Orchestral Composer / Introductory Piano suggestions?

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Hey all,

I'm looking to get into composing music for orchestras, especially for a local group. At the same time, it'd be great if the keyboard would double as an basic introduction to the piano for my children. What options are there? I'm aiming for something under 800$, although that can wiggle if I can find a good brand used.

I've looked at a few keyboards, but I'm having difficulty determining if they'll have the instruments I want in their libraries, or they're outside of the budget.

Musts:
Cheap
88 keys of standard size (Yes, it's important)
Able to simulate most orchestra instruments (Bare minimum of flute, violin, oboe, trumpet/cornet, tuba).
Headphone jack

Nice to haves:
Ability to record midi files
ability to record sound
Decently durable

Not important:
key weight / general feel
custom sound creation
sound quality

Thanks in advance for the help!
 

happyrat1

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Do you want built in speakers or are you OK with using separate amplification? Or will it only be used with headphones?

Gary ;)
 
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Welcome.

88 keys rules out a vast array of keyboards that meet all your criteria.

Cheap, is concerning, it does not go well with a keyboard.

What 88 keys & within or close to your budget means is either (1) a digital piano or (2) a MIDI keyboard controller and software virtual instruments.

(1) most digital pianos have very limited onboard sounds usually acoustic piano, electric piano, organ, orchestral strings, clav, bass and typically 3 or 4 of these sounds in each category, hence limited. A Yamaha P125 is $650 but there are others which are cheaper but this price point offers Kawai, Roland, Korg and Casio models. Cheaper models are limited in quality and keybed feel. Now connect these $650 pianos up to a PC, Mac or iPad and more sounds become available to use and MIDI and analogue recording will be possible on the attached device

(2) a 88 MIDI keyboard controller like a Studiologic SL 88 which costs $900 and via software will give you all the instruments you will need. You will be connected to PC or ipad or Mac where recording software will provide the capabilities you seek.

Less keys but with onboard speakers and a vast array of sounds gives you an Arranger but here the onboard recording and editing functionality is not readily achievable in your budget you need to double it to have a system that is easy to use, a 61 keys Korg Pa700 has just such a system but it is c$1500. A cheaper option and using computer recording would be the Yamaha EW410 at $450

A workstation like a Roland Juno DS 88 is $1100 and has the onboard sounds, 88 keys but limited recording in the device but good connectivity, downside is no onboard amp and speakers so add in $150 for a pair of powered monitor speakers or use headphones.

There is an 88 key unit that will do what you seek, has the onboard sounds which are fully customisable, has editable onboard MIDI recording BUT is has no onboard speakers and it costs $2100, it is a Roland FA 08.

Other makes and models to those quoted are available at similar price points.

You have a vast range of units to research and consider.

Good luck
 
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Thanks all for the input!

@HappyRat, I'm ok with separate amplification, I have access to a spare amplifier and a set of speakers. However tempting not being able to hear my children practice is, I'd still have to hear them to help them :p

@Biggles
Cheap doesn't typically go well with any instrument, but I've learned to not splurge on a new hobby. My father is really big into pianos, the joke being that he spent his casket money on one and so we'll have to bury him in it.

I found a used SL88 to get started with for 400$. Thank you so much for the help! My google-fu was only really coming up with just a few brands, I didn't even know studiologic made keyboards until you mentioned it!
 

happyrat1

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If you're looking for professional quality sounds and want something that doesn't require booting several machines and connections and software to produce a sound then you might want to consider picking up a Kurzweil SP-5 or a used SP4-8.

There's a brand new SP-6 for sale on Ebay for $1299 USD or best offer. Might be worthwhile to pick it up for $%800 or so.


I mention the connection conundrum because if your kids want to play around and explore they don't have to fuss with a tablet or a computer and load software just to make a sound.

While the Kurzweils are among the top end for the sounds you wish to produce in your budget range, a cheaper alternative would be a used Casio PX-340 or PX-350.

They can be had for similar prices to the used Studiologic and would also satisfy the composer within.

Depending on where you live there should be a few floating around locally near you on craigslist and ebay.

Gary ;)
 

happyrat1

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BTW, when it comes to recording sound and MIDI you're better off doing your sequencing on a computer using DAW and recording software.

Onboard sequencers generally pretty much suck.

Gary ;)
 

happyrat1

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$1299 USD is the regular retail price of the SP-6. Definitely worth making a lowball offer if you can snap it up.


Also check music stores for open box models and demonstration units. You can usually knock 25%-30% off of list price with full warranty.


That would be an instrument your children would love to grow into and they can bury daddy in the box it came in if they like :D

Gary ;)
 
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There is another that I had forgot about that will give you plenty of onboard sounds, 88 keys and onboard amp and speakers.

Plus it will connect up to a tablet or computer and there are Apps that enhance the abilities of the keyboard plus there is three months free trial of Skoove which is a piano tutorial app.

Korg XE 20 which comes in right on budget at $800.

 

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