I am in more or less the same position as you are,(guitarplayer) and frankly this is an interesting question, as I compose as well and just use the arranger keyboard (G 800) for background as my band..and testing out how it sounds, allthough I play on it as well for fun..I recently wanted some more different sounds as roland sounds so went over a lot of new arranger keyboards and listened to these keyboards/tried them out in different shops (Gem WK8/Wersi Abacus/Yamaha 9000/Solton X1) I also brought a diskette with me to the shops with some pro midi files
very diverse (from classic till metal rock) and loaded the midi's and played them back.(the service in music shops in Holland is excellent so no problem there)
Not all of the boards were able to playback ok, (needed some editing on instruments) but roughly the result was remarkable..
The WK 8 of gem is the best midi performer.
(I must admit I had some wk8 originals from a friend of mine on the diskette.)
The style sound is good if you adjust the bass and middle section of your amplifying system otherwise it sounds a bi thin. (can depend of the gear you are using. I never use internal amplifying)
The style sound of the X1 is way beyond the
others, but the X1 has problems with midi playback., so will need an instrument patch for cakewalk to edit..
The Yamaha sounded very dull with midi playback, style sounds are "yamaha", so good but not my taste.
The abacus ,good sound, but way to expensive and I don't trust the windows software on it.
(just had a crash a day before on my homesystem where I lost a full annual report)
Now about composing;
I actually reviewed for myselve , how am I composing anyway, in what manner..
And actually I compose on my guitar,then I make a try out in a small software utility (called The musical wizzard) for the drums, the baseline, convert to midi and do the keyboard sounds..
So there's my try out.
Once I am satisfied and make the final song and recording;
Guitar analogue recording (gibson/fender)
Base analogue recording (Precision base)
Drums roland R 8 (still better as the drums of the keyboard)
Keyboard G 800 digital in sync with the R 8
Sounds if needed, I use an old Akai sampler
or my old Akai Synth.
Revieuwing this I actually don't need another arranger keyboard so much, but more a better synth, so I probably will try out a Korg Triton...(and find a used wk8 for family purposes the interface is way better as all the other keyboards for seqencing and same for the karaoke system built in..it even displays chords..)
I will go to Frankfurt anyway in april, maybe there's something new there..
I guess I confused you more with this, but it might give you an idea of reviewing as well, where do you need the keyboard for..!
Keyboards/Sound Units: Kurzweil 2600S, Roland VR-760, Acces Virus C, Roland G-800, Akai AX60, Minimoog, Machine Drum, Roland R8-M, mediastation x-76