My school is looking to purchase a keyboard for our accompanist, to be used for concerts but also for shows, so it needs to sport a decent orchestral library. Budget is $3k. Sweetwater has the Kurzweil Forte SE 88-key Stage Piano at $2500 with a 2GB sound library, which I assume has decent orchestral sounds. Does anyone here have any other suggestions?
Just thinking out of the box, but because we're an Apple heavy school with a lot of MacBook Pros, can/should we consider using one (already purchased) and a less expensive controller? Advantages/Disadvantage? If so, what software/synth packages or sound libraries could we consider. Our accompanist is not geeky about these things - She'll use stock sounds exclusively and simplicity and ease of use is important.
If you have a bunch of MacBook Pros, MainStage works great, but you'll need a USB-Audio adapter; the Peavey USB-P works great for this. Benefit is that you're using a MBP for sounds, and can upgrade to better plugins to get better sounds. My keyboard player used MainStage with an M-Audio 88-Key controller for a while with a Roland VK-8M organ module for playing live. Downside is it's not plug & play, which may work better for schools.
You may want to have her go to a Sam Ash/GC to try some of the different 88 key controller/pianos/synths there, as the action is different, and she may prefer an action and layout on one vs. another.
If you can still get one with an IEC power cable vs. a line lump transformer, it's one less thing to go missing..
Looking at MainStage and it looks pretty awesome. Couple questions - If she doesn't have Logic X installed, does Main Stage include all LXP instruments? If we used one of our standard electronic pianos with midi outputs (say something like a P-125) - how do you change patches on the fly. ..on the MBP screen? ..keystrokes at the MBP? .. or should she really have a dedicated keyboard/controller?
MainStage doesn't include all the Logic X instruments, but has pretty much everything Garageband has - pianos, organs, synths, orchestral instruments - sounds like it could work great for your needs, and at $30, the price is right.
Changing patches? You might be able to do it with a MIDI controller with preset buttons, but it's probably easier to change on the MainStage program. MainStage will also load any AudioUnits plugins (virtual instruments, effects) you may have.
FYI - I run my Eleven Rack (my audio I/O) off an Anker 10-port USB-2 with no latency, so connecting the P-125, a Peavey USB-P and other gear shouldn't be a problem if you need more than the 2 USB ports on the MBP.