whats a good keyboard

MIDI keyboard-most bang for the buck?

hey everyone…i am thinking of buying a used MIDI keyboard for my own closet-recording. my son picked up a simple little yamaha psr-170 which seems to be pretty well suited for most of the things i would be doing. i can probably pick one up for 40-90 bucks on ebay. is this a good keyboard for the money. or, what is a comparable purchase. are the yamaha psr models all pretty much the same? i see some do not have MIDI. i guess iam trying to find out what you would all do? thanx for the responses. :)

Shameless plug - I’m selling one on eBay (good deal) - MIDI Controller.

I use a Yammy-Haw PSR-225. I got it new for $129 a few years ago. I just wish it had pitch and mod wheels but it’s OK for a starter MIDIOT like myself…


so the psr’s get better as the model number ascends? also, mr. soul, how does yours compare to these yamaha psr’s. do you all know how they all compare to a roland e-15?
when it comes to making a purchase, i feel like a real sucker right now. :cool:

$50 or so on ebay doesn’t sound too painful but I would recommend “velocity sensitive” (or “touch-sensitive”) keys; especially if you plan on triggering drum sounds. Any keyboard without this feature is little more than a toy.

Whatever you see on ebay, make sure you check out the reviews on harmonycentral before you bid.


thanx for the suggestions. i definitely check all of the reviews on line before bidding…actually, that is where i developed all of the uncertainty about keyboards.

gtr4him —im a midiot too…i have a roland drum machine and get the impression that it and a midi keyboard together have something to do with recording with n-track. what it all means – i don’t have a clue. even though i am looking for a keyboard, i have an old yamaha ps6100 i inherited. it has midi in/out but sounds pretty crummy as far as sounds go. i just plug the headphone out to a mixer in and play keyboards at a very low level.

i don’t get all this midi stuff and “triggering” …just play, record and mix is about as far as i have gotten in my 6 months of using n-track. oh well…i will keep on…family and friends seem to get a kick out of it and i love jammin with musicians (me on trk1, trk2, trk3, etc.) that see things the way i do . :D


$50 or so on ebay doesn’t sound too painful but I would recommend “velocity sensitive” (or “touch-sensitive”)

The controller I’m selling is velocity sensitive I believe. In fact, you can set the curve.

mr. soul…you are highlighting my ignorance on this. yours appears to be a nice keyboard, yet you call it a midi controller. is this like calling a dog a dawg? i am being totally honest - i dont know the difference. (i do know what touch sensitive means.) do i need another piece of equipment to use a midi controller? or, can any midi keyboard be called a controller?

BTW…would you consider 70 and drop the shipping?

It’s just a controller, which is what I thought you were looking for, but it sounds like you may not be. It doesn’t have a sound module, hence controller, so you have to buy one of those. It interfaces with MIDI on a computer where your sounds might live.

Yes - I would sell it for $70 including shipping but make sure it’s what you want first.

Quote (g8torcliff @ Aug. 25 2005,09:03)
im a midiot too…all this midi stuff and “triggering” …just play, record and mix

I am most definitely a midiot as well. I’m probably only half-a-step farther than you on the road to midi success (the guitar is my main instrument, actually.)

Consider these questions:
1. Do you understand the difference between audio and MIDI?
2. Do you know how to edit MIDI data?
3. Do you know any of the many ways to “render” MIDI to audio?

If your answer is “No” to any of these questions then start asking some of your own and I’d be happy to help point you in the right direction. Heck, I only just learned this stuff in the past year or two myself. There are tons of tutorials on the web and plenty of knowledgeable folks around here.


mr. soul…hey, what do you know…i figured out enough to even think there was a diff between a controller and a keyboard. i ‘think’ what i want is a keyboard with MIDI capabilities. i appreciate your consideration but i am not sure enough that is what i really want.
mr. toad—my answers to all of your questions is “no”.
i am mainly guitar - and mess with keybrd, harmonica and i can add some fairly decent sounding drums from the DR-550. then edit, add efx and mix. i have only been using ntrack for about 6 months.
all i want to do with the keyboard is get some decent beds (ala knofler, pink fl, etc) for some of the stuff i play. :)

It’s worth thinking about a keyboard/controller though G8.

Although it generally won’t have a built in synth, who needs it? That’s what your PC with Rhino/Absynth/soundfonts/etc., are for. :)

But the big plus, is they’ll have lots of faders and pots on them, so when it comes to mixing, you can assign those controllers to all sorts of good stuff.

It really does make mixing a lot easier than just using a stinking mouse! :D

And even if you’re just thinking about playing, good VSTi’s have lots of assignable functions that can be mapped to the faders on your keyboard/controller.


One benefit of have a keyboard with an inbuilt GM soundbank is even if the sounds aren’t that good, they will be good enough to lay down a midi track with and monitor the inbuilt the sounds rather than using soft synths whilst recording (which can present latency problems).

Once your midi track is recorded you can then route the midi track to whatever soft synths you want…

I always use my inbuilt sounds to track though to avoid having to record using VSTis in LIVE mode…

If you don’t have much going on in your song already and a beefy enough system and low latency soundcard LIVE VSTi recording won’t be a problem… but the more tracks oy already have in the song, the less nice LIVE plays whilst recording forme…



g8torcliff, I feel your pain. Here’s a short intro to midi (it’s as much for me to organize my thoughts as it is for you!)

In a nutshell, MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) is a computer language, not audio. It consists of commands that can be interpreted by any MIDI instrument. These commands tell the instrument things like what note to play and when and how hard and for how long. There are also commands that can tell the instrument to “pitch bend” the note down 2 steps, change from an electric piano patch to a cello patch, etc.

A midi instrument is therefore anything that can accept midi data and turn it into audio. Did you know that not all midi instruments come from Yamaha and Roland and have black and white keys on them? Your computer soundcard probably contains a midi synthesizer, there is already a software virtual synthesizer (a “softsynth”) in your installation of Windows and there are many hundreds more softsynths available for purchase (or freeware). There are also lots of hardware “sound modules” that are basically black-boxes that accept a midi input and then output audio. No keyboard on any of these.

A midi controller on the other hand is a music keyboard that cannot produce any audio. It only outputs midi data which can control any/all of the above midi instruments.

The key thing here is that the midi data itself can be recorded, stored and edited on your PC without ever becoming audio data until you need it. Mistakes can be fixed, the key can be transposed, instrumentation can be changed, etc. n-Track is a perfectly decent (though possibly not the best) platform for doing all of these operations. Also, midi data is MUCH more compact than audio.

I think most people would agree that, as PC’s get more and more powerful, all you need is a decent controller and a good selection of softsynths. Saves a lot of space and unnecessary hardware.

I suggest you have a look at some tutorials and then download some of the millions of midi-recorded songs available on the net and edit them (you can do this with your mouse long before you purchase a midi keyboard) for fun. Try musicrobot.com.

Phew! Hope this helps,

mr. toad…after your brief explain, i think i will hold off on my search. as i mentioned, i have an old keyboard with midi in/out. maybe i should just buy the midi cable and see what this keyboard can do with the readily available midi files you spoke of. do you think this keyboard will do what you say concerning “mapping” and “triggering”, etc? i am working now but will read up on tutorials i can find and mess with this keyboard this weekend. btw, as i have it now…a keybrd can be BOTH an instrument and a controller. but a controller can only be a controller. right?
yes, my soundcard has wavesynth or something to that effect as an “available device” option. softsynth is there…i will have to read up on how to put it to use.
i don’t have any .mid files on my system that i know of…i have searched *.mid and not found any. are these files similar to “sound fonts”?
if you need questions, i guess i’m the one to come to, huh?
instead of looking for a keyboard, maybe i should look for a real live person who can give me a demonstration.
i really appreciate your input on this. if im bothering people in this forum too much, someone say so and i’ll lay low for a while.

Hey G8, the .mid files only contain the instructions: what note to play, how long to play it, and how much velocity to play it with (loudness). This file can be applied to any midi sound device, like a soundfont, or a softsynth.

A soundfont is a collection of sounds, like a piano. It has bunches of sounds packed in it, all with different velocity. When the instruction comes along to play a certian note, the recorded sound in the SF gets played, with time and velocity involved.

Soundfonts are played through a host application. SFZ is a free one that people here use in n-track. I use FL Studio soundfont player. Anyway, if you plug your keyboard to your computer via midi cable, then the keyboard can trigger the sounds in the host application, which plays the sound from the soundfont.

Previous posters are talking about playing the keyboard, while listening to the built in sounds, but actually recording the midi data (bits and bytes, instructions) into the host application. After you’re finished, you can play back the midi data onto whatever soundfont (or softsynth) you want.

Softsynths are similar, but they use computer cycles to create the sound, instead of playing back a recorded one from a soundfont. Softsynths can be very good as well, giving better creativity, but may not be as realistic as a soundfont.

Both will probably be better than your keyboards built in sounds, but you won’t need the built in sounds for anything other than initial tracking.

Quote (g8torcliff @ Aug. 26 2005,07:18)
if im bothering people in this forum too much, someone say so and i'll lay low for a while.

You're in the kingdom of nerds... We would love nothing more than to pontificate over this stuff. Keep the questions coming.

so…i think on my way home today i will pick up a midi cable, then download SFZ, hunt down some soundfonts and see what forks lie in that road. does that sound right?

mr. soul: if you are still monitoring this thread, i think the best thing to do is hold off on purchasing another keyboard or controller until i delve into all of this a little more.
sounds like i may already have what i am looking for and not even know it…
its funny…ask me how to translate 01000110110 to a real value and i can. ask me to apply midi --you must be kidding ?

i am sure i will come up with some more questions…

thanx for all the help :D

everyone… ok, i boought a midsport usb/midi interface cable and guess what? after reading a few threads about “midi” i have figured it out and now have the first steps down. to the point where i can record a midi track, apply a sound for it and even edit to some extent. so it looks like i’m off and running. now i just need some good sounds and i’ll be having even more fun than i was before. thanx to you all for your help and suggestions. you opened a bunch of new doors… one question though. do you know where i can get more sounds to add to the list that comes with the softsynth? (i think that is where the selection list came from). ha ha what do i know.:smiley: