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Seeking the Perfect CV Keyboard
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next [all]
Author Seeking the Perfect CV Keyboard
The current rash of little USB mini keyboards leave me cold, thanks to 2 things: 1) no MIDI or CV (just usb), and 2) plasticcy suckness. I'm talkin' to you Korg Nanoshite.

I'm hoping to find some little - say, 25 key - keyboard with good build quality, and with CV/gate outs, and - not essential but nice to have - MIDI out.

I don't want any of this USB nonsense - I've got enough of those already. I want something that doesn't need a computer to drive it, that I can plug into both my A-100 and my Slim Phatty (which has all 3: MIDI over USB, normal MIDI and - YAY! - CV!!!).

Something that looks and feels like a real instrument, not an oversized TV remote control knocked up in a tin shed in China.

The best I've come up with so far is the Doepfer A-100CGK, and please please please, the maybe forthcoming Doepfer touch sensor keyboard (the 2nd prototype rocks imho).

I may also just go the DIY route to build my perfect keyboard: custom case, 25 keys, wheels, joystick, ribbon, secret squirrel stealth black, designed to match my skiff...

Anyone else got any ideas of available keyboard thingies that I may not be aware of?

What about something like Pressure Points but in a single 1 octave keyboard layout, with oct up/down switches? That'd be nice. Maybe even a vertical push button KB in a small module.

I have to make this happen!
May be more than you want to spent or whatever but my vote will go to the SH101. Perfect for modular integration as a keyboard, step sequencer and arpeggiator and it's a fucking awesome synth on it's own. Others may disagree and you may not want to spend that much money but it's constantly hooked up to my modular in one way or another and it's always my go-to synth for pretty much anything (besides polyphonic parts of course).
You might consider trying to rustle up a Roland System 100-M 181 keyboard (or the smaller version, can't recall the number right now). They may be a little hard
to find but well worth it. You will have to supply power via the DIN connector, but that is quite easy to implement. These keyboards feel really good, as you say, like a real instrument.
why 25 key?
monroe wrote:
why 25 key?

I've got my big-ass Roland FP4 if I need 88 keys. Lookin' for something easier to lug around, that looks snappy in front of my A-100 suitcase, that is handy for little bass/glitch parts on stage in between playing guitar.
polyroy wrote:
my vote will go to the SH101.

The SH101 is an awesome synth, but I think I'm looking for something much more minimal. Just keys, and a few mod wheels or knobs.

THanks for the suggestion though.
mfirman wrote:
Roland System 100-M 181 keyboard d.html

That's definitely in the right ballpark, but probably hard to get down here in Australia.

Along with the Doepfer, I've got my eyes on this one:

Keep the suggestions coming fellow wigglers Mr. Green
ether wrote:

Along with the Doepfer, I've got my eyes on this one:

Keep the suggestions coming fellow wigglers Mr. Green

Actually that one looks very nice and seems rather inexpensive ($450.00USD). You might try to find someone here who
owns one and has an opinion.
It's got 1/4" jacks, so you will need 1/4->1/8 cables or something
for your rig. It does have MIDI which could be handy.
8_) Hi there,
I m personnally using the Analogue systems Sorcerer as main keyboard for CV control...

I would recommend the Analogue Systems demon, 5 CV out, gate and trigger, wonderfully built and a pleasure to play... applause joystick is usefull and i tend to prefer it now to the modulation wheels...

...Can be used as well as Monophonic CV/Midi In to use an external sequencer for exemple or polyphonic midi out to control midi polyphonic keyboard...
Wonderful wood and great keyboard to play...Not Not sure there is a better built modern CV Keyboard these days...No sensor or aftertouch though... thumbs up
mfirman wrote:
ether wrote:

Along with the Doepfer, I've got my eyes on this one:

Actually that one looks very nice and seems rather inexpensive ($450.00USD). You might try to find someone here who
owns one and has an opinion.

I use a keyboard with my modular and I find it to be ideal for my purposes. It has a solid synth action keybed with a nice feel to it, the CV/gate jacks and MIDI ports are on the top rather than the back (which sounds insignificant but is an enormous convenience when you're using it), and it has a very useful and logically laid out splitting system so you can have two separate things going on. If you use a lot of MIDI in your studio it can also send out MIDI signals simultaneously as CV, and it can double as a MIDI-CV converter if you run a MIDI sequence or whatever into the MIDI input.

I did a lot of comparing between the keyboard and the various Analogue Systems keyboards before I settled on the DotCom. My personal points of comparison were as follows:

a.) The DotCom keyboard sends out velocity signals. The Demon controller looks like it will send out velocity, but in actuality it will only convert an incoming velocity MIDI signal and does not produce velocity on its own.

b.) The DotCom has a large 5 octave range, whereas the ASys keyboards have a slightly more compact 4 octave range.

c.) The DotCom has no modulation wheels, joysticks, or slew built in, whereas the Demon has either a joystick or modulation wheels (buyer specifies) and slew. The French Connection is a different beast in terms of modulation.

d.) The DotCom utilizes various split keyboard options, whereas the ASys keyboards are monophonic only and do not feature split capabilities.

e.) Price:
DotCom - $450
ASys Demon - $1,575
ASys French Connection - $2,600

Between the DotCom and the ASys Demon, I personally found it to be an extremely easy decision. The DotCom was $1,125 cheaper than the Demon, featured very useful split capabilities, and sent out velocity signals. I personally prefer patching slew within the system itself rather than directly at the keyboard, and I also personally prefer having a modulation skiff for things like joysticks and modulation wheels that I can place where I want rather than always to the left of the keys. Plus, I prefer the FoH Choices over the ASys joystick and Maths over the ASys slew.

The French Connection is an entirely different breed of controller, and the price difference also places it in a completely different realm. In a perfect world I would love a French Connection, but at $2,600 it enters Haken Continuum and Buchla 222e range and that is extremely stiff competition. Given that I really just wanted a keyboard and not the tricks of the French Connection, it was fairly easy to make that decision as well.

Overall I'm very happy with the DotCom. The customer service was stellar, it's a solid piece that does exactly what you think it will do without any hassles, and the price was extremely reasonable. It is rather large at 5 octaves, although when I compared dimensions I think the Demon only ended up being about 5 inches shorter which isn't too significant when you're dealing with ~40" keyboards. They're both ensconced in wood and aren't what I would consider as throw-in-your-car options, so if size and portability are big issues for you I'd probably just go with a MIDI converter module and a little MIDI keyboard.
as long as i have the Dark Energy, any midi out keyboard works, and now that I no longer have the Voyager (perfect amount of keys, good feel), my old ESQ-1 might not have the class of those ASys keys, but it still feels a hell of a lot better than most tacky-ass newer midi controllers and despite it being kinda hefty, it's durable as hell and if it breaks, i can get a new one.

i'm sure there's a much simpler setup than old midi synth to DE to modular, that fella makes the dotcom keyboard sound pretty enticing, but i like my nice shit to stay nice, even if it ain't French Connection pricey. if i bought one of those, i'd still use my old setup for going out. so many old keyboards with varying sizes, feels, etc for dirt cheap, and replaceable for next to nothin.
+1000 on the dot com kybd! I've had one for years and it's great. Yeah, I wish it had a joystick or pitch bend/mod wheels, but otherwise, it's a close approximation to perfect.
And the level of support is freaking awesome, just in case you have any problems with it.

the gryfon
Thanks everyone for the valuable input.

Gryfon and NV's comments on the dotcom sound totally on the money for what I'm looking for, if only I could saw it in half to make it easier to carry around razz

The French Connection will have to wait until I win the lottery, but the combo of CV keyboard, skiff-o-fun, and Doepfer ribbon should hit it out the park anyhoo, and I can buy it all bit by bit as the funds appear.

So, maybe it's tacky plastic MIDI keyboard into A-190 (MIDI in) if I'm feeling the need for portability, or the dotcom when I'm feeling posh.

Time to head over to the ASys web site to take a look see there as well though.

Any Doepfer keyboard owners want to chime in on theirs?

Thanks again all.
Do let us know what you settle on. I wouldn't mind having a smaller keyboard for the occasional roadtrip to a meet&greet or like that. Always good to keep track of the options and how they work out hyper

the gryfon
hey ether,

I read in the first post that you had a slim phatty...
otherwise I was going to suggest getting a little phatty, I got the "australian redback edition" one, which basically just has cv outputs ontop of the normal cv inputs on the little phatty (as well as being red).
It also does MIDI in/out and has a USB connection for midi too.

37 note keyboard, and obviously the built in synth.

whereabouts in oz are you?

vinayk wrote:
I got the "australian redback edition" ... little phatty

I *nearly* got the LP ARE because it looks the bomb in red, and is an all round great unit. If it had wooden cheeks I wouldn't have been able to resist!

I eventually decided on the Slim as long term it's rackability makes it perfect for my little studio space. That, and being 1K cheaper than an LP. And there's a wooden cheek kit coming soon applause

So, back to the keyboard, early 2011 it looks like the final shoot out between a 25 key Doepfer DIY unit, or the dotcom.

I'm in Sydney btw, the land of drive by shootings and cocaine binges.
vinayk wrote:

I'm in Sydney btw, the land of drive by shootings and cocaine binges.

Hahah - it's not that bad is it? That said my mate did live next door to one of those recent Cross related shootings.

Still no other place i'd like to live better =P
Just FYI since it's probably bigger, heavier, more expensive and more feature laden than you want ot need but the COTK Polyclavier looks killer. It comes in a 4 octave version too.:

Here's a picture of phaedra's (that I stole Ninja and edited from this thread) so you can see they come in a more road worthy black tolex covering:

All that said . . . if you don't need all that power (5 voice, arppegiators, etc) why not get a simple MIDI -> CV module (like the DotCom, Grove Audio or Doepfer etc) and then just use a nice but inexpensive MIDI controller. I've been happy with the M-Audio Keystation ones for studio use, but I haven't used them live except for a synth meet or two hihi

You should be able to find the older 49 key ones with MIDI and power jacks on Ebay or Craig's list etc (the newer 49 key ones, called KeyRig, are only USB I think so be careful when purchasing!) You can still buy the 61 and 88 key ones new that have MIDI etc.

Does anybody know if the Analogue Systems Demon can control 4 OSCs with independent trigger/gate and CV?
Steve Wills
You could push the boat out and get a DSI Pro 2. I have one connected to my modular and have to say it's awesome. You get a fantastic synth, gate out, 4 cv outs, 4 cv ins, midi and USB. It's not too big either, could easily be carried to gigs.
wont the analog keys also be able to control 4 oscs with cv?
Yes and sequence them on 5 diffeent tracks and with overbridge it may nay, will, give you cv/gate control from the computer.....its an incredible instrument. I toyed with selling mine but its just too amazing and covers so much ground....All the LFos, ENVS, filter, effects, arp can all be sent via cv so theres pretty much nothing you cant achieve with it...
Had to chime in about the French connection..

It really is an instrument of its own..

The level of articulation opens up the expressiveness of even a very simple patch..

It's being "in contact" with the modular.. but not limited to discrete intervals..

Looks and feels beautiful to play..
that's what i've come to imagine from reading about the FC and wishing i had one.... one day!

don't think a M-Audio would fit OP's specifications as he'd rather have cv than just midi, and if you wanted just midi there are cheap and easy ways to get nice feeling keys on a smaller keyboard.
Howz about ...?

Akai MAX 25 Compact USB/MIDI/CV Keyboard Controller about £240 here in Uk and its bigger brother Max49

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