MIDI Controller: Here’s an easy to follow guide on controllers, especially the keyboard ones, and how it really helps you in your music production endeavors. You have a choice of 61 key, 88 key, compact keyboard, non keyboard, and pedal controllers.
Do you intend to create music on your computer? If you are going to use a software sequencer for all your recordings, a controller keyboard will be just about fine.
A MIDI Controller is a keyboard which does not have any sound of its own, but it can send MIDI messages.
If you use a software sequencer for all your recordings, you really do not need an electronic keyboard with all its sounds, effects and accompaniments.
You just need a midi keyboard which can send out MIDI messages and this is exactly what a controller keyboard does.
Controller keyboards tend to be cheaper and you get them in smaller sizes as well.
Computer Based Sequencer
Using MIDI you can turn your computer into a recording studio. You need a software sequencer like Sonar, Cubase, Reason, etc. and you need to connect your musical keyboard to your computer.
The MIDI IN/OUT of your keyboard will need to be connected to the MIDI OUT/IN of your computer’s soundcard.
A sequencer is something on which you record your performance track by track and play it back.
It can be either software or hardware. But why should you use a PC based sequencer?
Keyboard Based Sequencer
Almost all the keyboards contain a built-in sequencer and you can use that to record your performance.
The limitation of this approach is:
But if you already have a keyboard and you want to make use of it, you can connect it to a PC through MIDI and use a software sequencer for your recording.
Why MIDI Controller Keyboards?
While recording on a software sequencer, you will not be recording the sounds from your electronic keyboard.
The sound will be generated within the PC using softwares called soft synths and VST’s, placed inside the software sequencer.
You will just trigger them using your keyboard to produce the sound. The quality of the sound in this case will be determined by the soft synths and VST’s that you have installed in your PC.
Now, since the sound is not produced by the keyboard, you can go in for a MIDI Controller Keyboard which is not only cheaper
but also comes in smaller sizes.
You can easily dump your laptop, soundcard and MIDI controller keyboard in a bag and carry your recording studio along with you.
Modern MIDI Controllers
The controller keyboards nowadays are quite powerful and are capable of doing a lot of things. Here are some of the features that you can expect on these midi controllers.
Choice of Keys
Not only are these available in various number of keys, you also have the option to choose between the normal synth keys, semi-weighted, or weighted keys.
These are designed to give you complete control over your music making software.
Most leading brands have worked with some of the most popular DAWs to ensure that the knobs, faders and buttons can control all the things that you need to control in the software (such as your plug-in instruments and FX).
These come with a mapping software program which allows you to map the various faders, knobs and buttons of the keyboard to the various functions within the sequencer software.
Massive LCD screen
One you start working with several features, it can get a bit confusing as to what knob is controlling what feature. This is where a keyboard with a big LCD screen can really help.
Controllers with big display screens show you instantly what each control is assigned to. The screen shows what knob is assigned to what part of the software so you don’t have to look at the software GUI for this.