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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Workstation Keyboards

2. History

Although the details vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, the key elements of a workstation consist of a keyboard, a synthesizer/sampler with drum sounds, a multitrack sequencer, and an effects processor. The quality of the keyboard, range of sounds and the complexity of the song writing facilities may well vary according to price, but if an instrument has all these features then it is considered a ‘workstation’.

The concept of the affordable workstation began in the late 80s when Korg released the M1. This had all the basic ingredients combined into one instrument, for not much more than the price of a regular keyboard of the day. Although the sequencer, with its rather limited note capacity, was more useful for demonstrating the M1’s multitimbral preset sounds, it was an instant success, both in the studio and on stage, and showed the way forward. Until then, each component of an equivalent set-up represented a separate hardware unit, but Korg, taking advantage of newly available VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) chips were able to combine all these elements into a single mid-sized keyboard, squeezing in PCM samples, multitimbrality, a 10,000 note sequencer, and digital effects - the workstation was born!

Korg M1 Workstation Keyboard

Over the years, keyboard workstations have grown bigger – at least in terms of features - and better as the progress of digital technology has brought faster CPUs and DSP chips. Rather than a minimal LCD character display, today’s models often feature full-colour touch-screens which allow you to quickly access parameters and move on-screen faders with the drag of a finger. PCM sample ROMs in the even the cheapest workstations now come with at least 8 times the M1’s memory, and with sounds recorded at much higher sample and bit rates. On the performance side, additional controllers such as touch pads for triggering drums and synth phrases have further expanded the workstation’s capabilities far beyond its original concept.

The continued popularity of the workstation stems in large part from the freedom it gives you to compose without needing to switch on a computer or any other gear, maintaining the spontaneity of the moment by keeping all you need immediately to hand. For live performance, the workstation provides the gigging musician with a large palette of sounds, sweetened by built-in effects and a sturdy weighted keyboard that will withstand the rigours of the road. Large live keyboard arrangements are often performed by a sequencer with only one part actually being played by hand on the night – even modern computers crash from time to time, and so workstations’ built-in sequencers are often relied on to perform this task. And if cover versions are your bag, then most instruments will import commercial MIDI files to enable you to reproduce your backing with great accuracy.

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Conditions of participation
Terms and Conditions for participation
in online competitions

Note: Participation in an online competition runs independently from any purchase at Thomann GmbH. The following Competition Rules apply when participating in any online competition run by Musikhaus Thomann:

  1. Competition

    1. The competitions are organised by Thomann GmbH, CEO: Hans Thomann, Hans-Thomann-Straße 1, 96138 Burgebrach, Germany.
  2. Participation

    1. Competitions are only open to persons of full age.
    2. To take part in the competition you must answer all questions correctly, fill in the registration form and submit your entry to Thomann GmbH by pressing the "send" button.
      By pressing the "send" button the participant accepts the aforementioned terms and conditions.
    3. The participant is responsible for entering their email and/or postal address correctly. Entries to the competition will be logged electronically.
  3. Qualifying Entrants

    1. Staff of Thomann GmbH and any cooperation partners and their dependants are excluded from participation.
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      Should for whatever reason the winner not claim their prize, then a new winner will be drawn.
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      The delivery is free of charge. Only extra transport costs and customs/duties must be covered by the winner. In the case that the delivery has to be made through a freight forwarding company the freight forwarding company will contact the winner to arrange delivery timings.
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      Thomann GmbH
      to the data protection officer
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      96138 Burgebrach, Germany
    2. Thomann GmbH is obliged to consider the regulations for data protection according to the Federal Data Protection Law (BDSG) valid at the conclusion of the competition. In this context the general data protection regulations under notes regarding data protection should be noted.
  6. Liability

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  7. Other

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One of our Fans
Delivery was faster than expected, the instrument was set up correctly (although i did some minor tuning) plus it sounds lovely!
deathnote_lawliet_xxxuzaki_l@hotxxx.com, 23.02.2017

Workstation Keyboards overview


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