CME UF6 Mini review...
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.