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Author Topic: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow  (Read 982 times)

JamesO512

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Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« on: December 12, 2018, 06:12:38 pm »
I just got my first Arturia product, a Keylab 61 MKII.

The encoders are very, very slow! It takes nearly three full turns to move through the whole range of values. I am rather new to all this MIDI controller and synth stuff. Is there a good reason for this that I am not thinking of? I also have a NI Komplete Kontrol S25, and its encoders go through the full range in less than a full turn, which seems to me much more useful. If I set an encoder to change the cutoff frequency for a low pass filter, for example, while playing, I might want to make a slow and smooth sweep through a range of values. With the Arturia encoders, this seems impossible short of using a bow or something to turn the encoder. Acceleration doesn't solve the problem.

Why did Arturia choose this sort of encoder? Any good reason? I am actually thinking of returning the controller because of this. I read elsewhere about people changing the encoders on Arturia devices, but I am sure this would void the warranty, which I don't want to do. Any solution aside from remapping in software and losing precious resolution?

Koshdukai

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2018, 06:20:48 pm »
Hi :)

Have you tried the Arturia MIDI Control Center to change the encoder's acceleration setting?

JamesO512

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2018, 07:56:25 pm »
Hi! Thanks for the reply!

I have tried that and there are two problems with it. First, if I understand correctly, it decreases resolution because it jumps values. Second, if I want to move through a sweep or something similar slowly, it doesn't help. I need to be able to get all the way from 0 to 127 as smoothly as possible, at any turn speed, without releasing my grip on the encoder knob. I could run the edge of my hand against an outside encoder to range through its values, but I really need to be able to range through the values with a pinch grip without ever releasing it.

JamesO512

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2018, 08:24:55 pm »
I have been doing some testing and now I also notice that the encoders are a bit jumpy, which is especially noticeable if I set the acceleration to "1:1" and move the encoder slowly. Sometimes the value will jump back and forth a little. Is this typical for these devices? Do these encoders need breaking in or something?

JamesO512

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2018, 11:27:27 pm »
I just realized I put this in the wrong section. In my haste, I didn't see that there is a section dedicated to the Keylab MKII. If a moderator would move this, I'd appreciate it!

Koshdukai

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2018, 12:03:49 am »
I have been doing some testing and now I also notice that the encoders are a bit jumpy, which is especially noticeable if I set the acceleration to "1:1" and move the encoder slowly. Sometimes the value will jump back and forth a little. Is this typical for these devices? Do these encoders need breaking in or something?

Yup, it's a bit jumpy. "1:1" is achieved through a more coarse value jumping (+/-4, from 0 to 127) which isn't what you're looking for, from what you describe.

Maybe the best compromise is the "Fast" acceleration setting, which is far from 1:1 but allows a more precise movement at slow turns and bigger *jumps* with fast turning.

If you need the best 1:1, why not use the faders?

JamesO512

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2018, 01:01:52 am »
Thanks for the reply!

The "fast" acceleration isn't helpful for slow changes, since it only kicks in when turning the knob quickly. It would be nice to be able to turn the knob slowly and go through the whole range of values smoothly, with full resolution, without the values jittering around, and do all of this with something like one full turn of the knob, not three full turns. This is the sort of behavior one expects, isn't it? This is how the encoders behave on my NI Komplete Kontrol S25.

So basically, the encoders on this device don't seem terribly useful, and they are part of what I thought I paid for. They are obviously of very poor quality since values jump all over the place as you turn the knob. And I don't just mean that intermediate values get skipped. I mean that even though I am smoothly turning the knob in one direction at a constant rate, the values generated often jump BACKWARD, in the opposite direction that I am moving the knob, a little. After a bit of research, I've discovered complaints about this on many different Arturia devices. It causes me to be concerned about the quality of the rest of the components in the device. Can it be relied upon? I suspect they've gone with the cheapest Chinese hardware they can get. And now that I've checked it out a little more closely, watching values change in MIDI OX when I move various controls, I see that most of the controls, including mod wheel and pitch bend wheel, skip values and do not move smoothly through the already coarse 128 possible values. At best, I usually get every other value. The aftertouch output is especially coarse. Am I expecting too much at this price?

Why did Arturia select encoders that require you to turn the knob nearly three full turns to go through the range? Any reason? Surely, this was not an accident. So what is the reason? Do some people like them that way?

Also, the knobs on the encoders wobble as you turn them, as if the hole in them is off-center. It doesn't really affect function, but it is another indicator of general cheapness and lack of quality control.

I could certainly use the faders. But the way I feel is that I just bought this brand new device that I expect to work in a useful way, and I find that a chunk of its controls are basically poorly designed and somewhat defective. I chose this particular controller over some competitors partly just because I wanted some encoders and whatnot to control various things, often for expressive purposes. Also, in Analog Lab, the default control for cutoff is the first encoder! So all the pre-mapping that is touted as one of the reasons to get a Keylab controller for use with Analog Lab and V Collection is less useful. I end up manually mapping things anyway to work around the shoddy components. I shouldn't have to do this.

It is like buying a monitor only to discover that though on paper it is capable of displaying 128 levels each of red, green, and blue, in practice, it only displays a third of those, and banding in gradients is highly apparent. And in some places, where values should get lighter, they actually get darker.

I am going to have to do some serious thinking about whether I want to keep this thing. My feelings about it sour more and more as I test it carefully. The NI controller that I have seems to be of much higher quality even though it has a plastic body. It feels rock solid and usable and outputs smooth data changes that don't jump around. Maybe Arturia cut costs on the components that really matter for musical expression in order to sell us with the metal case and whatnot. The keybed, the most important part, certainly feels rather cheap compared to the Fatar bed on my S25. The keys feel flimsy and thin and flexible and loose and a few of them have this springy twang sound when I play them. Frankly, they feel delicate. I fear playing on them with any force at all.

If I return this, I will have wasted lots of time and will have to pay shipping both ways, which isn't cheap for an item this size and weight. But I probably should anyway, as I don't feel terribly inspired by this instrument at this point. I just don't know if there are any good alternatives. Most of the offerings from other brands I've managed to try in a store seem even worse. I generally like the S25 that I have, but the NI offerings for larger keyboards have no drum pads (they want to sell you Maschine as well for a rather steep price), no faders, and so on. The Studiologic controllers seem especially sparse. And for all I know, I'll find problems with them.

Mostly, I want to record my playing into my DAW and don't plan to perform live, and I can smooth out and fix the data in the automation envelope lane, but it's more work and shouldn't be necessary. And I hear all the coarseness and irregularity of the modulation while playing, and it affects my performance. It's distracting. My attention should be on the feelings I am trying to channel through the interface, not the steppy, jittery encoders!

This thing LOOKS great! Kudos to the people who did the visual design! And the functional aspect of the design seems pretty good too. But the quality of the actual parts seems less than stellar.

The drum pads are another issue. They don't trigger consistently with lighter hits. Do they need to be broken in?


Matt Arturia

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2018, 08:56:56 am »
Hi,

I'm sorry to hear that you are not happy with your KeyLab MK2 and that you feel frustrated.
Honestly there is not much I can do here to help you beside to invite you to open a ticket to our support services. They will get back to you shortly and hopefully provide a solution.

https://www.arturia.com/support/askforhelp

There might be a problem with your unit as you seem to say that you have problems with other controls and pads. This doesn't seem right to me (obviously)

I move your post to the relevant category.

Regards,

Matthieu
« Last Edit: December 13, 2018, 09:01:50 am by Matt Arturia »

JamesO512

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2018, 01:10:57 am »
Hi Matt,

Thanks for the reply!

I am very skeptical that what I am observing is peculiar to the particular unit I have. Reading around online, I have come across lots of discussion, and even some videos, about similar behavior in other Arturia products, some of this going back quite a few years, especially in the Minilab. It seems that Arturia either consistently uses low quality encoders or doesn't design circuits to read their output in a way that properly controls noise.

First of all, one of the main issues I have is that in order to move through the range of output values from an encoder, I have to turn it nearly three full turns! This is true of all the encoders. And based on my reading elsewhere, this is true for all these devices. It isn't something wrong with this unit or my setup. And nothing you can do for me aside from installing different encoders with higher resolution would help this. One full turn of an encoder only gets me from 0 to about 47 out of the 0-127 range. The encoders seem to have a resolution of 48 increments per revolution. This means that in order to sweep through the range, I have to turn the encoder as far as I can, release my grip on it, regrip it, turn some more, release my grip, regrip, and turn some more. This is no good. I should be able to go through its entire range without releasing it. I can't imagine why anyone would want it to work this way.

Acceleration is not a very good solution at all. If I set it to "1:1", for example, which "fixes" this problem and makes it possible to sweep the full range in less than a full turn, the software merely multiplies each increment by four, which decreases the resolution of the sweep range by a factor of four. This means that it only outputs approximately 32 values rather than 128. Not good for audio work. You can hear the stepping. So these encoders are basically useless for modulating parameters of a synth while playing, unless you plan to smooth out the data after recording it. The fact is, the encoders have a fixed resolution. Nothing can be done about this in software. They only register 48 increments per revolution. The only way to get from 0 to 127 in less than a full turn is to multiply such that each increment now counts as four.

What I would like to know is if this low resolution encoder is something some people like, if such a design decision was made for a reason other than cost. Are lower-resolution encoders cheaper? Or is it actually useful somewhere to have encoders that require nearly three full turns to go from 0 to 127?

On top of that, the encoders produce noisy output, with values jumping around a bit, sometimes going backwards, while you turn the knob very carefully and smoothly in one direction. I've seen this described for Arturia hardware elsewhere. It isn't unique to my controller. And I did a little research on encoders. Apparently, they need to be "debounced" properly. Perhaps bouncing is the problem here. Obviously, hardware debouncing requires more circuitry, more components, and therefore involves higher cost. But software debouncing involves other problems such as introducing delays. Encoders with a lower or non-existent bounce rate are expensive.

I notice that if I put the encoders in relative mode, such that they only output two values, one for increment and another for decrement, if I turn the encoder at a slowish speed steadily in one direction, a fairly small percentage of the output values are for the wrong direction. This looks like the bouncing behavior typical of cheap encoders that I read about. But consider what happens in absolute mode when acceleration is turned on. If no acceleration is used, any bounce error only means that the value will go in the wrong direction by 1 step out of 0 to 127. Not too noticeable. But if we turn on acceleration, which just multiplies the increment in software, it also multiplies the magnitude of the error. So we get a jump of 4 in the wrong direction with 1:1 acceleration. With larger multiplications with high acceleration, the jumps in the wrong direction are magnified further. So while acceleration sort of "solves" one problem, it magnifies the other one.

I can show you the output if you like. The encoders on my NI Komplete Kontrol S25 by comparison give all 128 values very smoothly in less than a full turn. This is what one expects.

I am happy to report that the faders on the Keylab MKII perform nearly flawlessly. They give smooth, steady output, with no value-jumping. The mod wheel and pitch bend wheel usually skip every other value, seemingly as if the increments are being multiplied by two to get the full range, so they basically only have a 64 step resolution. No apparent backward motion or noisiness though, thankfully.

Channel aftertouch covers the range from 0-127 usually in less than 35 steps, fewer the faster you change pressure, sometimes as few as 4 steps. Pretty coarse. Not nearly as smooth as my NI S25. And the physical depth through which the aftertouch moves is far shallower than that of my NI S25.

As for the drum pads, I don't know what is typical for these as I have never had any before. How sensitive should they be, and how consistent should they be with lighter hits? With hard hits, they are pretty consistent. With lighter ones, some hits register and some don't and velocities vary. Is there a break-in period with these?

I recognize that these Arturia controllers pack more features in for the price than something like an NI unit with a similar number of keys. The Keylab MKII has drum pads, faders, outputs and inputs for modular synths, and so on. So I suspect that in order to put together a unit that has all these features at this price, costs had to be cut somewhere. I just have to decide if I want to accept these limitations or spend more and get fewer features elsewhere.

I'd actually appreciate if you could test another unit to see whether or not it produces behavior like I am describing. I bet you'll find that it does.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2018, 01:12:57 am by JamesO512 »

JamesO512

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2018, 09:16:11 pm »
I am sending the Keylab 61 MKII back. I've tried to convince myself to live with it as is. But it just has too many issues and I just don't like the feel of the keys. Too cheap and flimsy and loose-feeling! And then I see videos online of these keys just popping off and needing repair, reinforcing my worries about the sturdiness and future reliability of the keybed and other hardware.

Arturia software is quite nicely done. The looks of the hardware, the website, all the marketing materials, the software interfaces, and so on, are top notch in my opinion. Nice design work! But the functional hardware, the actual stuff that records your expression? Not so good. And that's what counts most for me. It seems Arturia puts more energy into selling this stuff than delivering a quality instrument.

One last thing I'll point out about the encoders to anyone who might think low resolution is a good choice because there is some reason to want to turn them nearly three full turns to go through the 0-127 range: if you use higher resolution encoders, you can get smooth changes with short turns if you want, but you can also do the other, as you can always reject every n'th increment. So you can make a high resolution encoder behave like a low resolution one if you want. You cannot make a low resolution encoder behave like a high resolution one. Just a thought. You can always throw recorded information away. You can never get back information that wasn't recorded in the first place.

And as a customer, I'll say that if cost is the issue, I would pay more for a controller that is otherwise just this one but has higher quality, high resolution encoders that give smooth output with short turns. In fact, a higher price often makes you feel like you are getting better stuff anyway. I am not sure it would inhibit sales a great deal. I could be wrong there. But it seems that the people who don't care about quality and just want a cheap controller are going to buy something like M-Audio anyway.

MajorFubar

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2018, 09:26:45 pm »
And then I see videos online of these keys just popping off and needing repair
Got any examples? I had thought that was only an issue with the mk1 controllers. Not that I'm excusing the problem; the quality of the keybed on the mk1 was inexcusably shocking in my opinion (actually in the opinion of most people who used it), but I had heard the mk2 was finally up to scratch, and I hadn't seen any videos or reviews stating otherwise.
2011 iMac 27" 2013 MBP 13" V Collection 6 Analog Lab 4 KeyLab 88 KeyLab 49 KeyStep

JamesO512

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2018, 10:17:34 pm »
The videos I am referring to are of the older model, and they say a lot about Arturia as a hardware maker. But the keys on my MKII looked the same and feel cheap and flimsy, with big gaps between them and lots of easy horizontal movement. They really feel like they wouldn't stand up to much real use. The keys are actually even flexible. Some even rotate/twist very slightly if you hit with enough force to get the highest velocities. Those videos don't reduce my worries about future problems with the keybed.

https://www.google.com/search?client=tablet-android-samsung&ei=ZFodXLz_GoXcjwSMkrT4DA&q=arturia+keylab+broken+keys&oq=arturia+keylab+broken&gs_l=mobile-gws-wiz-serp.1.0.0i22i30j33i299.62260.65831..67016...0.0..0.141.1804.2j14......0....1.........0j41j0i71j33i22i29i30j33i160j0i131i67j0i67.U3hhdPFdgjA

Does anyone know for sure that the new keybeds are different? Or is it just a rumor?

The more I dig around, the more impression I get that Arturia makes substandard hardware. I want a tool, not a headache. I hope I can find one elsewhere.

carpetsquare

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2019, 03:16:19 pm »
THE GOOD

- The sliders are really good! And there's a good number of them! Particularly for setting levels on mixes. This has really improved my workflow and mixes.
- CV/gate out is an awesome feature.
- The transport controls. There's a good number of them, they are functional in design and feel nice enough.
- More expression and pedal inputd than you will ever need!
- The pads send polyphonic aftertouch, and makes it possible to do "note repeat" like on an Akai MPC. If only Ableton actually supported this (bad Ableton!)
- Analog Lab is awesome. But it's not the reason I bought the Keylab. This was meant to be more like some fun icing on top, which it is.

THE MEH

The keys are not bad nut not great. Definitley a bit cheap and weak feeling. Not something I would take on the road, but fine for a studio. The keys on my 1987 DX7 blow them away in feel, quality and sensitivity. I guess some things they just don't make like they used to.

THE BAD

- The drum pads could be much better. No, you don't need to break them in, they are just not that great. I own an Akai MPC500 and the pads are far more playable (actually, the factory pads are terrible but you can get a cheap mod on the internet that makes them really good). I think the pads are pretty good for starting and stopping clips in Ableton, or picking notes step sequencer style, but a bit worthless for live drumming with expression. I actually prefer to use the piano keys for live drumming (they have better sensitivity). This is fair enough, live pad drumming is a pretty niche skill, and pads are probably hard or expensive to get right. There are much better pads out there for live drumming.

THE UGLY

- The rotary encoders. Considering how low quality they are (I agree with everything James says), I would have preferred them to simply not be there and for the price to be lowered. They are practically worthless. I was also expecting a higher level of quality for the keylab.

CONCLUSION

I'm keeping the Keylab because there doesn't seem to be anything better out there at the moment. It's not my dream controller, but the actual design and layout is pretty good. The only real competitor is the NI Complete Kontrol, but it doesn't have any sliders  ::)

LoveEnigma

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2019, 10:11:18 am »
HI carpetsquare.

How do you do note repeat with pads' polyphonic aftertouch on KeyLab MKII? Could you please elaborate how to set it up?

Thanks a lot in advance for your time and help.

carpetsquare

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Re: Keylab 61 MKII encoders VERY slow
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2019, 10:17:53 am »
It's theoretically possible to do note repeat with pressure sensitivity, but the software would have to implement the note repeat functionality. It's possible to do note repeat in Ableton (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLo2AzRARY8), but Ableton does not support "polyphonic aftertouch", so all the different pads would be the same level when you apply pressure. The cool thing about pressure sensitive note repeat is that you can do things like fade in snare rolls while keeping hats the same level. The Push 2 also supports polyphonic aftertouch, but ironically (seeing as the Push was designed for Live by Ableton), Ableton does not. I'm sure it's possible in Reaper (you can pretty much do anything), but I'd have no idea how.

In summary, the keylab itself does not have a note repeat feature, but it has polyphonic aftertouch, which would enable "polyphonic pressure sensitive note repeat" like you get on an Akai MPC in software that can do note repeat. It's hard to imagine why you'd want this unless you've experienced it (its' awesome!)

 

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