So, I'm a complete amateur in music recording and production. Seriously, I can barely work Garageband. I normally use record guitar parts with my M Audio Black Box but I've been looking at adding trumpet and synth parts. The musical typing feature is, well, crap. I don't know what it is but the timing is consistently off.
So, does it make more sense to be a USB keystation like this (http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk/product/3943-m-audio-keystation-49e.html) or buy a real but crappy keyboard and get a MIDI to USB adapter? Also, if I go with the second option does that mean I can use it as a MIDI controller as well?
If you're really stuck on a budget, simply get a keyboard and plug it from the headphone out to the computer's sound card. It's what I used to do until I discovered the wonders of MIDI, Cubase, and eventually Reason. There's demo versions of those programs, if you're really stuck message me and I might be able to help you out more.
Most usb/midi keyboards can be used as standalone midi controllers too, if you connect them to a power supply. USB is quite handy as you don't need to use up a hardware midi port, and can powers the keyboard too. Dare I say it, plug-and-play?
I have a perfunctory 61-key m-audio usb/midi controller keyboard at the studio that isn't being used (I upgraded) so message / email me if you're interested.
(Also, "crappy keyboards" won't have MIDI output! Not the cheapest ones, anyway...)
I concur ..... I have the above also and its great for messing about .... and it has assignable knobs .... you have to have knobs ...