What cheap and not-toy keyboard for beginner?

psprint3

New member
I want to try to compose a song and I would like to do it on the keyboard / piano keyboard (and not through a tracker - this is the only way I know from the Amiga / Protracker times) and I only have 100 USD. What equipment should I use? It should cooperate with the computer, which means MIDI interface, am I thinking correctly? Maybe USB has replaced MIDI today? Overall, I would not like to crash into a toy for children, but I would also not like a clear MIDI / USB keyboard-only device, because I think some goodies/features (some faders etc.) can help stimulate creativity.
PS. I'm thinking of using Reaper DAW program.
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
Stay away from mini keys. A full size Roland A-49 usb controller is a nice plastic deck. It can control the VST in Reaper and play the samples. Latency is going to be important if you are playing in real time.
 

psprint3

New member
I've searched for full size 61 midi controllers and the cheapest is Acorn Masterkey 61. There is one opinion on it and it doesn't really hate the device. Is it a good choice?
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Not a keyboard that comes up so we don’t know. Alesis, m audio and Swissonic do ones for sub 100 in 61 key versions that have good reviews and if you can cope with the synth style action they’re great. Often packaged with daw software too. Look at musicians sites like Thomann and the makes there will give you a good idea of the popular stuff. Amazon type brands are rarely the same.
 

psprint3

New member
I wonder what next gadget to compose music could be for me to purchase? I currently own only a DAC - FiiO e10k Olympus II and I'm not even sure if I'll make any use of it when I'll be composing
 

psprint3

New member
Nothing wromg with Alesis. How about a Roland 'Go Piano'?
With only $100, maybe look at pre-owned kit.
And what's wrong with Acorn Masterkey 49? It has 4 assignable potentiometers while Nektar GX 49 with a comparable price has 8 assignable buttons. Are buttons more useful maybe?
 
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rob aylestone

Well-known member
Seriously - if you are NOT a pianist, then almost any synth style keyboard would be fine. Some of the comments and content of this video could point out a few things that you might find helpful, or show you what you absolutely don't want?
 

Folkcafe

Active member
There are a variety of factors in the budget range of keyboards. The ones that tend to offer extra features tend to sacrifice in other areas like key bed. Sure, knobs are handy but if it is at the cost of a flimsy key bed with a "toy" like springy feel, what then? I watched a bunch of reviews and landed at the Nektar GXP 61. Not a lot of extra features but good semi weighted keyboard with aftertouch. It's a little more than double your budget but you get what you pay for. A little better keyboard might be a better creative tool vs a cheap toy.
 

psprint3

New member
There are a variety of factors in the budget range of keyboards. The ones that tend to offer extra features tend to sacrifice in other areas like key bed. Sure, knobs are handy but if it is at the cost of a flimsy key bed with a "toy" like springy feel, what then? I watched a bunch of reviews and landed at the Nektar GXP 61. Not a lot of extra features but good semi weighted keyboard with aftertouch. It's a little more than double your budget but you get what you pay for. A little better keyboard might be a better creative tool vs a cheap toy.
In one video review acorn 49 was said to be exact in feel as one higher budget unsure but I think it was m-audio. The keys were said to be of the same size.
 

Folkcafe

Active member
In one video review acorn 49 was said to be exact in feel as one higher budget unsure but I think it was m-audio. The keys were said to be of the same size.
Wouldn't call the M-Audio Keystation a higher budget controller as they are in about the same price range. Main difference is likely to be software offered with the controller and a name brand standing behind the product. John Mike's review is also from 2020 and product lines have changed with newer versions to compare to.
 

TAE

All you have is now
As a keyboard player I would encourage you to get a used keyboard that has internal sounds and midi out so it can be used as a controller for VST's.
If you are thinking Keyboard vs Piano ( in other words you really just want to use it for the many different sounds it makes including piano but aren't really interested in the nuances of playing a real piano and the velocity / weighted keys things) Then you don't need to look for one with weighted keys.
Brands that won't disappoint and should give you decent use for a while are Yamaha ( my favorite) Roland, Korg, Alesis and Casio ( yes casio they make some great keys with some great sound banks) If you get a controller with no internal sounds you are forced to connect to a computer of some sort and that is an added layer of learning curve....keep it simple and just be sure the keyboard has midi out IF you want to connect to a computer. Offerup and FB Marketplace are the go to's these days for used gear...Craigslist is getting pretty bad but always worth a daily peek till you find what you are looking for. Try to get something that is less than 5 years old just because the keys on all of them at some point start failing..Once you've found one that seems right do a quick google and check out reviews and opinions on that particular model.

Regular sized Keys
at minimum 61 keys going all the way up to 88
If you're just starting out and just testing the waters do not spend more than $200 and a good starter can be had anywhere from as low as $50 to $200

Good luck!

BTW I've been buying and selling keyboards for the last 45 years. I rarely ever buy a keyboard new.. always can find a slightly used killer board for at least 30% less than retail...I'm cheap ;)
 
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