Monday, January 28, 2019

Classic Keyboards Are Being Dominated By MIDI Keyboards | Music Think Tank

Remember the days where the Nord keyboards ran the world when it come to touring musicians? Boy has that changed and changed pretty quickly. I started touring in a synth heavy band about 4 years ago and it has been a fun journey watching the keyboard world slowly change. I want to talk about the main reasons why we’re seeing less classic keyboards in touring musicians arsenals as well as touch on the new bluetooth MIDI controllers.

I believe the main reason we are seeing less classic keyboards live is because musicians can spend far less money and have far more options with a MIDI controller. Classic keyboards are often times heavy, bulky in the trailer, and somewhat limited. This is why you see things like crazy 3 tier keyboard stands and bands that have 4-5 different keyboards on stage. 

I have done 13 tours now as a synth player in a band and I would say 90 percent of the bands we have toured with are running strictly MIDI controllers live. Now, I do own a Roland Fantom FA-08 and I absolutely love it for live performance. However, the kicker is, I use it as a MIDI controller live. I love the keys on Roland keyboards and I also love the pads on the Fantom. The pads are just like normal MIDI controllers and there are 16 of them, meaning I can fully program MIDI functions to my keyboards 16 different pads.

The bluetooth MIDI controller is a recent invention in the keyboard world and I believe it is going to become crazy popular. There aren’t a ton of options yet and most of the options are smaller MIDI keyboards, however, everyone knows it’s a matter of time before every MIDI controller is bluetooth. Everytime I talk with other keyboardists we always have that same conversation about MIDI and we are surprised that it’s not all bluetooth already. 

Why Is The Bluetooth MIDI Controller So Exciting?

To answer this I am going to break it down into a few different sections as there are a lot of different things to cover here. Simply put, bluetooth MIDI controllers make life for the touring musician and the music producer easier.

Using Wireless MIDI Controllers Live

There is a huge advantage to using wireless controllers live. They eliminate the USB cable that you have to run across stage to your MIDI controller from your laptop. This was always annoying to me as I was constantly breaking USB cables throughout tours. I was always paranoid that my cable would get stepped on or ripped from the MIDI out during a performance.

This was one of the more frustrating things for me when playing live. One day your cable works great and the next day you start having connection problems and don’t have the time to fix it before your show.

I don’t need to worry about this and I have learned this first-hand as I use a wireless keytar live. I use the Alesis Vortex and it blows me away that I can literally run around the entire stage and be up to 400 feet away from my laptop while using it. The freedom that bluetooth controllers give musicians is so great. If more people knew about this, more people would be using the technology.

It is fairly simple to use a controller live as you will simply setup your laptop with Ableton Live or another DAW to control your device. There are many informational videos on youtube that show you how to use every DAW in the easiest ways possible. I love how good youtube is for musicians who are looking to learn more about things that can benefit their trade. 

Bluetooth Controllers For Music Producers

Freedom. This is the main thing that these give music producers. Typically, a lot of these controllers are small and portable. The music producer in this day and age needs to have the freedom to travel easily and still have his tools. It’s easy to bring a laptop and controller anywhere they go. 

Say you’re traveling and still working on a project. You can easily use your controller on a plane and open up your session and get some work in before you get to where you’re going. Say you’re in class and still working towards becoming a full time musician. These make it easy for you you to work literally anywhere you are at any possible time. 

There are portable drum pad controllers now as well. Producers can use these to program drum parts and samples to their music projects. Some producers love these, while others prefer to just use keyboards as they’re more comfortable with these controllers. 

When Will We See More Wireless Controllers?

I believe in the next two years they will be dominating the music industry. I believe a lot of the heavy hitting companies are seeing that the product is connecting and it’s just a matter of time before they make everything wireless. All it does is making everything easier on all fronts. What’s not to love about that?


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