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Synthesizers.Com QKB61 keyboard owner review.
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> 5U Format Modules  
Author Synthesizers.Com QKB61 keyboard owner review.
Rex Coil 7
DISCLAIMER: I'm not beholden to Synthesizers.Com in any way, manner, or form. I'm simply a highly satisfied customer expressing my views. I've not seen any user reviews of this keybed so I've drafted this one. It certainly deserves recognition.

I've been dreaming about owning one of these 2nd generation Synthesizers.Com QKB61 keyboards since it was released a few years ago. Described as one of the "better" FATAR keybeds, I was highly intrigued since I'd known those keybeds from previous high-end performance synth ownership.

Well, mine showed up this week. applause

And I can say it was easily worth the wait. The obvious stuff (construction) is fantastic. Super solid feel due to it's all metal frame and solid walnut construction ... no squeaks, no groans, no ~flexing~ if you try to twist the keybed a little bit. And especially nice .... nearly silent key operation. So many of the "affordable" keyboard controllers today have very loud thumping and thunking and klunking when you play the keys without the synth volume on. On some this klunk is so loud it may be heard in certain videos over the sound of the synth! Not on the QKB61 though!!!


ACTION: Ok, this is the BIIIIG question, at least for me it is. I've been so disappointed with every keyboard controller I've tried over the last 15+ years. Yea, some or tolerable, and after a while I can even manage to talk myself in to believing that the action is even acceptable (cognitive dissonance sets in after a bit ..... "I see five lights" when there are only four .... funny what we'll convince ourselves of when we find ourselves forced in to believing what someone tells us due to lack of any other outside criticism. "Sure ... it's a great keybed, you LOVE IT and you KNOW IT! LOVE YOUR KEYBED!!!! LOVE IT!!! THIS IS INDUSTRY STANDARD NOW AND YOU'RE GONNA LIKE IT!! YOU'RE GONNA EAT THIS SHIT SANDWICH AND YOU'RE GONNA SMILE ABOUT IT!!!!"

Yea ...... um .... no. There's an option now, and it's the undisputed KING of no-frills, no foo foo, no blinky lights keyboard controllers with MIDI output (plus MIDI merge .. two MIDI-IN jacks plus one MIDI-OUT jack ... nice feature!). True to the modular ethos this is another "module" that is focused on doing on thing and doing it very well.

The key action on the Synthesizers.Com QKB61 is absolutely superb. It's described as "synth action" (correctly so). Since it's THE SAME keybed used in the Kurzweil PC3A6 and other high-end performance synths naturally it feels just like one of those. I've found the action of that particular FATAR keybed to be the high water mark of synth action keybeds. Slick, quiet downstrokes, upstrokes have that "just righty" amount of pushback and return speed. The channel pressure (aka "aftertouch") is actually usable with enough travel to make it expressive and not just a sortof "on-off" function.

The downward pressure is really nice, not too light (as so many cost-efficient keyboard controllers are) and the keys don't "clack" together when you do big glissando slides.

All in all, with the solid walnut sides and top, plus two QIC36 power connection cables, plus shipping from Tyler Texas to Yuma Az. it cost me $630.00. And *YES .... it was worth it!

I've yet to dive in to the power-on features (velocity curves, etc ...) but I'll post my thoughts here when I do. For now, it's been doing nothing but controlling my PreenFM2. The five octave keybed allows me to take advantage of the polyphonic capability of the PreenFM2 very well. As soon as my modular is back in place it will be tasked with more duties.

Yea, very happy with this, and keybeds are one thing I am very picky about. And since it isn't slathered with a bunch of midi encoders and display panels it's perfectly suited for the way I use a keyboard.

I'll echo your comments to say that I'm a satisfied customer as well. At the time that I bought it (could have been Feb. 2 years ago or more; I was an early adopter), Roger only sold it with the wonky metal shelves or box 1's on the back side. I ordered an extra piece of walnut and did something similar to the pic above; my left and right cheeks, however were angled (I think the right angle looks better tbh).

Roger has since updated the firmware (yours probably has the latest) but I've yet to apply (insert) the new rom/programmed controller.

One criticism is that it's a bear to program; reminded me of the old Keystation 61ES. That's the price you pay for the minimalistic look. Roger was toying with the the idea of creating a helper module (if you look inside you'll see a very small board with some header pins) but no movement on this, I'm afraid.

Mine started looking a bit like yours (except with a traditional LHC, aka box-2 with pitch and mod wheels) but has since taken form inside of an OBX chassis and is used to control external gear and also the crOwBX clone which is a work in progress.

In short, it's a pretty good value if you want something of quality build. As you said, metal and wood.
I have the old Version.
It's duo and nice to control two SEM 's also.
Do not use the Midi Interface only CV.
Some weels would have been better than the Midi interface.
Walking Stick is a good Companion too.

I love my QKB61 - It's extremely sturdy and the midi implementation is really nice, especially the two merged inputs in addition to its midi output (a feature that's not really touted in the documentation - mergers aren't cheap - like finding a free fifty bucks in the back panel) and with the wood top, it's nicely heavy enough to support a minimoog on top of its frame. The keybed is identical in quality to the current Model D reissue, incidentally.

I originally got the dotcom specifically for aesthetics - I love how classic and simple it looks, but the lack of mod wheel and pitch wheel (for midi) really bugged me.

Eventually I found a Yamaha MCS2 to control mod and pitch wheel sends and everything's great. The Yamaha has a nice merging feature too, so that's nice. With the MCS2 routing into the keyboard, this allows for a lot of midi interfacing, making the keyboard a bit of a hub for many devices.

I have the QKB61 split into 1/3 of the keybed sending on midi channel 1 and 2/3 on midi channel 2. That's also a very nice feature. There's different velocity curves you can program in, which is cool. Roger's amazingly good at any technical service questions and help, too.

My only criticism is the lack of mod wheel, which is by design (I know there's CV add-ons) but it does really limit what can be done with the keyboard as a midi controller; I addressed this with an MCS2 and you can also manage with an iphone app like modwheels. Just a great keyboard, doubt I'll ever part with it.
Great reviews! Tell me please when +1/-1 octave button? It's my main concern because I use this buttons a lot.
Rex Coil 7
johny_gtr wrote:
Great reviews! Tell me please when +1/-1 octave button? It's my main concern because I use this buttons a lot.
Thank you!

No, it does not have any easily accessed OCTAVE TRANSPOSE controls on it, if you're using it with a MIDI device you'd have to set your octave at the device end, not the controller end.

You can set the "0 note" setting but that's done during a power cycle. You'd have to turn the power off first, then while holding down the proper keys turn the power back on and it goes in to "Edit mode" ..... here's the instruction booklet ....

Just me
I have an early version (Old version) It is finally failing. Most of the bottom octave is wonky and won't trigger or multi triggers. I wonder if Roger can fit the new keybed in the old housing and leave the existing old version MIDI / CV interface?
Rex Coil 7
Just me wrote:
I have an early version (Old version) It is finally failing. Most of the bottom octave is wonky and won't trigger or multi triggers. I wonder if Roger can fit the new keybed in the old housing and leave the existing old version MIDI / CV interface?
Good question.

This is precisely why I wanted a "keybed only" controller that has no other features like MIDI-CV etc. With extras built in, WHEN the other stuff fails the rest of the device is down, and the entire thing must be sent back for service.

You may get lucky and discover that all you require is replacement of the MPU (micro processor). Then again, it may have to go back to Tyler Texas for a replacement set of "contact squid" under the affected octaves.

Hopefully you can salvage your unit. My guess regarding retrofitting the new version's FATAR keybed in place of the Yamaha keybed that the first version used (same keybed that the DX7 was outfitted with) ... is that it may be too labor intensive to justify.

seriously, i just don't get it
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