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Keyboard: workstation/synth vs arranger Keyboard Workstations
Old 19th June 2017
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Thread Starter
Keyboard: workstation/synth vs arranger

Those familiar with/having used both, info and opinions on the diffs? It would seem the big plus to an arranger is having numerous canned beats, backing rhythm tracks/etc built in so you don't have to create from scratch note by note-? Also tends to have easier to find and use functions (dedicated knobs vs "menu diving" etc). Synths on the other hand tend to have much more power in terms of creating your own sounds with variable effects and all.

Beyond that I'm not sure what the diffs usually are. Are the sounds (for keyboards in a comparable range) the same within brands, or is one usually better than the other? Other common diffs or pros/cons for either one?
Old 19th June 2017
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Arranger keyboards are a tool that exists to do a specific job. They're aimed at a keyboardist who needs to do live gigs that normally require a band -- without a band (but possibly with a vocalist).

The arranger keyboard lets you choose drum grooves, like a drum machine, but it also offers you *pitched* accompaniment patterns, like bass lines, that change notes each time the keyboardist plays a different chord -- play a new chord in your left hand, and your "robot band" transpose their parts to match the new chord.

These days, there are arrangers that let you create your own accompaniments, as well as provide you with a bunch of "pre-cooked" styles to fit different musical genres. Take a look at Youtube and you can get a sense of what's possible.

Soundwise, arranger keyboards need to cover a lot of different kinds of "real" instrument sounds reasonably well, in a sturdy, portable package... so you naturally end up with digital/sample-based synthesis in arrangers. This is a tradeoff vs. the typical synth-based production studio, where the musician might choose different instruments and different kinds of synthesis for different roles in the music -- e.g., an analog synth for bass.

Of course, if you liked the sounds in a particular arranger keyboard -- Korg, Yamaha, Casio, whatever -- and wanted to experiment with the auto-arrangement stuff, you could *also* get individual synths, drum machines, or effects to get other sound "flavors" in your music.

"Workstation/synth" in the original post could mean a million different things, so I'll leave that topic to someone else. People usually talk about analog vs. digital vs. sample-based digital ("rompler"), and about how easy it is to make your own sounds (knobs and sliders vs. "menu-diving" with a screen and buttons).

Last edited by percussion boy; 19th June 2017 at 11:27 PM..
Old 19th June 2017
A workstation synth may have several synth englines, sampler, rompler...with an attached sequencer. Budget end the sequencers more fir making phrases, top end will take audio tracks as well as midi. It can have chords, ruthm sets, an arp, but generally its your input to make the song. Though these can be performanced based as well they are more of an alternative to a DAW, or a stepping stone to a DAW.

Never tried an a non live musician Im not sure Id get much out of it

Ive tried very budget, Korg Kross, whike it sounded OK the screens feedback let me down when using the sequencer. im currently using an FA-06, better sounds, better screen, better sequencer, but limited as this is purposely designed for you to finish tracks in your DAW. But a Kronos or the like appeals to me...not having to switch everything on to work on tunes is appealing, having a sketchpad where instruments arent just placeholders is great too....
Old 19th June 2017
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choond's Avatar
Yes, lots of variables there! I have an older 76 key Korg arranger workstation . The only features I found missing compared to the equivalent Korg workstation was the arp and 4 part combis. But it included a lot of things the workstation lacked such as inbuilt TC Helicon Vocal processor, SSD drive for sampling and making recordings, XLR mic input, DVD burner for recording, dual sequencers, and Colour touchscreen.

So you would need to compare specific arrangers and workstations side by side I think.
Old 20th June 2017
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grasspike's Avatar
An arranger is simply a synth/rompler/keyboard that has looping multitrack polyphonic sequencing, that also has the advantage of on the fly transposing
Old 20th June 2017
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choond's Avatar
Originally Posted by grasspike View Post
An arranger is simply a synth/rompler/keyboard that has looping multitrack polyphonic sequencing, that also has the advantage of on the fly transposing
Mine also does things like predictive fills , Variations and accompaniment based on user-defined styles and scales. I don't use it but its pretty good!
Old 7th July 2017
Let me explain. I've had tons of keyboards, with 2 of my current ones being arrangers. I have the WK-7600 Casio and Yamaha PSR-e443. An arranger as someone said above, is usually meant for someone who usually is a one man band, or just a keyboard player who accompanies a vocalist. They are really popular outside of the US, especially in Asia, where I've seen videos of a keyboardist and singer where the keyboardist has an arranger. The sounds have to be on par with the "pro" workstations, meaning they usually are ROMplers. Workstations are similar, but without the auto accompaniment. The auto accompaniment is a drum machine. But also has bass lines and chordal/lead parts, and intro/ending/fill-ins/different variations. They are really under appreciated by musicians, who see them as more of a tool for "one man bands in a hotel who play covers of jazz and pop standards songs". I see them as a good tool for all music.
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