I am budgeting the musical Worship ministry for my local Church and I think I should include some materials to properly make backing tracks to play the parts we cannot do/do not have the personnel for live. I have looked into buying the multitracks but that will be too expensive for us. Currently I am using Audacity and a Yamaha PSR-E303 and the results are usable, but not professional. With that setup, you have to play and record the part directly, no MIDI triggering, and the sounds can only be effected post recording. It can be very difficult depending upon the part. Having the MIDI triggers, and the functionality/tweakability of the VST's, is what I am valuing mostly.

I know some information about MIDI keyboards but less than I would like. I do not need a full set of keys. 3 octaves would be great, 37 keys? Pitch and mod wheels I would like, drum pads I would like as well. Looking through a Sweetwater magazine, the main controller I see that catches my eye is the Necktar Impact LX49P as it has all that functionality. My interface does not have MIDI connections so USB connections. Hopefully I can get all that at reasonable quality under $200, it is a Church budget after all.

As far as the DAW goes, I have done a little bit of work with Reaper but I have not bought it myself. I obviously would need extensive VSTi capabilities and I know Reaper can do all that, but I do not know if there are any limitations. Having the MIDI signal be able to line up to the tempo track (if I was a bit off playing it) is VERY important here as well. Does any DAW come with a good amount of instruments or are most of them buy/download? What about Ableton's feature sets on its less expensive softwares? Most of the sounds I use are fairly basic- EP's, light sines, basic strings and pads, etc. But having the more complex instruments on download would be great, and in particular arpeggiators would be a huge help. Reaper's price of $60 (Church is Non-Profit) would be a great price to propose.

Thanks for any help in advance.
Last edited by Will Lane at Nov 1, 2016,
I'm not sure why you need full piano keys, you could possibly go with small midi keyboard that has a good software package.
I got the IK iRig keys mainly because of the vsti package (synths, etc). So then you can load that in your daw, Reaper will do, although running Reaper at church might be a bit weird due to the name and the logo.
Studio One has a nice feature set, I use that and their built-in synths, plus the IK synths is plenty for what I need.
You can record midi tracks to the songs you want to use and load them in a daw and mute parts that will be played by live musicians, or even easier - mixdown to stereo if the lineup is solid.

You could also look at Mixcraft, and other DAWs, Cubase LE also has decent feature set.

Ableton could probably trigger these easier but I hate it for the recording part, but it might work for you.

Fruityloops might be another app that can do well, especially if you're planning mostly midi instrument programming.

You can download trials, so check them out before buying.
diabolical He didn't say he's looking for a piano-sized keyboard. He specifically wrote "I do not need a full set of keys. 3 octaves would be great, 37 keys?".
Yeah, sorry....I think in the small toy-like controller/keyboard category you should just focus on the software first, they're all quite comparable, not very well built, plastic toy-like, controllers. The iRig has held up well and with all that in mind, I'd probably recommend it again as you get Sampletank SE with it: