For those most serious about music production, 88 key synthesizers are probably your best bet. Obviously, there are many other options like 61-key synths and many coming even smaller like the Teenage Engineering OP-1, but these products (typically) don’t give you the amount of control and power of your sounds like you would get on most high end 88 key keyboards (like a Yamaha Montage 8). That is not to take anything away from smaller keyboards because as we’ve learned, sometimes they can really pack a punch. Generally speaking, most pro’s go with the bigger keyboards, so here are the best 88 key synthesizers.
1. Yamaha Montage 8
Yes, it’s the Monage 8 that tops this list. You may have noticed that even though I list it as the best 88-key synth, it’s not quite at the top on my list of best synthesizers. This is due to that list being created with value in mind (i.e. best synths in correlation to their price), and not the actual best overall synthesizers. The Montage 8 is a monster of a synthesizer and it can do more than just about any synthesizer keyboard available, apart from really only the Korg Kronos. It absolutely dominates. The features, sound capabilities, sound quality, build quality and durability are all outstanding on this instrument, and in my mind it is easily the best 88-key synth.
As most people already know, the Kronos is one of the most special synthesizers in the world today, so it should come as no surprise that It’s listed as one of the best 88-key synths. The sounds are some of the best sounding in the world, and the capabilities are unmatched by any other instrument, apart from the Montage 8. It’s a workstation that is clearly quite more expensive than many other synthesizers out there, but that is the price you have to pay to get what is considered by some to be the greatest synthesizer keyboard in the world, of all time.
I’ve talked about the Roland DS88 synthesizer quite a bit in the past, and you’ll know that from reading my reviews. I certainly think that in the price range, the DS88 is maybe the best keyboard to buy this year. I still have yet to find a synth that is similar in price to the DS88 come close to the sound quality produced by the instrument and I have had a hard time finding such an instrument. Obviously it’s not as capable as the other two synthesizers listed above it but for the vast majority of synthesizer players, this is going to be one of the best 88-key synths to look out for.
4. Korg KROME 88
Korg’s little brother to the Kronos is the Korg KROME 88 keyboard. It doesn’t match the quality and divine power of its bigger brother, yet it remains to be one of the greatest 88-key synths of 2018. While it has many strengths, the biggest plus of the KROME is the same as that of the JUNO DS88 – the sound quality is impeccable. It is also feature-heavy and very easy to use, but those are things we have grown accustomed to with expensive synths. This Korg synthesizer is really impressive and one of the best 88 key synthesizers you can get.
Being totally honest, this synthesizer doesn’t fit in with the others mentioned on this list. The other products noted here are very high performance instruments and not very beginner friendly, though it can still work. This P71 is an Amazon exclusive, and it is better suited for those who are either at a beginner stage in their musical career, or those who aren’t enticed by features and the best sound quality. It’s just a good, minimal synthesizer that can do a few neat things, and the quality of the sound is decent when comparing it to its competitors (like the Korg MS20). It clearly doesn’t compare to those products which are nearly twice as expensive or more, but for a lot of people (especially first timers) it can be a great tool.
Choosing an 88-key synthesizer
Actually sitting down and choosing just one product might be the most difficult step in deciding which synthesizer you should buy. As always, it totally comes down to your personal preference along with other factors such as what you’ll be using your synth for, how much performance you need, and how the instrument will be used. Thankfully, most 88 key synthesizers are pretty similar in a lot of ways and you won’t be missing out on other functions if you choose one keyboard over another. Basically, one can’t really go wrong in picking the best synthesizer as they’re all good, given they have mostly positive reviews and the price range is decent. Something like the Kawai MP11SE can be recommended for those who are in search of a product that is close to resembling a true instrument.
When you need more than just a regular 61-key synth or a plain mini synthesizer, you can be sure to count on an 88 key board to take care of you. The most fine-tuning, features, and usually the best sound quality comes on these larger keyboards and few disappoint.