Thanks in advance for your thoughtful replies. I realise there is some info on this forum already about this topic but felt a fresh thread might help. This is also a truncated version of a question I posted on Gearsluz, fyi.
This post will focus mostly on my desire to get a great ‘clonewheel’ controller but I also would like to consider a second controller keyboard for piano, or… a controller that covers both in the near-term with a plan beyond for a dedicated organ controller.
I am currently using an Alesis QS7 as my controller and I am happy with the Alesis from the standpoint that it’s casing is solid, it plugs into AC with a ‘real’ plug and that it has pretty extensive internal MIDI capabilities. With GIg Performer’s MIDI filter editors, this is less important of course. I am no longer impressed by any of the sounds on my vintage keys expander (which I used to use with a Pro-3 Motion Sound amplifier and the keybed and key feel on the QS7 are both pretty bad. After 20 years of on again off again use… it’s time for something fresh.
Today for my organ setup I am using Gig Performer and the Hammond B-3 X which is light years better than what I have played with before in terms of sound. I have a nanoKontrol 2 and the 4 data sliders on the Alesis (two mapped to a mixer in Gig Performer so I can turn up and down the piano and organ) which I have cobbled together into a clonewheel controller… but emphasis on cobbled. I’d like to take things up a notch… have ‘real’ drawbars, have waterfall keys with organ like action, have better dedicated switches for Hammond organ playability that works, ideally, with the Hammond B-3 X via Gig Performer.
Worth checking in about all this though and maybe this is short sighted? Despite my relatively modest investment in the B-3 X… maybe what I really want is a physical clonewheel like a Numa 2 Organ or a Hammond XK-1c or a Legend Solo and just use them as they are intended, as stand-alone clonewheels?
I mention those three clonewheels because they are near my price range and I believe @David-san uses the Numa Organ 2 as a controller? I don’t know if he uses the on-board sounds though or how well it midi-mapps to something like the B-3 X.
So the two main requirements or questions for me in terms of a clonewheel controller seem to come down to two main things: 1. Can the built in drawbars and switches communicate via MIDI and 2. Does it feel and play like an organ (waterfall keys, non-weighted action).
Some keyboards, like the Roland VR-730 for instance (which looks like a nice keyboard) apparently use proprietary SysEx data from it’s controllers and can’t be midi mapped to a VST. I don’t know enough about Gig Performer to know if SysEx can be communicated and translated reliably into something useful but since the VR-730 isn’t midi friendly that would be the kind of thing I would want to avoid.
Getting a Numa Organ or a Hammond (used perhaps? Like an XK-3 or XB-2?) might make for a good controller if they communicate everything out via MIDI, and I don’t know what models do and don’t… but the downside is I would be paying for the sounds, which in the Gig Performer model, I already have a nice solution for with the B-3 X.
There is the route of further cobbling something together and this is interesting: a lower manual only portion of a Crumar Mojo 61(B) paired with a D9-X. I just don’t understand how the lower manual is getting any power or if it needs any as that unit only has a MIDI DIN plug on the back face, nothing more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLLagsj5eZM Assuming this works with Gig Performer… it’s a decent clonewheel controller for about $800. How supported this would be if something goes awry would be probably minimal.
There is also the notion of having a second keyboard that could work as a decent ‘lower manual’ when required but do the heavy lifting as a hammer action or semi-weighted action stage piano controller. I would also use this for more ‘studio’ based projects composing ambient music, etc…
Other keyboards I have researched and considered include the Novation 61SL which got bad keybed reviews… and I have all but ruled out a NI KK S61 because as I understand it, the NI keyboards are great if you want to work in their sounds but are very lacking as midi only controllers. The Roland A-800 PRO looks a bit like a toy and apparently the coatings on the encoders breakdown in a few years. M-Audio OxygenPro 61 and then file down the lipped edge of the keys?!?
Maybe a Kurzweil SP6-7 when available as a lower controller or a Studiologic SL73… and perhaps I could start with a SL73 with a D9-X drawbar controller as a hybrid setup and later add a dedicated organ controller… but in the meantime I wouldn’t have waterfall keys with organ action.
These are all nice to have problems of course. I’m not a good enough player to buy a dual manual controller just for organ or own the amazing Hammond XK5 with multiple contact keys, etc… This is primarily for fun, but having a good kit that feels and sounds good is where the fun comes from (in part).
So thanks for the read and your thoughts.