With the fast-paced development in electronics, it is no longer rare to find keyboard workstations that readily integrate sequencers and sound module. These keyboard workstations are indeed veritable “studios-in-a-box.” They allow you to create original music and perform them. They provide high-quality synth sounds, and they are equipped with many effects and other features like advanced mixing and patch editing. Hence, these keyboard workstations are fast becoming popular and indispensable to producers, film scorers, composers, and one-man band performers.
But What is a Keyboard workstation? Well, keyboard workstations are very versatile electronic instruments that readily integrates sequencers and sound module in its design and build. They are keyboards, of course, but they are more than a keyboard because they are packed with features that you can never find in an ordinary keyboard. They are basically equipped with everything you need for music production. But some distinct features set the keyboard workstations apart from other digital pianos such as their MIDI recording feature, audio recording, and editing features, plus the myriads of built-in effects that come in handy when creating and finishing a song. They also come with massive sound libraries along with myriads of instruments. They are also equipped with fantastic synthesizers with multi-voice tracks.
Built-in Looper Features of Sequencing, Recording & Effects
The huge come-on of most keyboard workstations is their ability to address the production and composition needs of users. They have built-in MIDI sequencers which are critical in composing and producing music. They also have line inputs for microphones that allow vocal recordings. They also come with onboard effects which are crucial to the enhancement of the recordings. These built-in effects can be both applicable to individual tracks or mixed tracks. Many of them also come with dynamic-related effects and EQ for more flexibility in customizing the final mix.
The good thing about sequencers is that they can record, edit and at the same time playback music. With a Keyboard workstation, you can then easily record individual musical part or different voices. Afterward, you can add layers on top of each one to create a complex musical arrangement. Workstations usually come with a maximum of 16 channels. Keyboards—that are capable of playing all 16 tracks are referred to as 16-parts multi-timbral. Hence, if you intend to buy a keyboard workstation, you should go for the one with integrated sequencer and is multi-timbral.
Another feature that you should consider when buying a piano keyboard with looper is connectivity. Your choice of workstations should have flexible connectivity that would enable you to import audio files for incorporation into your mix. Connectivity implies that your choice should be readily compatible with other devices. It should also be equipped with USB ports as well as MIDI connection ports. It should allow you to sync it up with your PC likewise readily. Moreover, it should have audio inputs to allow you to directly record your instruments into its memory.
Buying Guide for Keyboard Pianos with Built-In Looper / Sequencer
Whether you have your own music software or are just getting started playing and recording, finding a keyboard piano and sequencer that includes software can really help you out. Most models do include some sort of software, but it is important to make sure that you are getting the most out of yours. Unfortunately, there are a lot of software systems that come with instruments but don’t offer you everything you may need. So, if you’re not careful, you may run into a subscription paywall before you can even start using the software. To prevent this, either choose your own software outside of the one that is offered or make sure you are given the full use of software that comes with your keyboard.
Ultimately, connectivity will control how much you can truly get out of your new keyboard. Before you buy, it’s important to understand the capability of your keyboard to connect with your own devices. For example, if you want to add tracks that you previously recorded to the piano to build on, then you need to make sure the keyboard is compatible with whatever systems you are using to create your songs and upload them. You should also be able to sync your keyboard with your laptop so that you can save and edit your tracks once you have finished recording them. So, always make sure that your keyboard can be used with your preferred devices.
Number of Keys
Full-size pianos have 88 keys, but chances are that your keyboard piano may have less. The more keys that you have, the more range you will have available to you. Some keyboard pianos make you sacrifice some keys in order to keep them smaller and transportable. It is not vital for you to have 88 keys at your disposal, but just remember that the fewer keys you have the less range you will have available. If you know your own notes and octaves that you are comfortable with, then this won’t be an issue for you. However, if you are still learning piano and trying to grow as an artist, then you will want to make sure that you have as many keys as you can.
Keyboard pianos can come with so many different sounds for you to use. From other instruments to other novelty sounds, it is easy to get excited about the ability to use so many different sounds and experiment when creating music. However, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all the different options available, and many keyboard owners tend to stick with traditional piano sounds once the new feeling wears off. All these new sounds can seem so cool, but remember that they are not the most important aspect of your new keyboard. If you are paying more for extra sounds, then make sure you will be getting your money’s worth. Put money toward the specifications that are going to ensure you can get everything you want out of your new keyboard, and if that’s not a bunch of different sounds, then don’t worry about spending money on those.
If you are looking to play using just headphones, then the built-in speaker may not matter to you as much. However, if you plan on playing out loud, then you need to ensure that the built-in speaker is good quality and can work for your needs. Having a poor-quality speaker can mean that you have to play at a lower volume than you would prefer. It can also mean that your notes may distort as you are playing. This can be fixed by connecting your piano to a separate speaker, but if you don’t want to have to worry about doing that, then you should look for a keyboard piano with a decent speaker.
This is more for beginners, but many keyboard pianos come with a book, CD or DVD of lessons included. So, if you are a beginner, then be sure to utilize the lessons that come with it because they can help you get jump-started in your musical experimentation. Even if you do not get lessons, be sure to still read all about your new keyboard because you want to know how much you can do with your sequencer. Chances are, you’ll probably have more effects available to you than you know about when you first buy it. So, take the time to read through everything that comes with your new keyboard, and if there are optional lessons, then be sure to take advantage of them to make sure you get the most out of your new keyboard piano.
Most Recommended Keyboard Workstations With Looper Features
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1) Yamaha MOXF8
The Yamaha MOXF8 is an improvement over the MOXF6 61-key model. Although both models almost have all the essential features together, the MOXF8, however, has more keys with its 88 hammer-action weighted keys. Of course, 88-keys is the standard when doing a live performance using a keyboard.
The Yamaha MOXF8 has USB Audio/MIDI interface capabilities. It also has onboard sequencers. Moreover, it comes with an extensive DAW/VST software bundle. Hence, you would basically get all the features that the MOXF6 has if you opt for the Yamaha MOXF8.
What is noteworthy about Yamaha MOXF8 is that it is really a detailed digital recreation of the Yamaha grand pianos. It produces the subtle nuances of those grand pianos. Moreover, it comes with advanced computer integration feature that allows you to make the Yamaha MOXF8 the center of your music production. It is undoubtedly a veritable “studio-in-a-box.”
The Yamaha MOSF8 comes with a performance mode that lets you combine many voices together and plays them on a MIDI channel. It also comes with 256 preset performances that include different music styles like hip-hop, jazz, rock, world, and many more. Moreover, it comes with Cubase AI 7. Cubase AI 7 is a DAW software that is specifically designed for integration into the Yamaha music synthesizer. The connectivity afforded by Yamaha MOXF8 is very useful for composers and music producers.
2) Yamaha MOXF6
Yamaha MOXF6 is basically a 61-key keyboard workstation that is MIDI keyboard controller at the same time for it has an extensive DAW and VST control. It is equipped with MOTIF XF sound engine that comes with a wide array of instruments and voices. It also comes with an expandable memory that permits you to incorporate 1 GB of additional samples. With the MOXF6, you can readily record in real time your performance. You can also use it for step recording.
MOXF6 comes with a very flexible sequencer that really satisfies a lot of reviewers. This sequencer is equipped with multiple functions like that of allowing you to adjust velocities. Its built-in effects likewise are a breeze to use. It also comes with a responsive keyboard.
Some reviewers, however, consider its interface as not so much intuitive. They say that it would take a bit of time for you to familiarize yourself with it and figure out its different controls. But once you get the hang of it, you will surely find its editing parameters quite easy to operate. All in all, you’ll find the Yamaha MOXF6 versatile enough to address your needs.
3) Korg KROME73
Well, what else can we say about The Korg KROME73? It is basically a product of a brand that has a proven track record in creating excellent workstations. KROME73 comes with a meticulously chosen array of top sounds for important keyboard instruments. It is an electric piano that comes with drum sounds. It is powered by German D grand and Jazz Ambient Drums that are found in KRONOS workstation. It also comes with velocity sensitive Semi-weighted keys.
KROME73 features a full-color touch-view display. It also comes with an advanced GUI that is intuitive, giving its users a very satisfying experience. Its complete 16-track sequencer comes with a touch-based piano roll editing, together with a plug-in Editor software. KROME would surely give you an unforgettable experience of what it is to get real sounds.
4) Korg Kross 2 61-Key Synthesizer Workstation
Korg Kross 2 61-key Synthesizer Workstation is a heavy-duty, very compact workstation. It comes with a thousand preset sounds together with an expanded PCM memory. Aside from the expansion 128-MB PCM memory, it also comes with a new pad sampler that lets full-fledged sampling. It also comes with USB audio/MIDI interface function. If you are a beginner, you would surely appreciate its stylish color scheme and user-friendly interface.
With the Korg, you can easily select the sound that you would like to play while shaping that sound to suit your preference and imagination. It is a perfect tool for sampling sound, creating rhythms and phrases, and recording your instruments and vocals. It is also ideal for live performance on stage.
Kross 2 is a very versatile platform for synthesizing sound. It can surely actualize your musical creativity via its intuitive operations. It comes with a wide array of programs that would ideally cover your composing and producing needs. Aside from these wide arrays of programs and features, it is also very portable being compact and lightweight. Lastly, it also can run on batteries.
5) Casio CTK-6250 61-Key Keyboard
The Casio CTK-6250 61-Key Keyboard is a 61-key touch-sensitive keyboard that is very portable. It comes with 700 tones that are organized categorically. It also features 17-track sequencer and 32-channel mixer along with DSP effects and USB MIDI port. You can easily edit voices using its control over filters as well as its envelopes. You can also record your audio to SDHC card, and have it played back through its built-in 7-W amplifiers and speakers.
Casio CTK-6250 comes with a wide array of sequencing editing tools like those of event delete, event insert, event copy, a locator for choosing the note’s range, quantize, and many more. The Casio CTK-6250 is surely a good option if you are looking for a piano keyboard with a sequencer.
There are many small variations to consider when buying a new keyboard piano with a sequencer, but if you follow our guide, then you’ll be sure to get the right one for you. So, consider the amount of extra sounds, software and speaker quality that you want before you purchase because you don’t want to leave out something you may want later, and you don’t want to spend extra money on something you won’t use. So, follow our guide and you’ll be playing your new keyboard piano in no time.