Controller Keyboard for Rapture/DimPro

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Rick McNab
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2006/02/17 21:27:21 (permalink)

Controller Keyboard for Rapture/DimPro

This Novation SL series looks mighty nice. Pricey, of course, but I can't really put my confidence in these CME controllers just yet. Something about "Made In China" evokes images of Wal-Mart, which I love for cheap toothpaste, but not for the instrument I present my art and craft with. Anyway the Novation SLs have a boatload of features, a few which look to be real innovations (pun discovered - maybe that's how they named the company - duh!).

On the other hand, there are a few other worthy candidates out there. A couple, which are really hybrids, are the new Korgs - the X-50 and Micro-X. These are not only well-equipped romplers (original Triton soundset plus 32 megs additional), but look to be pretty good controllers as well, although certainly not nearly as comprehensive as the Novation SLs.

But given someone who might just be getting started with softys, and may want to "keep it all in the family" i.e. a Cake DAW and Cake softys Dim Pro and Rapture, maybe one only needs a few controllers such as 4 X 3 knobs, a couple of wheels, and a pedal, which is how the Korgs spec out (I'm not talking about Korg's new dedicated controllers - rather the X-50 and Micro-X synth/controllers). And using only those two softys, one would not need to change templates so much anyhow, so having just a couple stored would be fine I guess.

Anyway I think the right controller will be an important part of getting the most out of Rapure, so it's something I think users should be considering right along with the synth.

I look forward to your opinions on this!
#1

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    lawapa
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    RE: Controller Keyboard for Rapture/DimPro 2006/02/17 23:59:38 (permalink)
    I still use my ol Yamaha SY 99. But it all comes down to how you work, Do you need an outboard rompler? Are you attached to the Ion? Where do you see a weakness in you comp sounds. This type of consideration only you could answer. A solid master contoller must have zones out the kazoo? transmit on several channels? Have multiple setups you can call up at the touch of a button? These days the number of options could choke a horse. And you have to dig deep to find that perfect deal.
    #2
    Rick McNab
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    RE: Controller Keyboard for Rapture/DimPro 2006/02/18 00:01:25 (permalink)
    Sorry, I don't exactly understand what you are trying to say. But I too have old MIDI keyboards that could be pressed into service. But part of this whole software paradigm seems to be using a dedicated controller keyboard similar to the Novation, Emu, Edirol, M-Audio, etc... type.
    #3
    b rock
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    RE: Controller Keyboard for Rapture/DimPro 2006/02/18 11:20:22 (permalink)
    You'll know what you want so I'm not going to name any models
    Translation: He means get a Novation. OK, so the PB/Mod joystick sucks ... X/Y pad.
    Aftertouch, both Channel and Polyphonic.
    I'd be curious to know where to find this myself. Other than Dave Smith and up into a used-car loan territory.

    As an aside to Chad: I tried to get you those doughnuts. It seems that the Dunkin' Donuts at 268 Summer Street thought I was ... crazy. No help at all. And they won't accept a gift card. AFAIK, they have no dulce de leche factura for Rene, either. Options?
    #4
    Rick McNab
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    RE: Controller Keyboard for Rapture/DimPro 2006/02/18 12:15:48 (permalink)
    What about the EMU Xboards as a lower-cost alternative to the Novation SL? I know Chad may not be comfortable naming brands and models, but that won't stop the rest of us I reckon. Thanks for the info, Chad!
    post edited by Rick McNab - 2006/02/18 12:20:32
    #5
    b rock
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    RE: Controller Keyboard for Rapture/DimPro 2006/02/18 20:49:08 (permalink)
    the EMU Xboards as a lower-cost alternative to the Novation SL
    Hey, Rick, I was in a bit of a hurry when posting above, while being serious (yet a little flippant) with Chad's good info. I've played X-Boards a few times: seemed like a fair-to-good build quality, wheels were good, everything was accessible, and the aftertouch was OK. Over time, I can't tell you. On paper, it certainly fulfills many of the functions that Chad mentioned, at a lower price point than any Novation. If a 2-oct. will do, GC is selling now for about $120 after a $20 rebate. You could talk them down to $110 or even $100 take-home cost with a good rap.

    Maybe 2-oct.s won't do it for you, though. Myself, I'd rather have 4 or 5 of them than an 88 anyday, assuming a studio situation. If you're formally trained, or gigging with it, that's another story. Listen, if you ask me, you're always going to get the same answer: "Novation. It's worth it." Search my name and "Novation Remote25" in the Project5 forum, and youi'll find out everything you wanted to know (and then some) on how I see/use specific aspects of that controller.

    In a nutshell, though, here's the gist: the "feel" is great for me, the software has matured to include most anything, and the sliders/encoders, knobs, buttons and X/Y pad. The last one? I don't know how I'd ever live without it. I'm actually looking around right now at 11 controllers of some sort, and I can't see anything that I'd trade this 3-4 year-old Remote25 for. Good template editor, splits, control configuration as complete as you'll ever see (at present), ch. aftertouch, velocity curves, release velocity, true Note Offs, and it feels like it's molded to my playing style (most important of all).

    The CME's? Yeah, flaky in the beginning. Sure look good in theory, and built like a tank. Too bad. I don't know; if I were starting from scratch, I might consider a MOR keyboard, 2 or 4 octave, and add on one of the Behringer BCR/BCF controllers. Lots of knobs (or sliders), and you can channelize that together with your main KB controller, like one big synth. That's what I do with all my stuff, then split it apart into separate controllers in a heartbeat. That way, you can concentrate on the "feel" and a few must-have features now, save some bucks, but know that you could "add on" to that feature set later on. You have to research that kind of plan heavily, though. No surprises.

    I read at P5 about your Alesis Ion experience. Sorry to hear that. I'm not trying to convince you otherwise, but I have had an incredibly polar-opposite experience with that 'piece of kit'. Love it. The O/S was shaky, and I worked that out. No aftertouch transmission, but I can send it in from another controller. And all those NRPN-spewing knobs! Anyway, here's the reason that I bring it up: With the multis ('setups'), you can transmit over four separate MIDI channels simultaneously. I'm tearing it up with the four Elements of Dimension Pro in multitibral mode.

    And Rapture? Well., I never was happy with the tracking in this Roland guitar synth, but I'm looking into some newer ones. You see, there's six Elements now in multitimbral mode. I didn't think of it until late last night, but then it hit me. This Rapture thing screams guitar synthesis.

    Now if I could only get Rapture to receive on MIDI Channels 11-16 ...
    #6
    Rick McNab
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    RE: Controller Keyboard for Rapture/DimPro 2006/02/18 21:27:23 (permalink)
    Hey B. Nice reply. I'm willing to give the Alesis a chance. But at $200 I really don't need the audio interface. And that's what you have to pay to get the wheels. The Xboard 25 is MAPing at $150, so that's only a $50 difference, deals and rebates aside. I think for the extra $50 I would go with the Alesis if the build quality was good. Also, the Alesis, unlike many others, in addition to the X-Y capabilities, has 2 pedal inputs, so you could go with sustain AND expression. That's kind of important to me.

    On the other hand if GC would let me walk out of the store with an EMU Xboard 25 for $125, tax included, no rebate to send in, etc... Then I'd probably do it in order to have at least some sort of controller keyboard and then wait for the Novations to come out in their 37 and 61 note versions. And wait for SOS/Future Music/Keyboard to review them and put them through their paces. Also some of our guys - to see how they work with DimPro and Rapture. But that will probably be at least another 6 months and I need something sort of now in order to continue learning Sonar4HomeStudioXL and (hopefully) my new acquisition of Rapture very soon!

    On a related topic - I guess these keyboard controllers are sort of going to fall into a couple of classes - the "standard" models and the "deluxe" models. As to the latter, if we include the CMEs, then we have the Novation SLs, the CMEs, and the M-Audio Axioms. Those all have wheels, multiple MIDI zones (important for live gigs), multiple pedal inputs, more sophisticated mapping options, and whatever other bells and whistles. Among the former we have the EMU (which sort of approaches the "deluxe" class in its features), the Edirols, the new Korgs, the Behringers, et al...

    Okay - caffeine and cold medicine have me rambling. Sorry!
    #7
    b rock
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    RE: Controller Keyboard for Rapture/DimPro 2006/03/03 23:41:17 (permalink)
    if GC would let me walk out of the store with an EMU Xboard 25 for $125, tax included, no rebate to send in, etc... Then I'd probably do it in order to have at least some sort of controller keyboard
    OK, Rick. This just in.
    I got a "Green Tag" flyer from GC today. They're pushing the Emu XBoard 49 out for 114.99 before sales tax. Make sure you play it first.

    Downsides: There's a $55 rebate that'll you'll have to cough up upfront. It's going to be hard to talk them out of a manufacturer/GC promo like that. Not much wiggle room there. You should be able to get them to "bury" the sales tax, or work with you if you're "bundling" with another purchase. Given what you've said, this might be more on the front end than you want to devote to this purchase.

    Upsides: You're probably not going to find another controller with this feature/price ratio anytime soon. The final cost is a good deal. So far, I've had very good luck with the Guitar Center rebates. Usually not even a month turnaround; more like 3 weeks. And i've never had to chase one down. They just arrive, and early, too. What a concept.

    Anyway, I felt compelled to follow up here, just to make sure that you knew this 'new' option was available. I think it goes until the end of the month, but availability shrinks on items like this long before that last weekend.
    #8
    Rick McNab
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    RE: Controller Keyboard for Rapture/DimPro 2006/03/04 03:17:13 (permalink)
    Thanks loads, B. I'm on GC's mailing list so I'm surprised I haven't seen it. Maybe it's a regional thing (I'm on the West Coast). I would absolutely jump at it at that price. Rebates, of course, are a tricky thing. You've really got to stay on top of them. But thanks for the heads up. I'll check with my local GC tomorrow (I've spent a fair chunk of change there over the past couple of years).
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    whitefalcon
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    RE: Controller Keyboard for Rapture/DimPro 2006/03/04 04:11:03 (permalink)
    Sorry, I don't exactly understand what you are trying to say. But I too have old MIDI keyboards that could be pressed into service. But part of this whole software paradigm seems to be using a dedicated controller keyboard similar to the Novation, Emu, Edirol, M-Audio, etc... type.

    I still have my Yamaha psr 500 but use it mostly as a controller, but for any knobs I use the Midman Pro 88 which is a great controller. I also have a keystation 64 controller I use to compose with on my laptop. Its light wieght enough to use on a chair with the laptop on the side.
    Its an interesting time, you have new fancy hardware synths coming out from Korg, Roland and Yamaha and others Nord. And you have software synths coming out to that are powerful. I wonder why they dont have complet software versions of the expensive hardware synths out there. It would be possible to do this. I know it must be proprietary systems.
    Wouldnt it be cool if you could get the best of Nord Korg etc in a software version, You pull it up on your screen and you could play all the same banks you do on the Nord on your computer?
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    b rock
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    RE: Controller Keyboard for Rapture/DimPro 2006/03/04 06:39:07 (permalink)
    Wouldnt it be cool if you could get the best of Nord Korg etc in a software version, You pull it up on your screen and you could play all the same banks you do on the Nord on your computer?
    It's coming, Bob. But it'll cost you.



    And that's the "low-end" product that OpenLabs offers. Check out this review [here] on one of the upper level products.
    #11
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