I'm wanting to get into keyboards and not sure what to get or what meets my goals long term.


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Hi all, I'm kinda new at keyboards but I have an old upright parlor grand I mess around with and I'm really wanting a keyboard that can do everything or maybe even 2 different keyboards if 1 won't do everything I was wanting. So I've been researching and trying to figure out best bang for my buck as well as hitting my checklist as best as I can.


I'm wanting a keyboard with 88 keys that is weighted or semi at least. Also want piano 3 pedal access but extra assignable pedal ports would be great too, maybe usb/multi midi ports, and on board reverb effects would be great and triple sensor keys if possible but double would work.

I really care about top notch sound especially real piano/organ/clav/synth/horns/strings and versatility with many sounds and tons of layers but also like the idea of being able to quickly change sounds/voices or effects on the fly easily etc. so I like the idea of on board buttons, knobs, faders, pads, wheels, or maybe a separate controller that has all that would work.

At first I was thinking maybe stuff like Nord Stage 3 (very cool but wow that price is crazy) or Korg Kronos 88 (seems like you can do anything but looks like a ton of hassle) or even Kawai MP7 but I'd like to spend less than 3k-5k if possible and recently seen/heard what VST can do for so much less money so now I'm confused on what to get. Maybe stuff like a Roland Juno DS 88 or even a $200-2k keyboard would do what I want? Not really sure.

I really want to get into DAW /VST/MIDI stuff with laptops/desktop like keyscape, omnisphere, mainstage, ableton live, etc. but at the same time I'd like to use it if I were to perform/gig in the future.
I'd like to spend as little as possible for my goals but still get quality/pro level stuff for long term.

Some questions:
1a Not sure if a keyboard's on board polyphony matters when using VST with a laptop?
1b Does it limit how much notes/layers can stack?

2a Can one keyboard have really good on board sounds and be compatible with all DAW/VST/MIDI programs?
2b Are some keyboards not compatible with certain DAWs/VSTs and only other DAWs/VSTs?

3 I been reading and googling but I'm still kinda unsure how it all works together and what is compatible. If not, maybe 2 different type of keyboards on a rack would work. If I need a 2nd keyboard not sure how the keyboards could connect with each other or maybe just use one with VST and other as on board sounds or both VST? Not really sure how all that works yet.

4a What all would I need? Keyboard, laptop, usb/midi cables, amp or PA system of some sort I guess, and wire hook up for the amp/PA? Do I need anything else?
4b What keyboard or keyboards would you recommend?

Any help would be very appreciated.
 

happyrat1

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What's the budget?

There's a world of difference between a Korg Kronos and a Roland Juno DS.

For home use or eventual gigging?

My Kurzweil PC3K8 can handle 3 switch pedals and two controller pedals but the price is in the Kronos range.

Juno DS can handle 1 switch pedal and 1 controller pedal.

I'd recommend a good ROMpler and a virtual analog or analog synth to get you started.

So basically a Juno DS88 and a Studiologic Sledge or a Behringer Deepmind 6 or 12 to cover the Analog sounds.

Pretty much everything out there these days can interface to a computer or ipad.

DAWs are plentiful and they will all talk to your keyboards no matter what you connect.

VSTs, are buggy, memory and CPU hungry, crash a lot, have zero resale value and depend on the good graces of the manufacturer for updates when Windows updates and upgrades break them.

Can you tell I don't like VSTs? ;)

Anyway, the keyboards I mentioned above would set you back a cool $2K USD to get you started.

If the budget is bigger then maybe a Roland FA-08 or a Korg Krome 88?

Next step up is the Montage, the Kronos, the Kurzweil Forte or PC3K8 or PC3A8. Avoid the PC3LE models though. The price is attractive but they've suffered from manufacurer's bugs since day one.

Additional sttuff includes cables, pedals, mixer, two tier stand, amp or powered monitors and whatever amount you feel comofrtable blowing on a stage ready computer and software.

Anyway, get back to us with some numbers and then we can recommend something that suits your needs.

Gary ;)
 
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happyrat1

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BTW, all the gear I mentioned here comes with a steep learning curve to be able to program them properly. Be prepared tlo sit down and do a few months of solid reading of the manuals to make the hardware sing as it should.

Gary ;)
 
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Thanks for the reply.

I could spend over 5k but would like to stay around 1k-3k if possible but have no problems spending 4k if it is just that much better. But if there is some $500 keyboard+controller+laptop that gets the job done and does mostly everything I want, saving money is always good too. I'd like to use the keyboards for both home and eventual gigging but I'm a pretty tall and strong guy so don't mind if the keyboard ends up kinda on the heavy side. I'm probably going to test some out at guitar center later sometime.

But you can use any usb/midi keyboard with any DAW/VST? Even if they are a bit buggy seems like the sounds are really good and endless options. Do you know if the keyboards polyphony count effect counts for layering notes like if I wanted to layer 12 sounds at the same time in a DAW? Do VST plugin to DAWs and don't just install in the keyboard's memory but just play off the PC using the PC's ram/cpu/memory right?

That is what I really like about the Nord Stage 3 as the factory sounds seemed sublime plus it just looks fun to use but at that price I could probably do better with something else, it is just the factory sounds/patches that worry me the most and not being able to get any other better sounds without buying another keyboard or if the keyboards don't allow it for whatever reason.
 

happyrat1

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The Roland FA-08 allows for sampling and loading wavesets as well as the Kurzweil Forte and PC3K8 and the Korg Kronos. Not sure about the Yamaha Montage. So there is a certain degree of expandability in these boards.

What sytles of music do you predominately play?


Gary ;)
 
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I like playing a bit of everything. Everything from classical to classic rock/pop to prog/power metal to trance/industrial to country/gospel and especially most stuff 50s/60s/70s/80s/90s.
 

happyrat1

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I'm thinking you need the high end Swiss army knife types of synth like the Kronos or the Montage or maybe the Roland FA-08 or the Nord.

Other people will probably weigh in in the following days.

My advice is to take your time and audition all of these models and see wich one you consider the best fit.

Download a few manuals in the meantime and skim thru them to find out which ones are easiest for you to digest.

Gary ;)
 
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Yeah that is my only worry is how crazy some of those are to navigate and learn but you probably are right. Thanks very much for the input. Not going to rush the decision and keep researching but trying them in person might tell me a lot more about what I want.
 

happyrat1

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It always pays to do your homework before you pull the trigger, and before you drop that kind of coin on a board you really should take them out for a test drive.

Just remember that they pretty much all talk to computers these days and a lot of them ship with lite or demo versions of DAW software as well.

Good luck with the hunt and other people will weigh in on this thread soon, so keep watching this thread.

Gary ;)
 
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Welcome Kat.

You have your work cut out researching, as the choice is very wide.

I have been playing around today in a very large music store and once again found myself very frustrated by Korgs quirky unfriendy menu systems, conversely the Rolad DS was a joy to navigate, the Nords, wow to play, wow on price.

The online Youtube videos can be a problem as many just show the sound and not how they navigate.

Korg and Roland Product Support have good video tutorials, Korg are easier found by using Korg Video Manual and keyboard name in the search box and Roland product Support plus keyboard name, the Rolands do not tend to be logically organised but there are plenty of them and both manufacturers show how to use the navigation systems.
 
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Nobody said "Yamaha Motif" . . . . It fits the budget, and I think the 88-key versions fit the specs. MOXF8, perhaps ?

. Charles
 
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Why not head on down to your keyboard music store and check out what they have.

More importantly testing the following three keyboards should help you clarify if you need to spend $3000 on a single keyboard or if a lower cost unit will surfice.

Do test play:-

Roland Juno DS 88
Korg Kross 2 the 88 key version.
Yamaha MX 88

These three are all the same price ($1000) and a back to back demo should enable you to decide which brand suits you best and to compare the sounds.

I am not sure as yet about if it is possible on the Roland but on the Korg each individual Program (instrument sound) if fully customisable to get precisely the tone you seek.

Certainly the Roland and Korg should integrate with a PC DAW better than the Yamaha where sometimes their integration can be a bit flaky.

I have recently played the 61 key versions of the Korg and Roland and also had a play on the Roland Juno 88 key which I found mightly impressive (I am seeking to buy a 61 key version of either the Korg or Roland).

That said I have been watching a lot of tutorial videos and reading the manuals on each so maybe that is a task for you also.
 

happyrat1

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The sounds on the Juno DS are very tweakable. And I find their control setup to be a lot more intuitive than the Korgs I've owned in the past.

Just my $0.02

Gary ;)
 
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The sounds on the Juno DS are very tweakable. And I find their control setup to be a lot more intuitive than the Korgs I've owned in the past.

Just my $0.02

Gary ;)
That is for sure with the Korg, my sessions with the Korg Kross 2 menu system are frustrating but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
 
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Roland RD2000

88 key tripple sensor weighted keys (weight is adjustable from light to heavy). Has 4 pedal inputs - one dedicated for a damper, 2 are pre set for the other 2 piano pedals but can be changed if you want - and the 4th is an expression pedal slot that can be assigned to pretty much anything.

Has top notch pianos, and good organs,clavs,strings, EPs and pads. Has some synth stuff and orchestral, all of which are decent.

8 parts that can be internal or external sounds - including from plugins in a DAW (imports the sound to the keyboard as well) - its fully compatable with mainstage as a controller for that.. Very easy learning curve, as the sounds arnt really tweekable (well they are but basically - ie EQ, FX, cut off/res/attack/decay settings - but not like a proper VA/Synth/Workstation), bar effects and EQ but there are a ton of great ones to choose from. You do have filter cut off and resonance as well as attack and decay - but there not savable, there real time knobs for performance changes.

Has on board effects which are assignable and savable.

Roughly 50% more than an FA08 which has more program-ability, sequencer, arpegiator, VA synth engine - BUT the keybed is MUCH better and it has better integration and real time control. Roughly 2/3 the price of a montage, Kronos or stage 2.

If you want a "stage Piano" rather than a synth - with top notch keybed, real control and DAW integration - with a lot of sounds that cover most bases - this is the one. If you want sequencer, aprpegiator, sound design, or fancy evolving sounds you want something else.

Bear in mind you could get the RD2000 AND an FA-07 (76 note full sized semi weighted keys) that would cover everything you need (bar a proper analogue synth). The RD is your piano action, with the workhorse sounds and also the controller, the FA is the VA synth (with semi weighted keys), more programmable sounds, apr, sequencer, step sequencer and drum machine. Both boards together cost about the same price as a Kronos 88, Stage 3 or Montage 88.

Im running ad RD2000 with an old Fantom-S (which is being updated to an FA07 next month) and I can use the synth action on the S to play the RDs organs sounds, and the weighted RDs keys to play an FA sound if I like - all fully blendable from the RDs control panel.

The RD (and the FA) can download extra sounds from Rolands Axial site - though the RD only has 4 backs of alternate piano tones at present. The FA has a lot - and can also load the Integra sounds.

I mention all this as nobody else has - The RD on its own isnt a workstation, or full blown programmable synth, but it has everything you need to play live or integrate with a daw bar proper synth stuff (though it does have quite a lot of basic synth patches - and the FA or an alternative can do better later later), while having all the pedal inputs, USB audio (and Midi over UBS), Midi in/out/thorough, DAW integration and keybed (tripple sensor) you ask for in you OP. Dont dismiss it just because is a stage piano not a synth. Worth a test drive in a store.
 
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20 days after her last post and no sign if KeyboardKat ?
 
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