I was recently looking for a decent mid sized controller keyboard. Most of the portable controllers are either 25 note or 49 note. What about those finicky people like myself who want something a little in-between?
Enter the Edirol PCR-30. 32 keys, Expression and Sustain pedal ports, USB powered, acts as a usb midi interface since it has midi in and out ports on the back, 8 assignable rotary (not endless encoders), 8 assignable sliders, 9 assignable buttons, and the pièce de résistance: the ability to assign sysex data to knobs and buttons.
– Sysex assignment means I can create a few memory locations devoted to controlling my Korg DSS-1 keyboard. No longer am I tied to my computer for editing every parameter. The DSS-1 has a ton of parameters, so I mapped the most important 32 to the PCR-30. Here is a LINK to a quick tutorial about how to map the PCR-3 to send sysex info to the DSS-1.
– Expression pedal input. Not many other small controllers have this. The only one I can recall right now is the Auturia. Now I can play my strings the way they were intended to be played.
– Lots of knobs and buttons. I was able to map the keyboard to the same midi CC messages my Oxygen 25 uses so that I can control Ableton in the same way as the Oxygen. Basically either keyboard will work interchangeably.
– A true midi output. I often play my Korg ESX and now my Korg DSS-1 using this thing. I can control parameters of either other machine from this. Can’t do that with most modern midi controllers which only have usb outputs.
– A midi input. Again, this keyboard can work like a usb midi interface for you.
– This midi controller has 32 keys, which after playing it for a while seems a little strange. Maybe I have been playing keyboards too long, but it is strange to reach down to the lowest note and have it be an “F”. They should have made it 37 notes.
– This keyboard has the Roland style mod/pitch wheel, which I have never been super keen on, especially for programming strings or other instruments where the modulation wheel is assigned to volume. Basically unless you hold the modulation knob up slightly you don’t get any sound.
– The build quality. This keyboard is prone to dead keys as I found out after purchasing from eBay. Luckily it is a somewhat easy fix, but I don’t know how long it will last.
– It seems to take more usb bus power than my Maudio Oxygen 25. Not a huge problem, but when I am running my laptop on batteries, it doesn’t like t have other things plugged in with this keyboard.
All in all I am pretty happy with the keyboard, but I know it won’t last forever because the keys will probably fail again. For $30 though, it has been a good investment.