7 Best 88-Key Synthesizers (All Budgets)

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  • Discover the best 88-key synths
  • Find out which is best for your needs
  • Learn which are best for beginners
  • Also, check out our post on the best 61 key MIDI keyboards 

If you’re a hardware synth user looking to add advanced music production features, you’re in the right place.

This article will cover the 7 best 88-key synthesizers on the market so you can choose the right model to take your synth experience to the next level.

Today, there are so many amazing 88-key synthesizer workstations available that it can be hard to pick the best for your needs.

We’ve broken down the pros, cons, and real-world experience for the 7 best models available.

Our top 7 include:

  1. Roland Juno-DS88 (Our Pick)
  2. Yamaha Montage 8 (Best Premium)
  3. Korg Kronos X88
  4. Roland FA-0
  5. Yamaha P71 (Best Beginners)
  6. Korg Krome 8
  7. Yamaha MODX8 

What Are The Best 88-Key Synthesizers? 

If you’re a beginner, I’d recommend the Yamaha P71; if you’re a more experienced user with a tighter budget, I’d recommend the Roland Juno-DS88; and if you’re looking for the best 88-key synthesizer workstation on the market, I’d have to choose the Yamaha Montage 8, with the Korg Kronos X88 coming in a close second.

1. Roland Juno-DS88 (Our Pick)

Our Pick
Roland JUNO-DS88 Synthesizer

The Roland JUNO-DS88 88-key synthesizer delivers all of the benefits of its predecessor, along with realistic hammer-action keys, improved pianos, additional organs, waveform expansion capability, Phrase Pads, new vocal effects, and more.

Why We Love It:
  • Massive sound bank
  • Affordable price for the quality
  • Parametric EQ Capabilities
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The Roland JUNO-DS88 synthesizer keyboard is one of the best all-around 88-key synthesizers when it comes to value for money.

You can build custom patches and download over 1,000 free high-quality sounds, including world instruments, percussion, and loops which you can load onto the JUNO-DS88 via USB.

This keyboard is great for any use case but excels for street performers and stage musicians.

Pros

  • Massive sound bank
  • Affordable price for the quality 
  • Parametric EQ Capabilities
  • Great for playing live 

Cons

  • No aftertouch 

2. Yamaha Montage 8 (Best Premium)

Best Premium
Yamaha Montage 8 Synthesizer

Built on the legacy of Yamaha's groundbreaking DX and Motif series keyboards, the Yamaha Montage 8 is driven by its programmable Motion Control matrix, which gives you fluid, interactive command over two powerful synthesis engines. 

Why We Love It:
  • Easy connection to your computer via MIDI
  • Great FM synthesis
  • Clean and precise sound
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The Yamaha Montage 8 is a fantastic synthesizer workstation capable of producing just about any sound you can imagine.

Many users are blown away by this synth’s clean, precise, and ‘big’ sound quality, although the learning curve is steeper than your typical 88-key MIDI keyboard

This unit has the same pristine quality and feels of a baby grand piano in a MIDI keyboard package. It’s no surprise that this is Yamaha’s flagship hardware synth,<span style=”font-weight: 400;”> and at just under $4,000, it offers an all-in-one package that most users would crave.

Pros

  • Easy connection to your computer via MIDI
  • Great FM synthesis
  • Clean and precise sound
  • Quick start-up time 
  • Able to modulate multiple parameters in real-time

Cons

  • Not very portable
  • Able to stack up to 8 layers, but layers may ‘cut out’
  • No XLR outputs 

3. Korg Kronos X88

KORG Kronos X88 Keyboard Workstation

From acoustic instruments to gritty analog synths, the nine synthesis engines onboard Korg's Kronos X88 can provide every sound you need. The SGX-1 acoustic piano engine captures every nuance of authentic German and Japanese grand pianos, from damper resonance to mechanical noise.

Why We Love It:
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Effortless and smooth sound transitions
  • Ability to save, copy, and paste presets
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The Kronos X has nine different independent synth engines, which give you a massive variety of sounds. Because of its solid-state memory, the Kronos X can record 16 tracks at 24-bit/ 48 kHz quality alongside lightning-fast streaming.

The sound output is fantastic with the enhanced modeled sympathetic resonance, bridging the gap between MIDI and ‘real’ piano sound quality.

The only problem with this hardware synth is that it was discontinued by Korg, which means you will have to buy it for resale.  

New or used, this keyboard is one-of-a-kind, offering SST (smooth sound transitions), eight velocity samples, polyphonic abilities, and a massive soundbank with tons of options to tweak and experiment with your sounds. 

Pros

  • Help section available on the onboard user interface
  • Simple and high-quality graphical interface 
  • Excellent sound quality with sympathetic resonance
  • Effortless and smooth sound transitions
  • Ability to save, copy, and paste presets 

Cons

  • Discontinued from retail sale / can only buy used 
  • Not very portable

4. Roland FA-08

Roland FA-08 Music Workstation

The Roland FA-08 comes loaded with over 2,000 sounds taken straight from Roland's flagship INTEGRA-7 sound module. This includes the complete SuperNATURAL synth engine (giving the FA-08 the capacity to download entirely new synth sounds), plus a killer set of acoustic tones, drums, and much more.


Why We Love It:
  • Precise MIDI control
  • Doesn't require a DAW
  • Great for making your own sounds
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The Roland FA-08 has a weighted 88-key bed, a simple and elegant user interface, and a 128-note polyphonic synth engine. Each oscillator can be set as a regular synth waveform or a PCM, which means you can create VA or hybrid patches.

This keyboard may be more of a rompler than a synth, but it offers lots of versatility to create unique sounds.

The sampler may not compete with higher-priced alternatives, and the provided sequencer won’t replace a real sequencer. Still, it provides a really good feel when playing the keys and excellent overall sound quality.

If you’re looking for comprehensive DAW integration, this unit is limited to a handful of DAW functions, but for just under $2,000, this is a solid hardware synthesizer. 

Pros

  • The MIDI control is precise 
  • Doesn’t require a DAW 
  • Great for making your own sounds 

Cons

  • Playing samples isn’t velocity-sensitive
  • Sampling is very limited 
  • Limited functionality with your DAW
  • Lesser sound design

5. Yamaha P71 (Best Beginners)

Best Beginners
YAMAHA P71

The Yamaha P71 provides a quality playing experience with 88 fully weighted piano keys that simulate the feel of an acoustic piano. Great for beginners, this keyboard contains 10 different voices, including digitally sampled tones from real Yamaha acoustic grand pianos.

Why We Love It:
  • Portable and easy to transport
  • Good bang for your buck
  • Great for beginners
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This piano is excellent for beginners with a reasonable sound quality, given the budget price.

If you’re a seasoned veteran, this may not be the model for you, but the graded hammer standard key action allows beginners to learn proper technique while building finger strength and stamina.

Professional musicians would probably require greater polyphony and complexity in their analog synthesizer. With a price tag around the $600 mark, this hardware synth offers tremendous value for someone just starting.

Pros 

  • Portable and easy to transport
  • Good bang for your buck
  • Great for beginners 

Cons

  • Lacks refinement for professional musicians
  • Less capable of layering complex sounds 
  • Lower sound quality reflected by the price 

6. Korg Krome 88

KORG KROME 88-Key Music Workstation

One of KORG's best-selling synths has received a major refresh. Updated to meet the needs of current music creators, KROME has a special emphasis on sounds that can immediately fit into any production. In addition to standard sounds that will never grow old, KROME provides numerous new programs and PCM data, including piano programs explicitly prepared for this model.

Why We Love It:
  • Impressive sound with acoustic resonance
  • Very durable
  • 32-track workstation
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With this hardware syn, Korg offers 185 effect types, including compressors, envelopes, choruses, panners, reverbs, phasers, cabinet models, decimators, and a vocoder.

It has nine different sound engines allowing users to sculpt their particular sound. The main attraction here is the sound quality which integrates acoustic resonance and filter warmth.

Many users rave about the sound of this unit compared to other analog synthesizers, which is what you would expect for a unit with a price tag close to $3,500.

Pros

  • Impressive sound with acoustic resonance
  • Very durable 
  • 32-track workstation 
  • 24-bit/48kHz recording system

Cons 

  • Big, heavy, and not portable
  • Fairly expensive 

7. Yamaha MODX8 

Yamaha MODX8

The biggest of the Yamaha MODX+ series with its 88 keys, the MODX8+ synthesizer struts a staggering amount of power and sonic versatility. Ideal for music production and sound design alike, its 8-operator, fully programmable FM-X engine delivers an array of sounds as vast as your imagination.

Why We Love It:
  • Great preset sounds
  • Clean and simple graphical user interface
  • Great MIDI control
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The MODX8 might be seen as the little brother to the Montage, but it offers awesome sound with just a little less polyphony than its bigger sibling. It also has fantastic presets for the price.

It may not sound as “analog” as the rest of the synths in this article, but that’s not a big issue considering how many added features it offers, including smart morph, motion control, and envelope following.

Pros

  • Great preset sounds
  • Clean and simple graphical user interface 
  • Great MIDI control

Cons 

  • Steep learning curve
  • Lacks a dedicated VA engine
  • Does not have aftertouch

FAQs

Is An 88-Key Keyboard The Same As A Piano? 

No, a standard piano will have 88 keys, but many digital keyboards also have 88 keys.

Some keyboards will only have 12 keys or 72 keys, but if you want to play the majority of popular piano compositions, you will want at least 72 keys on your keyboard.

Should I Get A Keyboard With 88 Keys? 

It depends on what you are doing. Most popular compositions can be played with a 72-key keyboard or piano, but for beginners, 66 keys are typically sufficient for learning to play.

A full 88 keys are recommended for more advanced users and anybody interested in playing classical piano. All traditional pianos are 88 keys, though. 

Do I Need A Full-Size Keyboard To Learn Piano?

No, you do not need a full-size keyboard to learn piano. A 66-key keyboard will suffice, and a 72-key keyboard works for most popular piano compositions. 

How Do Weighted Keys Work? 

Weighted keys are used with digital keyboards to mimic the weight of an actual piano. Piano keys are attached to a hammer that strikes two or three strings when you press the key.

This causes the strings to vibrate and produce the sound you want to play, so a regular piano is naturally fully weighted.

Weighted keys in a digital MIDI keyboard mimic a piano to ensure that the transition between the two doesn’t throw off your performance because of how different it feels and plays. If a keyboard is “fully weighted,” then it mimics a regular piano’s weighted keys entirely. 

What Is A Sound Engine In A Keyboard? 

A keyboard’s sound engine, or sound module, is the keyboard’s element that creates the sound. A keyboard will have two main parts, the sound engine or module (there can be multiple), and the external MIDI keys.

The sound engine is responsible for creating the sound you want, while the midi keys respond to which notes you wish to play. 

What Is Polyphony?

Polyphony is the maximum number of notes a piano, MIDI keyboard, or any other musical instrument can simultaneously produce.

For example, if you wanted to play a three-note chord with a one-note melody, you’d need a keyboard capable of at least 4-note polyphony.

Most digital keyboards will have at least 64-note polyphony, but some can go up to 128-note polyphony.  

Is 8-voice Polyphony Enough? 

8-voice polyphony means you can play a 6-note chord with a 2-note melody simultaneously or in any other combination.

Meaning you can strike 8 notes on a MIDI keyboard at the same time and have all of them be heard. For most people, this is enough, but for others, this is not enough. 

Final Thoughts 

Where to start? There are so many options when choosing the best 88-key hardware synth for your music production.

Again, if you are a beginner, I’d recommend the Yamaha P71; if you are a professional musician on a budget, I’d recommend the Roland Juno DS88; and if you are looking for the highest quality 88-key synthesizer workstation on the market, I’d go with the Yamaha Montage 8. 

But overall, you can’t go wrong with these 7 workstations. 

Before you go, check out our guide to the 7 Best Portable MIDI Keyboards!