Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

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Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by Phazer1980 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:00 pm

Hi

I am looking to buy a synth-action keyboard from around 1956-1989, preferably with keys like that of Roland Alpha Juno 2 and Roland JX-10, but cheaper, as the sound does not matter as much as the quality of the key; I have enough expensive synthesizers, I just need a keyboard from what I consider The Golden Age of Synth-ion Keyboards. poru

Right now my only keyboard is a Nord Lead 2X, and whereas the sound is IMO the best from a VA ever, the keyboard is way too light, flimsy and really lacks expressiveness, it is really hard to produce velocites in between min and max.

So which is the best keyboard,price considered, from this period? The sound of the thing is not that important as I have plenty of expensive hardware synths. I just need some really good keys to control them all.

Help me out?

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by desmond » Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:34 pm

My favourite synth action keyboard I've ever played was the second generation (ie DX7S or DX7II)...

It stands really nicely between the cheap feeling, light action keyboard, like say the CZ1, and the more expensive feeling, heavier and chunkier Wavestation keyboard, which I never really liked to play.

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by synthparts » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:03 pm

If you like the Juno-2 action just get one of those or a JX-8P, they're cheap... I also like the action and features like the arpeggiator, release velocity, and chord hold of the Oberheim XK controller...
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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by max badwan » Fri Feb 20, 2015 2:13 am

I loved the DX keyboards. I also don't mind the keys on a Korg DW 8000. And just another, the Kawai K3 - Kawai make great keyboards.

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by Big Gnome » Fri Feb 20, 2015 2:42 am

I'll definitely second the DX7, and the ESQ-1 is excellent as well.
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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Feb 20, 2015 7:08 am

It's a bit newer but the Kawai K5000 synths have fantastic keybeds and can be bought for around the same price as a DX7 and less than a JX8P.

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by max badwan » Fri Feb 20, 2015 7:33 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:It's a bit newer but the Kawai K5000 synths have fantastic keybeds and can be bought for around the same price as a DX7 and less than a JX8P.
I completely agree - the action on a K-5000 is one of the best.

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by synthparts » Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:24 am

max badwan wrote:
Stab Frenzy wrote:It's a bit newer but the Kawai K5000 synths have fantastic keybeds and can be bought for around the same price as a DX7 and less than a JX8P.
I completely agree - the action on a K-5000 is one of the best.
Yep and if you want that action in a 76-key master controller get a Roland A-70...
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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by Pro5 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 1:28 pm

For info - the keybed on the D-50 is exactly the same as the Alpha Juno 2 so another option if you want that keybed (which is one of my favourite actions).

I also like the JD-800 keybed (When it's not worn), and some of the Yamaha keybeds (used on many Yamahas and Korgs of the 80s/90s) but it depends what case they are in as some of them can sound a bit clunky (ie on the 'hollow' Korg M1)
I also don't mind the keys on a Korg DW 8000
:? shows how much taste/opinions differ. The DW-8000 had one of my least favourite keybeds of any synth I've owned! It's like a typewriter! :lol:

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by Pro5 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 1:31 pm

desmond wrote:My favourite synth action keyboard I've ever played was the second generation (ie DX7S or DX7II)...

It stands really nicely between the cheap feeling,..... the more expensive feeling, heavier and chunkier Wavestation keyboard, which I never really liked to play.
Wavestation and DX7 Mk2 (and M1/SY77 and many others) are the exact same keybed. But see above about why the casing can make a difference.

The keys are the same type, the keybeds are the same Yamaha unit. Have stripped many Korgs/Yamahas.

However I do agree the DX7s/MK2s feel very nice...

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by max badwan » Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:44 pm

Pro5 wrote::? shows how much taste/opinions differ. The DW-8000 had one of my least favourite keybeds of any synth I've owned! It's like a typewriter! :lol:
Yeah, they are clackey, I wouldn't want one in a small studio, but live/jamming, it's a nice, quick action. I like Korg joysticks, as well.

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by desmond » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:54 pm

Pro5 wrote:and some of the Yamaha keybeds (used on many Yamahas and Korgs of the 80s/90s) but it depends what case they are in as some of them can sound a bit clunky (ie on the 'hollow' Korg M1)
Yup - my Wavestation is like this.
Pro5 wrote:
desmond wrote:My favourite synth action keyboard I've ever played was the second generation (ie DX7S or DX7II)...

It stands really nicely between the cheap feeling,..... the more expensive feeling, heavier and chunkier Wavestation keyboard, which I never really liked to play.
Wavestation and DX7 Mk2 (and M1/SY77 and many others) are the exact same keybed. But see above about why the casing can make a difference.

The keys are the same type, the keybeds are the same Yamaha unit. Have stripped many Korgs/Yamahas.

However I do agree the DX7s/MK2s feel very nice...
Yes, when discussing keybeds this info is always mentioned, and I've always found it difficult to believe because of my direct experience. By having had the DX7S and Wavestation for many years, side by side, and played them both (though I no longer have the DX7S these days), I can say that the keybeds do not play, feel, sound, or perform anything like each other.

The DX7S was smooth, the keys responded nicely and evenly, the key noise was low and it just felt outright nice to play. The Wavestation instead has thumpier, clunkier keys, the feel is different, it's much more noisy and the key springback also is a noticeably loud. IIRC the Wavestation has heavier aftertouch as well - ie, it needed more pressure, but that's difficult to quantify now just from memory.

I find it hard to believe that it's the exact same construction. Obviously, the case and the keybed mounting will make a difference to for example, how acoustically noisy the keys are - but more than this, the keys just feel *very* different. I've never had a satisfactory explanation for this, really, so it's always bugged me a bit. Other than the acoustic noise, I can't understand how the experience is so different if it's the exact same keybed unit being used.

Edit: Certainly looks the same keybed, according to the service manuals (Korg WS is described as "FS-61" keybed, the DX7II is described as "FS-C61"). If there is anyway to make the WS keyboard less WS-like and lumpy and more DX7II like and delightful, I'd certainly be interested... heh

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by max badwan » Sat Feb 21, 2015 7:38 pm

The Ensoniq SQ 80 and the EPS both have good keyboards, with poly AT - SQ's are reasonably hard to find, but the EPS could be a good, cheap option.

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by desmond » Sat Feb 21, 2015 7:59 pm

max badwan wrote:The Ensoniq SQ 80 and the EPS both have good keyboards, with poly AT - SQ's are reasonably hard to find, but the EPS could be a good, cheap option.
I thought these were widely known to have *awful* keyboards, with very cheap aftertouch sensors..?

I've never played one, but I always remember the early Ensoniqs as being picked out for having particularly bad keyboards...

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by max badwan » Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:56 pm

desmond wrote:I thought these were widely known to have *awful* keyboards, with very cheap aftertouch sensors..?

I've never played one, but I always remember the early Ensoniqs as being picked out for having particularly bad keyboards...
They do have that "clackey" action, not unlike the DW, but I never experienced any problems with the SQ, EPS or the VFX. I think the problems were with the first gen Mirages, but I could be wrong.

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