Should I get a new digital keyboard or use software synths

Oct 6, 2013
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So I don't really know much about the whole midi thing. I'm trying to figure out what would be my best option to get some decent fender rhodes and perhaps vibraphone and b3 organ sounds for a reasonable price. I know there's a guide on here for selecting a keyboard but I haven't seen anything talking about VST vs digital keyboards. It seems like some of the VSTs with rhodes sounds and stuff are fairly inexpensive but do you need a really powerful computer to run this type of software? Also, I was listening to the scarbee one and the lounge lizard rhodes software stuff because I was reading good things about them but they didn't really sound all that great to me. Seems like some of these basic piano, e. piano, vibes, organ type keyboards with those built in sounds that i've played sound better than that. Btw I'm not interested in making multi track electronic type music.. just playing. Currently I just have a digital keyboard with one acoustic piano sound but of course it has a midi connection. So i was just wondering what others think on this topic.

The Y_man

Sep 12, 2011
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Melbourne, Australia
At the end of the day, a freebie VSTi is a freebie - having said that - what equipment are you playing (the computer output) through?

A dual core with 4GB memory on Win 7 should be fine.

The Y-man
Aug 12, 2008
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South Carolina
If you aren't experienced with midi and using VSTI 's, I'd strongly recommed sticking with a hardware solution and work your way into midi and computer apps.Perhaps a used Yamaha Motif would be something to look into. Don
Feb 8, 2013
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Sierra Foothills, CA
Or... if you already have a keyboard with MIDI out, a sound module could do what you want. A Yamaha Motif rack module would give a many Epianos, vibes, and various organs from which to choose.

I have three modules, and 'drive' them either with a MIDI editor/sequencer (on the PC) or from one of my keyboards. Love what I get. ;)


Fred Coulter

Collector of ancient keyboards
Feb 15, 2016
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Central Florida
If you're playing out, I'd recommend "real" keyboards.

If you're playing at home, a computer based system could be very workable. How quickly do you want to be up and running? Do you want to just sit and play, or do you mind booting your computer, launching software, etc.? (Not all "real" keyboards provide instant gratification, either.)

What's your budget? Do you already own a computer that you don't mind keeping in your music room? Do you already have any other musical equipment that would be part of the studio? Speakers, amplifiers, etc.

John Garside

Aug 23, 2016
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Wellingborough, UK
I think I'm with Fred on this one.
For playing away from home, a real keyboard is usually the most straightforward and reliable way to go.
However, some people do use a controller keyboard and virtual instruments, and they can work fine.
They take a little more setting up, though. And one would need an audio interface that uses ASIO drivers.

If you're working at home creating tracks, then my feeling is that there's much more variety to be had with virtual instruments, and the quantity available just goes on increasing.

As has been said a Windows 7 dual core laptop, say with an i5 processor, would be good.
I'd, personally opt for 8 GB of memory, just because I know that some sample libraries need 'room to breathe'!
They can also be very large in size so a high speed disk or an SSD can have a significant effect on load times.
An example is the latest Garritan piano library, the Abbey Road CFX, which is 12 GB in size.

My own choice here is a Lenovo (tough) T420, i5 laptop, with an external high speed disk.
It has an eSATA port for plugging in external disk drives.
There are loads available, used, on eBay.
I've just bought another for my wife.

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