What Do "Tracker Touch" Keyboards Feel Like?

Excerpts from a Hauptwerk forum thread.

Hi All,

Yesterday I had the pleasure to visit Darryl at Classic MIDI Works in Markham, Ontario, Canada. Darryl showed me the CMK 3-stack MidiKeyboards with tracker-touch.

I was able to sit down and play the keyboards. I was immediately surprised! I had expected to play the one that was sold when I last visited (about 3 years ago) however this newer version was quite different and much improved. The keys although made of plastic, are quite solid. The keys have very limited lateral movement (i.e. they do not appear loose). They require moderate downward pressure and have a very nice "feel". The software that comes with it makes it very easy to customize for the application. In fact its design has specific default settings for Hauptwerk. It includes all the MIDI connections that you would want including built-in MIDI mergers so all keyboards and the pedalboard (that they also sell separately) terminate in a single MIDI connector.

Most of Classic MIDI Works (potential) customers are located outside of Canada and do not have the advantage of seeing/touching/feeling this product before buying it so I thought this mini-review may be helpful to some considering purchasing.

All the best,

Ken (from www.organsamples.com)

Question from forum member

Hi Ken,

Unless I missed it, you don't specifically mention the tracker-touch effect on these units. As I'm thinking of buying a 4-manual stack (either from Canada or home-built) I would like to know if the Fatar units have reasonable action. I have nice wood-core keyboards at home but am now playing regularly in a church where the action is significantly heavier, which is giving me quite a hard time!

Answer from another CMK-2 user

Being that I have the first production set of these new Classic tracker touch keyboards (that is what I've been told anyhow) I can give you some feedback on the feel of the tracker touch simulation. I have the 3 manual stack. First these keyboards use a rubber grommet type device to give the resistance. Thus there is minimal effect on the keys return, only on the press. The resistence is just enough that you are aware it is there. If you take your hand in a 5 finger scale position and lightly rest it on the keys you will not push down through the keys, even with a bit of upper arm weight involved. Try that on normal keyboards and the weight of your hand most likely pushes the keys down slightly. You will need to either use some arm weight to push all keys down, or use a bit more finger leverage to push them down individually. It is by no means difficult to push the keys, on the contrary. It is quite easy to push through the resistence if you need to, especially for faster playing.

The touch is best suited for delicate playing I feel, perhaps for a solo voice or something similar. I actually used this touch for reference on the tracker simulation on our latest Silbermann release. Thus by utilizing these keyboards with the St.George set and MIDI velocity and wind system enabled you can get the maximum benefits from the tracker simulation. Basically the resistence is just enough that it will allow you to play the needed lower velocity to get the speech effects from the organ samples in HW2. This results in smoother attacks on the notes during softer "lower velocity" attacks.

You can't compare tracker touch with weighted piano keys, they are two different ideas and two different feels.

As mentioned previously, the included software for piston arrangements and set up is excellent, easy to use and problem free. Even on XP-64 it works without a hitch. (I also have Classic's swell pedals which are great, and integrate seamlessly into the whole set up and into HW2.)

Lastly, the folks at Classic are just plain nice to work with and have excellent support. Should you have any issues I am sure they would take care of it quickly for you.

I hope that helps a little.
Brett Milan

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