Best Keyboard Synth for £1000 budget - beginner.


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If your budget is now £1250, you could consider two boards. One a Synth
I think this is a good way to go for someone who wants 88-key piano AND "electronic music, synthesizer and the ability to totally play about with knobs and create new sounds etc."

Looking at Thomann at the moment, they have "Kurzweil SPS4-8 B-Stock" £777 and you can add the Roland SH-01 Gaia at £511 for £1289 total. Neither of these are state of the art, they're both older models, but the Kurzweil has speakers with audio inputs AND standard MIDI jacks AND MIDI controller functions like pitch and modulation controls and storable MIDI zoning presets, meaning you can connect the Kurzweil directly to the Roland Gaia and thereby combine the Kurzweil and Roland sounds within recallable 88-key splits and layers, all of which you will hear out of the Kurzweil's speakers. For the synth, I picked the Gaia because it has a very immediate interface with lots of knobs and plenty of polyphony, but there are lots of other low cost synth choices you could consider for synth sounds you'd be able to trigger from the Kurzweil... it could even be a module with no keys of its own. (The Kurzweil also has its own synth functions built in and accessible via an editor, but that's still not the same as having a bunch of dedicated synth knobs at hand.)
 
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It take a minilogue xd over a gaia any day personally.

I guess it depends what electronic music. If its 70s to early 90s the minilogue. If its early 90s on the gaia could work.

Personally on not a fan of kurzweil kit....their gui is terrible and there far from intuitive to program. But price is good, and the speakers may help the op.

Still, even basic monitor speakers will be far better sonically than any but in speakers.

It's going to come down to preferences I feel.
 
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It take a minilogue xd over a gaia any day personally.
My concern would be the 4-voice polyphony, but as I said, if polyphony is not an issue, there are a variety of additional possibilities. Some lower cost ones, too, since we're pushing the budget.

Personally on not a fan of kurzweil kit....their gui is terrible and there far from intuitive to program. But price is good, and the speakers may help the op.

Still, even basic monitor speakers will be far better sonically than any but in speakers.
Yeah, there will always be compromises. Since we started at £1000 and pushed up to 1250 and that was thinking that the keyboard would include speakers, I was trying to find a way to stay at about 1250 including speakers, and at least Kurzweil's speakers are above average as built-in speakers go (19W/ch, 4 x 6″ enclosed ported woofers with 1” neodynium dome tweeters).

As for the interface, there is no GUI, just a simple 2-line text display, but it has a nice button layout for patch recall and basic functions like transpose and zone enable. You really have to use the optional external editor if you want to do any, well, editing. But I was thinking that this would serve primarily as a preset-recall piano and maybe controller, and the sound programming stuff would be done on the synth.
 
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Thats what I meant by poor GUI.... there isnt one. Programming via text when your learning synthesis and programming in general is NOT good. Its bad enough when you DO lnow what your doing. Its the major flaw in any Kurzweil board to date. If they had that they may well be the top player in that catagory - but there not for that reason.

I dont think 4 voice polyphony is a problem at this point. Its enough to play 3 or 4 note chords for pads and stuff, lead lines and arpegios are achievable with 1 note. you could even play a basic triad and a lead line over the top. Sure 6 (DM6) or more may help down the line, but 4 voice as a starting "learning " point is not bad at all.
 
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Yan

No doubt Kursweil are very good keyboards but they are very rare in the UK, In the last three years I have seen only two, one DP and one controller.

Thomann are not based in the UK, they are a German company.
 
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Thats what I meant by poor GUI.... there isnt one. Programming via text when your learning synthesis and programming in general is NOT good.
I think you missed my point. This model does not require programming via text... rather, when it comes to synth parameters, you basically can't program it AT ALL (except via optional PC/Mac editor). You can make a handful of program tweaks, you can do MIDI zoning and splits/layers, and so forth, but you cannot actually get into any real sound programming. Again, I was thinking that his electronic music synth editing would all be based on the other keyboard of the pair.

To put this in better context, people here have mentioned Yamaha MODX8 and Roland DS88 or FA08, which are all deeply editable keyboards. The SPS4-8 is not in the same market segment as these models. Instead, it's more comparable to a Yamaha MX88, CP88, P515 or a Roland RD88, where there is little-to-no on-board sound editing beyond splits/layers (and in some cases, effects). As different as they are, they are all basically designed as preset-based boards, fancy digital pianos. (Though like the Kurzweil, the MX88 does permit editing from a PC/Mac.) If the OP has a separate board for his synth programming, I was thinking this kind of board might be sufficient for his piano and related needs. I picked this one over those others based on its price, its MIDI capabilities for integrating his other board, and its built-in speakers.

I dont think 4 voice polyphony is a problem at this point.
Very possibly. And then, as I said, a whole bunch of other possibilities open up. Other Korgs, Roland Boutiques or System 1, Behringers...
 
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happyrat1

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Honestly for someone starting out, I think the DS88 and a set of Presonus speakers is an excellent beginning.

The DS88 has some pretty good synth sounds right out of the box and if he really wants to get into deeper knob twiddling sound design later he could add a Korg Monologue or a Behringer Crave for a couple of hundred bucks later on.

I think we are all overwhelming a beginner with our personal preferences and prejudices here and be realistic about just how much configurability and knob twiddling and deep menu diving a beginner is capable of while in the process of learning piano techniques and music theory.

At this point in his journey and at his price point, I seriously doubt he needs major polyphony in a synth and the DS88 is more than capable of filling that bill anyway.

Gary ;)
 
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I think it gets back to what he said in the first post, "Maybe I need to understand that really a true synth and an 88 key {piano} keyboard are two totally different animals? Am I right in saying this, or is there something you would recommend which would give me a great bit of each within this budget?" I think he's right in saying that. You're not going to get a strong piano board and a strong board to " totally play about with knobs" within that budget. So either you compromise on the latter (with a DS88 for example), or you get two boards... an 88 piano/rompler AND a knobby synth.

Having said that, one could also add a low-cost knobby synth to a DS88. But then we added the variable that he hadn't also budgeted separately for speakers, and I thought he might want more than 4-note polyphony for the synth. But sure, a DS88 and a small knobby synth is another way to go, and you could start with the DS88 and add the synth later...
 

happyrat1

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In my living room setup I have a DS88 on the lower tier and a Ferrofish B4000+ and a Behringer Crave sitting up top.

I have all of these MIDIed up and routed through my living room computer so I can layer or play any of them separately from the keyboard with a twist of a volume knob or a couple of button pushes quickly and easily on the fly. The Crave also has a built in sequencer so it can act as a standalone bass synth.

If I were performing live this setup would be good enough to cover almost any 70's or 80's tune with ease and since he's a beginner I think starting off with a DS88 is practically overkill for his needs.

I started out decades ago with a sh*tty Casio WK-1500 and horsetraded my gear along the way to build a proper studio while I was learning the craft at the same time.

He really doesn't need much to get him started and I would have given my left nut for a professional quality instrument like a Juno when I was starting out.

:) Gary ;)
 

Yan

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One thing we do not know is what Yan has by way of keyboard at present so it may help if he advised.

BTW the Pre-sonus 4.5 are c£140 a pair but the E5 are £300 which is a huge dent in the budget.

Hence if they have a keyboard with inbuilt amp and speakers they could use that, if it has audio input, with a DS or Kross

Oh my - what keyboard do I have right now - an old Roland EM20 - cost about £150 from PC world maybe 15 years ago?!

So I was just ordering the DS88 and Presonus 4.5 and now I'm thinking cables also. Is it the Balanced 6.3mm TRS Jack to 6.3mm TRS jack I need? I'm ordering on Music Matter btw.
 
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Im pretty sure the DS is balanced outs - most are.

As for starting out... Depends what you mean by "starting".

Ive had a strange journey. I was (still am probably) primarily a guitarist, and bought my first keyboard in 1991 ish - It was a Korg X3. I didnt program anything, just used the inbuilt sounds and it was just for fun. I quickly added a JV80, and just noodled. I played in a country band for a while as a keys player.... not very well. Stipped everything down to as basic as possible.

Id say an X3 and JV80 back in the early 90s for a "beginners" setup was totally overwhelming in truth.

The JV went, and I got hold of a JD800...... I just played wiht the sliders lol. Then the keys got sold as I got married and wasnt playing keys. Through all that time I was a 1 finger, or possibly 3 part basic chord at a push.

I then got hold of a Fantom S (61 note) in about 2003. This was as Id joined a band and they wanted to do "Jump", and "Handbags and Gladrags" - both needed keys - so I bought a board and learned those 2 songs. Again only used built in sounds. Never really learned to play - and that board sat in storage for a good 5 years once I left the band.

Then - aged 50 (just over 2 years ago) I decided I was going to learn "proper" piano. Sold the Fantom from storage and bought the RD2000 - as a beginners Piano. After about 3 months I added the FA07 for synth stuff. Less than a year after the RD came the Peak - quickly followed by my Legend EXP organ module. That setup was 13 months after "starting" to play properly.

The Argon is a new addition - as It was a different style of synth, and has animation lanes on the sequencer - and Im having fun with that.

So - 2 years in to really learning keys, and I almost never touch my guitars (about 12 grands worth of guitars and amp, £ not $) and im playing solely keys in 2 bands. An 80s band - playing Duran, Spandau Ballet, Tears for Fears, Deacon Blue, Cutting Crue etc etc, and the second more generic with the odd crossover, then stuff like Toto "Africa", The Hoosiers, Anastasia, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5.... Im having a blast.



Sorry for the side track...
 
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happyrat1

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Oh my - what keyboard do I have right now - an old Roland EM20 - cost about £150 from PC world maybe 15 years ago?!

So I was just ordering the DS88 and Presonus 4.5 and now I'm thinking cables also. Is it the Balanced 6.3mm TRS Jack to 6.3mm TRS jack I need? I'm ordering on Music Matter btw.

You could use a pair of these.


And one of these in case you want to hook up to a computer.


And later on if you want to record to your computer using a DAW one of these


That should be all you need to get started.

Maybe a decent set of headphones when you want to practice quietly.

Gary ;)
 
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Have you had a play of a DS?

Or have you done much research on a DS?

There are 19 videos on Roland’s Product Support channel which will help you get to know the intricacies of a DS.


I watched these before I went to a store to have a hands on session on both the Juno and a Korg Kross 2, whilst I did not choose the Juno then I would now for at less than £750 at my local Music Matter store in Preston for 88 keys it is very good vfm.

Good luck.
 
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Have you had a play of a DS?

Or have you done much research on a DS?

There are 19 videos on Roland’s Product Support channel which will help you get to know the intricacies of a DS. There


I watched these before I went to a store to have a hands on session on both the Juno and a Korg Kross 2, whilst I did not choose the Juno then I would now for at less than £750 at my local Music Matter store in Preston for 88 keys it is very good vfm.

Good luck.
Thank you for the recommendation! I forgot that there a lot of info on YouTube
 
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Yan

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Well I went with the DS and nine months on I love it. However, I do need to learn more about its functions and what it can do. As a beginner learning to play I do just tend to use piano and practice my pieces. I’m not using it as intended.I need to get a balance now between learning the machine as opposed to just practicing playing piano.
 

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