Talk to me about keyboard synths?

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by Brroger, May 3, 2016.

  1. Brroger

    Brroger Silver Supporting Member

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    Maybe the wrong board for this sort of thing, but does anyone have experience with basic but solid keyboard synthesizers? I'm a guitarist, but want one to start making some demos and working out song arrangements.

    I don't need anything fancy, at all. But do want to be able to link straight into a Mac, and do some basic tone shaping. Drum functions would be great too.

    Any advice?
     
  2. Imerkat

    Imerkat Supporting Member

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    Well, first there are keyboards then there are Synths. not sure if you want to learn how to play keys or make your own synth tones or what exactly you want to plug into in your Mac.

    To many unknowns but since you said you are a guitarist you should look into Guitar Synthesizers.
     
  3. Astronaut FX

    Astronaut FX Member

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    Are you looking for an actual synthesizer, or just a keyboard/MIDI controller that doesn't make any sounds itself, but interfaces with a computer to play virtual instruments?

    If a synthesizer, then you have more questions to answer? How many voices (mono vs polyphonic), analog or digital, what's your budget?
     
  4. AZG

    AZG Supporting Member

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    I have a cheap ($200) 25 key USB/MIDI controller for the purposes you state. Most DAW including Garageband and Logic Pro X come with tons of synth, keyboard and other tones built-in ready for use with your USB/MIDI controller. Plus there are tons of free and paid plug-ins to add to your tone options.
     
  5. CharAznable

    CharAznable Member

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    Agreed, get a MIDI controller and hook it up to your computer and use the VST's that come in your DAW.

    There's plenty in there that you can use before you need to start spending actual money.
     
  6. erniecaster

    erniecaster Member

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    Hi,

    try a Yamaha MX49. I was looking for exactly the same thing and this was the winner.

    cu

    erniecaster
     
  7. phil_m

    phil_m Supporting Member

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    Someone else mentioned it already, but it really depends on whether you're talking about being able to make your own sounds from scratch using subtractive synthesis or if you just want a keyboard to use as a controller or something with decent piano, electric piano sounds, etc. I ended going the pure synth route simply because I really don't need or want to play piano and keyboards parts, per se, but I want to make real synth sounds. There's some overlap, but a real synth, especially an analog one, is going to have limited polyphony (if any) compared to a digital keyboard. There are some keyboards that have some decent sounds, though. I came really close to buying the Roland Juno DS88. It has semi-weighted keys, and feels somewhat like a real piano, and it has great sounds. You can edit tones pretty extensively, but it's not the same sort of workflow as a real synth. There are plenty of VA (virtual analog) instruments and plug-ins out there are as well. If you won't ever be using it apart from your computer, you could get a decent controller and a few plug-ins and have a ton of flexibility. Something like this, for instance, gives you 88 weighted keys for under $400.
     
  8. Brroger

    Brroger Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks everyone -- this is super helpful. I think I want something if it exists that can be used both on its own into an amp and w' an input for a DAW. I have a little $100 keyboard input for a DAW now and I'm just finding it impossible to write while I'm hooked up to the DAW. Need some space to just mess around and figure out sounds while I'm not monitoring a Mac interface. Also the keys are a little small -- I don't need 88 by any stretch, but more than 24 would be good.

    And from what you've all said, I guess I don't need an actual *synth* -- more an electric keyboard with a bunch of presets that I can use to figure out melodies, keyboard lines, etc. Some ability to shape the presets would be good, but maybe premature.

    Anyway, sounds like I should take a hard look at an MX49 and DS88.
     
  9. phil_m

    phil_m Supporting Member

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    Roland also makes a 61 key version of that keyboard. Maybe more the scale you're looking for. But the MX49 is even closer, and, really, it might be hard to beat that at $500.
     
  10. Don Roos

    Don Roos Member

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    I recently started playing keyboard and after listening to many, I settled on the Yamaha PSR-S670 66-key semi weighted keys with over 900 different sounds. It is an arranger keyboard so you can record tracks and drums on the keyboard or on a computer, it is amazing. I play WAV files with the keyboard to learn news songs and play along or a MIDI file. The E series are cheeper if you dont need all that.
     
  11. Bradmeister

    Bradmeister Member

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    I bought a used Roland Juno DI for about $425 a couple of years ago for use in my band. It has a lot of good, usable sounds built in, and you can create your own with the synth engine and the computer-based editor. I'm primarily a guitarist, like you, and I've found it pretty useful and sometimes inspiring.
     
  12. Fezziwig

    Fezziwig Member

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    I've done a bit of research into the issue of virtual instruments/synths versus the various fully featured synths out on the market, and generally I find that you might as well just go the virtual instrument route these days if you are primarily using it for recording and playing at home. The sample sizes are almost always bigger in the virtual instruments you can buy online versus what is stored in a keyboard's on-board memory. So, my vote would be to get a decent controller of your choice and purchase some plugins.

    Now, if you also want to play live, then getting something more fully featured would be helpful and we'd need more input to make sure your needs are covered.
     
  13. johnnymegabyte

    johnnymegabyte Member

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