Best MIDI Keyboard for controlling Scaler?

Hello Friends!

I am in the market for a new MIDI keyboard. And I was wondering if you guys had any recommendations as to what Keyboard/features work best with Scaler, especially if you are using Scaler for live performance. Things like pads, knobs/faders, their location, responsiveness etc. Should I get 61 keys instead of 49, for better control octave mapping? Do the Scaler pianos play better with hammer action? Etc…

In short, how do you use your MIDI keyboard, and which one?


When I cast about my shortlist was down to Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol , the Novation xSL III and the Arturia Keylab x mkII (x= 49 or 61).

I ruled out NIKK on price, and on paper the Novation seems to have marginally better overall spec, but is 20%+ more expensive that the Arturia equivalent… All have good key beds with after touch…

I settled for the Arturia KL 49 mkII as it was cheaper and did everything I wanted, plus Analog Lab V / Piano V2 were deciders for me. I have few skills as a keyboard player.
Performance oriented folk might opt for the Novation…

There is a useful comparison on the website wihich you can access here

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Interesting, those are all models I have had my eyes on. Especially the Arturia and Novation (also M-Audio Oxygen) since they have pads and sliders and knobs. (and I already have a NI S49 Mk1, so I would be looking for something else for diversity). I used to have the Launch Control XL additionally to the Maschine Jam (for launching clips), and now working off just a laptop with limited USB ports, it would be handy to have all 3 in one devices, pads, knobs, faders, keys). I figure I need 61 keys as a control octave, for lack of 64 pads that I usually use. Or I can pay $100/suitcase for transporting my old gear from PDX to FRA

Unless I was going to carry it around with me, I would always want at least 61 keys. This is just large enough to not be a pain in the rear, in my opinion. Otherwise, I feel like I spend more time pushing the octave up and down buttons than I do actually playing the keys. Obviously for working while I travel, I just deal with it and use my little 32 key thing.

I have a Novation Impulse 61 and I like the way it works and it has all the controls I need built right in, along with built in user memory slots for programming it, although I do that less now that the new Cubase/Nuendo has much better controller integration built in. Now I just have to find time to really create preferences that do what I want with that tool rather than just a quick set up.

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I have a hard flight case for my 61 key keyboard (which measures 1024 x 484 x 118 (mm)). The synth plus flight case weighs around 25 Kg (more than the airline baggage max) found it very difficult on the one occasion I have taken it out of the house to get it into the car. The size makes it hard to manoeuvre.
In fairness, I am a geriatric weed, but I certainly would think twice taking it out again …

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I suspect that a full fledged synth might weigh more than just a MIDI keyboard? But that airline limit is going to be a factor for me too, in case I have to haul it back. Perhaps in that case, I’d just resell it, or donate to some fledgling band :wink:

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Most of the live players I’ve worked with and have helped set up their gear are using weighted 88 key keyboards. But of course I’m mostly working in live theatre, so they are very good players and want a full size piano like keyboard. I’m glad I don’t have to haul that around but most of the folks I work with in orchestra pits do. I guess I’d just chalk it up as part of doing the job. I have plenty of heavy speakers and crap to lug around but most of them don’t require a 2 person lift like the boat anchor keyboard workstations do.

You need a roady. :slight_smile:

Unless you’re really talking about touring or giging, frankly I would just box it up and ship it. But you’re probably right, depending on where you’re shipping it to, something like the Impulse 61, frankly it’s not an expensive enough investment to bother. Better just to sell it off locally and then buy a new one if you were to move back state side I think. Unless you end up being really attached to the one you have and it’s not manufactured any longer or something.

I don’t have a band, but could accept donation in good stuff :joy: :joy: :joy: :joy:

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@Bernd, you woke me up from my hibernation, but after trying to help you, I’ll probably be back to my cave for several months :slight_smile:

I believe that Arturia Keylab 61 MKII is one of the best controllers (in many reviews) and is not that huge. As I am in no case good on piano, but I use faders, pads etc., I will buy Keylab 61 Essential next week. But if I were in search for a controller for piano playing, KL 61 MKII, as absolutely superior, would be my choice, but at almost the double price. The software that comes with both, Analog Lab V complete and Piano V2 ,is worth 300-350$.

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I agree totally. We have the whole range of KK’s here and we also have the Arturia Keylab in the smaller studios and it’s fantastic. The midi port won’t pass through audio from USB (sending DAW notes to an external keyboard) which Arturia are aware of hopeful of an improvement in future but apart form that great controller for the money.

Just check reviews by John Mike on Youtube. He tested a good bunch of controllers and KL MK2 is often on top or close.

I don’t know about KeyLab, but my old Keystep did this in USB mode. Maybe there is a tweak hidden somewhere deeply in settings or a recent firmware that allows this.Or this depends on a DAW. I use Reaper and I sent MIDI through Keystep and then to my drum machine or to my Volcas. But Kuystep changed modes with micro switches, like the old modems or motherboards did for IRQs. I think in Keylab the changes are easier. Anyways, if you don’t try, you’ll never know. I dont use Bitwig so I can’t tell.

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(un)fortunately, I already bought the Analog Lab V software separately (and I think the standalone version is more fully featured than what comes with the MIDI keyboards), so it is not a value prop for me, I won’t save the $1000+ I already spent :slight_smile:
But I heard good things about the Keylab Mk2 61 as well, and it is on my short list. Basically, I was alternating in my mind between the 88 and the 61 model. But I am not even sure I have space for an 88 keyboard, lol

I think the 61 could be sufficient and is much smaller than the full size though. I have Native’s 61. Again, less than 61 would be too small, at least for me. I considered for a long time whether to buy an 88, but in hindsight it would have been completely unnecessary for my needs.

I have an old Oxygen 49 keyboard, and I find 49 keys too limiting in its range. I know I can change the range up or down one or more octaves, but it is not great when having to do this in the middle of playing.

I hope to upgrade to a 61 key soon, with (at least) semi-weighted keys, if not weighted keys. But before I upgrade I will take some time trying out various keyboards to get the feel of the keys.

It is my understanding that choosing the type of keyboard, synth, semi-weighted, weighted, is partly dependent on the player’s background. Piano players such as myself prefer weighted as they are more like a piano.

Oh, that’s bad. I just read and heard in reviews that tha version thar comes with KL MK2 has 6000 sounds, which is at least 5900 more than i need LOL
Às @Hulkko mentioned, anything less than 61 keys wouldn’t be enough and 88 would be probably an overkill.

I have an old CASIO 76 keys workstation with MIDI and i haven’t enough space under my desk for it. On the other side, 37 keys Keystep is a pain in the…fingers. LOL I cannot use the lower octaves as control keys with Scaler without switching the octaves and then i cannot use higher ones for playing. That’s why i believe 61 is a good compromise. I measured all and my new mobile stand on carts will go just fine under my desk with 61 on it.

Yes, that’s right. And more “weight” in the keys ads a heavier price, too. :joy:
As i mentioned to Bernd, watch John Mike’s reviews of different keyboard controllers. The guy is piano player and openly says when he wouldn’t use a specific keyboard to play piano and which one he would.

My full version of Analog Lab comes with over 12000 presets…which is 24000 less than what I have in NI Komplete Ultimate Collectors Edition :wink:


It’s your boy John Mike” John Mike? :slight_smile:

Yeah, I know him, he’s good. Maybe he’s on the Scaler forum too :wink:

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