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New board crunchtime - you know what to do


JWhllr

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Hi guys,

 

The first response to any keyboard related purchasing quandary is to post here right?

 

A while back, a plan to downsize my rig formed. Now that one of my boards has sold, I need to start actioning things to get replacements on the way.

 

I'm unloading a Nord Stage Compact EX and a Kawai MP11 with the hope of moving to a single 'do-everything' board for AP, EP, VA and organ if it's a gig where I really don't care enough to bring my C2D and Leslie. Not needing an organ sound for anything organ-centric. Been pretty set on the Kronos 2 88.

 

Right until today. Was demoing the Nord for the buyer and was reminding myself of how much I love the Nord interface. I don't mind programming, I can certainly get my way around it, but with the Nord I just know where everything is and can dial any sound quickly and easily. I hadn't realised how much ease of use had become central to my workflow until just then.

 

So now the shootout begins.

 

Kronos 2 88 vs Nord Stage 2 EX 88

 

The tradeoff seems to be the Nord's ease of use vs the 'everything bar the kitchen sink' approach of the Kronos. DAW integration is also killer, as live soft synths do turn up in my rig every now and then for certain gigs.

 

Not going to lie, if people can assuage my fear of the unknown Korg 'ease of use' universe I'd be a happy man. Haven't played Korg before. I loathe the Yamaha motif ease of use, couldn't get on with that at all.

 

James

Viscount Legend, Leslie 142, Nord Stage 3 HA88, Rhodes MK1 1977, Moog Sub 37, Dave Smith Rev2, Juno 106, DX7
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I think once you're used to it, you'll find the Korg interface very easy - especially since the different synth engines have dedicated user interfaces....what can be easier than a picture of a piano with piano related parameters, or a picture of a B3 with B3/Leslie related parameter? It's pretty intuitive. The only part people find tricky is when it comes to sampling and file management, but if you're not going to be doing a bunch of your own sampling, I wouldn't sweat it. You mentioned VA - you have 3 VA engines to choose from. The Polysix and MS20 engines have a picture of the panel with the knobs right there, doesn't get easier than that.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Cheers J Dan

Question for Kronos owners about DAW integration. I've noticed it does midi and audio over USB, is this return as well as send? Can you make a DAW track play back through the Kronos outputs? Example, live softsynth playing from mainstage.

Viscount Legend, Leslie 142, Nord Stage 3 HA88, Rhodes MK1 1977, Moog Sub 37, Dave Smith Rev2, Juno 106, DX7
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Cheers J Dan

Question for Kronos owners about DAW integration. I've noticed it does midi and audio over USB, is this return as well as send? Can you make a DAW track play back through the Kronos outputs? Example, live softsynth playing from mainstage.

 

MIDI is 2 way. I haven't done much audio but my understanding is it's 2 channel audio in one direction (same as main outputs, from Kronos to computer).

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Not going to lie, if people can assuage my fear of the unknown Korg 'ease of use' universe I'd be a happy man. Haven't played Korg before. I loathe the Yamaha motif ease of use, couldn't get on with that at all.

 

There is no Motif "ease of use." Yamaha is famous for convoluted operating systems. But as for Korg... I bought a Triton about 16 years ago and was able to navigate the OS with ease. Having a touch screen was quite an advantage as well. Sure, it takes awhile to learn everything, but it's worth the time invested. I bought an M3 seven years later and still use both on a regular basis. I did purchase a Motif XS when I received a small inheritance (pleasant surprise). It was fun for awhile but now gathers dust.

 

Kronos 100%.

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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Cheers guys! I think I've found an answer to the audio interface question, under Global -> Audio there are some options to monitor USB 1 & 2 through any of the outputs/IFX. Just isn't set up to do that from the get go I believe.

 

Certainly leaning Korg-wards. How easy is it to set up sounds on the fly? As in, bandleader/songwriter says "Hey, could we get like a real warm electric piano layered in with a big fat warm analogue synth pad? One that kinda goes 'wooosh'. With some delay and tremolo? I reckon that'll work in the bridge. Ready yet?" With the Nord, I can get that kind of thing happening before the guy stops talking.

Viscount Legend, Leslie 142, Nord Stage 3 HA88, Rhodes MK1 1977, Moog Sub 37, Dave Smith Rev2, Juno 106, DX7
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I'm unloading a Nord Stage Compact EX and a Kawai MP11 with the hope of moving to a single 'do-everything' board for AP, EP, VA and organ

Since those are all things the Nord does pretty well, my first question would be (since you already have plenty of experience with the Nord), other than not having a weighted action, is there anything you wish the Nord Stage EX could do better?

 

I don't know about DAW integration. But *IF* the Nord does what you want, besides the obvious direct operational interface you mention (and the fact that you already know your way around it), its advantages over the Kronos include lighter travel weight, and an action more suitable for playing organ for those times when you must play organ on the weighted action. So you are giving up some things in the change. Some other things people might prefer about the Nord: the pitch stick, the ability to dedicate a pedal to organ expression and still connect another pedal for other function, and (somewhat related to that) the morph operation. Also, sunlight makes the Kronos screen particularly difficult to work with, so outdoor gigs can be more of a pain.

 

Overall though, sure, the Kronos is WAY more comprehensive. It's a matter of whether you need those things, keeping in mind that you are trading off some things as well. *IF* the Nord does what you need, its light weight, action, and direct operation might persuade me that way... but the Kronos is certainly the deeper and more capable board. The Set List screen for patch selection is great (assuming you can see it), the custom sample loading is much more advanced, supporting much larger samples and multiple layers (assuming you can deal with how much more complicated it is than Nord's sample loading system), the sonic variety, the editing depth, the 16-zone MIDI control with ability to do split sounds any way you want, are some of the big Kronos advantages.

 

 

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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A weighted action is a must for me. Both the nord and the korg will be downgrades from the kawai, but I've resigned myself to that. Ease of setup for the morph functions on nord is a big plus, but OTOH I'm not a fan of what I've been getting out of the sample library strings/brass/woodwinds wise. Only ever used one expression pedal, no issue there. Both have assignable outs. Both do enough for my immediate use, but Kronos seems to do it all, including the stuff I'm not even sure I'll need. I like the midi controller functionality, notes per patch in setlist mode. USB interface makes mainstage use a lot simpler. Don't mind weight so much, anything is lighter than the MP11 I'm lugging around at the moment.
Viscount Legend, Leslie 142, Nord Stage 3 HA88, Rhodes MK1 1977, Moog Sub 37, Dave Smith Rev2, Juno 106, DX7
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The Nord is much faster setting up a split, layers live. I put alot of the scenarios of sounds that i might use such as Eps., synth pads in a combi and save to set list. If i ever need it is done. Thinking ahead of the curve and saving to setlist is the key. I have a Nord E5D and i really like it but the sample library is ok nothing compared to the Kronos synths not even close. I like the Eps on the Kronos better. Busch has some really good Ep samples some are free and some are cheap. For a do it all board the Kronos would have to be at the top of my list.
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How easy is it to set up sounds on the fly? As in, bandleader/songwriter says "Hey, could we get like a real warm electric piano layered in with a big fat warm analogue synth pad? One that kinda goes 'wooosh'. With some delay and tremolo?

 

Program selection is a snap - in your example, you select Keyboard>Real EP and pick the one that suits you. For the synth, same deal Synth>Moving synth (most likely with the whoosh), etc.

 

Putting them together is easy though I don't know how quick compared to the nord. You go to a combination - I'd start with an initialized one. You have 16 parts laid out like a Mixer - select the program for each channel. The local keyboard triggers anything whose MIDI channel is set to the global channel (Gch). So for a layer, put track 1 and 2 on the Gch and that's what you'll be playing. Use the mixer channel to mix. On the effects tab you have effects sends to 2 "main effects" you can select, or you can route directly through "insert effects". If instead of a layer, you want a split, you do everything exactly the same, but you set upper and lower key ranges for each part. Obviously for a single split point, you set the upper range of one the same as the lower range of the other. But they can overlap as well. So you can have 16 parts in any combination of split and layer. Also, if you're like me and you have another tier set up as a controller on a different channel, you set up all your splits/layers for that keyboard by setting all of those sounds to that channel.

 

Pretty straight forward - especially for layers. Splits take a little more setup time because instead of selecting a single split point, you have to set key ranges on 2 parts, but it's quick because you can hold the enter button and just press the key and it enters if for you.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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What Nord gives you that Korg and Roland don't (at least not to the extreme Nord does)is spontaneity. The other machines have way more power....but being able to tweak on the fly while playing, Nord has them all beat.
Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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Certainly leaning Korg-wards. How easy is it to set up sounds on the fly? As in, bandleader/songwriter says "Hey, could we get like a real warm electric piano layered in with a big fat warm analogue synth pad? One that kinda goes 'wooosh'. With some delay and tremolo? I reckon that'll work in the bridge. Ready yet?" With the Nord, I can get that kind of thing happening before the guy stops talking.

I think, in a nutshell, you just summed up probably the biggest advantage of the Nord.

 

On the Korg, if you're lucky enough to know the names of patches that have the sounds you want, or have set up a library of likely-to-be-used sounds ahead of time, you can create a combi that layer two of them pretty quickly.

 

But once you add wanting to create/modify the individual sounds, even if you know where everything is, you're going to be doing a lot of screen jumping, and "delicate" operations. It's a far cry from the Nord's fast grab-a-button-and-you're-there approach that works for so many commonly needed functions. That's the philosophical difference between the two. Nord lets you do a smaller number of things very efficiently, Korg lets you do almost anything you want but with more effort.

 

I'm not a fan of what I've been getting out of the sample library strings/brass/woodwinds wise

Ah, well now you've pointed to something the Kronos definitely does better. Though if you're using softsynths anyway, you could integrate laptop (or even iPad) sounds into the rig and drive them from the Nord, too.

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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You go to a combination - I'd start with an initialized one. You have 16 parts laid out like a Mixer - select the program for each channel. The local keyboard triggers anything whose MIDI channel is set to the global channel (Gch). So for a layer, put track 1 and 2 on the Gch and that's what you'll be playing.

 

I think it could be even simpler than that. Rather than start with an initialized Combi, set up a Combi that already has channels 1 and 2 active on the desired channel, that becomes your template. Whenever you simply want to layer two sounds, call up your template combi, select sound 1, select sound 2, done.

 

Actually, this particular process--layering two existing customized sounds you may not have layered before--is easier on the Kronos than the Nord. It's easier to whip up new sounds on the fly on the Nord, but it's easier to mix-and-match pre-existing sounds on the Korg.

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 for all the replies guys. Reckon I'll pull the trigger on the Kronos next week. Been trying to learn about the action a bit, is RH3 a triple sensor designation or just a follow up from RH2? Or both I guess.
Viscount Legend, Leslie 142, Nord Stage 3 HA88, Rhodes MK1 1977, Moog Sub 37, Dave Smith Rev2, Juno 106, DX7
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