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Motif or Kurzweil ?


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I am looking to purchase a keyboard but I have been somewhat confused by the variety of the field.


I'm not too sure of the terminology involved, but I have been really impress by keyboards such as the Motif that allow the play to define the Drums, the Base and accompaniment, etc.. and this would be what I would be principally using the keyboard to do. I also play guitar and would like to play along with my compositions.


I have narrowed my choice to two keyboards, The Kurzweil PC3x or the Yamaha Motif XF. The Yamaha appears to be all singing all dancing but it's is over £1000 more expensive than the Kurzweil. I would like to buy a good/serious keyboard but I am very wary of spending £3000 on something unless I'm sure it's worth the money. The Kurzweil does not have as many features and I don't think it has the capability to compose in the manner described, but from what I have heard, it is generally considered to be the superior instrument (better sounds). Given that it is cheaper too is a significant benefit.


What I would like to know would be whether it would be worth while buying the cheaper Kurzweil and using the money saved to buy software (for my notebook) that would give me the ability to do such compositions? I.e. Why pay more for a more complex and expensive keyboard if I can buy software that does the same (or more) for less money overall.


Kind regards,



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My thought is that it depends on your primary focus. I chose the PC3X (and like it well enough I added a PC3 for gigging) - in the type of music I do, it makes a very good live performance keyboard. I already had the big fast computer digital audio workstation (although learning how to use sequencer software is a project in itself).


If I were focused on dance, trance, hip-hop or similar beat related music, Ableton Live would probably be my software of choice, as long as I was putting stuff together in the studio.


I'm a beta tester for Kurzweil's 2.0 operating system (to come out soon), and there are a lot of new drum kits and so forth with modern sound.


If I were doing dance, trance, etc. live - I might go to the Yamaha - both boards are well built. I just happen to like the sounds and general operation of the Kurzweil better. Ya pays yer money, and takes yer choice!




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."


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Yeah, much as I like both boards, I think the Yamaha will be better for your needs and as Synthoid points out, don't rule out picking up a nice XS second hand. The XF is nice, but I suspect only a tiny proportion of people here need the extra features it offers.

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

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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What is your musical goal? How much live versus writing in the studio? What is your musical genre?


Those are important considerations here.


You sound very new to the whole field of synths/workstations and computer music production in general, and I'd say you would be over-buying in either case. If this is all "really new", you're likely to throw your hands up in frustration at all these features that you just can't use.


IMO, you are MUCH better served with a software-based studio at this point... or at least _trying_ a demo. I agree with MoodyBluesKeys about Ableton. Download. Install. Try!


Alternatively, you could try Cubase Studio, or Reason/Record, or any number of digital audio workstations, to see if they float your boat.


You would need a "controller" keyboard (weighted/semi-weighted? How many knobs/buttons do you want? Lots to choose from here) which will be FAR cheaper than a workstation synth. Or you could get a lower-end but highly playable workstation (Korg M50) and use it to play parts into the DAW.


This could be a far better investment, to which you can eventually add a more involved "workstation" type of keyboard if you wanted to.


If you ARE planning to play live a lot, we can have a different conversation here.


Sorry if this sounds like an intervention. I've seen too many people who are new to synths, go completely overboard with a purchase, and then bark about how it's "too complex" or falls short in some other way.


Again, we can provide better advice--and perhaps suggest options you hadn't considered--if we knew what your specific musical goals were.




I make software noises.
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Musical Goal? Hobby, to play piano for fun.


Live vs. Studio? Studio


Genre? Jazz/Funk


I wouldn't say I'm really new to the technology per se as I am familiar with all of the theory of DSP from university, at present it's just not clear to me how everything fits together into a cohesive package. I don't think that it would be too complicated - perhaps at first. I know what you mean about over stepping and the overall expense is a concern. I would like to spend the minimum possible, but, I don't mind paying a little extra if I was to get the overall package I wanted.


It appears to me that the most cost effective solution would be to purchase a dumb keyboard (a MIDI controller, I would guess), then buy software to run on my computer with which to generate the actual sound which would be what appears to be suggested.

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What is your musical goal? How much live versus writing in the studio? What is your musical genre?


What is your favorite color?

What is your quest?

What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? :D





"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker


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When will all the rhetorical questions end?


Steve, a software + controller setup is certainly one way to go, and allows some flexibility, in that you can concentrate your budget on sounds you really need/want (analog synths, electric bass, drums) and spend less towards things you don't (strings? harpsichords? :) ). I'm going to start a new thread on options for a software-based workstation...

I make software noises.
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by MoodyBlueskeys:


If I were doing dance, trance, etc. live - I might go to the Yamaha - both boards are well built. I just happen to like the sounds and general operation of the Kurzweil better.


I'd say you're short changing the Motif. I don't do any dance, or trance on my Motif ES8. I primarily sequence classic rock songs and even my 6 year old ES does a great job on creating that style of music. There are great sounding guitars and a lot of ARPS that can be used for guitar strums in songs, a nice selection of other instruments that certainly sound good for what I do. There are also some good jazz oriented instrument sounds, and performances built in for someone that just wants to jam with the Motif. The XF has about 4 or 6 times the ROM of my ES series, and is a better choice for creating songs and recordings than the Kurzweil.


That said, I think the PC3 series sounds great. Its better for live performance rather than recording because of the very small screen. With a screen that size and the user interface, it would be a bit more limiting for doing what the OP is after. Sure, the Motif is more money, but if you need what it has built in, you don't need much of anything else.






Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.


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Reason(Record, as stated, with a Midi keyboard would be a great introduction and learning tool...then you would be in position to better define your needs, a bit later on...

NORD STAGE 2, IPAD 2 with lots of soft syths

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Guitars, basses, Pod Xtl, GT-10b

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Understand that I'm a BIG fan of software. I think though, given your scenario, something like the Motif XS plus software makes a lot of sense. You're in need of backing tracks for your compositions and seeing that you're doing jazz/funk you need them to sound like real players as much as possible. The arps on the Motif XF/XS are designed to do just that. Creating realistic sound bass, drums, etc. is not as particularly easy, especially when you're trying to mimic more advanced playing in these genres. With DAWs you're given a clean sheet and expected to do everything from scratch. Yes, they give you some loops to get going, but nothing like the cohesive styles you find on the Motif. Some might say using the backing tracks from the Motif is cheating. I say that's BS. Do professional songwriters write out detailed bass and drum parts? Typically not. They write the harmony, melody and basic arrangement and then rely on professional musicians to fill in their parts as they see fit. The Motif is really just doing something very similar.


The Kurzweil has no equivalent to the Motif arps. I think the Kurzweil has strength in some areas, but overall the Motif is much stronger across the board.


To save money I recommend tracking down a Motif XS vs the XF. They can be had at big discounts through the dealers on close out and the used market is even better.


The Motif should come with Cubase lite and that's a fine solution to get started. It integrates well with the Motif.


If you're looking to do more straight-ahead jazz you might add Band-in-a-box with RealTracks. BIAB is somewhat like the Motif arps in that it can create backing tracks but it doesn't do it in realtime. You enter in the chords and then it generates the tracks. BIAB's advantage is that it uses audio tracks created by real musicians vs. MIDI generated phases (Motif). Straight-ahead jazz is VERY, VERY difficult to pull off using MIDI and the RealTracks are a huge improvement. More straight, repetitive styles work better with MIDI.


You can always take the output from BIAB and the Motif and bring it all together in Cubase (or any other DAW).



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Steve, you may also want to check out the Yamaha S90XS. It may compare favorably to the Motif in terms of delivered patterns/phrases, if that's important to you. (There are S90xs owners on this board who could give you more info).




Same sound engine, but it lacks sampling and sequencing, but it doesn't sound like you need that capability on board. It comes with Cubase AI, a very capable DAW. You could always add other software instruments if the keyboard falls short in some area.


Yet one more thing to consider!


BTW, really good drum libraries with grooves (either included or as expansion packs) are not horribly expensive, so I wouldn't let that be a deciding factor in your keyboard choice.



I make software noises.
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