Deepmind 12 vs Cobalt 8x as master keys

Hi all,

I’m in the market for a poly synth with large keys for around 700 euro’s which in preference I could use to also control my other synths (Digitone for example). I’ve seen the Cobalt 8x offered for 650 euro’s and the Deepmind 12 I have a standing offer on a very newish second hand unit for 550 euro’s. Both cheaper than a midi-controller with good keys (like the novation SL MkIII 61) would go for.

I currently own a few Elektrons (A4 MK1, Rytm MK1, Digitone, Octatrack) and Behringer mono’s (TD-3, Crave) that I operate with a 32 Keystep. This is working fine for sequencing but I find the 32 mini keys too limited to actually play it as an instruments much. Having played piano when I was young I find myself missing a controller with more octaves and more playable keys (49 to 61 keys).

There seem to be some great 37 key options (Minilogue XD, Cobalt 8, Poly D, Monopoly) that might be very fun to play but I’m feeling that 37 keys does not bring much extra range compared to the Keystep.

In the 49 to 61 key range and under $1000 there seem to be really only two options, the Deepmind 12 and the Cobalt 8x. The Cobalt 8x seems to have the better keybed (and more solid build) so would seem to be better suited as master keys then the Deepmind 12. On the other hand I’m not really sure how I will like the VA-synthesis or how well it would fit in my current line-up. Then again the Deepmind 12 is often said to be quite thin sounding for an analog which is basically the same thing people have said about the Analog Four MK1. I’m not really sure if I find the Deepmind 12 to be very inspiring as an instrument even though from video’s I’ve seen that it is quite an FX beast that can do Pads/FX/textures/ambient stuff really well.

I’m strangely drawn to the Cobalt 8x purely for it’s build looks and it’s Fatar keys but part of me is feeling also that as a synth the VA might not blow me away.

Also both don’t seem super ideal for use as master keys as both require menu diving to assign midi-out to another channel and the Cobalt 8X uses the same midi channel for send as receive. This last limitation seems to be a bit of an issue as if the Cobalt needs to be assigned to the same midi channel as other gear in order to send notes out then it would also start receiving notes and sequencer data. I’m also getting a MioXM but not sure if that would solve all issues with midi.

Any tips or advice or alternative suggestions?

I don’t have a lot to offer other than to say: I had an Argon8, and it had a really nice-feeling keybed with a very inviting action. I would like to get another in the X format at some point in the future, in no small part because I enjoyed playing it so much.

Cobalt’s keybed is far more superior to Deepmind’s.

I have a similar Elektron set up to you (mines AR mkII, A4 mkII, DT, DN, OT mkII) and I’ve had both the Cobalt (37 key) and Deep Mind 12d.

I know your question is more about the keyboards, but obvs the synth engines will play a big part of your decision.

I sold the Cobalt as it always sounded clinical/sterile against ALL my other gear, but particularly the Elektrons. I tried to work with it, and like it, but it would never sit in and I hated the feel of the filter, and really disliked the lack of vibe to the sound.

The Deepmind on the other hand, I really like it… it works great with everything. It sits and works fantastically with the A4 and Digitone with minimal effort (=great work flow).

I’m not primarily a keys player, so I’m happy to use whatever Arturia keyboard I have to hand… but sonically, the DM is a world above the Cobalt.

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As someone who has had a lot of keyboards I think the Deepmind keyboard is perfectly fine (unless you are a concert pianist).
Also I think that menu and parameter access on the Deepmind has been implemented extremely well.

This is exactly what I was fearing so I’m grateful for your input.

Maybe the wish to have both a great keyboard and a great synth in a single 700 euro machine is too much to ask really. Probably would be better off getting a Deepmind 12 for now and deal with a lesser keyboard (but still improvement over 32 mini keys of the Keystep) and then work towards saving for a Hydrasynth/Summit/Rev-2 down the line.

It be nice to have a good master keyboard but I feel that the poly synth part is more important to me now.

Might be good to mention I am not planning to use any VST’s at this moment.