Welcome to the wonderful world of music production, where Top-40 radio anthems can be produced in the comfort of your own bathroom (Possible? Yes. Recommended? Depends on your daily Chipotle intake)
In all seriousness, we live in a pretty special time as far as music history is concerned. It’s easier now than ever to compose, produce, perform, mix, master and distribute music without a professional studio necessary. With a decent amount of gear, the right set of ears and creative determination, the sky is the limit for what can be done in a do-it-yourself audio production atmosphere. Going off of gear, it’s essential to know not only what you’re working with, but how and when it’s meant to be used. This is chicken soup for the producer’s soul.
For this particular breakdown, we’re going to dive deep into the ocean of arranger keyboards and their purpose under the sonic stratosphere. At surface level, it’s easy to get arranger keyboards confused with workstations or classic synthesizers; they have traditional-looking keys, they can generate sounds of all varieties and they can be incorporated into a studio or performance setting. But, let’s hone in on that last bit for a moment. Performances and live atmospheres are really where arranger keyboards shine in the spotlight. More specifically, solo musicians arguably receive the biggest benefits when using one. Because of their “one-man band” functionality, arranger keyboards are simply awesome for mimicking other instrumentation, recalling rhythms or beats and filling in the space if it’s just you entertaining on-stage without any organic instrumental accompaniment. Need a bossa nova rhythm underneath your vocal performance? Sizzling some shred guitar over a metal song without the full band? Working to harmonize some of those haunting melodies for your grand audience? You have come to the right place.
In addition to these benefits, arranger keyboards are also portable, modestly priced, durable and highly versatile to cater to any genre or style. Looking to see which one best suits your needs as a performer, musician or producer? The team at SamAsh.com knows exactly what you need, as creepy as that may sound…
Why hire a band when you can be your own band? Casio caters to the one-person-show with simplicity and practically in mind with the Casio WK-7600. Recording and mixing your compositions or performances is a breeze, as they can be sent straight to removable SDHC cards for optimal creativity-capturing. On top of this, for all of you file-sharing fiends out there in the digital age, your masterpieces can be saved as audio files for prime sharing and uploading purposes. Send your tracks to SoundCloud, clients, friends, social media outlets and more –without breaking a sweat!
260 present rhythms with full accompaniment come ready to be rocked at your musical discretion. Whether you’re a jazz jabroni, pop proponent, rock ‘n’ roller or country cat, you’ll have the full freedom to transform your live performances into an authentic jam with as little as an accompanying drummer or as much as a full virtual band. With so many genres becoming accessible for composers and performers in any capacity, it’s a relief to know that the Casio WK-7600 has all the tools necessary to elevate your gigs to a professional standard.
Two heads are better than one? Philosophically, yes. Anatomically, yikes. Two functions are better than one for a keyboard? A resounding yes on both counts. The Yamaha PSR-S670 operates with Lebron James-style dominance in the wonderful world of music production. Serving as both an arranger and a workstation, this keyboard is flexible and versatile enough to work in the studio or on stage. Heck, this unit even works as a DJ controller, courtesy of the DJ Styles feature. Programmed chord progressions let you use your hands for melody lines, triggering audio samples, utilize live controllers and more.
These glorious features would be for naught if the PSR-S670 didn’t sound as outstanding as it does. Between 416 instrument voices, 34 Drum/SFX kits, authentic acoustic instrumentation samples and a library of arpeggiated synth phrases & patterns, the sky is the limit with what you can accomplish sonically here. We here at Sam Ash believe this is the perfect option for musicians who are multi-instrumentalists, but don’t have the time/budget/space to record an entire organic array of instruments. Squeezing an original song into your set at the restaurant down the block? Rest assured that everything will sound clear, authentic and explosive with this keyboard.
Some of you younger folk may not remember, but video games used to be played with a joystick. We didn’t all have the luxury of wearing a VR helmet and fighting Darth Vader in a pseudo-realistic lightsaber showdown. For those nostalgic for the joysticks of yesteryear, and to those curious about how it translates to a music production workflow, the Yamaha PSR-A3000 may be exactly what you’re looking for. It may not blow up enemy spacecraft Galaga style, but you can use it to manipulate pitch, modulation, filters, track-muting and much more without a stressful learning curve. Performers favor this setup for its accessibility and simplicity in a live venue setting.
Users of the PSR-A3000 will also have an entire empty canvas of sound possibilities to work with. The 997 preset sounds and 58 Drum/SFX kits kick enough booty to begin with, but don’t stop there. Original voices and drum kits can be created through the Yamaha Expansion Manager, so let your imagination run wild and cook up some tones no one has ever heard before. Get real weird with it, by messing with Time Stretch and Pitch Shift features to completely warp your audio and explore new sonic territory. For those looking for something a little out of left field with their arranger, this juggernaut fits the bill.
Powered by the Enhanced Definition Synthesis (EDS-X, for short) sound engine and Korg’s legendary pedigree, the PA4X packs an extra punch for musicians, entertainers and composers across the board. Users will be blown away by the unprecedented realism demonstrated by the EDS-X, breathing a new sense of human touch into over 1,500 sounds and sets to create masterpieces with. Korg’s exclusive Defined Nuance Control (DNC, for short) is designed to give solo instruments a new degree of articulation and accuracy for all of your performance and recording needs.
Vocalists and singers – lend me your ears. The Korg PA4X partners with Waves Audio and TC Helicon to provide state-of-the-art audio processing and vocal effects, giving your performance rig a professional polish with unlimited options for venues of any kind. For a sound experience with a little extra sizzle and sonic excellence, this may be your option if you’re into performing but desire a sense of genuineness with your electronic-based instruments.
Look, we get it. Hiring a guitarist can be a headache; they show up late, they drink all of your beer, they hit on your significant other, they don’t want to read music, and they solo whenever you’re trying to sing. The Casio MZ-x500 is here to make that headache vanish. Covering a myriad of global instruments and sounds, this arranger specializes particularly in making acoustic guitars and basses sound remarkably authentic. Fret noise, harmonics, string-slides, glissando – it’s all included. Faithful reproductions of vintage tonewheel organs are also included, mimicking the real instrument in great detail and rotary speaker functionality.
What’s great about the MZ-x500, in addition to its instrumental authenticity, is its celebration of styles from ‘round the globe. Latin, Asian, Middle Eastern, European and other regions are proudly represented here, giving users rhythms and patterns from an entire pallet of backgrounds. Musicians looking to hone in on their knowledge of world music may benefit from having this tool, as well as composers or producers looking to expand their rhythmic and melodic taste-buds for their newest track.
Rounding out our list comes an arranger keyboard that’s last, but most certainly not least. Boasting a lightweight design and logical layout, the Roland E-A7 has a larger-than-life polish for samples, playback settings, live accompaniment and more. This arranger maximizes efficiency and control to give users of all genres the confidence they need to perform without the hassle of a complicated keyboard workflow. Flexible user programs are designed to make your “must-have” audio essentials right at your fingertips, but can also be customized to cater to your needs and musical demands as a performer. The E-A7 also comes jam-packed with a delicious menu of instrument sounds, effect and patches.
Your grandparents are adorable when they come and record your performance on their iPhone. While it’s a sweet gesture, you can’t use those videos or audio for social media or promotion purposes – especially when the video has thirty seconds of Grandma Agnus’ face trying to flip the camera around. The E-A7 eliminates the need for outside audio recording and capturing. With a built-in recorder, you can capture your entire performance, save it as a WAV file and export it out via USB.
Arranger keyboards are here to elevate your live sound setups to professional levels. Let us at SamAsh.com get you started.