There is no definite criterion that you can solely depend on when choosing the best hip hop and beat making keyboard workstation. It is a combination of the musician’s requirements and the workstation’s ingenuity. However, there are several factors you must emphasize if you plan to use this keyboard workstation for playing or making hip hop music.
Buyer's Guide: Things To Consider
Before choosing a keyboard workstation, there are factors that should be explored to get the most suitable one, whether for home use or setting it up for a professional recording studio. With so many choices, it can be downright overwhelming. However, the good thing about all of this is that when there is so much to choose from, one can easily eliminate those keyboard workstations that offer fewer features and with sub-par quality.
Keyboard workstations for beat-making and hip-hop music production should be versatile and powerful enough to record, edit, mix, and sample tracks with ease before transferring it to the digital audio workstation or DAW. It basically includes the keyboard and sound modules along with a sequencer, and it comes with different numbers of keys such as 61, 76, and 88. Even the weight of the keys is not the same. It would be best to choose something that one is familiar with, but for EDM and hip hop use, it does not need much. In fact, even those with 25 keys will do. Make sure to measure the keyboard workstation first to ensure that it would be more suitable for the studio recording and music production purposes.
Different brands of workstations can have several additional features, which makes them distinctive from one another. Some may share the same features, but the flexibility in using them as well as the quality may differ from one another.
Let us look at some of the best hip hop music and beat making keyboard workstations.
Best Hip Hop and Beat Making Keyboard Workstation
1) Yamaha MODX8 88-Key Weighted Action Synthesizer
The Yamaha MODX8 88-Key Weighted Action Synthesizer comes from the more affordable but highly dependable synthesizers of Yamaha. With the 88-key Hammer graded keyboard and the innovative technologies from the Montage series come with a state-of-the-art upgraded version of past MOXF keyboard workstations.
Sophisticated features such as Super Knob are included where one can effortlessly manipulate multiple parameters simultaneously, 16 MIDI channels with the ability to transfer to and from a computer or device via USB, ability to set it in a Live mode without the need to change order or copy or even just rename anything along with a motion control synthesis where it can modify the Advanced Wave Memory 2 (AWM2), and Expanded Frequency Modulation (FM-X) sound engines.
It also offers a 4-part Seamless Sound Switching, where one can change performances without cutting the sound effect while holding other notes. The Motion Sequencer is another feature included that can take synth parameters with sound interaction.
A customizable control panel for direct control assignment is one of the upgraded features along with an available 1 gigabyte storing capacity dedicated for installing samples and for external downloading. USB ports allow the smooth integration between devices and other digital audio workstations for both Mac and PC users.
This keyboard workstation has been reinforced with additional waveforms, including a new version of the FM-X 8 operator engine that can deliver powerful and distinctive sonics and impressive sound patterns. For those who require vintage or traditional synth effects, it has the Virtual Circuitry Modeling (VCM) to ensure the re-creation of the authenticity of its sound.
With all these features and new upgrades, the Yamaha MODX8 88-Key Weighted Action Synthesizer is a powerful instrument that can do everything. Every patch was created with the most exceptional detail in creating a range of stunning new sound. As always, Yamaha never fails to impress with its realistic sounds and tones from virtual instruments such as acoustic and electric pianos, drums, guitars, and basses.
2) Roland 88-key Music Workstation (FA-08)
The Roland FA-08 workstation comes with an 88-key Ivory Feel-G Keyboard that delivers an acoustic piano feel. It provides uninhibited creative flow with its streamlined user interface along with a massive collection of 2000 presets from the sound module of Roland INTEGRA-7. Downloading more SuperNATURAL synth, acoustic, and drums patches can be done from Roland’s online sound library site through the internal sound expansion slots.
Non-stop loop recording with the 16-track sequencer is easy. Even transferring sequencer tracks as MIDi data or complete multitrack audio to Secure Digital High-Capacity cards is a viable option. There are 16 MFX engines, 6COMP, and EQ processors to choose from. Integrating with external MIDI devices and editing in real-time is easy to accomplish. The same thing with connecting the keyboard workstation to a DAW through a USB port; it can be made with just pressing a button.
Transforming a standalone keyboard such as the Roland 88-key Music Workstation (FA-08) to be the controller of your music studio is fast and easy.
The creative flow can continue without interruption because recording, editing, mixing, and even real-time capture can be done while saving the tracks as you go on.
3) Korg Kross 2-61 61-Key Synthesizer Workstation
Former versions of Korg Kross 2 have been lacking in some features as compared to other workstations, but the price is so competitive, which lured a lot of musicians. They have upgraded it, and now it has more power and features but remains affordable. There is a wide range of sounds, including GearNut’s own KRN-B3 organ and Bonus Banks.
The most recent release, Korg Kross 2-61 61-Key Synthesizer Workstation, is still capable of running using batteries even with the additional range of sounds. There are more than 1000 presets, increased polyphony from 80 to 120 voices, and multi-layered pianos, strings along with drum kits that are essential, whether for studio use or live performances. Having these voices reduce the chances of stealing notes. An expanded PCM memory with 128MB is also added with 16 playable trigger pads for sampling, an arpeggiator, and Electribe step sequencer. It also comes with a more powerful sound engine, the Enhanced Definition Synthesis. It offers a huge library of 134 additional effects aside from the standard ones such as delay, amp modeling, reverb, and vocoder. There are also headphone jacks, pedal inputs, and MIDI, and USB connectivity.
These features are what made it popular at the GearNuts/Reverb site, along with its competitive price.
4) Roland Fantom FA-06 Music Synthesizer Workstation
If the requirement is a light and portable keyboard workstation that is ideal for both studio production and live performances along with the ability to record vocals and guitar playing, then Roland Fantom FA-06 Music Synthesizer Workstation is one of the best out there. Not all keyboard workstations can do both things.
Some musicians prefer not to go back and forth with different devices when working. Adjusting to the different features of each keyboard can be annoying for some. This versatile Roland FA-06 offers the basic necessities for live performances and additional features for crafting music inside the recording studio.
About 2000 presets from the sound module of the flagship Roland INTEGRA-7 are available along with the acoustic piano and drum kit sounds via the SuperNATURAL synth engine. Creating beats and hip hop audio tracks has never been this easy with a non-stop loop recording using a 16-track sequencer. Exporting those tracks to Secure Digital High-Capacity or SDHC cards as a complete stereo mix or MIDI data to be used in another device or DAW is a great advantage. There is also a built-in 16 pad sampler and 4 slots for fast recording and playback. Digital Audio Workstation integration will not be a problem as connectivity jacks for Guitar, and mic inputs are available to capture vocals and guitars as the Roland Fantom FA-06 can be used as an audio interface for it.
5) Yamaha MOXF6
Yamaha has been in the business of making music tools for about 130 years, and its foray to creating synthesizers has produced some of the world’s best hip hop and beat making keyboard workstations. Yamaha MOXF6 offers an expanded version of what was initially released in 2001. It has an upgraded MOTIF FX sound engine with 61 keys initial touch keyboard, a flash memory capability, a MIDI controller with an easy digital audio workstation or DAW integration, and VST control.
It has over a thousand presets such as 1,152 normal voices, 72 drum kits with 18 filter types, and around seven effects such as chorus, reverb, vocoder, insertion, master effect, and EQ. A maximum of 124 polyphony notes is available as well with real-time editing and 16-step sequencer. Each primary function has a dedicated button. To avoid complex functionality, it has 8 assignable knobs along with modulation and pitch bend wheels for controlling or modifying different features. It comes with a lower price as compared to the popular Yamaha Motif XF5, but it has retained some of its reliable features aside from the mentioned sound engine.
There are also quite a high number of new production tracks that musicians would love to tweak, including the 136 voices from S6 grand piano and other keyboard unique sounds. Hip hop beat makers would love these additional new sounds specifically made for this genre.
Any of those four mentioned keyboards could easily fit your requirements. The last deciding factor when buying your next hip hop and beat making keyboard workstation would be the budget. However, your preferences or priorities will come into play, no matter how packed or lacking a keyboard maybe.