April 19, 2006

CME UF6 Mini review...

by Chris Randall

The other fun thing I got this weekend was a CME controller keyboard. I'm a bit of a stick-in-the-mud as far as keybeds go. I'm not a very technical keyboard player (read: I don't know a fuckload of chords) but I'm fast and accurate, and have an octave and a fourth stretch. What this means is that the current popular trend for 3 and 2 1/2 octave keyboards, while fine for poking out progressive house basslines, are basically shit for my actual playing.

Five octaves are about the minimum for 2-handed playing, I think, and thus my initial search for a new controller was for keybeds with 60 or more keys. This field is surprisingly limited, especially if you don't want/need a fucking USB audio interface. I had pretty much settled on the CME UF6 or 7 to begin with, because the price-to-features ratio was quite good. But then I was reading Thomas Dolby's blog, and he is using a CME UF8 on his current tour. I figured good enough for Thomas Dolby, good enough for me.

This is a mini-review, in as much as I haven't actually tried out a lot of the features of this controller. I basically plugged it up and flailed for a bit to make sure it works. One handy feature is that it has MMC transport controls, which is nice. The keybed is great, not real springy like normal Korg/Yamaha stuff. It is firm, and each key has a little more give at the end of travel than at the beginning. The faders can be put in drawbar mode, which Just Worked with B4, and was good for an hour or so of fun. Much easier to program that particular softsynth with faders than a mouse. It also has that rare breed, a breath controller input. Didn't try this out, as I think that looks gay even in private, but it's there if you need it.

In construction, the UF6 seems pretty tough. The entire chassis, except the small panel in which the mod and pitch wheels sit, is aluminum, even the sculpted endcheeks. I don't think I'd have any misgivings taking it on stage. Built-in splits, which is also handy for live use. In fact, the control compliment lends itself more to live use than studio, in my opinion. The only caveat is that the front-panel legends are kind of difficult to read in low-light situations, which could lead to some exciting moments.

Basically, after a cursory examination, it is what it is, and does what it says, in a semi-stylish and obviously durable fashion. You really can't expect much more from a controller at this price point. Worth the money so far.




Apr.19.2006 @ 3:18 PM
I am so tempted by this - I crave a keyboard controller with aftertouch. I just can't justify the purchase as I don't have nearly enough time to make music. I keep telling myself when I get my first paying gig...

Apr.19.2006 @ 3:46 PM
When you were searching for keyboards to use a master MIDI keyboard and finally settled on the Prophet 2000 (which I wanted to buy from you but as soon as I got the money together it had already been sold), what other ones were you looking at? The CME feels really nice and has nice controllers (which many magazine reviews and yours reflect) but so many of user reviews say that it crapped out on them after a few months of use. I'm using a Roland JX-10 right now, which is great except that it doesn't respond to MIDI CCs or SysEx. I figure if I'm going to use an old synth/sampler I might as well get one I can control, so that's probably the route I'll go.

Apr.19.2006 @ 8:04 PM
I was at my uncle's last weekend - he's a composer and an amazing pianist, and he has one of these controllers. He said that it was one of the only controllers with aftertouch these days - is that right? Anyway - I gave it a go, and was surprised at how the keys seemed to "stick" at their top positions. Playing for a bit loosened them up, but they still kind of stick. Does your controller feel like this?



Apr.19.2006 @ 8:28 PM
Chris Randall
Mine isn't sticky at all. In fact, it is one of the better keyboard actions I've owned, and I've owned a _lot_ of synths. Is your uncle's the weighted version? The UF8? It has a different keybed then the semi-weighted UF5, 6, and 7.



Apr.19.2006 @ 8:44 PM
Novations also do aftertouch and have nice keys.

Apr.20.2006 @ 11:52 AM
penzoil washington
I'm happy with a UF7. I think some of the jazzy stuff perhaps isn't implemented fully but I don't care. It also stupidly and spontaneously will start sending MTC, but that doesn't bother me either. It's better than the K2500 I used to use for sure.

Apr.20.2006 @ 7:48 PM
Yeah - I think my uncle's keyboard was the weighted one - sure felt like it. I didn't note the model number - was too busy tweaking some extremely expensive convolution reverb he picked up.





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