Okay in the hope that someone out there can shed some light & experience...
Somewhere back in September last year I bought an M-Audio Oxygen-61 keyboard for about £90. At the time I was just getting into music and considering my faddism thought it wise not to invest too much into it.
In January I started learning Piano with a local teacher and I've found it very much to my taste. But I can keenly feel the difference between playing on my teachers keyboard (a Yamaha stage piano) and my Oxygen.
At first I thought about upgrading to something like an M-Audio Axiom but it seems like buying another synth weighted (even though semi-weighted) keyboard is the wrong approach. I'll still have the Oxygen if I want "keyboard" feel. I want something nice to practice & play piano.
So I've done some research and come up with some options.
If money were no object I'd probably buy the delicious looking Kurzweil PC3X but at >£1,500 it's definitely out of my league price-wise and, as @gilesgoatboy points out, I probably wouldn't know what to do with it anyway.
So what I've come up with are the following:
- Fatar VMK-188 - £294
- Studiologic SL-990XP - £322
- Yamaha KX8 - £440
- Korg SP250 - £559
- Yamaha P-85 - £630
- Kurzweil SP2X - £750
Although I've read enough about peoples complaints about Fatar/Studiologic customer service and quality assurance to make me concerned about either of those choices. But they are certainly affordable and there are alternative voices praising the Fatar keybeds.
My criteria: I want an 88-key, fully weighted piano action. I'm mostly interested in a keyboard that is going to feel great to play and will work superbly as a MIDI controller (i.e. no problems with configuration, stuck notes, useless velocity curves) and less bothered about onboard sounds although they'd be a bonus.
My ideal budget is about £500 but I'd stretch to something like the P-85 or SP2X if I thought that, over 4-5 years, I'd really get the extra value since I want to buy a keyboard that I'd like to think I'd use at least that long.
Right now the Yamaha KX8 looks a solid choice. Mid-range price, made by a company that also make pianos with a reputation for good keyboards, and a solid build & features.
Of course I am going to play any keyboard before I buy it (although that turns out not necessarily to be easy, and certainly not to be able to play all the choices in the same place & at the same time) but even playing in a store is likely to be little indicator of long-term suitability, quality, potential pitfalls, and so forth. Especially when the player is a relatively unsophisticated soul like me.
So I'm hoping there are a few folks out there that can shed some light on my choices (or alternatives). Also I'd really love to find some store that would have all those keyboards available to play. My local Dawsons doesn't stock Fatar or Kurzweil. Digital Village has some but not in stock. Surely there must be some keyboard superstore somewhere..?
My fallback plan is buy something cheap & semi-weighted like the Axiom (even though it's only 61 key) and wait a year.