Looking for support? Click here

Best hardware 88 weighted keyboard controller for Spitfire Audio Libraries

I'm wondering if on the market exists such piece of gear. At present I'm using a Yamaha CP4 as main controller but it's very limited and, except MW, PB and a couple of pedals (expression and sustain) it doesn't offer that much.

Except Native Instruments KONTROL S88 and Arturia KeyLab88 mkII, are there other possibilities?


Ohne Musik wäre das Leben ein Irrtum

- F. Nietzsche


  • Hi, well I think there is no best key controller. Maybe this is not what you wanted to hear but it’s the truth. What do you want to do with that keyboard? Just use it for SA libs? Orchestral or acoustic libs? Electronic libs?

    I’m using a NI S88 because of the good Keybed not to strong but strong enough for Staccato and staccatissimo parts. And of corse because of the fancy lights. We composers love fancy twinkle lights.

    Fir piano and soft parts I use my KAWAI VPC1 the velocity settings are incredible

    I think a Keyboard with a good keybed is the best invest but remember you also need a good and smooth fader controller with min 11 mm faders

    c u

  • First post and I agree with what @Christian and @RubenCM have mentioned. Here are a few of my experiences.

    I have been using Studiologic controllers for quite a long time. Starting with the SL-880 which has a nice weighted keybed with the basic Mod and Pitch wheels. When it started to show some signs of wear and tear, I moved to the SL88 Grand which in my experience has a tremendous velocity dynamic range, it is just wonderful to play.

    I have had many of my viewers mention their problems getting their piano libraries to sound like they would expect and most of the time they have been using one of the Yamaha digital pianos or controllers. It seems that out of the box the Yamaha controller's velocity curves are a little limiting and that is the first place I tell them to look.

    You also have situations where the keyboard itself feels great but there are limited MIDI cc options, or you have a ton of MIDI cc controls available but the keyboard itself feels terrible. The SL88: Grand has a wonderful keyboard response but I am still not fully convinced of their joystick approach to the MIDI controllers. While I do enjoy the XY joystick at times, the Pitch and Modulation are not my favorites, as I do love a chunky wheel to be able to express things more fully.

    The Kawai controllers are probably the closest you can get to the feel of a true piano action as they have modeled their keybeds with that in mind. I had the opportunity to play one of their digital pianos around the Christmas holiday last year and it just felt like butter.

    So it seems that ultimately you have to go the hybrid route where you have a keybed that feels right to you and provides the feedback you need to initially connect to the instrument PLUS the additional controls for performance input (Pedals, faders, knobs, etc.). The Korg nanoKONTROL is a great little control surface but has its limits in the fact that the faders are short throw, but still offer some fun opportunities. I also have paired it with the nanoKEY to help with key switching some libraries as the octaves are out of the range of a normal controller so it makes it very easy to have it sitting down on the left to trigger those.

    I love the concept of the Monogram controllers as well but the price point could be an obstacle for many users. I am looking at trying one of the Studiologic MixFace controllers to see how that might work as it is integrated more into the Studiologic ecosystem. I also have a custom MIDI controller box I have been working on for years with the parts sitting in the attic ;^) but I think this is another area we will see expand in the future as it becomes easier to create our own home-brewed devices.

    All the best on your journey.


  • I have a Roland Fantom 8 - good keyboard but a bit overkill. I hardly ever use any of the synth/workstation functions so mainly use it as a very expensive MIDI keyboard. Nice to play though. Key for me is it is pretty intuitive to use and set Midi CC to various knobs, pedals, faders and thingymabobs (eg faders can easily be switched from pan/level function to two banks of 8 user defined functions which can be edited from the touch screen display).

    however, I’m not a professional user - so I’m probably not the best person to offer advice.

  • As others have noted there doesn't seem to be a single keyboard that has both an excellent simulated piano escapement mechanism for piano performance and all the features you might want in a MIDI controller. My studio is set up such that I have a workstation position, i.e., the DAW monitor, main monitor speakers, MIDI keyboard controller (NI Kontrol S49) and a, just added, Korg nanoKontrol2 and, at a right angle, a performance keyboard position with a Korg Kronos X (88-key) and monitor speakers. The Kontrol S49 is rather disappointing as a do-it-all MIDI controller, having neither faders or drum pads. Something like an Akai MPK49 is really more general purpose. In theory, the Kronos would make a pretty good MIDI controller, it has sliders and knobs galore that can be programmed to sent MIDI CC's data, yet it also does not have any pads. I do have a Roland PAD-80 MIDI Pad Controller but it is not as immediately convenient for playing as pads on a keyboard controller immediately in front of you. FYI, as a, now retired, product designer I created a YouTube video on the subject of DIY music studio furniture construction. I introduce concepts for both integrated cable management and sonic isolation of the studio DAW PC. Even if you are not planning on building anything yourself the video does show my studio layout (as it was prior to replacing an aforementioned Akai MPK49 with the NI Kontrol S49). See at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDZa09IURbA&t=1s The photo shows an old iteration of the studio with some different equipment but the furniture and layout are the same. Everything fits in a 7 x 8 foot space.

  • As others have mentioned, I've found it's preferable for me to have the sliders and knobs separate from the keyboard. With that said, I'm a huge fan of the M-Audio Hammer 88. The keys are weighted and feel pretty good. But it's also pretty slick. Just the keys, mod wheel, pitch bend, and 1 slider for volume. Therefore it takes up little real estate. I also like the red lights on the mod and pitch wheel. Small details. I've coupled mine with the nanoKontrol.

  • I use a Kronos2 88 -- it feels natural to me in my modest music room because I use a Kronos 73 for playing live -- like your Fantom (which is an outstanding piece of hardware) there are knobs, sliders, mod options, and switches galore, and I'm used to the hammer action keybed.

  • I use the good old Doepfer LMK4, wonderful weighted keyboard, and the faders, wheels and potis can be mapped to the needed CCs to control Spitfire libraries well. The way to program it, is outdated, but as you need to setup the mapping just once, it is manageable. I also love to have the keyboard and controller in one gear and not mess up my setup with another fader box here and a controller there. By the way you can see this one in quite a few Spitfire walktrhu videos.

  • Like others said before me; such a thing doesn't really exist. What's important is to find something that's the best for you.

    I have an old Casio Privia. It's quite rubbish when used as an electric piano but I'm very happy with it when programming midi. To me it's important to have 88 keys so I don't have to transpose octaves up/down all the time while playing... I want to have all the keys in front of me. I want the keys to be weighted and balanced to give that "real" piano feel.

    Since it doesn't come with any sliders I'm using the only piece of hardware I own with sliders; my Zoom R24. I think it works really well for controlling the dynamics and expression while playing and I've routed lots of the other buttons, knobs and sliders on it to carry out different functions in my DAW. It's not the most beautiful setup but it gets the job done and I'm happy with it.

    I think you need to decide on what is it you really like, and then go from there.

  • Kawai VPC1. Sumptuous piano action. And faders (the cheap mini Korg thing in my case) sit on top.

  • It’s not fully weighted, but I really like the Keystation 88. It is much smaller than a weighted keyboard, so easier to fit under the desk. And so find semi-weighted keys flex more easily across piano, strings, synths, drums, etc. without inducing finger / hand fatigue.

  • I use my old Kruzweil PC 3X and I really love it ..

    I prefer the weight of the touch on this keyboard ; I also have a korg kronos2 88 for live , and I love it, but in studio, it's different ..

    Like @Christian Rockström said, It's all about what you prefer ..

    Again, sorry for my english, I'm french .. ;)

  • Hello I really like the Touch of the Keylab 88 from arturia it s sure realistic tit s hard to setup every button with logic ... but it s perfect with Ableton !

    for the controller I try a lot of gear old live the BC2000 from Beringher ... to smallest midi interface but nothing realy easy to move use when you are on the road and their faders are to short to have pleasure to play with the expression or dynamic

    So maybe I will order the Monogram CC check the video of @Christian this thing seem FUN and right

  • I would say save up and get the best you can. You are only going to buy one keyboard so make it count. Like I tell people that ask me for advice about what guitar should they buy to learn on. Buy the best, don't buy cheap cos it will be harder to play. The more it costs (usually good brands) the easier it is to play,the easier it is to learn. I learnt that when i started on a £15 guitar. It was bloody hard to play (hence the term bleeding fingers lol)

    Really though, it's a piece of kit you are only gonna buy once so go a really good one.

    This is just my opinion and i am sure others will disagree but the choice is always going to be yours.

  • Ok so I have an update on what I said here about buying the best you can afford.

    Well I was round my brothers today and i was telling him that I want an 88 key hammer action midi controller. I told him that I was gonna save up for the Doepfer LMK4+ 88 GH grey.

    I have seen them going for £1,155.00.

    Now he said I should try a Yamaha as they are pretty good hammer action and he has a Yamaha P515 so I tried it out and the feel was great. I mentioned that Christian recommends the Yamaha P45 and my bro said it will have the same hammer action as his so it is definately worth getting one.

    So we watched some demo's on youtube of the P45 and although I won't be using the sounds on it, the piano and harpsichored do sound pretty good.

    I have made up my mind to get the P45 for two reasons. As much as I like the Doepfer, the P45 is around £340.00 so that's a big saving but the main reason is, when I was playing the P515, I was playing a few classical pieces I learnt on a piano when I was younger and i found it really hard to play them. Not because they where hard but simply because I have spent so many years playing synth keyboards, i have lost all the muscle I had built up playing a proper piano.

    So, like Christain mentioned, a Yamaha P45 is really pretty good for the price you pay for it so mine will be orderd tomorrow and then I can spend hours on it building up my muscles in my fingers, wrists and arms.

    I didn't realise how much you loose playing synth keybeds.

  • Clark
    edited June 9

    I use the Kawai VPC1 controller. Fantastic weighted action. In addition I use the Monogram controller for CC's (expression, dynamics, vibrato, etc). Finally I use the Korg nanoPad2 which is set up to handle all of the articulation changes. The combination of these 3 devices gives me everything I needed to make music.

  • So I got the Yamaha P-45 as Christian recommended and I love it. It is pretty chunky in height though and when I put it on my desk, my hands where nearly neck height lmao so I bought a heavy duty stand and put it in front of my desk but lol...

  • It is really a matter of what keyboard that you feel most comfortable with. I personally use my Korg Kronos X 88, mainly for Piano parts but, prefer a semi weighted keyboard for soloing and orchestral libraries as I feel I can better dose the velocity with it for such tasks and play faster. For this, I use the good old Korg M3 Expanded with 73 keys. Nothong forces you to use a midi controller keyboard. Synths often have great key beds so, you could certainly use such a keyboard and an additional midi control surface with faders to control expression and dynamics (e.g; Icon Pro Audio platform M+)

Sign In or Register to comment.

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!