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Krome EX88 vs. FA08, which to buy?


kaptainkeys
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So a new thread with a similar theme to my last.

In my last thread I mentioned that the Kurzweil PC3 I bought got damaged in shipping, so now I'm comparing these two midrange workstations, the Roland FA08 and the Korg Krome EX88.  I have yet to try the keybed on either., but there are enough music stores near me that I'll be able to try another keyboard with the same keybed (NH Action on the Krome, and Ivory-G on the FA)

Here's a list of pros and cons I came up with for both:

Krome:

Pros:

  • Touchscreen
  • Better master keyboard functionality
  • Comprehendible user manual

Cons:

  • PCM-based sounds only
  • External power supply
  • Only one pair of outputs
  • Fairly old
  • Korg pitch stick (better than Roland's imo)

FA08:

Pros:

  • sample pads
  • Supernatural modeling engine
  • Roland's famous 80s sounds
  • Extra official soundsets from Roland's Axial site
  • Sub out (even if its functionality is kind of odd)

Cons:

  • External power supply
  • Plastic construction
  • roland pitch stick
  • Older architecture

If there are any I missed let me know...

 

 

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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I loved the action and key feel when I had an FA08.  The only downside for me was the inability to route patch volume to the pots.  Otherwise, I was able to cover a lot of sonic territory with just that one board.  IIRC, I used the Sub-outs to route organ patches to my Ventilator - very convenient.

I was not a fan at all of the Krome action.  I only tried in the store, but recall it was not great feeling.

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What is odd about the functionality of the FA's sub out?

 

Roland is better for being able to seamlessly switch from one sound to another without the old one cutting out (though it's still not flawless).

 

In general, I think Korg has better EP sounds.

 

I'm not sure Korg's master keyboard functionality is better than Roland's, I think they came close to parity with Roland's 2.0 update.

 

Korg lets you put multiple insert effects on a single sounds, Roland does not. But Roland can put insert effects on up to 16 sounds at once, I think Korg maxes out at 5.

 

Even though the Krome has the advantage of the touchscreen, I wouldn't assume that makes the Krome easier to operate, I think in many ways, the Roland interface can be simpler. Though yes, some things are nicer with a touchscreen, too.

 

Since you were considering the PC3, you may not be tied to having a hammer action 88. So I'll also mention that, at about the same price as the FA-08, you could get a Kurzweil PC4-7.

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 thought the SUB Out on my FA-08 was fantastic.   I ran my organ and other various patches thru it to my Lester K Pedal.      The Sub Out on the FA is a TRS jack, and I just used one of my TRS to two TS Y cables to split out Left And Right.   Worked great.

 

Another thing I enjoyed about the FA08 was the ability to load our walk on track and other things to the pads.

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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20 minutes ago, EscapeRocks said:

 

Another thing I enjoyed about the FA08 was the ability to load our walk on track and other things to the pads.

Now I remember there were multiple pad modes, like part select and part mute.  Very handy for songs that have multiple patch changes.  I used handily on a Steely Dan gig where I had to change between Marimba, EP, strings and synth solo on the same song.  Very handy indeed.  Hmmm.....i kinda miss my FA now.  

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2 hours ago, AnotherScott said:

What is odd about the functionality of the FA's sub out?

It requires a splitter to have proper stereo, and then it is unbalanced

2 hours ago, AnotherScott said:

Roland is better for being able to seamlessly switch from one sound to another without the old one cutting out (though it's still not flawless).

I thought the Krome had patch remain

2 hours ago, AnotherScott said:

Since you were considering the PC3, you may not be tied to having a hammer action 88. So I'll also mention that, at about the same price as the FA-08, you could get a Kurzweil PC4-7.

I'm looking on the used market, and finding a used PC4 is a needle-in-a-haystack operation.  A new FA08 is way out of my price range.

1 hour ago, ABECK said:

Now I remember there were multiple pad modes, like part select and part mute.  Very handy for songs that have multiple patch changes.  I used handily on a Steely Dan gig where I had to change between Marimba, EP, strings and synth solo on the same song.  Very handy indeed. 

That was a feature that I saw Steve Maggiora of Toto use last night on his FA06.

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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1 minute ago, GotKeys said:

It requires a splitter to have proper stereo, and then it is unbalanced

I thought the Krome had patch remain

I'm looking on the used market, and finding a used PC4 is a needle-in-a-haystack operation.  A new FA08 is way out of my price range.

That was a feature that I saw Steve Maggiora of Toto use last night on his FA06.

 

Ah. When you said functionality, I wasn't thinking about the physical connection. I guess it's odd, in the sense that it is not the usual way it's done. But using a single TRS cable to carry stereo is not so uncommon in general. In fact, if you were using its Sub Out to go into some other board's aux input, some of those inputs are, themselves, TRS stereo (though usually 1/8"). Also I think most 1/4" outputs on most boards (including their assignable outs) are unbalanced (though there are some exceptions, of course.) So I really don't see the FA implementation as hobbled, at least.

 

8 minutes ago, GotKeys said:

I thought the Krome had patch remain

 

Minimally so, I believe. I think the only time you get it is when switching from one single Program to another single Program, and then only if the programs have no effects. Maybe someone else here can confirm or refute that. The FA, by comparison, can switch Tones (their equivalent to Korg's Programs) seamlessly except, I think, for the SuperNATURAL organ. You may or may not hear a glitch due to changing effects, but the sound won't cut off completely as it will on the Korg. And the the Studio Sets lets you use the pads to seamlessly switch among user-defined sets of 16 sounds, with no effects glitches, and in any combination (meaning you're not limiting to only switching from a single sound to another single sound, but rather, you could seamlessly switch from a split/layered combination of sounds to another split/layered combination of sounds, as long as all the sounds were contained within that particular set of 16 sounds). Krome doesn't have any corresponding capability.

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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Trying to remember...was there any reason you haven't considered the Yamaha MODX8, which sits right around that price point and would be my pick out of the three? They're out there used in the same price range as the other models as well. I owned a Krome 61 (the EX just adds a few more sounds) and have played various FA's since they came out. The Krome will be stronger on EP's (definitely on Wurlis) but weaker in pretty much all other areas IMO. It's very overrated in terms of master keyboard functionality IMO. I'm not a fan of either's keybed; the FA's is slow and the Krome's is mushy.

 

 

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) | Hammond: SK Pro 73 | 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 | Roland TD-17 KVX | Alesis SamplePad Pro | Assorted organs, accordions, other instruments

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Picking up from what Max said, since you don't seem tied to a weighted 88, you could also see if you could turn up a used MODX7. Personally, I would take that over an FA or Krome as well.  I don't know what your particular priorities might be, but I do think MODX is generally the best sounding of the three... though all have something different to offer. FA and Krome have more capable linear sequencers, and are capable of 16 simultaneous keyboard-playable parts (split/layered) rather than 8. FA also has a VA synth, the assignable out, and probably the best organs of the three (though that's damning with faint praise). MODX has the FM synth, 2-insert effects per part for up to 12 parts (FA has one effect per part for up to 16 parts, Krome has 5 insert fx total), a gigabyte available for user or 3rd-party sample expansions. built-in audio interface... but to me, the big thing is that most of the acoustic instrument sounds are better to my ears. (Though as Max said, Krome has some really nice EPs, they are sampled versions of the Kronos' hybrid modeled EPs.)

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 have no wisdom on the FA but happy to weigh in on the Krome, I've been using the original (non-EX) since 2013 and the two are pretty much identical except for a memory boost for better samples in the EX.

 

  • The NH action is not great.  Korg's RH3 used in their other 88's is far superior.  I find the NH heavy and unresponsive.  I actually use a 61 not an 88 and that action is even worse, haha!  Of course these thing are subjective and it's great you're trying both actions out.

 

  • I noted you mentioned "plastic construction" as a con for for the FA.  The Krome is also very "plasticky".  However I am baffled why people see this as a drawback - I think too many musicians conflate "weight" with "build quality".  I can promise you the two have no correlation - my Krome is light as a feather and just will not break.  Conversely I used to own a Kurzweil SP-4/7 which was pretty darn heavy for a non-hammer action machine.  That thing sounded great but was forever in the repair shop - and it did nowhere as many gigs as the Krome.

 

  • The Krome's touchscreen is a DREAM to navigate.  With a bit of familiarity and pre-planning you can fly between patches and settings.  My eyesight is deteriorating rapidly and I love the super large font.

 

  • Scott is correct about not being able to transition smoothly between patches.  I tend to use Combis to work around this but it's an imperfect solution.

 

  • This machine would definitely benefit from sample pads.  That's a big plus to the FA-08, particularly for my use case.

 

  • The Krome sounds VERY good.  Particularly APs and EPs.  With a bit of creativity I can get some very cool strings and brass sounds out of mine too.  Organs are its achilles' heel IMO.

 

  • I've been using pitch sticks (Roland and Korg) for so long now I actually prefer them to pitch and mod wheels.  It's just a familiarity thing.  I certainly wouldn't see it as a hill to die on.

I really feel like they're both pretty darn capable 'boards for the money.  I seriously love my Krome and will not stop using it until it dies or unti l see a significantly better option for the right price.  I don't think you'd go too far wrong with either.  They both no doubt have their quirks but they both seem like good choices to me.

 

Good luck with your purchase.

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6 hours ago, Mighty Motif Max said:

Trying to remember...was there any reason you haven't considered the Yamaha MODX8, which sits right around that price point and would be my pick out of the three? They're out there used in the same price range as the other models as well.

I hadn't even thought about the MODX to be honest, not many of them seem to be turning up on the used market.

6 hours ago, AnotherScott said:

Picking up from what Max said, since you don't seem tied to a weighted 88, you could also see if you could turn up a used MODX7. Personally, I would take that over an FA or Krome as well.  I don't know what your particular priorities might be, but I do think MODX is generally the best sounding of the three... though all have something different to offer.

I am not tied to a weighted action, but I'd probably go with a the MODX8 since I can't stand the nonstandard key sizes on the semi-weighted Yamahas.  In terms of drawbacks, the performance structure where only half the sounds are controllable through the internal keybed doesn't make sense to me, but is something I'm sure I could live with.  Only other major drawback is the lack of usable organ presets, I've played the organs on the Montage and all I heard in my head the whole time was cheesy baseball combo organ.

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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6 hours ago, CowboyNQ said:

I used to own a Kurzweil SP-4/7 which was pretty darn heavy for a non-hammer action machine. 

 

It was wonderfully compact for a 76, but its 24 lbs somehow seemed heavier than the 24 lb PX-5S. Weird.

 

6 hours ago, CowboyNQ said:

The Krome's touchscreen is a DREAM to navigate.  With a bit of familiarity and pre-planning you can fly between patches and settings.  

 

 

Yes, the Krome's touchscreen is better for patch navigation.

 

6 hours ago, CowboyNQ said:

Scott is correct about not being able to transition smoothly between patches.  I tend to use Combis to work around this but it's an imperfect solution.

 

Uh huh. Switching sounds within a Combi is similar to how the FA lets you switch seamlessly within a Studio Set, but without the nice pad-based interface for doing so, and not as many sounds can have insert effects.

 

6 hours ago, CowboyNQ said:

The Krome sounds VERY good.  Particularly APs and EPs.

 

When it comes to acoustic instruments, AP and EP are probably its strength, since they are derived from (though not identical to) the ones on Kronos, Of the board's 4 GB of samples, I believe 3.4 GB is for just for those APs and EPs. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of Kronos APs to begin with, but the competition is less fierce at the Krome price point. I've always really liked the EPs, though.

 

6 hours ago, GotKeys said:

Only other major {MODX} drawback is the lack of usable organ presets, I've played the organs on the Montage and all I heard in my head the whole time was cheesy baseball combo organ.

 

I'd say they're still better than Krome's organs, though. There's even a setting where you can adjust the 9 drawbars plus other parameters (e.g. click and leakage), and manipulate them in near-real-time (you rotate the 4 sliders through the different elements of the different parts). Sound isn't too bad, though being samples, the drawbars don't necessarily combine fully authentically, the Leslie simulation is far from state of the art, you may experience phasing issues, and this mode eats polyphony which makes it more viable when you're playing organ alone (or with an FM based sound, which has its own polyphony), as opposed to splitting/layering with other sample-based sounds.

 

The FA does have a modeled organ engine, but it has severe limitations of its own... no C/V, no real-time drawbar access, and an unimpressive rotary effect (though the sub out at least allows you to address that if you're so inclined).

 

Really, for any of these boards, if you care about the organ, you might want to connect to the $14 VB3m app that runs on most smartphones. It will work on any of these boards, but it will work most smoothly on MODX, where you can create a single-part Performance that calls up your VB3m sound, and bring that sound up any time you want, even split/layered with other MODX sounds. And since the MODX also acts as an audio interface, the organ sound will come in over that same USB connection and will be merged with the MODX sounds so it all comes out the same main audio out on the MODX.

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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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8 minutes ago, AnotherScott said:

Really, for any of these boards, if you care about the organ, you might want to connect to the $14 VB3m app that runs on most smartphones. It will work on any of these boards, but it will work most smoothly on MODX, where you can create a single-part Performance that calls up your VB3m sound, and bring that sound up any time you want, even split/layered with other MODX sounds. And since the MODX also acts as an audio interface, the organ sound will come in over that same USB connection and will be merged with the MODX sounds so it all comes out the same main audio out on the MODX.

About VB3m, do you think it will work on an older iPhone?  I have an old iPhone 6 laying around since I upgraded recently, but I don't want to rely on my main phone as a sound source during gigs.

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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1 minute ago, GotKeys said:

About VB3m, do you think it will work on an older iPhone?  I have an old iPhone 6 laying around

 

As long as you're running a version of iOS that is compatible with VB3m, it will run. And if you're not running a new enough OS, the app store won't let you download it. So if you can download it, it will work. The only caveat is, on older hardware with slower processors, you may experience more latency than you would on a newer device. If it's not satisfactory, you could get a refund on it. So as long as you have ANY keyboard at your disposal at the moment, you might want to download it and check it out, and see how happy you are with it. If you deem it viable, then that becomes one more factor in your board evaluations... i.e. it may mean that won't really care about the quality of the board's internal organ sounds anymore. (Though if you don't have one, you'll probably also need to buy Apple's $39 USB3-to-lightening adapter to even try it out.)

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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37 minutes ago, AnotherScott said:

As long as you're running a version of iOS that is compatible with VB3m, it will run. And if you're not running a new enough OS, the app store won't let you download it. So if you can download it, it will work. The only caveat is, on older hardware with slower processors, you may experience more latency than you would on a newer device. If it's not satisfactory, you could get a refund on it. So as long as you have ANY keyboard at your disposal at the moment, you might want to download it and check it out, and see how happy you are with it. If you deem it viable, then that becomes one more factor in your board evaluations... i.e. it may mean that won't really care about the quality of the board's internal organ sounds anymore. (Though if you don't have one, you'll probably also need to buy Apple's $39 USB3-to-lightening adapter to even try it out.)

In the case of the MODX, do you need that adapter?  I'd rather not buy it if I don't need to

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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58 minutes ago, GotKeys said:

In the case of the MODX, do you need that adapter?  I'd rather not buy it if I don't need to

 

I suppose you might be able to use a USB Type B to Lightning cable. It's got the right ends, I have no experience nor have I read anything about how such a cable would work for this purpose. Even if it worked, unlike using that Apple adapter, you would not be able to charge the phone while using the MIDI connection. Another approach, which would let you charge, could be to use a CME bluetooth adapter on your keyboard, which also has the benefit of being wireless, but it will be pricier and will introduce a bit more latency.

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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32 minutes ago, AnotherScott said:

 

I suppose you might be able to use a USB Type B to Lightning cable. It's got the right ends, I have no experience nor have I read anything about how such a cable would work for this purpose. Even if it worked, unlike using that Apple adapter, you would not be able to charge the phone while using the MIDI connection. Another approach, which would let you charge, could be to use a CME bluetooth adapter on your keyboard, which also has the benefit of being wireless, but it will be pricier and will introduce a bit more latency.

Ah I see.  So basically I need the camera connection kit.  What about using an android phone?  Is there a cheaper way to make that work?

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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5 minutes ago, GotKeys said:

What about using an android phone?  Is there a cheaper way to make that work?

 

With Android, you probably need a USB OTG cable, I don't have any personal experience there. Android MIDI performance is lesser, though. There's a lot of variation among Androids. Best case, you'll probably get a bit more latency than on the iPhone, worst case it may be unusable, you'd just have to try it and see.

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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1 minute ago, AnotherScott said:

With Android, you probably need a USB OTG cable, I don't have any personal experience there. Android MIDI performance is lesser, though. There's a lot of variation among Androids. Best case, you'll probably get a bit more latency than on the iPhone, worst case it may be unusable, you'd just have to try it and see.

So basically I am better off buying the camera connection kit

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Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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So I have done a bit of research, and the MODX is looking more promising than I originally thought.  Haven't bought anything yet, but may jump on a deal that I found near me, so that I can avoid shipping costs.

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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I am a huge Korg fan, but this is just me- I liked the FA08 keybed better- almost got a FA06 once. I really liked the piano/organ/rhodes sounds on it.

I am not a fan of NH action- I had it on a Korg SP280 piano that other than the action (which became clicky and was always spongy) was something I traded in .

The piano had a great Steinway sample and great speakers, but I couldn't stand the NH- liked my P95 action better.

 

I traded in the Krome 61 towards a 61 Nautilus- the 88 had RH3 but I simply can't move or lift 50 pounds. Had the Nautilus not come out I would have kept the Krome- the pianos and rhodes were great in that price point- I remember getting Organ's from a programmer named Dan Stesco- they were really good. 

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12 hours ago, LarsHarner2 said:

I am a huge Korg fan, but this is just me- I liked the FA08 keybed better- almost got a FA06 once. I really liked the piano/organ/rhodes sounds on it.

I am not a fan of NH action- I had it on a Korg SP280 piano that other than the action (which became clicky and was always spongy) was something I traded in .

The piano had a great Steinway sample and great speakers, but I couldn't stand the NH- liked my P95 action better.

 

I traded in the Krome 61 towards a 61 Nautilus- the 88 had RH3 but I simply can't move or lift 50 pounds. Had the Nautilus not come out I would have kept the Krome- the pianos and rhodes were great in that price point- I remember getting Organ's from a programmer named Dan Stesco- they were really good. 

Thanks Lars for your input

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something, Kurzweil PC4-88, my voice

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