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Deborah1234
Forum Newbie


Registered: 03/02/08
Posts: 5
Location: , United States
 
Best Synthesizer for a Beginner
Sunday, March 02 2008 @ 11:06 AM CST

I want to buy a 61-key personal synthesizer with full-sized, semi-weighted keys. It needs to be compatible with Leopard (and an intel iMac).

I have read the MacJams article "MIDI Keyboard Buyer's Guide for Mac Users" (dated August 9, 2005). Also, I have researched several brands, but cannot find much on mac-compatibility.

Any information and/or advice would be appreciated.

Deborah

SmokeyVW
Forum Full Member


Registered: 06/13/06
Posts: 6670
Location: N/A
 
Re:Best Synthesizer for a Beginner
Sunday, March 02 2008 @ 11:29 AM CST

some info from a recent similar question here:

http://www.macjams.com/forum/viewtopic.php?forum=3;showtopic=117471

good luck!
Deborah1234
Forum Newbie


Registered: 03/02/08
Posts: 5
Location: , United States
 

Sunday, March 02 2008 @ 11:56 AM CST

Thank you SmokeyVW.


Actually, I had already read that thread, but the recommendations were for more expensive models than I am considering. I am hoping that someone might have some experience with less expensive models and with Leopard specifically.


I looked at M-Audio, but the less expensive models appear to be controllers (cannot be played stand-alone) and perhaps not Leopard-compatible. I looked at Casio, but it did not appear to have a Mac usb driver. I looked at Yamaha, but they appear to be only partially mac-compatible, and I cannot find if they are Leopard-compatible.


Not sure if my conclusions are correct or if there are other brands to consider.


drakonis
Forum Full Member


Registered: 09/24/04
Posts: 3204
Location: San Diego, CA USA
 
Re:Best Synthesizer for a Beginner
Sunday, March 02 2008 @ 01:19 PM CST

A good question for somebody like VicDeisel or Michael2... let me send up the Bat-signal and see if I can get their attention to this thread... BLINK, BLINK!

Hopefully they will chime in soon... good question, and a good place to ask.

ttfn,
Drakonis
VicDiesel
Forum Full Member


Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2802
Location: Austin, TX
 
Re:Best Synthesizer for a Beginner
Sunday, March 02 2008 @ 01:45 PM CST

Deborah,

My Casio Privia works fine with Leopard. It's the cheapest model, which does not have USB, so you need an extra Midi interface. (I have a Midiman 2x2, which you can have for postage.) That same story will hold for anything that has Midi out: pick up a cheap interface that has Leopard compatible drivers, and you're set. You can always ignore the USB port on your keyboard.

The casio is a full 88 keys. Why do you want 61? And do you only need a piano sound, or other synth sounds too? There are more controllers than standalone (affordable) keyboard, and you're really limiting yourself if you want it (semi) weighted.

You can always give a call to my favourite retailer, Sweetwater Sound. They'll be happy to talk you through the possibilities.

Victor.

-- My CD. Use coupon code "macjams" on BandCamp.
Deborah1234
Forum Newbie


Registered: 03/02/08
Posts: 5
Location: , United States
 

Sunday, March 02 2008 @ 02:11 PM CST

Thank you VicDiesel.

Now that I understand the Leopard driver issue, I will do some more research with your other comments in mind. I appreciate your time and advice.

P.S. Thank you Drakonis for sending up the Bat-signal.
Deborah1234
Forum Newbie


Registered: 03/02/08
Posts: 5
Location: , United States
 
Re:Best Synthesizer for a Beginner
Monday, March 03 2008 @ 08:03 AM CST

I checked out the Sweetwater Sound website. They have two buying guides that I found particularly helpful [http://www.sweetwater.com/expert-center/buying-guides/]: Home Keyboard Buying Guide and MIDI Controllers Buying Guide. Thank you for that tip, VicDiesel.

I decided to buy the Yamaha PSR-E403 (aka YPT-400). It is a 61 full-key synthesizer with a USB MIDI interface and an amazingly large number of features. The main thing I wanted was the piano sound, which is one of the selling points for this model, but I think experimenting with the other features will be fun.

I chose a synthesizer rather than a controller because I wanted the stand alone feature. After reading those buying guides and doing some serious navel gazing, the stand alone feature turned out to be more important to me than any other consideration, including interfacing with my computer.

I went for 66 keys because of space and because of the lack of a perceived need for the other two octaves. I took piano lessons for many years as a child, and frankly, at the relatively low level of skill I achieved at that time, I don't remember ever using the outer octaves. If I manage to get to a higher level with this keyboard, then I will consider a larger one.

This keyboard does *not* have semi-weighted (or weighted or hammer-action) keys. I dropped that requirement as being less important to me. I originally thought I would like an action approximating an acoustic piano. I am now unconvinced that semi-weighted would do that, and hammer-action costs more than it is worth to me right now. The keys are "touch sensitive" though, which will be nice.

I don't know which direction I will ultimately go with this (piano only or garage band fun) so I decided on a relatively inexpensive model that offered the possibility to explore both and more.

I have read numerous reviews of this keyboard, the vast number of which were very positive; many were glowing recommendations. The negative reviews were mostly along the lines of "this is not a keyboard for a serious musician; it is a beginner's keyboard." Since I am not a musician, much less a serious one, and not likely to become one, and since I am more or less a beginner (it has been many years since I have played a piano), I thought those negative comments were applicable to me as well.

I don't know for sure whether the USB MIDI interface that comes with the keyboard will work with Leopard, but I did find a yamaha website that has a Universal Binary driver dated Feb 29, 2008 [http://www.yamahasynth.com/download/midi_driver.html]. That is hopeful. If it does work, then I won't need an additional MIDI interface.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I thought others looking for a beginner keyboard might find my research and reasoning helpful. Thank you again for your advice.
Bubowski
Forum Full Member


Registered: 12/10/04
Posts: 1195
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
 
Re:Best Synthesizer for a Beginner
Monday, March 03 2008 @ 12:26 PM CST

Sounds like you did your research and found a nice one. I have an older Yamaha DGX 500 (88 unweighted keys). They make solid products, and the auto accompaniment feature is perversely amusing and cheesy all at once. Enjoy!

Graham Metcalfe - Information Architecture and Art Direction
Please visit my portfolio site at www.ghmetcalfe.com.
 
Deborah1234
Forum Newbie


Registered: 03/02/08
Posts: 5
Location: , United States
 
Re:Best Synthesizer for a Beginner
Thursday, March 13 2008 @ 11:56 AM CDT

Follow-up: The keyboard was delivered last Friday. I am pleased to report that the Mac USB MIDI driver worked as hoped, and my iMac recognizes the keyboard without my needing an external MIDI interface. I did need a USB cable, but we had a few extras laying around.

Most of the software on the disk that came with the keyboard is for a PC. And, the two Mac programs on the disk were for Classic. On a positive note, the iMac can read the songbook (sheet music) included on the disk and play the included MIDI songs.

Also, I find I don't mind the unweighted keys. I guess I don't remember the feel of an acoustic piano all that well.

To Bubowski: Thanks. I have tried the auto accompaniment, and you're right; it is amusing. Frankly though, the sheer number of features on the keyboard is slightly overwhelming. I have been playing the piano mostly, but have started playing finger exercises and scales in different voices and with different styles. That livens things up a bit.

Thanks again for everyone's help.