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Reports from a UK music show


Aidan

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NAAM it ain't. Musikmesse it is not. But the Music Production Show in Leeds UK provided a diverting enough day trip yesterday for myself, jpscoey and Pat, the singer from John's band.

 

The big disappointment of the day - no Kronos on the Korg stand, which instead was fronted by an...

 

SV-1/73

 

I frankly couldn't tell whether this had the SP2 soundpack installed. But revisiting it, I was not struck heavily by seller's remorse - the keybed still seemed sluggish and in retrospect, having had the Nord for several months now, the Rhodes and Wurli both seem rather hyped and one-dimensional.

 

No sign of Hammond whatsoever, but I wasn't entirely surprised at that. Even if there had been, given the modest size of the show (20-odd exhibitors) I wouldn't have expected to bump into a sparkling new SK yet.

 

Nord and Kurzweil share the same distributor here in the UK, so they were both in evidence on the Sound Technology stand.

 

Electro 3 HP

 

It's amazingly compact and light, no doubt about it. Maybe it's an illusion of the overall dimensions, but the keys did seem slightly smaller than the ones on my NP, perhaps not as deep at least. But it didn't strike me to measure against the Stage 2 that was also on the stand until we were heading back to Manchester.

 

What I can say is that the action feels somewhat more "sprung" than other Nord weighted actions, with quite a vigorous key return. I have to say I didn't much care for it. I still think £500 is an outrageous premium for a weighted action. This was never going to be one for me thanks to its limited compass but any player who is primarily a pianist should not assume that they're getting a lightweight, smaller alternative to the NP88. It's no such beast.

 

The time I spent with this, and on the E3/61 above it, confirmed that for me at least, Nord's B3 isn't in the same league as the current Hammond clonewheels. The sound seems thin and lacks punch, especially the third harmonic percussion.

 

Stage 2

 

Brief encounter only. The biggest surprise for me was the action. Although it's apparently the same Fatar model that's in the NP88, it feels considerably lighter under the fingers. Like the Electro 3 HP, I suspect this is to reflect, as before, the fact that it has to deliver a wider palette of sounds.

 

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the action per se (it feels nicely balanced and smooth to play) but again, if your main axe/sound is piano, you may not find it absolutely ideal.

 

Kurzweil PC3K

 

A fairly thorough run-through confirmed my longstanding conclusions about the PC3 range - superlative orchestrals, dated and inadequate pianos and good to OK-ish everything else. There was also a PC36LE on top which sounded OK but felt cheap and plasticky.

 

Yamaha MOX8

 

My other main disappointment of the show was the absence of my evil twin Bert Smorenburg (he was in Poland, the guy on the Yamaha stand informed me), but I did take a look at the MOX8.

 

This is incredibly light (14kg, I think they said) for an 88 of such capabilities and features Motif XS sounds. The keybed appears to be the same as the P95 - pleasant enough if a little uninspiring - and the thing looks quite well made despite the proliferation of plastic. At around 1300 quid, I can see Yamaha shifting a lot of these.

 

I did note, however, that it featured yet another intimidating-looking user interface experience. You have been warned...

 

DSI Mopho Keyboard

 

I've been eyeing these up for some time so it was good to get the opportunity to play one. Nicely constructed, decent feel to the keyboard, although I'd really have liked a full three octaves. But what a horrendous cacophony of factory sounds on the damn thing - I was struggling to find anything I could use musically and expressively.

 

I'm sure the Mopho must be capable of these sounds, so why does it arrive with such an ugly sound palette? Maybe I'm just getting old...

 

Overall, if I ever splash out on a mono analog synth, my money is still more likely to be plonked down on a Little Phatty, I think.

 

DSI Prophet 8

 

Would be nice to own one of these, although the sound was a bit thinner and more strident than I remember my friend's old Prophet 5 being. But that could well be the distance of nostalgia :)

 

Perhaps the most interesting point of the day was that trade shows can be as much an antidote as an irritant to GAS. I left feeling satisfied that right now, I already have the best rig for my purposes. If I add new gear this year, the most likely candidate is the lower manual and some pedals for my XK3.

 

 

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

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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Thanks for the review. I was hoping to go to the show but couldn't make it in the end.

 

Any other comments on the MOX8? I'm thinking it might be my next purchase. Did you try any organ sounds? If so, were they passable (although presumably nowhere near clonewheel standard).

 

Thanks

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Nick I didn't try the MOX8 in detail as I already have the Motif XS rack so am familiar with most of the sounds already. What I can say is that I discerned no noticeable difference between the ones I tried (e.g. Full Concert Grand) and the ones I know from the XS.

 

So the organs, I guess, will be of a similar standard, which is to say OK for one or two songs in a gig but not great for an entire night. Also, bear in mind that unlike the XF/XS, there is no slider-drawbar functionality, which may be an issue.

 

But overall this looks a capable beast and as I say, should be popular especially for its weight. The guys on the Yamaha stand were actively inviting visitors to pick the MOX8 up off its stand.

 

Btw, it looks like I misunderstood about the price - the MOX8 looks to be going around the £1300 mark, I think it's the MOX6 that's under the ton.

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

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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Btw, all this aside, I can't hand on heart say you missed much. The show was pretty small beer and I'd be surprised if it runs next year - though pleasantly so, of course.

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

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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Yamaha MOX8

 

This is incredibly light (14kg, I think they said) for an 88 of such capabilities and features Motif XS sounds. The keybed appears to be the same as the P95 - pleasant enough if a little uninspiring - and the thing looks quite well made despite the proliferation of plastic. At around 1300 quid, I can see Yamaha shifting a lot of these.

 

I did note, however, that it featured yet another intimidating-looking user interface experience. You have been warned...

 

I'm disappointed Yamaha continues to use 1980's style display screens on these workstations. The lack of sliders surprised me as well, since the original MO series had them. Don't get me started about Yamaha's OS...

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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So the organs, I guess, will be of a similar standard, which is to say OK for one or two songs in a gig but not great for an entire night. Also, bear in mind that unlike the XF/XS, there is no slider-drawbar functionality, which may be an issue.

 

Thanks Aidan. Kind of what I expected on the organs, but I think I may still get the MOX8 as I need one board that will do a passable job on everything. I may just need to put organ playing on hold for a while (will need to sell my Viscount DB3 to go toward cost of MOX8) - but at least the MOX8's audio interface means I can add a netbook, a box of MIDI sliders and VB3 later on if budget permits.

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Electro 3 HP

 

What I can say is that the action feels somewhat more "sprung" than other Nord weighted actions, with quite a vigorous key return. I have to say I didn't much care for it. I still think £500 is an outrageous premium for a weighted action. This was never going to be one for me thanks to its limited compass but any player who is primarily a pianist should not assume that they're getting a lightweight, smaller alternative to the NP88. It's no such beast.

 

My parade hasn't even started yet, and you're raining on it!

 

Actually, you're report is right in line with my expectations for the HP. I played yet another gig last night where it really would not have been worth it to bring a weighted 88, so I played piano, epiano, samples, and a little organ on my Electro 3 61. And it went fine, even the piano ballads. But I am SO looking forward to doing this with an HP, wussy-weighted though it may be.

Gigging: Crumar Mojo 61, Hammond SKPro

Home: Vintage Vibe 64

 

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Thanks for your insights, Aidan. I love British reviews. So civilised. Just like their weddings....

 

Are they showing "My big fat gypsy wedding" over there?

 

Aidan: thanks for the review. Kebabs on the way home?

I'm the piano player "off of" Borrowed Books.
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Aidan: thanks for the review. Kebabs on the way home?

 

Nah - we went upmarket to a Pizza Express :)

 

Adan, nil desperandum on the HP. It just feels more springy to me than other weighted actions. There was lots of background noise and no sus pedal wired in so it was difficult to make absolute judgments about it.

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

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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