Which keyboard for £1500 / $2000 US / $3000 AUD / $2500 Can.


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All this keyboard hunting, testing and pondering that is churning up what is left of my addled grey matter got me wondering if I am missing something.

My own pondering and indecisiveness will no doubt continue for quite a while and hence why should I ponder alone and thought that I would try to seek inspiration from you folks.

QUESTIONS

1 - If you had a budget as per the header what would you choose for yourself in a single instrument or a setup?

2 - Why would you choose that particular keyboard or setup?

3 - How would this kit improve you as a musician?

Happy pondering !
 
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What, no price in euro ? I'm insulted... :p

My own pondering and indecisiveness
... but I feel your pain, brother ;)

As for your question, it all depends what you want to do with it. You like arranger keyboards and most probably play popular music on your current setup. As for myself, I'm not into arrangers and synths (as I've discovered :oops: ) and more into piano,so the board (s) I'd pick probably wouldn't meet with your expectations...
 

happyrat1

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My Living Room Rig comes in close to your budget and I'm very happy with the options of the Juno DS88, the ferrofish and the neutron to broaden the sound palette.

But as you said, space is at a premium so I really have no idea what sort of 88 board you could get to fill in the bottom tier.

Also, you're more of an arranger guy so that's one feature I can live without.

To me, what you're facing is a classic case of "sh*t or get off the pot." :)

NAMM is adding FOMO to the mix.

Either way, you're not bound to make any hasty decisions and why are you only looking at new gear?

For that sort of money you could pick up some older Kronos models or Kurzweils or Rolands or even a Nord and still have enough left over for a dinner with your sweetie.

Perhaps instead of sinking cash into a fast depreciating new unit you should start auditioning a few vintage boards and see what you like?

Gary ;)
 
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Single Instrument:

1. Kurzweil PC4... but as Kaneda alluded to, people have different needs, and if you like arranger (intelligent accompaniment functions), you won't find it there.

2. It's a single board with a good sample set for both orchestral and classic keys sounds, ability to load custom samples, drawbar organ engine, VA synth engine, lots of real-time controls, decent display, pretty good quick patch selection functions, ability to (usually) change sounds without cutoffs, 73+ keys (to facilitate splits, good piano range, and the full key ranges of Rhodes, Wurli, Clav) , aftertouch, assignable outs, DX7-compatible FM synth, and sophisticated MIDI implementation, all in a box that is reasonably portable (28 lbs).

The other "single board solution"I like a lot is the Nord Stage 3 Compact, which has pros and cons vs. the PC4, but is out of your price range.

I prefer a multi-board setup, but it's actually hard to find any pair of board for the price of a PC4 that gives you what the PC4 has in a single board! But not everyone cares about all the things I listed. You may find some of those things expendable, and there are numerous advantages to having two boards, including having good piano and organ actions, built-in redundancy in case of any kind of failure, ability to minimize having to be cognizant of not crossing split points (or of having to setup as many combinations in advance), and often an ability to get some better sounds (since no single board has the best everything). There are plenty of good 2-board combinations, but the choice varies with which things I mentioned you're willing to lose. I'd be inclined to trade off the things that affect sound, since you can always add/improve sounds in the future by adding an iPad or whatever, whereas there's no way to add another octave of keys or aftertouch, or some of the other things I mentioned.
 
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The thread is about what you would choose for yourselves not for me.

Whlst I have an Arranger its days are numbered, unless the eBay bids already received are retracted. As it is I now very rarely use the Arranger style playback or if I do I just have the drum and bass lines so I am not stuck with staying in the arranger camp. I do want more real estate by way of key numbers and it now must be 88 with a graded hammer action.

The Kross 2 is a good small keyboard but it is starting to bug me with the sheer number of button presses required to make adjustments within a Combi (20+ tabs to scroll through) and whilst its sequencer is supposedly much superior to others is is not exactly quick and easy to use so I have been using the one on the Arranger far more.

So now I am thinking of going to a single 88 key unit with nothing on the top tier, a one keyboard does it all and within the budget it is:-

Roland FA 08, impressed by my brief play and more impressed after watching a lot of videos, downside is another steep learning curve.

Korg Krome 88, Not tried one, watched a couple of vids and it is very similar to the Kross 2 but with what looks like a better menu structure, the thing is I do not like the layout but at £1000 it is cheap here in the UK.

Kursweil PC4, problem here is that it is £500 more than I can get the FA 08 for. Worth having a play if I can find one functioning nearby.

Roland Juno 88, an outsider.

Yamaha MOXF 88, no way on the planet.

Nord Stage 3, OH yes, love them. Only played one a couple of times but it is at the Kronos price point.

BACKUP
If the Kross 2 is the backup but if it sells then I will buy an Arturia Keylab mk2 MIDI controller (whose key action is better than the Kross 2) plus I have an iPad and laptop so this will satisfy my mobile requirements
 

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Like I said it's SOGOTP time tempered by FOMO.

At this point you either wait and see what's coming out from NAMM next week or you pays yer money and you takes yer chances.

You pretty much know what's out there better than most.

You know what's important to you. Pianos and Organs, Synth Sounds, Orchestral, Brass and Woodwinds, Sounds, Touch, Ease of Control. Take your pick. No one keyboard satisfies everybody.

You've had way more opportunity than most of us to test drive dozens of different models.

At this point it's time to stop trying to dodge responsibility and make a decision already.

We're all friends here and as your friend I am saying you already know everything you need to know so it's your choice. Go with your gut and pull the trigger, or wait 6 months for the new models to start shipping and start all over again.

Gary ;)
 
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The thread is about what you would choose for yourselves not for me.
Yup, that's why my pick was PC4, for reasons listed. Whether that aligns with what's important to you, only you know.

I do want more real estate by way of key numbers and it now must be 88 with a graded hammer action.
That keeps PC4 in the running...

The Kross 2 is a good small keyboard but it is starting to bug me with the sheer number of button presses required to make adjustments within a Combi
PC4 might still bug you there. There are (or will be) PC/Mac/iOS editors, I believe, which might alleviate that.

Kursweil PC4, problem here is that it is £500 more than I can get the FA 08 for.
Neither has my favorite action, but I prefer the Kurz for what seems like a quicker return.

Roland has a really nice screen, trigger pads, a much more straightforward VA editing system, and modeling incorporated into their "SuperNatural Acoustic" tones (piano, EPs, clav, basses, acoustic guitar, ensemble strings... though that does not necessarily mean these sounds are all better than their Kurzweil equivalents, that's subjective).

Kurz advantages include reduced size/weight, ability to load custom samples, lots more real-time controls (including 9 sliders for organ), aftertouch, DX7-compatible FM synth, larger sample set for the sampled instruments (2 GB vs. I think 192 MB including the two virtual expansion slots), and more sophisticated MIDI implementation. Worth the £500 difference? Your call.

Yamaha MOXF 88, no way on the planet.
These days, it would be the MODX8.
 
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The thread is about what you would choose for yourselves not for me.
With that budget, for my personal situation (looking for a second piano for my appartment), I'd probably go for something like the Yamaha P515 or a Roland FP90 (or even a cabinet piano like the Roland HP704). I'd even consider a Casio PX-S1000 and use the rest of the money to take a nice trip. But that's strictly for piano.

If, however, I wanted to expand my 'repertoire', which means piano, organ, and some synth stuff, I don't really see one board that could meet all those requirements for that particular budget. And I must have missed something because it's not really clear to me what you want to do.
Out on a limb here, but if you want to do a bit of everything (and keeping the budget in mind, the sky isn't the limit) I'd probably go for a Casio PX-S3000, which has a gazillion sounds (really good piano sounds, great EP sounds, and good but not great other sounds), plus it has basic but solid arranger functions should the need arise (the drumm and base lines you talked about earlier), and I'd probably put a Numa Compact 2X on top for organ (and I would even be able to put it quite low, just a couple of centimeters above the PX-S3000 because of the limited depth of both boards). Both boards have internal speakers so that would add to the minimalism I love so much (and those speakers should all be quite sufficient for home use).
In any case, the most important part, the piano touch and sounds, would be in order for me.

In an ideal world, and without any budget constraints, for me personally, if I wanted to to a bit of everything, I'd get a Roland Fantom 8. Again, wonderful keybed, but that's just because of my focus on piano. But that's me, I want a good piano touch for piano, just like I'd want a semi-weighted keybed for organ or synth (I'm never touching a synth action keyboard again)...

That's just what I would do.
If I may be so blunt : it didn't work for me, but maybe you should take another look at the Roland FA-08, seems like it could be a good combination with that Arturia Keylab MK2 for when you're not on the move (I assume the sliders on the Arturia could be used as drawbars via midi)....
 
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If, however, I wanted to expand my 'repertoire', which means piano, organ, and some synth stuff, I don't really see one board that could meet all those requirements for that particular budget.
I think PC4 and FA08 pretty much do... they both have quality pianos, separate VA synth engine, separate organ engine. FA-08 provides simpler synth editing but no organ drawbars, PC4 is the opposite. I give the PC4 the edge for sound quality and numerous features I've already detailed above, though sound quality is always subjective and can vary with exactly which sounds you're comparing.

Roland FA-08, seems like it could be a good combination with that Arturia Keylab MK2 for when you're not on the move (I assume the sliders on the Arturia could be used as drawbars via midi)....
FA-08 drawbars can only be controlled by sysex, so most controllers will not work (they usually only send CC). I'm not sure about the Arturia though.
 
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I think PC4 and FA08 pretty much do... they both have quality pianos, separate VA synth engine, separate organ engine. FA-08 provides simpler synth editing but no organ drawbars, PC4 is the opposite. I give the PC4 the edge for sound quality and numerous features I've already detailed above, though sound quality is always subjective and can vary with exactly which sounds you're comparing.
Don't know much about the PC4. Only thing I have picked up from reading on the net is that the Medeli K6 keybed that's in the PC4 is basically, well, crap for piano. But I guess a pianist isn't exactly the PC4's target audience. However, it's strange that Kurzweil puts the same keybed in the SP6, which is marketed as a stage 'piano'...
Haven't played either the PC4 or SP6, so it's just what I read on the internet. Even if it's on the same level as Korg's NH or Yamaha's GHS, it would still be sub par for playing piano (although Yamaha's GHS is not all that bad).
The Roland FA-08's keybed is not bad for piano, actually.

FA-08 drawbars can only be controlled by sysex, so most controllers will not work (they usually only send CC). I'm not sure about the Arturia though.
Apparently, after a quick search on the internet, Novation controllers could do it...
 
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Yeah, PC4/SP6 don't have the best action but also not the worst... these are both light weight low cost boards... same basic Medeli action, but the PC4 gets you a lot more front panel control and rear panel connectivity, aftertouch, the ability to load custom samples, the FM synthesizer, better display, on-board editing, more polyphony, sequencer, more built-in programs, more space for user programs, 16-zone MIDI control instead of 4.
 
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Yeah, PC4/SP6 don't have the best action but also not the worst... these are both light weight low cost boards... same basic Medeli action, but the PC4 gets you a lot more front panel control and rear panel connectivity, aftertouch, the ability to load custom samples, the FM synthesizer, better display, on-board editing, more polyphony, sequencer, more built-in programs, more space for user programs, 16-zone MIDI control instead of 4.
It's okay, you know, to admit you love the PC4 ;)
 
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Korg Krome 88, Not tried one, watched a couple of vids and it is very similar to the Kross 2 but with what looks like a better menu structure, the thing is I do not like the layout but at £1000 it is cheap here in the UK.
The Krome (once you become familiar with it) is a dream to navigate thanks to the large touch screen accompanied by large font. I can fly around the thing in nanoseconds. As a Kross user I think you’d get to grips with it very quickly as the two ‘boards are very similar conceptually.
 
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It's okay, you know, to admit you love the PC4 ;)
Yeah, I'm pretty happy with it. It's not perfect, but in a hammer action board, it's the best combination I've found of features/price/weight. I'd like to see some improvements in the interface (it's not bad, but it could be better). And as I said, action could be better, but it's competitive in its class. It's one of my half dozen or so favorite boards.
 
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The store I went in did have a couple of Kursweil on display but not connected.

One was an SP and I did rattle the keys does this have the same action as the PC4?
 
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I've never played the SP6, but I've read that the action is the same (with the obvious difference of aftertouch). If it were some other SP model (the older SP5 or SP4), then it's not the same action.
 
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I have just looked though all the Music Shops within a couple of hours drive of me and zero Kursweil PC4 in stock or even zero Kursweil of any kind, full stop.

The only ones are 300 miles away in Anderton’s and Bonner’s.

Hence no matter how good it may be it has to now be a non starter unless my local store has one but none are showing on their website despite two being in the showroom.
 
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I know not having sounds cut out is important to you, so differentiations there might be worth considering. With the Kurzweils out of the running, Juno DS or MODX is probably next best in this regard. DS lets you switch without cutouts between combinations of up to 16 sounds, but you may hear glitches with effects changes (3 insert effects total). MODX only lets you switch without cutouts between combinations of up to 4 sounds, but there will be no effects-related glitches (8 insert effects total).
 
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p.s. -- I think smoothly switching between individual programs (as opposed to combinations of programs) might work on all of them. And the FA supports seamless switching in any combination within user-definable "studio sets" of up to 16 sounds (1 insert effect per sound).
 
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NAMM leaks are starting

XE20 arranger DP

This is based on the B2, and aimed at the Yammy DGX (£600 / $800 US) so the XE20 will probably be similar in price, if only there was a D1 version.

SV2
C$2000

Interesting!
 

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