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Yet Another 'Revisiting' Thread: PC4, or ?


allan_evett
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I'm still wrestling with how well my RD-88 fits for a new band gig, which is quickly filling in dates. In 2019 and 2020 I condensed keyboards - offloading a Kronos 61, RD-2000 and FP-50 . Since 2017, a Stage 3,76 has been my main go-to for gigging; it's Swiss Army Knife, live.

 

I picked up the RD-88 last summer, to compliment the Stage 3,76. Did a few gigs with it last year - some good moments some weird (details are in the RD-88 thread on the MPN Gear Lab Reviews). A couple of recent rehearsals have been rough: the interface and ergonomics make it tough to get around the instrument efficiently - definitely no quick edits in rehearsals. If I was still doing commercial jingles with hardware, this is one instrument I would definitely NOT take on a session. Granted, there is much to like: three Fantom-grade Tones per Scene, SN pianos, built-in speakers... But it's often a time-suck re prep time - editing and creating Scenes & Favorites is rather kludgy.

 

I miss having a stage piano with clear visuals and front panel editing features. I like having solid synth and capable tonewheel presets; and though I'd prefer full editing functions, limited editing would be okay - as synth/organ backing would mostly be secondary to piano on this instrument. So, I'm on the edge of ordering a PC4. A few other options I've considered: A mint Grandstage 88, with a fair trade-up on the RD-88; played one a couple years back and was suitably impressed. YC-88, though I wonder about the depth and variety in the synth section; and there's the price, which definitely pushes the family budget.

 

Any other suggestions, stuff I might have missed?

'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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If your set requires a lot of sound alike patches with a lot of splits and layers - what has kept you from going MacBook/MainStage or PC/Cantabile and recalling intricate setup by song title? In which case - the RD-88, if you like the action, would be fine. Or really any controller or stage piano that feels good to play and has some assignable knobs, wheels, etc.

 

If you"re material is more stripped down and you just need acoustic and electro mechanical keyboards, occasionally some strings and horns - yeah, PC-4 is great for this and then some, as are quite a few others. Even if you supplement with an iOS device.

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

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though I'd prefer full editing functions, limited editing would be okay...A few other options I've considered: A mint Grandstage 88...YC-88...Any other suggestions, stuff I might have missed?

Grandstage-88 and YC-88 editing is VERY limited. If you're looking in that weight range, I'd also look at Kawai MP7SE. I haven't played that one, but I liked the MP7 a lot, nice action on that one at least. Good piano/EP sounds, drawabar-adjustable organ engine, decent range of additional sounds, with good editability. Not as deep a board as the Kurz, of course, but nice sounding, nice feeling, and operationally direct.

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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If your set requires a lot of sound alike patches with a lot of splits and layers - what has kept you from going MacBook/MainStage or PC/Cantabile and recalling intricate setup by song title? In which case - the RD-88, if you like the action, would be fine. Or really any controller or stage piano that feels good to play and has some assignable knobs, wheels, etc.

 

If you"re material is more stripped down and you just need acoustic and electro mechanical keyboards, occasionally some strings and horns - yeah, PC-4 is great for this and then some, as are quite a few others. Even if you supplement with an iOS device.

I second both ideas. The RD-88 with MainStage or the PC4. Both great.

But I also have a question @Allan. Never figured out the difference between having 3 tones per scene in the RD-88 compared to 4 tones per scene in the Fantom. If that"s so, what does it mean? A fuller sound? Or more parts divided over the keybed?

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If your set requires a lot of sound alike patches with a lot of splits and layers - what has kept you from going MacBook/MainStage or PC/Cantabile and recalling intricate setup by song title? In which case - the RD-88, if you like the action, would be fine. Or really any controller or stage piano that feels good to play and has some assignable knobs, wheels, etc.

 

If you"re material is more stripped down and you just need acoustic and electro mechanical keyboards, occasionally some strings and horns - yeah, PC-4 is great for this and then some, as are quite a few others. Even if you supplement with an iOS device.

I second both ideas. The RD-88 with MainStage or the PC4. Both great.

But I also have a question @Allan. Never figured out the difference between having 3 tones per scene in the RD-88 compared to 4 tones per scene in the Fantom. If that"s so, what does it mean? A fuller sound? Or more parts divided over the keybed?

 

The Tones are comparable components of both the RD-88 and Fantom; both are ZEN-Core based, and interchangeable (as.svz files), but with exceptions: I discovered that any Soundfont files (sample-based) converted to .svz files - using Roland's Soundfont to SVZ conversion App - will load and play as a Tone on the Fantom, but will not load into the RD-88 (even though it reads as a .svz file). Also, a JX-8P model Tone I edited in Zenology Pro saves/exports as a .svz file, but will also not load into the RD-88. Maybe there are further restrictions within the .svz format?

 

The Fantom allows for up to 16 Tones per Scene, compared to RD-88's 3. What can be confusing is the next level down of editing - Partials, of which there are up to 4 within each Fantom Tone. Partial level editing does not exist on the RD-88, though as far as I understand a complete Fantom Tone still carries over into the RD-88 when imported; you just can't get at the Partials. I wish that could be done; each Partial is somewhat a miniature 1 oscillator synth on it's own - with editing features (a little like a Layer within a Kurzweil Program).

'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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Thank you, Allan. One more, if I may: what would be the sonic difference between a Fantom Scene with 16 Tones and an RD88 Scene with 3 Tones? Less full sounding? Are those 16 Tones simply sounds on top of each other? Or are those 16 Tones like 16 sounds or layers divided over the keybed? Pardon my stupidity but I think I still don"t get Roland"s language.

 

Edit: this is what I found over at Sweetwater:

' The sounds break down into three categories; Tones, Zones, and finally, Scenes. Tones are individual sounds such as a piano or bass, which are stored in Zones. You can have up to 16 tones for each Zone. Finally, each Zone and its included settings like effects, volume, and mix, are saved as a Scene. Sequencer and song data are saved within Scenes, as well.'

 

(Sorry for going off topic)

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@ElmerJFudd: I've done a little gigging with a MacBook, roughly 10 years ago in Colorado. Tried that with two differrent party rock-country bands; it certainly offered some advantages at the time.

Have mostly used hardware since (except an ipad, on occasion). Though this band isn't exactly stripped down musically, I'll likely stick with hardware for this gig - due to more 'grandfathered' smoky clubs and a higher theft rate in NW Indiana. Small items tend to disappear more quickly.

 

@AnotherScott: That's what I suspected about the Grandstage 88 and YC-88. I have yet to play the SE version of the MP7. The church where I gigged back in 2015 had an MP7. As a matter of fact I helped them sell it in 2019, and brother Red-Key from this forum bought it. When I used the MP7 it was mostly for piano - string/pad layers. But the EPs and clonewheel organs were quite good the couple times I used them. I remember playing through some of the synth programs, but didn't tweak anything to fit a song. I'd read that the piano engine was expanded in the SE. I'm a fan of Kawai pianos (my K2 upright is sitting three feet away as I write this); will have to get on Kawai's site and check out the updated MP7. While the 28 lbs of the PC4 is attractive, I didn't find the MP7 too bad to move. It's 46 lb., but very tight and compact; nice to have the Pitch/Mod wheels above the LH keys.

'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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Thank you, Allan. One more, if I may: what would be the sonic difference between a Fantom Scene with 16 Tones and an RD88 Scene with 3 Tones? Less full sounding? Or are those 16 Tones like 16 sounds or layers divided over the keybed? Pardon my stupidity but I think I still don"t get Roland"s language.

 

Edit: this is what I found over at Sweetwater:

' The sounds break down into three categories; Tones, Zones, and finally, Scenes. Tones are individual sounds such as a piano or bass, which are stored in Zones. You can have up to 16 tones for each Zone. Finally, each Zone and its included settings like effects, volume, and mix, are saved as a Scene. Sequencer and song data are saved within Scenes, as well.'

 

(Sorry for going off topic)

 

That's okay, it's daunting keeping track of Programs, Performances, Multis, Combis, Scenes, Voices, Tones, Partials.... :pop: And I suspect I still forgot a couple. Another side effect of having chronic GAS for forty years.

 

Yep, a Fantom Scene with 16 layered Tones - vs the RD-88 with 3 - would sound gargantuan. I did a 4-Tone synth layer Scene on the Fantom that sounded almost thunderous, and an adaptation of that Scene for the RD-88 - using what I felt were its three most prominent Tones - still commanded attention. Three layered synth Tones sounds very full on the RD. I'd liken it to layering a 1980's JX-8P, DX-7 and Matrix-6 along with a couple of good rack effects units.

'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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The Grandstage is not a board that you want if you want to do much editing or much for splits/layers. It's nice otherwise.

 

I'm going to say Kawai MP7SE or the PC4. The Kawai has the advantage on action and pianos, while the PC4 likely has the advantage in the synth and orchestral side. The Kawai has a drawbar organ engine, but the PC4 has KB3 with the nine sliders, so it depends on your usage. Alternatively I don't recall if you liked the RD-2000 action but that's an option, albeit a little more expensive.

Yamaha: Motif XF8, MODX7, YS200, MX61, CVP-305, CLP-130, YPG-235, PSR-295, PSS-470 | Roland: Fantom 7, JV-1000

Kurzweil: PC3-76, PC4 (88) | Korg: N1R, X5DR | Emu: Proteus/1 | Casio: CT-370 | Novation: Launchkey 37 MK3

Former: Emu Proformance Plus & Mo'Phatt, Korg Krome 61, Roland Fantom XR & JV-1010, Behringer CAT

Yamaha Pacifica 112V & APX600 | Washburn WI64 | Ibanez BTB-675 | Alesis SamplePad Pro | Assorted organs, accordions, other instruments

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Sorry Allan, I see you commented on the Grandstage and MP7SE while I was writing.

Yamaha: Motif XF8, MODX7, YS200, MX61, CVP-305, CLP-130, YPG-235, PSR-295, PSS-470 | Roland: Fantom 7, JV-1000

Kurzweil: PC3-76, PC4 (88) | Korg: N1R, X5DR | Emu: Proteus/1 | Casio: CT-370 | Novation: Launchkey 37 MK3

Former: Emu Proformance Plus & Mo'Phatt, Korg Krome 61, Roland Fantom XR & JV-1010, Behringer CAT

Yamaha Pacifica 112V & APX600 | Washburn WI64 | Ibanez BTB-675 | Alesis SamplePad Pro | Assorted organs, accordions, other instruments

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RD-88 and Fantom; both are ZEN-Core based, and interchangeable (as.svz files), but with exceptions: I discovered that any Soundfont files (sample-based) converted to .svz files - using Roland's Soundfont to SVZ conversion App - will load and play as a Tone on the Fantom, but will not load into the RD-88 (even though it reads as a .svz file). Also, a JX-8P model Tone I edited in Zenology Pro saves/exports as a .svz file, but will also not load into the RD-88. Maybe there are further restrictions within the .svz format?

I think that, despite the common file extension, zencore boards are simply still limited by their underlying basic technologies. Fantom lets you load custom samples, RD88 does not, so a converted soundfont is a no-go. JX8P tones require JX8P model emulation, which Fantom has but RD88 does not, so again, no dice.

 

It is interesting, though, the way Roland segregates their reusable wave memory. There is some such memory in the RD88--there would have to be in order for it to be able to load the SRX-based expansions--but there's no facility to use that memory for any other purpose. Same as the FA series, which can load two SRX-based expansions, and custom samples triggerable from the pads, but not full keyboard-playable samples. The Juno DS can load one SRX-based expansion and has about 50 mb for your own custom full keyboard-playable samples, but you can't use any of the space for one purpose to add more of the other. Nord is similar in this respect, in that the Electro/Piano/Stage models have memory dedicated to the piano file format and different memory dedicated to the other sample files, and never the twain shall meet.

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've been listening to the YC-88 again. The piano engine really stands out, especially the C7. The synth engine does seem more geared to poly stuff - pads and the like. FM leads are impressive, others not so much (The Minimoog imitation is ghastly.). What got my attention though is the tight MIDI and audio integration with the iPad. I have several vintage synth apps, and should the need arise for that kind of depth from the YC the iPad could cover it. Definitely rethinking the PC 4 and the others.

'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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So I"m thinking about the CP88 again. It lacks the YC"s organ but it"s much cheaper and has the same iPad integration for some really good B3 emulations (at least better than the YC"s).

 

 

That makes sense, especially if you don't need the larger synth section or expanded effects engine, which includes the VCM speaker simulations (the rotary cabinets and guitar amps). From videos I've studied for the CPs and YCs, the CP88 is optimized for piano performance - with additional sample/synth features. Meanwhile, the YC is optimized for organ and keys - with a broader complement of synths and related effects. Seems that the CP-88 with an iPad for for B3 coverage would be a great piano/organ combination.

'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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So I"m thinking about the CP88 again. It lacks the YC"s organ but it"s much cheaper and has the same iPad integration for some really good B3 emulations (at least better than the YC"s).

 

 

That makes sense, especially if you don't need the larger synth section or expanded effects engine, which includes the VCM speaker simulations (the rotary cabinets and guitar amps). From videos I've studied for the CPs and YCs, the CP88 is optimized for piano performance - with additional sample/synth features. Meanwhile, the YC is optimized for organ and keys - with a broader complement of synths and related effects. Seems that the CP-88 with an iPad for for B3 coverage would be a great piano/organ combination.

 

My only concern with that would be trying to play organ on that particular hammer action. I'm not averse to organ on a hammer action in general, but I personally found the CP88 action to be much to stiff/heavy to be comfortable playing much organ at all. This is coming from someone who usually plays organ on a hammer action.

Yamaha: Motif XF8, MODX7, YS200, MX61, CVP-305, CLP-130, YPG-235, PSR-295, PSS-470 | Roland: Fantom 7, JV-1000

Kurzweil: PC3-76, PC4 (88) | Korg: N1R, X5DR | Emu: Proteus/1 | Casio: CT-370 | Novation: Launchkey 37 MK3

Former: Emu Proformance Plus & Mo'Phatt, Korg Krome 61, Roland Fantom XR & JV-1010, Behringer CAT

Yamaha Pacifica 112V & APX600 | Washburn WI64 | Ibanez BTB-675 | Alesis SamplePad Pro | Assorted organs, accordions, other instruments

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Also, a JX-8P model Tone I edited in Zenology Pro saves/exports as a .svz file, but will also not load into the RD-88.

This is really interesting... it implies that patches created with those models that are not RD-88 compatible can still actually be loaded into and played from an RD-88, hmmmm!

 

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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