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Help me decide - repair or GAS?


Bucktunes

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Long story short - I have a bit of a dilemma; Should I repair my beloved Yamaha S90 "classic" for $800, or pop for a Kurzweil PC3X? This might seem like an obvious choice, but here's why it's a bit problematic...

 

The S90 was a very generous gift from my folks back in `04, and I love it to death. Also, it has a bit of sentimental value for that reason. However, it needs a new keybed. I've been informed that the serial number on mine falls outside the range that would entitle me to a free replacement, so replacing it would be $800 out of my pocket. Since I have none of my own money in it, I could see it as getting a virtually new S90 for $800. However...

 

I've heard so much gushing praise for the Kurzweil PC3X both here and in Keyboard Magazine, and I've had it in mind as the most likely replacement for my S90 if I ever decided to trade up. The previous price of 3 grand kept it a bit out of reach, but the recent price drop has brought it down into the range of affordable bargains. The holdup? Since I haven't yet had a chance to play one, I'd be buying it sight unseen, depending entirely on blind faith.

 

Chances are, I'd be equally happy with either choice, and my wife has given me the green light to do either. There are numerous other options, but I've narrowed it down to these two. Also, FWIW I play a wide variety of gigs, ranging from solo piano to Praise band, choir, home studio, and a `70s & `80s rock band. So you can imagine I like as much versatility as possible! This would be my primary, first tier keyboard, with a 76 key Triton Pro on the upper tier.

 

Frankly, I'm inclined to take a leap of faith for the PC3X, but I'll let the expert concensus here tip the scales one way or the other. Thanks in advance for your VAST expertise! :D:cool:

 

 

><>

Steve

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I never tried that model Yamaha, but I've had my PC3X since March, 2008. I liked it well enough to also buy a PC3 for gigging 11 months later. I am part of the beta program for the new 2.0 OS - and like it even better with the 2.0 beta release.

 

(In fact, I want another board to leave at church along with the PC2 that I leave there, and am currently trying to decide between an XK-1 or just get a PC361 while on the sale).

 

I use my 3X for classical and other practice and learning (don't have an acoustic piano), use the 3 for gigs ranging between a country/gospel/rock oldies band, a blues band, and church praise band.

 

If I could only keep one of the two, I'd suck up the extra weight gigging and keep the 88 key.

 

I have tried what Yamaha boards are avaiable locally, compared with a CP-300 at the time I was planning to buy the 3X. Some thins I did like about the Yamaha, but I find the overall sounds and flexibility of the PC3 series more to my liking.

 

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 have played the old S90 a few times (but that was some time ago) and been a long-time Kurz owner. With that bias aside, I think the new Kurz will offer you a wider palette of quality sounds, a far better MIDI control function set, very powerful programming foundation (albeit, complex and as difficult as you want to make it, though it now has a computer-linked editor), etc. In other words, it's a next-generation iteration compared to your S90.

 

That being said, you'd need to accept that fact that the foundation pianos (AP and EP) are simply different than Yamaha's take on those sounds. The ubiquitous Kurzweil Triple-Strike piano is long in the tooth, and has its detractors, though many folks still find it very usable. But it's different than the S90's pianos and sits differently in a live mix. Same with the Rhodes and Wurli on the Kurz. My recollection of the S90 is it had very "motif-like" EPs (to my inexperienced ear - I have never owned a motif), and I think the PC3's take is different than Yamaha's.

 

Don't know if that helps you at all. I think you'd be very happy with the PC3, but that's just my 0.02.

..
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Just in the abstract, paying $800 to repair a digital keyboard that is 2 generations old seems like a very poor use of money.

 

The standard (and absolutely true) line on the PC3 is that it's an amazing machine but requires a lot of time and effort to develop a facility with it . . . more than you are probably imagining.

Gigging: Crumar Mojo 61, Hammond SKPro

Home: Vintage Vibe 64

 

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The jury has reached a verdict - I'll soon be the happy owner of a new PC3X, and my S90 will be retired to home studio duty. I'll probably eventually go ahead and fix it, but it's no hurry - In my cool, dry, basement studio the keys are far less prone to sticking, so it might not even bother me anymore.

 

Moody - Since this will replace my 88 key S90, I'll definitely opt for the PC3X for its weighted keys. Interestingly, it's no heavier than my S90, although it's a bit wider with the wheels on the left end of the keyboard.

 

Timwat - I agree that at the very least, it will easily cover what I've been doing with my S90 and a lot more. Also. with its internal VA1, it might alleviate some GAS I've been feeling lately for a Virus. Or maybe not... :/

 

Adan - At first blink it might seem absurd to spend money fixing my S90. Trouble is, it wouldn't be sellable as it is for a decent price. And since I also have a Motif ES rack at home, I could link my S90 to it and have a more compact, psuedo S90ES with 192 voices. :love: That, and the sentimental value I mentioned earlier... ;)

 

Thanks for the input, guys. I knew I could count on the ol' KC for a nudge in the right direction! :cool:

 

><>

Steve

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  • 1 month later...

Update - My new PC3X has arrived! :love: I forfeited my lunch hour yesterday to meet the FedEx guy here and bring it in the house.

 

Just one stipulation from the little woman - Since this is my main Christmas present, I can't open it until Christmas Eve. I can only stare at that big box and drool for another 3 weeks! :freak: I guess I can always build anticipation by watching the PC3X demos and tutorials on YouTube!

 

I'll be back here Christmas Day, hopefully gushing about the new baby. :wave:

><>

Steve

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What is the return policy? Maybe you better convince her to let you open it and check it out just in case there is an issue. It could have a cracked display or something. Freight gets jostled in transport.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Update - My new PC3X has arrived!

 

Just one stipulation from the little woman -

 

Since this is my main Christmas present, I can't open it until Christmas Eve.

 

I can only stare at that big box and drool...

 

 

1st - CONGRATULATIONS on your new acquisition :thu:.

 

2nd - Is your wife a sadist???... seems pretty cruel to me... :idk ...:facepalm: ! ! !

 

 

Seriously tho', I'd pick up on a couple of things mentioned above.

 

CEB has a very valid point about the return policy - I'd definitely check that out if I were you.

 

(or if you're still not 'allowed'! to get your hands on it 'til Xmas Day -

 

do you have a keyboard-playing friend who could check it out for you?)

 

Also, as timwat said, Kurzweils have huge possibilities for creating your own sounds -

 

but it can be somewhat bewildering,

 

& the manuals/handbooks are the most complicated I've ever tried to wade through.....

 

so prepare yourself!!!

John.

 

some stuff on myspace

 

Nord: StageEX-88, Electro2-73, Hammond: XK-1, Yamaha: XS7

Korg: M3-73 EXpanded, M50-88, X50, Roland: Juno D, Kurzweil: K2000vp.

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Good suggestions, CEB and John. :idea: I mentioned to her that maybe I could just take it out of the shipping box and make sure the original box isn't damaged. Maybe then open that box up and check the keyboard for dents or scratches, play all the keys to make sure they all play. Maybe plug in a power cord and make sure it boots up properly, plug in some headphones and scroll through a few patches to make sure it sounds right. Play a few songs, program a few setups... :laugh:

 

She ain't buying it though. :o It came from Sweetwater, (which is only about 400 ground miles from here) and the shipping case barely even has any scratches on it. Also, I'll be tearing it open Christmas Eve and trying it out before playing it for Midnight Mass that night. By the following Monday morning (which is still within their 30 day range) I'll know pretty well if it works or not.

 

But thanks for trying to help!

><>

Steve

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I get the "don't open 'til Xmas" thing. I mean, I _get_ it, but I object to it. I think "hey, I'm the adult. I earned this just by surviving this long. So, just like I'm gonna to eat a few pieces of the freakin' Halloween candy, I'm going to open my present a few weeks before the date. Deal." ;)

 

Of course, the real reason she should be worried is that she would not see you for the next few weeks.

 

Enjoy the new gear!

-John

I make software noises.
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A message from MY Wife.

 

 

Please share with your wife the following.

 

17 years ago I would have had a tendency to agree. However, let her know that you have homework to do in preparation in playing for Mass, you need to get to know the keyboard, become friends with it, program it the way you want it. Consider if she was giving a speech in Mass. If she didn't know her material properly and felt comfortable then she's not going to feel prepared. The same can be said for you and the new board.

 

So although I know she wants you to have a surprise for Christmas, let her know that everyday is Christmas as long as you have each other.

 

Yeah, I got lucky with her. She plays piano, too, so she's very understanding.

"In the beginning, Adam had the blues, 'cause he was lonesome.

So God helped him and created woman.

 

Now everybody's got the blues."

 

Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

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Johnchop - You're killin' me, man! :laugh: You're probably right about her not seeing much of me, though!

 

Mr. Nightime - Either your wife is a saint, or...oh, yeah. She's a piano player. Same difference! :cool:

 

Tusker - If you don't hear back within a few days of Christmas, you'll know I'm too busy enjoying the new Kurz to write about it. But I'll be happy to post my reactions here, eventually! :)

 

In the meantime, happy Christmas shopping, everybody! :wave:

><>

Steve

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  • 1 month later...

Okay, here's the update;

 

Long story short - It's amazing, I love it, I'm keeping it. :thu: My beloved S90 can now retire to my cozy home studio while it awaits repair. Now for my reactions...

 

Apples to apples

- The PC3x is overall slightly smaller than my S90, although it's about an inch wider with the wheels on the left of the keyboard. It's noticeably heavier, though. The specs say it's only 2 pounds heavier, but the other thread here has me thinking they may have underestimated. :/

- The action is similar in weight, although the Kurz feels slightly snappier, maybe just a bit lighter.

- For similar sounds, the Yamaha slants towards thick, "warm and fuzzy", while the Kurz seems more neutral and accurate, with a little more edge.

 

Lexus to Honda

- Having 9 sliders to play with is a hoot, especially in KB3 mode. (I know, the action. But I'm not a Hammond purist, so...)

- The synth engine in this beast is something that will keep me exploring long after this is no longer my primary gigging keyboard. I've programmed a few setups and even tweaked a few patches with some success. But I feel I haven't yet scratched the clear coat of what this baby is capable of. For the moment, I've lost my GAS for a Virus... :laugh:

- The master controller capabilities go far beyond anything I've ever owned, and I probably will never exhaust them. But I'm looking forward to diving in and learning. :cool:

- The orchestral sounds are nothing less than stunning for a stock synth. Again, truly inspiring and far beyond my expectations.

 

Just one request if anyone can help...(and yes, I googled it, but I already know this is the best source. ;) ) I would gladly give up most of the RMI, Pianet, and CP80 sounds if I could get some good `80s-style synth sounds. I'm thinking like D-50, DX7 mallets, synthbrass, etc. I do plan on learning to program it, but for now... Any good sources of aftermarket patches like this? Thanks in advance, and thanks again for helping me decide on this wonderful instrument!

><>

Steve

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I would gladly give up most of the RMI, Pianet, and CP80 sounds if I could get some good `80s-style synth sounds. I'm thinking like D-50, DX7 mallets, synthbrass, etc. I do plan on learning to program it, but for now... Any good sources of aftermarket patches like this? Thanks in advance, and thanks again for helping me decide on this wonderful instrument!

 

Step 1: Update to OS 2.0. Some amazing new sounds in there, that might satisfy some of your needs (at least the DX7 percussive sounds and the synth brass sounds).

 

Step 2: Once it's updated to support OS 2.0, grab the Soundtower editor software; grab some of your favourite sounds in the PC3, and figure out how they're put together, then start tweaking and see what happens.

 

Step 3: Go to the Sonikmatter forums and download some of the patches that the users have uploaded, open them in Soundtower and see how they're put together, then start tweaking and see what happens. ;)

 

 

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From Kurz's site (re: Step 2):

 

"Note: The current version of the SoundTower Desktop Editor software (v1.3.0) does not yet work with PC3 O/S v2.00. If you are a heavy SoundTower Editor user, do not update until SoundTower releases a version that is compatible with 2.00 (currently in the works)."

 

 

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Wow, that was quick! :)

 

I do plan on updating to version 2.0, but I wanted to get at least familiar with it first. I may get to that sooner if that's where I can find those sounds I'm looking for.

 

The Soundtower editor should make programming more intuitive, also. As you suggested, the sounds that I have tweaked have been by "reverse engineering" other sounds that have characteristics I like, then copying, pasting, etc.

 

Thanks for the tips, Sven! :wave: As always, I know this is the place to shop for keyboard advice. :cool:

><>

Steve

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From Kurz's site (re: Step 2):

 

"Note: The current version of the SoundTower Desktop Editor software (v1.3.0) does not yet work with PC3 O/S v2.00. If you are a heavy SoundTower Editor user, do not update until SoundTower releases a version that is compatible with 2.00 (currently in the works)."

 

 

Thanks for the heads-up - I'll keep an eye on this. Although I can certainly update to version 2.0 since I don't have SoundTower yet. It will just get much easier when I do get the editor! :cool:

><>

Steve

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There are some commercial and a fair number of non-commercial PC3 files - mostly on the above mentioned SonikMatter site and on the MasteringVAST forums - http://www.cunka.com/forum/index.php

 

I'm one of the beta testers - there have been two beta releases since 2.0 came out for general use, so there will be a 2.01 or 2.1 or whatever. SoundTower has released a beta editor to the beta test group - but it needed a good bit more work. SoundTower recently posted that they were working with Kurzweil on some issues that will require a post-2.0 OS release to mutually solve the issues.

 

Go ahead and update to OS 2.0 for the present - there are a LOT of improvements besides just the additional 192 or so additional factory programs. KB3 Leslie improvements, sequencer and editor improvements, enough stuff that they have released a supplementary manual for the changes. There are some new a.p. patches and DX7 piano type patches in OS2. As far as 80's synths, both forums have some user programs that will be helpful. I have about 120 or so user programs added at present on my pair (PC3X and PC3). I've had the PC3X since March, 2008; and still feel that I've only just begun to get into the depth available.

 

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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