Arranger keyboards are a great addition to the arsenal of anyone who’s getting seriously creative with their music. But with a huge range of different models at varying price points, choosing the right one can be a challenge.
That’s where we come in! We’ve reviewed seven of the best arranger keyboards out there, and we’re going to set out their pros and cons. Our buying guide will then help you pick the right option for you.
Yamaha’s PSRX700 takes joint top spot with Korg’s PA700 when it comes to price. So if this is the arranger keyboard you choose, you’ll need deep pockets. But what do you get for your money?
To start with, there’s a color touchscreen to allow you to see style and voice assignments. It makes it easy to access and adjust controls quickly.
The pitch and modulation is controlled by a joystick, giving infinite variety. It will handle fast trills and expressive pitch bends with ease. A handy button above the joystick also allows you to lock in your preferred modulation.
There are two assignable control knobs and six-panel buttons. Set them to your preferences and you’ll be able to quickly access your desired features.
The keyboard has 61 velocity-sensitive keys. There are loads of different voices to choose from – 986 in all, plus 480 SXG voices. You’ll also get 41 pre-set drum and special effects kits. There are 487 pre-set effects, with types including chorus, reverb and compressor. And there’s space for 150 user effects too.
Accompaniment styles allow you to add a backing band at the touch of a button. You’ll keep total control of arrangements and key changes. And a style section reset button allows you to jump to the beginning of a bar at any point. That’s perfect for when you’re accompanying vocalists.
A 16-track sequencer includes storage space of 3MB per song. It offers lots of flexibility to create entirely new arrangements and play back your music. You can also organize your music easily, by filing “registration memories” into playlists.
It offers a ¼-inch and 1/8-inch audio input, meaning you can use it with a microphone. There are two A-type USB ports and one B-type, a MIDI in/out and two ¼-inch pedal inputs. And it comes with a 16V DC power cable.
If you’ve got the cash to splash, this is a great arranger keyboard. The one minor niggle – besides the cost – comes with the sound quality on brass. Whilst most of the voices sound clear and true, the brass options aren’t quite as good.
User-friendly color touchscreen for easy control
Huge range of voices and pre-sets
16-track sequencer for recording and playback
The sound quality of the brass voices isn’t as good as the others
At less than a third of the price of the Yamaha PSRSX700, Kurzweil’s Home KP100 is a more economical choice. But it still packs a punch when it comes to features.
This is another arranger keyboard with 61 keys. Here, they’re touch-sensitive, and you can adjust their sensitivity to suit your playing style. There’s 128-note polyphony, so you won’t lose notes, even in dense phrases.
There’s a huge range of different sounds to use in your compositions. These include the manufacturer’s Triple Strike Piano, used in their PC3 series of workstations. Other options include organs, strings, guitars, synths and world music instruments.
You’ll also get 633 factory pre-sets to inspire you, and 240 accompaniment patterns. Those patterns cover a broad church of genres. Whatever style you’re looking for, you’ll get a backing band to suit.
Arranging music in real-time is made simple by single-fingered chords. Switch to “full keyboard” mode to respond to chords across the full range.
It’s easy to store your compositions too. There’s a ten-track sequencer, allowing you to record the same number of songs. It’s very easy to use, as are all the controls.
There’s an integrated amp with decent speakers, although they’re not as powerful as we’d like. If you prefer to practice in silence, there’s an output for headphones too.
You’ll also get an input for a microphone and a MIDI USB connection. It transmits MIDI on just a single channel, although it can receive MIDI signals on either all or specific channels.
There’s a pitch bend wheel, but no functions for changing attack or release times, filter resonance or cut-off frequency.
It’s nicely portable, with a fully detachable music stand. The whole thing measures 38 inches long by 14 inches wide and 5 inches tall, and weighs just 11 pounds.
And it also has the option of being powered by either batteries or AC electricity. If you want an arranger keyboard that can be played pretty much anywhere, it’s a good choice.
Korg’s PA600 is another model that has 61 keys. And if you’re looking for a bundle with plenty of accessories, this one may appeal. It’s offered alongside a good quality sustain pedal, Knox bench, X-style stand and a set of Tascam TH-03 headphones.
The sound quality from the two onboard speakers is rich and natural. There’s plenty of power here too. The speakers are driven by two 15-watt amplifiers and sit inside a bass-reflex box, strengthening the sound.
There’s a huge choice of instruments here, reflecting every musical genre. There are four Stereo Master Effects processors which offer no fewer than 125 effects. These include old faithfuls like reverb, chorus and delay, plus renowned REMS effects for convincing guitar tones.
Many of the patches feature what Korg calls Defined Nuance Control plus Real eXperience. These allow you to control detailed sounds and gestures, creating an authentic listening experience. Do you want a horn glissando? The sound of a mechanical key or guitar fret? You’ll get all of them with this keyboard.
You can create your own patches, styles and performance too. Use existing styles as a starting point, or create them with an external DAW. And there’s a built-in 16-track sequencer.
We particularly like the pads, which you can program to accompany your styles in sync with the key. Each style has four pads, which can be started independently.
There’s also a chord sequencer for looping in real-time. Use it to build a chord progression which you can then trigger when you play a particular style. That way, you’ll free up both hands for playing.
The keys are a little plasticky, so if you’re particular about keyboard feel, this may not be the right choice. And while the chord sequencer is a great feature, it doesn’t have dedicated buttons, making the user interface slightly clunky.
But set those minor issues to one side, and this is a great value package, offering huge scope for experimentation.
Rich, natural and detailed sound
Four programmable pads for each style
Comes in a bundle with bench, stand, headphones and sustain pedal
The keys feel a little plasticky
The chord sequencer is great, but the lack of dedicated buttons makes the user interface clunky.
If you’re in the market for a more economical option that still offers great sound quality, check out Korg’s EK-50.
This also has 61 full-sized keys, but the polyphony isn’t as extensive as more expensive options. Here, you’ll be able to play up to 64 notes at once without any dropping out. That’s still more than most human ears will be able to distinguish.
There are over 700 sounds, and they’re rich and detailed. There are 280 different styles for auto-accompaniment. Each has four different levels of complexity. And each has special introductory and concluding phrases for the beginning and end of compositions.
There’s capacity to add up to another 96 styles too. Just download them onto a USB flash drive and upload them to the keyboard.
There are 34 effects. You’ll be able to split the keyboard, with different voices for the left and right hands. And you’ll also be able to layer up to three different sounds on the right hand.
The two 10-watt speakers are particularly impressive for a keyboard at this price point. They provide powerful sound with a rich, full bass and clear mid-tones and trebles.
It’s also very easy to move from place to place. The power can be supplied by either mains electricity or batteries. If using the latter, you’ll get five hours of playing time before you need to change them.
Connectivity is pretty decent. There are stereo ¼-inch outputs, a headphone jack for silent practice, and an aux input. You’ll also be able to use MIDI via a USB.
LED buttons allow you to navigate through your compositions with ease. A clear screen in the middle of the control panel will show the sound and style you’ve selected. And the main switches are all backlit by LEDs to help you see their levels easily.
You’ll be able to record your performances on a flash drive, and replay them as you’re playing.
So what about the negatives?
Well, the music holder here isn’t particularly robust. And while there’s a grand piano voice – and a button to click immediately back to it, no matter what setting you’re using – it’s not very powerful. You’ll need to turn it right up, and the accompaniment right down, for it to be heard.
But this is nevertheless a great arranger keyboard for anyone on a budget. And while it’s user-friendly enough for beginners, developing musicians will find enough functionality to respond to new skills.
Powerful, rich sound across bass, mid-tones and trebles
User-friendly screen and LED buttons
34 effects, including the ability to split the keyboard
The Yamaha PSR-S670 costs about twice as much as the Korg EK-50. So is it twice as good?
Well, one area where it is exactly twice as good is the polyphony. Here you’ll get a maximum polyphony of 128 notes from the 61-key keyboard. That will allow you to play fast and complex arrangements without losing any notes.
You’ll get two assignable controllers, plus wheels for pitch bend and modulation. There are also two inputs for foot pedals, giving you complete control over all your voices, effects, functions and styles.
It comes with 460 voices, 34 drum kits and 480 XG voices. There’s also a huge range of styles – 208 classified as “pro”, 12 session styles and 10 DJ styles. The latter play sequences of chord progressions, freeing up your left hand for other purposes.
There’s also an arpeggiator – just hold down the chord, and the keyboard will automatically play the phrase for you.
And if that’s not enough voices and styles for you, don’t worry. There are also expansion packs so you can add to your repertoire. These feature musical instruments and genres from across the globe, opening up new creative vistas.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can also make use of Yamaha’s chord tracker app. This cleverly identifies any chord sequence from any song on your device.
There are a couple of things to bear in mind here.
One is that while there’s a headphones jack, it’s rather awkwardly located at the back of the chassis. That means a lot of fiddling about. And if you’ve got your keyboard placed against the wall, it’s even more difficult.
The display screen is monochrome rather than color. And the information is packed in rather too tightly to be easy to read.
But if those things don’t put you off, there are lots of great features here. And the 128-note polyphony will be enough for even professional players.
Plenty of voices and styles, and the ability to add more using extension packs
Two assignable controllers and wheels for modulation and pitch bend
The headphones jack is awkwardly located at the back of the chassis
Roland’s E-A7 features no fewer than 1,500 different tones, representing all genres of world music. There’s grand piano, strings, brass and organs, including exciting ethnic instruments from Indonesia, India and Vietnam. To ensure their authenticity, all the sounds have been developed alongside native musicians.
The range of backing styles is just as broad, with options from the Middle East, Asia, South America and Europe. If you’re looking for a broad musical palette, you won’t go far wrong with this one.
You’ll also get the ability to import audio clips in WAV format, and there’s a clever on-board sampling function. The song player will read Standard MIDI, WAV and MP3 files.
The engine offers one-touch control of a wide range of performance functions. And there are 156 dedicated buttons for fast access to the most commonly used of those functions.
The E-A7 also comes with its own software package, Tone Manager. This allows you to organize and edit drum kits and user tones, and manipulate samples.
There are two screens here. Look at the screen on the left for everything to do with backing styles. The one on the right displays all the information on sounds. The screen positions are mirrored by the controls, with those for styles on the left and sounds on the right.
The only issue with this approach is the need for double entry. In other words, for some functions you’ll have to save details – including assigning names – twice, once for each screen.
There’s a microphone for vocalists, with its own dedicated volume control and a range of vocal effects. Vocal levels are adjusted by a simple knob, without any need to scroll through complicated menus.
The pitch bend lever sits below seven buttons, which you can assign to your own functions as needed.
There are also six phrase pads, each of which can trigger MIDI phrases or audio samples as needed. There’s a button to switch musical scales, and six sliders to change the volume of bass, drums and backing tracks.
This 61-key keyboard weighs in at 18 pounds, so it’s not too hefty to carry to gigs.
The biggest downside here is complexity. It’s not easy to figure out how to perform a lot of the functions – including some of the most basic ones. Fortunately, there are lots of videos online to help. But you’ll need to be prepared to spend some time getting up the learning curve.
Huge range of tones and backing styles from all genres of music
156 buttons for fast access to commonly used functions
Weighs just 18 pounds, making it portable enough for gigging
The split screens mean some functions need two sets of inputs
This is pretty complex – be prepared to spend some time getting to grips with it.
Alongside Yamaha’s PSRX700, the PA700 from Korg is the most expensive arranger keyboard on our list. So what do you get for all that money?
Well, this is another model with an extensive library of styles and sounds. Genres and rhythms from across the world are represented, with over 1,700 sounds including piano, bass, wind instruments and guitar. There are also 370 styles and over 100 drum kits.
There’s plenty of scope to fine-tune your styles too. There are four break patterns and fill-ins for each one. A handy Auto Fill mode allows you to recall each one automatically as you switch between variations.
There are also four pads. These can be used to incorporate a repeating or one-shot riff, percussion, a sound effect or an accent. You’ll get 1152 separate spaces to save your customized settings.
There are no fewer than 148 effects, including reverb, chorus, delays and amp simulators. You’ll be able to use up to two master and two insert effects for each backing track. If you’re using them with real-time playing, you’ll be able to use two master and one insert effect.
There’s 256MB of memory, so there’s plenty of space to add to your library. It’s compatible with a wide range of file formats, including GM, WAV, AIFF, SoundFont and, of course, Korg. And you’ll be able to export your files in either AIFF or WAV format.
The two 25-watt amplifiers provide lots of power for the speakers. Those speakers are enclosed in a bass-reflex box to produce full-bodied sound.
The 61 keys are velocity-sensitive, and there’s a 7-inch color touchscreen. You’ll also get the TC-Helicon vocal processor, which offers 64 user and 28 factory pre-sets.
This is a keyboard that offers almost infinite variety, and if you can afford it there’s little not to like.
If we’re being picky, we’d like to see the handbook include an index. With so much material to navigate, it would make life that bit easier. For the same reason, it takes some time to learn how to get the most from this keyboard’s vast functionality.
Still not sure which is the right arranger keyboard for you? Read on for some factors to consider before you make your final selection.
Start with the keyboard
Most arranger keyboards will have lots of scope to add to the voices, styles and effects with music software. But one thing you won’t be able to change is the keyboard itself.
All the options on our list have 61 keys. The size of the keys does vary between models, however. If possible, try out some different models to see what size and feel suits you best.
It’s also worth considering polyphony – in other words, how many notes you can play at once without losing any. If you want to play particularly complex arrangements, invest in a keyboard with 128-note polyphony. For most beginners or intermediate players, 64 notes will be quite sufficient.
Easy entry point or maximum versatility?
There’s often a balance to be struck between the ease of use of your arranger keyboard and its capabilities. Some models, like the Korg PA700, offer a huge array of functions. They’ll open up infinite creative possibilities – but to get the most from them, you’ll need to grapple with their complexity.
If you want to get stuck in fast, a simpler keyboard may be better. Look out for options with helpful user guides, clear display screens and intuitive controls.
Consider the power source
Lastly, think about where you’re going to be playing your arranger keyboard.
If it’s going to live in a studio with mains electricity on hand, that’s one thing. If you’re planning to take it on the road, that’s quite another.
Some models offer the option of battery or mains power, providing maximum flexibility.
Ready to choose your arranger keyboard?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the seven best arranger keyboards on the market. However much or little you want to spend, there’s a great option out there.
Our top pick is the EK-50 from Korg. We love the way it can be used easily by beginners, whilst offering broader functionality as players develop their skills. And the sound is fantastic too.
Whichever keyboard you choose, it will open up a huge range of creative possibilities for your music. We hope you enjoy exploring them!