How to Shop for Pianos and Keyboards Shopping for a piano or a keyboard can be overwhelming – the selection is just too broad, and then you have to take into consideration issues like your playing skills, the kind of music output you want, and even your budget.
This review should help you know what to look for in order to get the best keyboard based on your desired needs, features, and budget limits.
How to Shop for the best Keyboards and Pianos
Distinguish between Various Keyboard and Piano Features Keyboards come in many forms, and you should be familiar with these categories in order to make the right purchase decision. Some of the things that help create differences between various keyboards include the following.
Action – Some keyboards have weighted, synth, hammer action, and semi-weighted action. More specifically, hammer action keyboards have enhanced response, while the weighted and the semi-weighted versions produce a traditional sound. Keyboards with synth action sound like organs and can be played faster.
Number of Keys – A small MIDI controller can have just 25 keys, while traditional pianos can have 88 keys. Some kinds of music require more keys, and space can also be an issue since instruments with more keys take up more space.
Computer Connectivity – Modern keyboards increasingly need the ability to connect to computers, which is why this feature is worth considering as you shop for a keyboard or a piano. Some versions offer USB, MIDI, mLAN, FireWire, and S/PDIF computer connectivity options. Through these connections, you can access recording apps and enhance your playing experience further. Therefore, if you want to connect your keyboard to a computer or a mobile device, take its connectivity options into consideration as you do your shopping.
Polyphony – This term refers to the number of sounds the keyboard can produce at once. Versions with great polyphonic abilities are better at replicating the sounds of a whole music orchestra.
Touch/Velocity Sensitivity – Essentially, this refers to a keyboard’s ability to sense the force or speed with which a key is touched and generate a matching sound.
Sequencer – If you need a keyboard that can play back the MIDI notes you have played; then you should get a keyboard with a sequencer.
Sampler – Some keyboards come with a sampler, a device that lets you alter the recorded digital sound and play it in different styles. This feature is important in cases where incorporation of external audio clips is necessary for the music being played.
Controllers – Some of the controls you can find in a keyboard include pitch, modulation, and a MIDI controller. A screen display also makes controlling the keyboard a lot easier.
Multitimbrality – Not to be confused with polyphony, this refers to a keyboard’s ability to play different kinds of sounds at once. For instance, piano, strings, flute, and drum sounds.
Output/Input Options – If you need your keyboard for live playing using mixers, amplifiers, and speakers, then you should look for an option with audio outputs that allow for this form of playing experience. Otherwise, you might end up having to buy an interface that gives you access to this feature.
Storage – Nowadays, the best keyboards can use external storage such as memory cards and flash drives. Actually, this feature is pretty much a necessity today.
MIDI Compatibility – A MIDI communication protocol is important in a keyboard as they inform the keyboard of the notes to play, and at what speed. A keyboard with this feature can both send and receive MIDI messages.
Arpeggiator – Arpeggio is when notes are played successively, rather than at once. This keyboard feature creates arpeggio when a single note is played on the keyboard.
Guide for Synths When shopping for synths, you should consider the number of keys, desired style of music, and the sounds that hold the greatest relevance to the sort of music you will be playing. Also, consider whether you want a synth with many preset sounds or a synth with slots through which you can save your own sounds. Other factors to consider as you shop for a synth include features like sustain, decay, attack, reverb and the like.
Guide for Best Keyboards, first of all, decide whether to get a keyboard workstation, an arranger keyboard or a portable keyboard. A keyboard workstation is pretty much a miniature recording and production studio as it can be used to create, record, edit and refine music. A good workstation should have many keys for better polyphonic performance. Workstations should have great connectivity options and vast music libraries.
Arrangers are more appropriate for live performances, and they come with sounds and sequencing tools for better songwriting. Because of their increased automation, they are also much better for beginners. Portable keyboards are also intended for beginners, and their functionality is more basic in comparison to Arrangers and workstations.
Digital Pianos Guide, in this case, you can choose between a console and a stage piano. Console pianos are more appropriate for a home situation, while stage pianos are more portable. While shopping for a piano, you should consider sound quality, amplifier, and speaker, design, a number of keys and output options in the case of stage pianos.
Electronic Organs, Keyboard MIDI Controllers, and MIDI Control Surface Basically, for these musical instruments, you should make a purchase based on your usage needs. For the MIDI controllers, you should also consider issues like sensitivity, key type, and what you will be controlling. For instance, a keyboard-style controller is ideal for software-based synth work.
Conclusion It should be apparent at this point that there’s plenty to consider when shopping for the best keyboard or piano for your needs. However, with the information above, making the right choice while making your purchase should be a lot easier.