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New to Keyboards; Could you help me pick one for Studio use?


Deverica Wolf

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Hi. I am an aspiring singer-songwriter in nowheresville. I am interested in starting a career and recording some music in a studio...someday. :blush:

 

I am currently using a cheap $30 toy keyboard that I picked up years ago for writing music. I bought it as a little hobby thing. Shocking as it may be, I have written most of what could be an album on there. The problem is that...besides sucking, it only has 49 keys and is limited. It's just a joke.

 

So I am looking to buy a real Keyboard/Digital Piano for my future career. But I don't really know anything about this: What to buy, what I'll need in the studio, etc... I am planning on playing the keyboard and synthesizer violin/organ-style sounds. I am still learning both.

 

I am trying to go for a digital sound. I want the piano keys to sort of sound magical; the lyrics I am writing are based in fantasy and are somewhat whimsical. So more of a keyboard sound and less a real grand piano. I want it to be high quality. Also, I havo no plans on playing this live: This is studio only. I want to use a Mic. on stage. :)

 

I have spotted some on sale plus 15% off the order and free shipping and gifts...

 

Kawai MP6 Professional Stage Piano

Yamaha CP50 88 Key STAGE PIANO

Nord Electro 3 Seventythree Stage Piano/Organ

 

Then I found some Workstations but I am unsure if they are too much for what I need...

 

Yamaha MOX8 88-Key Graded Hammer Action Music Production Synthesizer Workstation

Yamaha MOTIF XS7 Music Production Synthesizer Workstation Keyboard

Roland Fantom-G6 Workstation Keyboard

 

Some of the models have versions with different amounts of keys. I want a lot of keys but am unsure how many. Most of these come with a free Oxygen 25 - USB MIDI Controller, which I don't what is used for. Also, I know nothing about amps or cables. I am clueless on all this. :(

 

Anyway, the MIDI gift ends on the 27th so I would like to order something. My budget is $2500 but I was considering the ones around $1500. If I need to indeed get something better than that, I will indeed wait for the next sale but I really would like know at what I am looking for. I am here to answer questions. Thanks so much. :wave:

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It would be best if you could go play these instruments yourself.

 

Sound and feel are the most important things, and are (of course) highly subjective. We can help answer specific questions you may have...but laying hands and ears on these instruments will tell you volumes more than we can. Even if you may save a little $ by buying now (which is probably not the case - you can typically get a decent deal on anything year round, not just now) I strongly suggest that you do not just order something without playing it first.

 

Welcome to the forum!

 

dB

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Welcome to the forum. Your budget is realistic, and for that money you'll have many great choices both in the new and used market.

 

The first two boards you list are great at being pianos. The Nord is a fantastic choice for a portable meat and potatoes board--easy to transport, a handful of great sounds, but I don't know how good it would be at the fantasy sounds you think you'd like to have.

 

Given the fact that you are looking for more of a processed sound, I think you'll be happier with a board that has more synthesizer-type features and plenty of on-board effects. The workstations may fit that bill better. The Motif line has always had great keyboard actions and a ton of very usable sounds, plus the ability to shape those sounds to your taste. You could very easily find a gently used Motif that would serve you well for many years.

 

I'm not sure why Musician's Friend (who is not always your friend) would package a 25-key controller with a workstation or digital piano. These keyboards are traditionally used to trigger computer software instruments and are generally of low quality. I think the inclusion of this controller is a gimmick and not anything on which you should base your decision.

 

I hope you have an opportunity to go to a larger music store and play some of these things for yourself before buying. A keyboard is a very personal thing, as is any musical instrument. A board that speaks to me may not speak to you. Again, with your budget you can't really go wrong. There are lots of folks on this forum who have far more experience than I with these very keyboards and will surely chime in soon.

 

Good luck with your search and your career.

 

K.

 

9 Moog things, 3 Roland things, 2 Hammond things and a computer with stuff on it

 

 

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Some of the models have versions with different amounts of keys. I want a lot of keys but am unsure how many. Most of these come with a free Oxygen 25 - USB MIDI Controller, which I don't what is used for. Also, I know nothing about amps or cables. I am clueless on all this. :(

 

I would say that since you have limited experience, your budget can/should be considerably lower. Check out something like the Korg M-50 for about $1,000. It will do everything you need and knock your socks off. M-50

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It would be best if you could go play these instruments yourself.

 

Of course. I am going to look for some music stores around here but Rhode Island is really crappy for stores. I will look and call tomorrow. I wanted to go in with a direction which now seems to be Workstations.

 

The first two boards you list are great at being pianos. The Nord is a fantastic choice for a portable meat and potatoes board--easy to transport, a handful of great sounds, but I don't know how good it would be at the fantasy sounds you think you'd like to have.

 

Given the fact that you are looking for more of a processed sound, I think you'll be happier with a board that has more synthesizer-type features and plenty of on-board effects. The workstations may fit that bill better. The Motif line has always had great keyboard actions and a ton of very usable sounds, plus the ability to shape those sounds to your taste. You could very easily find a gently used Motif that would serve you well for many years.

 

I think the inclusion of this controller is a gimmick and not anything on which you should base your decision.

 

I hope you have an opportunity to go to a larger music store and play some of these things for yourself before buying. A keyboard is a very personal thing, as is any musical instrument. A board that speaks to me may not speak to you. Again, with your budget you can't really go wrong. There are lots of folks on this forum who have far more experience than I with these very keyboards and will surely chime in soon.

 

Good luck with your search and your career.

 

That "magical/fantasy" sound is really important to me. Taken to heart and thank you. :)

 

I would say that since you have limited experience, your budget can/should be considerably lower. Check out something like the Korg M-50 for about $1,000. It will do everything you need and knock your socks off. M-50

 

Thanks. Anyone else recommend this? It looks real nice. Plus, a $100 rebate besides the other savings.

 

It has 61 keys. Does it matter for me the amount of keys? I am not recording classical music, just pop/soft rock.

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If you are good at reading squirrely technical manuals and figuring out technology then the Motif gives you a lot of possibilities. If you do not need sampling then the Yamaha S90 or S70 is powerful but the keyboard is weighted. The S90 is a little heavy but this is a studio instrument. The vocoder is cool.

 

Anymore it is all pretty good.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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When you say 'Magical Sound' do you have something that you are trying to emulate? I am guessing it's an Electric Piano sound of some sort, (Maybe even an FM synth based one).

 

I 2nd the Korg M-50. It is a great board that will blow you away. It has tonnes of sounds, and you can tweak a bit if it's not exactly what you are looking for. I think that 61 keys will be fine for you especially since you are not playing it live. If you need more keys, just record two parts... If you are concerned, there is a 73 key model ( a few hundred more... but I don't think you need it). Have you seen this demo?

 

[video:youtube]gFifNsYZlqI

 

 

I'm just saying', everyone that confuses correlation with causation eventually ends up dead.
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I'm going to advise against getting a workstation. If you want to create a little home studio, having a computer that can run GarageBand and getting a USB MIDI keyboard that you can hook up to it will not only get you far but save you money.
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Personally, I'd go the other way and advocate a workstation/rompler.

 

Since the OP isn't a keyboardist (yet) and is still largely developing a sound, based on an "idea," why not have a huge palate of sonic choice to pull from (ranging from bread and butter piano's, organs, strings, et al, to the "gee whiz bang", magical, ethereal type sounds that are so abundant on romplers).

 

I don't think they need to drop the bank on an Motif XF or even a MOX8, but certainly the Korg M50 61 would be a great lower cost option and would leave room in the budget for other essentials, that they don't know they need yet.

 

There is NO reason for them to buy a stage piano, as its overkill from cost v. sound option perspective and they don't need the action nor the dedicated pianos.

 

If they want to go used, there are a litany of choices that will save them even more money (Used Fantoms, Motif's, Tritons, M3's, Kurz etc).

 

I don't think the computer based suggestions are bad, but it does require developing a certain "workflow", not to mention there are the whole issues around a performance tuning a music computer, dealing with latency and other things that can be a little unfriendly for newbies. Hardware makes much of that go away, certainly at the cost of flexibility and higher initial price.

Yamaha C7 Grand, My Hammonds: '57 B3, '54 C2, '42 BC, '40 D, '05 XK3 Pro System, Kawai MP9000, Fender Rhodes Mk I 73, Yamaha CP33, Motif ES6, Nord Electro 2, Minimoog Voyager & Model D, Korg MS10
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I would be more inclined to start with a workstation. If you wanted to transition to software solutions you could but you would still have your workstation. That M-50 looks fun.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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The nice thing about a workstation is the spontaneity. I'm using a stage piano and computer now and find its not the same as sitting down just playing. I like how workstations like the M50 & MOX allow you to easily integrate with the computer. You can sit sketch out an idea and record it without leaving the keyboard. And then take it further to a finished product using the computer. To me its more about "workflow" as Meisenhower put it. Computers are great, but my connection is through my ears and fingers more than a mouse.

Boards: Kurzweil SP-6, Roland FA-08, VR-09, DeepMind 12

Modules: Korg Radias, Roland D-05, Bk7-m & Sonic Cell

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Anyone else recommend this? It looks real nice. Plus, a $100 rebate besides the other savings.

 

It has 61 keys. Does it matter for me the amount of keys?

The M50 is available with 61, 73, or 88 keys.

 

Since you're looking for more "other worldly" or processed sounds rather than precise emulations of acoustic instruments, I think I'd probably also suggest the Korg over the Yamaha. And if you're looking for "compositional assistance," you might even want to see if you can go one step up in the Korg line to the M3, which has "KARMA" which can give you a lot of nice foundation pretty much automatically.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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I don't find workstations to have any kind of intuitive flow about them.

 

I would never point a person new to synths to a Motif or Fantom. Talk about overwhelming!

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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I don't find workstations to have any kind of intuitive flow about them.

 

I would never point a person new to synths to a Motif or Fantom. Talk about overwhelming!

Exactly. It's overkill for what the OP wants to do. They don't need a workstation to do some recording with magical sounds.

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I don't find workstations to have any kind of intuitive flow about them.

 

I would never point a person new to synths to a Motif or Fantom. Talk about overwhelming!

Good point about the complexities of workstations, something more direct might be more fun and inspiring at this point. Maybe a Roland Juno of some sort... Or, getting away from rompler territory toward more sound tweaking synthesis, a Waldorf Blofeld...

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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I don't find workstations to have any kind of intuitive flow about them.

 

I would never point a person new to synths to a Motif or Fantom. Talk about overwhelming!

Exactly. It's overkill for what the OP wants to do. They don't need a workstation to do some recording with magical sounds.

 

Since the OP hasn't made any mention of having a computer based studio available, nor did they suggest that the wanted a computer based solution AND all of the items being considered were hardware, it seemed like they were looking for a hardware solution. :thu:

 

Big assumption that there is a. the desire or b. the technical aptitude or c. the hardware available to do computer based recording.

 

No one was suggesting that they HAVE to use the workstation recording/sequencing functions, but rather the workstation would give them a much broader selection of sounds to choose from with minimal learning curve.

 

I wouldn't recommend a Motif series to a newbie either if they wanted to record/sequence, but it certainly would be a recommendation for someone looking for a good array of sounds and only wanted to push a button to access them.

 

Yamaha C7 Grand, My Hammonds: '57 B3, '54 C2, '42 BC, '40 D, '05 XK3 Pro System, Kawai MP9000, Fender Rhodes Mk I 73, Yamaha CP33, Motif ES6, Nord Electro 2, Minimoog Voyager & Model D, Korg MS10
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Thanks everyone. :laugh:

 

When you say 'Magical Sound' do you have something that you are trying to emulate? I am guessing it's an Electric Piano sound of some sort, (Maybe even an FM synth based one).

 

I 2nd the Korg M-50. It is a great board that will blow you away. It has tonnes of sounds, and you can tweak a bit if it's not exactly what you are looking for. I think that 61 keys will be fine for you especially since you are not playing it live. If you need more keys, just record two parts... If you are concerned, there is a 73 key model ( a few hundred more... but I don't think you need it). Have you seen this demo?

 

Yeah, Electric Piano. I want it to have more of that high-pitched sound than a normal piano. I like the normal piano sound but I don't have much use for it right now. Later when I get more money and write different music, sure thing.

 

Regarding the 61 vs 73 keys...there is $300 price difference. The 73 key is also longer and heavier. I don't think I need it...what difference does 12 keys make? When I use my 49 keys, I find myself not having enough sounds to express the emotion I am trying to make. I end up using the same keys over again which bites and is not always right. I want that to end my new keyboard.

 

I have watched a few videos and the M-50 looks REALLY nice for what I want. A lot of sounds on here. Sadly no one in Rhode Island has any of the models so I would have to try something else in person. Step by step...

 

I guess the Korg Kronos is out.

 

I think that's a bit too much for what I need. Like I said, I could wait and save up some more money but I don't think I need that. I am just writing pop songs. Some complex but nothing major: All fun.

 

I'm going to advise against getting a workstation. If you want to create a little home studio, having a computer that can run GarageBand and getting a USB MIDI keyboard that you can hook up to it will not only get you far but save you money.

 

I live in a studio Apt on the 6th floor; Not big so I can't make too much noise here. I have a cheap but nice 5.1 SS system here and, yet, I just had to spend $3,500 on headphones/amp/DAC because my bass is disturbing people...and I am a night person. I do have a real nice PC (i5-2500k Sandy Bridge, ASUS P8P67 Deluxe, Creative Titanium HD) but I don't know anything about that...yet. I just always intended to buy something new, write songs on it, and go in a studio with a backing band and record with it. Start with some demos and go from there. I am 24 so it will take a while but it must start now. I am getting bored, hate this state, and want to start a new life on the road. I am a vagabond by heart. :/

 

Personally, I'd go the other way and advocate a workstation/rompler.

 

I don't think they need to drop the bank on an Motif XF or even a MOX8, but certainly the Korg M50 61 would be a great lower cost option and would leave room in the budget for other essentials, that they don't know they need yet.

 

Yes, I would like to know as well what I would need with the Keyboard/Workstation to use in a studio. I have headphones that I confirmed can be used in the studio (Audeze LCD2 rev2) and I will use them at home. But what will I need to record this on a tape/cd? I would like purchase it with the 'board if possible since I get a discount.

 

I'm a guy, by the way.

 

I would be more inclined to start with a workstation. If you wanted to transition to software solutions you could but you would still have your workstation. That M-50 looks fun.

 

I don't. I just want to write and record music with it. The music is kind of like Lady GaGa or John Mayer pop though not exact. It's different and original. It also may be on the dark side at times. But I want to go in the studio with a real band and a real drummer. I don't really want a full digital sound. It's gonna be the best of both worlds.

 

And you're damn right it does.

 

The nice thing about a workstation is the spontaneity. I'm using a stage piano and computer now and find its not the same as sitting down just playing. I like how workstations like the M50 & MOX allow you to easily integrate with the computer. You can sit sketch out an idea and record it without leaving the keyboard. And then take it further to a finished product using the computer. To me its more about "workflow" as Meisenhower put it. Computers are great, but my connection is through my ears and fingers more than a mouse.

 

This is exactly how I feel. I must play it: It's personal. And the USB connection is really important. I have the short-term memory of a 90 year old and have been using my cell phone (lol) to record songs that I can playback but cannot save. Then, I put them in my PC and listen to them in Realplayer. As you can see, not having money sucks it big so now that I do I want to buy something really nice. What I play, I want to save instantly.

 

Since you're looking for more "other worldly" or processed sounds rather than precise emulations of acoustic instruments, I think I'd probably also suggest the Korg over the Yamaha. And if you're looking for "compositional assistance," you might even want to see if you can go one step up in the Korg line to the M3, which has "KARMA" which can give you a lot of nice foundation pretty much automatically.

 

I am not sure on this one. It'd be nice to have but I don't know if I want to pay for it. Like I said, it is more of a rocking/pop sound I am going for with a backing band: Studio/Live.

 

Huge post but I wanted reply to everyone. Thank you so much for the help: I do appreciate it. I am still open but the M-50 looks really nice to me. I'm like wow over here. :whistle:

 

EDIT: This video of the M-50 is kind of the sound I would be going for: Piano and Ambiance. I would change it but I like what I'm hearing.

 

[video:youtube]mn26q6GVy4Q

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I still wouldn't recommend a workstation. I have just completely soured on them.

 

Heck, the S-90 that broke the camel's back with me didn't even have any recording features. It was just such a drag to go menu diving to make the least little edits that I got rid of it.

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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Thank you all for your help. I ordered the Korg M50 73-Key.

 

I found out that the 73-Key has a better key-bed and that the 63-Key's is cheap feeling (Google it). The man who took my order said he heard the same thing. It is still not up there with the M3's key-bed but is not bad. Coming from non-weighted keys, I am sure I will love it. Also, I would prefer the extra keys as well.

 

It took my several days to come to a decision. I considered the M3 extensively. The M50 is having a $150 rebate right now so that was a big deal. I would have just waited for the M3 to go on sale if I wanted it. The kicker was I don't think I need all those features...Being able to plug a microphone would have been really cool. I don't know anything about Aftertouch: never used it. Sliders and Knobs are always nice but this has a lot too. Vecoder isn't even the best. XPanded EX sounds was hard to let go.

 

The main thing was I would like to carry it around while I tour. I can write songs on the road...and who knows when I will be able to get studio time? I would like to be ready at any moment. I will be able to perform with the M50 live which I actually might want to a little. The 73 M50 only weighs 17.6 pounds, while the 61 and 73 M3 weigh 31.1 & 38.14 pounds. Ouch. Not fun while I carry my guitar and amp, etc... :/

 

Worse case is I use this on the road and buy an M3 for home. I also considered the Yamaha MOX and Motif but from reading, as AnotherScott said, it seems that Korg is more like the sound I am going for. I called and I could have tried it out in-person at my local Guitar Center but I didn't feel like going over there. I can just return it with no loss if I don't like it. A bus ride away.

 

I had to call Musician's Friend and ask them to apply the discount which was 15%. $1219.14 with 3 year warranty with ADH. Not bad. I also had to ask for that free MIDI Controller (which is worthless to me) because it ended last night. He asked the manager and I got it. They are cool people.

 

Lase week I didn't know crap about any of this and now I know some stuff. I am smart with electronics (put my own PC together) and I know I will worship the Workstation. The ability to make instrumentals of my songs is amazing. I am excited. Thanks! :)

 

One thing: I am wondering about this question...?

 

I don't think they need to drop the bank on an Motif XF or even a MOX8, but certainly the Korg M50 61 would be a great lower cost option and would leave room in the budget for other essentials, that they don't know they need yet.

 

What would I need now to record in a studio or play live? Also, what case would be good for the road? I was looking at the Gator Case. How's that?

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Heck, the S-90 that broke the camel's back with me didn't even have any recording features. It was just such a drag to go menu diving to make the least little edits that I got rid of it.

 

Korg's workstations are much more intuitive than Yamaha's (I've been using both for quite awhile now). The touch screen makes editing and sequencing a breeze.

 

 

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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