As with everything in life, different keyboards have different workflows. The best way to see what works for you is to go down to the store and play around a little. Comparing keyboards always ends up in a fight but when it comes to workflow and getting around a keyboard – it's inevitable.

Again – it all comes down to what you need and what's your playstyle. If you're gonna spend most of your gig playing hammond sounds, the fact your keyboard can switch very quickly between different soundsets really doesn't mean much to you – so why pay for it? On the other hand – if you're in need of switching many sounds during the same song this could be of vital importance.

So you open Google and type in the keywords for your beloved keyboard and see a flame fight on a forum where someone claims Yamaha has terrible interfaces, Korgs have great workflows, and Rolands have sound switches without cut-offs... What's the truth? What's a myth? Well... lets see now.

First of all when comparing keyboards it's only fair to compare keyboards of the same price range and type. Saying that your Subaru Impreza can win a 402 street race any day over a squishy Fiat Uno really makes no sense. But if you had the option to walk 10 miles home or get your friend to pick you up in that same squishy Fiat – What would you chose?

Saying the Triton rocks when it comes to user interface while the Juno doesn't is the same thing. Those are not keyboards of the same range.

Korg flagship workstations and arrangers use touchscreens, which make life so much easier, but other Korg keyboards are stuck with the same tiny messy-button-mashing interfaces like the rest of the brands. To be fair on all brands – we can compare the workflow of the M3, the Fantom G and the Motif XS.

All 3 keyboards have huge screens (except for the Fantom G which has an insanely huge screen) – and every single thing is beautifully displayed on them. Where Korg has the touchscreen, Fantom G users may use a USB mouse plugged into the keyboard to operate it the same way as they would a computer, and the Motif line, since it's beginning, uses tons of dedicated buttons on the front panel to switch and edit stuff you need really fast.

So you see... there's actually 3 different ways of going around a keyboard, and all of those work just fine once you get used to it.

When I first got a touchscreen keyboard (Korg Trinity) it took me a while to get used to actually "touching" the screen instead of searching for a button that does the thing I wanted to do. And coming from the Motif line it was really hard. I was used to have a button for everything and it worked great for me – especially when I had to switch on/off a particular part of the combi/performance. There's a button for every part of the combi on the Motif – no such thing on Trinity/Triton. Instead of that you need to touch the off "button" on each channel you want to turn off via the screen.


Arranger keyboards usually have much easier navigation – not because they are better designed, it's because there isn't so many options when it comes to editing sounds. You select a style, then you select a sound-or-two and that's basically it, and they usually have tons of dedicated buttons that call up functions so there is really no need to pack everything onto the screen at once. Once you're done there's usually a save button (or a procedure) to save the state of the whole keyboard into user banks so you can easily and quickly recall the setup of the entire keyboard in a single press of a button.

Low-end and Mid-range workstations have it a bit more difficult since they often lose the big screen and replace it with a more cheaper version. And since they still have tons of customization options – it's sometimes hard to fit everything in. In that case you really need to get familiar with the submenus of your keyboard because that's where the good stuff is.

The "Korg rocks in user interfaces" statement fails bigtime when it comes to a keyboard such as the Triton LE / TR or the X50. Tons of submenus, lots of button pressing, and not so much dedicated buttons like on Yamaha.

That means you'll be pressing the same button for different functions which might be confusing at first. But like I said... once you get used to it – it's more then fine.

So which one is the best? Honestly? I believe there is no such thing as "the best" keyboard or the "perfect" keyboard. Each one has it's pros and cons. But if I had to chose... I'd say – Korg's touchscreen for creating/editing/programing sounds, and Yamaha/Roland for live performances. I find having a button that does a specific thing a bit "safer" then pressing the screen when in a tight live situation.
Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2014