Most helpful critical review
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Great hardware, bizarre and buggy firmware/software
on March 16, 2014
I love the build quality of the keyboard. It is clearly a quality item with nice knobs, buttons, keys, and sliders. The Roland "bender" control is there and works as on their other devices. Channel aftertouch works, though does indeed take some force as mentioned by others. Also: the keyboard, while naturally wide (61 keys), is quite narrow in the depth dimension (25cm) and thus fits pretty well on my computer desk next to a mixer and other audio components. The connectors are all on the side which I like (this also saves depth on a desk).
So now the bad stuff:
* The settings which are saved through a powercycle are very arbitrary. Many settings are retained, but octave and key velocity are not. Every time it starts up, I have to navigate through the menus and crank the knob to set a fixed velocity for the keys.
* MIDI channel selection is retained across a power cycle, but not when you switch from "upper" to another setting ("lower", "dual", "split") and back. Then the MIDI channel reverts to 1. Clearly a bug here.
* There is no easy way to directly set the MIDI channel. First you have to set the Value Knob to the MIDI channel setting, then you can control the channel. This also applies to the fixed-velocity mode: there is no direct way to set the velocity. This is surprising given that the GAIA SH-01 does this fine.
* There is no way to set some of the settings except through the computer software. This includes the split point, and also control mappings to sysex and realtime messages.
* The controller itself does not have its sysex messages documented. This means that you have to use the A-PRO software, which is not terrible, but annoying if you want to write your own configuration from music software or otherwise define your mappings. This is probably quite easy to reverse engineer, but still, there is little excuse here.
* There are a few other minor annoyances in this theme of "strange limitations that cannot be justified". It seems like they were desperately short on internal memory. All of these requested settings could easily be stored in 4K of memory. C'mon folks, I've forgotten how to count that low.