Best Full-size (88 key) Piano Action Keyboard/Synth to buy ?


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Hi - Anyone got suggestions on what to buy ?

The Roland DS88 still seems a good purchase, though this has been around for a few years now.

Has it been superceded with a better model, and since it was popular a few years ago, have any other models improved on it ?

Thanks, Simon
 
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Whether another model is better depends on what you're looking for. You can find things at or near its price that have, for example, better action, or lighter travel weight, or better sounds of a given type (better EPs, better organs, whatever), or better MIDI controller functions, or the ability to have more simultaneous effects, or a full sequencer, whatever, but maybe then you'll lose something like trigger pads or pattern sequencing or custom sample loading or 16-part splits/layers. So depending on which of those things are appealing to you, you could consider Casio PX-5S, Kurzweil SP6, Roland RD-88, Korg Kross 2 88. (Also, some handle smooth patch transitions better than the Juno, while others don't handle them even as well as the Juno.)
 
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Hi, I recently replaced an ageing 88 note Korg O1w/ProX with a Nord Stage 3. It's also relevant that I played conventional piano for years before acquiring the Korg over 20 years ago and the Nord last year. The Korg was weighted and the Stage 3 is semi weighted and there's very little difference in the feel. The previous reply from anotherscott says it all, I suggest it's about deciding what you want the keyboard to do for you, how much you want to spend and what feels good for your playing style. Personally, I researched and tried all the options and ended up with the Nord because the quality of the samples, the transition from one sound to another, mix of functionality and the flexibility it provides are quite astounding compared to the other options and what I had before.
 
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Hi - Anyone got suggestions on what to buy ?

The Roland DS88 still seems a good purchase, though this has been around for a few years now.

Has it been superceded with a better model, and since it was popular a few years ago, have any other models improved on it ?

Thanks, Simon
Ah yes the space race ... always fun. I've been on that track with a particular keyboard series: now on my 4th model which, since I like a bargain, has already been superseded. There's always newer/better, features come and some go. Last go was for better internal sound, which I rarely use, and 'class compliant' USB MIDI, as badly documented as all things MIDI (tradition!!) plus a few new wrinkles such as an almost believable Leslie effect; unfortunately, on the way to better internal sound and still more realistic touch (remember when this was just better percussion and delay effects?) both of which perpetuated the continuous upward creep in weight IMHO pushing 'portable' too far (previous owner unloaded it because it was so heavy), necessitating option 4B, a lighter weight 72 key cousin, on the side. The exciting thing is, even when you stay in the same lane, they change a lot of stuff around unexpectedly so there's something to be said for just sticking with what you know. Also, I'm probably not alone - 100s of voices available but just 1 gets half of the action - go figure.
 
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Both the Roland DS and its bigger brother the FA are now old school, and as Roland have released a glut of newer models based on their Zen Core system personally I would not touch either of these Roland boards unless they were the subject of a huge discount.

As to if any other model or make is better than a DS well that is subjective, three years ago I bought a Kross 2 instead of a DS and whilst it was a close call, the in keyboard recording was vastly superior on the Korg. Sound wise there was not a lot to choose between them. The Korg also had better Layering and easier call up of a Layered Sound than the DS but the DS keybed was much better.

What is best for you depends upon what you want to play and your budget which with you singling out a DS would appear to be $1000.
 
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Just to throw in a tangential idea:
Some people want the "weighted key" "piano action" style keyboard because they want to have the play-ability of a piano which cannot be obtained with synth style keybeds or anything else.

Plus, people want a range of features: realistic piano sounds, organ sounds, portability, user-friendliness, easy set-up, etc.

Plus, everyone wants a good price.

A challenge is that to get all three - piano feel, features / sound, and price, you really have to search or compromise.

One option to consider is to buy a keyboard you like, but plug it in, by midi, to something else for sounds and effects.

You can get a modest-price keybed you like, and stick with it forever. Or, if it dies, replace it, but retain and upgrade the rest of the set-up.

You can plug a keyboard into a sound module and run that signal out to an amp.
Or, you plug your favorite keyboard into a laptop via an "audio interface," and out to amp.

This way, you always have the keybed you like and are familiar with, without having to buy all of the function in one bundle - keybed, sounds, features. Plus, you are set up to record in DAW.

As far as I know, no one makes an 88-key keybed with no features except sustain pedal-in-in and midi-out and maybe volume on the unit (so you would not have to clik in laptop to change volume). But this would be cool.

You spend $500 maybe for an awesome keybed, then just run it however you want, otherwise. Who knows - maybe someone could make an awesome keybed for $200.

I get this idea from synths. Almost any keyboard, with lousy or great synth feel, has midi out. these are "controllers." They merely send out the key press signal. They start at $200 and go up. However, I have never heard of one claiming to have the same feel / action as a piano.

The Yamaha p45 is around $500, but it i snot just the keybed; it includes the piano sounds onboard, as well as other sounds. My idea is that you could merely shop for the key bed, and get the sounds elsewhere.
 
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I've owned several digital pianos including Yamaha CLP-560 and DGX-660. These, along with most keyboards today, are based on the old paradigm which has all the voices, sequencer, etc. hard-coded into the keyboard which is usually proprietary and rarely expandable or editable. After much research I discovered a whole new paradigm for digital pianos. It uses the DAW in the computer exclusively to generate voices and do all the sequencer work and much more. Look at the Native Instruments S88. It uses a fully-weighted, graded hammer action keyboard from Fatar which Guy Michelmore raves about on YouTube. But the REALLY cool thing is that it seamlessly integrates DAW controls into the keyboard. It also has fully-interactive color LEDs over each key to assist in chord fingering, voice groupins, etc. That makes the whole system open-ended and future-proof! We all know computers and software will just get better and better. Why not own a keyboard that takes full advantage of all that? That's my 2 cents worth. Hope it helps.
 
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As far as I know, no one makes an 88-key keybed with no features except sustain pedal-in-in and midi-out and maybe volume on the unit (so you would not have to clik in laptop to change volume). But this would be cool.
M-Audio Hammer 88 and Kawai VPC-1 come close.
 
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Whether another model is better depends on what you're looking for. You can find things at or near its price that have, for example, better action, or lighter travel weight, or better sounds of a given type (better EPs, better organs, whatever), or better MIDI controller functions, or the ability to have more simultaneous effects, or a full sequencer, whatever, but maybe then you'll lose something like trigger pads or pattern sequencing or custom sample loading or 16-part splits/layers. So depending on which of those things are appealing to you, you could consider Casio PX-5S, Kurzweil SP6, Roland RD-88, Korg Kross 2 88. (Also, some handle smooth patch transitions better than the Juno, while others don't handle them even as well as the Juno.)

Thanks, I play an upright piano, so good key action is a must, with 88 keys essential. As for sounds, well as impressive as keyboard manufacturers sound offering 1,000+ voices, I'm happy with maybe 50 variants. May have a look at the Korg Kross 2 88
 
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Hi, I recently replaced an ageing 88 note Korg O1w/ProX with a Nord Stage 3. It's also relevant that I played conventional piano for years before acquiring the Korg over 20 years ago and the Nord last year. The Korg was weighted and the Stage 3 is semi weighted and there's very little difference in the feel. The previous reply from anotherscott says it all, I suggest it's about deciding what you want the keyboard to do for you, how much you want to spend and what feels good for your playing style. Personally, I researched and tried all the options and ended up with the Nord because the quality of the samples, the transition from one sound to another, mix of functionality and the flexibility it provides are quite astounding compared to the other options and what I had before.
Thanks. Yup, weighted keys are a must for me. I will look at the Nord (I think I did look at this last year but something moved me to the Juno88 - But I'll look at the spec again - Thanks
 
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Ah yes the space race ... always fun. I've been on that track with a particular keyboard series: now on my 4th model which, since I like a bargain, has already been superseded. There's always newer/better, features come and some go. Last go was for better internal sound, which I rarely use, and 'class compliant' USB MIDI, as badly documented as all things MIDI (tradition!!) plus a few new wrinkles such as an almost believable Leslie effect; unfortunately, on the way to better internal sound and still more realistic touch (remember when this was just better percussion and delay effects?) both of which perpetuated the continuous upward creep in weight IMHO pushing 'portable' too far (previous owner unloaded it because it was so heavy), necessitating option 4B, a lighter weight 72 key cousin, on the side. The exciting thing is, even when you stay in the same lane, they change a lot of stuff around unexpectedly so there's something to be said for just sticking with what you know. Also, I'm probably not alone - 100s of voices available but just 1 gets half of the action - go figure.
Yup, the "There's 10,000 voices" is wasted on me - As you say, I'll probably only ever use 10 !
 
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Both the Roland DS and its bigger brother the FA are now old school, and as Roland have released a glut of newer models based on their Zen Core system personally I would not touch either of these Roland boards unless they were the subject of a huge discount.

As to if any other model or make is better than a DS well that is subjective, three years ago I bought a Kross 2 instead of a DS and whilst it was a close call, the in keyboard recording was vastly superior on the Korg. Sound wise there was not a lot to choose between them. The Korg also had better Layering and easier call up of a Layered Sound than the DS but the DS keybed was much better.

What is best for you depends upon what you want to play and your budget which with you singling out a DS would appear to be $1000.
Thank you - I did appreciate the DS is quite a few years old, didn't realise that of the FA too !... The Kork looks promising. My budget was IRO £1500/$2000 but would pay more for the right kit. I play conventional piano for 30+ years so the "synth" ketboard has got to be the right feel :)
 
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Just to throw in a tangential idea:
Some people want the "weighted key" "piano action" style keyboard because they want to have the play-ability of a piano which cannot be obtained with synth style keybeds or anything else.

Plus, people want a range of features: realistic piano sounds, organ sounds, portability, user-friendliness, easy set-up, etc.

Plus, everyone wants a good price.

A challenge is that to get all three - piano feel, features / sound, and price, you really have to search or compromise.

One option to consider is to buy a keyboard you like, but plug it in, by midi, to something else for sounds and effects.

You can get a modest-price keybed you like, and stick with it forever. Or, if it dies, replace it, but retain and upgrade the rest of the set-up.

You can plug a keyboard into a sound module and run that signal out to an amp.
Or, you plug your favorite keyboard into a laptop via an "audio interface," and out to amp.

This way, you always have the keybed you like and are familiar with, without having to buy all of the function in one bundle - keybed, sounds, features. Plus, you are set up to record in DAW.

As far as I know, no one makes an 88-key keybed with no features except sustain pedal-in-in and midi-out and maybe volume on the unit (so you would not have to clik in laptop to change volume). But this would be cool.

You spend $500 maybe for an awesome keybed, then just run it however you want, otherwise. Who knows - maybe someone could make an awesome keybed for $200.

I get this idea from synths. Almost any keyboard, with lousy or great synth feel, has midi out. these are "controllers." They merely send out the key press signal. They start at $200 and go up. However, I have never heard of one claiming to have the same feel / action as a piano.

The Yamaha p45 is around $500, but it i snot just the keybed; it includes the piano sounds onboard, as well as other sounds. My idea is that you could merely shop for the key bed, and get the sounds elsewhere.
Yes, thanks.

I was also looking at keyboards which had the capability of reproducing a "fuller chord" by just one key ? Or especially a fuller deeper chord on the left hand with one key press
 
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good key action is a must
In the Juno DS price range (where I listed alternatives), I think Casio has the best action, but there's always some subjectivity to this.
My budget was IRO £1500/$2000 but would pay more for the right kit.
At that higher budget, you can find what most people would consider better actions than any of the earlier models mentioned which were all in the $1000-$1300 range. As you get to the $2000 neighborhood (and with quality action being more important than having more than about 50 sound or lots of other non-piano capabilities), you could consider a whole other bunch of boards, like Yamaha P515 or CP88 (P515 having the better action), Roland FP90 or RD2000, Korg SV2 or Grandstage (that action is also in the lower cost D1 but that has only 30 sounds), Dexibell S7, Kawai MP7SE or ES8 (or forthcoming ES8 replacement, ES920).
I was also looking at keyboards which had the capability of reproducing a "fuller chord" by just one key ? Or especially a fuller deeper chord on the left hand with one key press
That's tricky, that's a feature you typically find in a model sold as an arranger, and not too many of those have 88 keys. I think the Casio PX-560 can probably do that, and probably also the Yamaha DGX660 and Korg XE20, though I think the Casio probably has the best action of that bunch.
 
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Hi - Anyone got suggestions on what to buy ?

The Roland DS88 still seems a good purchase, though this has been around for a few years now.

Has it been superceded with a better model, and since it was popular a few years ago, have any other models improved on it ?

Thanks, Simon

I bought a Roland DS88 a few months ago and I'm perfectly happy. For the price it's great. I still haven't used all the features but i love it.
 
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Hi - Anyone got suggestions on what to buy ?

The Roland DS88 still seems a good purchase, though this has been around for a few years now.

Has it been superceded with a better model, and since it was popular a few years ago, have any other models improved on it ?

Thanks, Simon
Yes
 
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Yes I owned one but they dropped the price of the YAMAHA MOXF8 to 1199$ here so I got the YAMAHA which still seems like the industry standard when it comes to gigging stage pianos etc.I will be using it at home .
 
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Best action in a stage piano hands down : Kawai MP11SE, fully wooden action.
Best runners-up with hybrid wood/plastic actions : Yamaha CP88 and Roland RD-2000.
If you want built-in speakers with a portable, you'll find the same actions that are in the CP88 and RD-2000 in Yamaha's P515 (slightly altered with let-off simulations a bit more 'pianistic') and Roland's FP90 : the PHA-50 from Roland really is lovely. The CP88, well, you really need to try it out, you might fall in love with it quite quickly : wonderful action, an interface you just want to touch and it's just really fun to play.

I personally wouldn't bother with plastic actions anymore, even ones as good as Kawai's RHIII (still too noisy). I've been in a very time-consuming struggle to find the best board/piano for me and in the end opted for the MP11SE. I wouldn't trade it for anything...
 
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Best action in a stage piano hands down : Kawai MP11SE, fully wooden action.
Best runners-up with hybrid wood/plastic actions : Yamaha CP88 and Roland RD-2000.
If you want built-in speakers with a portable, you'll find the same actions that are in the CP88 and RD-2000 in Yamaha's P515 (slightly altered with let-off simulations a bit more 'pianistic') and Roland's FP90 : the PHA-50 from Roland really is lovely. The CP88, well, you really need to try it out, you might fall in love with it quite quickly : wonderful action, an interface you just want to touch and it's just really fun to play.

I personally wouldn't bother with plastic actions anymore, even ones as good as Kawai's RHIII (still too noisy). I've been in a very time-consuming struggle to find the best board/piano for me and in the end opted for the MP11SE. I wouldn't trade it for anything...
Well the YAMAHA P515 has the latest wood nx action
 

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