Buying a Synthesizer or Workstation?
Is it really worth it?
Do you plan on buying a synthesizer / keyboard workstation? Take a minute to read through this article before you make a purchase, and you might end up saving yourself a lot of money and dissapointment. This is not so much about buying a workstation as it is why you should take the money you were going to use to buy a synthesizer or workstation, and use it more efficiently. Let me give you a quick comparison:
Here’s a popular workstation and the price tag attached to it at the time of this guide:
Korg Kronos X 88 Keyboard Workstation (88 Key) – Approximately $4,000 depending on where you buy it. (at the time of writing this article)
Here’s a more complete setup that costs half the price:
Keep in mind that the specific equipment and software in this comparison is not the important part of the argument The main concept is that there are so many options for a versatile recording setup when you have the kind of budget to work with that can consider a high end workstation.
- Korg Legacy Plugins – A huge selection of sounds that come straight from the Korg workstations. – $200 for the complete set, or $50 a piece for individual plugins right now. These aren’t the best synth plugins in the world but they’re a good starting point.
- Presonus AudioBox 1818VSL Audio Interface – An excellent audio interface with a huge range of I/O. – Around $500 currently.
- M-Audio Axiom Pro 61 Midi Keyboard – One of the most inclusive midi controller / keyboards out there – About $500 currently.
- Avid Pro Tools 10 – One of the most popular DAW programs on the market, I’m sure you’re familiar with the name – Currently $700 new.
- Rode NT1 Condensor Microphone – One of the most popular condenser microphones for budget studios (It is often found in professional studios as well, but it’s a favorite among the home recording scene) – ~$200 each.
- Izotope Ozone Mastering Plugin – Mastering plugin made by Izotope. One of the best ways I can think of to spend $200.
Now consider the comparison I’ve just laid out. $4,000 to buy a synthesizer or keyboard workstation compared to about $2,500 for a midi keyboard with a similiar amount of controls, a bigger sound library, an audio interface with decent preamps, audio editing software with numerous stock plugins, a condensor microphone, and mastering software. You could accomplish significantly more tasks in your home studio with the 2nd setup and still have $1,500 left over, which could go to some nice studio monitors or anything else to complement your project studio setup. I’m not trying to say Workstations are a waste of money if you have that type of bread to just throw out, but you can build a complete setup for less money and be able to do just as much, and more, as you could have with the workstation. I also want to point out that the actual gear in my comparison is irrelevant and could be replaced with whatever you like, but the principle is what I was trying to get at. If you disagree with this suggestion, or would recommend buying a synthesized workstation, please leave a valid argument in a post on this page.
Note: A synthesizer or workstation can essentially be replaced with a cheap Midi Keyboard, a computer, and a collection of instrument plugins/vsts. All the sequencing can be done just as easily on DAW software, if not easier. Even the cheap synthesizers aren’t as cost effective and typically have a very minimal soundbank / library. If you do decide to buy a synthesizer or buy a workstation, don’t buy a brand new one. There are plenty of used synthesizers for sale that are significantly cheaper than buying a brand new workstation or digital synthesizer.