When you reach the stage wherein you are exploring various music workstations and considering buying one, you are no longer just a keyboard or a Piano player.
You have grown as a musician and now possess composing, arranging and music technology skills.
Now you need something which will help you to give shape to all the musical ideas in your head…and that is where the Keyboard Music workstation fits in.
A Music workstation is also known as a keyboard music workstation… or simply as a workstation.
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Going Back in Time
Musicians started using Workstations, way back in the 1970s, when the keyboards combined synthesizers and sequencers under one box.
With advancements in computing related technology (faster processors, software, memory storage, etc.) the music workstations also started becoming more powerful.
Korg M1 was a very popular model back in those days (used by the likes of Vangelis, Madonna, and more).
Today’s keyboard workstations are far more impressive.
Why Use a Music Workstation?
A music workstation has everything you need for your music creation as well as performance needs.
A Keyboard workstation is a synthesizer, sequencer, sampler, sound module and a musical keyboard, everything rolled into one! It is a self contained music production tool which lets you compose music using just one piece of equipment.
It can be described as a portable music studio!
The basic aim of having a workstation is simple, you do not want to leave your instrument when you get that brilliant idea in your head. You need all the tools at one place to turn that idea into a masterpiece.
Workstations are used by recording studios, producers, film composers, and touring musicians. Endless sounds to choose from, as well as powerful sequencing, make workstations especially versatile onstage.
Any keyboard workstation should normally contain the following features:
- Multi-track Sequencing: lets you record and edit your composition, including vocals Most Workstations have 16-track sequencers.
They also have on-board editing software that lets you edit/mix your music directly from the keyboard’s display screen (rather than having to do it on the computer).
When connected to a computer, workstations can double as DAW plugins.
Most workstations allow for digital sampling.
Oscillators, arpeggiators, filters, pitch modulation wheels, variety of effects are commonly found.
- Drum machine: record, edit and play rhythm tracks
- Synthesizer: lets you create, edit, store and play back the sounds
- Sampler: lets you record external sounds, manipulate and play back the sounds
- Effects device: apply effects like reverbs, delays etc. at both the global level as well as at channel specific levels
- Controllers: includes knobs, switches, faders, ribbon, etc. to let you change each and every parameter of sound
Some musicians do connect workstations to computers (via MIDI or USB) but workstations by themselves are stand-alone machines that house a huge number of built-in sounds, samples, effects and tools.
Music Workstation Keyboards – Popular Brands & Choices
Roland, Korg, Yamaha are the major players in the Music Workstations segment. Yamaha, which did not have any presence in the Music Workstations market, entered with a bag few years back with the Motif ES (It just tore apart the competition at that time.)
Korg and Roland had no choice but to innovate and come with better products. Korg came out with the Triton Extreme, which made it cheaper to own a Triton. Roland came with the super Fantom X series, which included audio recording as well.
These three continue to improve their flagship products and continue to offer more at competitive prices. Of course, its you who stand to benefit from this competition as a consumer!
The more popular music workstations include Korg’s Kronos & Krome, Roland’s FA & Juno, and Yamaha’s MOXF. Yamaha is also projecting its Tyros as an arranger workstation though it is more of an arranger keyboard and not as powerful as the Motif.
Like any keyboards, even workstations come various sizes – 61 keys, 88 keys, and compact models. Some have weighted “piano action” keys, while others have semi-weighted keys.
Ready to be used On stage
Keyboard workstations can also be used for live performances. As a keyboard player you will normally create combination of sounds and assign it to the various keys or you will create sequences which you may use later during your live performance.
Once on the stage, you can apply effects or use the controllers to modulate the sounds on the fly without needing any external gear.
Accessories for Music Workstation
Here are some keyboard accessories to consider for your music workstation keyboard considering that you will be doing a lot of onstage performances, in addition to using it in the studio.
For working on demos or creating music at home, you may wat to get yourself a nice pair of closed headphones that isolates sound well.
High-quality audio cables are always required if you are a regular performer onstage. Keeping that in mind, instrument cables will benefit you on the stage or in the studio.