MIDI Master Keyboard: Setting up your home studio

Posted on Apr 6, 2020 in Musical Skills

MIDI Master Keyboard: Setting up your home studio

Rock musicians can wonder why they should to use a keyboard controller. The answer: If keys for transport control of music software (especially start, stop & record) are found on the master keyboard, they can control the recording session with a long MIDI cable from any corner of the studio.

You can also play drum sounds with a virtual instrument (plug-in) from a MIDI keyboard that registers the velocity. This sounds much more organic than if you would set the MIDI notes by mouse. Some keyboard controllers have pads for playing drums – this is even better. And finally, a keyboard helps with songwriting, no matter what genre.

MIDI Master Keyboard 49

MIDI controller size and number of keys

Speaking of sheet music: controller keyboards come in different sizes. From small models with 25 mini keys to real hammer action heavyweights with 88 keys, everything is available. Most manufacturers offer their controller keyboards in the standard sizes of 25, 49 and 61 keys. But if you want a real piano feeling, you usually can’t get around an 88-key keyboard.

Even if I’m getting ahead of myself at this point: Many Kontakt libraries work with key switches, which are usually designed for a keyboard size of 88 keys. If you want to avoid constant octavating, you can’t avoid 88 keyboards.

But not only the number of keys is decisive, but also their size and workmanship. Those who only want to play a few small melodies occasionally, and perhaps like to sit in the park or on the train, will get by with small mini-keys.

But more complex melodies or even two-handed piano playing is much better on larger keys/keyboards. And since most controller keyboards are equipped with light plastic cases, you can choose 49 key or 61 MIDI controller.

The keyboards from CME are very small and compact. The XKey with 25 or 37 keys is not only a perfect optical match for an Apple device, but it is also very compatible with an iPad, in addition, to use on Mac and PC. The keyboard construction is clearly different from conventional controller keyboards and therefore needs getting used to. Nevertheless, this ultra-flat keyboard can be played very well and has polyphonic aftertouch, an absolute highlight, which you hardly (still) find nowadays.

MIDI Master Keyboard

Sound generation with the master keyboard

Your preferred music style and the instrument you mainly play are decisive for the choice of the MIDI master keyboard. Pianists will want a full-size keyboard with 88 keys and hammer action.

The integrated sound generation speaks for a stage piano as a master keyboard. The keyboard and samples are perfectly matched to each other, which benefits the playing feel and the sound. A stage piano (e.g. the Kurzweil Forte in the video) with its sound, all the usual MIDI controller functions, split zones, layers and more is a long-term solution for the studio or home studio.