Knowing how to choose the best music keyboard for you can be a bit overwhelming. Whether you are a traditional piano player looking to capture the feel and sound of a grand piano, a synth aficionado, or an electronic musician looking for the best controller, there are lots of choices. To understand the different types of music keyboards, we’ll need to discuss the basics. Personal Keyboards are portable, great for learning, ideal for travel, and found in all sizes - with 25, 37, 49, 61, and 88-key models making up the standard options. If you’re used to playing a real piano, an 88 key instrument is the best choice. All 88-key digital pianos have weighted action, which means the keys feel and respond like the ones found on an acoustic upright or grand piano. The keys get progressively lighter to play as you move from the lowest to highest note. Since these are built to emulate a piano, this is the preferred keyboard for people taking lessons.
If you are looking for a music keyboard controller, you’re going to want lots of tactile control. Like the personal keyboards above, keyboard controllers are also available in a variety of sizes. Sound designers, EDM producers, and electronic musicians who work on the computer use keyboard controllers because they have useful controls. This includes buttons for transport, pads for drum programming, and knobs or sliders for real-time automation as you compose. While many standalone music keyboards can help you control computer software through a USB connection, keyboard controllers don’t contain their own internal sound engine as a general rule. This means that without a computer, you won’t hear any sounds from a digital keyboard controller. But the moment you connect your keyboard controller into your computer and pair it with your favorite software such as Propellerhead's Reason, Native Instruments Komplete, or Ableton Live, you can make your keyboard play any number of sounds - from a huge library of presets to customized tones of your own design!
Some of the more popular controllers don’t have keyboards at all. Products such as Native Instruments Maschine, Novation Launchpad, and Ableton Push both allow you to play VST, AU, or AAX instruments with traditional piano scales, even though they may not have any black or white keys. Pads are laid out to trigger the scale of notes you choose. This is great for creating full songs from beat making machines. The software for these machines contains a piano-roll editor to edit MIDI, which stands for Music Instrument Digital Interface – a purely digital way for you to record music data. After you initially record the data, it’s easy to change it. Note lengths, how hard you play, and the notes you play can all be edited after you record. MIDI makes the digital keyboard an incredibly versatile instrument.
While controlling software synthesizers and samplers is quite popular, in recent years, hardware synthesizers have been making a comeback. This is because many people prefer the fat, lush sounds that an analog synth has to offer. Many electronic music producers use both software and hardware synths to create their own signature sonic palette. In a perfect marriage of the two worlds, some analog synths also connect to the computer via USB and have their own virtual instrument editor software for creating, loading, or saving your favorite sounds. Whether you are looking for a keyboard synthesizer or electric piano keyboard, you will be sure to hear amazing sounds due to today's technology. During the earliest days of synths and keyboards, some models were the size of an entire room! Today, you can achieve the same massive sound using a portable, modern keyboard synth.
Using synths and controllers to create hip-hop and dance music is only part of the deep world of keyboards. Keyboard workstations are still great tools for music composition and playing keyboards live. Many churches and houses of worship still prefer keyboard workstations or keyboard arrangers due to their reliability and realistic sound sets. Keyboard workstations and keyboard arrangers can be programmed with splits, backing tracks, and accompaniments. Music directors love keyboards because they are the only instrument that can truly function as a one-man-band.
During your quest, think of the main use for your music keyboard. If you’re playing in a band, a digital piano or keyboard synthesizer would be perfect for you to use in any performance venue. Maybe you’re an educator teaching children, in which case you’ll want a music keyboard that feels like an acoustic piano. If you’re more of an electronic music composer, a keyboard controller will be just the thing to fill out your production studio. American Music Supply has the keyboard that's right for you. Call us today to speak with an expert.
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