Help deciding between digital piano and midi controller


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HI, so I'm about to start my first year of college with a major in music composition, and I'm trying to decide between a digital piano and a midi controller. I already have a pretty decent amount of sounds on my laptop to run through the keyboard, but having to turn my computer on just to play piano would be kind of annoying. Are digital pianos good at running sounds from a computer? I play with bands every now and then as well, so having it be moveable would be nice. Can digital pianos be connected to music notation programs/DAWS as a midi instrument?

Here is my list of pros and cons to both so far:

Midi controller pros: Portable, designed to play sounds from external devices, would probably work with finale and a DAW.

Cons: No piano sound so I would have to use my computer to play piano and probably no speakers so I would have to use headphones.

Digital piano pros: Piano sound, speakers

Cons: heavy, not sure how well it would work with a computer

Can someone help me out? My max price is around $500, and the keyboard MUST have a good weighted key. I am used to acoustic piano and it wouldn't do to have my performance skills suffer because I'm constantly changing key feels. Thanks!
 
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happyrat1

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Pretty much any modern digital piano will work as a controller for modules or computer based VSTs in a pinch. Pretty much every model out there is MIDI capable and you should look for a more modern unit with a USB port as well just to fight off future obsolescence.

As a bonus, if you're gigging with it, you don't have to lug along a computer and hook it all up everytime and also computer based DAWs and VSTs have an annoying habit of crashing at the worst possible times.

Also if you're looking for something giggable in that price range I'd suggest looking at stage pianos, not the home units that look more like furniture.

In your price range you might want to look at a Korg SP 170 or a Korg SP 250 or better yet, scope out craigslist for a used Kurzweil SP4-8

EDIT: Also take a look at the Casio Privia PX-3S which has been recently discontinued in favor of the PX-5S and which can be had at a substantial discount now if you are prepared to haggle.

http://www.amazon.com/Casio-PX3S-Se...?ie=UTF8&qid=1374275500&sr=8-1&keywords=px-3s

That's my $0.02 anyway ;)

Gary
 
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Thanks! Yes I have been looking at the Casio privia keyboards, and I like what I see. The kurzweil looks nice and I found it for 600 on Craigslist, but I would rather my keyboard have a USB port.
 

happyrat1

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In that case I suppose it boils down to how much you want to spend and whether or not you want to go for a PX-3 or a PX-5S.

One caveat though. If you take a look over at http://casiomusicforums.com there're dedicated forums to both the PX-5S as well as the PX-3. It seems that some of the pedal implementations are somewhat lacking or non standard on those two models. I believe the PX-5S lacks a damper pedal.

Not a dealbreaker for most people, however you are going for a musical degree in an accredited university and the lack of a damper may prove to be an insurmountable handicap.

Gary
 
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Well I don't exactly NEED a keyboard, although it would be nice and convenient to have one in my room. Any performances related to school will be in an acoustic piano. Any ideas on a good stand for a privia? I know that make a stand and pedals for the privia but its over a hundred dollars for both so that is kind of irksome.
 
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Should I buy a little keyboard amp or something else so I don't have to use headphones in my dorm all the time? Would a speaker be better?
 

happyrat1

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For a dorm room something like this could suit you fine.

http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-KT108-15-Watt-Keyboard-Amplifier/dp/B0010KGD4Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374536003&sr=8-1&keywords=behringer keyboard amp

Or for that matter you could even use adapter plugs and use a set of 2.1 computer speakers or even a home stereo unit to output sound in your dorm.

http://www.amazon.com/Creative-A220-Multimedia-Speaker-System/dp/B003FWHTTA/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1374536399&sr=8-5&keywords=2.1 computer speakers

http://www.amazon.com/3-5mm-Stereo-Female-Y-Cable-6-Inch/dp/B000I23TTE/ref=pd_bxgy_e_img_z

http://www.amazon.com/Hosa-Cable-GPR101-Inch-Adaptor/dp/B000068O3S/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1374536687&sr=1-2&keywords=1/4 to rca

Personally I think almost anything sounds better than headphones, but it depends on whether or not you have neighbors on the other side of paper thin walls ;)

Gary
 
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Thanks for your help so much! I think I have a pretty good amount of information to go on, and I'll probably go with a Casio at some point. That's what I was looking at to begin with, anyway.
 

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