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best keyboard arrangers

Best keyboard arrangers

Keyboard arrangers are a really unique, misunderstood instrument. So what sets them apart from “regular” keyboards and digital pianos? They allow you to play with a virtual backing band. This is accomplished by dialing in presets called “styles”. And they usually have an incredible amount of them to choose from.

Styles are generally arranged according to genre and instrumentation. But you’re not stuck with the factory sounds (usually!). Keyboard arrangers let you create, edit, or save new and existing patches directly to the instrument. Most of them feature ways to integrate into modern technology like computers and mobile devices. Some even connect to WIFI!

To really understand what these unique instruments are capable of…let’s dive into some of our top choices!

Best keyboard arranger overall: Yamaha GENOS 76-key Flagship

Yamaha GENOS 76-key Flagship
best keyboard arranger overall
Yamaha GENOS 76-key Flagship
An insanely next-level keyboard arranger that is packed with features.
Pros
Includes the C7 and CFX grand pianos
Phantom power for using condenser mics
Clear LCD screen
Cons
Very expensive

Yamaha makes some of the best keyboard products on the market. And their arrangers are no different. The GENOS is, simply put, a beast of an aftertouch-enabled keyboard arranger.

Yamaha’s included C7 and CFX grand pianos provide the best concert piano sounds you could want. The onboard instrumentation includes 1,652 total voices and 58 drum and FX kit options. All but the keyboard sounds are powered by Yamaha’s Super Articulation 2 sound engine. Looking to add onboard effects? Powerful DSP gives you a plethora of rack and pedal models to enhance your sounds.

The 16-track sequencer gives you plenty of room to flesh out arrangements. The layout is clean and provides an ergonomic workflow. And with the 9” LCD touch display you’ll have no problems seeing things in dark environments.

As for I/O it has a combination XLR/line jack with onboard phantom power so you can use a condenser microphone for vocals. A USB port lets you connect it to a computer or mobile device. Additional ports let you integrate external drives. Three pedal inputs let you control things in real time. It can even connect WIFI.

The Genos is not cheap. Not even a little bit. But if you are looking to invest some serious budget into one of the best keyboard arrangers that can do anything then look no further.

Best high-end keyboard arranger: Roland E-A7

Roland E-A7
Best high end keyboard arranger
Roland E-A7
A high end instrument that includes hundreds of world sounds and a great control set.
Pros
Large library of world samples
Great control set
A lot of editing options
Cons
Somewhat steep learning curve
Fairly expensive

Looking for a library that features sounds from all over the world? This is it. Roland worked with world music experts to ensure the sounds are as accurate as possible. The 1,500 sounds include multiple types of pianos, strings, brass, drums, and ethnic instruments.

Additional samples can be imported through WAV, or you can create your own through the onboard editor. Effects, in-depth editing, whatever you need to modify the samples to your needs is directly available. All tools are laid out logically, making adjustments on the fly easy. Each side has an LCD screen that shows all the information you need. And the 156 buttons might seem daunting, but they give you fast access to the parameters you need.

Six trigger pads initiate one-shot samples or phrases, and six sliders let you adjust various things across the instrumentation. This means you can mix in real time! You can plug the mic and mix your own vocals or add effects to polish them. The E-A7 is portable, versatile, has a unique sound library, and offers a wealth of editing options.

Roland knocked it out of the park with this one.

Best mid-priced keyboard arranger: Kurzweil Home KP150

Kurzweil Home KP150
best mid-priced keyboard arranger
Kurzweil Home KP150
Synth action with aftertouch keys, great I/O from one of the top keyboard manufacturers.
Pros
Aftertouch keys with velocity sensitivity
Multiple types of I/O
Affordable price point
Cons
Not as many sounds as other options

If you’re looking for a keyboard arranger that’s a little more compact and affordably priced you can’t go wrong with the KP150. Synth action keys feature aftertouch and velocity sensitivity. There is a max polyphony of 128 notes, and it features split and layer features. 200 accompaniment styles means you’ll have no problems finding the perfect styles for your tracks. There are familiar pitch and modulation wheels as well as built-in speakers.

With the I/O features you get line input/output, USB MIDI connection, headphone out, and an expression pedal input. Oddly enough there an auxiliary input though. The multi-function LCD is easy to navigate and provides a good visual. It runs on mains power (included) or AA batteries. It also comes with a bench!

Kurzweil is a top name in the piano and keyboard world. And this 61-key synth action keyboard arranger gives you some unique features that others don’t.

Best budget keyboard arranger: Casio CT-X700

casio ct-x700
best budget keyboard arranger
casio ct-x700
AiX Sound Source technology powers hundreds of sounds. Great for beginners.
Pros
Affordable
AiX Sound Source technology
A good learning tool
Cons
Not as full-featured as more expensive options

For beginners and those on a budget the CT-X700 is a fine choice. Powered by the AiX Sound Source you get 600 sounds that are selectable by category. 195 built-in rhythms let you find the perfect groove and feel. There are drum machines, acoustic kits, and a variety of other types of percussion.

Record directly to the device with the 6-track recorder and get ready for your next session or show. And if you are a beginner, the Step-Up lesson system helps you get up to speed quickly. Plug-and-Play USB MIDI works with Windows, Mac, and mobile systems that are easily accessible with the smartphone shelf. There’s also a 3.5mm input for connecting a different way. Beginners and intermediate players could do much worse than the CT-X700.

Best keyboard arranger under $100: Yamaha PSS-A50

Yamaha PSS-A50
best keyboard arranger under $100
Yamaha PSS-A50
A small profile, portable keyboard arranger that is great as a songwriting tools.
Pros
Small profile
Affordable
USB rechargeable battery
Cons
Only 37 keys
Not many control options
No mains power

If you’re looking for a simple model that’s still useful this unit based Yamaha’s reface series is ideal. The 37 keys are touch sensitive, and you’ll have no issue triggering the 42 voices. An arpeggiator lets you create phrases on a whim, and the phrase recorder lets you set up looping.

There’s no LCD, but you don’t really need one with this model. What buttons it does offer are streamlined. It doesn’t run on mains power, but you have the option of battery or a mobile USB battery. The feature set is far from some of the other options on this list. But it’s reliable, compact, and easily portable.

And at just under $100, what do you have to lose?

FAQ

What’s the difference between a keyboard and an arranger?

The critical difference is the included instrumentation you can play along with. This is known as auto-accompaniment. Higher end keyboard arrangers will even customize to the exact tempo, rhythm, and style that you’re playing.

Are arranger keyboards good?

Of course! They’re great for solo artists and songwriting. They range in price and quality from under $100 to over $5,000.

Which is the best arranger keyboard?

This depends on what your needs are. The level of detail you’ll get is generally based on price point. Yamaha, Korg, Roland, and Kurzweil all make great models. Even Casio has some fantastic options.

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