Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

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an-electric-heart
KVRAF
1787 posts since 13 Jun, 2008 from Napier,New Zealand

Post Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:05 pm

Hello again,

I'm starting a new band where I just play keys and I'm looking at getting away from using computers live.

A couple of days ago I was asking about a synth and midi controller setup, and this is kind of continuing on from that.

Now I'm looking into digital keyboards, I guess I'm just asking "what's the best keyboard for around $450 USD sound-wise if the only thing I care about is the synth sounds?"

It'll need 'split' function, most (if not all) seem to have it though, as I'll be wanting to play bass with my right hand and chords with my left... and again; I'm after good electronic sounds.
I notice most Youtube demonstrations for keyboards seem to want to highlight all the stuff I really don't care about, like how realistic the grand piano and orchestral sounds are, also there's a big emphasis on the backing tracks available to play along to... and that, I really don't care about.

I am doing research myself, just after some opinions.

Cheers. :tu:

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BertKoor
KVRAF
11117 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:39 pm

Unpopular opinion: ditch youtube. Go to a real music shop. Ask the guy that works at keyboard department what fits your criteria. Play with what's there and go home empty handed.
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an-electric-heart
KVRAF
1787 posts since 13 Jun, 2008 from Napier,New Zealand

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:45 pm

BertKoor wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:39 pm
Unpopular opinion: ditch youtube. Go to a real music shop. Ask the guy that works at keyboard department what fits your criteria. Play with what's there and go home empty handed.
You're right, and I'll be doing that... but there's always more choice on the internet, my local music stores never have much of a selection. :dog:

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Uncle E
KVRAF
10929 posts since 22 Nov, 2000 from Southern California

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:43 pm

What kinds of synths sounds are you looking for? Like which plugins or styles of music would you like it to sound like?

Without knowing more information, you could get a Nord Lead for analog modeled sounds, a Z1 for pretty much any kind of synthesized sound, a Triton or XP-30 for some quite good synth sounds once you get past the boring rompler stuff, or an SQ-80, ESQ-1, or VFX for really aggressive digital sounds. Perhaps the best of all worlds would be to get a DW-8000 and mod it for splits. Here's the mod:

http://www.musitronics.org/products/dw8000_ex_e.html

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an-electric-heart
KVRAF
1787 posts since 13 Jun, 2008 from Napier,New Zealand

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:27 am

Uncle E wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:43 pm
What kinds of synths sounds are you looking for? Like which plugins or styles of music would you like it to sound like?

Without knowing more information, you could get a Nord Lead for analog modeled sounds, a Z1 for pretty much any kind of synthesized sound, a Triton or XP-30 for some quite good synth sounds once you get past the boring rompler stuff, or an SQ-80, ESQ-1, or VFX for really aggressive digital sounds. Perhaps the best of all worlds would be to get a DW-8000 and mod it for splits. Here's the mod:

http://www.musitronics.org/products/dw8000_ex_e.html
I'm actually into '80s stuff, so I guess you'd say clean FM synth sounds on the chord side of things, but I do like distorted saw bass sounds. That's why I was thinking about splitting a midi controller to control a Korg Volca FM and Korg Volca Bass... but that'd be an overly complicated setup.

tapper mike
KVRAF
5011 posts since 20 Jan, 2008

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:24 am

That's a low price point for an all in one keyboard.

Korg Krome and Kross(2) are what you should be looking at if you intend to buy new.

I actually suggest you do go to youtube and look around. See what the market offers and listen very closely to the sound. It will allow you to think about what you are getting into without a sales guy trying to steer you into something or out the door.

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thecontrolcentre
KVRAF
24157 posts since 27 Jul, 2005 from the wilds of wanny

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:37 am

At that price point, Id go for a Microfreak ... altho I don't think you can split the keyboard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZmwOaWNmcs

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Uncle E
KVRAF
10929 posts since 22 Nov, 2000 from Southern California

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:52 am

an-electric-heart wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:27 am
I'm actually into '80s stuff, so I guess you'd say clean FM synth sounds on the chord side of things, but I do like distorted saw bass sounds. That's why I was thinking about splitting a midi controller to control a Korg Volca FM and Korg Volca Bass... but that'd be an overly complicated setup.
Will Volca FM have enough polyphony? It’s a great sounding box and the 3-voice polyphony is perfect for the groovebox format but it seems low for what you’re describing.

I highly recommend checking out an SY77. The FM sounds are pristine, the analog style sounds are surprisingly good, and it’s highly configurable. I can send you some analog patches if you get one.

A K2000 has lots of samples of classic FM keys and I think can generate 9 oscillator super saws if you combine its saw oscillators and saw samples. It has built-in distortion, as well. You probably wouldn’t choose it over a good analog or plugin saw bass but the analog-style pads it can make are fantastic, mainly because it can have so much more modulation going on than most analogs and even many plugins. Programming it is great, too. It can do the splits you need.

JCJR
KVRAF
2666 posts since 17 Apr, 2005 from S.E. TN

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:28 pm

The buying used idea has merit if you can find something in real clean playable condition with some miles left on it. I am a distrustful person but in your situation would probably only buy such a synth relic from a local individual, local pawn shop or music store. Which would give ample opportunity to make sure it seems to work etc before money changes hands.

In other situations maybe eBay would be fine but if you can't really afford to make a mistake then dealing with remote strangers might be too risky.

Following are some things might do, most a little over budget. It is all Sweetwater USA dollar prices maybe cheaper somewhere else.

For playing split with keybass-- Hey maybe I'm wrong about this but I was playing keybass in rock bands since about 1965 so what I say is at least a little better than wild ass guess. :) If you don't get at least a 61 key keyboard then you will regret it sooner than later.

More keys than 61 is better but any less than 61 keys is gonna get real cramped if you allocate at least two octaves to bass. And if you allocate less than two octaves for bass you are cramped another way on the bass hand even if it frees up more space for the chord/melody hand.

So on the following short list, IMO it would be risky with the Yamaha mx49 or Deepmimd 12 49 key board. The rest are 61 key.

Yamaha mx49 $500 mx61 $700
I played mx in a store for awhile and read the manual. The sound is pretty good and there are lots of patches. So far as I could tell, it offers half-ass user editing. You can find a patch you like and customize a few overall parms and save the result. Make the attack faster or slower, make the sound brighter or darker, etc. But not full blown editing. They look rather cheap but yamaha makes good stuff and maybe it would hold up awhile treated gently

Roland Juno DS61 $730 I haven't studied this one but Roland has been making Junos for broke working musicians for decades and a lot of earlier Juno models were surprisingly durable so maybe the trend continues. You would need to check whether you can fully edit or just half ass edit the patches. Some of the earlier Junos had the half ass limited patch editing but hey it's better than no editing at all. :)

Korg Kross 2-61 $750 I know even less about the Kross except it's in the price tier with Juno and mx. Dunno if it has full patch editing or whatever.

Behringer Deepmimd 12 $700 Less polyphony than the others and IMO 49 keys is not adequate for a bass split and they look built kinda cheap to me but maybe would hold up to gigs if treated real gentle At least it is a "real analog synth" which might score points in your judgement. I wouldn't really care whether a keyboard is analog or digital so long as I like the sound.

Yamaha modx6 $1300 This one blows yer budget all the way out of the water but really, for what is available right now in "not incredibly expensive" territory, the modx 6 is really the one you want. Sure it's near 3x your stated budget but I doubt that you would start hating on modx 6 limitations for quite awhile.

Any others on that list I would start bitching the first day and the resentment would get worse with time, if it was the only axe I had to gig with.

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Uncle E
KVRAF
10929 posts since 22 Nov, 2000 from Southern California

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:07 pm

JCJR wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:28 pm
Yamaha modx6 $1300 This one blows yer budget all the way out of the water but really, for what is available right now in "not incredibly expensive" territory, the modx 6 is really the one you want.
This is a great recommendation! I'm using a Montage these days and the sounds are so crisp. Editing the thing is kind of a nightmare and I can help anyone with Yamaha's abysmal program change/bank select, which is pretty crucial if you want to use it to its full potential with a DAW.

With that said, Yamaha is their own biggest competition. Their old stuff is built so well that there's no need to buy new.

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an-electric-heart
KVRAF
1787 posts since 13 Jun, 2008 from Napier,New Zealand

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:33 pm

I am keeping my eye on Trademe (that's like a New Zealand only Ebay) for a proper synth'... but, you guys aren't going to like this :scared: ... but any-hoo, I'm not a "sound design" guy, I'd be able to work with presets that sound good, so I was thinking more along the lines of a "keyboard" (rather than a proper synthesizer) like a CASIO CTX3000, or a CASIO WK6600, or the Yamaha equivalent... it sounds like you guys wouldn't "recommend" anything like that. :hihi:

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Uncle E
KVRAF
10929 posts since 22 Nov, 2000 from Southern California

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:51 pm

We have something like that in our warehouse, some old Yamaha with built-in speakers. You can have it for free if you want to pay the shipping from California.

I love Casio CZ's, VZ's, HT's, and HZ's. The Casio CZ-1, CZ-5000, VZ-1, and HT-6000 are great sounding instruments with pretty good split capabilities. The VZ-1 will definitely do 80's FM keys, maybe that with a Volca Bass sitting on top?

btw, keep your eye out for a Roland HS-60 or HS-80. The only thing about them that fits what you're looking for is the built-in speakers, but once you hear how they sound, you'll thank me. :)

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BONES
GRRRRRRR!
8325 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:52 pm

This comes in well under your budget and is a terrific thing. I had both the CS1x and CS2x and loved them. They are fully digital keyboards that do a lot of analogue sounding stuff. It was a long time ago so I don't specifically recall if you can split the keyboard but I think it is possible. They do the best string pad sounds you'll hear from such a basic instrument. I bought it mostly for those strings.

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Yamaha-CS2x ... SwYxBcluWn

I've bought plenty of used gear from eBay - Analog Keys from the US, Pulse 2 from France and my CS1x from Canberra - and I've never had any problems.
NOVAkILL 4.0 : Acer Switch5 (Core i5, 8GB RAM, Win10),Behringer QX1002USB, Cubase Pro 10, DUNE, Hive, Thorn, TRK-01, Equator, Substance, Arcsyn, Seaboard Block, Lightpad Block M, Analog Keys, MicroMonsta, Uno, Skulpt.

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Uncle E
KVRAF
10929 posts since 22 Nov, 2000 from Southern California

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:58 pm

BONES wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:52 pm
I had both the CS1x and CS2x and loved them.
These are great recommendations! Great sounding and very easy to use. If you can find a CS6x with plg150 AN analog expansion, you'll have everything you need.

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an-electric-heart
KVRAF
1787 posts since 13 Jun, 2008 from Napier,New Zealand

Re: Best Digital keyboard for around $450 USD?

Post Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:27 pm

Uncle E wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:51 pm
We have something like that in our warehouse, some old Yamaha with built-in speakers. You can have it for free if you want to pay the shipping from California.

I love Casio CZ's, VZ's, HT's, and HZ's. The Casio CZ-1, CZ-5000, VZ-1, and HT-6000 are great sounding instruments with pretty good split capabilities. The VZ-1 will definitely do 80's FM keys, maybe that with a Volca Bass sitting on top?

btw, keep your eye out for a Roland HS-60 or HS-80. The only thing about them that fits what you're looking for is the built-in speakers, but once you hear how they sound, you'll thank me. :)
I know the things I mentioned have built in speakers, but I'd rather not have them... I wouldn't use them.

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