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Keyboards & Pianos

Best Keyboard

There are a variety of performance keyboards perfectly suited for practice/recording and multi-functional instruments with the versatility to excel at both. The keyboards we've featured on the liusts below include portable, MIDI and synth keyboards, as well as keyboard workstations. Basically, there are plenty of digital keyboard options for every musician’s need! For help selecting a keyboard suited for your playing style, check out our buyer’s guide listed below.

Korg MicroKEY2 49-key MIDI Keyboard

Korg’s microKEY2 49-key MIDI keyboard is compact enough to be your travel buddy without the hassle, yet also offers 49 mini keys that are velocity sensitive and flanked with a pitch wheel, mod wheel, and octave selector – you’re getting the best of both worlds with this one. The microKEY2 is compatible with any Mac computer or iOS device, and easily connects via USB cable (included with the keyboard). You can also plug in a sustain pedal (not included) to give you greater control over the instrument’s performance. This keyboard also comes equipped with software from Korg, Propellerhead, Ableton, and UVI to give you a world of sounds to explore and take advantage of with your compact MIDI instrument.

Samson Carbon 49 USB MIDI Controller

The Samson Carbon 49 provides 49 velocity-sensitive, semi-weighted keys that give you a very realistic MIDI keyboard to trigger your sounds. A 3-digit, 7-segment LCD screen displays all of your functions in real-time, which also adds to the “live” and direct nature of this device. The Carbon 49 is compatible with Mac OSX and Windows, and can also be used with software instrument apps on the iPad; if that wasn’t enough, it also includes an integrated iPad stand that doesn’t just keep it in easy view for your convenience, but also allows you to power the keyboard directly off the iPad itself. Dedicated transpose and octave buttons give you an easy way to get in the right key and octave, and the keyboard also offers MIDI Out and sustain pedal input connections. The Carbon 49 also comes equipped with Native Instruments’ Komplete Elements software, giving you plenty of sounds to play with as soon as you take this MIDI keyboard out of the box.

Akai LPK25 Laptop USB MIDI Controller

The Akai LPK25 is a 25-key USB-MIDI controller that is small enough to fit into your average laptop bag or backpack. Like most things about this user-friendly device, just plug it in to either your Mac or PC, and you’re up and running without any driver installation necessary. It also doesn’t require any AC power, so hooking it up to the sounds that you’ll be triggering is all you need to power the keyboard. In addition to the keys on the LPK25, this keyboard also features an arpeggiator, a sustain button, octave up and down, and tap tempo controls, giving you a handy bag of tricks to bring to both your live performances and studio sessions. The LPK25 also comes Ignite, a music creation software that includes more than 275 instruments that include keyboards, drums, basses, guitars, synths, brass, strings, and woodwinds.

M-Audio Keystation 49 II 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

M-Audio’s Keystation 49 MIDI keyboard is a great device for those who want something simple yet effective for use in the recording studio and at an affordable price. Transport controls on the unit allow you to shift parameters in your computer’s DAW without having to use your mouse. The Keystation 49 is compatible with Mac OS X and Windows computers, as well as with the iPad via their proprietary Camera Connection Kit. Alongside the synth-action keys, you’ll also find pitch and modulation wheels to add greater depth and control to your performance. The Keystation’s volume slider can also be assigned to control other MIDI values such as filter sweeps or expression control. This keyboard can either be powered via USB or a 9-volt power adapter.

Alesis V49 49-Key USB MIDI Drum Pad and Keyboard Controller

Alesis’ V49 MIDI keyboard gives you all you’ll need to trigger and shape the sounds coming from your software instruments or plug-ins. Full-sized, synth-action keys allow you to play with ease, while eight velocity and pressure-sensitive LED pads give you the option to deal with more percussive and rhythmic elements like drum parts, loops, and more. Four assignable knobs and four buttons give you a wide range to control the parameters of your virtual instruments. The V49 is USB bus powered, which gives you one less thing to worry about bringing when you travel and set up with this keyboard. It also comes with Ableton Live’s Alesis Edition software, so you can begin making music and sequencing it instantly.

M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 (2014) USB Keyboard MIDI Controller

M-Audio’s Keystation Mini 32 keyboard provides 32 low-profile, velocity-sensitive that provide a great feel coupled with their mini size. Octave shift allows you to access the entire range of notes you want to work with. Three buttons and a knob can be assigned controls to various parameters in your DAW and/or its virtual instruments. The Mini 32 also comes with selectable velocity curves that let you tweak the sensitivity of the keyboard to fit your playing style. Because this was made with the idea it would be out and about a lot, this pick is built in a robust, high-quality fashion that allows it to take on the wear and tear of being outside of your contained studio. The unit also features multi-color, LED-lit buttons that make it easy to see and use when on a dark stage or in a dim studio setting.

Akai LPK25 Laptop USB MIDI Controller

The Akai LPK25 is a 25-key USB-MIDI controller that is small enough to fit into your average laptop bag or backpack. Like most things about this user-friendly device, just plug it in to either your Mac or PC, and you’re up and running without any driver installation necessary. It also doesn’t require any AC power, so hooking it up to the sounds that you’ll be triggering is all you need to power the keyboard. In addition to the keys on the LPK25, this keyboard also features an arpeggiator, a sustain button, octave up and down, and tap tempo controls, giving you a handy bag of tricks to bring to both your live performances and studio sessions. The LPK25 also comes Ignite, a music creation software that includes more than 275 instruments that include keyboards, drums, basses, guitars, synths, brass, strings, and woodwinds.

Korg nanoKEY2 - Slim-Line USB MIDI Controller (Black)

The Korg nanoKEY2 is a ridiculously portable keyboard that offers many features and functions that its bigger brothers have. This keyboard has 25 keys that are velocity sensitive; you can switch through octaves via the up and down buttons. Modulation and sustain buttons provide additional playability and expressiveness. The device’s Control Change Mode gives you the ability to not just trigger notes with the keys, but also send CC messages. Korg Kontrol editor software allows you to make further specifications and customizations to the keyboard so it fits your exact preferences. And because the nanoKEY2 is USB powered, you don’t have to worry about carrying an adapter with you.

Samson Graphite M32 Mini USB MIDI Controller

The Samson Graphite M32 keyboard offers 32 velocity-sensitive keys as well as pitch and mod strips that allow you to really dig in and customize the sound of your performance. There are also octave and sustain buttons that open up more doors than you might expect from such a compact device. In addition to the notes that this device triggers, it can also send control change messages and program change messages. The Graphite M32 is compatible with Mac, PC, and iOS, and it can be powered via USB bus or iPad; this results in having even less to carry around than you might expect. A mini USB to USB cable is also included.

Novation Launchkey 25 USB Keyboard Controller for Ableton Live

Novation’s Launchkey 25 is not just a portable keyboard, but it also serves as something of a mini-workstation. You’re getting 25 velocity-sensitive synth style keys alongside 16 full-color backlit drum pads, so you have more than one way to bang out an idea or musical part. Six dedicated transport controls allow you to seamlessly integrate this keyboard with any DAW. It particularly works well with Ableton but if you don’t have this software, it comes with Ableton Live Lite 9 as well as Novation Bass Station, V-Station, and a 1GB library of samples from Loopmasters. This unit draws its power from USB busses and is compatible with both Mac and PC computers.

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61 Keyboard

Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol S61 MIDI keyboard was designed to give users full integration into the company’s Komplete 9+ software, a powerful library of instruments and sounds that has become a staple for those who have experienced their great sounds and customizable library. Navigating all that Komplete has to offer can be quite an endeavor to take on, so the Komplete Kontrol gives you a great way to do so without having to take the typical, uninspiring mouse-click approach. Simply tap through multiple libraries, instruments, and even presets, all just using the MIDI keyboard itself. Forget just having pitch and mod wheels – this device offers highly flexible touch strip controls that give you a degree of expression that will truly make Komplete and its accompanying software (which comes with this device) an extension of your creativity. You can also create arpeggios in the arpeggiator mode, and play chords with single keys. The keyboard can also be mapped to scales, so you never hit a wrong note.

Novation 61 SL MKII 61 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

Novation’s 61 LS MKII MIDI keyboard is first and foremost a well-put-together instrument, with its ultra-responsive semi-weighted keys that also offer aftertouch. On to pot that, you’ve also got a wide array of onboard controls to help you tweak and manipulate the parameters of that sound: nine faders, eight rotaries, eight pads, transport controls, and a whole slew of additional buttons. Using the Automap 4 software that’s included with this device, you can assign those controls to the inner workings of your DAW and its plug-ins. The keyboard also features a custom LCD screen to give you a great visual cue of what’s happening. In addition to working with software that you may already have, the Novation 61 LS MKII also comes with Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station, Loopmasters sample library, and Mike the Drummer software, so you’ll be making music in no time.

Akai Professional MPK88 88 Key USB MIDI Portable Keyboard

The Akai Professional MPK88 MIDI keyboard features 88 fully-weighted, hammer-action keys that help to deliver a realistic and natural-sounding performance. Also speaking to that goal is the unit’s MPC pad section, which provides 16 real-deal MPC pads that are both pressure and velocity sensitive; the pads also give you access to four banks which contain 64 samples, so you can really produce and compose a whole session just using this keyboard. The MPC section also features such beloved functions of the classic drum machine/sampler like note repeat, swing, and arpeggiator, so you’ll have plenty of functional tools to help in your music composition. An assignable Q-link controller section contains eight knobs, eight faders, and eight buttons, all of which can be assigned to give you strong and flexible control of software parameters. The MPK88 also comes with Ableton Live Lite Akai Professional Edition software, so you’ll have a software equivalent of the amazing range of control and sequencing that the hardware offers.

Roland A-88 Keyboard

Not everyone who owns and uses a MIDI keyboard would necessarily identify as a piano player, and that can be something of a frustration for those who have been playing long before there were devices that hooked up to computers to play sounds. Having an instrument that truly feels and responds like a piano is a great asset for this specific subset of musicians. The Roland A-88 MIDI keyboard speaks directly to this issue, with its Ivory Feel-G keyed with Escapement; this feature simulates the feel of a real piano, particularly the hammer lifting off of the strings and thereby giving this unit a “real”-feeling performance. You can also connect sustain and expression pedals to the A-88 to further the “real deal” experience. In addition to being compatible with Mac and Windows computers, this MIDI keyboard can also work with apps on the iPad via Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit. If you’re looking for a fully-functional modern instrument that plays like a grand piano, look no further than the Roland A-88.

Arturia KeyLab 88 MIDI USB Hammer-Action Hybrid Keyboard Controller

Arturia’s KeyLab 88 MIDI keyboard is certainly equipped with everything you could ask for in a controller, with its 88 hammer action, velocity sensitive keys and 16 pads. But the real appeal of this thing is the software that it comes with, and of course the way that the hardware seamlessly integrates with its virtual instruments. The included Analog Lab software offers over 5,000 presets from Arturia’s mini V, Modular V, CS-80V, Prophet V, Prophet VS, Jupiter-8V, and Wurlitzer V; with sounds ranging from natural and organic to synthetic and out of this world, you’ve got it all at your fingertips. Go wild with all of these sounds and tweak the settings using 13 encoders/pots, nine faders, a pitch bend and mod wheel, and a breath controller input. In addition to the integration with the aforementioned software, the KeyLab 88 is of course a Universal MIDI controller, so you can use it to work with any third party software or hardware.

Korg Kronos X 88-Key Music Workstation

When it comes to sounds, it’s hard to beat the Korg Kronos keyboard workstation. This instrument features a piano engine that offers fully-tweakable sympathetic resonance and una corda samples, that add an elegance and realistic touch to your playing. Those sounds are further complimented by the unit’s RH3 graded hammer action keybed. There are many artist signature sounds loaded in this keyboard, and up to 16 of them can be merged using the Combis while the on-board sequencer provides 16 MIDI tracks and 16 audio tracks. A useful Set List mode allows users to organize their Programs, Combis, and Songs into a unified, easily accessible screen.

Kurzweil PC3X 88-Key Performance Controller Keyboard

Kurzweil’s PC3K8 is an 88-key keyboard workstation with fully weighted hammer action and velocity/aftertouch-sensitive keys, giving you a realistic performance capability. You’ll find more than 850 factory presets here, featuring samples from the company’s Orchestral, Classic Keys, String Section, and PC2 Base Sound libraries. There are more than 300 built-in effects here which include distortion, compression, reverb, delay, phaser, EQ, and more. The PC3K8 can also easily function as a MIDI controller via a USB connection. Additionally, a USB thumb drive memory port allows you to store and load programs, operating system updates, and sequences.

KORG KROME73 73-Key Keyboard Production Station

Korg definitely kept the musician’s needs in mind when creating their Krome 73-key workstation. It plays extremely well with a semi-weighted keybed that sits right in between piano-like action and faster synth-related performance. To compliment the great feel this keyboard workstation offers, the Krome is stocked with 640 instruments and sounds, drawing from the well-respected Kronos workstation which is also made by Korg. 900 arpeggiator patterns and more than 600 drum grooves also provide you ample tools to get your work started. While the Krome is definitely a full-blown DAW in its own right, the workstation also comes with a free downloadable plug-in editor that allows you to use it as a plug-in in your computer-based DAW.

Yamaha MOTIF XF8 Workstation Keyboard

The Yamaha MOTIF XF8 is like a library of keyboard workstation possibilities and features. This 88-key keyboard offers 128-note polyphony and contains a 741MB Wave ROM sporting nearly 4,000 waveforms to choose from. The arpeggiator on this workstation is a beast too, with over 7,000 patterns to choose from. The XF8 is also stocked with a range of effects that can help add further character and depth to your sounds. The sequencer offers up to 16 tracks, and each song that you create in the keyboard can store up to five scenes. Connectivity will never be an issue either as you can choose between USB, ethernet, Firewire, MIDI, audio. Plainly put, there truly isn’t a scenario that the MOTIF XF8 can’t handle.

Roland JUPITER-80 Synthesizer Keyboard

Roland’s Jupiter-80 is driven by a trio of sound chains that each feature their own oscillator, filter, LFO, and amp. Each of those oscillators draws from one of seven vintage waveforms. Select those sound sources, or opt for one of the 350 PCM waveforms available using the Jupiter-80’s large touchscreen. This keyboard also operates as a MIDI/audio interface, so you can route signal and data in and seamlessly connect the Jupiter-80 to your computer and DAW. And because features a rugged, durable design, you’ll have no worries taking it with you wherever you go and using it at gigs.

Moog Minimoog Voyager XL

The Moog Minimoog Voyager XL incorporates nearly all of the sounds and functions of the original Minimoog Model D and Voyager synthesizers. The keyboard offers 61 velocity-sensitive keys with after-pressure, making this a truly playable instrument. The front panel of the synth offers triangle, square, ramp, saw, and sample waveforms to give you plenty to play with in crafting your sound, and what a sound it is! Expect the fat, malleable tone that has become synonymous with this brand. The new version of this synth also includes a 4-channel CV mixer, 2-channel attenuator, and MIDI-synced LFO, all of which bring an entirely new level of possibility to the realm of sound design.

Nord Stage 3 EX 88-Key Stage Piano

Many might not instantly think of the Nord Stage 2 EX when considering synth keyboards, but the fact of the matter is that that’s just one of the many veritable hats that this instrument is capable of wearing. 350MB are dedicated to the synth section of the sample library here, featuring classic analog, FM, and wavetable synthesis. An arpeggiator helps to create more movement and intricate composition to the synth, and unison enables you to thicken up your sounds. Outside of just the synth, the Stage 2 EX also comes equipped with digital piano and organ sounds that grant this unit a degree of flexibility that you’re not going to find with your average synthesizer. The expanded instrument selection also includes strings, voices, folk instruments, and more.

Access Virus TI v2 Polar Total Integration Synthesizer and Keyboard Controller

The Access Virus TI2 synth keyboard is loaded with effects that improve upon and enhance the original TI synth; now you can introduce new sound-shaping elements into the mix, including a new tape delay, frequency shifter, distortions, and a character effect that employs analog boost, pad opener, bass enhancer, and stereo widener “characters.” The TI2 integrates with your DAW via the Virus Control 3.0 plug-in, which offers detailed control over the synth that is accessible in your computer’s workstation. This device’s WaveTable oscillators and filters can be mixed and matched to provide some truly unique sounds. The 61 semi-weighted keys on this keyboard are also coupled with standard features such as pitch bend and mod wheel. Each patch in the unit has its own programmable arpeggiator pattern.

Roland JUPITER-80 Synthesizer Keyboard

Roland’s Jupiter-80 is driven by a trio of sound chains that each feature their own oscillator, filter, LFO, and amp. Each of those oscillators draws from one of seven vintage waveforms. Select those sound sources, or opt for one of the 350 PCM waveforms available using the Jupiter-80’s large touchscreen. This keyboard also operates as a MIDI/audio interface, so you can route signal and data in and seamlessly connect the Jupiter-80 to your computer and DAW. And because features a rugged, durable design, you’ll have no worries taking it with you wherever you go and using it at gigs.

Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2

Where to begin with Dave Smith Instruments’ Pro 2 synth keyboard? For one, there’s the 396 factory programs that allow you to jump right in and get started with mind-melting sounds; you can also store your own sounds into 396 separate user programs. An adjustable pitch wheel, mod wheel, and a pair of pressure-sensitive touch strips give you the hands-on control you need to truly harness the customizable power of synthesis. A quartet of DSP-driven oscillators with complex waveforms assist in the creation of complex and thick-sounding tones. High quality character effects add in things like distortion and harmonic excitement to further color the sound. The Pro 2 also features a sequencer that interfaces with 16 separate tracks and 32 steps per sequence.

Roland Gaia SH01 Virtual Analog Synthesizer Keyboard

The Roland GAIA SH-01 is powered by three virtual analog engines, with each one sporting its own oscillator, filter, amplifier, envelope, and LFO. These are all features that really allow you to tweak and transform your sound, and that expandability only widens with the effects built into this synth keyboard. You can layer up to five different effects at a time on the SH-01, including flanger, reverb, low boost, distortion, delay, and more. With 37 full-size keys and a 64-voice polyphony, there are no limitations to what you can physically play on this unit. The unit also features USB ports that allow you to save your patches externally to USB flash drives; in fact, those same ports also give you an easy way to connect your sounds to computers via either audio or MIDI.

Arturia MiniBrute Analog Synthesizer

Arturia’s MiniBrute synth keyboard offers a completely analog signal path, which certainly makes it a great find for those looking to capture a real and authentic sound, especially when one considers how affordable this keyboard is. Dirty up your sound with an oscillator section that features three waveforms, a sub-octave generator, and a white noise generator. The MiniBrute gets its namesake from its Brute Factor, an exclusive feature that allows you to crank up the snarl in your synth by twisting a single knob. An external input allows you to route in other signal into the mix, such as guitar or vocals. Multiple filters and LFOs increase the amount of unique sounds that this keyboard is capable of producing.

Korg microKORG XL+ 37-Key Synthesizer

The Korg microKORG synth keyboard features 37 velocity-sensitive mini-keyboard keys, making this unit a friendly travel companion due to its compact size. Two oscillators and a noise generator give you plenty of options to tinker with your sounds; there are also a multitude of great-sounding presets to help you get started. An 8-band vocoder and microphone component is what distinguishes the microKORG from many of its peers; speak or sing into it and transform your voice, or capture a sample and map it out across the keys to create a new instrument sound. Modulation effects like the chorus/flanger, phaser, and ensemble (along with delays and a two band EQ) provide further methods to craft a sound that’s all your own.

Novation Bass Station II Analog Mono-Synth

The Novation Bass Station II offers 25 keys that feature "aftertouch", a feature which allows you to put realistic expression into your performances. Two separate filter designs allow you to modify your sounds as you see fit. This unit is mainly known for its rumbling bass sounds which can be harnessed and altered via two oscillators and a sub-oscillator. If you just want to dive in and start playing, the Bass Station II offers 64 factory presets along with 64 user slots for you to save your own customized sounds and recall them for later use. While the Bass Station II can be powered by AC, it also can be powered by USB as well. Combine that perk with this unit’s relatively compact size, you're left with an instrument that’s appealing to the musician on the go.

Casio XWP1 61 Key Performance Synthesizer

The Casio XW-P1 is a 61-key monophonic synth keyboard that is driven by six oscillators, including two virtual analog style oscillators, two PCM oscillators, one noise oscillator, and an external oscillator that can be used in conjunction with outside audio sources via line and mic inputs. Each of the aforementioned oscillators can be tweaked with its own dedicated filter, envelopes, LFOs, and more. This synth also comes stocked with 400 sounds that are ready to be played, including pianos, strings, guitars, drums, basses, and more. Combine those components for gigs using the 13 track step sequencer. The XW-P1’s 16-step programmable arpeggiator allows you to configure complex and intricate patterns to add further depth to your sound and performance. The XW-P1 comes with its own power supply, but its ability to run off of batteries is yet another reason why this is a great synth option for the traveling performer.

microARRANGER 61 Mini Key Portable Keyboard Arranger

microARRANGER 61 Mini Key Portable Keyboard Arranger

Just as cell phones got smaller but also ironically began to offer way more than what could fit into the phones of the past, the Korg microARRANGER keyboard provides a slew of incredible music-making features into one compact unit that weighs less than 10 pounds. With 61 keys strewn across 34”, this is a keyboard you can transport easily in your car or even in your hands. Despite its small size, the microARRANGER comes equipped with over 650 sounds, 89 effects, 304 styles, and a 16-track sequencer. Four single touch setting buttons allow you to split up sounds, layer them across the keyboards, and switch between them with just one button. This is ideal for when you’re playing gigs and want to have your favorite sounds cued up and ready to go. The keyboard’s Jukebox function allows you to stack up backing tracks that can be triggered and played in a sequence, with realistic sounding instrument sounds like drums, keyboards, horns, and more. You can also load songs into the sequencer via the unit’s SD card slot.

Casio WK7600 76-Key Workstation Keyboard

The Casio WK-7600 touts an impressive selection of 820 tones and 260 rhythms to draw from with its 76 piano-style keys. You can record those sounds into the 17-track sequencer which is coupled with a 32-channel mixer. These audio recordings can then easily be saved to SD card. You can also further expand the sound and ideas that you come up with using the 100 built-in DSP effects in the 7600. External mic and instrument signals can also be routed in via the input jacks. Other notable features in this portable keyboard include two 7W bass reflex speakers and the ability to power this unit with six D-batteries.

Roland BK-9 Backing Keyboard

Roland’s BK-9 keyboard comes equipped with a 16-track sequencer that allows you to not just perform but write/compose ideas on the fly from the comfort of your own instrument. This pick also come with over 1,700 sounds and 70 drum kits to build the sound of your songs up. There are also 540 built-in rhythms here that have been remastered with the BK-9’s new sounds and effects, so you’ll never have to worry about cheap-sounding backing tracks with this keyboard. Touting five multi-effect engines, you can have a blast coloring those sounds and crafting a vibe that’s just right. You can even integrate a microphone into the mix via an XLR input, and add reverb to it so you can get a great-sounding vocal recording.

Korg Pa300 61-key Arranger Workstation

The secret to the great sounds of the Korg Pa300 keyboard is the Real eXperience sound engine, which allows this portable unit to offer detailed, natural patches that can cover you for nearly any genre imaginable. As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also get access to a bevy of built-in effects, including reverbs, delays, choruses, and more. Korg’s REMS guitar-based effects are also included here, so you can emulate the six-string when necessary. While many people tend to think of keyboard backing tracks as being cheesy and lifeless, that’s definitely not the case with the Pa300 as these backing tracks are rich and realistic. You’ll also have plenty to work with as each loaded Style comes with four fills/breaks, three intros, and three endings.

Yamaha PSR-S775 61-key Arranger Workstation

The Yamaha PSR-S770 is a 61-key arranger keyboard whose wide range of functions and uses exceeds what you would expect from a portable device. Choose from over 1,300 voices and 360 accompaniment styles, including many popular musical genres and more modern DJ/electronic settings. Your sound library can also be expanded with 160MB memory for voice and style expansion packs. Hundreds of effects are also at your disposal here, including reverb, chorus, arpeggio, compressor, EQ, and more. Though this may sound like a lot to sift through, the process is made exponentially easier via the 7 inch widescreen color display. A microphone and guitar input allows you to add more external sound sources into the mix, and you can record audio and map it out into a song via the built-in 16-track sequencer.

Roland Roland FA-06 Keyboard Workstatiion

Roland’s FA-06 keyboard workstation offers more than 2000 sounds that come straight out of the company’s flagship INTEGRA-7 sound module, giving you a handle on both natural acoustic tones, synthetic sounds, and drums. The instrument’s onboard sampler is based around the SP-404SX and feature 16 pads, 4 banks, and direct recording/playback through SDHC cards. 16 independent MFX engines allow you to color your sounds with studio quality effects while six separate EQ/compressor processors give you a great way to improve the sound of your drums. If you want to use your keyboard in conjunction with your computer’s DAW, simply hook it up via USB cable and hit a single button to configure the unit to the program’s parameters. The FA-06 also features a dedicated input reverb that offers natural-sounding ambience to your instrument when recording or performing.

Korg KROSS61 61 Key Mobile Workstation

Korg’s Kross keyboard workstation offers 61-keys and a wealth of sounds to give you the versatility to handle numerous styles and genres of music. Staple sounds such as organ, strings, brass, and synths are here, but you can also expand your musical vocabulary with more niche settings like toy piano, vintage tape sampler, accordion, and more. A "favorites" feature allows you to save up to 64 sounds or songs so that you can easily recall them with one button, making it ideal for quickly switching patches during gigs. The Kross also features a step sequencer inherited from Korg’s classic Electribe, giving you a visual way to layer your music. The Kross is also easy to travel with (weighing in at under 10 pounds) and is powered by six AA batteries.

Yamaha MX49 49-Key Keyboard Production Station

The Yamaha MX49 keyboard workstation is a light-weight, semi-weighted, 49-key instrument that's modeled after many of the features and sounds of Yamaha’s classic MOTIF keyboard. It’s also a gig-friendly tool for musicians on the go, thanks to its slim design. More than 1000 MOTIF sounds are included in this unit, from pianos, strings, and drums to futuristic synth sounds. The MX49 is also stocked with effects including classic phasers, flangers, wah, and more. When connected to a computer, the MX49 is able to function as a dual channel audio and MIDI interface. The MX49 also comes with Steinberg Cubase AI DAW software along with other production software components to allow for seamless integration into your existing computer setup.

Casio PX360BK Key Digital Piano

Sit down with the Casio Privia PX-360 keyboard workstation and you’ll instantly take notice of just how intuitive it plays and feels, just like a real acoustic piano. The 88 keys on this unit feature tri-sensor scaled hammer action that provide a touch response 127 times the resolution of the typical keyboard. What distinguishes the PX-360 from its contemporaries is its color touchscreen interface, giving it a cool-looking, easy-to-navigate feel that allows you to seamlessly scroll through the 550 high-quality sounds contained within. You can further shape that sound via the onboard digital effects built into the keyboard. It also features a 16-track recorder which allows you to easily capture ideas, arrange compositions, or practice along with backing tracks.

Teenage Engineering 002.AS.001 OP-1 Mini Synthesizer Pack

The Teenage Engineering OP-1 keyboard is not like most traditional keyboard units, as you can tell just from glancing at its layout and design. It draws upon several synthesizer engines including the Dr. Wave raw 8-bit yupe sound engineer, FM synthesis engine, pulse square wave engine, string physical modeling, phase distortion engine, and more. A built-in 24 voice live sampler allows you to bring in external sounds using the onboard mic or from a line-level input. The unit’s 4-track tape recorder allows you to layer ideas for quick idea capturing or full-blown arrangement/composition. The mixer also features EQ, effects, drive, and master out controls, giving you further control over the manipulation of your sounds.

Buyer's Guide

Keyboard Buyer's Guide

While the term, “keyboard,” may seem straightforward, there are various types depending on the primary purpose of the instrument, as these are no longer just piano substitutes. Whether it’s a keyboard for touring, practice at home, as a recording facilitator in the studio, or a tool for experimentation with new sounds, musicians will need to consider different options, including portable, MIDI and synth keyboards or a keyboard workstation. Furthermore, each keyboard will come with a range of effects, tool choices, and designs that will also need to be considered. Fortunately, this buyer’s guide will help point you in the right direction towards finding your ideal keyboard.

Keyboard Types

Portable Keyboard
Great for traveling to gigs or as a substitute for a full size piano at home, a portable keyboard can be the perfect solution for practice and performance with all the extra features afforded by a digital instrument. Thanks to advances in technology, these small and lightweight unstruments mimic the feel, sound, and pitch range of an acoustic piano.

MIDI Keyboard
MIDI keyboards function as an essential part of many digital audio workstations (DAWs) working with synths for sound customization. Accordingly, those looking at MIDI keyboards will want pitch/modulation controls, sliders, programmable buttons, faders, and other options for maximum control.

Synth Keyboard
A synthesizer allows for experimentation, manipulation and customization of all kinds of sounds and patterns with the ease of keyboard style playing. The result is a keyboard allowing for any sound the user can imagine to create a world of versatile, dynamic music.

Keyboard Workstation
For musicians seeking full service performance and production all in one place, keyboard workstations provide a plethora of sound, recording, connectivity and creative options. Using a workstation, users can create their own songs complete with melody, harmony, and other accompaniments.

Features

Keyboards have a variety of functions for performance, recording and studio work.

Number of Keys

Depending on whether a small on the-go keyboard is needed or a full range digital performance option determines how many keys a player might be looking for. This option primarily pertains to instruments that will be used for performance or practice. MIDI and synth keyboards may offer less keys since the primary focus is their other functions.

88-Key
With 88 keys, this size keyboard has the same number of keys as a full-size piano. These are particularly for individuals looking for an in-home alternative to the acoustic piano or those using the instrument primarily for performance.

72 or 61-Key
Keyboards with fewer keys allow for a more portable instrument, though this curtails the range of available pitches. Often budget keyboards offer 72 or 61 keys, which helps reduce cost or provide a manageable choice for young musicians. If effects are just as important as the performance aspect of the instrument, these size keyboards may be ideal.

Key Style

Particularly for those interested in the feel and response of their keyboard, key style will be important.

Weighted
Mimicking the weight and feel of an acoustic piano, weighted keys develop realistic muscle control and more command of tone and volume. At the highest levels, the lower notes on the instrument have a heavier weight and the higher notes are lighter, expertly mimicking an acoustic piano.

Organ Style
These light-weight keys, often found on smaller keyboards, are easy for fingers to manipulate and naturally move faster because they have little resistance. However, for those anticipating they will play on an acoustic piano at some point, the transition from organ-style keys to the weighted keys of a piano can be a difficult one.

Digital Features

Alternative sounds or voices, built in backing tracks, and the ability to record and connect to a computer are often standard on most instruments.

Polyphony
Among a keyboard’s statistics may be the polyphony, a fancy way of letting you know how many notes can be played at the same time. Depending on the complexity of music and number of voices being layered into the performance or recording, a higher polyphony may be desired. For regular use, the polyphony of any given keyboard is usually sufficient.

Voices
One of the most popular features of digital instruments is the ability to switch up the tone or "voice" with the push of a button, from grand piano, to strings, voice, drum kit and many more. Different model keyboards will offer any number of pre-programmed sounds, from 30 high-quality sampled sounds to hundreds for maximum creativity.

Backing Tracks
Backing tracks come pre-programmed into the keyboard to accompany a wide range of musical genres and can be adjusted for tempo with intro and outro buttons. These are great for practice, recording all-in-one tracks, and performance.

USB and MIDI

Keyboards can come with several USB and MIDI options, including the ability to both upload and download data to and from the keyboard or plug directly into a system. For those interested in syncing up with a computer, USB and MIDI in/out ports are highly desirable. For high-use as a part of a DAW, multiple USB and MIDI ports are ideal.

Additional Accessories

When purchasing a keyboard, these are some essential accessories which often don’t
come standard with the purchase of the instrument.

Stand
Unless the keyboard comes with its own legs, a keyboard stand is helpful. Typically made of lightweight metal in a folding X style, keyboard stands fit neatly away for travel and facilitate comfort/good posture while playing.

Sustain Pedal
Used often in piano performance, a sustain pedal holds the tone of a note out longer for smooth transitions from note to note. For a keyboard, this pedal is normally an add-on, plugged in through a jack on the keyboard for additional performance and technique flexibility.

Software
Some keyboards will come with their own software to interface with a computer for recording purposes. Those looking to build their DAWs or a more standard software may want to look into more powerful or universal software packages, such as Garage Band at the entry level, or Pro Tools at the professional level.

Price/Value

The difference between reputable budget instruments and higher grade professional keyboards is often in size, number of keys, and features and extras, depending on the type of keyboard. When considering price it’s often helpful to determine the purpose of the instrument. If it’s for recreational, lightweight use and fun, a budget instrument will probably suffice.

For those looking for specific performance features, like weighted keys, or recording flexibility, like additional controls, the higher-priced, professional level instruments are the way to go. Thanks to technological advances over the last 50 years, keyboards sound great, offer a lot of options on the road or at home, and are loaded with extra features in a relatively small package, even at the budget level.
 

Bestcovery Staff
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
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