did have to return the first S61 I got because some keys didn't have aftertouch, but the exchanged one has been flawless for a couple of years now. 

While I was at Sweetwater, I tested out some other keyboards, and I did notice some models don't follow the 16.5 cm standard still, particularly the Arturia Keylab 49 mk II.  Watch out for any Arturia, Roland or Yamaha non-88 key models, as they tend to be skinny keyboards around 16.2/16.3 cm an octave.  (Montage, System-8, etc for sure).

Hope that helps.

Thank you for the feedback, yes this is helpful.  I too am wary of whether I would be happy with the slightly slimmer keys of the Roland A800 (another contender on my list).
Prophet 10, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland SPD-30, Roland SPD-SX Special Edition, Roland KT-10, Maschine, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen + Octopre, Strymon Pedals, Cubase Pro 11.

Re: What 61 key MIDI controller (only) do you have and do you recommend?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2021, 08:44:38 PM »
Yes it's so weird why manufacturers do that.  I don't know anyone whose hands magically shrink when they move from a piano keyboard to a synth keyboard....

LPF83

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Re: What 61 key MIDI controller (only) do you have and do you recommend?
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2021, 12:53:19 PM »
Yes it's so weird why manufacturers do that.  I don't know anyone whose hands magically shrink when they move from a piano keyboard to a synth keyboard....

I finally took the plunge on the Komplete Kontrol S61.  The first good news is the keys are not substantially noisier than my Sequential synths, and as everyone says it feels great to play.  I'm sort of awestruck at the DAW and plugin integration, and its staggering how many plugins I already have that just work with it, it's amazing to see all the controls already mapped and labeled on the two screens, and I love the resistance/overall feel of the knobs.  Too early to tell if I will have any drawbacks to report, but right now it's a major upgrade over what I was using.
Prophet 10, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland SPD-30, Roland SPD-SX Special Edition, Roland KT-10, Maschine, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen + Octopre, Strymon Pedals, Cubase Pro 11.