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Help Me Choose a Keyboard

Hoodster

Member
Messages
810
Okay, I'm new to recording and am just getting used to GarageBand, but I think I want to add a keyboard. I want something affordable, compact, and easy to figure out. No need for lots of bells and whistles (GarageBand has plenty!).

I would prefer a model that can also serve as an "audio interface" for guitar and microphone, with headphone jack.

If the keyboard also had the ability to be used in a live band application (i.e. plugged into a PA or amplifier), that would be icing on the cake.
 

Rusty G.

Member
Messages
3,143
By keyboard, I'm assuming that you're looking for something that looks like a piano with black and white keys and not a new keyboard for your computer for recording (Like a new ProTools keyboard).

If that's what you're looking for, check out the USB keyboards from Sweetwater.

http://www.sweetwater.com/shop/keyboards/keyboard-controllers/

You'll need to determine how many keys you want and what features you're looking for. I suggested USB, because you won't need an interface, either midi or analog to be able to record your ideas. Problem with keyboard "CONTROLLERS" is that they don't make any sounds on their own (unless you're throwing them on the ground because you can't get anything to work. . .but that's another thread). You'll need to get your sounds from the "soft synths" or samples that you'll purchase to go in your computer. Welcome to the not so inexpensive world of trying to record something. . .

Now, you probably not going to be able to plug in a guitar or microphone through your keyboard, and I don't believe something like that even exists. . .at least, not in my experience.

Good luck!
 

meterman

Member
Messages
7,924
I went looking for a cheap M-Audio MIDI keyboard controller and some piano sample software, just wanting to add some basic piano sounds and textures to my recordings. Unfortunately the key feel/action on the cheap ones kinda (truly) sucks and by the time you get into the controllers with good action, and add the software the price goes up considerably....

To make a long story short I demoed about 10 different keyboards and ended up going home with a Roland JUNO-G that is really freakin' sweet and endless fun, great pianos, rhodes, etc, organ, synth bass, built in sequencer, etc. It will also record audio (gtr, vox, etc) from 1/4" inputs and allow you to mix audio and MIDI drums/keys right in the keyboard and export to WAV, not anything I'd probably ever use but it sounds like it might work for you. Has USB, MIDI and stereo analog outs!! I don't even bother with the USB or MIDI I use the sounds in the JUNO and run stereo analog out into my RNP and into my DAW - you could run it to a PA for live use as well. Lots of bells and whistles but at its core has some great sounds, and is a whole truckload of fun! Plus there is a $100 rebate if you buy one this month :)
 

Digitalman

Member
Messages
2,065
I just got an M Audio Keystation es61 to trigger my soft synth stuff in Garage band.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Keystation61es/

Works great - sure, the keys don't 'feel' like a piano, but...I'm a guitar player...what do I care?

I got this one because it's cheap and it's not cluttered with all those midi sliders that I know I'd never use. For live it should be good too. It doesn't need to have an output to run to the PA, that's acheived through your audio interface.
 

meterman

Member
Messages
7,924
IWorks great - sure, the keys don't 'feel' like a piano, but...I'm a guitar player...what do I care?
Yeah that's a good point, I do actually play a bit of keys and want to get better at it so key feel was an important consideration for me as it just makes it easier to play, YMMV definitely.....

It's confusing actually, going in I thought "weighted keys" meant piano feel but it's more like "spring loaded keys", then you have "synth feel" keys whatever that is, and to really get piano feel you have to get "hammer action" keys which are usually only found on the higher end pieces.

The JUNO has a very similar action to my old Hammond M3 so it works for me, but if I was a true piano player I'd find it distracting and would want the hammer action keys...
 

Hoodster

Member
Messages
810
I'm definitely down with the idea that as a guitarist primarily, I don't need a piano quality keyboard -- hell, I've even been getting some pretty good results playing on the Apple iMac keyboard!

Anyway, at this point I'm thinking $49 for a Korg NanoKey or not much more for a used M-Audio KeyRig (25 or 49).

Anyone have experience with either of those? I realize they won't fill all the needs I outlined in my original post, but the more I research the more I realize I really want to keep this as simple as possible.

Also, can someone clarify how I would use something like the Key Station/Key Rig in a live application? I would have to have some kind of audio interface between the keyboard and the PA system -- is that right?
 

Digitalman

Member
Messages
2,065
Also, can someone clarify how I would use something like the Key Station/Key Rig in a live application? I would have to have some kind of audio interface between the keyboard and the PA system -- is that right?
Yeah, you'd run the Keystation, which is bus powered (no wall wart) into your laptop via USB. Then your interface (also hopefully bus powered) into the laptop, via USB or Firewire. Your interface should have a 1/4" out...that runs into the PA.

Or, I like to run it into an amp, like a JC120 and mic it. That way it doesn't sound so 'hi-fi'. More 'guitar-ish'.
 

trinidad

Member
Messages
38
Anyway, at this point I'm thinking $49 for a Korg NanoKey or not much more for a used M-Audio KeyRig (25 or 49).
I watched a video review of the nanokey on youtube (can't remember who did it, a store or magazine I think) and apparently while the keys are touch sensitive, they feel similar to laptop keys rather than like a regular piano style keyboard, so I don't know if that would bother you or not.
 

mikefair

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,439
For the best deal out there - for a keyboard that works in a lot of applications - the Alesis Q series. One of the best acoustic piano sounds out there. Buy the previous generation used. The keys don't feel as real as the high end Yamahas or Korgs, but not bad. No interface though.

www.myspace.com/mfas
 

Hoodster

Member
Messages
810
I watched a video review of the nanokey on youtube (can't remember who did it, a store or magazine I think) and apparently while the keys are touch sensitive, they feel similar to laptop keys rather than like a regular piano style keyboard, so I don't know if that would bother you or not.
I don't care much about key feel. Here' a pretty classic demo of the NanoKey:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emvZBaysnMQ&NR=1

.
 




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