Roland A-800 Pro MIDI Keyboard Controller - 61x velocity sensitive keys, 45x assignable controls (knobs, sliders, buttons, transport & more), 8x dynamic pads for finger drumming & MIDI triggering, sure-grip pitch bend/modulation stick, expand playability with sustain & expression pedals (available separately), USB bus powered (no AC adaptor required), works with any DAW. Dimensions: 1002 x 251 x 91mm. Weight: 4.5kg
Before buying this I bought a Panorama P6 (see my review on here) as I thought it was exactly what I needed to integrate with my DAW (Logic), but more importantly I was looking for a controller keyboard with a great feel as I'd been using an old M-Audio Keystation 61es for years and it just didn't feel great to my fingers.
Anyway, long story short, the P6 had fantastic action - for part of the keyboard - and varying qualities through the other parts of the key bed. This on the other hand has that reliable Roland keybed which just feels great. It feels like a controller keyboard should feel to me - not like a piano, and not trying to be like a piano, just well made.
The fact that the locator buttons and sliders integrate seamlessly into Logic is another plus, although I did like the fact that the P6 had infinite encoders instead of physical potentiometers like the A-800 has - made tweaking parameters easier. However, that's not a big problem for me as I'm more old-skool in my approach to recording - preferring to record live instruments in the main rather than endlessly tweaking synth parameters etc.
The velocity curves are great and the keys are really responsive. Personally I'm not a fan of the Roland "joystick" control when it comes to modulation, but as you can assign modulation to one of the other knobs it's not a problem, and actually you get the best of both worlds because I do actually prefer Roland's joystick control when it comes to pitch bend.
So, if you're looking for a controller keyboard with a great synth-like keybed that's made really well then you can't really go wrong with the A-800. It's a pleasure, and inspirational to play.
Overall I was happy about this keyboard. Used it in gigs, though I figured out that MIDI-keyboard is not the best option for gigs, as it's not as reliable as a synthesizer: too many connections, software should be stable, etc. That's why I sold it and I'm buying a synthesizer (Roland Juno-Di).
Pros for this keyboard: - very lightweight - heavy duty - good keys (although of course I'd prefer weighted ones, but I understand it's totally impossible within this price and weight)
Cons: - pads sensitivity is strange - mod/pitch joystick: I'm used to separate wheels, which seem to be much more appropriate for these purposes - maybe it's specific to me or it's common to all MIDI-keyboards, but I didn't find a good way to set up quickly-switchable programs on this keyboard, i.e. I used 8 software instruments and I had to use pads to switch between them quickly. Another option would be to use sequencer control buttons for that, but that's a little bit confusing. Also, I always wanted each fader to have a on/off button, but this keyboard doesn't have this feature.
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