Songwriting keyboard


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I have searched for keyboards online and some in stores for a keyboard for songwriting. I would like one that can record multiple tracks for a good quality demo. I have looked at specs for different boards but it is difficult of course to know what you can actually do with them. I would also like to record play back and then record more on top of the tracks. I can go up to 800 dollars but around 500 especially one with built in speakers would be nice. Also I would like usb/midi and audio out or ability to save to stick or card. Thanks all.

Eric
 
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Also I would like a decent keybed (61 or 76 keys). I know it won't be weighted but I don't want a toy keybed either.
 

SeaGtGruff

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I'm most familiar with Yamaha keyboards, so I'll let other people make suggestions from Casio, Korg, Roland, and other brands.

As far as Yamaha models, the cheapest model with the best recording features would probably be the PSR-S670, which I think comes in at about the maximum price you can afford, $800. I believe it will let you record 16 tracks in a song, one track at a time, and then save your finished composition to a WAV file.

There are other possible choices from Yamaha, such as the DGX-660 ($800) which has 88 keys, PSR-EW410 ($400) which has 76 keys, or PSR-E463 ($280) which has 61 keys, but their song-recording features are not as advanced as those of the PSR-S models-- they let you record 5 tracks plus an auto-accompaniment track, and if you make a mistake while recording a track you cannot record over just the portion that has the mistake, but instead must record that particular track all over from beginning to end. Also, they do not let you record a song as MIDI tracks and then save the finished song to a WAV file.

However, if you connect the keyboard to a computer then you can use a DAW (digital audio workstation, software for recording and editing audio and MIDI song tracks). So even if you buy a keyboard that doesn't have the best song-recording features built in, using a DAW will give you better options, anyway.

In any case, before you decide to buy a particular keyboard you should see if you can try it out in a store, to see if you like the way the keys feel and how the keyboard sounds.
 
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To do everything you seem to want within your budget there is one keyboard that I suggest you consider, a Korg PA300 which is $760.

This is Korg's official video for the PA300, do note that there are other tutorials in Korg's series for this keyboard which I suggest you also watch to give you a idea of the capabilities of this keyboard.


Part 1 is below


I have its bigger brother which is vastly superior to Yamaha's similar priced models in my not so humble opinion.
 
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Thanks SeaGtGruff and Biggles.

I have both of them on my list and will look into them more and watch videos this evening. If I look into ones that don't have speakers, which ones are good then. Thanks again.
 
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Eric

The keyboards we are talking about so far are classed as Arrangers and it is all but the top end of them that has inbuilt amp and speakers. The DGX that Michael quoted is a digital piano and that also has inbuilt amp and speakers.

An alternative would be a MIDI setup where you buy a keyboard controller and use DAW software to build up your song layer by layer.

If you have a PC or better still a MAC then you can put a system together for less cash. That said this approach will have a much steeper learning curve.

EG
A MAC has Logic Pro available for $200 and this will give 80Gb of samples and a whole range of instruments plus a MIDI keyboard controller like an Arturia Keylab mk II at $500 and you are sorted with all you need but other keyboard controllers are available like an Arturia Keylab Essential 49 @ $200. I only quote Arturia as I have one.

On a PC a free DAW is Cakewalk but if you do go this route the MIDI keyboard controller you will buy will probably come with Abelton Lite plus some software instruments or VST’s as they are called, you will need to aquire more VST’s.

Hope this helps.
 
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For a low-cost board with multi-track sequencer, I'd look at Korg Kross with its 16 track sequencer. Biggles might be able to chime in with how multitrack sequencing (recording, overdubbing, editing) differs between the Kross and Korg's PA models, but my understanding is that the Kross is more capable here (though trading off the PA's ability to auto-generate accompaniment parts).
 
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For a low-cost board with multi-track sequencer, I'd look at Korg Kross with its 16 track sequencer. Biggles might be able to chime in with how multitrack sequencing (recording, overdubbing, editing) differs between the Kross and Korg's PA models, but my understanding is that the Kross is more capable here (though trading off the PA's ability to auto-generate accompaniment parts).
Scott
I would if I could or rather I did, what I mean is that recording on the PA is so easy it is the PA that I always use, by contrast the Kross, whilst very capable it is very quirky for multi track sequences and I only record a short piece to add to a Pad.

If I did not have the PA I would no doubt record on the Kross sufficiently for it to be second nature which for me it is not.

There does not seem to be much difference in the recording functions in each of the PA models until the 4X where it has just been upgraded via the latest OS version.
 
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Well I was going to ask about Kross 2 (61 keys) or Roland Juno that is priced similarly. I know you need amps or monitors for them. But what do they really do beyond something like PA300.

I have looked into the daw stuff and will do that. But in that case I could go for less of a keyboard. I still want a keyboard to mess with that will do midi and plays own sounds. So let me take a step back for overall directional advice.

#1 - Get a less expensive board to play on and (or not) get midi controller and do all daw. It seems on internet that everyone wants to do that way because vst synths/sounds are high quality nowadays. But I don't know if I want to sit in front of computer most of time.

#2 - Go high and get much better keyboard (PA300/PSR-S670/Kross2/Juno) and can act as midi controller, do a lot on keyboard and do less of a daw.

And on daw front for option 1, my laptop that I use is intel i5 and 8 GB ram. That will be plenty strong correct? Will audio stuff work on windows 7 or is windows 10 mandatory. Because I use windows7/ Linux mint. Windows 10 updates are unstable it seems. And hardly anything in audio I have seen has drivers in linux.

Decisions Decisions lol
Eric
 
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Well I was going to ask about Kross 2 (61 keys) or Roland Juno that is priced similarly.But what do they really do beyond something like PA300.
Juno DS doesn't do what you initially asked about, it does not include a multitrack sequencer, so it is probably not what you're looking for (though you can still use it in conjunction with a DAW for that function, so if you choose to take the DAW route, you could still consider it).

But what do they really do beyond something like PA300.
It's not so much "beyond" as "different" -- each does things the other does not. So for example, the PA300 is an arranger, which means it has the capability of automatically generating backing tracks for you as you play, in whatever style you select. Kross does not do that. OTOH in terms of live playing, the Kross lets you split and layer up to 16 of its sounds simultaneously, arranged any way you want across the keyboard, while the PA300 supports up to 4 keyboard-playable sounds at a time with 3 above a split point and 1 below. Kross and PA300 will also sound different, as they do not have the same sound sets or technologies in them.
 
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The Kross 2 is a pretty new board and has just had an update to its OS and a bunch of instrument sound add ons released including 30 additional pianos amongst them all.

A SE version (very colourful) gave additional sound sets and a recent RD version also has the same set of sounds as the SE versions.

The OS update and available sound sets for the original Kross 2 gives it the same sound sets as the SE and RD.

One huge advantage for me is the physical size and weight of the Kross 2 which is less than 9 lbs meaning transportation is very easy. I have a small 8W Boss Katana Mini amp that I use when out and about jamming, it is also battery powered like the Kross 2 so I need to carry around very little.

There is one drawback with the Kross 2 and that is if you are playing a specific Program or Combi and change to another the sound changes, this is not something that will be fixed by Korg due to the hardware, at least that is what I have been advised by Korg Italy.

As with other Korg models a video manual series will show you the capabilities of the Kross 2.

 
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Whilst it is 1.5x your budget (its c$1200) there is the Korg PA700 to also consider which is a far newer keyboard than the PA300 and far more capable.

If you can then this would make a far better long term buy than the PA300, again check out the Video Manual series which will be similar but the 700 has more Styles and Instrument Voices of a better quality.

The PA700 is the Arranger that I have and it is my prime keyboard.
 
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I looked at the material and the only issue now is the keybeds. The biggest problem for me selecting one is that I am an hour away from any decent music store and the keyboards recommended to me in this thread are not there. I know it is very subjective but how is the keybeds for PA300/PSR-S670/Kross2. I did try a roland juno DS and the keybed was good enough for me and have tried EW410 and it was good to me. So if anyone can give some feedback especially relative to juno(61 or 76 keys) and ew410 it could still be helpful. Thanks all. You have been very helpful.
Eric
 
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I just missed Biggles latest post. You can add in your opinion of that keybed as well.
 

SeaGtGruff

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I would imagine that the PSR-S670 has a better keybed than the PSR-EW410, although that's just an assumption on my part and I've never played a PSR-EW410-- but I assume its keybed is identical to that of the PSR-EW400. In any case, if you thought the PSR-EW410's keybed was okay for you, you ought to be okay with the PSR-S670's keybed.
 
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Eric.

I have played the Roland Juno DS 61 quite a bit as I kept returning to my local Music Store to try playing it back to back with the Kross 2 only buying the Kross due to its smaller size and much less weight.

The keybeds of the Juno, Kross 2 and 700 to me are very similar in feel and the 700 feels very similar to a Yamaha S770 which I also played back to back with the 700 and the Yamaha have vastly inferior tone to the inbuilt sounds and build materials look of poor quality, hence I am no fan of Yamaha keyboards

I have not played a PA300 so cannot comment on that particular keybed.

I have not played an EW400 series keyboard but I would not touch a lower cost similar priced Yamaha with a barge pole.
 

Rayblewit

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I have its bigger brother which is vastly superior to Yamaha's similar priced models in my not so humble opinion.
t I would not touch a lower cost similar priced Yamaha with a barge pole.
the Yamaha have vastly inferior tone to the inbuilt sounds and build materials look of poor quality, hence I am no fan of Yamaha keyboards
I think you have made your point.
You've been going on about Yamaha being inferior for far too long.
You are beginning to annoy me!
I don't think bias is helping Eric here in making his choice.
Ray
 
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I just saw Korg PA600. Is that closer to PA300 or PA700? Thanks. I will look at specs and videos of it later but if someone has an opinion then even better.
 
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Eric
Can I make one point clear, I am only suggesting a Korg since they have multi track recording capabilities that other manufacturers have failed to incorporate in their keyboard to the same standard as Korg has,

To give you some background, Korg Arranger series was basically the Liverpool (a small keybed with Beatles styles only), PA300, PA600, PA900 and PA4X. The 600 was basically superseded by the 700 and the 900 superseded by the 1000 although both the 600 and to a lesser extent the 900 remain available to buy.

I have played a PA600 and it is similar in keybed feel to a 700, it does sound good having listened to one being played quite often by a guy I jam with from time to time.

With the 600 being a superseded model I would suggest that you avoid buying one. The 700 and 1000 were introduced in Q3 2017 and the 600 had its latest update in April 2018 as did the 300. I have no information either way that the 300 and 600 will continue or otherwise to be supported. Korg are not the fastest by a considerable margin at releasing updates or bug solving.

For info, the current Korg Arranger range have quite a price difference:-
PA 300 c$760,
PA600 c$1000,
PA700 c$1300,
PA1000 c$2000 &
PA4X c$3900

You may find that Korg also have a EK50 at $400, this is not one that will have the recording functions that you seek. It is Korg’s starter keyboard to offer buyers a choice other than Yamaha, Casio and Roland at its price point.

I think that I have armed you with just about as much as I can on Korg arrangers but if you do buy one I would suggest that you only buy one from a retailer who offers at least a 30 day full refund returns period since this period will enable you to fully check out that the MIDI recording functions suit your workflow.

I am not done with Korg yet, since you wrote about the Kross 2 there has been an update to its OS and expansion packs released, I have updated my K2 and the expansion pack is superb with 30 additional pianos to choose from, this is very good since piano sounds is a Korg weak point. So if you are still considering this model do checkout the update the easiest way is to watch reviews if the SE and RD models as it is their extra sounds that are now available for the original K2.

Yamaha have a new model that you may like to check out namely the PSR SX700, I have zero knowledge of its capabilities or its price point but it may have the features you seek.

Another option for you is any keyboard in your price range like the EW410 (which is at a good price point for a keyboard with 76 keys) and a DAW which will enable you to use the onboard sounds of the EW410 within the DAW of your choice, this may well be the most cost effective solution.

That said I am no expert at MIDI and Yamaha keyboards so will leave it to others to advise further. Some keyboards have quirky MIDI implementation and you will need care in choosing a keyboard that integrates fully in a MIDI setup with some Casio, Yamaha and Roland keyboards having this trait but I cannot be specific on models. In fact I do not know how well or otherwise a Korg PA300 or 600 integrates with a DAW.

Finally how you want to create your songs will have a bearing on what can be suggested.

For the all in one method, recording everything then going back and changing track by track to suit then a suitable equipped arranger can do the task.

On the other hand if you want to build up layer by layer, instrument by instrument then the DAW route with MIDI keyboard controller (or any MIDI compliant keyboard with inbuilt sounds) will do that. This is probably the most common way of song creation today but with quite a learning curve.

Good luck with your decision making.
 

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