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My all-around rig


BroMor

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Well, I have been watching for a long time, and maybe I have enough $ to get a decent rig to replace my DGX202 - finally - again, maybe.

 

Honestly, I am a mid-level piano hack who some people think has a nice singing voice. I haven't worked-out on Hannon for a decade. I am just thinking of something that will give me as much flexibility as possible, with a better keyboard than the Yamaha I bought for $300.

 

OK - the questions is: If I bought a PC3 88, are there any specific regrets I would endure? This is where I am heading, otherwise. I already like the sound. PLEASE do not pull any punches.

 

I should say: I loved my Ensoniq -- many years ago - I am a brass player and that had the best brass reproduction I have ever heard to date. Got poor and had to sell it, darn it!

 

Thanks for your input. I need it!

 

Walt

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If I bought a PC3 88, are there any specific regrets I would endure?

If you've played one and like the way it feels and sounds, then probably not. The PC3 has a wide palette of very useable programs and (I think) is very easy to get around on.

 

dB

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You said don't pull punches?

 

I spent some time with a Kurzweil PC3x and found it to be over-rated in every way. Sound quality is about average for a device half it's price. Variety of sounds didn't impress me either much less ways to use them. The PC3x is as boring a keyboard as I've played this year, second to the Nord Stage 88. I think my expectations were raised by all the positive comments I've read about the PC3x. I flat out just don't like it, even if that puts me in some kind of minority.

 

IMHO the Motif XS8 is much better in terms of sound quality, sound variety, and fun/inspiration. Obviously if any ONE keyboard was that much better than any other it would sell and the others wouldn't so personal tastes vary widely. My standard was the inspiration factor and almost every review of the Motif XS gives it five stars in that category, but even the basic sounds like pianos, EP's and organs seem slightly better than any other keyboard in it's price range.

 

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I've had my PC3X since March, 2008 - still a very happy camper with it - enough that I also purchased a PC3 (76 key) in May, 2009 for gigging to replace/supplement my K2661.

 

The PC3 won't have the very best brass you ever heard on a keyboard (but it may very well have the best reeds and strings). My gigging one gets a lot of use with all kinds of patches, the 88 key mostly stays in the studio, and gets used 95% for acoustic piano sounds. I also own the older PC2X - which was not bad, but not in the same league with the PC3X.

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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If you have enjoyed your DGX202, then youre going to LOVE the PC3 (whichever version you get).

 

The PC3 didnt work out for me, but Im also not satisfied with any one keyboard to do everything. If I had to dump my rig today and limit myself to 2 keyboards (no modules or software), it would be the S90es (or Motif) and the Electro 3 (luckily I own both!). That said, both of those boards have serious limitations for me.

 

In terms of the PC3, I think its strongest points are its orchestral and analog sounds. The pianos are very subjective, but again, compared to the DGX202, I think wed all agree youre making a massive improvement. The brass and guitars are pretty lackluster. Its electric piano sounds are pretty good. I cant comment on the drums.

 

But I think youd be just as happy with an S90es if you can find one, and theyre a lot less. (Ive always loved the Motif since I got my classic 8 when they first came out, so admittedly, Im biased.) Its lighter than the PC3x, but a little larger depthwise. Its not real easy to tweak, but its software editor is supposed to be a breeze (same to be said about the PC3). Its pianos are very good, and cut through a mix and are easy to amplify (not true of the Nord Stage or PC3), its electric pianos are VERY good, its strings are very good (not as beautiful as the PC3s though), its analog sounds are okay, especially if you only use them sporadically, and it has a wider variety of synth sounds than the PC3. The brass on the S90es is pretty lackluster (as they are on the PC3). Youve got to play for yourself to make up your mind. But you could do a lot worse than a Pc3!

 

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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A point about the PC3; I haven't played it (using a 2661) but am pretty sure it has the "Quick Access"(QA)mode.

 

One can argue about the sound quality of the Kurzweil line (I happen to love it) but the QA mode puts these products a step ahead when it comes to gigging.

 

I can program all the voicings, splits, controllers, program changes, etc., for a song, save it in a program/setup, name it the song name, and then have it available in the Quick Access mode. I leave the board in the QA mode while performing and simply choose the song as it's called. QA mode is arranged in banks. There's 10 "songs" (presets) to a bank and you can store 20 banks per memory bank. Flipping banks and getting to presets is really quick.

 

There's some boards out there that do similar things (Combi's, etc), but nothing quite like the QA mode.

"May you stay...forever young."

 

 

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One can argue about the sound quality of the Kurzweil line (I happen to love it) but the QA mode puts these products a step ahead when it comes to gigging.

 

I can program all the voicings, splits, controllers, program changes, etc., for a song, save it in a program/setup, name it the song name, and then have it available in the Quick Access mode. I leave the board in the QA mode while performing and simply choose the song as it's called. QA mode is arranged in banks. There's 10 "songs" (presets) to a bank and you can store 20 banks per memory bank. Flipping banks and getting to presets is really quick.

Agreed.

 

Each bank shows up on the screen laid out in the same way as the 10 key pad...so when you're in QA made, the 10 key pad gives you one-touch access to each program in the bank. Makes finding your most used sounds effortless....and if you happen to play in a band where the guitar player frequently just starts tunes without giving you warning/time to find the right program, that can be invaluable.

 

 

There's some boards out there that do similar things (Combi's, etc), but nothing quite like the QA mode.

It's one up from the average Combi mode though, because you can select either a program or a setup, giving you access to either without having to switch modes/press an extra button. Yamaha's Master Mode lets you do that as well.

 

dB

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Wow! Thanks guys. I appreciate your time in answering. I really do.

 

Dave/DaddyG: It takes several hours to tweak the sound (split/effects/etc.) the way I like it for a given song, but that is OK. What hurts are the several minutes it takes to set it up on the DGX from my notes on legal pad - I just couldn't keep up with the band. If the song banks are going to fix that, great. That is something I really miss from my EPS. That was easy, too.

 

I see The Pro really dislikes the rig. I also see the XS8 $3,600 is comparably priced to the PC3X. I should give it a run for the money. Thanks for your candor.

 

MoodyBluesKeys: I admit, the 76 key is tempting, but I can't afford both. All experience hath shown, I am primarily a bottom-end player - I like walking the bass - I just love the deep-rich tones much more than the top. Do you ever dial-down an octave on your 76 when performing? Is that workable? I guess its probably just a button push. If I could save $500, have a much-improved keyboard, and an awesame pallet, that would be worth something.

 

tonysounds: Can I tweak a phase shift with complete manual control for Tom Sawyer on the S90es? I have read the manual on the PC3, and I know I can do it there. $1,800 is really enticing if it will handle the rock stuff, too. By the way, sorry, but is a phaser classified as an analog sound?

 

Ian: Do you know anyone who does good brass these days? If I spend half price on the keyboard (s90es), maybe I can afford an add-on.

 

OK, one other other item. I bought a KC550 to go with the DGX a year and a half ago, and it is not really as good as I though it would be. It sounded great in GC, but on a different KB (Roland Fantom). It REALLY kicks butt, but the quality is not so good. Is this because of the DGX? Because it is a single unit, and I should buy two for stereo? Is it just not that good for quality piano reproduction? I thought I was buying top-notch (in my budget), but I don't know why it is not right.

 

Any advice on sound equipment (jeez - sorry to pry!).

 

Again, thank you all for your time.

 

Walt

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I would like to sincerely thank the contributors to this forum, and particularly the contributors to this thread. Many of us readers simply do not have the resources, time, &/or ability (and thus, experience) to sample and compare many of the keyboards that you have. Your contemplative critiques are truly appreciated! (It takes time and care to do this.)

 

In the past several months, there has been so much comment about Nord's Electro3 and Kurzweil's PC3 and PC3x, that one could think they are "the best thing since sliced bread." It's so valuable to read thoughtful comparisons, with personal bias stated up-front.

 

I was beginning to wonder if I was entirely out in "left-field", as I compared the ascribed "dead-on" Clav and EP sounds of Nord with the Clav and EP sounds of the MotifXS and found that I actually liked the those sounds better on the MotifXS (or ES).

 

It is a thread like this that neutralizes "hype".

 

Thanks, guys. Really, thank you.

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Ian: Do you know anyone who does good brass these days? If I spend half price on the keyboard (s90es), maybe I can afford an add-on.

 

Brass pretty much sucks on all keyboards. If you have to I would say the new ARX-03 Brass expansion board for the Fantom G series is probably the best you could get right now. But don't take my word for it. I haven't tried it out myself yet, so this is based on some demos I found on the Roland site.

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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I think most people would find the XS8 unusable for gigging unless they have roadies. If you find you like the Motif sounds better the S90 in either ES or new XS format is the better bet. The Kurz is a nice board and right now much better value than the products of the big three. I must say that I wasn't particularly impressed with the pianos when I tried it.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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Wow! Thanks guys. I appreciate your time in answering. I really do.

 

I see The Pro really dislikes the rig. I also see the XS8 $3,600 is comparably priced to the PC3X. I should give it a run for the money. Thanks for your candor.

 

MoodyBluesKeys: I admit, the 76 key is tempting, but I can't afford both. All experience hath shown, I am primarily a bottom-end player - I like walking the bass - I just love the deep-rich tones much more than the top. Do you ever dial-down an octave on your 76 when performing? Is that workable? I guess its probably just a button push.

 

 

The PC3X is about $600 cheaper at that price.

 

The PC3 has both octave shift +/- and transpose +/- on the main screen, very easy to get to while playing.

 

Pete

 

"all generalizations are false" ~Mark Twain

 

Kurzweil K2000, ME-1 and (2)PC3, Casio PX-350 AND PX-360, EV sXa 360

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The Motif XS8 weighs about five pounds more than the Kurzweil PC3x and about 10 pounds more than the S90XS. The weight difference between the XS8 and the PC3x is insignificant, especially for the creative options the Motif XS offers.

 

If weight is a serious issue than get the Motif XS6 and a lightweight 88-note controller for a nice two-tier keyboard combo.

 

The inspiration/jamming and fun factors the Motif XS offers in addition to the quality sounds makes it worth the little extra effort to use it for gigging.

 

 

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Sure but at 25kg the Kurz is already a fair weight - my RD is the same weight so I know how that feels. I don't see why you'd take the Motif at 3kg more when the S range has all the features you need for live use with same soundset and shaves off 2.5kg on the PC3X.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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Both the PC3 and 3X allow going down an octave by a simple button push (or up an octave). I really like also having transpose buttons available while in program mode, all the older Kurzweils had to be changed to MIDI screen to get into transpose.

 

You will be able to get some very low bass sounds on SOME of the patches. Especially on the bass guitars, many of them do not just keep getting lower, the bottom keys are for adding varioius effects (not live play as much as sequencer controlled). This was also true on some of the Bass Guitar CD-ROMs that were made available for the K-series.

 

It is quite workable on piano on the PC3X to give those bottom notes that only exist on a Bosendorfer Imperial (but nobody wrote music that used those notes anyhow).

 

(brings back - I used to play one piece on my PC2 where I had to switch an octave down for the very last note, since it was below the 76 key keyboard's normal range.)

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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I think most people would find the XS8 unusable for gigging unless they have roadies. If you find you like the Motif sounds better the S90 in either ES or new XS format is the better bet. The Kurz is a nice board and right now much better value than the products of the big three. I must say that I wasn't particularly impressed with the pianos when I tried it.

 

It's hefty, but unuseable? How have I been playing with all these bands the last 8 months?? :thu:

Steinway L, Yamaha Motif XS-8, NE3 73, Casio PX-5S, iPad, EV ZLX 12-P ZZ(x2), bunch of PA stuff.
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Thanks, rocket man, you are definitely expressing my sentiments, too. I am really getting some good stuff here.

 

You mention, though, the Nord. I have always read this was quite a top-notch rig, but I have never even seen one. As far as EP goes, I think of Bob James, Stevie, Herbie - that's the sound I want to hear - call me mainstream - whatever! Are Nord's really expensive? Obviously I am out of the loop, but why do they not get in my sights much, in your opinion?

 

Ian: You ought to hear, or maybe you have, the pre-Gulf war Ensoniq EPS doing brass. To my ears, those were some samples! I used to like to just play some sextet music (as well as I could). I gues it was just that that the ensemble sound. It was not like a single trumpet sounded like a real instrument, but together they were very true. Perhaps the modern samples would be good enough for me, too. I just have not heard it, yet, as good. Nastalgia?

 

MoodyBluesKeys: I guess I should say I am not looking for freak low sounds, but more like you said: If I need that last note to be an Eb, well I want the keyboard to offer that up. Like when I am shuffling with octaves in E and I want to dunk down at time or two when bringing it around in B, well you know 76 is 76. But, I am down there all the time, yes, perhaps a personal fault, but there I am slappin' plastic. I could probably realistically dial the whole 76 down an octave and never miss a thing.

 

Any comment on the sound gear?

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BroMor,

 

I've heard that Nord's (Sweeden?) are expensive because of import duties, but I would think that keyboards from Japan, etc. would also be subject to similar import duties. Can anyone shed some light here?

 

I can only speak of the Nord Stage88 that I have, which I really like in some ways and dislike in others.

 

I really like the "Extern" function where you can pre-program a midi connection to a rack-module (ie., a Motif-Rack, etc.), and get there with a twist of a knob, while continuing to use the pianos, organ, and/or synthesizer sounds concurrently by setting up splits. Does anybody know of another keyboard that does this so easily? Or maybe even easier?

 

TonySounds might be one of several other regular contributors to write about the Nord, as he has experience with several models as well as experience using Receptor. You might find some answers using the search engine within this forum.

 

Also, GC carries Nord.

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A bit more detail; I've checked out the main banks of bass programs on my PC3X (88key), which has a range (without transpose) of A0 to C8. The PC3 range is from E1 to G7. C4 is designated as "middle C".

 

There are three different ways that bass patches are setup, depending on whether the patch emulates an electric bass guitar, a synth or other bass sound, or an acoustic (upright) bass.

 

Electric bass patches produce the normal bass sound over a range between note C2 and note B6. Below that, notes C0-B0 do produce VERY low frequency sounds, not as sustained as the center notes, and notes C1-B1 produce various pitches that I would describe as emulations of fret noise. The very uppermost notes, C7-C8 duplicate the notes between C4 and C5.

 

Acoustic (upright) bass patches produce normal bass sound over the range of B1 to the top C8. Below that, A0 (C00 if dropped an octave) through E1 make low pitch noises similar to the lowest on the elect bass programs. F1 through B1 produce what sounds like fret noise.

 

The third category is various bass sounds that are not tied to particular bass guitar or acoustic bass sounds (synth bass and some Virtual Analog bass patches). Those cover the entire keyboard from C0 to C8. If you use the transpose octaves button, notes below C0 and above C8 do not produce any sound.

 

So, pretty much any of the electric bass patches will give you full range of an 5-string BEADG electric bass, except the low B note. Drop tunings below the low C of a BEADG electric bass are not supported. This still gives you the Eb (one big reason, since I play in a church worship band, that I bought a 5-string bass).

 

I didn't get my PC3 out of the case, but past experience has told me that the same set of sounds are available on either the 61, 76, or 88 key PC3 series IF one uses octave transpose to reach them.

 

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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I am going "down state", as we say in the rural areas, tomorrow.

 

I found there is a pc3 dealer from Kurz's website:

 

Name: WONDERLAND MUSIC CO.

Address: 26459 NOVI RD.

Location: NOVI, MI 48375, United States

Phone: 248/344-1111

 

I would like to try the action on the 76, MoodyBluesKeys. I like the 88, but I have never tried the 76 - from the literature, I hear it is a compromise. And, I don't mind compromising - as long as there is a little in it for both parties (like my back and my fingers).

 

:-)

 

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PC3 semi-weighted keys - a good overall compromise. Not the best for playing Romantic era classical piano, the fully-weighted 3X is superior. However, I HAVE played a Chopin prelude on the PC3, it just make it finikier to get the small gradations in volume and keep them smooth.

 

Better for playing synth parts, fine for Rhodes and Wurlies, works out well in orchestral emulations, way better for Hammond/Leslie parts (I prefer it to my K2661 which is 61 unweighted synth action keys - but more for the sound than the keying - for true Hammond work, a set of unweighted waterfall keys makes it easier).

 

It works out very well where I usually use it - part of the band. Solo jazz or classical piano is the one place that the 3X weighted action works better. (Of course, there is also the weight and size of the 88 key vs. the more keys for more zones if doing theatrical work).

 

Although, trying to shredder parts on it like 1/16 bass notes all through a song will definitely tire out the hand more than an unweighted keyboard. Fortunately, I don't often have to do that kind of part for more than 12 bars at a time.

 

There should be some others weigh in - I know that a number of forum regulars are using PC3.

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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Darn! I was down in Ann Arbor to visit my in-laws, and was going to stop by Wonderland Novi on the way home to try out the PC3. I called the number and it was disconnected. So, I called the rest of the Michigan dealers from Kurweil's website, and nobody stocks the Kurweil pro-line - just home. Wonderland in Dearborn said he could get somebody from Kurzweil to come in and do a demo if there were enough people present - asked if I wanted to put my name on a list.

 

Bottom-line: As far as I know, there is nowhere in Michigan to try out a PC3. If anyone from Kurzweil would like to correct me (and their website), I would be appreciative. I am also wondering how I would get my rig serviced if it needed.

 

Meanwhile, I am going to the GC in Saginaw this afternoon to take another look at the other stuff you folks have been suggesting (Nord, Motif, Fantom, et al). Maybe a S90es and a Receptor? Who knows. Gotta go try some stuff.

 

Later.....

 

Walt

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Well, now it is unpacked and I have beaten and twiddled upon it for about two hours. Wow! I really got an upgrade from the DGX202 - my original intent.

 

One thing I noticed in 2 hours is that the KC550 can sound pretty darn nice with a decent sound-source running through it. I like it alot, though, I played it flat and it was bass-heavy. It also had the ability, with some bass and synth patches, to make me start looking at the ceiling wondering what was vibrating in sympathy. What a beast!

 

In case anyone is looking for a beginner's rig, here it is:

 

$1,464.99 KB

$160 five year warranty

$140 Road Runner soft case with wheels

$70 a couple cables

$40 a foot switch

tax

and for a shade under two grand, I am happy, and I don't even know how to use it, yet.

 

It is funny. Some kid (nice young man) who was getting ready to start in his first year at Central Michigan was playing Pictures at an Exhibition right behind me on the new Roland. I got up and asked him to "come over here". He started playing the Yamaha like it was - well - like I will never be able to play it. And I thought, that action is definitely good enough for me! Now, after a couple hours playing it at home, this hack has no regrets.

 

Now, I need to read the manual and check out the tweak factor. There are a lot of effects I need to master. If anyone uses this rig much, I would appreciate any advice or links you may provide.

 

Having fun in Michigan!

 

Walt

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