Ultimate Guide to the Best Piano Synthesizer Products – January 2018

Ryan
Ultimate Guide to the Best Piano Synthesizer Products – January 2018
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Do you have a creative mind and are seeking expressive possibilities outside of the traditional piano? Or maybe you have just started to learn the piano, but curious about different types of sound production? The traditional piano or keyboard offers numerous possibilities in itself, but contemporary music has traveled beyond these once rigid boundaries. In the twenty-first century, musicians are constantly exploring new types of sound and creative methods leading music of all genres to places that were once unimaginable. Regardless of how long you have been playing the piano, a great place to start exploring this world is through the use of the best piano synthesizer.


What is a Piano Synthesizer?

Best Piano Synthesizer Products

Have you ever listened to a song and heard something that does not sound quite like any instrument you know of? The use of synthesizers is extremely popular in countless genres of modern music. A piano synthesizer is a keyboard with the primary function of transfiguring and modifying sounds in various ways. Rather than functioning purely as a keyboard, one might argue that the synthesizer’s primary task is sound augmentation.

One way in which synthesizers do this is through imitation of other musical instruments. For example, although you are playing a keyboard, the sound you hear might resemble that of a trumpet or violin. In more abstract applications, sounds resembling natural occurrences may be selected, such as waves or rain. Finally, synthesizers can be used to create digitally produced sounds of their own aural identity. The beauty of a piano synthesizer lies in its diversity. All piano synthesizers have extensive libraries of sounds, but they also have the capability of adjusting each option individually. In addition to the variety of sound options, synthesizers usually have one or more “effect” which can be applied to the sound you have chosen. These include effects such as distortion, vibrato, and reverberation, to name only a few.


How to Choose the Best Piano Synthesizer

Just like purchasing any instrument, there are a number of factors to consider when looking for a piano synthesizer, although some might not be as obvious as a traditional instrument. Naturally, budget is a good place to start. You can spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands on a piano synthesizer. Once you have decided on a price range, it is important to consider various elements relating to the keyboard itself. Many synthesizers come with less keys than a traditional keyboard (the standard number of keys on a piano is 88), but ones with a full set of keys also exist. Also, you will need to decide whether or not you want these keys to be weighted.

A weighted keyboard means that the keys feel as heavy as they do on a real piano, therefore minimizing the gap between a piano and a keyboard. A very important consideration for synthesizers is the distinction between monophonic and polyphonic. If you purchase a monophonic synthesizer, you will only be able to play one key at a time, whereas the polyphonic option allows you to play multiple keys at the same time. If you are planning on playing chords, or any type of melody with accompaniment, then polyphonic is what you want. Portability and weight should also be thought about. Are you planning on traveling with this instrument for gigs, or will it remain in a studio? It’s a lot to consider, that’s why we reviewed some of the best piano synthesizers to help you decide which one will satisfy all your needs.


Reviews of the Best Piano Synthesizer Products

Roland JUNO-DS61 Key Synthesizer Product Review

Features

The JUNO-DS61 is one of Roland’s premier synthesizers. While this synthesizer is at the higher end of the price range, it has enough creative potential to last a lifetime. This polyphonic keyboard comes with an overwhelming 1,200 preset sounds, 30 drum kit presets, and 64 pre-recorded performances. If you can’t find what you are looking for in this plethora of settings, the JUNO-DS61 has enough memory so that the user can import 256 of their own sounds downloaded from their computer. You can also apply any of the 80 multi-effects included, including reverberation and chorus, to any sound selected. The primary function of this synthesizer is for creation and manipulation of sound, rather than a strict resemblance to a traditional keyboard. If you have experience playing the piano and looking for an introduction to synthesizers, and one with seemingly unlimited creative possibilities, then this might be the synthesizer for you.

Customer Sentiment

The majority of customer reviews are overall positive. Among users, the most popular feature of the JUNO-DS61 is its extensive collection of sounds. The primary complaint is its unweighted keys, but buyers seem willing to compromise on that for the benefit of its sound and effects capabilities.

Pros:

  • Lightweight (17.33 pounds)
  • Battery Powered Option
  • Available in 61 or 88 keys

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Does not come with built in speakers (however this is uncommon in professional grade synthesizers)
  • Keys are not weighted

microKORG XL+ Product Review

Features

The popular microKORG XL+ is a great place for someone new to synthesizers to start. While this synthesizer only has 37 keys, it is polyphonic in that it can play up to seven notes simultaneously. The best features of this synthesizer are undoubtedly its analog construction, along with the microphone. Analog products have a superior sound than digital products, the difference lying in that analog recording is the sound in its original form, whereas digital is a recreation of that sound (think of vinyl records, which are analog, versus digital CDs). The microphone offers an entirely new level of creativity. Not only can this synthesizer help create unique soundscapes, but now you have the possibility of introducing the voice. A great feature of the vocoder element is that it will adjust the sound of your voice to fit into the sounds the synthesizer is producing. The microKORG XL+ contains 128 presets and 3 effects (chorus, phaser, and ensemble). This synthesizer is an excellent choice for someone who is new to the instrument and interested in exploring it further.

Customer Sentiment

The most popular feature of the microKorg XL+  is the microphone and the synthesizer’s friendly user face for beginners stands out. Some of the more seasoned customers have been dissatisfied with its limited sound options and the quality of these sounds.

Pros:

  • Microphone capabilities (microphone included)
  • Analog
  • Portable and lightweight (4.41 pounds)

Cons:

  • 37 Keys
  • Limited sound options
  • Does not come with built in speakers (however this is uncommon in professional grade synthesizers)

Yamaha MX88 Product Review

Features

The Yamaha MX88 is one of the most prestigious synthesizers on the market. Although very expensive, this synthesizer not only has the creative abilities of most synthesizers, but it closely resembles a traditional piano. Its 88 keys feature Graded Hammer Standard weighted action, which means each keys resembles the same weight one would find on a traditional acoustic piano. Unlike many other synthesizers, the MX88 contains a sound setting that has been carefully designed to resemble an acoustic grand piano. Yet this does not come at the expense of its synthesizer features, for the MX88 also includes over 1,000 presets. The Yamaha MX88 is a professional grade synthesizer, perfect for demanding performances and recording projects. However, its similarities to the traditional piano also make it a perfect option for the seasoned pianist who is looking to make a smooth transition to synthesizers.

Customer Sentiment

According to customers, the Yamaha MX88 is well worth its price. Many of these reviewers are professional musicians who have used the synthesizer as part of their job. The feedback is overwhelmingly positive, citing the piano based design and large sound selections as their pros. The most common complaints are not that damaging; no music stand included and complicated user interface.

Pros:

  • 88 weighted keys
  • Similar to acoustic pianos
  • Extensive library of sounds
  • 128 note polyphony

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Heavy (30.6 pounds)

Final Thoughts

While synthesizers are exciting and stimulating, they can also be overwhelming. Unlike traditional instruments, there are many internal considerations one needs to be aware of when selecting their synthesizer. Ultimately, it comes down to what type of music you plan to be creating with your synthesizer. As we have seen, there is a wide range of different types of synthesizers. If you are planning to do traditional keyboard playing, but would like synthesizer options, then the Yamaha MX88 might be your best choice. On the other hand, maybe you have less experience playing a keyboard instrument and want to focus on sound manipulation and vocoder work. If that’s the case, then the microKORG XL+ will most likely meet your needs. The Roland JUNO-DS61 might be for those of you in the middle, seeking an affordable option with significant keyboard and synthesizer capabilities. The accessibility of the best piano synthesizer is one of its most admirable qualities. It has creative potential for both the classically trained pianist and the beginner, offering each one the same amount of thrilling creative capabilities.

Highest Rated Piano Keyboards (by Customer Review)

1Yamaha P-255Read Our ReviewSee prices on Amazon.com
2Yamaha DGX-650Read Our ReviewSee prices on Amazon.com
3Casio PX-5SRead Our ReviewSee prices on Amazon.com
4Yamaha P-45Read Our ReviewSee prices on Amazon.com
5Casio CTK-4400Read Our ReviewSee prices on Amazon.com

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