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Hector Space

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About Hector Space

  • Birthday 02/12/1958


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  • occupation
    Musician and Software Engineer
  • hobbies
    Running, Philosophy, Piano, Astrology
  • Location
    Rustington, Littlehampton, UK

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  1. Hi Stephen I have some questions: 1. Not being an Arturia product owner I"ve not come across the term metalizer before, I"d be interested to hear your view of what it actually does and how. 2. Similarly brute factor.. what is this in detail please? 3. The Polybrute has a huge amount of modulation to process, especially when you add morphing. So I"m really interested to hear how well it does on latency. Especially when it"s doing it"s supposed bi timbral thing. Also how is latency affected by note stealing. IE when you"re at max polyphony how quickly does the next note of an unvoiced timbre sound? 4. With regard to tuning, calibration stability, how quickly does the reach stable operation from switch on? And over what sort of temperature range can you expect the instrument to remain stable without recalibration? What is the nominal time taken to calibrate? Cheers Steve
  2. Very interested to read your review Stephen. I"ve owned a fair few Roland keyboards over the years from the early days of the Juno 60 through to their Juno DI of 2010 and a host of their RD pianos including two RD700SX which I loved and kept me going from about 2005 to 2014 during which time I also had a 700GX which after two replacement keybeds I sold coz although it had a better VK organ rotary sound the fake ivory keytops flaked off and the user interface was starting to become an over embellished Xmas tree. I dodged the NX and unfortunately bought an RD800 which apart from the keybed feeling like you were trying to walk in a straight line across a sloped roof!, had an awful industrial design and somehow just did not sound anywhere near as good as my old RD700SX, it seemed to me that Roland had done something to it"s Supernatural engine that increased the listening fatigue by increasing the aliasing. Anyway after the RD800 I vowed not to buy another Roland piano! Lol But I did! In a circuitous route via a Nord Stage 2 which also hated because of its poor Fatar keybed, broken midi spec and in comparison to my Electro 3, poor effects quality. Playing the piano on the Stage 2 was not fun. So I dumped it and bought a Casio PX5S as a stop gap.. which still is my go to piano for gigs in the wild - and a Kurzweil Forte that although it had a TP40L had a much better level of user adjustment -VAST!- so consequently it was quite a reasonable digital piano (albeit with the limited control range afforded by the TP40L) and a brilliant gig machine. After this came the Kawai MP7SE which I think is probably the best sample based piano I"ve played just a shame that back in 2018 Kawai couldn"t make the keybed stop false triggering. Finally the Korg Kronos 2 and an RD2000. So here"s my view based on the above experience: 1. I think Roland"s VPiano is an astonishing step forward. Although they kind of dumped it on you without properly setting it up on the RD2000, with careful editing at the per note level it is possible to get some beautifully pure and usable piano sounds. In fact once it"s married to the PHA50 keybed the level of precision and articulation that is possible is extraordinary. It trumps most anything else I"ve ever played. I"m sure a major part of this is because of how the VPiano models not just the notes but how they interact with each other and the resonances of the instrument"s body. And this modelling is continuous across the whole dynamic range of the instrument, in a way no sample based piano will ever be. So it is possible to hear the most beautiful interactions between intervals play out. By comparison the Vpiano makes a sampled piano even from the Kronos sound like a collage. Yes if you listen to a single sample from the Kronos's gigabyte sampled pianos it can sound more detailed, but when you play several notes by comparison the resultant voicing becomes muddy and confused. This I think has to do with the way real piano notes interact. The Vpiano takes you to places you can"t go with brute force sampling. 2. Is the Fantom legacy? Yes totally. My Juno Di of 2010 has exactly the same PCM 4 partial synth structure and is totally editable via the PC app provided. I"ve kept my Juno Di because it has some sounds on it (mainly guitars and some brass) that are just better than anything else. Here's an example of what the Juno Di's guitars and brass can do from back in 2010: http://www.soulvilleexpress.co.uk/audio_originals/2.%20Too%20High.mp3 BTW other than the Juno Di there are no guitars on this track. My beef here is what has changed. How come there"s still only 4 partials and they"re not even stereo? Take the Kronos HD1 for example, dating from at least 2011, that has two oscillators per voice with up to 8 layers in each. This means you can do many more things with it. My view is Roland lost the plot and has just taken the easy route. Dumping all the old architectural code into its Linux board (sorry Zen core)! Lol 3. As a Kronos 2 owner I find little here that is a real step forward from 2011. Which is a shame. It seems Roland like so many other major synth/keyboard manufacturers are stuck on forever yesterday. Either regurgitating the same old stuff over and over or by recreating synths we"ve all gotten over years ago. I mean is the Prophet 5 really that great in comparison to what an Arturia Polybrute can do? Is yet another Jupiter 8 clone and a digital one at that, really going to give you the sonic edge over a Novation Summit? It"s a lazy pitch. And as for the current lusting over FM! Apart from the nostalgia for all those fruitless hours of button pressing back in the early 80"s does FM without a fully blown AI interface make any real sense in 2021? But this will lead to a rant about Yamaha"s recent efforts.. lol What"s needed are new ideas and new synthesis models that befit the new realms of possibility enabled by the power of emerging technology, both in interfaces and processing power. Or even as in the Kronos"s case just making better use of the power that already exists under its hood. It"s sad how a splash of red a few extra nicely lit knobs and a clutch of usb A type ports stands for progress.
  3. Good to see you doing a review of the Polybrute Stephen. Last year there were two synths that got me really quite excited. One was the Novation Summit which I"ve subsequently bought and the other was the Arturia Polybrute. Just watching and listening to the YouTube reviews so far it sounds awesome. The oscillators are very powerful even before you add the twin filters. The reason I bought the Summit was because of three things. 1 the mod matrix, 2 the twin filters (I used to own an Oscar which Chris Huggett also designed) and the hugely flexible oscillators. I"ve not been disappointed by the instrument"s power and flexibility. It is a true synth designers instrument. The twin filters on the Polybrute make it stand out even more because each has its own character. Arturia have made some compromises EG where you can use noise modulation and filter over drive. I did also have to check with them that key tracking was a modulation matrix source because the manual does a poor job at explaining what the poorly named source providing that function does. Anyway all good. Well apart from the 25 Kg! BTW I think you"ll find that analog VCO"s often have multiple waveforms running concurrently. It"s sort of because that"s how they work. So something like a minimoog will have the basic 180 phase shift op amp oscillator with a capacitor and some log law voltage / resistance network connected across its output and inverting input, this will produce the basic triangle wave, which is then fed into a comparator to produce the sawtooth and square/pulse waveforms. Rough description I know but hopefully it illustrates that an analog oscillator is likely to produced all the waveforms available all the time. So probably the Polybrute has vca's instead of electronic switches to select the waveforms. Anyway detail! Most importantly I"m looking forward to hearing what you"ve got to say about the beast! Cheers Steve
  4. Cheers and happy days! I sold my Forte just after Xmas 2019 it served me very well for 5 years at the centre of my rig for around 60 gigs a year, had a great sound and was totally reliable. And amazingly in those 5 years it was transformed by Kurzweil's R and D team from a stage piano to a full workstation. Way beyond anything I"d expected when I bought it. The Kronos 2 has taken over the central role in my rig, but it was a fight and although the Kronos is very capable it isn"t the solid work horse that the Forte was. With the 2020 lockdown halting live performances for me it has given me time to take stock and review my gear and my direction. That's why I"ve become very interested in what"s out there and the trends in technology and music. Of particular interest has been the NW2, ASM Hydra Synth, Novation Summit, Korg Prologue, UDO Super 6 and Waldorf's Iridium. So you"d be right in thinking I"m changing musical direction! Lol I"m fascinated by the growth of FPGA technology in synthesis (UDO, Novation, PC4) versus the more traditional DSP based solutions ( Nord, DSI) and the new interfaces e.g. the Hydra Synth, which is an amazing solution to modal hands on. The Hydra Synth also strongly revives poly AT which is exactly on the money for me - just need to hang on for the 61 key version.... I can see a sort of Medeli under current of change going here what with the PC4 also having a Medeli keybed! .And of course the other never ending challenge of analog filters versus DSP - ( Summit, Super 6 and Prologue v ASM Hydra Synth and NW2) So there"s plenty of excitement!
  5. Thanks for the warm welcome. This forum is clearly a positive environment. That"s nice in the context of so many that aren"t. A couple of other NW2 issues I"ve noted but forgot to mention: Steve you"ve already mentioned the lack of layer assign-ability with NW2"s hold pedal implementation it"s either all or none! This is definitely a weakness in Nord"s thinking since it"s obvious to me that one of the main applications of NW2"s multi-layer, multi timbrel architecture is to have stuff like rhythm and drum parts going on in some layers and more legato 'lead" parts in others. Clearly if you wanted to use a hold pedal on these to extend the range of expression to the more pianistic, you"d be stuffed, or at the very least need to figure otherwise unnecessary work-rounds to stop the other layers clagging up. A further infuriating drop off in the NW2 design is it only has a single output pair. The Stage 2 & 3 both have auxillary outputs! But on the NW2 it isn"t even possible to assign layers specifically to either left or right output like you can on my old NE3. A product in this price range should automatically have two sets of outputs, especially if it"s mult-timbral. The Novation Summit has two, my Kronos has two, my Forte had two, even my RD2000 has two.. Bad Nord. A typical application would be for clone wheel simulation. On my Forte for example, I never rated the KDFX rotary simulation it"s below average at best! (and double KDFX rotaries are just two lots of average! lol) whereas the actual KB3 sim is quite reasonable. So I bought a Neo Vent 2. This is a very capable L122 rotary sim (the best I could find and test!) and it includes a very nice valve overdrive. So on the Forte you can configure the KB3 (without KDFX rotary) to output to the left only of stereo output B (Real Hammond is mono OK!) - I used the right of output B for bass (I play pedals when forced! lol). The left output is fed into the Vent, the stereo output of the Vent was then fed to the Forte"s stereo audio input, thence mixed with the main output and sent to FOH via stereo output a. So perfect, a pretty good gigging clone wheel, with all the controls the Forte"s KB3 can provide in a compact and quick to setup package. And of course the Forte"s legendary midi controller facilities (inherited from the PC3 before) allowed me to link in my Studio Logic Sledge to provide a nice fast keybed for organ parts. That"s what I"d call capable thank you Kurzweil! The NW2 cannot get close to this. Nord didn"t include a rotary effect on the NW2 (I guess because they want you to buy an additional Electro, Stage or C something!), there is only a single stereo output and its stereo input isn"t properly integrated into the main audio chain. So adding a Neo Vent would kill the NW2 multi-timbrality. OK so why do Nord include so many organ samples and wave tables???? Clearly for a company that prides itself in supporting the gigging musician as number one USP, Nord do not see the NW2"s role as being the only board you"d need for a typical gig. Piano is crap and organ is great but only if you"re into pipe organs!⦠Like NEVER, never in over 40 years of live work have I gone 'Oh god I so need a pipe organ!' lol The NW2 is basically an incorrigible kludge. BTW Steve, I"ve never worked for Kurz, but I"ve been an active alpha and beta tester for Kurz on the Forte from pretty near the start (2015). Boy has the Forte grown since then. I think Kurzweil provide the best customer service and after market support I"ve ever experienced in this industry. Fran and the R&D guys have been brilliant. Oh! and of course, there"s the ever present, ever helpful Dave Weiser. Without him I would not have realised the importance of VAST"s Impact parameter.. No Really!!!
  6. Thanks Steve. This has been a great thread to read up on the NW2 along side watching whatever YT posts I can, but it has left me feeling I need to add my viewpoint. Which is, I must say opinionated and rather shouty! I guess I"m old and jaded..Lol I"ve owned a couple of Nords and tried out serveral more over the last 10 years. I"ve become increasingly frustrated by their product design philosophy and the narrow minded limitations it imposes on their customers. On the face of it Nord offers three things, simple hands-on interfaces, fast-food quality sounds and a nice colour. Their kit does what it says on the tin and 1000's of contented users can"t be wrong. Largely because just like in the days of Big Blue no one got fired for buying one. But actually when you dig into Nord's products they"re much more about the emperor"s new clothes than they are about being great instruments. Nord's 'we know best what you need' mantra is stolen straight from Apple and can be linked straight back to the Bauhaus school of design minimalism. Great if you want to march in step with the kool ones. A total straight jacket if you think for yourself. Despite appearances, Nord is very conservative. They have their sights fixed firmly on a view of keyboard instruments developed before 1988. The Hammond, The Farfisa, The Rhodes, The Wurly, The DX7, The Fairlight, The Emulator, The Mellotron The Mini Moog The PPG etc. Ok so these are common tropes for most modern keyboards. But most modern keyboards try to integrate these into a view of progress. A typical example of Nord"s narrow mindedness is their approach to providing sound sample playback on their keyboards. Today most serious instruments (certainly those in the same price range!) that offer sample playback provide user editable velocity switched layers and release samples. Nord do not. Unless you accept the closed shop that is Nord"s piano sample section, you can only load single layer samples. Why? Why is this still the case after so many years? The Kronos has provided with its HD1 engine since 2011, Kurzweil has for donkeys years (yes VAST is a piece of history!) on its K series, PC3, Forte and now the PC4. Even my humble 2010 Roland Juno Di provides editable 4 layer velocity switched sample playback. Worse with Nord there is no way users can add their own or edit sample sets to the piano section of any Nord. It is a closed shop.. But of course they do provide 1000 of great pianos for 'free" LMAO. The NW2 suffers hugely from this limitation, you cannot load any of Nords samples designed for the piano section library here, nor can you edit or create your own velocity switched multisamples. Ok so with its keybed the NW2 is not aimed at the piano market. So why do they include so many single layer piano and EP samples? The word kludge comes to mind. I"ve played on a great many keyboards since the birth of midi and velocity sensing keybeds back in the early 80"s. Almost without exception they"ve all provided user adjustable velocity sensitivity. Nord for some reason don"t think the NW2 needs it!! Nor do they provide any for of aftertouch sensitivity adjustment. Come on it"s a Fatar keybed.. with Kurzweil we even persuaded their R&D to provide per note velocity calibration on the Forte, because the Fatar TP40L is a little uneven when it comes to velocity sensing. Do you think the NW2 keybed will be better? The NS2 HA88 wasn't my NE373 isn"t. While we"re on the subject of velocity it is very apparent that in the world of synthesisers, velocity is very often treated as an afterthought. Yamaha with the CS80 and the DX7 changed all that, they gave people who cared about real-time performance the nirvana they"d always dreamt of. Sadly these lessons get forgotten and overlooked. Just look at the half-baked way Dave Smith added velocity control to the Prophet 6! Really! Well the NW2 is nearly as poor. How about an amount knob or menu item to control the depth of velocity impact on the filter envelope in each program/layer? Similarly Nord's slavish adoption of Moog"s off, third, two thirds, full switches for both DCA velocity and filter tracking has me howling.. Why? A knob isn't more expensive or more space consuming and it provides your exact choice of level. Yesterday wasn"t better. I do at least like Nord's morph modulation system. But to me there's one glaring omission to the source list. It should include key tracking. Ok maybe this is a modulation effect that is too subtle for Nord's intended, but it goes without saying if you want to synthesise any real world string instrument the envelope characteristics for high notes are very much shorter than for low notes.. OK? Nord describe the NW2 as having the potential of a wavetable synth. Hummm. So where's the ability to scan those tables in real-time? There isn"t one. The shape knob isn"t morphable for wavetables. Why? Nor is it possible to use other wave forms in their implementation of linear FM. Today it's a given sinewaves are old hat for FM.. but I"m forgetting Nord's conservatism mantra!! So fm here is limited to twee DX7 clonks. Finally, we"re all wowed by the potential of vowel sounds and twin pole filtering on the latest generations of synth tech. Where is this on the NW2? It has all the basic features needed (wave table synthesis, modelled - selectable filter types, even one dual filter!).. It's a major missed opportunity. Even the NS3 had vowel sounds. The very least the NW2 should include a twin bandpass filter model with adjustable cutoff, separation and resonance. Or is that too complex for Nord's market sector?? As you've probably gathered I"m very frustrated by the NW2. Because in part it"s very good and it sounds a step up from much of their previous efforts. But it is hobbled by Nord's petty shortsightedness. I know if I owned one it would drive me mad. Much like the Nord Stage 2 HA88 did all those years ago. Ok I still have an NE373, because its clonewheel is better on stage than my old M102/L122 and it's easy to carry! I like its Rick Wright Farfisa sounds and the odd 22 violins single layer sample.. Lol! I guess for now I"ll eschew the instant gratification world of sample playback and either buy an ASM Hydra Synth or a Novation Summit.
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