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Sound Quality Of Keyboards In The Future


larico

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Hey all, I have the opportunity to upgrade the keyboards in my rig with boards from the 21st century (big thank you to the wife). Will keep my K12's and A&H ZED 12FX mixer. The new boards will be 76 note each (my size preference) of whatever brand I get and will be two boards from different manufacturers. I like to combine sounds when I play. I am a weekend warrior playing cover tunes from 60's to present.

 

During the conversation with the wife about doing this, she asked, if I got a couple of new keyboards, would I be happy with them for a while, or would I be gassing for next year's models and regret my purchases because I didn't wait for whatever was the next great thing to hit the keyboard world. Just so you know, I have owned the keyboards I have now since they first came out. I'll generally keep what I purchase for a long time and milk as much out of them as I can.

 

So I ask, what do you all think keyboards of the near future will do that today's don't? Or, how much better can or will the acoustic piano, strings, epianos, guitar or horn patches sound than on today's top rated synths like the Kronos, Jupiters, PC3Ks, etc? How much better can the samples or models get?

 

Are there any big changes coming in the near future for hardware synths that will really be "game changers"? Huge advances that will make me wish I had waited a little longer?

 

5 years from now, will the current Kronos, Jupiters, Nords, etc., sound like crap compared to whatever is out there in the hardware world? When I bought my Triton Extreme and VR760 (years ago), the piano sounds on them were pretty good. Now, YUK!

 

Just curious what you all might think....

 

Richard

 

 

Korg Triton Extreme, Roland VR-760, Roland D-50, A&H ZED 12-FX, QSC K12s
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No.

 

Get what you want today and don't worry about what may or may not come out tomorrow.

 

However, if something comes out tomorrow that you like, sell what you've got and buy it.

 

Life is short.

 

...and we're gear slutz!

 

Tom

 

PS Did you really expect some other answer than this from us? :cool:

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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No don't worry about the future! There has not been a real game changer since the Roland D-50 or perhaps the Korg M-1.

"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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... I'll generally keep what I purchase for a long time and milk as much out of them as I can.

 

With that in mind, I don't think could go wrong buying in right now. There's some great stuff out there.

 

You're showing your wife these responses, right? :)

9 Moog things, 3 Roland things, 2 Hammond things and a computer with stuff on it

 

 

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No.

 

Get what you want today and don't worry about what may or may not come out tomorrow.

 

However, if something comes out tomorrow that you like, sell what you've got and buy it.

 

Life is short.

 

...and we're gear slutz!

 

Tom

 

PS Did you really expect some other answer than this from us? :cool:

 

 

+1 .

Some people spend millions on their cars or motorbikes or even mega dollar model planes and helicopters and things.

Some people piss it all away. . . .

If you have the cash , buy what you need if you want it :).

But , I wouldn't put it on "drip feed" if I was you.

(I don't mean you piss it all away Tom :) )

 

Brett

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Hey all, I have the opportunity to upgrade the keyboards in my rig with boards from the 21st century.....

 

5 years from now, will the current Kronos, Jupiters, Nords, etc., sound like crap compared to whatever is out there in the hardware world? When I bought my Triton Extreme and VR760 (years ago), the piano sounds on them were pretty good. Now, YUK!

 

 

I never saw the VR760 as strong, live piano instrument. Though the Triton Extreme 88 worked well for many players, and still does - witness Bill Payne when he plays on a digital 88; I see him on a Triton Ext. 88 quite often.

 

As ksoper pointed out, there are a lot of great choices out there; and I don't think those instruments will sound like crap anytime time, if ever. A Triton Extreme still sounds solid, as well as a VR760; I owned both - as 2nd tier 76's above a weighted '88'. My issues with each of those keyboards was more of interface / control functions than sound. And the '88' I played for many years - a Yamaha S90ES - dates from 2006. Still sounds great, and many players still prefer that 'board for piano over a lot of the newer gear.

 

You could pick up a Kronos 88, and possibly spend the rest of your life working through it. Feels like I've barely scratched the outer surface of mine :blush:

'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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One of the best trends of many of the newer keyboards is the free library upgrades.

This really keeps the Nords, Casio's and others from getting stale. The 76 note prereq might present a bit of a challenge, but it's an amazing time to get near gear.

The sonic options in the marketplace are superb, and the prices and reduction in weight something we could only have dreamed of a few years ago.

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I think you might be somewhat limited if you're adamant about 76-note keyboards. If you're actually a player and not someone that just bangs on keys, you'll find that 76-note keybeds with aftertouch is getting rarer and rarer to find. Korg? Nope. Nada. Jupiter-80? Yes, but not the -50. Fantom? Yes, but it looks like that's being discontinued. Of the Yamahas, only the Yamaha Motif, the rest do not have aftertouch. The Nord Stage series? Yes. Kurzweil? Yes. It does appear that the manufacturers are cheaping out, and no one is taking them to task for it.

 

You might have to settle for a 61-note keybed, or in the case of the Kronos, a 73-note piano action.

 

But in regards to sounds, don't wait.

 

..Joe

Setup: Korg Kronos 61, Roland XV-88, Korg Triton-Rack, Motif-Rack, Korg N1r, Alesis QSR, Roland M-GS64 Yamaha KX-88, KX76, Roland Super-JX, E-Mu Longboard 61, Kawai K1II, Kawai K4.
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Some circles are clearly stuck in, or: not more ambitious than, a number of basic properties of synthesizers and keyboards.

 

Nowadays, most of the developments which set either analog or digital synthesizers/keyboards apart from the older ones, the cheaper ones and the software are processing power and accuracy not widely known or appreciated, yet it is those properties that since the 60s set the good music (main stream A-grade recording/productions) apart from the secondary grade.

 

Every sampled synth requires the so preciously sought for (pre-) processed sample sets that most people seem to want to take as the main thing in such machines, but don't really understand. Why not take a zero latency sample player, load it with anything you can get your hands on, and play like the gods ?! Because most of the musical value of instruments doesn't work that way.

 

So there's multi-compression, deep-equalisation, important averaging effects, distortion control, reverberation-preparation of the sounds, early sound-shear pre-conditioning, sampling errors (a very omnipresent problem, solved to an extend in only the best machiens out there), etc.

 

Here it is almost difficult already to speak about programmers who like to lisple through the sound they make, built-in polyphony related compression, obvious distortion of certain instruments, sounds and effects, etc, so you're not going to learn more than a few sound-monkeying techniques from most here, to be honest.

 

So there's the sound neutrality of the Yamaha's, some interesting simulations like the Roland V-piano, cheaply available quality mixers (not the ones with their own sound) and Lexicon effects, various luxury goods like SSD samples without super-hassle, some deep products that can be worked on (like Kurzweil), a lot of "keyboard filling" which however is cheap and therefore a good democratic instrument market (like the Casios and the better "keyboards").

 

Also there's the actual analog stuff like even Roland's own imitations of their classics, the new Sequential Circuits, sorry DSI and even Oberheim, etc, and some more cheap interesting remakes of the Fairlight, and some more, which essentially most be used properly to advance with, the presents appear to me to often not give all too much away, these need to be applied by possibly combining them with other instruments or effects, and can make you shine in new ways.

 

But the "do it all workstation" that gives me all the retro sounds properly and still teaches new things and exemplifies new techniques IMO is absent altogether.

 

T.V.

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Want to keep your keyboard "current"? Buy a sampler. I have had my Yamaha Motif XS since they came out and it sounds as good as the first day I played it.

 

Actually... It sounds better than the first day I played it....

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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I got off the upgrade treadmill YEARS ago. Been using pretty much the same gear for the last twenty years. There is almost nothing new these days that induces GAS.

 

This is a fair observation. When I was with Ensoniq, keyboard sales slowed down in the 1990s and I opined it was because sound quality and on-board sequencers had reached a robust threshold. My opinion was that many keyboard players had what they needed thereby reducing their GAS requirements. Just an opinion.

Steve Coscia

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There is great advice in this thread.

 

I'll generally keep what I purchase for a long time and milk as much out of them as I can.

 

Good strategy. Your voice (taste) needs to come through the hardware, in any case.

 

5 years from now, will the current Kronos, Jupiters, Nords, etc., sound like crap compared to whatever is out there in the hardware world?

 

Possibly. So what?

 

It'll still sound like you. Look, some things (especially particular pieces of DSP) can sound dated. But if you get to the essence of the sound you want for that particular musical expression, it won't matter.

 

For example, we went through a "lush" period of people are adding effects to presets, just because they could (pads and multi-timbrality were key). Then there was a reaction and dsp began to be focused on the core sound. So now modeling is important. These cycles will continue.

 

If you focus on the sounds you really want, the gear that is out there right now, is more than sufficient for you to make a compelling artistic statement.

 

Just because of the learning curve, I would buy one instrument and begin to learn it. That way the second instrument you select will be more of a true complement to the first. But based on what you said, you already knew that. :)

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I see it another way. We already have relative perfection. My gear will produce frequencies I probably can't even hear at this point. Yes, you need decent speakers/headphones to get the full richness of things, but the base sound-producing means have matured. Some people clearly feel itchy for another huge leap, but Bob Moogs are few and far between. With the key things now covered almost to excess, it throws it back on the player and composer to shape their own approaches. When you can have SampleTank on a bloody iPhone and it sounds crystalline, it puts you in a Packrat situation: Now what are you going to DO with that big stack o' fun? We're simply in a period of refinement of approach over sonic innovation per se. That's just not as glamorous as the sudden appearance of cheap samplers like the Mirage, but its more important in the end. IIRC, Rick Wakeman once had David Bowie point to a battered upright and say "If the song works here, it'll work anywhere." The scariest thing in the world is a blank page. :)

"What's the password?"
"'I have bourbon.'"
     ~ Joe Hill, "Full Throttle Stories"

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Thanks for the replies everyone. The boards that are available today are really something. Compared to what I have now, they're simply amazing. I'll have to take my time and really explore what the capabilities are on the boards. I want to be sure that I can understand the editing abilities. IMO, being able to tweak sounds is really important. And there's the way the keys feel and respond to your playing style. Lots to consider.

 

The ability to upgrade sounds and/or the OS of an existing board, is something to think about as well. Staying current with new features and tones is a nice way to add longevity to a keyboard.

 

Thanks all.......Richard

Korg Triton Extreme, Roland VR-760, Roland D-50, A&H ZED 12-FX, QSC K12s
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I'm still gassing for a Triton Extreme, so I know how you feel. It's not necessarily that there's something new out there, it's just that there's always something different.

 

I want it all.

 

Luckily I've been able to suppress my G.A.S that I can actually buy from the used market at "deep discounted" prices.

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I GASed for a Jupiter-8 when it was new but could not afford one......

 

Still Can't. LOL

"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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Agree with the comments on upgradeable samples to help keep your board current. As I move from band to band, I'm continually reloading my Nords with whatever is needed: horns, classic synth patches, mellotrons, etc.

 

And don't forget amplification, either. I can't tell you how many bands around here might have a decent keyboard player, but you just can't hear what he's doing over the din of guitar, harp, etc.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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5 years from now, will the current Kronos, Jupiters, Nords, etc., sound like crap compared to whatever is out there in the hardware world?

 

Possibly. So what?

 

It'll still sound like you. Look, some things (especially particular pieces of DSP) can sound dated. But if you get to the essence of the sound you want for that particular musical expression, it won't matter.

 

For example, we went through a "lush" period of people are adding effects to presets, just because they could (pads and multi-timbrality were key). Then there was a reaction and dsp began to be focused on the core sound. So now modeling is important. These cycles will continue.

 

If you focus on the sounds you really want, the gear that is out there right now, is more than sufficient for you to make a compelling artistic statement.

 

This.

 

If you connect with the instrument now, you should still connect in 5, 10, 50 years. Especially, as others have said, since you can update sounds to no end these days.

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I don't think our current choke point is the source, especially given the option to use plugs live. In a live setting, the issue remains downstream amplification.

 

Consider that many times a good player can use last generation's hardware in the studio and produce exemplary tracks. Not talking about a static lab experiment measuring waveforms, I mean musically compelling material.

 

But live settings still confront us with a host of challenges. I'm thinking the current crop of options (OP is using K12s) will be replaced by better refinements (more power, better fidelity, closer to the cutting edge of studio-quality monitoring), and that will make the large, significant improvements.

 

My bet is there will always exist a significant delta between a good acoustic grand piano and a digital.

 

But in terms of the specific demands of playing live, improvements in amplification will allow us to bring more of what we hear in the recording studio to useful life on the stage.

..
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I agree, waiting for the perfect keyboard is like waiting for the most powerful computer. The only thing that is certain is change. Far too many of us get so wrapped up in having the latest and greatest that we forget the most important thing - music is made by the musician, and helped by the instrument.

 

As to future technology, there are some new concepts that hold promise. But remember that physical modeling was touted as the end to all. Realistically, it is a minority technology that when used properly, is really great. So the point is there will always be new technology in the future. The real question is will it help you as a performer. Get what you like now, and spend years enjoying it.

 

There is a potential solution, and one that I have embraced, at least for now. Get a good MIDI controller or two and use software synthesis such as Main Stage or equivalent. This keeps you in tune with the changes in technology. And you can mix the various methods to get the best approach for a particular instrument.

 

Having said all of this, I still use one dedicated instrument for organ. In this case, a Mojo.

 

Bottom line - get what you want now.

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Once again, and I"m serious, not b*tching bar conversation, almost all instruments of the digital kind still suffer from (for me very clear) sampling distortion. The only ones I've knowledge of that do something more than a bit (which is quit e abit more than nothing at all) about this, at least potentially and within some presets, are the Kurzweils and the CP4(0).

 

Also, the design criteria for instruments are still pretty obscure, no one can normally tell you what the difference is between your favorite sample set + the signal path on your favorite workstation and loading the same samples in supersampler. Also, why can't you make killer samples yourself, what do the people who "make" the samples do ? That pretty black magic, and the other things I mentioned are interesting, and never get discussed in favor of for me rather transparent preferences based on power greed and a number of strange secret club members, and make me laugh by saying it's all natural to discuss serious things here...

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...rather transparent preferences based on power greed and a number of strange secret club members...

 

Let's face it--The Illuminati control everything. ;)

9 Moog things, 3 Roland things, 2 Hammond things and a computer with stuff on it

 

 

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The game will change - for the better , when all the DP makers get a seriously good sustain sorted out , like on an acoustic grand.

 

You will never see a DP demo'r clout a chord in the middle of the keyboard and hold it for you to hear it's short comings.

A decent sustain > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOEgh3byV4o&feature=share&list=FLJCfDTUxPdzucMjGuisnWzg&index=89

 

Rick Jones is one of my favourite piano players :).

 

Brett

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The game will change - for the better , when all the DP makers get a seriously good sustain sorted out , like on an acoustic grand.
.... or a really good electromagnetic pulse bomb explodes near the earth! :)
Nobody told me there'd be days like these...
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