Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by gslug » Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:42 am

I think Ensoniq changed the keybed with the change from steel to plastic chassis. The EPS 16 Plus keyboard action is great and it uses Hall Effect sensors rather than mechanical contacts, so should remain reliable pretty much indefinitely.

The DX7 was also mentioned. This also has a nice if somewhat noisy action. One thing to bear in mind is that on the original Mk. 1 DX7 the velocity only goes up to 100 instead of 127.

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by Jabberwalky » Tue Feb 24, 2015 11:36 pm

I'm a fan of the Korg Ds8, which may be the same as the Dw8k, not sure. The Eps16+ is pretty good, on par with the Dx7mk1. The Sq80 was a horrid clacky mess.

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by desmond » Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:50 am

Jabberwalky wrote:The Sq80 was a horrid clacky mess.
Yeah, that's my recollection of the Ensoniqs of that era.

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by Pro5 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:51 pm

desmond wrote:
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.

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

I can 100% assure you it is EXACTLY the same keybed. Even in the MK1 DX7. I've dismantled, serviced and SOLD many of these keybed systems, keys and assorted parts from all of the mentioned synths over the years - they are all the same keybed. All of them!

The only difference is the casing and additional felt (in the synth itself in some cases like the top strip felt on the MK1 DX7's top that swings open). :)

The other minor difference is that on later synths (not M1 but possibly anything that followed) Yamaha changed the key design very slightly to remove a 'guide tab' that slotted in to the keybed frame when a key was depressed - this was deemed pointless it seemed and removed on later keys (though the keys will fit if you snap that tab off). This could also be a factor? But not a major one.

As for how to change it - sorry that's down to case design. They all mount with the same 4 screws into the end caps - so it's partially the end cap design 'fault' and partially how acoustically designed, or 'packed in' the synth is. In the DX7's they appear to have a little less free space inside and have various circuit boards and Power board attached to the keybed frame adding some strength, and while the M1 etc also do this - the boards are, from memory, larger - so there's more of a hollow case thing going on as the space from the rear of the casing to where the keybed is connected is a little longer. The Korgs also seem to have more "boomy" interiors with slightly over-sized casing which amplifies the problem.

If you were really desperate you could attempt to add some cushioning felt along the edge of the casing where it meets the keybed (the rear of the keys) ala DX7 mk1, but it may not look pretty :)

And re-greasing the keys can help of course, it cuts down on noise and makes them a bit smoother. They could all do with a re-grease after so many years!

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by desmond » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:54 pm

Thanks - I'm not doubting you :) just relaying my experiences.

I loved playing the keyboard on the DX7S, whereas I find the WS keyboard lumpy, thunky and far less satisfying - and certainly while the acoustic noise does make a difference, it's really the feel of the keys which is the main difference, it's far harder for me to play the WS keyboard sensitively.

Weird...

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by DesolationBlvd » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:14 pm

Pro5 wrote:If you were really desperate you could attempt to add some cushioning felt along the edge of the casing where it meets the keybed (the rear of the keys) ala DX7 mk1, but it may not look pretty :)
My DX7 (mk1) feels really clunky. Maybe the felt is worn out?
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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by madtheory » Wed Apr 22, 2015 3:52 pm

So from what Pro5 is saying, the WS may need a regrease.

I wonder would it help to add some acoustically absorbent material inside synths like the M1? To dampen down the noise from the casing.

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by rhino » Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:25 pm

It was a dinosaur, but I loved the key-feel of the old Peavey DPM-8 (there was a MIDI-out only controler labled CMT(?))
Heavy weighted, but no hammers. Felt smooth and precise - like the dash controls on a fine classic car.
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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by fh991586 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:13 pm

I love the feel of the keybed from the D-50 (my master kb), and could well do with the JX-3P or the Juno 106. The Korg Poly61M was nice too, but the original DX-7 was not good for me; because of this, I leave it slanted on the side of my triple A-type keyboard rack to use as a module.
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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by HideawayStudio » Sun Jul 26, 2015 7:16 pm

Unweighted:

As several others have mentioned, but also from the perspective of a synth engineer, my personal favorite from the point of view of playability/weight, sheer longevity/robustness and long term stability has to be the bullet-proof key action used in the later Yamaha DX7, SY77 et al. I find it is quiet, beautifully balanced, consistent and just perfect for very gentle/emotive playing. I've used/abused my SY77 as a mother keyboard in the studio for over 20 years now and the key action feels just as good as it did when it was new!

The key action used in so many vintage Korgs such as the PS-3100, PE-1000, Sigma, Delta, MS-20, Micro-Preset & LP-10 is equally bullet proof (bar the occasional broken key but is possibly excused by the fact they are so easy to replace!) but feels clunky and sounds utterly horrible in comparison.

Semi-Weighted:

The finest semi-weighted key action I've ever encountered on a synth has to be the wooden key and lead weight laden key bed from the Rhodes Chroma which just begs to be played from the heart - a really lovely thing under the fingers.

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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by shaft9000 » Sun Jul 26, 2015 10:44 pm

typically Yamaha, but it can vary from model to model with any company.
and is also a matter of preference. for some synths, an aftertouch bed may offer extended modulation option, but otoh it can feel like mush
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Re: Best Syth-Action Keys On Older Synths

Post by Jabberwalky » Wed Jul 29, 2015 7:44 pm

The most expressive, and balanced feeling Aftertouch I've played is the Dx7 Mk1. It's just right for my playing.

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