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Best Rhodes, hardware or Software, for cheap...


NewImprov

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So, I need a really good Rhodes emulation, and I probably can't spend more than $500. I have a Keystation 88 controller and a very fast newer Thinkpad T60, so software is definitely an option, but a hardware module would be cool too, so if (ha, WHEN!) the laptop crashes on the gig, I'd still have something playable.

 

I have been using the freeware MrRay plug-in, and it's really pretty good, especially for the price, but after practicing extensively with it, I think it's too one-dimensional for this setting. I have downloaded the demo for Lounge Lizard, and it's definitely better than MrRay, but still feels a bit artificial. The Tines sound feels kind of synthetic, and the midrange just doesn't feel quite "right" to me. Yeah, highly subjective, I know :-). I do feel that LL could work in a pinch, if it's the best out there.

 

Anybody done a direct comparison between Lounge Lizard and NI's Elektrik Piano? The demo mp3's of Elektrik Piano sound really good to me, but who knows how much manipulation went into making them sound that good. Obviously, as a 2gig sample set, they don't offer a downloadable demo. I also have Logic's EVP88, running on the studio G5, but since my laptop's Windows, it's out of the question for live use. And, honestly, EVP doesn't really do it for me either.

 

As far as hardware goes, I have seen players using Nord Electros and Yamaha Motifs that, as an audience member, really made me say, "That really sounds like a Rhodes to me." I've played the Electro, and I have to say that the keyboard doesn't feel quite right to me, but if I could find the Electro rack in my price range, I'd buy it in an instant. Not likely, though. Is there a Yamaha module that has the Motif sounds for cheap?

 

And if you're about to suggest getting a real Rhodes, well, thanks, but I already got one. Part of why I'm such a picky bastard about Rhodes sounds is that I was given(!) a very VERY nice Stage 73 Mark I that plays awesomely, amazing given that it had been at a community college music program for years. I'd love to gig with it, and eventually might if the gigs seem worth the effort, but for rehearsals and gigs for now, I need something lighter and more portable.

 

Thanks for reading this nearly War-andPeace length message, and thanks in advance for any advice!

 

 

Turn up the speaker

Hop, flop, squawk

It's a keeper

-Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream for Crow

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I'm no software guy, so I really don't know whether my upcoming advices hold a candle to the Mr. Ray/Lounge Lizard route, but...

 

for hardware, I'd say:

- Yamaha MM6, or Motif Rack, or a S80/S30, or perhaps a S08/SO3. If needed, add a controller that suits you.

 

For a little more money, look for the following 2nd hand items - perhaps and with a little luck they will be in reach pricewise:

- the aforementioned Nord Electro Rack

- Roland SRX-12 in a suitable host (the cheapest being an XV2020 module)

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For software, I like the Scarbee. It feels the best to me and plays like the real thing. I did a demo for thomas. For the demo I did, I chose to play really soft to show how well it was sampled. Listen close and you'll hear the mechanics, just like the real deal. my broken hearts
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I'd go for the Gold Bundle. Less than $500 and it's something I use almost everyday and works great in K2. (Hope you have k2.) You'll get all 4 plus the efx with the gold bundle. If you watch the scarbee site, every so often he'll lower the price and have some really good sales on all of his products. I'm really looking forward to buying the new bass. Maybe this month Thomas?
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I'd vote against the Yamaha S08/03, which was suggested before. I have one and it doesnt sound on par with expensive workstations (like Motif), not even close. It's a nice board, but sounds wouldn't meet your demands.

Stage: MOX6, V-machine, and Roland AX7

Rolls PM351 for IEMs.

Home/recording: Roland FP4, a few guitars

 

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Linwood, nice demo! Wow!

 

I was not aware of Scarbee, I am checking it out, looks like I'll need Kontakt, and 11 gigs is a lot of space! But the sounds are very impressive. For the price of Scarbee + Kontakt, I could just about get the Nord rack. Hmmm, decisions.

 

In the meantime, I did some more tweaking on Mr. Ray last night (wow, that sounds a little perverse), and by compressing the incoming MIDI velocities a tad, I was able to tame the "barkiness" of the sound that was bothering me the most. It's still not perfect, but I'm liking it a lot better. And, of course, the price is right.

Turn up the speaker

Hop, flop, squawk

It's a keeper

-Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream for Crow

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I've been playing with the Lounge Lizard demo, both the full and the session (cheaper) version. It's really good, I find a lot of the presets have too much "tine" in the sound, and the tine sounds kind of synthetic, but if you dial it back a notch, it can be pretty realistic. I was able to get a sound that was 90% indistinguishable from my Mark 1 73 with a little tweaking. It still feels a little artificial to me though, but I'm sure I could happily gig with it.

Turn up the speaker

Hop, flop, squawk

It's a keeper

-Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream for Crow

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I would recommend Lounge Lizard Session over the full blown LL3. I had Session and thought the Rhodes was quite good (and the Wurly). I had to get LL3 as it was compatible with Receptor and Session is not. I was surprised to find that with all the presets in LL3 there were none that sounded quite like Session. A support guy at Applied Acoustic was nice enough to send me presets that matched the Session presets.

 

Scarbee is the best of the sampled Rhodes. No question. I looked at his site and didn't see that it runs on Kompakt vs. the full blown Kontakt. I'm pretty sure I was using the Scarbee libraries with Kompakt on my Receptor. Kompakt is the Kontakt engine without the programmability and editing capabilities. You can save some money. I would check with Scarbee to see if it can run 100% on Kompakt.

 

In the hardware arena I like the Roland SRX Pure EP1. This is available on the SRX12 addon card. It also looks as though it's included in the new Roland SonicCell. SonicCell should be out in a month or so with a street price of $795.

 

Busch.

 

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Busch,

 

How does Scarbee compare head to head against Lounge Lizard? Any glaring areas where one is superior? I am thinking about Lounge Lizard because it would cost me a lot less than Scarbee since I don't have K2. However, since I want this software to do some studio recordings, I would rather not skimp and end up buying more pieces of software just because I tried to go the cheap route!!

 

aL

Gear: Yamaha MODX8, Mojo 61, NS2 73, C. Bechstein baby grand.

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Thanks Steve. Man, I'd give anything if you were at my house right now. I'm tracking vox and guitar with Ryan, my son, on some of his alt stuff. I played wurli, bass and did the drums and I might throw the chromatic on this tune but I don't wanna overstep my boundaries with his stuff....but I'd love for you to see him doing this. Very cool...maybe I'll post this session in the other thread for ya. gotta run...his guitar sounds tuned.....
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Sounds like you've got the situation well covered, Linwood. But yeah, post it... love to hear it! He's a lucky kid to have all that stuff to work with from you.

 

But you realize, of course, you just invited me to destroy your precious quality time with your son.

 

I could bring out the keytar and add endless tracks of garbage. At best, an unnecessary (if amusing) distraction. :)

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Linwood,

I don't hang around that much anymore, but your demo was worth the time. Beautiful. Very very tasteful, to say the least. The Scarbee rhodes is a fine sound set for sure, but it takes the hands, ears and tastebuds of someone like you to make it sound that good.

Thank you,

Steve Nathan

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Linwood,

but it takes the hands, ears and tastebuds of someone like you to make it sound that good.

 

With all due respect Steve, don't forget the "heart" required to write/play music so hauntingly beautiful.

 

Now back to gearheadism...I'm curious about the Kontakt version. I'm still using the Halion version and I did have some trouble installing but now it seems to run OK but definitely slow. But for anyone on a budget, the Halion version is included and it is definitely a viable option. And as Linwood mentioned, Thomas does have mega sales at least twice a year. I bought mine at half price on one of his birthday sales.

JP

1935 Mason & Hamlin Model A

Korg Kronos 2 73

Nord Electro 6D 61

Yam S90ES

Rhodes Stage 73 (1972)

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No contest. Free sfz soundfont player, and my free sounfont, jRhodes3.

 

There is not a cheaper solution, and even Guido S (the author of MrRay73) says he has more fun playing my soundfont.

 

However, my soundfont is a Rhodes EQ'd to the way I like it, and not intended to be the be-all and end-all perfect unadorned vintage beast. If it's not to your taste, then move on.

 

It's based on 70 MB of samples lovingly recorded from my 1977 Mark I Stage 73, with EQ to reduce the muddy mid lows and enhance the bell-tones. Up to 5 velocity layers; should be more really. Every 4th white note sampled. Biggest deficiency is it should have more velocity layers at the bottom, and the bass drops out when you whack the lowest keys hard.

 

Without any additional FX, I prefer my soundfont to Scarbee. However, Scarbee is the pure vintage beast. Not hit quite hard enough for the highest velocity layers -- they'd never break tines playing like that -- but still excellently done. And with the Scarbee or similar effects, it sounds like heaven.

 

Definitely try MrRay73, which rocks, is cheap, and takes little memory and CPU. (If you have an aftermarket soundcard, set it to 88k for an even better sound -- not sure why.) Try my sounfont, heck it's free. And definitely check out Scarbee, which is the best. (If oooonly they'd hit those keys a bit harder!)

 

 

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I agree that Lounge Lizard is not authentic. I downloaded it and it just doesn't cut the mustard... I was disappointed with it.

 

Learjeff, I'm running on a Mactel Machine, any recommended MAC soundfont player for your Rhodes samples?

 

aL

Gear: Yamaha MODX8, Mojo 61, NS2 73, C. Bechstein baby grand.

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No contest. Free sfz soundfont player, and my free sounfont, jRhodes3.

 

There is not a cheaper solution, and even Guido S (the author of MrRay73) says he has more fun playing my soundfont.

 

Wow, Learjeff! I downloaded your soundfont, and I gotta say, I'm pretty blown away! Your soundfont blows both MrRay and Lounge Lizard out of the water. Have been playing Zawinul tunes all morning and having loads of fun, thank you, man, I feel like I owe you one. This will definitely get used on gigs.

Turn up the speaker

Hop, flop, squawk

It's a keeper

-Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream for Crow

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As always, the timing on this forum is spooky. I'm working on a roundup of electric piano and Clav soft synths, and have been downloading and installing like a madman the past couple of weeks. Got all the usual suspects:

 

-Lounge Lizard

-Digi Velvet (Pro Tools only)

-Logic with EVP-88

-NI Elektrik Piano

-Scarbee KGB

 

Sonivox also just released individual, downloadable VIs for Rhodes, Wurly, and Clav sounds. They're PC-only (for now), using TASCAM's GVI engine. Installing those on the Windows machine today.

 

Next up is the donationware from Guido, and I'm definitely going to give Learjeff's soundfont a whirl. Gonna include some other freeware, too, such as Big Tick Ticky Clav and MDA Epiano.

 

Anything else not to be missed? I'm focusing on things that can stand on their own as virtual instruments, as opposed to sample libraries that require you to own a soft sampler already. That doesn't mean there has to be a standalone (no-host) mode, though.

Stephen Fortner

Principal, Fortner Media

Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Digital Piano Consultant, Piano Buyer Magazine

 

Industry affiliations: Antares, Arturia, Giles Communications, MS Media, Polyverse

 

 

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