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The SL-161 is a Master Controller keyboard that will allow you to split or layer up to two sounds, with powerful expressive control over each. The SL-161 provides a 61 key velocity sensitive action keyboard with aftertouch. The quality weighted synthesizer action provides a firm, fast feel and zone specific velocity settings allow a wide range of control over the velocity response of the keys.
Don't be fooled by the price, this thing has a better action than any other keyboard out there. The features are super basic, but the action is so much better than m-audio, it's a joke. It is lighter on top, towards heavier on the bottom (graded hammer action.) Also, it has volume and sustain pedal inputs. This piece is not made in China like almost every competitor: this is strictly Italian manufacturing.
I simply cannot understand why more manufacturers don't make 88-key hammer-action controllers. But even without much in the way of competition, the 990-XP is still a fantastic piece of equipment.
MIDI controllers are the future. Today's standard, off-the-shelf computers are affordable and fully capable of generating software-based piano sounds that are simply terrific. All you need is a MIDI controller like this one that has a great, realistic piano action. You pair it with a decent computer with a $90 soundcard, add some good software (a lot of which is free online) and you have it all. You can make your own recordings with studio quality, tweak the results, do the editing, everything. All you need is the time and the talent. The technology is here. This controller is your first component in that system. The action is amazing, far better than you'll get with a full-blown keyboard. Those keyboards are stocked with all kinds of bells and whistles that you don't need that a computer can do better anyway.
The 990-XP is also built like a tank. Metal, not plastic.
I can't stress enough what everyone says: touch is a very personal thing. I didn't believe it until I tried the keyboard I was sure I was going to buy - and hated it. I personally like the 990xp as much as a Yamaha GHE keyboard, but that's my opinion.
That said, this keyboard really made possible a Virtual Piano (East West Quantum Leap Pianos) for the price of a hardware solution.
Keep in mind that you can only plug-in a footswitch type sustain pedal. If you want something fancier, you are going to have to go with something outboard to your computer like a CME GPP-3 (which I have not used and so am not endorsing).