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Numa Nano, SV-1, PX-130 impressions


marino

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So I had a free hour or so and I was in the vicinity of the Big Music Store... no better chance to check new keyboards.

 

First thing I noticed was the 73-key version of the [font:Arial Black]Korg SV-1[/font].

 

(disclaimer: I haven't read the long thread about it, so there are good chances that I will repeat observations already made by others)

My first impression was that this instrument is just a joy to play! Small and compact, it feels solid *and* vintage, all the controls are under your eyes like a (much smaller) ProMega 3, and the feel of the keybed is excellent. So it feels like a musical instrument - a factor to consider.

Some detailed impressions about the sounds...

The Rhodes emulations are stellar, I prefer these to the ones on Nord instruments. They're all a bit on the bright/aggressive side, which can be limiting for someone. OTOH, the sounds are so highly customizable with the panel controls, that a warmer sound is not impossible. Wurlies are very good, CP-style instruments are appropriately ugly, and there's something horrible which sound very realistically like an RMI. :freak:

Acoustic pianos: Well, there's really one basic acoustic piano multisample, with variations in eq, effects, etc.

I'd describe this multisample as very balanced, on the bright side, very responsive, just a little bit cold. Would I play a piano gig with it? I'll suspend judgement until a second impression. For sure it's a galaxy apart from the Nord Stage, in a positive way.

The clavinets are highly usable in my opinion; they simply don't have the strong personality of the EPs. (for clavs with personality, see the GEM RP-X) :) But they would sit well in a mix, to my ear.

Organs: Ummm. Frankly, I found the organs too bright, and the choice of drawbars registrations left me scratching my head. There are simply no choices for jazz and prog rock, just psychedelic, gospel or pop/rock settings. Unless there's a way to reach additional sounds which I'm not aware of, in which case I apologize.

That said, that choice of drawbars combinations is highly customizable with all the effects and eqs.

The "Other" sounds (strings, pad, synths, and the like) are all of medium/high quality, but you're stuck with the few basic things present in the machine. The synth brass sound, for example, is good, but if you need to adjust its attack, release, or resonance, you're out of luck. Maybe there's a computer editor that allows to do that?

The effects are a treat to manipulate in real time, everything is clearly labeled and easily reachable. And they sound wonderful, from stereo tremolo to various overdrives, to "analog" delay.

 

All in all, it's charming instrument, and a pleasure to play. The keybed feels great (in a 73-key board. Hooray!!), but it still weights a bit much for its size. No wheels is a big minus. I'd say if your main sound is Rhodes, buy it immediately. All the others will judge according to their needs.

 

Next I played the [font:Arial Black]Casio PX-130[/font] for about 20 minutes.

Probably you're tired to hear me repeat the same things about Casio DPs, but here it is: Great keyboard. Probably a bit lighter and faster than the PX-120, but still feels very solid, and very similar (though not identical) to other Casio instruments. The main piano sounds, though, just don't speak to my ears. Yes, this latest version is still better than the 120; more detailed, more responsive and dynamic. But it still lacks that warm, singing quality that I like on a piano. Keyboard Magazine loved the piano sound in their review, so at this point I guess it's just a matter of taste. (Although I suspect that trying to sample a better instrument would help)

The electric pianos aren't bad, but after having played the SV-1, they sounded plastic to me. I'll shut up about the "other" sounds, if not for saying that the vibraphone sounds awful.

Don't get me wrong, please: I love the concept of the Casio pianos. So little weight, excellent-feeling keyboard, onboard speakers. I even owned one for a few months. But on a musical instrument, the main thing to consider is always the sound, and I just happen to dislike that sound. Let's hope for the next generation...

 

[font:Arial Black]FATAR NUMA NANO.[/font]

In the past few months, I asked the people in the store so many times for news on the Numa Nano, that this time, they approached me saying that the first one was there, and asking for my opinion!

Better late than never. Fatar were able to beat Kurzweil for delays...

 

Now a disclaimer: I could only play the Nano from a slightly akward position, and it wasn't connected to any sound source. I'm going to return to the place in a few days for a more complete impression.

But for now, let me say that the first impression was very, very positive. The basic fact is that they were able to design an 88-key board with a very substantial *fully weighted* keybed, which weights a few kilos LESS than a Casio DP! Plus two good feeling wheels and MIDI zones.

 

Remember how many times I (we) asked for a 76-key fully weighted master key for live playing? Unless there are going to be big disappointing surprises about the Nano, I feel I don't need that anymore; I can lug around this 88 no problem!

About the action: It's very different from any other Fatar. After playing it, the action on my VMK-176plus feels really too light (there was one in the store to verify). The Nano is much more "piano feel". The throw of the key is a bit short for my tastes, and certainly shorter than on a regular Numa. I'd say the response is comparable to some recent Roland weighted keyboards. Not the utopic ideal maybe (not in 10 kilos!), but certainly one of the best responses around. Its fast rebounce appeals a lot to me.

 

As I said, I'm going to visit the store again in the next few days. I'm broke, so I need to sell the VMK (plus maybe some other thing) if I want to buy it. *And* I'm going to test all its features against my needs. For example, only two sliders, small display, aftertouch response, MIDI stuff, etc. But I have high hopes to have found my next master controller.

I'll report back. :)

 

edit: Forgot to add that before leaving, I could put my hands on a few CME and M-Audio 88-key controllers, and their actions *all* felt awful after the Nano.

 

 

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Thanks for the reviews!

 

I had a lot of similar opinions of the SV-1 and Casio.

 

I played the SV-1 for a second time for about 30 minutes yesterday. One caveat - after 5 minutes I was wondering just what ep, AP, clav, etc I was playing. Luckily I had my iphone and was able to download the pdf of the manual.

 

I looked through the editor of the sv-1 tonight and thought that maybe the registrations for the drawbars could be changed. It doesn't look so to me and I wonder if they're going to allow that?

 

Thanks for talking about the numa too - hope they get one here in the states soon.

 

 

www.brianho.net

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/brianho

www.youtube.com/brianhojazz

 

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Carlo, thanks (as always) for your thoughts. I'm encouraged about the Numa Nano. It's not vaporware! :thu:

 

Regarding the SV-1, there are several piano samples, including a Yamaha and a Steinway. There's also an upright (not sure what model), and then a mono version of the Steinway.

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Ooops! The various basic piano sounds in the SV-1 sounded so similar to me, I thought the only difference was in the effects. I did notice the mono patch (very appreciated). Frankly, I have spent more time with the EPs (just playing and tweaking) and the organs (trying to make them sound right to my ears) than with the acoustic pianos.

 

More info about the Numa Nano soon, probably on Wednesday. :)

 

 

 

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I played the PX-130 and found the AP to be harsh (too hard strike sounding) and muddy thru its internal speakers. I think I prefer the AP in the older PX-120 which seems less harsh.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." 

Harry teaches jazz piano online using Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, or Google Meet.

 

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