The user-installable 80-voice UFDP-1 sound expansion board from CME can easily be retrofitted to any of the CME UF controller keyboards. It contains five programs with quality stereo samples of two acoustic pianos, a grand piano, an electric piano, a string pad sound, plus a reverb and a chorus effect. The programs can be edited with the Volume, Cutoff, Resonance, Attack, Release, Pan, Reverb and Chorus controls. The settings are memorized for each of the programs. After you turn on the keyboard... Read more
Part Number: UFDP-1
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CME UF8 USB
MEET THE FAMILY
MIDI CONTROLLER KEYBOARD
JARGON JOCKEY Mono aftertouch provides a control signal that affects all notes being played on the keyboad. Pressing harder increases the amount of this control signal. With polyphonic aftertouch, which is far less common, each key generates its own signal. Aftertouch is often used to alter filter cutoff or some other modulation amount.
The UF8 is the high-end model of a family of keyboards. All have velocity and aftertouch, and all can be upgraded with the FireWire audio option when it becomes available. Only the UF8 has weighted action. Here are the other siblings:
UF5, $199, 49 keys
UF6, $299, 61 keys
UF7, $399, 76 keys
CLAIM CHECK CME says that the UF series is the most cost-effective master keyboard available, and claims several world firsts: metal construction MIDI master keyboard, digital audio firewire expansion option, breath control, and aftertouch on all their controllers, from 49 to 88 keys. Their web site also says that the first moment you touch UF, you will fall in love with it, thanks to the action.
The place: The Music China 2004 show, in Shanghai, China. Among the zillions of mics and mixers, there was a line of spiffy-looking USB keyboards. They werent knockoffs, they neither felt nor looked cheap, and they had a ton of controls. I checked out the keybed hmmm, serious stuff. I asked CMEs representative about the 88-note models price. He quoted a figure so low I thought we were dealing with a language barrier issue. Maybe he meant what it cost to make.
Fast forward to NAMM 2005, where CMEs keyboards made their US debut. About the price: lets just say his English was perfect. So is this the new wave of Chinese manufacturing, or had significant corners been cut? I had to find out. and Keyboard Central wanted to know too. THE SHAKE TEST Im not adverse to a little product abuse when testing reliability. But in a considerate
by Craig Anderton
88 weighted keys with a good feel at a righteous price. pretty cool.
No, thats not a computer keyboard just a suggestion on where to put one.
You gotta love the big data entry knob thats ringed with LEDs.
There are plenty of switches to control tranposition, split, layer, etc.
Use the faders to control levels, or serve as pseudodrawbars.
The eight knobs are easy to program for realtime control.
PROS Surprising quality, especially given the price. Great feel, with weighted keys and consistent aftertouch. Sturdy. Lots of easilyassignable controls. FireWire audio interface option. CONS Only one split/layer. No polyphonic aftertouch.
The sequencer controls require software support.
CME, www.cme-pro.com; U.S. dist. by Kaysound, www.kaysound.com, 514-633-8877 $599
CME UF8 USB MIDI CONTROLLER KEYBOARD
ITS WHAT INSIDE THAT COUNTS You cant see the UF8s grooviest feature, but you sure can touch it: the action. At this price point you might not expect much, but the weighted action feels right, the velocity is consistent, and the aftertouch is smoothly linear, unlike the almost on-off switch effect of some keyboards aftertouch.
move, UPS did that for me: The box looked like it had been beaten with baseball bats. The styrofoam spacers were crushed, and when I removed the keyboard, something was rolling around inside. I strongly doubted the thing had survived. but it did. INSTALLATION The package includes the keyboard, line lump AC adapter, sustain pedal, installation CD, USB cable, and manual in Chinese. Luckily, the web site had an English language PDF, and an updated driver. The driver wouldnt install under Windows XP, but worked perfectly with the XP + Service Pack 1 combo. For the Mac, the keyboard installed as expected with the OS X 2.x drivers. However, youre not restricted to using USB; theres a MIDI out jack for blasting data into a standard MIDI interface. OVERVIEW The case is sheet aluminum with plastic end bells and trim, and weighs a bit over 50 lbs. not bad. The action is weighted, and the keybed feels really good: just the right amount of resistance on keydown and bounce back on the release. The key-to-key consistency is spot on too. Hitting a key with the same subjective dynamics produced the same velocity value. Theres no programmable velocity curve, although there are four presets. Linear produces the most dynamic
effect. Another weights the curve so that you get into higher velocities sooner useful for triggering bass and drum parts for more uniform levels. The third curve weights everything toward high velocity, which is ideal for emulating the lack of dynamics with organs and such. The final S curve stays at low velocities, then transitions fairly quickly to high velocities good for essentially keyswitching between samples assigned to low and high velocities. The rear panel is Spartan: MIDI out, sustain pedal jack, controller pedal jack and breath control jack (both assignable to your controller number of choice), USB port, AC adapter jack, power on-off switch, and a cable hook to provide strain relief as well as minimize the odds of pulling out the AC adapter jack accidentally. Theres also an expansion slot for a FireWire audio interface, which was not yet available at the time of this review. CONTROLLERS You like knobs? There are eight assignable knobs, eight assignable 45mm faders, a master volume control that edits expression with GM standard devices, and sequencer transport controls. The faders have three defaults: volume for MIDI channels 1-8, the same for channels 9-16, and drawbar mode (supported by some instruments and software). The eight knobs tie default controller settings into GM parameters, but knob and fader assignments are very easy to change.
Cleverly, with a fader or knob at minimum, the display shows 000 for a bit, then shows the program number and the Program button lights up. You can then change the program by spinning the data wheel. Its cool that when the volume is down, you automatically have the option to do something that you would likely do with the volume down. As to feel, the knobs are center detented. While welcome for panning and controllers that go compared to a base value, for smooth sweeps the detent gets in the way a bit so use the faders for that. However, they do have a smooth, welloiled feel (I observed MIDI data in Creamwares MIDI Monitor, and noted no jitter just a smooth progression from one value to the next). Theyre kinda close together, though; instead of mounting them in a straight line, I would have preferred to see two offset knob groups. The Big Honkin Data Wheel That Looks Like a UFO is just a knob thats ringed with LEDs. But it looks cool, and when the internal demo sequence is going, the lights fly around the knob. Whee! The transport buttons were a bit of a letdown; pressing the record button showed some sys-ex, so I used that with Sonars Generic Control Surface to control the play button. but didnt get much further. I checked whether the buttons emulated several popular control surfaces but again, no luck. Nor did they seem to transmit MTC. I suspect these buttons have to be specifically supported in software, like other control surfaces. Indeed, CME reports that theyre working on a software
update that includes templates. IN USE While reviewing the UF8, I was also reviewing IK Multimedias Sonik Synth 2 for EQ. The two made a great pair I had all the keyboard needed to check out the patches (particularly the pianos and other wide-range sounds), and took advantage of the UF8s split/layer and program selection options. I also appreciated the ease of assigning controllers for realtime parameter tweaks. And even though you cant assign aftertouch as a controller within Sonik Synth 2s engine (although an upgrade is imminent, Im told), several patches are programmed for aftertouch under the hood and showed off the keyboards smooth aftertouch response. CONCLUSIONS CME has indeed met their goal of pro-
ducing a USB master keyboard thats strong, cost-effective, and feels great. Its not the first aluminum master keyboard, but I get their point: In a world of plastic USB controllers, this is a different animal. I do wish it had polyphonic aftertouch. I know thats not a big deal for most people, but I keep my Ensoniq keyboards around for that feature and anything that makes a keyboard more expressive is welcome. Still, quality channel aftertouch is way better than nothing. Did I fall in love with it? Well, thats a bit flowery. But I have to admit that when I played it, my first thought was Wow, Id like to buy this. When I found out the price, that changed to Im going to buy this. And I am. Ive put up with five-octave, unweighted plastic keys for too long. its time to upgrade, and for me the UF8 is the right product, at the right time, for the right price.
SOFTWARE DRIVER VERSION 1.0.1 COMPUTER REQUIREMENTS Mac: OS X 10.2 or higher, Windows XP with Service Pack 1 KEYBOARD 88 keys with weighted action and channel aftertouch CONTROLLERS 8 assignable knobs, 9 assignable faders, mod wheel, pitch bend wheel, velocity with four switchable curves, jacks for sustain pedal, volume pedal, breath control OCTAVE SWITCH 3 octaves SEQUENCER CONTROL Record, stop, play, fast forward, rewind, return to zero DISPLAY 3-digit, seven-segment LEDs; lit switches EXPANSION OPTIONS FireWire audio interface POWER SOURCE USB, AC adapter (required for aftertouch and use of breath control jack)
Copyright 2005 by United Entertainment Media, Inc. Reprinted with permission from KEYBOARD www.keyboard.com 5718
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A study with our partner: Practicing Physicians Points of View on Modern CME
The user-installable 80-voice UFDP-1 sound expansion board from CME can easily be retrofitted to any of the CME UF controller keyboards. It contains five programs with quality stereo samples of two acoustic pianos, a grand piano, an electric piano, a string pad sound, plus a reverb and a chorus effect. The programs can be edited with the Volume, Cutoff, Resonance, Attack, Release, Pan, Reverb and Chorus controls. The settings are memorized for each of the programs. After you turn on the keyboard the last used program, including its latest settings, is automatically selected.
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