• Wish list
  • be
    Choose your store
    All countries
  • 0

Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Controller Keyboards

4. Control Features

Many master keyboards allow the player to do a great deal more than simply play notes. MIDI connections can also carry a number of different control signals which are used to manipulate sounds in a variety of ways, and also to affect the programming of sound modules and other devices. Let’s take a look at the most important types of controller data along with the keyboard features that are usually associated with them:

Velocity

After pitch, the most important piece of data carried as part of every MIDI note instruction is its ‘velocity’. This tells the instrument receiving the data how hard each note has been struck. This is vital to the realism of most sampled acoustic sounds such as piano, and to the expressive possibilities of many synth sounds. Where it is not relevant, the instruction is simply ignored – for example, a realistic organ sound does not respond to velocity data. In the past, the cheapest keyboards were not velocity sensitive at all, so velocity sensitivity was advertised as a selling point. Very few keyboards lack velocity today, so the fact is often not even mentioned.

Many master keyboards feature a number of selectable ‘velocity curves’. These affect the relationship between the physical force with which a note is played, and the number used to represent it in data. In simple terms, this makes a sound more or less responsive to physical performance dynamics.

‘Velocity’ refers by default to ‘note-on’ velocity – the force with which a key is pressed. Its logical counterpart is ‘note-off’ velocity – the speed at which it is released. Not all keyboards implement this instruction, and most sounds do not respond to it.

Pitch Bend

This controller allows notes to be bent up or down in pitch as they sound, and is usually controlled by a pitch wheel placed directly to the left of the keyboard, as pitch bend is generally only appropriate to monophonic lines. The wheel usually springs back to its centre position (no bend) when released. The actual pitch range depends on the sound in use (often +/- one semitone, one tone or one octave).

Modulation

The modulation or ‘mod’ wheel is usually found next to the pitch wheel and is commonly physically identical, except that it generally retains its position when released. ‘Modulation’ is a somewhat vague term in this context - the mod wheel usually adds some form of modulation effect such as vibrato or tremolo, but can also be used to control other parameters such as filter cut-off frequency and the balance between discrete components within a sound.

Aftertouch (Pressure)

This controller allows the player to affect some aspect of the note while they key is pressed, usually vibrato or tremolo, allowing the player much freer control of these techniques than by using the mod wheel. By continuously varying finger pressure, expression is literally ‘squeezed’ from the note in a manner similar to that used when playing a stringed instrument with vibrato.

Unless otherwise stated, this is almost always monophonic aftertouch - pressure applied to any key affects all notes being played. Polyphonic aftertouch is relatively rare and is often used as a yardstick by which the most advanced keyboards are marketed. Polyphonic aftertouch allows individual keys to send their own independent aftertouch data, however this is ignored by most MIDI instruments.

Pedals

Most controller keyboards have a sustain pedal connection. Pressing the pedal results in a MIDI sustain message, causing notes to sustain after keys have been released. This is important for realistic piano sounds, but may also be used to create crescendo effects as the number of sounding voices increases.

More advanced master keyboards usually incorporate a number of other pedal connections including the other two grand piano pedals (una corda/damper and sostenuto), as well as volume pedals and switch pedals which may be used for various functions including patch/program change (see below).

Control Knobs

Many sound modules and software instruments respond to a range of MIDI controllers beyond simple pitch bend and modulation. These controllers include filter and envelope parameters, oscillator frequencies, balance between components within a sound, and just about anything else you can think of. Dedicated controller hardware does exist, but many master keyboards also include a dozen or more knobs and sliders for this purpose.

Program/Bank Change/Presets

Most MIDI sound sources respond to program/bank change messages. This allows sounds to be changed remotely, either directly by number or via up/down messages. More advanced implementations of this idea allow the controller to store presets so that the sounds required for a particular gig can be easily accessed in order, even though they may not have adjacent program numbers on the sound module, or indeed come from completely separate modules.

Split/Zone Functions

Most controller keyboards have a simple split function, allowing the top and bottom halves of the keyboard to send their data on separate MIDI channels, for example to allow playing strings with the right hand and piano with the left. ‘Zones’ offer a more sophisticated version of this idea - typically all zones may be defined independently. For example, Zone 1 may be made to cover the entire keyboard sending on Channel 1, while Zone 2 adds strings above middle C on Channel 2, and Zone 3 is assigned to only one note and triggers a gong sound on Channel 3 – intoxicating power!

Octave/Transpose

The transpose function allows the player to transpose the note data sent by a given number of semitones (very useful when a singer asks you to ‘take it up a third’). Octave buttons simply transpose the range in steps of one octave. This permits access to notes beyond the keyboard’s physical range, and is particularly useful on smaller keyboards.

Your Contact People
Phone: +49-9546-9223-30
FAX: +49-9546-922328
Question!
Question! Give the right answer and win 1x Behringer CMD Studio 4a worth 190 €.
Which word is missing? ´Welcome to heaven, here is your _______ ; welcome to hell, here is your accordion.´
Conditions of participation
Terms and Conditions for participation
in online competitions

Note: Participation in an online competition runs independently from any purchase at Thomann GmbH. The following Competition Rules apply when participating in any online competition run by Musikhaus Thomann:

  1. Competition

    1. The competitions are organised by Thomann GmbH, CEO: Hans Thomann, Hans-Thomann-Straße 1, 96138 Burgebrach, Germany.
  2. Participation

    1. Competitions are only open to persons of full age.
    2. To take part in the competition you must answer all questions correctly, fill in the registration form and submit your entry to Thomann GmbH by pressing the "send" button.
      By pressing the "send" button the participant accepts the aforementioned terms and conditions.
    3. The participant is responsible for entering their email and/or postal address correctly. Entries to the competition will be logged electronically.
  3. Qualifying Entrants

    1. Staff of Thomann GmbH and any cooperation partners and their dependants are excluded from participation.
    2. Should these conditions of participation be violated, especially by using illegitimate means, Thomann GmbH reserves the right to exclude persons from the competition. In case of such violations prizes can be withdrawn and claimed back subsequently.
  4. Announcing the winner

    1. The winners will be notified by Thomann GmbH by email or in writing and their names may be published on the homepage www.thomann.de. The winner accepts this form of publication explicitly.
      Should for whatever reason the winner not claim their prize, then a new winner will be drawn.
    2. The prize presented to the winner may not be identical to the item description. There can be deviances regarding the model, colour etc.
    3. The merchandise prizes will be sent by Thomann GmbH or by one of its contracting delivery companies, per freight forwarder, courier or postal service to the postal address indicated by the winner.

      The delivery is free of charge. Only extra transport costs and customs/duties must be covered by the winner. In the case that the delivery has to be made through a freight forwarding company the freight forwarding company will contact the winner to arrange delivery timings.
    4. An exchange, cash alternative or replacement prize is not possible.
    5. The claim to the prize or replacement of the prize cannot be assigned to a third party.
  5. Data protection

    1. The participant accepts explicitly that Thomann GmbH saves all necessary data for the duration of the competition and forwards them exclusively for purposes related to the winning process to the respective cooperation partner, who is also permitted to save the personal data only for the duration of the competition. The participant is free to withdraw his entry at any time. Please direct the withdrawal to:

      Thomann GmbH
      to the data protection officer
      Hans-Thomann-Straße 1
      96138 Burgebrach, Germany
    2. Thomann GmbH is obliged to consider the regulations for data protection according to the Federal Data Protection Law (BDSG) valid at the conclusion of the competition. In this context the general data protection regulations under notes regarding data protection should be noted.
  6. Liability

    1. Thomann GmbH will be released from any obligations by handing out the prize.
    2. Thomann GmbH is not liable for the insolvency of a cooperation partner and the resulting consequences for the implementation and processing of the competition.
  7. Other

    1. Legal proceedings are barred.
    2. The law of the Federal Republic of Germany applies exclusively.
One of our Fans
Many thanks for your incredible customer service and product!
dexxx5@xxxx.com, 25.07.2017

Controller Keyboards overview

Elektron Digitakt Millenium ST-95 Harley Benton HB-40B 2017 Harley Benton CST-24T Ocean Flame Vox Adio Air GT Rockboard LT XL Power Bank Denon DN-300C MKII ADJ Pro Event Table tc electronic M100 Presonus Studio 26 Novation Circuit Mono Station Vox AC2 Rhythm Bass
(4)
Recommended
Elektron Digitakt

Digital Drum Machine 8 Internal audio tracks, 8 Dedicated MIDI tracks, 1 Multimode filter per audio track, 1 Assignable LFO per track, Delay and Reverb send effects, Built-in sequencer, Support for sampling, OLED display, 64 MB Sample memory, 1...

to the product
730 €
(1)
Recommended
Millenium ST-95

Standing Aid Ideal for keyboardists, guitarists and DJs, Seat height, backrest and footrests individually adjustable, Seat upholstery and backrest with cover, Seat height adjustable from 545 - 965 mm, Padded seat, Weight: 6 kg, Material: Steel, Colour: Black, Suitable...

to the product
79 €
Recommended
Harley Benton HB-40B 2017

Harley Benton HB-40B 2017, compact electric bass combo amplifier, 40 watt, 10" custom voiced speaker, TEC tube-emulating circuit, instrument input, gain control, integrated compressor with LED indicator, 3-band equalizer (bass, parametric middle, treble), volume control, headphone output, aux-input for play-along...

to the product
98 €
Recommended
Harley Benton CST-24T Ocean Flame

Electric Guitar Deluxe series, Body: Mahogany, Top: Flamed maple, Set-in neck: Mahogany, Fretboard: Roseacer, 24 frets, Pearloid Dot fretboard inlays, Scale: 635 mm, Nut width: 42 mm, Pickups: 2 Wilkinson WHHB Alnico Open humbuckers, 1 Volume control, 1 Tone...

to the product
222 €
(5)
Recommended
Vox Adio Air GT

Modelling Electric Guitar Combo Power: 50 W, Equipped with: 2x 3"speakers for a wide stereo sound, Bluetooth allows wireless playback of music and remote control via app, VET Modelling technology for authentic amp sounds, Up to 23 amplifier models,...

to the product
299 €
Recommended
Rockboard LT XL Power Bank

Mobile power supply for effects pedals 3 High-capacity lithium-ion batteries, Battery capacity: 6600 mAh, Can still be used during a recharge, Can also be used for charging smartphones and other USB devices, On / Off switch, 2x 2.1 x...

to the product
48 €
Recommended
Denon DN-300C MKII

Denon DN-300C MK II, CD/USB Player, Slot-In CD - Drive, USB Audio Player, USB plays MP3 audio file formats, 3,5 mm Jack Input, Display, symmetric XLR Output, stereo RCA Output, adjustable speed ±15%, Random, Repeat and Power-on-Play, IR Remote, 10-key...

to the product
239 €
Recommended
ADJ Pro Event Table

ADJ Pro Event Table, Compact and collapsible, Lightweight, around 18 kg, Functional and professional looking, table height: 880mm, dimensions table 1200x580mm; Dimensions (LxWxH): 50” x 24” x 45.5” / 1270 x 610 x 1155 mm, Dimensions for own Logo (WxH):...

to the product
325 €
Recommended
tc electronic M100

tc electronic M100; Stereo Multi-Effects Processor; 16 TC-Effects including reverb, delay, chorus, flanger, phaser, rotary speaker, pitch shifter and multi-effects; Edit and Tap/Select function; 24-bit AD/DA converters; Stereo Input Level control with LED level indication; Mix Balance and Output Level...

to the product
111 €
Recommended
Presonus Studio 26

USB audio interface 2 x 4 USB 2.0 audio interface with 192 KHz, 2 Combo inputs: Mic/Line/Inst (XLR/jack), Jack inputs switchable from "Inst" (high impedance) to "Line", 2 Low-noise XMAX-L microphone preamplifiers, 48 V phantom power can be connected,...

to the product
199 €
Recommended
Novation Circuit Mono Station

Paraphonic Analogue Synthesizer 2 Oscillators with individual control of sync and tuning parameters, Filter can be used as high, low or bandpass filters with 12 or 24 dB, Three distortion modes, Monophone and paraphone modes with individual glide control,...

to the product
520 €
Recommended
Vox AC2 Rhythm Bass

Vox AC2 Rhythm Bass, Basscombo, 2x3" Speaker, 2 Watt, 5 effects, 3 selectable sounds normal flat and scoop, inputs for bassguitar and aux in, headphone output, 81 rhythm patterns, tempo 40-240 BPM, power supply via 6 AA batteries (alkaline or...

to the product
69 €
Feedback Found an error or want to give us feedback about this page?

We're looking forward to hearing from you and aim to solve any problems as soon as we can.

Please leave a comment. Please enter your e-mail address.