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Please Recommend a Beginner's Workstation


zenmatt

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I'm an old keyboard player who knows his way around an organ and a piano. I know nothing about midi or synthesizers. And I have songs in my head that I would like to try to compose on my home computer using Cakewalk Pro Audio 7, which I recently purchased.

 

So I think I need a workstation.

 

I am fairly computer literate and I tend to learn quickly. The songs I have in my head are probably pretty simple musically, although I can already imagine the need for multiple tracks. The sounds I like are similar to those produced by artists like Prince, Red Snapper, and Charles Earland.

 

I have been to these forums trying to find a clue as to which workstation I should buy to get started. The brands which I have read about include Roland, Yamaha, and Korg. I don't want to spend a ton of money, but I don't want to buy something so cheap either that it can't help me produce a decent song.

 

If any of you can reach back in your memories to when you were first getting started, I would appreciate some recommendations for a newbie who dearly loves music. Your help and your thoughts are appreciated.

 

PS: New versus used? Does it make a difference.

 

Thanks! Zenmatt

My religion is kindness. Dalai Lama
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Originally posted by zenmatt:

And I have songs in my head that I would like to try to compose on my home computer using Cakewalk Pro Audio 7, which I recently purchased.

 

So I think I need a workstation.

You don't need a workstation if you're planning to use cakewalk. They will just be redundant.

 

Just out of curiousity. Why did you purchase such an old copy of cakewalk? That version has gotta be about 5 years old. It will serve you well for MIDI, but I can't remember how well that version works for multi track audio.

 

The golden question is how much do you want to spend?

 

I would look into a general purpose rompler (a type of synth), such as a yamaha s80, a korg triton, a roland xp series, an alesis qs series synth (which can probably be bought really cheap these days), or maybe even something like a kurzweil pc2x (great sounds, simple and easy to get around). This will give you a good sonic variety to start with, and have a broad user band that you can ask questions to.

Korg Kronos X73 / ARP Odyssey / Motif ES Rack / Roland D-05 / JP-08 / SE-05 / Jupiter Xm / Novation Mininova / NL2X / Waldorf Pulse II

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Cakewalk 7 is a good start. Things were a bit simpler back then and it is easier to learn MIDI sequencing on that version. The big question is how much do you want to spend? Also, do you want a keyboard that feels like a piano or do you want synth action keys? Probably my favorite two keyboards under $1000 righ now are the Roland XP-30 and the E-Mu PK series keyboard. The Emu sound better and the roland has a better variety of sounds. You can also go the controller/module route. The Roland XV-5050 sounds great and some of the smaller Roland modules are a very good buy while still sounding good enough for small commercial productions. If you can find a used Roland XP-50, 60 or 80 those are a good start and have plenty of polyphony.

 

Robert

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Thanks for the recommendations. The Cakewalk 7 was given to me by someone who has moved on to newer software. Like I said, I'm a newbie.

 

I was at a gig yesterday where I met a keyboardist with a Kurzwei SP-88X, which brought that name into my consciousness as well. Based on my NAIVE research to date, it doesn't seem like a real workstation; but I liked the idea of having 88 keys, as well as the action and the sound after he let me tinkle the ivories.

 

A thousand and under really is my price point. Thanks for being sensitive to this. I'll probably focus my efforts of its XP line since Roland is at least a name I know, although I'm still open to suggestions of any kind.

 

More than anything, I'm grateful to both of you for replying and not pouncing on someone who is obviously ignorant of things you know well.

 

Thanks again, Zenmatt

My religion is kindness. Dalai Lama
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Originally posted by zenmatt:

Thanks for the recommendations. The Cakewalk 7 was given to me by someone who has moved on to newer software. Like I said, I'm a newbie.

 

I was at a gig yesterday where I met a keyboardist with a Kurzwei SP-88X, which brought that name into my consciousness as well. Based on my NAIVE research to date, it doesn't seem like a real workstation; but I liked the idea of having 88 keys, as well as the action and the sound after he let me tinkle the ivories.

 

A thousand and under really is my price point. Thanks for being sensitive to this. I'll probably focus my efforts of its XP line since Roland is at least a name I know, although I'm still open to suggestions of any kind.

 

More than anything, I'm grateful to both of you for replying and not pouncing on someone who is obviously ignorant of things you know well.

 

Thanks again, Zenmatt

I see the MP 9000's are being run out at close to a thousand now that the 9500 is out. Might be worth looking at one of these.
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Hey zenmatt,

 

Welcome to the forum! I'll answer your last question first with respect to new vs. used. Yes, there is a big difference - the price. For your $1,000 budget, you should be able to get a lot more used synth than new, so I'd consider that. Ebay can be a great resource, but it's probably pricier than looking around in your local newspaper classifieds, where the market isn't as big and I think you have a better chance of scoring a better deal.

 

I think you're on the right track with the things you're looking at and that others here have recommended to you. Your price goes up and your options narrow fairly significantly if you have to have 88 weighted keys.

 

My suggestions for great sounding boards in your price range are the Roland XP-30 (which actually had more presets than the XP-80), the Roland XP-80, the Yamaha EX5 or S-80, the Korg O1W, Trinity or Triton.

 

If you can find a Triton within your budget, that one is an industry standard and easy to learn (get Korg's Getting Started With the Triton video to get a really fast start). It offers sampling (the ability to record your own sounds and then edit them in the keyboard and use them in your music) and is very expandable. The biggest drawback is a weak piano sound, but Korg is releasing a piano expansion to cure that.

 

The Yamaha EX5 and S-80, both have really nice sound sets. The S-80 also offers a nice 88 key weighted keyboard and can play all of the synth sounds of Yamaha's dance oriented CS6X.

 

The Roland XP-80 has a very nice 76 key synth action (not weighted) keyboard and can hold up to four of Roland's SRJV-80 expansion boards to add many more sounds. I also recommend the Roland XP-80 Video Owner's Manual to get a quick and thorough understanding of the XP-80. This one doesn't offer sampling like the Yamaha EX5 and Korg Triton, but is a staple for live players.

 

Hope that helps somewhat. All of these are nice boards and should be in your price range, so a lot of it will come down to which board's sounds and user interface you like the best. BTW, the reason people are saying that you don't need a "workstation" is that a workstation has sounds and sequencing all built in so that you don't need to use a computer or any other gear to make songs on it. :)

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Well, I understand the redundance of buying a workstation when you've already got a sequencer. However, might I sugest the seldom mentioned Fantom by Roland? A perfectly potent synth, it seems, and perfectly designed on the line between the beginner and the intermediate "synthist". Roland's sounds are great, IMO(don't trust anyone else's opinion on sounds, btw)-and the keyboard is "fine" for a 76-key nonweighted board. Also, the screen is awesome! Perfect for sequencing.
"Bach is ever new"-Glenn Gould
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