Keyboard Workstation Recommendation

Not Cantabile, but I’m asking because of all the keyboard experience on this forum … hope that’s OK

A musical buddy of 20 years is a fantastic keyboardist … but less fantastic at technology. He would like to simplify his rig and reduce wires by getting a full-featured keyboard workstation.

We would love to get suggestions and/or pointers to what might be suitable for him. Here’s the desires (double ** are more pressing):

  • ** Less that $4K
  • ** 61, 76, or 88 semi-weighted keys
  • Weight is a consideration
  • ** Lots of good / great sounds, but needs a great piano sound.
  • Arpeggiator
  • ** Drum sounds
  • On-board rhythms
  • ** On-board looper that is usable
  • Pads for drumming (pressure-sensitive)
  • ** Knobs for synth control
  • ** DIN Midi x 3 (In, Out, Thru)
  • ** USB MIDI
  • ** On-board recording to audio for idea capture and quick casual recording (hooking up a DAW just for idea capture is a bear, and often does not happen). Possibly with removable media.
  • Drawbars
  • MPE Capability?
  • Acts as an audio interface
    ** Pitch and Mod wheels

Any suggestions, thoughts, ideas, etc. are greatly appreciated …

A keyboardist I played with lost a pitch wheel multiple times on his main 88 key workstation and decided to take the total digital plunge and has not looked back. I understand there are some people that cannot make that jump (My daughters talked my mother into moving from a PC to a MAC… OMG!), but now would be the time to hard sell it to him. I’m sure you’d be an excellent guide.

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Hi Clint,

I may be wrong but I’m not aware of a stock workstation that covers all the preferred features. The closest thing I think might be the

Not all the boxes checked but a whole lot of them. Oh, and you either like Roland sounds or not I come to find, I like Roland FWIW. Anyway that’s my 2 cents.



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OMG! That sucker looks like a 747 cockpit and has more IO on the back than a old-timey telephone switchboard!


If I had to play/program it I’d run screaming back to Cantabile!

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Clint, I feel your friends pain but I have to agree with @easteelreath. I was looking for almost the same things at one point and then realized it probably doesn’t exist.
I would see if you can give him a good sell on digital synth tech. The one distinct advantage, as I am sure you realize, is that the supply of instruments is unending (as some of us have found to our CC’s dismay) but a few high quality plugs are head and shoulders above most keyboards, including Roland (whose sounds I loved)

For me the other big thing is flexibility. In hardware, computers/components, and how you put it together. There is a learning curve to be sure.
Maybe sit him down with your rig and see if you can change his mind.
Good luck!!

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Ha! My rig is the reason he’s so leery of using a PC for making live music … My rig is about as complex as this actual cockpit (a flight simulator that I developed code for …):

Like Dave, I think this is the closest all in one “workstation” to your Friend’s spec. Yamaha and Korg have some great models as well but not with everything on the feature list

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I’m playing Yamaha for a couple of years now. All the features you are asking are onboard except the pads.
The best thing is Yamaha is super user friendly and very easy to operate, and the sounds are amazing good.

It’s a little bit more expensive but i think it’s worth it.
There are many demo’s available on you tube so you will get a impression what this keyboard can do.

link to my you-tube channel where i’m working a lot with cantabile performer 4

I have kept an eye on the “real” keyboard market, not that I will go that way myself. It might be worth checking out the Yamaha Genos 2 which does seem to have almost everything on it. Put it in the search box on Youtube and have a look at the demos.

Best wishes whichever way you go!

Thanks ALL for the suggestions and assistance. It was very helpful to Peter in his quest … and …

He’s settled on a Roland Fantom 08 … arriving tomorrow!

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