M-Audio Keystation 88es
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- 88-note velocity-sensitive, semi-weighted action
- Built-in usb midi interface w/ midi out jack
- Powered via usb or 9vdc
- Class-compliant with windows xp, vista (32 bit), and mac os x
- Includes ableton live lite music production software, so you can make music right away
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88-note velocity-sensitive, semi-weighted action Pitch bend and modulation wheels Volume/assignable control slider Advanced function button for programming Sustain pedal input (pedal sold separately) Assignable data up/down buttons Built-in USB MIDI interface MIDI out jack routes MIDI signals from keyboard or computer to external devices Powered via USB or 9VDC power adapter (sold separately) Mac OSX and Windows XP class compliant for plug-and-play operation
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
1) It is NOT a standalone keyboard, it is a MIDI controller (see category and title). It has NO internal voices or speakers and must be hooked up to a computer/iPad/etc. to interface with a music program to make any sound. Basically, It's a bunch of switches.
2) Quite often there is no power supply, because it is a USB-powered keyboard (draws power from computer/iPad/etc.) You can get a power supply to run it via MIDI cable, or any generic USB cable will work too. No, it does not need to be expensive.
3) No, it is NOT built to survive elephant stampedes, or busy touring musicians. It is for home use, but if you're gentle enough, you could probably gig with it. I certainly would not toss it in an equipment van without a hard-shell road case. YES, you CAN buy more expensive/responsive/better MIDI controllers. But, for the price, it is a GREAT controller which can't be beat.
4) Hours to download software to make it work? Really? What software are you using? Did you verify the requirements? Basically, MIDI and USB are universal, and the controller should be able to plug and play immediately, without any downloads.
5) Delays (latency) from pressing keys to hearing a sound is most likely in your computer, but you can always call your local Guitar Center or Pro Audio store for help.
6) "Will break down"? I've had mine for some time now and have had NO issues. (knock on wood)
My take: It hooked up and played immediately, it has great expression and I love the feel. Combine it with EZ Keys Grand Piano and you have a Steinway D. I use Reaper on my PC, and Logic Pro & Reaper on my mac. I do not regret buying this, and recommend it to everyone.
Keys are very realistic, feel great and sound wonderful. I also like that it doesn't have so many buttons and nobs as other keyboards have, this probably is less useful if your a real pro, but i find it just great for what i do.
Pitch control and volume slider is all i use while making music with Fl studio, dimension pro etc. For some reason we expected the keyboard to be far smaller than it actually was when it arrived, it was a bit of a surprise, but i'm very please to have it.
We bought a smaller keyboard with less keys at first thinking it would take up less place and was cheaper to buy, but as i'm still learning piano it was not what i needed. With this nice long one, you don't have to keep clicking the octave up and down buttons every time you reach the end of your keyboard and then readjust the position of your hands to mach the new octave, which is very confusing. Plus you get a free software program, avid ignite with it that surprisingly has some really good electric, acoustic guitars, piano, really good sounding flute and many other instruments.
I personally use Acoustica pianissimo as my virtual piano, its the most affordable and best sounding piano i've found. it's also very elegant and nice to look at.
Would i recommend this keyboard? Yes, very recommended!
Now for the pro:
While the above makes me want to give this a low rating, this did come bundled with Live 8 Lite which, when registered, included a free copy of Live Lite 9. I'm not that big a fan of 9 but have been using 8. It has a decent amount of effects available (nothing too substantial though) and it can apply the above mentioned compression to the midi input that helps mitigates the sensitivity issues. Also, though the keys are spring loaded the springs are stiffer making the keys firm. This may not be what you want but I prefer this over light-touch synth keys and it also helps strengthen your fingers for a real piano or hammer weighted keys. After getting used to this board I found it very easy to play a real piano with no difficulty, though the real keys feel SO much better.
In short, it does have some big flaws but, frankly, for $200 I suppose it's not that bad compared to what else is available. If you're just learning and are technologically savvy enough to know/figure out how to setup and use a DAW (it's not that complicated) then this is a decent board. If you're looking for a professional tool, you might considering investing in a more professional (and expensive) tool or at least getting this from somewhere you can return it no-questions-asked for a full refund.
I have to drop this down to 3 stars because the spiking is just too annoying. As I said above, it seems to have an exponential velocity curve practically forbidding 'getting into it' or otherwise playing anything but quiet or robotically. This may be fine for some who just need to record a bit but you can't really have too much fun with it. This could also just be my unit in particular but I doubt that given others' experiences. Frankly, I wish I saved up for a better board that at least had a static linear velocity curve if not adjustable. Oh, and as I've had with other M-Audio hardware in the past the drivers reliably cause a Windows bluescreen by not properly handling going into sleep state when the hardware is in use (i.e. the board is on and the DAW is using it). It's not a big deal but if you forget to close the DAW before sleeping the system it will bluescreen.
I have to bump this back up to 4 stars. Why? Apparently Live 8 was exaggerating the velocity curve making slightly harder hits sound significantly louder. As a CSE professional I'm ashamed I hadn't tried a bit broader testing before but after trying another DAW and Live 9 it plays significantly better. However, there is still a slight sensitivity difference between the black and white keys and the squeaking is still present. All in all, my view has improved quite a bit but this board is still not perfect. I think 4 stars is fair, though.