Workstations are still useful when matched to the proper user who prefers hardware. But this is not the time to buy a Motif or Fantom unless you are getting a good deal on a used one. You mentioned the Motif XS in your post. I am not sure if you know the current model is the XF. The Motif XF and the Fantom G are far into their lifecycle. A replacement could be announced at any time.
A major problem with owning a workstation is the built-in sequencer requires more effort than a DAW, and you do not get the same precision while editing. As a former XF owner, I understand why users prefer sequencing with Cubase or another DAW instead of the XF sequencer. Navigating the menus within the XF takes too much time compared to what one can do with software.
Having owned several workstations, I cannot imagine buying another one due to the power and flexibility offered by small synths and software-based solutions. With the price of workstations approaching $4,000 USD Roland and Yamaha would have to release something really special for me to buy a high-end product.
I have an XS-8. I didn't buy it or would have bought it as a first choice, obtained it through work.
I prefer it to something like Kontakt because of the workflow. I don't really like working with Kontakt or similar, the UI's are a little obtuse for my taste.
Sounds, I dunno, I haven't heard many stock libraries that are that much better, but that doesn't mean the Motif sounds are amazing or anything. I mostly use it for pianos and strings, those are good, and as a master controller because of the semi-weighted keys, also nice.
What I don't like: the master clock is not that solid. I agree with what was said about the sequencer. I sequence it with other hardware. The arpeggiator blows. Effects are better ITB. Aftertouch is not that sensitive.
Even though it is my least favorite board in the studio, people who visit seem to always impressed by it more than the others.
personally, I'm switching beween a workstation type thing (EMU Command station & MPC1000 controlling other synths, samplers) and the DAW which has control over the same synths and samplers.
it's a bit of a double setup. so I'll have to weed out the duality sometime.
the most important difference is the "feel" of it. the DAW offers massive control, oversight. But that may sometimes distract from trying to make simple musical ideas work.
no one ever said a violin is too simple. (well not that I know of) It's a violin. That's how I see hardware workstations. As a standalone music instrument.
One thing I like about working inside the built-in sequencer is because somehow it adds color to the sound, whereas, if I were to record one at a time inside a daw, I lose the color. I don't know why. I'm used to do it all inside the sequencer then resampling it. It sounds good. Don't underestimate the built in effects.
You can use hardware or software synths. Does not matter much. Stargate have been using sounds directly from their Motifs and Fanthoms for their whole career.
It has so much more to do with what you play and what sounds you select. And how you filter them, EQ them and compress them.
Use the patches that you like. Where they come from matters little.
I have an 88 Fanthom X-8.
But I mostly use it as a midi controller
It's amazing to me how many people have know idea how dope the Motif XF really is . The sum of all it's parts will smoke any DAW IMHO and if thats not good enough how about the firewire card that sends 16 channels with no conversion straight to your DAW not to mention the Wifi , Flash , articulations , thousands of arps , flash , wireless ipad editor and recorder and ableton like sequencer in pattern mode !
O did I mention that it sounds warm as hell also !
The key to the Motif is to take the time to learn it and find out what thousands of pro's already know .
The Motif is built with one goal in mind and that's to get you to complete pro quality songs easily .
So please keep playing with your DAWs , my album will be out soon while your doing so .
I think its amazing that you have no idea what better alternatives exist. Lets go throught the feature list you just mentioned:
Flash: Still very small compared to an SSD of the same price. Articulations: Have you played or heard anything from EastWest Quantum Leap?? Arps: Omnisphere has tons of arps that are easier to edit and expand Ableton-like sequencer: There is NOTHING like Ableton's Live sequencer except the upcoming Bitwig, which was created by former Ableton engineers. If you've used Motif sequencer extensively enough, you'll notice it gets laggy when returning to the first count..especially for heavy sequences. Warm: Matter of EQ and dynamics. I like to choose my particular warmth, rather than have the same feel for every track.
What about Omnisphere and Trilian??Have you heard Symphobia, AudioBro Strings, or Damage for Kontakt??. If the answer is no, you haven't done enough homework.
I'd also like to add that I owned every major keyboard/module: Yamaha W7, Motif (ES,XS,XF), Fantom (2080, 5080, FantomX), Korg Triton, Oasys (still have), Kronos (returned that Sh*t).
Not sure why people argue about things like this so much. Motifs and good software synths, sound really good. You cant go wrong either way, and the "audience" "fans", will never hear the difference. It comes down to your workflow, and how you like working. I've always liked the idea of sitting down in front of one keyboard and being able to make full tracks, without ever turning on a computer or my MPC (if I dont feel like it)
And to the OP, of coarse new workstations are still useful, shit even old ones like Korg M1, are still used by ALOT of people. To me, anything that makes sound can be useful, and remember workstations are also synthesizers. You can make your own sounds. Endless possibilities.
and how does them compare to kontakt5 stock sounds... with komplete ultimate, will you outperform motif&fantom?
no they are no longer useful komplete came up with all new proprietary string, piano, guitar sounds that render motifs and fantoms useless......come on...yes they are useful its just all in the hands of the end user who has skill to produce good material on komplete, fantoms, motifs, korgs its all the same just takes production skill to make the production good.
I should clarify that I'm not against hardware. I just promote software because its a better bang for buck. If you have lots of cash, get it all. If you're on a budget, you can buy a decent computer and plugins and still have left over cash to explore other gear and make multiple uses of your computer (video editing, web coding, sound design, etc). Don't spend $2500 on a Keyboard workstation if that is your entire budget...unless thats what you NEED for live shows or a gig that pays.
I enjoy having a Motif and other hardware romplers around because quite often I just want to sit down at my keyboard rig and play. Actually, I play/improvise/compose almost every evening, and it's great to be able to do this, playing around with various sounds, without having to boot up my DAW and do any fiddling around with software instruments and whatnot. And with a hardware instrument I don't have to worry about latency or CPU load.
No doubt this is a bit of a personal preference, and the fact that I grew up playing hardware instruments, and that I am more of a player than a composer.
I am not familiar with the latest and greatest Kontakt instruments, but find that the Motif, Fantom, and Korg rompler sound libraries are very advanced at this point. In particular I have always been taken with the Motifs, finding that its sounds work very well with one another in the mix.