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The S90ES Piano Sucks


Joe Muscara

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There's a topic title to spur y'all on. ;)

 

Last night we saw Keb' Mo,' and he had a guy named Kevin So with him playing guitar, harmonica, and keyboards. When Kevin played keys, it was this piano-ish patch on the S90ES that I can't even begin to describe to you. If it was supposed to be a piano, it was awful, and I think it was. But I have no idea what patch he had set. Here's what I do know. There were two cables plugged into the back of the keyboard that were positioned like they were audio L+R. There was ONE monitor on the floor to his right.

 

Is it possible that this was a stereo piano patch being summed to mono? I never spotted him switching patches nor doing anything except playing the instrument, so that makes me suspect it was at whatever the default sound in that board is, probably a piano.

 

If that's the case, this is the first I've heard of the dreaded summed to mono piano patch that actually sounded bad. If I've heard it other times, it didn't stand out like crap that this did. (This is not meant as any disrespect to Kevin, who was a fine player. It may have sounded fine on stage.)

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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No, that is really how that piano sounds. I heard the same Motif piano at a Mariah Carey concert, and it sucked equally bad, even though the player was great. Perhaps mono summing aggravates the problem, but the basic sound sucks to begin with.

 

Now, watch the lynch mob approach...

 

 

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Yamaha's piano patches are usually good. Even those small PSR workstations are solid on piano patches. Before I would blame the gear I would have a serious talk with the sound guy. If you only catch half of a stereo patch with the DSP on, you are only getting half of the tone color. Poor mixing perhaps.
"A good mix is subjective to one's cilia." http://hitnmiss.yolasite.com
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I should mention I played an S90ES piano once. Once.

 

;)

 

Seriously, the time I played it, it seemed like an okay piano sound, nothing this horrible.

 

I'm not necessarily blaming the sound on the S90ES here, though the patch choice could have been a possible problem (I was just goofing in the topic title). But, I'm guessing it was something else. It was a shame too, some of those tunes would have sounded really great with say, the Electro Mono Steinway

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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People use weird amplification systems nowadays... I don´t know the ES, only its predecessor, and think in spite of clear limitations (but so does a gigabyte of Linuxsampler piano samples) it deals with the sampled sound fairly musical.

 

An example I recorded:

 

 

Theo Verelst

 

Very nice!

 

But what is that on the middle finger of your right hand? BandAid? Rubber band?

aka âmisterdregsâ

 

Nord Electro 5D 73

Yamaha P105

Kurzweil PC3LE7

Motion Sound KP200S

Schimmel 6-10LE

QSC CP-12

Westone AM Pro 30 IEMs

Rolls PM55P

 

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Everybody's taste is personal and valid. Based on Joe's description, I don't think the problem in this case is the keyboard.

 

I play the S90ES mono piano live in a three piece and I quite like it. Sure I'd rather take my Steinway, but my back is bad enough.

 

Menno, there is one set of piano samples on the S90ES that is not on the Motif ES. It's not a power pop/rock piano but it's quite friendly to jazz. For pop/rock live pianos in a rompler ... nothing beats the Kurzweils in my opinion. They blend beautifully with most guitars in most rooms.

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I love my S90es main piano sound (the one not on the Motif) for stuff that is exposed. For heavier rock arrangements it doesn't sit in the mix as well. Every time I hear the Nord piano in a rock mix (e.g. Wilco), it sounds great. Everytime I play one in a store, I'm underwhelmed.

Nord Stage 3 88, Korg Kronos 2 61, Moog Sub 37, Yamaha U1 Upright, Casio CT-S500, Spacestation V.3, QSC K10.2

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Love my S90es piano in mono or stereo.
But if you sum the stereo piano to mono, does it sound like crap?

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Sorry, they don't suck live. I've heard others use them and get good results as well. No, I don't sum to mono, I run it mono (which does make a difference). I regularly compare to Motif classic's Natural Grand, and my Fantom Pianos, and I'll take the S90es.
Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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While there is always the issue of personal tastes when it comes to digital piano tones, I disagree with the idea that the core sound of the S90ES 'sucks'. I've run it live in mono, and stereo, and have always had positive comments from audience members, and fellow players. It's helped to have good mentors, along the way, giving advice on getting the best sound, on stage, from my rig. Also, working with some good engineers hasn't hurt. BTW: I've recorded many times with my S90ES; it tracks beautifully.

 

In any given signal chain, there are plenty of ways that the audio can sound bad. A lot of players sub-mix their rig, then there's the person running the FOH mix; two different PA's, if you will. So if either of two, or both, aren't used properly, the sound will likely 'suck'.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here's a quick question to the OP to help eliminate another possibility. How many boards were in that cat's rig? If he was just using the one to cover various patches, that could have screwed the mix. A dialed in "sweet" sounding piano mix will make an organ patch sound hollow. A "sweet" organ will muddy the piano, if are EQed to the same channel.
"A good mix is subjective to one's cilia." http://hitnmiss.yolasite.com
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Do you have any idea how subjective sound is? What sounds good to you may not sound good to anyone else. I owned the Yamaha you talk about and it sounds very good. The piano sounds work well. The sound person may be at fault.
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Remember that Jeff Lorber master class here at Keyboard central? He used an S90ES for the class and I remember thinking how excellent the rhodes sounded but I didn't care for the piano sound.

 

I sat in w a rock band and the keyboard player was kind enough to let me sit in and use his S90ES - we did Josie - I used a ep - that sounded great - and we did something else - I think it was Home At Last - I knew the bass player and guitarist from when we were in a Steely Dan copy band - anyway I thought the piano sounded great I thought the action was great but couldn't get over how huge the s90es seemed on the tiny stage. At the time I was gigging a lot and just using my Nord Stage Compact.

 

Funny thing the amp was a Roland KC500 - which I used to have and I hated it. So it's funny that the sound of the piano are different under different circumstances.

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There's a topic title to spur y'all on. ;)
Repeated for emphasis. :rolleyes:

 

I should mention I played an S90ES piano once. Once.

 

;)

 

Seriously, the time I played it, it seemed like an okay piano sound, nothing this horrible.

 

I'm not necessarily blaming the sound on the S90ES here, though the patch choice could have been a possible problem (I was just goofing in the topic title). But, I'm guessing it was something else.

Repeated for emphasis. :rolleyes:

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Here's a quick question to the OP to help eliminate another possibility. How many boards were in that cat's rig? If he was just using the one to cover various patches, that could have screwed the mix. A dialed in "sweet" sounding piano mix will make an organ patch sound hollow. A "sweet" organ will muddy the piano, if are EQed to the same channel.
There was only the one board, and every time he used it, it sounded like he was using the same patch. He didn't use the S90ES on every song.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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I've had the ES since it came out and I really like the piano sound. Proper amplification and EQ, and dialing back the fx will help it sound better, but what sounds good is all subjective. If I heard a keyboard like this live and it sounded bad I'd first suspect the sound man/mix.

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It's not the S90ES; it's something else. I have a sample set from an S90ES -- it's not the same thing as the S90ES but pretty close. To my ear, it's not as sweet as my MR76 but it's still a great piano and vastly superior to any of the NE2 pianos.

 

I'm still amazed that the piano on a 1997 keyboard with 32M of memory compares well with more recent workhorses like the RD700 and S90ES.

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Too many players think piano begins and ends with Roy Bittan (whether consciously or not) then skimp on the amplification to pull off the low end when scooping out the mid-range in favor of highs and lows.

 

I haven't heard a good sounding Yamaha live in recent years. My snarky line is that Yamaha players care more about the feel on their fingertups than the sound to the audience.

 

The best piano I hear are from older guys with older Kawais and such that boost the lower mid range/upper bass to get a sound that's more like Ian McLagen's "It's All Ove Now" era sound with the Faces or John Lennon's "Wheels Go Round" or the LH parts of "Jessica" just before the solo kicks in or the "Bobby McGee" piano sound at the end.

 

Barrelhouse? Roadhouse? And yeah, amplification to back it up with plenty of transient headroom kick so to speak on the mid bass.

 

Damn the tinkle and exxagerated bass that ends up as ornament at best in the hands of most rock/pop band pianists.

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