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New 88 key piano needed - advice sought.


The Piano Man

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Hello all,

 

I am looking for a new 88 key board. Requirements:

 

- 88 keys with nice and quick hammer action

- nice grand piano sounds that cut thru the mix nicely

- good acoustic and electric basses

- good selection of other natural instruments (strings, brass, EP's) plus some nice pads and even a good accordion sound would be a bonus

- ability to split and layer across the board (8 zones would be nice)

- internal power supply preferred

- 4 audio outs for routing of sounds

 

I think I have covered everything. Budget wise, I was thinking £2000 UK sterling.

 

What should I try out? I know it's all subjective but what would you recommend and why? Appreciate your help and advice

Kurzweil PC3x

Technics SX-P50

Korg X3

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4 audio outs is a tough requirement. The Kurzweil Forte has it, but it's only 4 zones... still it's the only thing I can think of that meets your specs. The workstations Korg Kronos 88 and Motif XF8 are over budget, and I don't think I'd call their actions quick anyway. If 4 zones are enough and you can get by without the 4 audio outs, a Kawai MP7 would do the trick. Roland RD800 could be another possibility. Is travel weight a factor?

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Well, take the Nord Piano 2 off your list. Not so good on the layers and splits, and 4 audio outs. Checks the box on everything else.

 

Nord Stage 2 does the audio outs, has much better layer/splits, but costs more $$$. You might be able to buy used for your price point.

 

The quality of the sounds is always subjective, but I like mine through good amplification. Love the pianos, strings, horns, samples, etc.

 

And I use my accordion patches more than you'd think.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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Yeah, thought about the NS2 too, but for someone hoping for 8 zones, the Nord's split/layer functionality seemed pretty limited. Though personally, I find three zones to be enough for almost any split I'd want to do, and my bigger issue with the NS2's splits is the limitation of where you can put them.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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I think 8 zones and 4 audio outs is a lot to ask for, especially if keyboard action realism and piano sound are also a requirement.

 

The MP7 ticks a lot of your boxes, however it only has 4 zones (albeit with flexible layering/splits), and just a single set of stereo line outs. You could perhaps use panning in order to achieve two partially-separated mono outs.

 

Cheers,

James

x

Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.

Nord Electro 3 fan &

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Off the top of my head ..... To do what want you can go with a Physis and whatever sound engines trip you trigger. The physis sound card or an Integra rack or Motif rack and/or laptop or receptors. etc..... You are only limited by you bank account. But the controller market sucks.

 

[video:youtube]

"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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Personally I am currently limited by just 4 Zones. I could really use two more zones for several tunes but it aint worth the cost and time to reprogram stuff.

"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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Before long I bet we'll all use tablets for those extra zones when we need them. Use the 4th zone for the top three zones, and let the tablet software sort it out in that region. Of course you can do that with a laptop now, but a laptop is a bigger commitment in terms of space, cost, and hassle.
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Before long I bet we'll all use tablets for those extra zones when we need them... Of course you can do that with a laptop now, but a laptop is a bigger commitment in terms of space, cost, and hassle.

IIRC, there are at least two forumites who are already using a Windows tablet live: @DaBous uses a Lenovo i7 tablet, and @voxpops uses a Microsoft Surface Pro (we had a thread about it: Windows Tablet as a Sound Module) . The future is now, I guess...?

 

- Guru

This is really what MIDI was originally about encouraging cooperation between companies that make the world a more creative place." - Dave Smith
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Yup, it's just not that common yet. My guess is that processor power and memory size will increase nearly by Moore's Law and that before long, inexpensive pads will be suitable and the software will be there for it, increasing the popularity dramatically.

 

Still no Android for music, eh? Shame. Hopefully that'll get fixed too. My vague understanding was that there were intellectual property issues regarding low latency drivers for audio, or something like that, so music applications were slow to come to both Linux and Android. But maybe it was just lack of a market.

 

In any case, when I recently got a CP4, I figured I'd go for the best action and a good piano sound and give up some flexibility/programmability, thinking I could expand later with a tablet/pad. I'm still hoping to, but the CP4's limited Master Keyboard section will make it more difficult than I'd expected, sadly. (The limitation: you can set up 4 zones, but you can't set "local on/off" independently per zone, so the CP4 always "plays along" with external zones unless you put the whole keyboard in local off. Doh!)

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Still no Android for music, eh? Shame. Hopefully that'll get fixed too. My vague understanding was that there were intellectual property issues regarding low latency drivers for audio, or something like that, so music applications were slow to come to both Linux and Android. But maybe it was just lack of a market.

Hadn't heard the IP aspect before, interesting. ASIO is proprietary, so it could be an issue. It may not be the easiest cat to find another way to skin. Especially since Android runs on so much different hardware.

 

IOS was derived from OS X, for which CoreMIDI had already been established, so the infrastructure to support it was already there; plus Apple has complete control over the hardware, which would also simplify implementation.

 

I'd say that even if google came out with a new version of the Android OS that supported low latency audio and MIDI, the combination of Apple's huge head start with the fact that new versions of Android often can't be installed on people's existing hardware means that iOS is going to have the edge over Android for this for the foreseeable future. The competition will come from the other side, increasingly viable Windows based tablets. It probably comes down to iOS being easier to use (and possibly cheaper), vs. the better performance, increased flexibility, and higher end apps/plug-ins you can get for Windows.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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... go with a Physis and whatever sound engines trip you trigger. The physis sound card or ...

 

more here ...

[video:youtube]

 

[video:youtube]

 

ignore the electromagnetic organs.

Can be tweaked eventually, maybe not.

Church organs sound good.

 

Best MIDI controller out there for shure !

 

In the Physis Piano H-models, the modelling sound engines can be tweaked in depth,- no idea how this happens w/ the K-models which lack the touch sensitive interface and when the EX-soundboard is build in.

 

The controller alone and for EUR 1.690.- incl. VAT and shipping (Thomann) is worth a try.

I hope it is build like a tank and reliable.

 

A.C.

 

 

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What is going on with PhysisPiano?

 

They used to have a fairly nice looking website with lots of information, demos, etc. physispiano.com now kicks you to viscountinstruments.it and the site is put together a bit haphazardly with broken links here and there and it's difficult to navigate around and some information is just blank. Where is the pricing? Do they have a US distributor?

 

Also, on a side note - sort of related - who is developing the models and software inside of Fatar's Numa organs and pianos? Is it Physis? I vaguely remember them (Fatar/StudioLogic) cutting a deal with Waldorf for the brains in the Sledge.

 

 

 

 

 

Live: Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700

Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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Hmm, with those requirements for zones and outputs you're edging into workstation territory rather than stage piano. A Kurzweil PC3K8 (~£1650 from Thomann) would fit all of those requirements, but it depends on your opinion of the old Kurzweil Triple-Strike pianos. They're very usable sit nicely in a mix, but by no means the most realistic around. 4 outs, 16 zones, tons of good strings, stellar EPs and the brass is usable if you get the KORE64 expansion (Thomann normally have a deal on it).

 

Possibly get a PC3K8 and load a 3rd-party piano library into the sample memory? Ksounds Epic Grand is $95.00, so it would be in your total budget.

 

Edit I'm an idiot, there's an obvious answer. If you're prepared to wait a bit, the PC3A8 is perfect - all the features of the PC3K8 (minus the user samples) with new and updated high-quality piano samples. I imagine the price will be in the same region as the PC3K.

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Yes, PC3A8 might do it all, anyone know what the price will be? I thought about the Kurz workstations when I mentioned the Kronos and Motif XF, but figured the PC3A8 isn't available yet and the PC3K8 lags in piano for a £2000 board and that seemed to be the key sound for the OP... but I forgot that the 128 mb sample RAM might give you a way around that, good point. The Forte has even better pianos (and EPs) than the PC3A8 and is available now, so that would probably still be my #1 choice since it does meet the requirements (8 zones being the one thing listed that's more of a preference than a requirement, so 4 zones might be enough).

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Thanks everyone for your responses. This forum really is full of fantastic, helpful people. MorayM and AnotherScott, I think you two have moved me in the right direction.

 

PC3A8 sounds perfect. I wonder when it will be available? The Forte could also be a great choice but I think the variety of features on the PC3A8 night edge it for me.

 

My only concern about Kurzweil, is the delay/decay/release (or whatever you call it) of the piano sounds. I used to own a Kurz SP4 and found that playing the piano was a bit like the Nord pianos without long release.... ie: if you strike a key and let go, it stopped too soon. This is a particular problem for me as I do a lot of non legato playing eg piano vamp. Does anyone know what parameters I would edit to adjust this on a PC3A8 or Forte and can it be done onboard? I imagine it can with the PC3. I know that I couldn't adjust the SP4 without the computer editor. I wish Kurz would have something simple like the "long release" button found on Nords.

 

Thanks again guys

Kurzweil PC3x

Technics SX-P50

Korg X3

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Certainly with the PC3 series, you can edit everything on the board. I can't remember about the Forte, but I'm pretty sure you can edit common things (like release time) on the board.

 

On the PC3, editing release time is not a one-button operation like on the Nords, but you won't need a computer. I can't remember how the sliders are assigned for the piano sounds - you can certainly control their brightness and reverb. There are loads of great tutorials on YouTube, and the official Kurzweil support team are normally very quick if you can't figure things out. If Nord-style hands-on control is your thing, the Forte might be a better fit. The PC3 allows for incredibly deep editing, but expect to spend some time with the manual!

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What is going on with PhysisPiano?

 

They used to have a fairly nice looking website with lots of information, demos, etc. physispiano.com now kicks you to viscountinstruments.it and the site is put together a bit haphazardly with broken links here and there and it's difficult to navigate around and some information is just blank. Where is the pricing? Do they have a US distributor?

 

Also, on a side note - sort of related - who is developing the models and software inside of Fatar's Numa organs and pianos? Is it Physis? I vaguely remember them (Fatar/StudioLogic) cutting a deal with Waldorf for the brains in the Sledge.

 

 

 

 

 

Kraft Music is a Physis dealer.

"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 would edit to adjust this on a PC3A8 or Forte and can it be done onboard? I imagine it can with the PC3. I know that I couldn't adjust the SP4 without the computer editor.

As Moray said, everything can be edited without computer on the PC3K8, and I would expect it to be the same on the PC3A8 which seems to be essentially the same board, except with a high quality piano sound substituted for the 128 mb flash. So in a way, the PC3K8 is the more flexible board, but you may not find a piano you can load into its flash that is as good as the 128 mb piano Kurz includes in the PC3A8. Kurz does seem to have a way of making the most out of a given amount of sample capacity!

 

Though also, since this is presumably something you would just need to edit once and just leave that way, why the aversion to using a computer editor? Does it really matter, as long as there's a way to do it?

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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I'm a S90XS player. I Love the board. The action is very fast. But at 2000 GBP I think there are better APs. It took me 3 months of tweaking to get the AP to where I Like them.

 

FWIW I will share those pianos if anyone needs them.

 

The 8 zone requirement is the killer. And 4 audio outs.

"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 think I have all but decided on the PC3A8 if only it was available in the UK to try out. I sent an email to Kurzweil's UK distributor over a week ago but no response. It's a pretty poor service so far! Fingers crossed they get back to me soon

Kurzweil PC3x

Technics SX-P50

Korg X3

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Yamaha CP70B;Roland XP30/AXSynth/Fantom/FA76/XR;Hammond XK3C SK2; Korg Kronos 73;ProSoloist Rack+; ARP ProSoloist; Mellotron M4000D; GEM Promega2; Hohner Pianet N, Roland V-Grand,Voyager XL, RMI
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Kurzweil Forte only has 4 zones in multi mode, so it's not ideal when comparing with your specs list.

 

My next 88 will probably be a PC3K8 with Kore64 and the Ksounds Epic Grand sample.

The PC3A8 seems nice too of course, but I really like the flexibility of having a flash RAM for samples instead of a one sampled grand piano. I guess I've been a bit spoiled from using Nord keyboards for 5-6 years... :)

 

A Kronos would be nice of course, but it's so darn expensive.

Nord Stage 3 sw73, Yamaha CP88, KeyB Legend Live, Kurzweil PC3K7, EV ZXa1 + sub. K&M stands, Hammond E112, Leslie 3300, EHX V256, Roland SE-02, Yamaha EX5R & TG77, Novation Nova desktop & much more...
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If I were to buy a PC3K8, how easy would it be to load in something like the KSounds Epic Grand, and where to I buy/download it from? I'm based in the UK, so would probably buy the K8 from Thomann as they ship quickly to us. There are no Kurzweil stockists anywhere in Scotland, where I live.

Kurzweil PC3x

Technics SX-P50

Korg X3

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Also, to give you an idea what I'm after...

 

I like bright pianos that cut thru. In fact, I have an old Technics P30 with a great, bright tone for live playing. Would the K8 deliver?

 

I also love having a really natural warm acoustic bass sound, that can ideally add a sort of "pluck" articulation. I am sure I remember hearing a brilliant upright bass tone on a keyboard that turned out to be a Kurzweil

Kurzweil PC3x

Technics SX-P50

Korg X3

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Well, I guess we have similar taste in piano tone - I also like bright grand piano samples and that's why the Epic Grand has caught my attention - according to a Ksounds rep here on the forum the Epic Grand is a sampled Yamaha C7 and it sounds pretty good, IMHO:

 

http://ksounds.com/product/epic-grand-piano-sample-library-kurzweil-pc3k/

 

I am no Kurzweil expert, but it seems like you just press buy on the web page above, enter your credit card data, download the samples, put them on a USB thumb drive, put the drive in your Kurzweil, load the data, then wait for a few minutes - voila! :)

Nord Stage 3 sw73, Yamaha CP88, KeyB Legend Live, Kurzweil PC3K7, EV ZXa1 + sub. K&M stands, Hammond E112, Leslie 3300, EHX V256, Roland SE-02, Yamaha EX5R & TG77, Novation Nova desktop & much more...
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I am no Kurzweil expert, but it seems like you just press buy on the web page above, enter your credit card data, download the samples, put them on a USB thumb drive, put the drive in your Kurzweil, load the data, then wait for a few minutes - voila! :)

 

Loading samples is pretty straightforward - there's a tutorial in the PC3K manual and the manual from Ksounds takes you through it step by step. It's not a quick process though! Once they're in though there's no sample loading time.

 

I'm another fan of bright piano sounds (in a band setting, for solo classical go Bechstein or go home) and TBH I find factory patches #2 (Studio Grand) and #5 (NYC Jazz Grand) are perfectly good. Have a listen here if you haven't already.

 

I think I have all but decided on the PC3A8 if only it was available in the UK to try out. I sent an email to Kurzweil's UK distributor over a week ago but no response. It's a pretty poor service so far! Fingers crossed they get back to me soon

 

Hmm, that's unusual. It might be worth dropping a PM to Dave Weiser, he's normally good for Kurzweil info.

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