Recommend me a MIDI Controller for Live Performance

Hey guys,

Last night I did my first gig using GigPerformer! Right now I am using a Yamaha CP4 as a controller for various VST such as MODO BASS, Kontakt and FM8. The Yamaha has a nice keybed but zero MIDI functionality. I want to get away from managing Gigperformer on my laptop screen to change songs and stuff so I can keep X-Air Edit on my screen the whole time and make our band be able to change songs more quickly

I think I want to go for a 61 key controller and am looking for something that can advance songs in the setlist and ideally then display the Song Name back on the internal LCD/LED screen. I think the top considerations are the M-AUDIO Code 61, Novation Launch Key 61 and the Arturia Keylab 61 Mk2. I want a controller with sliders to control organ VSTs which I use a lot of the time.

Anyone have recent experience with this that can help me out?

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Be careful what you choose here. Some otherwise awesome controllers have their sliders on the right which makes it very difficult to adjust them while you’re playing hammond solos, presumably with you right hand

I have several M-Audio Axiom keyboards, and they have been dependable, but there have been reports of problems with the Code 49/61 series. Check it out before you decide.

To be honest I am not that talented of a keyboard player. I am in a country cover band and when I play organ it is mainly “rhythm” organ… holding chords to fill out the background of a mix rather than doing too many solos with the exception of songs like Red Dirt Road that have a small organ solo - but I tend to experiment with drawbar settings in my VST and then save rackspaces with presets for songs that require it. All that to say - it is not a deal breaker if they are on the right!

I had a Code 61 and it suffered from erratic USB dropouts and stuck notes.
Many controllers have their faders placed on the right hand side, as already mentioned. Also most of them only have 8 faders while you would need actually 9 of them.
If you can live without having a real pitchbend- modwheel, then i can recommend the Numa C2X (it only has two little joysticks for these purposes), it has a complete set of drawbars, and a Fatar keybed with 88 lightweighted keys which also has aftertouch. It’s long but not heavy at all.
Maybe the new 76key workstation PC4-7 from Kurzweil might be interesting as well.

I have a Numa Compact 2X also. In addition to being a pretty good controller, it has some decent onboard sounds. I wish it had more MIDI-assignable buttons and knobs, but it has a lot to offer for the price, and it weighs only 15 lbs.

Because of the lack of programmable Buttons, i also use a Behringer Xtouch Mini, which fits exactly into the upper right corner of keyboards top, the USB plug/cable then goes right between the two knob-rows of the Numa.
This gives me 8 additional knobs and 16 Buttons… together with the 8 drawbars, it is more than enough.

I got quite curious so checked it out, but found it has a short track for the sliders… For quick sound changing it should be enough (could also be done via variations of course), but for some more soulfull drawbar playing, does it work?

For regular drawbar playing your probably need… regular drawbars! This is why I use a Numa Organ which has also a waterfall keyboard. That’s very nice for organ playing. But… (why is there always a “but”?) it has a major drawback to be a versatile master keyboard, it has no aftertouch! :confused:

I have a CP4 and have used it to control GP. It actually does have quite a bit of MIDI functionality but the architecture is not user friendly and the manual is difficult to understand. So, I can understand why you think it has no MIDI functionality. I have my CP4 setup so that by pressing the patch select buttons I can select sounds in GP. I’ve used the CP4 with GP on gigs and am able to put the laptop aside and select the sounds I wanted by using just the buttons on the CP4. I understand you have other reasons for wanting a different keyboard but if you’re interested in using the CP4 in the way I described I found that it needs to be put it into Performance Direct Select mode.

Thanks Al. I am going to check this mode out! Are there any scripts required in GP for your CP4 setup ? If so would you mind sharing how it works?

No, no scripts were used. When in Performance Direct Select mode you can setup the CP4 to send midi Program Change messages when you press a patch select button on the CP4. These Program Change messages select the desired rackspace variations in GP. So, it’s a matter of setting the Program Change number for each CP4 patch button and then setting the same Program Change number in the desired GP rackspace variation. I found that using the MIDI monitor app on my MacBook helped by letting me see that the midi messages from the CP4 were what I wanted and expected.

Sorry to reopen this thread, but I found this requirement and the selection of potential controllers to be very close to my own needs. Is any (of these) controller(s) able to write the Song and Song Part title back to an internal display?

Furthermore, as I play in a cover band with ~8 hours of program, I have many songs that require completely different split zones. Ideally a controller would be able to led light these split zones (similar to the S Komplete Kontrol series for Kontakt) based on the MIDI splits set in GP. Do you know of any controller which is capable to do this? Novations SL MK3 controllers look promising but it seems that key LEDs can only be set via internal stored presets and not from “outside” via MIDI…


I had come across a thread where a guy had figured out the KK light guide data, and wrote some code, so might be a chance it could be integrated with GP via script.

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Regarding the writing of song title or other relevant info to a controller display, I don’t think any controller can receive natively that kind of data from GP, as they are often handled using SysEx messages, which are not standardized by definition. However, it is possible to use GPScript to achieve this goal. Here is a script that works for the Keylab series, and that could be easily modified to work with other kinds of controllers:

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I have a Novation SL Mk3 that I bought to serve as a 61 key secondary keyboard + control surface with endless knobs, programmable buttons, and a large screen area that’s writable.

For what I wanted it’s excellent, but does require scripting to control the displays.

Have you found whether the key light guide LEDs are adressable via scripting, too?

As far as I can tell they are not.

Novation has a closely guarded programmers manual for the slmk3, and there is nothing in it on the key lights.

Too bad, that would be really cool. You could think of funny and useful things with it.

Thanks for the answers, guys. I think I will go for an Arturia Keylab MK2 as it seems to be higher build and integration quality at a much lower price point. Maybe I add a self-made MIDI controlled LED strip (with Arduino or similar) in the future to color the split zones GP rack or song wise.