Easy. Triton, best all around rap sounds.... (I may be partial, because it was my first real keyboard about 7 years ago.) But Motif for more live sounding instruments, those flute and strings are beautiful. Fantom is good if you like roland...but I don't. I sometimes use it for ambient effects. I just have never found sounds in it that I like...except for those cool acoustic guitars that bend. Oh yeah, and the sequencers absolutely suck in each and every one of these keyboards. Commonly, when I am called on to make a record, I actually use all three. And these three get used more than any of the other keyboards or modules.
I've used all 3 (who hasn't these days?) and bought the Motif ES8. Well, technically it's a Motif. Actually I went with the S90ES, which has the exact sound rom as the Motif ES, but with an extra 53mb stereo half-damper piano. It also adds a usb connection but removes all of the sampling and sequencing abilities of the Motif. Considering it's better than the Motif ES for my needs and a lot cheaper at the same time, it was a no-brainer. The only negative for me is that it doesn't have the ribbon controller like the Motif and the Triton do.
The deciding factor for me to go with the Mo was the horns and the key action (all of the "real" instruments were a bit better on the Mo). This board has the best horns of the three by a mile and its key action suited me better. If I was looking for all-around sound, usability, programability and features I would have got the Triton. The Triton Extreme is the most impressive of the three overall, but the only areas it wasn't #1 in were the areas I was most concerned with. The Fantom came in last for me in almost every category. I personally didn't care for it. If I was recommending a board for pretty much anyone else I'd actually recommend the Triton. The Triton has great strings, great synth sounds, a great interface, but most everything about it is just good; not great. Can't really fault it, but I needed great at certain things the Triton wasn't great at and the Motif was.
This just goes to show how important USING the gear you're considering purchasing is. The Motif lost to the Triton in my shootout, yet was still the best fit for me. I spent over 2G's on the second place board. Who does a shootout and doesn't pick the winner? Someone who has used the gear they're considering and actually understands what their needs are.
I DONT KNOW ABOUT THE TRITON BUT I HAVE A FANTOM AND THE MOTIF ES,FOR ME THE FANTOMSOUNDS MORE HIP HOP ANDT HE MOTIF MORE RNB,BUT I USE BOTH WITH MY MPC AS CONTROLER SO I GET THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS. HOPE THAT HELPS
We originally bought the Motif ES8 after many recommendations from friends - coudln't stand it! It does have a great piano sound and many other high-quality sounds as well - but just did not fit in w/the style we were putting out.
Went down to Guitar Center - tried everything out extensively and finally sold the Motif - took the money and bought the Triton Rack plus a bunch of other goodies.
Well worth it! I'm sure the Motif will work out great for some - Fantom as well - but for our style, it was definitely the Triton between those 3. Also got the orchestral expansion pack - it's been a couple years - but still lovin' it!
I used a triton for years as a main part of my production and I honestly always thought it sounded "unprofessional." It could have something to do with my lack of talent, but I know own a X8 and I couldn't be happier. I love the action, pitch bend, and overall function. I would still love to pick up a Motif just for the piano patches. But for me I say go with a Fantom.
I think the Triton has the most recognizable sound out of all three....
Which is good because your sound will be very close to everything else which you hear on the radio....
But which can be bad because.....well, your sound sounds like everything else on the radio.................................
The Triton may be the least "impressive" sounding out of the box (like when you audition the sounds/songs in the music store), but when layering tracks I find that the sounds just "sit" well together.
If you could only get ONE....I would say the Triton because of it's "swiss army knife" capability...Good Drum sounds and kits, really solid bass patches, and basic but useful strings and lead sounds.
As you can afford it, then you can get a few more pieces to add additional flavor like the Alesis Ion (Lil John uses it a lot....) or the Nord/Novation modules, but the Triton is a great meat and potatoes synth, no doubt.
I usually start songs by trying to use everything else BUT the Triton...cause I'm trying to run away from the "commonness" of the sound I hear on the radio....But more often than not, I end up coming back to it for a final few sounds to glue together the track..
And I agree with the Roland sentiment....either you love it or you hate Roland sounds...I have a Fantom S which went back into the road case to make room for an MPC3000 on my desk...And now I have a Fantom Xa, which really means that I'm giving the series another chance, but not trying to invest too heavily in it...
I was just reading about the Triton rack - is it an up-to-date Triton Extreme? Or are the rackmounted versions the Studios or LEs?
Unless Korg has release a new module that I don't know about, the Korg Triton Rack is "the original korg triton" also known as the triton classic. The keyboard that came before the Studio, LE, and extremes. The great thing about the triton series though, is you never have to use the same sounds. You can always doenload new PCG's (program files) and have a new bank bank E....there are also PCG's out there that emulate the Triton Studio and Triton LE, Put the PCG on a floppy, load in the disk utility...they wipe all the sounds and put the triton studio or LE sounds in your classic triton. Pretty cool. Here's one link http://www.tritonhaven.com/downloads/pcgs.html
I own a Motif 6, and I like it for sure, but I think I'd probably pick a Triton Extreme or Classic if I were buying one now. The Motif excels in realistic sounds, the Triton excels in pads and synth sounds, which I have more use for personally. Not that I'm complaining, but, yea, it helps to have a good solid sense of what you're looking for when choosing. The Fantom would also be a solid workstation as well, I rate it as being just under the Motif and Triton, mainly because of the sounds, but that's a matter of personal opinion for the most part.
To me the argument that the Triton sounds are have been overused does not really stand, it's not like you hear classical composers saying that the violin is played out, or that the cello is severely overused. As long as the sounds inspire you personally to write great music then chances are that people listening to your music will be inspired as well, even the board has already been widely used.
Any of the 3 wouls easily be good enough as a basic hip-hop workstation, except don't expect too much from the Motif sampler, have something else for that, just my personal opinion again.
I use triton mainly, but I also use the motif for certain sounds such as guitars, FX, percussion, etc. In my opinion, the motif guitars are much better than those on the triton. If possible, I would reccommend having them both, because you're going to find certain sounds on the Motif that you just can't make on the Triton. But if I had to choose one, I would take a fully loaded triton. I've never owned a Fantom, but I'm sure I would find lots of useful sounds on that as well.
I've owned all 3 and actually took that triton back after a few weeks. I think that the fantom is the best all around. Every triton that someone has brought in to the studio has been noisy to me, but that could be someone abusing the board, still I've never liked the triton sounds.
Rolands sounds work together really well, the motif sound is more authentic and warmer to me, but I would take a fantom (not original...S and above) over all of them. Just the ability to add all of the cards from Roland seal the deal!