What's the best midi controller?

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What's the best midi controller?

Postby sarkywalrus » 13:40, 3 April 2016

I've done a few shows recently that have had a few patch changes but nothing too frantic. I've set up studio sets and used that, however I've only really ever had to use 11 or 12 instruments.

I was looking at a keys part the other day and it had changes that I wouldn't be able to move quickly between or be able to fit into one studio set.

Basically I need to update my rig. Currently I use the Roland A49 as my controller for the Integra.

I've seen a few people use a macbook pro with mainstage to quickly switch between patches. Whilst it looks interesting and effective it also looks expensive. IF it has to be done then fine however I would like to know what you guys do for live performances with potentially hundreds of patch changes.
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby PauloF » 18:13, 3 April 2016

sarkywalrus wrote:I've done a few shows recently that have had a few patch changes but nothing too frantic. I've set up studio sets and used that, however I've only really ever had to use 11 or 12 instruments.

I was looking at a keys part the other day and it had changes that I wouldn't be able to move quickly between or be able to fit into one studio set.

Basically I need to update my rig. Currently I use the Roland A49 as my controller for the Integra.

I've seen a few people use a macbook pro with mainstage to quickly switch between patches. Whilst it looks interesting and effective it also looks expensive. IF it has to be done then fine however I would like to know what you guys do for live performances with potentially hundreds of patch changes.


Not totally inexpensive, but what I use are a PCR-500 and a A-800 PRO MIDI Controllers.\

Both have Aftertouch, can send on two simultaneous MIDI Channels that you can assign to two different Parts in UPPER, LOWER, SPLIT or LAYER modes, and it capable of sending all kinds of CC and SysEx messages.

You can do two things:
1- Sending Program Increment/Decrement messages
On the Channel chosen for Control on the integra (default is set to 16 but you can choose anyone), assign one of the Buttons to send an Assign Message: "Channel Message" - Type: "Program Change Increment"
and a second button to send an Assign Message: "Channel Message" - Type: "Program Change Decrement". Meaning in this case, Studio Set UP, Studio Set DOWN, that will act as your "BANK" select.

Each "Bank" has 16 Parts, that carefully chosen and organized can let you to have 64x 16 (1024) different Parts easily accessible.

Another advantage is that from within a Studio Set (let's call it Bank), choosing a Part is as easy as changing the MIDI channel assign to that Part (normally is 1-to-1; channel1=Part 1, channel 2=Part2), but as the integra is very flexible you can assign any part to any MIDI channel, or inclusively several Parts to the same MIDI channel if you require Layers or Splits done on the integra itself.

2- Sending System Exclusive Messages
You can assign a few buttons to send SysEx messages to load your most common StudioSets at the touch of a button, or use both methods which will give you the best solution.

Note: What I described applies to both controllers, but the old PCR-300/500/800 are even better for live work as each Keyboard Part (Upper/Lower) is fully flexible assigned and you can change Layer/Split and channel on each part of the keyboard freely by just changing the SPLIT/DUAL, LOWER and UPPER buttons together with the Value Dial (to choose each MIDI channel assigned to each Part). This is the Controller used intensively by Depeche Mode, when playing live (4 of them)...

Cheers,
Paulo
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby Español » 23:01, 3 April 2016

For me, the A-800PRO.
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby sarkywalrus » 14:22, 4 April 2016

Thanks.

I took a trip down to one of the local shops and had a look at the a800 pro and it looks ideal. Think I'll grab it in the next couple of weeks.
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby PauloF » 22:51, 5 April 2016

sarkywalrus wrote:Thanks.

I took a trip down to one of the local shops and had a look at the a800 pro and it looks ideal. Think I'll grab it in the next couple of weeks.


You will be happy with the A-800 PRO!!
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby lol » 09:06, 6 April 2016

Same here, PCR-800. the great advantage of these Edirol/Roland keyboards is that they handle sysex perfectly.

The Edirol PCR-800 is just an older version of the A-800 pro, it has even more velocity sensitive control knobs (but they aren't pad textured...), and it sells for less than 100$ used. The same is also sold as Cakewalk PCR-800 or something like that, it's the same hardware dating from the time when Roland acquired Cakewalk and sold copies of Sonar with this keyboard.

I'm not certain the A 800 Pro has a midi input merge function, if you need it it's useful to have in the keyboard directly.

The aftertouch is not very good on the PCR-800, nowhere near the quality in most keyboards from the years 1990-2000, and the keys are shorter than standard synth keyboards. Maybe these 2 points are still critical on the A-800 Pro? The keyboard in itself is neither nowhere near the quality in most of the keyboards built 10 to 20 years earlier, but it's still better than many keyboards build during the period 2005-2016. It's acceptably good, and also much quieter than others.

There might be a couple of other differences between the PCR-800 and the A-800 Pro, but I believe most of them are in favor of the older and now used cheaper model, so if you see one, think twice, Roland/Edirol went rather backward in this market, so maybe don't necessarily get fooled if you can choose between the older and the new one.

But maybe there are undebatable arguments in favor of the A-800 Pro over the PCR-800, so please do tell if you know so!
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby PauloF » 22:24, 6 April 2016

lol wrote:Same here, PCR-800. the great advantage of these Edirol/Roland keyboards is that they handle sysex perfectly.

The Edirol PCR-800 is just an older version of the A-800 pro, it has even more velocity sensitive control knobs (but they aren't pad textured...), and it sells for less than 100$ used. The same is also sold as Cakewalk PCR-800 or something like that, it's the same hardware dating from the time when Roland acquired Cakewalk and sold copies of Sonar with this keyboard.

I'm not certain the A 800 Pro has a midi input merge function, if you need it it's useful to have in the keyboard directly.

The aftertouch is not very good on the PCR-800, nowhere near the quality in most keyboards from the years 1990-2000, and the keys are shorter than standard synth keyboards. Maybe these 2 points are still critical on the A-800 Pro? The keyboard in itself is neither nowhere near the quality in most of the keyboards built 10 to 20 years earlier, but it's still better than many keyboards build during the period 2005-2016. It's acceptably good, and also much quieter than others.

There might be a couple of other differences between the PCR-800 and the A-800 Pro, but I believe most of them are in favor of the older and now used cheaper model, so if you see one, think twice, Roland/Edirol went rather backward in this market, so maybe don't necessarily get fooled if you can choose between the older and the new one.

But maybe there are undebatable arguments in favor of the A-800 Pro over the PCR-800, so please do tell if you know so!



I do have both, and there is nothing the A-800 PRO does that the PCR-500 can't do, except four things:

- The Value Dial is also an ENTER button (handy sometimes).
- The Value Dial is also very good as as a Manual set for TEMPO (Very precise)
- Dedicated Transpose Button
- 0-9 value entry buttons (using the SHIFT Button)

Apart from those, for Live situations, the PCR is much more direct, versatile and easy when changing SPLIT/LAYER/DOWN/UPPER or MIDI Channels.
The A-800 PRO requires to access Software Editor to change the SPLIT and DUAL MIDI channel assignements, while with the PCR we can do it on the fly.

Follows a rough comparison of the two:

A-X00 PRO_________________________________PCR-X00
8 Dynamic PADS____________________________18 PADS/Big Buttons
13 Prog / Transport Buttons ________________ 7 prog Buttons/Transport
9 Rotary Knobs_____________________________ 9 Rotary Knobs
9 Slide Faders _____________________________ 9 Slide Faders
----------- _____________________________ 1 Cross Fader
Transpose Button __________________________ --------
Octave - and + Buttons _____________________ Octave - and + Buttons
Value Dial + ENTER _________________________ Value Dial only
SPLIT Button ______________________________ --------
DUAL Button ______________________________ SPLIT/DUAL button
LOWER button _____________________________ LOWER button
UPPER Button _____________________________ UPPER button
Merge function ____________________________ Merge Function
MIDI IN/OUT 5 PIN _________________________ MIDI IN/OUT 5 PIN
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby sarkywalrus » 08:42, 7 April 2016

Thanks very much for this.

I've bought the A800 for now after using one in Guitar Guitar. I liked the feel of the keys although to be fair I haven't tried the PCR but I've got to learn the tech before my next gig in a fortnight.

To be honest I don't know what half the stuff you've mentioned below is and how I'd use them. The initial requirement was to be able to quickly move between patches and for it to be clear what channel I was on. The dial on the A800 and the display is ideal for that.

I'm fine with understanding transpose (been in the situation a couple of times where a singer just doesn't have the range for the way a song has been written), the octave buttons and the midi ports. However what do you guys use the following for:

Dynamic pads
Transport buttons
Rotary knobs
Slide faders
Split button
Dual button
Lower button
Upper button
Merge function

I'm just interested in making the most of what I've got to help me improve my performances. Sorry if it's a long question :)
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby PauloF » 13:55, 7 April 2016

sarkywalrus wrote:Thanks very much for this.

I've bought the A800 for now after using one in Guitar Guitar. I liked the feel of the keys although to be fair I haven't tried the PCR but I've got to learn the tech before my next gig in a fortnight.

To be honest I don't know what half the stuff you've mentioned below is and how I'd use them. The initial requirement was to be able to quickly move between patches and for it to be clear what channel I was on. The dial on the A800 and the display is ideal for that.

I'm fine with understanding transpose (been in the situation a couple of times where a singer just doesn't have the range for the way a song has been written), the octave buttons and the midi ports. However what do you guys use the following for:

Dynamic pads
Transport buttons
Rotary knobs
Slide faders
Split button
Dual button
Lower button
Upper button
Merge function

I'm just interested in making the most of what I've got to help me improve my performances. Sorry if it's a long question :)


No, it's ok. I'll answer with what I use them for, later while at home ( too detailed to answer via the smartphone).

Can inclusively share my 2 Control Maps, that were done specifically for the integra
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby sarkywalrus » 15:29, 7 April 2016

Thanks. Yeah, I can appreciate longer posts being a nightmare on mobile devices.
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby sarkywalrus » 21:33, 7 April 2016

EDIT: Might be a power supply problem (sorry for ninja'ing my own thread)

poop

I can't get the a800 to work on the integra. All I did was remove the cables from the a49 and put them in to the a800pro.

If I take the usb cable from the i7 and put it in my pc I cannuse it in my soft synth so not sure what's wrong.

Just for background info, I power the a800 via usb from the i7,
I run midi out from the a800 to midi in on the usb audio interface
midi out from the interface to the midi in on the i7

And for some reason I need to have midi-ox running for it to work
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby PauloF » 10:51, 9 April 2016

sarkywalrus wrote:EDIT: Might be a power supply problem (sorry for ninja'ing my own thread)

poop

I can't get the a800 to work on the integra. All I did was remove the cables from the a49 and put them in to the a800pro.

If I take the usb cable from the i7 and put it in my pc I cannuse it in my soft synth so not sure what's wrong.

Just for background info, I power the a800 via usb from the i7,
I run midi out from the a800 to midi in on the usb audio interface
midi out from the interface to the midi in on the i7

And for some reason I need to have midi-ox running for it to work


Is it a second hand?

Please list the A800-PRO internal settings actually configured as it could be any combination of wrong settings.

As soon as I'm at home I will list my A800-PRO settings and we can compare

One suspect is the M/F interface, that should be OFF in order for the A800-PRO to work via the 5 Pin MIDI interface...
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby sarkywalrus » 20:53, 9 April 2016

How do I grab those settings? Do I need to run a USB cable from the a880pro and run the editor? I can't seem to receive info from the controller when I go through my audio interface (probably expecting too much:D)

I've used a power upply and it's working fine now though. I haven't programmed anything though. Got a studio set configure for my next show so it will be cool to program the a800pro to switch quickly between patches.
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby sarkywalrus » 11:59, 14 April 2016

Sorry to bump this but I would love to get some ideas around how all the knobs/buttons/sliders are used on the Integra.

And PauloF's control map if possible ^_^
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Re: What's the best midi controller?

Postby sarkywalrus » 20:06, 14 April 2016

PauloF wrote:On the Channel chosen for Control on the integra (default is set to 16 but you can choose anyone), assign one of the Buttons to send an Assign Message: "Channel Message" - Type: "Program Change Increment"
and a second button to send an Assign Message: "Channel Message" - Type: "Program Change Decrement". Meaning in this case, Studio Set UP, Studio Set DOWN, that will act as your "BANK" select.


I tried this and it seems to change the instrument selection as opposed to the studio set. I know it's doing something weird because if I increment once it changes instrument but if I decrement once after that it doesn't return me to the original instrument.

DO you know what I am missing?
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