Casio is out, Keystation Pro is in (almost)

After I had the Casio Privia PX-100 el-cheapo MIDI piano for a month of so, my brother told me about a new product from M-Audio: the Keystation Pro 88. It’s another 88-key weighted keyboard, but the Keystation is a MIDI-controller only, it doesn’t generate any sound on its own. What makes it really compelling for me, though, is the vast array of knobs, buttons and sliders, all of which generate MIDI that can be mapped to the controls inside my virtual instruments (Pro-53 and B4, mainly).

The Keystation costs about the same as the Casio, so I was kicking myself that I hadn’t known about it before I bought the Casio.

I thought I would make an attempt to return the Casio to Costco where I bought it. After a lengthy battle with the perplexing packaging (which I still had), I got it all boxed up again, found the receipt and headed back to Costco. I had had the Casio already for a couple months. I was delighted that they actually took it back and refunded my money!

Yesterday, I headed to Long and McQuades in Toronto. I picked up the Keystation Pro 88, together with a two-tier keyboard stand (the Keystation doesn’t come with a stand like the Casio did; going to a two-tier stand saves some floor space in my studio.) And spent quite a while with the salesman trying to get a Behringer B-Control Rotary BCR2000 going for a demo. That device also looks like a highly compelling value proposition. Like all Behringer, it’s dirt-cheap. And since no sound actually goes through it, there’s no way Behringer can screw it up. (Many people seem to delight in bashing Behringer for either their sound quality, or build quality. Personally, I have no problem with the sound of my pieces, and I’ve never had any quality problems either.) Perhaps I’ll pick one up another time.

Anyway, I got the Keystation home and tried it out. Not all is cream, unfortunately. It is a complex piece. It comes with “preset librarian” software, and you can also download a more sophisticated “Enigma” programming tool (not sure why don’t just include that on the CD). Both of them are going to require some RTFM before I understand them.

But the really bad part: after a couple hours, the LCD started going weird. The contrast fluctuated alot, many segments would shut off entirely. At the same time, it started generating a constant stream of random MIDI control changes. I shut it off for the night, to try it again in the morning. It is that morning now, so I’ll go give it a shot. I hope I don’t have to drive to Toronto again to return it. That would suck.

2 Responses to “Casio is out, Keystation Pro is in (almost)”

  • I’ve taken my Pro 88 out on it’s first 6-7 gigs, and it’s been a nightmere.Like you said .Midi mesages randomly sent . Notes sustianing out of nowhere. Patch sounds changing for no apperent reason. Also, it seems like the MIDI triggering is very slow. As a full time musician I require a much higher reliability rate as I get very nervous if I have a high profile gig and I’m on stage fiddling around with my gear instead of trying to be an artist. Luckily I live in Edmonton and tommoro I have time to take it back or buy another product that works properly. I will let you know the outcome if you like. Andrew

  • Well, I should probably fire off a quick update… I did exchange the KS Pro 88 the next day, as I said. I was able to exchange it at the Long & McQuade here in Waterloo, saved me a couple hours driving.

    The new one has been well-behaved for me. But it’s only used in the studio, never been exposed to the rigors of the road.

    Never did figure out that librarian or “Enigma” software though. And I program computers in C++ for a living. I don’t think it’s because I’m too stupid to understand it.

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