The Best Keyboard Workstations - Budget & Professional

The Highest Rated Keyboard Workstations

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Keyboard workstations are meant to be your main music production tool, combining piano style keys with versatile sound modules and sequencers. They are equipped with high quality sounds and effects that cover everything from piano to synth, and they come with music production related features, controls and connectivity to help improve your overall productivity.

Here we feature the best keyboard workstations as of May 2021, divided into three price ranges that cover the needs of everyone from immediate level users, to professionals who compose and produce different styles of music.

The Best Keyboard Workstations

The Best Keyboard Workstations Under $1000

Casio Privia PX-360

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 30+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$899
Casio Privia PX-360 Digital Piano and Workstation

The Casio Privia-360 is a digital piano with workstation features.

Aside from its built-in 16 MIDI track recorder, it allows you to record audio directly with the use of its Color Touch Interface.

Its built-in Rhythm Editor is useful for creating 10 customized User Rhythms using various accompaniment parts.

Other useful features include the duet mode, which splits the keyboard into two equal ranges for a teacher and student to play side by side, and classroom mode, which sends each side to an individual audio output.

Specifications:

  • Keys:88 hammer actioned keys
  • Polyphony: 128
  • Sound Engine(s): AiR Sound Source
  • Controllers: Pitchbend
  • Audio Recording: Playback Format: .wav (16bit, 44.1kHz, Stereo)
  • Audio Playback: 100 Playback Format
  • Sequencer: 16 Multi Track + 1 System Track 100 Songs
  • Audio Inputs: 2 x 1/4" Line-in, 1 x 1/8" Stereo Mini
  • Audio Outputs: 2 x 1/4" (L/MONO, R)
  • MIDI: In/Out/Thru/USB
  • Other Connections: 1 x 1/4" Damper Pedal, 1 x 1/4" Assignable Pedal
  • USB: USB connector 1x TYPE B
  • Power Supply: AC Adapter DC 12V
  • Dimensions: 52.0" x 11.5" x 5.5"
  • Weight: 26.2 lbs

Pros

Even with hammer weighted keys, this keyboard workstation is quite portable, thanks to its lightweight plastic construction. And even with the use of plastic material, there are many who are happy with its durability. Several pianists found the keys to be quite responsive with a nice feel. The workstation itself has a sequencer with basic MIDI parameters and an audio recorder that's quite straightforward. In addition, it has good sounding pianos, organs, synth patches and percussion that makes it great for recording and playing live.

Cons

One user mentioned that the jacks can be a bit flimsy, though using velcro or tape as compensation can support the cables from not falling off the output.

Overall

This is a basic unit that's ideal for those who are new to workstation keyboards.

Korg Krome EX 61

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$950
Korg Krome EX 61 Synthesizer Workstation Keyboard 61-Key

The Korg Krome EX 61 is a feature packed 61-key workstation keyboard, with 120 voices, 2,500 drum samples, and a built-in 16-track sequencer.

Among the voices are high-fidelity piano and electric piano sounds, synths and more.

The drum samples are arranged into 48 preloaded kits, with over 600 drum groove presets to play with, or you can use them to craft and save your own beats.

It also features an 800 x 480 pixel touchscreen display, which makes it easy to monitor and make parameter changes.

Other noteworthy features include built-in dual-polyphonic arpeggiators, 16-track sequencer, auto song setup function, built-in effects, amps and cabinet models.

Specifications:

  • Keys: 61 Semi-Weighted keys
  • Polyphony: 120 Voices (Single Mode), 60 Voices (Double Mode)
  • Sound Engine(s): Digital Enhanced Definition Synthesis - eXpanded, Updated Piano Programs
  • Controllers: Assignable Joystick
  • Effects: 193 Effects; 32 Preset per Effect
  • Audio Recording: Yes with RPPR (Realtime Pattern/Play Recording)
  • Audio Playback: Yes with RPPR (Realtime Pattern/Play Recording)
  • Sequencer: 16-track + Master, 128 Songs, Touch-based Piano Roll Editing, Realtime Pattern/Play Recording
  • Audio Inputs: 2 x 1/4"
  • Audio Outputs: 6 x 1/4"
  • MIDI Inputs/Outputs: In/Out/USB
  • Other Connections: 1 x 1/8" Headphones, SD/SDHC card slot (32GB SDHC max)
  • USB: 1 x Type B
  • Dimensions: 3.66” x 40.43” x 12.32”
  • Weight: 15.87 lbs.

Pros

Sound quality is what impresses most users, which many rate as inspiring and ready for stage or recording use. They are impressed with the many voicings, with special commendations pointing to its piano, electric piano, Fender rhodes, and various synth sounds. The ability to use effects are also well received. The feel of the semi-weighted keys get a lot of thumbs up, along with the bright and big touchscreen display.

Cons

There are a few who aren't too happy with the interface, stating that it takes a lot of effort to get into parameters, which in turn delays the user's ability to maximize every feature. Those who prefer physical controls over touchscreen interface will want to look elsewhere.

Overall

Get premium quality Korg sounds in a reasonably priced package. Those who are into touchscreen style controls will find this appealing.

Yamaha MOXF6

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1000
Yamaha MOXF6 61-key Synthesizer Workstation

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Keyboard Workstation Under $1000.

The MOXF6 is a 61-key synthesizer workstation that's also MIDI keyboard controller with extensive DAW and VST control.

It features Yamaha's MOTIF XF sound engine that has a collection instrument voices, and expandable flash memory that allows you to add up 1GB of new samples.

Its built-in sequencer provides real-time recording, where you can record your performance while playing, and step recording, which is great for recording precise phrases or passages.

Note that this model is now superceded by the newer Yamaha MODX6, but since this is still available from retailers, we still included it in this 2021 edition.

Specifications:

  • Keys: 61 semi-weighted keys
  • Polyphony: 128
  • Sound Engine(s): AWM2, with Expanded Articulation
  • Controllers: Pitch Bend wheel, Modulation wheel, 8 x Assignable Knob, 1 x [DATA] dial, 2 x Assignable Function buttons
  • Effects: 9 x Reverb, 22 x Chorus, 54 types x 8 parts x Insertion (A, B), 1 x Vocoder (uses both Insertion Effect A and B blocks), 9 x Master Effect, Master EQ (5 bands), Part EQ (3 bands, stereo)
  • Audio Recording: Yes
  • Audio Playback: Up to 4 tracks
  • Sequencer: 16 sequence Tracks
  • Audio Inputs: 2 x Line-in [(L/R)
  • Audio Outputs: 2 x Line-out [L/mono)/(R]
  • MIDI: In/Out/Thru
  • Other Connections: 1 x 1/8" Standard stereo phone jack, 1 x Controller Pedal, 2 x Switch Pedal (Assignable/Sustain)
  • USB: USB to host/to device
  • Power Supply: AC Adaptor 13W
  • Dimensions: 40.5" x 5" x 14"
  • Weight: 15.6 lbs.

Pros

Sound quality wise, general feedback is quite positive. In his MusicRadar review, Dan Goldman mentioned even if there was no virtual analog engine on board, the synths "have a very analogue feel and presence - putting a sawtooth poly patch up against an analogue Alesis Andromeda, it was surprising just how close you could get to the raw tone. So, if you're after warm pads, juicy and cutting leads, deep basses and funky comping patches, the MOXF is hard to beat.". Aside from its variety of clean and natural sounding presets and built-in effects, many reviewers are more than satisfied with its responsive keyboard, flexible sequencer with multiple functions such as adjusting velocities, and it's expandable memory feature that allows them to customize and add their own sounds.

Cons

The user interface seems to be an issue for some users - they mention that it takes a while to figure out the controls, although editing parameters are easy once they get more familiar with them.

Overall

This is a versatile unit ideal for musicians who plan to use multiple layers of sounds when composing.

The Best Keyboard Workstations Between $1000 and $2000

Yamaha MODX6

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1400
Yamaha MODX6 61-Key Synthesizer Workstation Keyboard

The MODX6 is based on Yamaha's flagship Montage line, utilizing the same sound engine and "motion sequences" technology at a more affordable price point.

Motion control lets you do multiple simultaneous parameter adjustments with just a "Super Knob", which lets you create interesting sound textures and spaces that otherwise would require a lot of real-time tweaking while playing.

It has tons of sounds, effects, rhythms, arpeggiators and more, to let you do everything from basic piano to producing complete tracks. It has even has a cool Rhythm Pattern feature that automatically adds different types of rhythms that dynamically move with the arpeggiator which are great for modern electronic music.

In addition to the 61-key synth keybed, it also features pitchbend, modwheel and a wide array of assignable buttons, knobs and sliders.

Other noteworthy features include having its own FM synthesis, effects and signal processor modeling, seamless sound switching and more.

Specifications:

  • Keys: 61 Synth Keys
  • Polyphony: 192 Total (128 Stereo AWM2 and 64 FM-X)
  • Sound Engine(s): AWM2, FM-X
  • Controllers: Pitchbend, Modwheel, Assignable Super Knob, Assignable Faders, Knobs and Buttons
  • Effects: Up to 27 simultaneous effects
  • Audio Recording: Yes via Built-in Audio Interface
  • Audio Playback: Yes via Built-in Audio Interface
  • Sequencer: Performance Recorder
  • Audio Inputs: 2 x 1/4"
  • Audio Outputs: 2 x 1/4"
  • MIDI Inputs/Outputs: In/Out/USB
  • Other Connections: 1 x 1/4" Headphones, 4 x 1/4" Sustain & Foot Controller
  • USB: 1 x Type B, 1 x Type A
  • Dimensions: 5.27” x 36.88” x 13.03”
  • Weight: 14.9 lbs.

Pros

Sound quality is the biggest factor in reviews, impressing users from different backgrounds, including pianists, synth players, electronic dance musicians, and even guitarists who are looking for a home studio keyboard. Being easy to use is another often commended trait, with users describing it as a good plug-and-play piano instrument, while still having enough depth to appease those who want to experiment with sound synthesis and arpeggios. Build quality gets a lot of thumbs up, along with its relative portability, especially when compared to more premium units like the Montage series.

Cons

Not everyone is impressed with the synth action keys, while others feel that the wheel controllers are not as sturdy as they expected. Some also wish for the price to be a bit lower.

Overall

It's nifty "Super Knob" control and smart rhythm functions, combines with its sound engine make this a very versatile tool for keyboardists of any musical style.

Roland FA-06

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1450

The Roland FA-06 is a portable and streamlined approach to workstation keyboard design, it has a 61-note keybed and a compact profile while still having many of the expected functions of a workstation.

At its core is Roland's flagship tier Integra-7 sound module, along with their SuperNATURAL DSP tech used for the synth patches. This is expanded further via expansion slots or by loading more patches from Roland's Axial sound library.

It also comes with an onboard sampler complete with 16 pads and 4 banks while further sound crafting is provided by its built-in 16 independent effects engine.

For crafting songs, it comes with a built-in 16-track sequencer, rhythm pattern creator and arpeggiator.

As expected, it is compatible with most Digital Audio Workstation software, and lets you control the software right on the instrument. It even has has Guitar/Mic and Line input jacks.

Specifications:

  • Keys: 61 Synth-Action keys
  • Polyphony: 128
  • Sound Engine(s): SuperNATURAL Acoustic, SuperNATURAL Synth, SuperNATURAL Drum Kit, PCM Synth, PCM Drum Kit
  • Controllers: Pitch Bend/Modulation Lever, 2x Assignable Switch (S1/S2), 6 x Control Knob, Sample Pad, Tempo Knob
  • Effects: 16-part Multi-FX, 29 x Roland TFX, 3 x Chorus, 6 x Reverb, 6 x Drum Compression/EQ
  • Audio Recording: Yes
  • Audio Playback: Yes
  • Sequencer: 16 MIDI Tracks
  • Audio Inputs: 1/8" x Aux, 1 x 1/4" (Mic/Guitar)
  • Audio Outputs: 1/4" x Line-out (L/MONO, R), 1 x 1/4" Stereo-out phone type
  • MIDI: In/Out/USB
  • Other Connections: Foot Pedal Jacks: 1 x CTRL 1, 1 x CTRL 2, 1 x HOLD
  • USB: 1 x Type A, 1 x Type B
  • Power Supply: 9V DC Power Supply
  • Dimensions: 36.69"x 11.81" x 12.62"
  • Weight: 12.62 lbs.

Pros

Balancing quality, features, portability, and cost is tough, but Roland seem to have done the impossible with the FA-06. Reviews commend all these four traits, including the sound quality of its presets, the overall versatility of the unit, its compact size and the value that they get for the money. Seamless compatibility with popular DAWs like Reason, Ableton and more also gets a lot of thumbs up. And even with its expansive feature set, most owners find it to be very easy to use. Music Radar had good things to say, and concluded their reviews with this statement: "A ton of power and sonic flexibility packed into an affordable, easy to operate, lightweight instrument."

Cons

Compared to its bigger sibling, the FA-08, this does not come with weighted keys. As expected, some patches are less appreciated.

Overall

With big brand backing, impressive spec sheet and high ratings, the Roland FA-06 is a portable workstation keyboard that will not disappoint.

Yamaha MOXF8

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1500
Yamaha MOXF8 88-key Synthesizer Workstation

The MOXF8 has all the features and specifications similar to the MOXF6 61-key version, such as USB Audio/MIDI interface capabilities, onboard sequencing, and an extensive DAW / VST software bundle.

The only difference is it has 88 hammer-action weighted keys that are ideal for live performances.

Note that the this has been superseded by the newer MODX8, but we still included it in this guide because it is still available from some US based retailers.

Specifications:

  • Keys: 88 graded hammer action keys
  • Polyphony: 128
  • Sound Engine(s): AWM2, with Expanded Articulation
  • Controllers: Pitch Bend wheel, Modulation wheel, 8 x Assignable Knob, 1 x [DATA] dial, 2 x Assignable Function buttons
  • Effects:9 x Reverb, 22 x Chorus, 54 types x 8 parts x Insertion (A, B), 1 x Vocoder (uses both Insertion Effect A and B blocks), 9 x Master Effect, Master EQ (5 bands), Part EQ (3 bands, stereo)
  • Audio Recording: Yes
  • Audio Playback: Up to 4 tracks
  • Sequencer: 16 sequence Tracks
  • Audio Inputs: 2 x Line-in [(L/R)
  • Audio Outputs: 2 x Line-out [L/mono)/(R]
  • MIDI: In/Out/Thru
  • Other Connections: 1 x 1/8" Standard stereo phone jack, 1 x Controller Pedal, 2 x Switch Pedal (Assignable/Sustain)
  • USB: USB to host/to device
  • Power Supply: AC Adaptor 13W
  • Dimensions: 52" x 6.6" x 16"
  • Weight: 32.8 lbs.

Pros

Many professional musicians enjoy using this workstation's wide variety of presets and features. They appreciate that each voice can be customized and describe the step sequencer as well-thought out. Many of them are impressed with Its built in effects, especially its reverb. In hi s Keyboard Magazine review, Eric Lawson found its computer connectivity capabilities very useful: "function as a USB audio interface, routing both its own sounds and audio from its stereo inputs into your computer—and even the Motif XF doesn’t have its dedicated fader and LED level meter for DAW playback." When it comes to its keybed, most users find it to be very responsive and had realistic weighting. Finally, even with its hammered action keys, many consider the MOXF8 as reasonably light, compact and travel friendly.

Cons

Some users who are new to workstations found its interface not as straightforward as they expected. It takes a bit of time for them to learn the controls so they would tend to refer to the manual.

Overall

This is a roadworthy choice for professional players to use for live performances or indoor productions.

Roland FA-08

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1980
Roland FA-08 88-key Keyboard Workstation

The FA-08 from Roland features over 2000 patches taken from its INTEGRA-7 sound module.

Its sequencer lets you export your recordings to a memory card as multi-track audio or MIDI to use with your DAW on your computer.

Additionally, it has a built-in sampler based on SP-404SX with 16 backlit pads for direct recording and playback.

Specifications:

  • Keys: 88 Ivory Feel G keys
  • Polyphony: 128
  • Sound Engine(s): SuperNATURAL Acoustic, SuperNATURAL Synth, SuperNATURAL Drum Kit, PCM Synth, PCM Drum Kit
  • Controllers: D-BEAM Controller, Pitch Bend/Modulation Lever, 2x Assignable Switch (S1/S2), 6 x Control Knob, Sample Pad, Tempo Knob
  • Effects: 16 x Multi-Effects systems with 68 types (Vocoder can be used only on part 1, 16 x Part EQ systems, 6 x Drum Part COMP+EQ systems, 3 x Chorus, 6 x Reverb, 1 x Master Compressor (This can be changed to Insert 78 types of FX), 1 x Master EQ, 29 x Total Effects, 8 x Mic Input Reverb
  • Audio Recording: Yes
  • Audio Playback: Yes
  • Sequencer: 16 MIDI Tracks
  • Audio Inputs: 1/4" x Stereo phone type, 1 x 1/4" Line-in (Guitar)
  • Audio Outputs: 1/4" x Line-out (L/MONO, R), 1 x 1/4" Stereo-out phone type
  • MIDI: In/Out
  • Other Connections: Foot Pedal Jacks: 1 x CTRL 1, 1 x CTRL 2, 1 x HOLD
  • USB: USB 2.0
  • Power Supply: AC Adaptor
  • Dimensions: 55.75" x 5.62" x 14.44"
  • Weight: 36 lbs.

Pros

Many users find this workstation to be very versatile, especially for stage use. The menu system and controls are laid out intuitively enough for many to mention this positively in reviews. In addition to that, its sequencer is very easy to use, especially with the assignable pads. Another common sentiment is that the keys have great response and feel. Regarding sound quality, many love its realistic piano sounds, as well as exceptional organ and synth sounds.

Cons

Some users mention that its pads are not velocity sensitive and eventually compensate by adjusting the velocity levels.

Overall

At a fair price, this workstation is worth the money.

Yamaha MODX8

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$2000
Yamaha MODX8 88-Key Synthesizer Workstation Keyboard

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Keyboard Workstation Between $1000 and $2000.

The MODX8 combines workstation functionality and synthesizer capabilities with Yamaha's 88-note graded hammer action keybed.

This means that you get digital piano like playing feel with all the bells and whistles that help with music production. This includes two sound engines (AWM2 and FM-X) with synthesizer, loads of voicings and presets, high polyphony, built-in VCM (Virtual Circuit Modeling) effects, and extensive connectivity options.

It also features Yamaha's Motion Control that lets you adjust multiple parameters in real time with a single knob.

Finally, it has a pitchbend and modulation wheels, along with assignable faders, knobs and buttons.

Specifications:

  • Keys: 88 Graded Hammer Standard Keys
  • Polyphony: 192 Total (128 Stereo AWM2 and 64 FM-X)
  • Sound Engine(s): AWM2, FM-X
  • Controllers: Pitchbend, Modwheel, Assignable Super Knob, Assignable Faders, Knobs and Buttons
  • Effects: Up to 27 simultaneous effects
  • Audio Recording: Yes via Built-in Audio Interface
  • Audio Playback: Yes via Built-in Audio Interface
  • Sequencer: Via Performance Recorder
  • Audio Inputs: 2 x 1/4"
  • Audio Outputs: 2 x 1/4"
  • MIDI Inputs/Outputs: In/Out/USB
  • Other Connections: 1 x 1/4" Headphones, 4 x 1/4" Sustain & Foot Controller
  • USB: 1 x Type B, 1 x Type A
  • Dimensions: 6.29” x 52.48” x 15.9”
  • Weight: 30.7 lbs.

Pros

The feel of its graded hammer action keys gets a lot of thumbs up, to the point that some consider this as a versatile digital piano. And speaking of piano, the MODX8 carries some great piano sounds which work great with its expressive keybed, and this is reflected in reviews. Users describe it as a high quality performance grade instrument in terms of sound, build and versatility. Dan Goldman of Music Radar agrees with market sentiment stating: "it’s hard not to gas for the MODX, given the price, features and sound."

Cons

You should be warned that this is a massive instrument. There are some who complain about limited sequencer features.

Overall

If you're looking for a synthesizer workstation with 88-key digital piano like playing feel, then definitely check out the Yamaha MODX8.

The Best Keyboard Workstations Between $2000 and $5000

Korg Kronos 61-Key

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$3200
Kronos 61-Key Synthesizer Workstation

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Keyboard Workstation Between $2000 and $5000.

The Korg Kronos 61-Key version showcases its enhanced SGX-2 Grand Piano engine, which offers resonant piano sounds and quality string patches.

It also provides real-time controllers, such as Korg's 4-way Vector joystick, a responsive ribbon controller, and a tap-and-drag color TouchView display for a more intuitive and hands-on control.

Its nine sound engines provide a huge collection of presets for a number of possibilities of combining different sounds.

It also has a sequencer that can record up to 16 MIDI tracks and 16 audio tracks.

Specifications:

  • Keys: 61 Natural Touch Semi Weighted keys
  • Polyphony: Varies Per Engine: SGX-2: 100 voices*3, EP-1: 104 voices, HD-1: 140 voices, AL-1: 80 voices, CX-3: 200 voices, STR-1: 40 voices, MOD-7: 52 voices, MS-20EX: 40 voices, PolysixEX: 180 voices
  • Sound Engine(s): 9 Engines: SGX-2: Premium Piano (Acoustic Piano), EP-1: MDS Electric Piano (Electric Piano), HD-1: High Definition Synthesizer (PCM), AL-1: Analog Synthesizer (Analog Modeling), CX-3: Tonewheel Organ (Tonewheel Organ Modeling), STR-1: Plucked Strings (Physical Modeling), MOD-7: Waveshaping VPM Synthesizer (VPM Synthesis), MS-20EX: Component Modeling Technology (Analog Modeling), PolysixEX: Component Modeling Technology (CMT Analog Modeling)
  • Controllers: Vector joystick, joystick, ribbon controller, switches 1 & 2
  • Effects: Over 197 Effects
  • Audio Recording: 4-track simultaneous recording, WAV file format 16bit/24bit.
  • Audio Playback: 16-Track Playback
  • Sequencer: 16-track MIDI sequencer + 16-track hard disk recorder + 1 master track.
  • Audio Inputs: 2 x 1/4" Line-in
  • Audio Outputs: 6 x 1/4" Line-out, 1 x 1/8" Headphones
  • MIDI Inputs/Outputs: In/Out/Thru
  • Other Connections: 3 x Pedal Input, 1 x S/PDIF Digital Input, 1 x S/PDIF Digital Output
  • USB: 2 x USB A (TYPE A), 1 x USB B (TYPE B)
  • Dimensions: 40.94” x 5.28” x 14.33”
  • Weight: 31.53 lbs.

Pros

Many keyboardists are very pleased with their overall experience using this workstation. The touchscreen is reported to be easy to use, allowing for quick sound selection for each layer. Controls and parameters, such as ones for transposing and effects, are also easily accessible via the touchscreen. In terms of sound quality, many report that its pianos, organ and synth are top notch and have a much richer sound. The pads also get many positive mentions. Several experienced keyboard players enjoy designing their own sounds with the use of its multiple sound engines. Many were also pleased with how it allows the use of third party libraries when they needed to expand their collection.

Cons

There are a few musicians who aren't too pleased with the limitation on creating custom patterns, but this is more of a preference and not really an issue.

Overall

This is a great investment if you are looking for a professional grade workstation.

Yamaha Montage 7 76-key

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$3500
Yamaha Montage 7 76-key Synthesizer Workstation Keyboard

The Montage 7 is a powerful keyboard workstation that incorporates the latest DSP technology that Yamaha has in a reasonably sized unit.

At the forefront is a 76-note keybed that is aftertouch enabled and semi-weighted, while at its core are powerful sound engines that allow for a wide variety of sounds and effects.

Also worth noting is the interface, with a super knob that lets you tweak multiple parameters as you see fit, along with motion control that lets you tempo-synch control sequences to any parameter.

Finally, it has a 16-track sequencer, with 64 songs, which you can utilize either to save new musical ideas, or to improve on existing ones.

Specifications:

  • Keys: 76 Semi-Weighted After Touch
  • Polyphony: 128
  • Sound Engine(s): AWM2, FM-X, Motion Control Synthesis Engine
  • Controllers: Pitchbend, Mod Wheel, Ribbon Controller
  • Effects: 12 x Reverbs, 15 x Master effects, 76 x Variation types, 5-band Master EQ, 1st part 3-band EQ
  • Audio Recording: Real Time
  • Audio Playback: Wav
  • Sequencer: 16-track, 64 songs, Performance Recorder version 2, Motion Sequencer
  • Audio Inputs: 2 x 1/4" (L/Mono, R)
  • Audio Outputs: 2 x 1/4" (L/R), 2 x 1/4" (assignable L/R), 1 x 1/4" (Headphones)
  • Other Connections: 2 x 1/4" (foot controller), 1 x 1/4" (assignable), 1 x 1/4" (sustain)
  • MIDI Inputs/Outputs: In/Out/Thru/USB
  • USB: 1 x USB Type A, 1 x USB Type B (6 x 32)
  • Dimensions:5.18” x 49” x 15.56”
  • Weight: 37.5 lbs.

Pros

Magnificent, great and excellent are just a few of the many positive remarks that users use to describe the Montage 7's sound quality. Even professionals who own other keyboards are impressed with its sound and leave high ratings. Gordon Reid of Sound on Sound concludes his review positively saying: "The Montage is an excellent instrument that will keep sound designers and players interested for a very long time to come". Playability and depth of control also get quite a lot of commendations.

Cons

There are a few who are concerned with the price being a bit on the upside, especially when considering that this is not an 88-key model.

Overall

If you're looking for a power synthesizer workstation keyboard that's still reasonably portable, then this is for you.

Korg Kronos 73-Key

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$3600
Korg Kronos 73-Key Synthesizer Workstation

The Korg Kronos 73-key version has similar specifications and features as the 61-key version only it has weighted hammer action keys. And its 73-key format makes it slightly bigger than its sibling.

In addition to its weighted keys, it comes with Korg's 4-way Vector joystick controller that allows for more realtime control.

These controllers utilize its nine sound engines, which lets you choose from a wide selection of presets, which you can then personalize to taste.

Other noteworthy features include having a TouchView display, and having the ability to record up to 16 MIDI tracks and 16 audio tracks.

Specifications:

  • Keys: 73 Real Weighted Hammer Action 3 keys
  • Polyphony: Varies Per Engine: SGX-2: 100 voices*3, EP-1: 104 voices, HD-1: 140 voices, AL-1: 80 voices, CX-3: 200 voices, STR-1: 40 voices, MOD-7: 52 voices, MS-20EX: 40 voices, PolysixEX: 180 voices
  • Sound Engine(s): 9 Engines: SGX-2: Premium Piano (Acoustic Piano), EP-1: MDS Electric Piano (Electric Piano), HD-1: High Definition Synthesizer (PCM), AL-1: Analog Synthesizer (Analog Modeling), CX-3: Tonewheel Organ (Tonewheel Organ Modeling), STR-1: Plucked Strings (Physical Modeling), MOD-7: Waveshaping VPM Synthesizer (VPM Synthesis), MS-20EX: Component Modeling Technology (Analog Modeling), PolysixEX: Component Modeling Technology (CMT Analog Modeling)
  • Controllers: Vector joystick, joystick, ribbon controller, switches 1 & 2
  • Effects: Over 197 Effects
  • Audio Recording: 4-track simultaneous recording, WAV file format 16bit/24bit.
  • Audio Playback: 16-Track Playback
  • Sequencer: 16-track MIDI sequencer + 16-track hard disk recorder + 1 master track.
  • Audio Inputs: 2 x 1/4" Line-in
  • Audio Outputs: 6 x 1/4" Line-out, 1 x 1/8" Headphones
  • MIDI Inputs/Outputs: In/Out/Thru
  • Other Connections: 3 x Pedal Input, 1 x S/PDIF Digital Input, 1 x S/PDIF Digital Output
  • USB: 2 x USB A (TYPE A), 1 x USB B (TYPE B)
  • Dimensions: 48.07” x 5.83” x 14.61”
  • Weight: 46.52 lbs.

Pros

The keybed makes a great impression on many who describe it as having the same playing feel as an acoustic piano. A lot of professional musicians are amazed with its sound engines showcasing a lot of variation. Each sound engine for pianos, electronic pianos, organs, analog synth and even sample based sound engines reproduce authentic and quality sounding presets. The "Set List" feature is one of the features that stood out since it allows direct access to a combination, program, or song in the sequencer to play next. Many owners also find its split, layering, velocity assignment and connectivity capabilities remarkable. Its manual also provides in depth combinations and access to parameters for more advance features.

Cons

A few users find the joystick controls to be a bit of a hassle to use and prefer a wheel-type controller.

Overall

This is an all-around versatile workstation ideal for any studio and performance setting.

Yamaha Montage 8

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 80+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$4000
Yamaha Montage 8 Synthesizer Workstation Keyboard

The Montage 8 is Yamaha's flagship synthesizer workstation keyboard, which means that it comes with their best technology and quality control.

It features an 88-note keybed with aftertouch and balanced hammer action, along with a number of assignable faders, buttons and knobs that give you control over the instrument and your DAW software.

Speaking of knobs, it has a big Super Knob that lets you adjust multiple parameters in real-time, thanks to the company's Motion Control technology.

It also comes with built-in DSP effects engine that lets you use a wide variety of reverbs, modulation and other effects.

Other features include 16-track sequencer, envelope follower and easy MIDI/USB connectivity.

Specifications:

  • Keys: 81 Balanced Hammer Action Keys with Aftertouch
  • Polyphony: 128 Note Stereo/Mono (AWM2), 128 Note FM-X
  • Sound Engine(s): AWM2, FM-X, Motion Control Synthesis Engine
  • Controllers: Pitchbend, Mod Wheel, Ribbon Controller
  • Effects: DSP effects engine: 12 x Reverbs, 15 x Master effects, 76 x Variation types, 5-band Master EQ, 1st part 3-band EQ
  • Audio Recording: Yes
  • Audio Playback: Yes (Wav)
  • Sequencer: 16-track, 64 songs, Performance Recorder version 2
  • Audio Inputs: 2 x 1/4"
  • Audio Outputs: 2 x 1/4" (L/R), 2 x 1/4" (Assignable L/R), 1 x 1/4"(Headphones)
  • MIDI Inputs/Outputs: In/Out/Thru/USB
  • Other Connections: 2 x 1/4" (Foot controller), 1 x 1/4" (Assignable), 1 x 1/4" (Sustain)
  • USB: 1 x USB Type A, 1 x USB Type B (6 x 32)
  • Dimensions: 6.68” x 57.06” x 18.12”
  • Weight: 63.9375 lbs.

Pros

Magnificent and amazing nicely encapsulates market response towards the Montage 8, impressing users with its sounds and sensitive controls. Even those who rate it lower have nothing but good words for its sound engine and keybed.
Many are happy with how it performs as their main keyboard workstation for their home studio, serving as both their keyboard instrument and MIDI/DAW controller. It also gets a lot of thumbs up from stage performers who appreciate its versatility, Andy Jones of MusicTech agrees with this saying: "You will have to get your head around it to get the best from it, but it can take your efforts into sonic areas that will surprise and delight you, and areas you may not have considered."

Cons

There are a few users who complain about some limitations of its MIDI function. It is also worth noting that this is bulky instrument, and may not be suitable as a portable instrument.

Overall

The Yamaha Montage 8 is highly recommended for those who want a premium stage synthesizer that can double as your main workstation controller.

Things to Consider when Buying a Keyboard Workstation

  • Differences between Workstation Keyboards and other Keyboards

    Workstations are a type of keyboard meant to be an all-in-one instrument for composers, music producers and performers. As such they are generally equipped with almost everything that can accommodate your performance, recording and production needs. There are several functions that set them apart from digital pianos, arrangers and other professional keyboards, including MIDI/USB control and recording, audio recording, editing features and built-in effects that are helpful in creating and finalizing songs. Since they are meant for composing and recording songs, manufacturers tend to include massive sound libraries with a wide array of instruments. In addition to those aspects, most of them have good quality synthesizers that can be used for composing full-length multi-voice tracks.

  • Sound Quality and Quantity

    Sound quality and quantity matters whether you plan to use your workstation to produce music or for general playing purposes. As mentioned above, workstations have a wide array of instrument presets, such as pianos, horns, strings, and percussion that are on par with the quality of what dedicated synthesizers can provide. A simple playback synth, or one with sample libraries, is a reasonable option if you want an authentic reproduction of sounds such as pianos, percussion, string section, and brass section. If you plan to incorporate electronic music, a workstation with an analog modeling synthesis feature also works well. Regarding sound quantity, it's highly recommended to look for a workstation that can handle and provide enough polyphony for playing and recording. The more notes it can handle, the more you can maximize your use of sequencing and recording multiple tracks.

  • Sequencing, Recording and Effects

    Since workstations are designed to address composition and production needs, the main features to keep in mind are their sequencing and recording capabilities. Workstations already have built-in MIDI sequencers for capturing, adding and editing tracks. Some of them also have a microphone or line input that lets you incorporate audio to sequenced tracks. Another feature to consider that would take your recordings to the next level are its onboard effects. Most workstations have the basic built-in effects that can be applied to individual tracks and/or the whole mix. Some of them that have audio recording capabilities have EQ and dynamic related effects. These provide more flexibility when it comes to personalizing your final sound.

  • Memory Capacity

    Memory is a considerable factor, especially when storing and accessing mixes. The types of memory you’ll find in a workstation are ROM and RAM. ROM lets you switch out different sound cards to access variety of sounds, while RAM is the amount of memory that can be recorded or sampled. It’s best to prioritize the amount ROM if you plan to focus on performing and playing the instrument. Otherwise for recording, it’s best to look for a large amount of RAM. Some workstations provide removable and expandable memory slots for memory cards and external hard drives too.

  • Other Features

    Connectivity is also another feature to consider since a lot of them come with USB or 5-pin MIDI connections for connecting and syncing them to your computer. Good workstation keyboards can work well with DAW software, especially those with convenient control mapping features. There are some workstations that include an audio sampler. This enables you to import any audio file to incorporate to your mix as long as they are compatible with your workstation. Having audio inputs for directly recording instruments is another plus. These are some of the useful features that can maximize the use of your workstation.

Best Keyboard Workstation Selection Methodology

This guide was first published in 2018 written by Denise Azucena and the latest edition was published on written by Alexander Briones with contributions from Denise Azucena and Alden Acosta.

We began by looking at all the Workstation Keyboards available from major American online music gear stores and for this 2021 edition, we placed 21 of them on a short-list for further examination - you can see them in our Music Gear Database. We then examined feedback from users and experts in the form of written reviews, ratings and forum discussions, including the most recent feedback up to mid May 2021. All these data were then fed to the Gearank Algorithm to produce the rating scores out of 100 that you see above - there were over 2,100 sources analyzed during this process, which is more than twice of what we processed in the previous edition. Finally, we selected the highest rated options to recommend in each of the price brackets above. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

Comments

Publication of our May 2021

Publication of our May 2021 Edition resulted in the following workstation coming off the recommended list above, but you can still see our analysis of it: Korg Kross 2.

What are your opinions

What are your opinions regarding the Yamaha Genos and the Yamaha PSR-SX900 Workstations?

I understand that the Yamaha

I understand that the Yamaha Montage and MODX recently updated their onboard sequencer/recorder. Is it (the sequencer/recorder) on the same level as the MOXF? This has previously been the only reason for me not pulling the trigger on the newer Yamaha workstations.

Is there an advantage with

Is there an advantage with the newer Yamaha MODX over the MOXF series? Or should I stay with my MOXF8?

sold my roland FA series...it

Sold my roland FA series...it sucked bought an moxf instead, way better sounds...WAY

Very useful information..

Very useful information...well explained, but why Yamaha s970 is not here?

Roland FA series. Should not

Roland FA series. Should not be here at all. they suck. Cheap! Cheap! Every Corner they could cut was done. And then some. The D/A A/D converters are so bad it is unbelievable!

Thanks for sharing your

Thanks for sharing your opinion. When we produced this guide we examined over 800 opinions, over 90 of those were specific to the Roland FA-08, and based on the broad opinion of the market it did deserve to be included in our recommended list.

If you'd like to know more about how we do this analysis, please read How Gearank Works.

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