I was searching for a new studio controller that had a great weighted piano feel and a small footprint - and that special secret sauce called "playability". After 25+ years as a professional player on tours and in studios, I've played just about every keyboard out there, or at least used it as a MIDI controller for a live or studio rig.
Of all the brands on the market, I've always found the Roland keybeds to be the most satisfying, and the small footprint of the A-88 made it a clear choice for both the studio environment or any needed transportation to live gigs.
Fortunately, the A-88 did not disappoint in regards to the keys' weight, feel and playability. After all, that's why I'd pay $ for it, instead of some cheap product for a few hundred bucks.
Truth be told, I saw the A-88 being used by Spectrasonics on their promotional video for the new Keycape software, and that's what really tipped the scales for me.
There are only two reasons I would not give it a full 5 stars:
1 - The lack of a dedicated mod wheel (it's currently part of the pitch-bend / mod joystick). Yes, you can assign it to one of the small controller knobs, but that is a giant hassle.
2 - I wish there had been a way to include a few assignable buttons, such as simple transport controls. That would have made it an even better studio controller.
In all, if you are looking to spend money on a MIDI controller based primarily on WEIGHTED PIANO FEEL, you should be well satisfied with the A-88.