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Microphone Month 5

Roland A-88 Keyboard Controller Reviews

4.5 stars based on 13 customer reviews
Questions about the Roland A-88 Keyboard Controller?

Questions about the Roland A-88 Keyboard Controller?

Or call us at (800) 222-4700

  • from keyboard player February 7, 2017Music Background:
    music

    Love it

    Have been using this keyboard for a few months now and absolutely love it. The action is really special. Velocity curve perfect for me out of the box. A joy to play. Many, many thanks to Sweetwater for the careful packaging--keyboard arrived in pristine condition.

  • from Lexington, KY June 9, 2014Music Background:
    Composer for Film & Television

    Roland A88

    I've owned the Roland A80 for 25 years and has been the only controller that I've played that I felt was the closest action to a real piano. After seeing and playing the new A88, I knew that this was the perfect piano controller to replace my aging A80 in my composition studio. I love the feel of this piano.

    I think 25 years from now I'll probably buy another Roland...they make instruments for the discriminating musician.

  • from Yachats, OR April 16, 2014Music Background:
    Musician, singer/songwriter, Engineer

    Like a Rolls Royce 88 Key Controller Keyboard

    The velocity sensitivy worked correctly right out of the box. No having to tinker with settings and velocity curves.The feel of the keys are exactly what the keyboard players who come to the studio want. The action is perfect and the feel of the keys is nice and smooth. No Brainer install! Tested and works well with the following 3 DAWS ProTools, Cakewalk Sonar X2 producer and PreSonus StudioOne. Highly recommended! This is a quality product!

  • from August 22, 2013Music Background:
    Producer, Composer, Keyboardist, Samplist.

    The Roland Legacy

    I've owned Roland Keyboard Controllers for almost 20 years: A-80 (still in use), A-50, AX-1 etc. And now I am blown away with my new A-88 because of its unique Roland-Feel which is the closer thing to a real piano. The feel is awesome and its real-time controllers are great for the serious Midi-geek! I am so proud of being a Roland user and definitely the best bang for the buck you can get! Viva Roland!!

  • from July 27, 2013Music Background:
    Keyboardist, Producer

    Love At First Site

    OMG! This keyboard feels so good! I love the slim design as well. Most keyboards are so thick today. This keyboard is perfect, and as a traveling musician, It will be very easy for me to take this on a train. Thank you Roland. Thank you Sweetwater!

  • from June 19, 2013Music Background:
    Musician

    Can't go wrong with A-88

    After 2 weeks own this Controller I can say it's excatly what I want .Wooden keybed give you a best feeling like a real Grand. This product is like a tank, solid but also light weight. Only 2 knobs but enough for who love playing piano. The special thing i love is Keybed feeling. I owned a cheap M Audio Keystation 88 for 2 years and it's suck (cause it's cheap) . So difficult to perform low-velocity note with M-audio but with A88 you can ! alway can ! Trust me, if you 're finding a good keybed for playing piano, you can't go wrong with A-88

  • from NY, NY USA June 5, 2013Music Background:
    Music Producer

    Solid Keyboard Controller

    Recently purchased this controller to replace another well known brand that I really fell in love with because of the feel. Plus it was only 76 keys. Never thought another brand could meet or exceed that KB but Roland's A-88 sure does! The weighted keys are just right, not too heavy like some other brands. The build quality is solid but it doesn't weigh so much that you couldn't travel to gigs easily. This is not your bells and whistles kind of controller (M-Audio, Akai), it's a simple setup great for composing and producing. I like the fact that I can get to those lower sounds without having to push the octave button. Haven't done too much with the D-Beam feature yet, but I'll find a use for that soon. I'm very satisfied!

  • from June 1, 2013Music Background:
    descended from a long line of Cacophonix's

    I love it!

    I took lessons up to Grade 7 when I was younger, and while i'll never play Carnegie Hall, whenever I find myslef in front of a piano - I want to play it. It usually goes pretty well, and people who have pianos in their houses always ask me to play. Where I live, I can't just bash tunes out on a Bosendorfer 130, especially when the kids are asleep (my most productive time). Use this with "The Giant" by Native Instruments on your Lappy, and some Sennheiser 580's or similar, and you will be transported to a magical place.

  • from Atlanta November 11, 2016Music Background:
    Professional

    Great Feel

    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.

  • from July 21, 2015Music Background:
    piano study from a very early age, studies in piano and organ at UOP, many years experience accompanying and performing in a wide variety of demanding situations, published composer

    Exacty what I wanted

    I needed an 88 key controller with a key action that gave me the expressive control a finely regulated high-end grand piano gives. This means that the slightest change in how a key is touched should produce a corresponding change in timbre and volume when mated--and this part is critical-- to a high end piano sampling engine. This is what this controller does very competently. As a piano technician for the last 35 years, and a staff piano tech for a university music department, it's easy to be jaded and cynical about something that purports to imitate the real thing, as I am around them and working on them all the time. This is an excellent representation though, and while nothing virtual is ever exactly like the real thing, this is a remarkably close.
    I will likely never use some of the other features this controller offers, but I don't need to in order to feel I've gotten my money's worth.

  • from Stratford, CT January 10, 2013

    Perfect for My Needs

    This keyboard is a fabulous unit for gigging. I purchased it to replace my TANK of a keyboard (the AKAI MPK 88) because it weighs about half as much. A robust MIDI controller? Definitely not. There's no display and limited flexibility. And programming via the keys themselves is simply awkward. But what you do is AMAZING feel. Despite the very heavy feel of the keys, the action is smooth as silk and surprisingly nimble. Because the control section is off to the left, this keyboard fits into the "extra wide" category, so be aware when purchasing a case. Speaking of which, at this time there aren't any truly good case options. Ultimately very happy with this unit so far - the feel is so nice, it actually makes me sound better!

  • from Miami March 14, 2013Music Background:
    Producer Musician

    Almost Ideal But....

    This keyboard is an answer to my wishes of a simple, no frills keyboard controller with a good piano action where I can put my computer and other peripherals where I want them in front of me without the interference of needles bells and whistles. The keyboard feel is great, the D--Beam controller is a nice feature to have and the whole thing is surprisingly light making it fairly portable.
    The only downside (at least with my unit) is that the side of the keyboard where the controls panel is tends to arch or bend downwards revealing a less that rock solid construction quality for the not-so-cheap price which is a real pity, otherwise I would've given it 5 stars.

  • from Bay Area, CA April 24, 2013Music Background:
    Pro musician

    Almost great!

    I'd almost give it a 4 even though I don't really think it is "great!" because it's better than most other weighted controllers out there but then I don't think that would help to improve the product since they need constructive reviews (maybe 3.8 stars). What I like about it is that it is really light and compact for an 88 key controller. The key tops also feel really nice and the weighting is pretty good. The USB port and the ability to power it from your computer is priceless. Setup was fairly simple on my Macbook Pro Retina although there are several steps you need to follow in the MIDI device configuration utility just to get playing. I prefer when you can just plug a device in and it works (like when I use it with a MIDI to USB converter).

    What I don't like is the velocity curve and the D-Beam controller. The D-Beam controller sucks pretty bad in my opinion. Totally uncomfortable to use and isn't useful for volume control since it goes full tilt once you pull your hand away. Seems to be more of a gimmick than a useful feature. It also doesn't seem to have a decoupled hammer and key-stick. This makes it play nothing like a real piano and that's all I really want it for. Real piano actions allow you to play harder based on the speed of the key, not the distance the key travels. Think about the repetition lever, for example, and how you don't need to release the key all the way before you can re-trigger a note. Because of this, it forces me to completely change the way I play and I don't want to play piano two different ways. The velocity curve also is a bit strange in that it plays really nice when playing softly but trying to gradually get louder is really tough. Instead it's nice and mellow when playing soft and when you try to build the dynamics, suddenly it's just SCREAMING LOUD! On the positive side, you can play softer classical pieces pretty easy; just don't expect the same dynamics control as a grand.

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