“ Keyboard / Brand: Fatar „
I've been producing and recording music for years on my PC, mainly through the excellent Cubase 5, and had long needed a velocity sensitive keyboard to input MIDI data into the program. I purchased this keyboard after a recommendation from a friend for around the £300 mark (this was back in 2006). It has since then proven to be trusty addition to the home studio, in that it features a 7 octave range (88 notes), full weighted keys (action similar to a real piano) and the standard pitch and mod wheels for limited real-time control of your sound.
The keyboard itself has a good sturdy feel to it, the keys don't have that cheap 'springy' action you find on some more modest controller keyboards, and the metal casing it is built with makes this feel more like an actual instrument (rather than a MIDI data output device, which is what it actually is!). So it definitely scores points on build quality. Functionality is a little sparse compared to other controller keyboards; apart from the aforementioned pitch and mod wheels, there are three buttons to change the MIDI program, MIDI bank and the velocity curve (how the keyboard will respond to how hard you hit the keys), but no assignable knobs or sliders )which can be helpful when working with software synthesizers for hands on control). So if this is important to you, you are probably best off looking elsewhere (I myself have had to add a little 25 key Novation Remote controller to my set up in order to compensate for this shortcoming). So this really is a keyboard controller best suited to playing virtual pianos on; the action seeks to emulate this style of keyboard, and the lack of physical controllers mean you have to constantly move back to the screen and mouse if you want to tweak parameters on any virtual synthesizer modules you may be driving with it. The other thing worth mentioning is that the weighted keys may actually not suit a synthesizer plugin, as their real life hardware counterparts often featured light, fast keyboards, suited to that style of playing. You are not going to get that here.
As far as outputs go, you can hook up MIDI out (necessary here!) and an external sustain pedal (pretty essential if you are serious about playing pianos on it). The sustain pedal doesn't come with the keyboard, and you are probably looking at another thirty pounds to invest in one of these (they do make playing a piano on it a real pleasure though so definitely worth it). Notable omissions are no MIDI thru (if you are hooking this up in a series of instruments you would need this), and no USB out, meaning you will also additionally need a MIDI to USB interface if you want to use this on your PC.
The other thing that might throw people looking to invest in this keyboard is that it does not feature any inbuilt sounds or integrated speakers. You are not going to be able to make a noise with this without hooking it up to another module (for most people this will be controlling software on a PC). Some keyboards like this feature on board sounds (pianos, rhodes, strings etc) but there are none here, and this may matter to some. What you are paying for is a quality keyboard that feels (and looks) like the real deal (aesthetically it is not that far from the suitcases of a Rhodes or Wurlitzer). If you have a software piano module (I use it for Kontakt's acoustic pianos which sound good enough) it can be really inspiring to play around on. I also use it for software synths, it's acceptable to drive these, but sometimes the 'slow' action of the keyboard means you may have to fine adjust what you've just played on a piano roll within your software to get it to sit right.
There is also one niggling design flaw in the keyboard (I say design flaw as my friend's Studiologic appears to do the exact same thing!), and that is the over sensitivity of the modulation wheel. If you are playing away and recording some MIDI data with the keyboard, and then you look back at the piano roll to see what was captured, there is often a whole load of MIDI data you didn't send on one of the controller lanes. I scratched my head at first as to what this could possibly be until it dawned on me that the mod wheel must be a little loose and thus is wobbling as you play. Not too great! Of course you can manually delete this data from within your music software, but this is a three hundred pound controller keyboard and you shouldn't have to do this.
So overall, there are a lot of things right with the Studiologic Pro; it does in the main just what you'd want it to, giving you a good piano action and a very usable, playable keyboard. For the money, it could have had a few MIDI assignable controllers, but this may not matter to you (especially if you bought it for playing acoustic piano sounds). It is built rock solidly; the metal casing feels sturdy and the keyboard is definitely gig-able; I'm sure it could take a few knocks and be just fine (though I wouldn't fancy lugging the thing around as it is not exactly light!). All in all, a great performance piano, just one that as a MIDI controller keyboard isn't exactly feature heavy.
It is nothing too fancy. But if you just need a Midi Controller that plays well, it is all you need.
By nothing to fancy I mean there are no sliders or buttons on it you can use to send Midi data (except for the piano keys, obviously >.< and program/bank change)
So, the keys are weighted hammer action keys. Which means, if you play softly you'll get a softer sound and if you play harder.. just like an acoustic piano with 7 velocity curves.
The feeling of playing it is very good aswel though the keys are not as heavy as a grand but on the other hand, it's not a grand.. more like an upright.
There is a mod and pitch wheel, speaks for itself. Power adapter is included but the sustain and volume pedal ain't.
It's big, which is normal because of the number of keys. But, logically thinking it's heavy aswel. Way too heavy actually so if you have to drag it around it's not really as fun as playing it. (around 24kg or so)
They are tough. If you'd open it up, like I once did after I poured some coke in it, you'd see it's actually quite empty. It's mainly metal for the weight of the keys and a few wires and few other electronical part thingies.
When I poured coke into it, 8 keys stopped working. After I cleaned it out, 5 of the 8 worked again leaving the 3 others dead.
(That's a good thing, trust me)
There is no USB connection so you do need a Midi interface if you want to use it on your computer. (but those things are cheap anyway)
The SL-990 Pro provides an 88-note keyboard with full-size weighted hammer action keys that give a true piano feel.