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Aidan
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I have a year of work ahead with the blues singer I've been working with, and many are support slots, with an imperative to get on and off the stage ASAP,

 

Meanwhile, for pub gigs which pay pretty much peanuts, hauling in and lacing up two keyboards, including an 88, has been getting a bit tiresome.

 

So, after trying one out in store and being actually pleasantly surprised that I could be OK with playing rudimentary piano parts on its semi-weighted action, I bought an Electro 5D-73, thinking it would be cool to cover all the above bases with a single 9.5kg keyboard.

 

As it turned out, the action has proven the least of my worries. The real problem is the sound. In four gigs and three rehearsals so far, I've only been close to being grudgingly satisfied with it once.

 

The main problem is the acoustic pianos. My last memory of the Nord pianos (having owned a Stage 2 before getting the CP4) was that the top end apart, they were otherwise pretty good. And from comments on this forum, I believed that some of the later samples had maybe fixed even that problem.

 

So I was astonished at how poor the pianos sounded once I got the board into my studio. I tried every single grand piano sample in every conceivable size. Nude, with no EQ, they sound utterly anaemic. Not only does the top get lost (as per my previous experience), but the bottom and mid is also anonymous and the top gets lost completely when things get loud on stage. The only way to get a piano halfway 'present' is to EQ it to death.

 

In the studio, the organ section sounded pretty good but on the first gig, it also got totally lost and I ended up playing on full bars all night just to keep myself heard.

 

All of the above took place on fairly low profile gigs but I can't risk the same result on the series coming up with Rebecca, so it's back to the trusty CP4/SK1 combo.

 

The only plus point I can notch up to the Nord at the moment is that it came in really handy when we did a radio broadcast the other day (middle of town and a cramped studio) but it's a pretty expensive toy to keep by just for that purpose.

 

Has anyone here any constructive suggestions that might make me a happier bunny before I strap this thing into the trebuchet?

Yamaha P515 | Yamaha CP4 | Yamaha MODX 8 | Casio PX S1000 | Nord Electro 5D | Moog Sub 37 | Korg Monologue | Native Instruments Maschine MK3 | Novation Circuit Tracks | Plug-ins Agogo

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Aidan, what are your speakers live ? Do you use a pre-amp/mixer or go direct in to the actives ? Running mono or stereo ?

 

So no luck with the Royal Grand ? I haven't had a Nord piano since selling mine to Michelle in Sept. of '14 so I'm way behind the curve of what's come out since then. But just hearing the Royal, I thought might be "the one" that would alleviate all the other problems I had with them in the past.

 

It sounded good on that radio broadcast, fooled me, I thought it was the CP4.

 

Sorry to hear it's not working out for you. Other then higher quality speakers and preamp -- and you obviously know the mono vs stereo thing advantage - I wouldn't know what to suggest.

 

Played the CP4 today at the church through the evil Roland KC amp that's provided. Amazing that the mono CFX can still sound good in the ensemble with that sonic nightmare mess. :cry:

https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

 

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For rock band use, I ditch the grands in favor of 2 uprights layered. I use the ancient Rain Piano, which is nasty and tinny and cuts like a knife, layered with one of the newer ones like the Baldwin console which is pretty warm.

 

It has the effect of spreading the tuning and sits in a band mix nicely. Only on exposed piano ballads do I use grands. I have a layered grand mix as well, and the only solo grand I use is the 3D.

 

I'm not sure if you can even do this trick on the Electro. You may have to have a Stage to layer 2 pianos.

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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Nord pianos sound like ass under the wrong amplification. It is known. I generally find for recordings though and in the band FOH mix they sit well. Bright Grand or Silver Grand are both great for cutting through. I prefer Bright Grand as it has more balls.

 

I used to use the uprights in quieter songs, but 9/10 times the nuances get lost. The ballsyness of the Bright Grand just seems to work.

Nord E4 SW73

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It is known that Nords are pretty sensitive to quality amplification (or lack thereof).

 

Still I'm surprised that you couldn't find a single piano that works for your needs. As mentioned, the Bright and Silver grands usually are great for loud rock bands.

And the uprights may be even better (less low-mids that mud up the mix with the guitars). I like the Black and the Rain pianos for that.

 

I'm even more perplexed by the B3 emulation...I find Nord's take on the Hammond sound to be particularly bright and shrill. Not the most realistic maybe, but perfect for cutting through the mix.

 

Again, what are you using for amplification? Do you get the same impression when listening through headphones?

Nord sound is VERY different from Yamaha's and H/S's, could it be that your ears/tastes are just used to those, and you need a period of adjustment?

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I find their sound shaping style to be tweaked/hyped to sound good playing solo - bassy and bright, lacking definition in the midrange. Youll have to tweak to your needs if you intend to keep it.

 

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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I find that the Nord pianos are fussy about amplification whereas the CP4 is not. Nord pianos record really well but left me cold on gigs. Im glad the action doesnt bother you I wasnt at peace with it. Sold my Stage 2 HA88 a few years ago and have been happily playing a CP4 since.
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It's an interesting balance, all the Nord sounds are balanced to cut nicely through a mix (the Hammond sounds are almost too good, I often have to take the top end off) but apart from the pianos they all sound fine in isolation. Maybe it's because I'm playing them on a waterfall keybed but I don't have the same problems with the Rhodes and Wurly sounds.
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I'd echo a few people above and say that I found that the Royal Grand was the best piano that I tried on the Nord Electro 5D 73, particularly in mono, which is how I was playing it live (through my EV ZLX12P).

 

But I also agree with Aidan that I've been disappointed overall with the 5D 73. I'm selling mine now and going back to using my Electro 2 with a Mini Vent. I only really use three sounds live - Organ, Wurli and Piano. On organ the 5D leslie on fast began to annoy me. The Wurli offers no advantage on the 5D because, apart from being larger, it's basically a very similar sample to what was in the Electro 2. And on piano, although it's clearly better in the 5D, once you're in mono I thought the difference became quite marginal and didn't really justify the expense.

 

I also have to say that I found the 5D a bit clunky to operate. The assigning of the Upper and Lower parts and their effects sometimes felt a bit fiddly and counter intuitive. I see that they've redesigned the user interface on the 6D, suggesting Nord thought it could do with some improvement.

 

So nothing really to offer in terms of alternatives, Aidan, but maybe just reassurance that you're not the only one who felt the 5D 73 didn't quite measure up.

Nord Electro 6D 61, Wurlitzer EP200A, Neo Mini Vent, EV ZLX12P, QSC CP8.

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What others have said: if you don't have a decent signal chain, your Nord APs will sound like @ss. Nord samples are "as recorded", it's up to the owner to faithfully reproduce the original.

 

Subtle effects help (reverb, chorus) as does layering two samples. Conversely, when you've got that decent amplification, it's a joy to behold.

 

Interestingly enough, the Nord piano library now has "digital" and "hybrid" samples which are ostensibly reproductions of classic electronic pianos which were EQ'd to perform well.

 

I find them easier to pleasantly reproduce, you might as well.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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".. I tried every single grand piano sample in every conceivable size. Nude, with no EQ, they sound utterly anaemic. Not only does the top get lost (as per my previous experience), but the bottom and mid is also anonymous and the top gets lost completely when things get loud on stage. The only way to get a piano halfway 'present' is to EQ it to death...."

Not to sound like a smart ass but I'm not sure how we can help you. You tried all the pianos in every size and you don't like any of them. The only thing I could suggest is to look at the amplification. The other thing you mentioned was that the entire sound field gets lost. Maybe you need to turn up. Also, is anyone else complaining about the sound, or just you? Have you tried in ear amplification?

 

I need a keyboard replacement and have looked hard at the E5D73 but don 't like the B3/leslie sounds and am not particularly impressed with the EP's and acoustic piano. I really like my Gemini module and am hoping that Guido puts that package in a 7x key keyboard.

57 Hammond B3; 69 Hammond L100P; 68 Leslie 122; Kurzweil PC3; M-Audio Code 61; Voce V5+; Neo Vent; EV ELX112P; GSI Gemini & Burn

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One more thought. How do you judged that your pianos sound bad? Do they sound bad to you in the monitors, or do you have recordings from FOH/mixer?

 

My experience has often been that even when my monitor sound was crap, people in the audience said the keys were heard cleanly in the mix and sounded good.

 

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I tried every single grand piano sample in every conceivable size.

Echoing what some others have said, I found that some of the Uprights worked best for me. I don't have a Nord at the moment, but I know I used the Queen Upright a lot (and in 2017 they added a couple of more uprights I never had a chance to play with).

 

p.s. -- no need to waste time trying every conceivable size. Just try the XL and L, which can sound pretty different from each other. And then if you prefer the L, you could consider the S or M only if you want to save some space. They have the same timbre as the L but lose some of the string resonances in order to take up less space. The basic sound is the same, the XL is the only one that can sound notably different from the others.

 

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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Hey Aidan, comparing the options here I am wondering if you just want a one-board solution and were willing to get into an Electro SW, why wouldn't you consider just using your SK1? You must like the Hammond sound for organ.

 

If the Suzuki pianos don't float your boat, what about a Korg Module? I'd imagine the Module's AP and EP are better than what you have on the SK, and you can always upgrade to Scarbee / Ivory, if you have the space.

 

... ah, the 61 keys thing. Well, I can attest that for the blues gigs I've done, 61 is fine for me, but you may want "12 louder." :laugh:

 

 

 

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Rod

victoria bc

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Thanks for the feedback, guys. I'm mostly using Shure IEMs so at first, I thought it was a problem with the difference in sound in these, but I've also ran it through a QSC K10 at rehearsals with similar problems.

 

Anyway, going to stick with it for a little while, perforce. Since I wrote the OP, I've succumbed to one of my (now thankfully rare) attacks of gout and can only hobble. Last thing I need tomorrow is a load of gear. I have sounds and setlist all programmed into the Nord for Rebecca's gigs so we'll see how it goes. Will report back.

Yamaha P515 | Yamaha CP4 | Yamaha MODX 8 | Casio PX S1000 | Nord Electro 5D | Moog Sub 37 | Korg Monologue | Native Instruments Maschine MK3 | Novation Circuit Tracks | Plug-ins Agogo

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LOL as is cherry juice, which I've been chugging all day, thanks!

Yamaha P515 | Yamaha CP4 | Yamaha MODX 8 | Casio PX S1000 | Nord Electro 5D | Moog Sub 37 | Korg Monologue | Native Instruments Maschine MK3 | Novation Circuit Tracks | Plug-ins Agogo

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Dave Ferris mentioned the first thing I would suspect: mono vs stereo. All demos of the nord pianos I've heard sound great IMO but surely they are in stereo...it's possible you are getting a totally different sound due to this. That said, so many people use Nords that this would be a pretty common issue.

 

The other thing I'll note is that whenever my keys have been recorded at shows I'm struck (no pun intended) by the fact that they always sound better than I think they do. I used Shure 215s for a couple years before using customs and for one thing they sound a bit dull IMO, at least with my Shure bodypack. You did mention k10s though so probably it's not the earbuds.

 

Not being very familiar with Nords, do their sample libraries perhaps have a "small and low quality" version that you are accidentally using?

 

I am possibly in the market for an electro so this has my attention.

 

 

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Aidan, I've found Nord pianos to be a bit finicky too. One thing that has helped a lot with my Stage 3, 76 is the 'Bright' piano EQ setting, applied to the Royal Grand 3D tone. Since you don't have the dedicated piano EQ section on the Electro 5, you might get results with Royal Grand 3D globally EQ'd heavily; though it's questionable how far you might get with that. That dedicated piano EQ section on the Stage 3 seems to have some special mojo happening.

 

Similar to your experience, I've also noticed my Hammond parts getting 'drowned out' at times, and having to over-compensate with extra drawbar pulls - which destroys the tone subtleties in having drawbars to begin with. But other than with a Korg Kronos, this is a problem I've had with other clonewheels and ROMpler-based organ tones. So I'm thinking a separate box might be the solution; Vent, or even Motion Sound Pro 3....

 

Then there is the issue of keyboard amplification - IEMs or speakers, vs. the stage / venue sound. Always an ear-warping variable.

'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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Aidan I feel your pain (Nord, not gout).

 

I've found the Nord pianos struggle in a noisy band context. I use the Bright Grand on my NS2 which packs a nice punch in the low and mid registers, but needs some EQ help towards the top. And that EQ changes the character of the piano, making it sound clunky and biting.

 

For blues, I like the Petrof/Black Upright, although the Bambino Upright should be strong also (I haven't had a chance to try it).

 

I don't think the size of the sample will be particularly significant. In my experience the fundamental character of the piano is not particularly changed by loading a new sample size.

 

EDIT: it seems you've tried all the pianos in all the sizes already. What I did to cure the upper thinness was to find the pitch where maximum thinness was exhibited, then sweep a mid-boost until that frequency popped out. That does help, but with side-effects.

 

Have you thought about a CP80/Electric Grand sample?

 

Cheers, Mike.

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Well, first gig with Rebecca last night and what do you know, the Red Thing sounded awesome.

 

One of the reasons I'm on this tour is that Rick, her regular keys man, is playing with Magnum, the main attraction. He made a point of coming to me after our brief soundcheck and telling me the Nord sounded great out front. He also came up to me after the show and told me that not only did the Electro sound great, I did a great job too. That meant a lot to me.

 

The sound guy asked me to run (and monitor) in stereo and both Rick and myself came to the conclusion that this is what's making the difference for me. On the one gig I was previously happy with the sound, I took stereo into my IEMs even though I sent out a summed mono output to the PA (pub gig with very basic mixer).

 

So it looks like the Nord is staying, and I didn't just waste a boatload of money. Phew!

 

 

Yamaha P515 | Yamaha CP4 | Yamaha MODX 8 | Casio PX S1000 | Nord Electro 5D | Moog Sub 37 | Korg Monologue | Native Instruments Maschine MK3 | Novation Circuit Tracks | Plug-ins Agogo

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Aidan, I've found Nord pianos to be a bit finicky too. One thing that has helped a lot with my Stage 3, 76 is the 'Bright' piano EQ setting, applied to the Royal Grand 3D tone. Since you don't have the dedicated piano EQ section on the Electro 5, you might get results with Royal Grand 3D globally EQ'd heavily; though it's questionable how far you might get with that. That dedicated piano EQ section on the Stage 3 seems to have some special mojo happening.

 

Similar to your experience, I've also noticed my Hammond parts getting 'drowned out' at times, and having to over-compensate with extra drawbar pulls - which destroys the tone subtleties in having drawbars to begin with. But other than with a Korg Kronos, this is a problem I've had with other clonewheels and ROMpler-based organ tones. So I'm thinking a separate box might be the solution; Vent, or even Motion Sound Pro 3....

 

Then there is the issue of keyboard amplification - IEMs or speakers, vs. the stage / venue sound. Always an ear-warping variable.

 

the E5 does have EQ dedicated to the upper, lower, or both tones. That is saved by patch. It's not a global EQ. So you can apply EQ to a piano and not have it affect organ or sample sounds that are also in the same patch.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

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