Buy “M-Audio Keystation 88ES 88-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with Semi-Weighted Keys (OLD MODEL) Musical Instruments” Online
It’s unfortunate that so many negative reviews on this controller, are by folks who didn’t know what they were buying. It is easy to get confused, and there are even some products which overblow advertised functionality (this isn’t one of them), but some research on your part, and/or calls to your local Guitar Center, or other Pro Audio stores can get you some answers. Reading reviews on here can also help quite a bit. Please, do not be embarrassed to admit that you might need some help!1) It is NOT a standalone keyboard, it is a MIDI controller (see category and title). It has NO internal voices or speakers and must be hooked up to a computer/iPad/etc. to interface with a music program to make any sound. Basically, It’s a bunch of switches. 2) Quite often there is no power supply, because it is a USB-powered keyboard (draws power from computer/iPad/etc. ) You can get a power supply to run it via MIDI cable, or any generic USB cable will work too. No, it does not need to be expensive. 3) No, it is NOT built to survive elephant stampedes, or busy touring musicians. It is for home use, but if you’re gentle enough, you could probably gig with it. I certainly would not toss it in an equipment van without a hard-shell road case. YES, you CAN buy more expensive/responsive/better MIDI controllers. But, for the price, it is a GREAT controller which can’t be beat. 4) Hours to download software to make it work? Really? What software are you using? Did you verify the requirements? Basically, MIDI and USB are universal, and the controller should be able to plug and play immediately, without any downloads. 5) Delays (latency) from pressing keys to hearing a sound is most likely in your computer, but you can always call your local Guitar Center or Pro Audio store for help. 6) "Will break down"? I’ve had mine for some time now and have had NO issues. (knock on wood)My take: It hooked up and played immediately, it has great expression and I love the feel. Combine it with EZ Keys Grand Piano and you have a Steinway D. I use Reaper on my PC, and Logic Pro & Reaper on my mac. I do not regret buying this, and recommend it to everyone. Check it out!
If you appreciate the full range of a piano keyboard in a lightweight package, the 88-note Keystation 88es is for you. You get great-feeling, semi-weighted action that’s velocity-sensitive, to convey all the nuances of your playing to your computer and most popular music education and studio software. The pitch and modulation wheels plus slider and buttons make it a great controller for playing and programming synths, samplers, drum sounds and more. At just 22 lbs., the Keystation 88es is equally at home on stage and in the studio. Class compliancy with Windows XP, Vista (32 bit), and Mac OS X ensures easy plug-and-play setup. It’s even bus-powered, so one simple USB cable is the only connection you need.
M-Audio Keystation 88ES 88-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with Semi-Weighted Keys (OLD MODEL) Review
As my son has continued to learn piano, he has graduate from a 49 key M-Audio Keystation to an 88 key M-Audio keystation, and now we recently have a small upright piano. Here is the beauty about learning with the M-Audio products if you are a parent of children wanting to learn piano. Headphone. Yes you must have a computer, but the combination of GarageBand, Tim, a Macintosh computer and headphones will go a long way in helping you or your family members learn piano. Pros:- Can practice essentially in silence- Works flawlessly with Garageband and Logic- Full Sized, semi-weighted keysCons:- Only semi weighted keys, at some point you need to graduate to a fully weighted key or a piano- No standard sustain pedal -Read Reviews-
88 velocity-sensitive, semi-weighted keysPitch bend and modulation wheels
Advanced function button for programming
Sustain and expression pedal inputs
Assignable data up/down buttons
Built-in USB MIDI interfaceMIDI out jack routes MIDI signals from keyboard or computer to external devices
Powered via USB or 9V DC adapter (sold separately)Mac OS X and Windows XP class compliant
I’m a bit mixed on whether I should give this three or four stars. I’ve had it since June 2014 (currently January 2015) and some of the wear is starting to show up. Specifically, while I don’t bang down hard on it (I’ll explain why in a second) some of the keys and springs that make it ‘semi-weighted’ are starting to squeak. Since I play with a headset (Tritton AX Pro) I can’t hear it and forget it’s even there. However, when playing over speakers it can be noticeable and annoying. The main issue that hasn’t gone away though, is that, as some others have noted, the black keys (sharp or flat, depending on your perspective/philosophical bent) really seem more sensitive than the white keys. Also, while it’s generally fine when playing lighter, when playing a bit harder the sensitivity difference is greatly magnified and striking a black key with the same force and a white key will cause a strong peak that stands way out and sounds bad. I’ve managed to make it acceptable by applying compression to the midi input before it goes to the DAW’s instruments. Lastly, I know this is an issue with the board as I’ve switched back and forth between this and an analog upright piano ruling out my playing style. Also, you can easily check it just by dropping a small, cushioned weight on each key checking the input midi level. Now for the pro:While the above makes me want to give this a low rating, this did come bundled with Live 8 Lite which, when registered, included a free copy of Live Lite 9. I’m not that big a fan of 9 but have been using 8. It has a decent amount of effects available (nothing too substantial though) and it can apply the above mentioned compression to the midi input that helps mitigates the sensitivity issues. Also, though the keys are spring loaded the springs are stiffer making the keys firm. This may not be what you want but I prefer this over light-touch synth keys and it also helps strengthen your fingers for a real piano or hammer weighted keys. After getting used to this board I found it very easy to play a real piano with no difficulty, though the real keys feel SO much better. In short, it does have some big flaws but, frankly, for $200 I suppose it’s not that bad compared to what else is available. If you’re just learning and are technologically savvy enough to know/figure out how to setup and use a DAW (it’s not that complicated) then this is a decent board. If you’re looking for a professional tool, you might considering investing in a more professional (and expensive) tool or at least getting this from somewhere you can return it no-questions-asked for a full refund. UPDATE:I have to drop this down to 3 stars because the spiking is just too annoying. As I said above, it seems to have an exponential velocity curve practically forbidding ‘getting into it’ or otherwise playing anything but quiet or robotically. This may be fine for some who just need to record a bit but you can’t really have too much fun with it. This could also just be my unit in particular but I doubt that given others’ experiences. Frankly, I wish I saved up for a better board that at least had a static linear velocity curve if not adjustable. Oh, and as I’ve had with other M-Audio hardware in the past the drivers reliably cause a Windows bluescreen by not properly handling going into sleep state when the hardware is in use (i.e. the board is on and the DAW is using it). It’s not a big deal but if you forget to close the DAW before sleeping the system it will bluescreen. UPDATE 2:I have to bump this back up to 4 stars. Why? Apparently Live 8 was exaggerating the velocity curve making slightly harder hits sound significantly louder. As a CSE professional I’m ashamed I hadn’t tried a bit broader testing before but after trying another DAW and Live 9 it plays significantly better. However, there is still a slight sensitivity difference between the black and white keys and the squeaking is still present. All in all, my view has improved quite a bit but this board is still not perfect. I think 4 stars is fair, though.