Good Midi Keyboard, but Horrible Software Package
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 January 2021
Firstly I want to say the keyboard it's self is very good, the keys don't feel light weight and the sound is affected by how hard you press the keys, my only problem is that I feel the keys could be a little wider, maybe it's because I'm pretty new to playing a keyboard, but in the past I use to play a keyboard with wider keys when younger and it just made it far easier to not accidentally press the wrong key. But I think that is preference, if you are very nimble and don't miss hit the keys with your fingers then this would be fine, I don't have big fingers either, it's simply that I don't have great coordination when not looking at the keys, I keep miss hitting the keys and pressing two keys at once, but that could simply be because I'm not use to the keyboard, and with practice I will be fine with this keyboard, which is probably more likely. Practically wise this is a good keyboard, fun to play.
Point being there is nothing wrong with the keyboard it's self, other then preference. The problem is the software, since I haven't had a midi keyboard before I decided to go for one that I had semi-weighted keys, and I was told had a lot of software, which it does have a lot of software the user can download, but the software is unbelievably difficult to set up or doesn't work right on my computer. So much so I was wondering if the keyboard was broke, or if I had plugged it in wrong. There is no quick test software to make sure the keyboard works, I suggest if you're on Windows 10 to download Piano 10 for free and see if the keyboard is working right, if you buy the KeyStation that is, as Piano 10 straight away recognised the keyboard, meaning no changing settings or trying to understand what is going on, Piano 10 didn't glitch out like with Pro Tools and as when I sort of got the KeyStation keyboard working with Velvet in Pro Tools, Velvet only let me play 10 key strokes before freezing and jamming preventing me playing the piano properly, also in Pro Tools it wouldn't play out of my surround sound and would only play out of my computer speakers which are built into the computer, Piano 10 played the sound straight out of my surround sound, the surround sound speakers are set as default as well and not the speakers on my computer. So obviously the software is either hard to set up and I'm really doing it wrong, or the software they provide is not compatible with my computer, it is possible that the software is normally fine and it's my computer that is the problem, or maybe as I said I'm doing something wrong, but to be honest it shouldn't be so hard to set up. If you have a sustain peddle you can also check this works in Piano 10 as well. I also downloaded Piano Time which lets you select a song which it automatically plays so you can learn some songs like this. Anyone new to using a midi keyboard will find the software I listed above far easier to set up and use, if they just want to play piano, and not compose music.
I also downloaded Reaper it's a free midi editor which isn't too hard to learn or setup, and you can find plenty of lesson on how to do professional compositions as well. So if you're buying keyboard for the software because you're new to midi keyboards but want to do professional compositions, don't bother, unless you learned to use the software they provide on a course or in a music group without a keyboard, as I think it's more stressful then helpful to use the software provided with the KeyStation.
On top of this, with the KeyStation software the user had to download the software, if they didn't have internet they couldn't use this keyboard as there is no disks with software on. I expected to get a disk to install the software. Also the user has to first install Pro Tools, to use most of the software that is supplied, and this is all very confusing you need to install Avid Link and Ilok Licence Manager to download licencing, they put more effort in making this hard to rip off then making it user friendly, which ironically would stop people illegally getting it, because the user can't use it, which would indeed stop people ripping it off.
It's also annoying that most of the software you have to download and register with loads of 3rd party companies. I was expecting a disk or disks to simply just install the software without having to mess around, possibly do an update once installed. Or maybe a link to download everything all at once that was as simply as Piano 10 or Piano Time to download, where I inserted the serial number and just downloaded the exe files, instead I had to constantly register, and this left me very confused, wasn't sure which software was to run the KeyStation Keyboard. I didn't want to have to hand my email out to third party companies all over the place and have to mess around. Really don't like how this has been set up, I paid for a product, I didn't want hassle, if I wanted hassle I would have asked them to send my the hardware free, and I give them my data in return as the price, as my details aren't free to be given when I pay for something I don't like being forced to register to get something, that was suppose to come freely with the product. Very unprofessional.
Also I just want to put enforces on there is no real instructions or guidance on what to do, to install everything, no directions, as a new person to this type of software, it's really bad, and I have no experience in doing this, I have installed video games and software in the past a lot, and I can honestly say this is not intuitive and is a nightmare to work out. A disk would have been so much easier, or just a simple straight forward download, all I wanted to do was install this and start playing piano, not have to figure out how to install software, then work out how to add software in to the previous software I installed. This isn't user friendly and it's not for a beginner in my view, I'm competent in computer programming and doing complex tasks and this is not straight forward. Everything is a hassle. I don't like hassle, when all I'm trying to do is play an instrument, not launch a rocket.
To put it in to context I spent 6 hours trying to work out the software and after 6 hours I was still not able to play the keyboard on the software provided, which is daft saying it took me 1 minute to install Piano Time and Piano 10 and it started working straight away. Plus downloading Reaper and learning to use this midi editor didn't take that much time either. Honestly I couldn't be more disappointed with the software they provided. Why there is no disk and I can't simply install software, plug the KeyStation in and start to play on a basic test software to make sure it works is beyond me. Really badly thought out software package. I have no idea why they thought this way made any sense. Before people say why didn't you just read the manual, because all the software has been updated, I did read the manual, but none of the software matched what they wrote and said to do, because what they say do in the manual is out of date, because they didn't put a disk with the software that is relevant to the manual in the box and they expected people download software which is constantly changing, but didn't put a manual or instructs anywhere or a video how to set everything up within the download link, and so you literally have to search google to try work out what to do, very unprofessional, if you're buying this keyboard thinking you will get lots of software to help you get started, I suggest don't do that, download Reaper or buy a different keyboard with a disk provided. Chances are it will be a heck of a lot less hassle. I can't put into words how frustrated I have been with trying to install the software from the download link and get the KeyStation Keyboard to work, there is no real support. Basically them saying you get all this free software is a gimmick and more hassle then it's worth.
I gave this 3 stars because the keyboard is fine I would give the keyboard it's self 4.5 stars as I would prefer slightly wider white keys, but the software is so frustrating that I would give the software minus 10 stars, thankfully I found software for free, as if I couldn't get software for free elsewhere this keyboard would become a very expensive paper weight. So the software package let this KeyStation Keyboard down.
However the KeyStation Keyboard is good, so I would say skip the software they provide and just download: Piano 10 and Piano Time to test the keyboard, and use Reaper Software if you want to do compositions. As the keyboard it's self is fine. Might want to buy a different keyboard however if your main goal is getting the software.
To learn Reaper. Go to YouTube and search: "This is REAPER 6 - MIDI (5/15)", this is a good tutorial on Reaper.
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