Buyers advice for a novice

Talk about your MIDI interfaces, microphones, keyboards...

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oipenguin
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Buyers advice for a novice

Postby oipenguin » Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:26 pm

I'm about to buy a new keyboard. The users will be plus my daughters (10 + 12 years). We're all totally unexperienced. I'd appreciate advice on which keyboard will work best with linux (Ubuntu) and which one is the better deal. I've singled out to alternatives in our (low) price range:

https://www.amazon.com/midiplus-AK490-M ... B00VHKM72Q
https://www.amazon.com/Icon-iKeyboard-4 ... keyboard+5

Any other advice to a novice will also be appreciated. I should add that I've already bought and tried a Novation Launckey 25, assuming that would be a better choice for kids, however the keys give a poor response and are too narrow to play with an adults fingers.

https://www.amazon.com/Novation-Launchk ... unchpad+25

varpa
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby varpa » Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:43 pm

Both keyboards will work with Linux - these keyboards are USB-midi class compliant which nearly all keyboards are. The Icon keyboard uses some "iMap" software to configure midi which likely won't work in linux (there is a slight chance Windows version will work with wine). But you can probably use the keyboard without this software, just that it may be difficult to configure the extra buttons (which issue midi commands). Can't say which is a better deal since I've have no experience with these keyboards. The Icon has semi-weighted keys so will be slightly more like a real piano, if that matters to you.

glowrak guy
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby glowrak guy » Tue Jan 17, 2017 11:42 pm

I'd look for a used 'rompler-synth' first, alesis QS 6,7 or 8,
Korg M1, Triton, or Yamaha dgx 300 or 500, these will
be available in the $200 -$700 range, and will require
a 5pin midi interface, or audio interface with the 5 pin connector,
and a pair of midi cables.

You'll get a quality keybed, and a built-in very wide range of sounds,
from piano on up, so you and the kids won't need to master plugins
right away, yet still have many sonic choices.

You can browse Guitar Center's used gear, and get a warranty,
and shipping to nearest store, or buy locally, looking for pristine Vs heavily warn.

www.vintagesynth.com is a great source of info, and reviews.

Midi cables connect thusly:
keyboard midi out --> interface midi in, and if needed,
interface midi out--> keyboard midi in

www.libremusicproduction.com

is a fine resource, the tutorial on jackd (for hardware/software connections
is a good first stop. Lots to learn, so any question is a good one!
Lots of linux audio apps have youtube videos, very helpful to cut through
the new jargon.
Cheers

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kbongosmusic
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby kbongosmusic » Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:32 am

I'd suggest looking at the used market. If you are in the US, check out shopgoodwill.com, you can search locally where they can allow local pickup. It's like there own private ebay. I'm kicking myself, there was a Yamaha DGX 205 that just went for $35. Forgot the item was ending today. This has a pitch bend wheel and 72 keys which is kinda unusual. 60 keys(5 octaves) is more common. Most any of these will have MIDI port that should just work with Linux. Newer ones use USB, while older ones have the MIDI port that you need a $8 cable/adapter(on ebay) to hook to computer, no big deal. The USB midi interface is fairly standardized and will probably just work on most anything, but it doesn't hurt to google and check. The Yamaha's and Casio with built in voices I would recommend for first time and especially kids as the computer won't be required. The draw back with those in my mind is they tend to be bigger physically. One thing to watch out for is make sure it has 'velocity sensitive keys'. Some of the real low end of these didn't have that so it was just one volume, whereas the velocity sense gives you a volume dependent on how hard you hit the key. And I guess make sure it has USB or MIDI port as well(most do). And newer is mostly better.

Most of the 'synths' have non-weighted keys. If you want your kids to use it to be a real pianist they would recommend a weighted keyboard - something that feels like a real piano. Whereas the typical synth will just have light springy plastic keys. These are fine and can have their advantages over the weighted keys. I've had a number of Yamaha's and Casio's. A few m-audio keyboards(with no voices built in). Some of these are nice because you get knobs/sliders to play with. There can be differences in these, for example the m-audio Axiom has a little nicer keyboard feel, whereas the keystations have a just basic light plastic feel. Sometimes they say some of these have 'semi-weighted keys', Axiom for example. The Axiom also has some drum pads on it. But these m-audio's are just the midi controller so they don't have the built in speaker and voices, you need the computer.

I got a Privia PX-100 lately that has 88 weighted keys for about $130 bucks, that was a bargin. It's nice because it's relatively light weight and trim, but still has built in voices. It's still kind-of a tradeoff, this thing still takes up a whole desk, whereas the smaller 24/48/64 keyboards take up that much less room.

rghvdberg
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby rghvdberg » Wed Jan 18, 2017 12:23 pm

Buy a cheap Yamaha keyboard.
Hundreds of sounds, several drumkits, USB midi works out of the box.
Internal speakers so no amp wires to computer needed.
Yamaha has excellent build quality.

For a novice figuring things out it's perfect.

Btw, I'm a keyboard and piano teacher so I deal with novice players a lot and always recommend these keyboards.
Price range (Europe) about €200 and up.

oipenguin
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby oipenguin » Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:35 pm

Thanks for excellent response and advice! I've done a search for all items mentioned in this thread in second hand markets. I live in Norway so I'm limited to what's available here. I've found one item only, but it appears to be a reasonably good deal, a Yamaha Keyboard PSR-270, to a price equivalent to approximately $160. It can obviously be used without a computer connected. From what I gather after some Googling it can also be used with a computer and software such as LMMS. I also believe is fulfills all the essential requirements recommended by rghvdberg is the last response. Is there any reason why is shouldn't buy this Yamaha for £160?

If I however, don't get this, I suppose my options are
a) wait for a similar keyboard to a reasonable price
b) choose the Icon iKeyboard 5 because of the weighted keys

Yours sincerely,

Lars

oipenguin
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby oipenguin » Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:40 pm

I forgot to provide links to the Yamaha PSR270

http://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical- ... ds/psr270/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8P_mPSk_r30
(The one I'm after is black, similar to the one in the video review. I'm not sure whether the one displayed at yamaha.com is a more recent version or simply a different colour.)

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Michael Willis
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby Michael Willis » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:17 am

I had a very similar Yamaha model (one that isn't made anymore, this was years ago) when I started doing midi composition. This should work fine, to get started you just need something that will send midi events to your software.

Of course you can spend much much more if you want some 88-key weighted hammer-action digital grand piano (or some subset of those features), but the Yamaha will get you started capturing notes played.

rghvdberg
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby rghvdberg » Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:19 am

That price is way to steep.
You'll need an extra midi adapter and cables.

A new psr e353 will cost 200 and has USB midi.
Google for that keyboard, it's perfect.
Dunno if thomann.de ships to Norway.

oipenguin
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby oipenguin » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:33 pm

Oh, I wish I was more patient, especially when it comes to second hand shopping and I get excellent advice. I was afraid someone else would buy this ahead of me, hence bought it yesterday for about $160. I now see that I would have been able to buy the e353 with headphones and rack for approx $220 in Norway. Oh well, done is done. Hopefully I'll be well happy and stop thinking about that the price I paid was well steep.

And again, thanks for great advice!

rghvdberg
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby rghvdberg » Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:58 pm

Sell it again for 160 ;)

oipenguin
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby oipenguin » Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:08 pm

I've already thought about that :-) It was for sale for nine days before I bought it so it obviousle wasn't a bargain, but I've got nothing to loose in trying to resell it, so I might do.

glowrak guy
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby glowrak guy » Fri Jan 20, 2017 2:01 am

Download a manual for your keyboard, you should be able
to layer any two of the XG sounds, save some of these combos,
and add basic effects, control the tempo and volume
of the drumkits, and there may be a basic sequencer for internal recording,
and the headphone-out can go to a soundcard line-in.
Lot of versatility under the hood, and linux effects like Calf
and rakarrack really bring rompler sounds to life.

You may want/need more than one keyboard,
save for a new one, or a bargain.
Cheers

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kbongosmusic
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby kbongosmusic » Fri Jan 20, 2017 3:26 am

Yes, a bit expensive. Chalk it up to experience. It should work great for you. Look on ebay for an inexpensive MIDI to USB cable adapter. I picked a few up for something like $8 each and they work fine. The Yamaha's are good because they have a ton of voices and other features in them. And it will work fine with the computer with the MIDI to USB adapter.

rghvdberg
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Re: Buyers advice for a novice

Postby rghvdberg » Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:36 am

With midi cc you can even control filter, resonance, attack, decay, etc.
The keyboards are 16 part multi timbral.
They can send the accompaniment as midi out too.
Very versatile.

Yamaha has a dedicated manual library

https://europe.yamaha.com/en/support/ma ... ards&k=270


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