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Keyboard Advice


Smallobear
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Hi all,

I'm just looking for some advice on a keyboard. The Nord Stage 3 fulfils all my needs but is very very expensive. I've still a decent budget but just researching if there are cheaper options out there. The Nord Stage 2 is not available second hand where I live.

My checklist is the following:

1. Excellent piano and electric piano sounds (Perhaps organ too)
2. Weighted keys
3. Availability in 73 or 76 key versions
4. The ability to link a midi controller to play sections like the Nord Stage Extern section
5. The ability to load up your own samples like the Nord Sample Editor

Any advice is very welcome

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First three non-Nord options that come to mind are Nautilus, Fantom and MODX - the Yamaha will be the least expensive. Whether you think AP, EP and organ are excellent or just passable is subjective. Each supports loading your own samples as well, but I'm guessing actual sample workflow is going to be significantly different for each platform. I've yet to find any sample solution as straightforward as Nord Sample Editor.

 

The big deal is none of these is 7x keys and weighted - I think Kronos was the last big option to go less-than-88 and fully weighted, apart from the Nord and with all the features you're describing. Maybe one of the comparable Kurzweils does all this, but I'm not really up to speed on their latest offerings.

 

 

 

 

..
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Assuming by weighted keys, you mean "fully" weighted (i.e. hammer action, rather than semi-weighted), besides Nord Stage 3, the only currently available option that is significantly less expensive is the Dexibell S3 Pro.

 

Korg Kronos 73 and Kurzweil Forte 7 could be possibilities, but are apparently on the verge of being discontinued so you may or may not be able to find one (new), and regardless, they are also almost as pricey as the too-expensive Nord.

 

If you're willing to consider delegating requirement 5 to an attached iOS device, you could consider Yamaha CP73 or YC73.

 

 

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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57 minutes ago, AnotherScott said:

 

If you're willing to consider delegating requirement 5 to an attached iOS device, you could consider Yamaha CP73 or YC73.

I was thinking along those lines -- find a weighted controller you like, get an iPad, drive presets from the controller.  Great for home use, could be fiddly for live use unless you got comfortable with it.  Or buy a Nord.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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2 hours ago, AnotherScott said:

Assuming by weighted keys, you mean "fully" weighted (i.e. hammer action, rather than semi-weighted), besides Nord Stage 3, the only currently available option that is significantly less expensive is the Dexibell S3 Pro.

 

 

 

 

 

Don't sleep on the S3's ability to upload soundfont 2 sf2 files.  The poor man's Nord library.

 

There are a couple other options for affordable weighted key 73/76.  Someone mentioned above the new Numa GTX 73.  And the econo option is the Yamaha P121, although it lacks many of the features OP specified.

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The Electros miss #4, the MIDI zoning. The only Electro that could do that at all was the Electro 5, but even then was pretty limited compared to the full function MIDI zoning of the Ext sections of the Stage, or the MIDI zoning on the other boards I mentioned. For example, while each user program can have a MIDI zone, it doesn't let you include a Program Change. And if it's part of a split, it can only be above the split, not below. It's useful, but not nearly what these other boards can do.

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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5 hours ago, AnotherScott said:

The Electros miss #4, the MIDI zoning. 

I’m a little confused as to whether the OP had that particular requirement when they said 

11 hours ago, Smallobear said:

4. The ability to link a midi controller to play sections like the Nord Stage Extern section

If the intention is to use the new board to play sounds externally then that’s “like the Nord Stage Extern section” but that’s not “link[ing] a midi controller”. And to be pedantic, the OP didn’t talk about zoning or splitting (although mentions “sections”).

 

@Smallobear can you confirm you require the ability to split your new keyboard so that part of it plays the new keyboard’s sounds, and part of it plays external sounds via MIDI?

 

Cheers, Mike

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4 hours ago, stoken6 said:
9 hours ago, AnotherScott said:

The Electros miss #4, the MIDI zoning. 

I’m a little confused as to whether the OP had that particular requirement when they said 

15 hours ago, Smallobear said:

4. The ability to link a midi controller to play sections like the Nord Stage Extern section

If the intention is to use the new board to play sounds externally then that’s “like the Nord Stage Extern section” but that’s not “link[ing] a midi controller”. And to be pedantic, the OP didn’t talk about zoning or splitting (although mentions “sections”).

I think the "link a MIDI controller" may have been a mis-statement on the part of the OP, since he clarified his point in the rest of the sentence, explaining that what he is looking for here is functionality like what you get from the Nord Stage EXT section, which is what lets you use the Nord AS a controller, to trigger sounds residing externally, what I referred to in short-hand as MIDI zoning. But you're right, I could have gotten that backwards. Maybe the reference to the Nord Stage Extern section is where the error was, and what he REALLY wants is the ability to use an external board to selectively play some of this board's sounds (which is also something the Nord Stage can do, but it has nothing to do with its EXT section). I guess we'll have to wait for the OP to come back here to clarify exactly what he's looking for here.

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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2 hours ago, AnotherScott said:

what he REALLY wants is the ability to use an external board to selectively play some of this board's sounds (which is also something the Nord Stage can do, but it has nothing to do with its EXT section). 

Yup. I'm also unclear whether the requirement is to "zone" (i.e. transmit using part of the keyboard), or simply to transmit across the whole of the keyboard (basic MIDI OUT).

 

Cheers, Mike.

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1 hour ago, stoken6 said:

Yup. I'm also unclear whether the requirement is to "zone" (i.e. transmit using part of the keyboard), or simply to transmit across the whole of the keyboard (basic MIDI OUT).

The word "zone" itself is ambiguous. Boards that support MIDI zoning typically do not require that the zones not overlap, nor do they require that a zone NOT cover the entire range of the keyboard. So a MIDI zone can encompass every note of the keyboard and still be called a zone (that's typical Yamaha usage of the term, for example). I understand that's not the same as when people use the word zone to mean a less-than-full region of the keyboard, which is another valid use of the term.

 

In this case, if we're using the Nord Stage EXT function as a reference point, it allows you to play an external sound over all the keys, or over only a portion of them. Either way, it also has other MIDI functions, like sending MIDI Program Change, and enabling/disabling sustain pedal, shifting the octave, etc.

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 and ideas.

 

I think I misspoke on criteria 4 in the original post. I've never owned a Stage (just an old Electro) and I think I was indeed incorrect about the Extern section. I'm looking for the ability to split functioning to play organs or samples on a separate midi controller.

 

In terms of the ideas above, my budget is somewhere in line with an Electro 6 HP. So, that includes most options with the exception of the Nord Stage (new) and a few of the other highly priced options. I'm really only concerned with good acoustic piano, electric piano and organ sounds. I'd like to be able to load samples like Mellotron samples and the like and to split functioning to play organs or samples on a separate midi controller, as I said. The idea is to eliminate the need for a computer for those gigs where less is better and time is of the essence. I also like how the Stage has 2 separate stereo outputs where a lot of the others just have a single stereo. The option to send what I'm playing on the main keyboard and on the midi controller out separately as stereo is desirable. 

 

In terms of action, when I said weighted I guess I am talking about decent hammer action. I know most of the 73/76 models have lighter action to make them more suited to electric piano and organ playing. I'm OK with that once the action is also conducive to piano playing. I've a a big old Roland with fully weighted keys. The thing is heavy and not really suited to gigging, although the action is very piano natural. I'm more than willing to sacrifice that for something suited to what I need right now. I know the Nord Stage 2 HP76 had weighted keys and the Nord Stage 3 HP76 has the HAP keys. How do these two type of Nord actions compare to each other?

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13 minutes ago, Smallobear said:

I'm looking for the ability to split functioning to play organs or samples on a separate midi controller.

...

I'm really only concerned with good acoustic piano, electric piano and organ sounds.

 

Okay, so organs seem to have been upgraded from a parenthetical "perhaps" in the first post, to something more important now, that's significant. Do you want to be able to adjust the drawbar settings? If so, that eliminates my earlier pick, the Dexibell S3 Pro.

 

I think the only board that does everything you ask within the budget of the Electro 6HP is the Electro 6HP.

 

As for the Nord Stage 3, the difference between the HA and HP action in a nutshell is that the HA action feels better (for both piano and for organ), but the HP action weighs less, allowing for a much lighter travel weight for the board. (Though even though it weighs less, it is not a lighter feeling action to play... if anything, people tend to say it feels heavier.)

 

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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25 minutes ago, AnotherScott said:

 

Okay, so organs seem to have been upgraded from a parenthetical "perhaps" in the first post, to something more important now, that's significant. Do you want to be able to adjust the drawbar settings? If so, that eliminates my earlier pick, the Dexibell S3 Pro.

 

I think the only board that does everything you ask within the budget of the Electro 6HP is the Electro 6HP.

 

As for the Nord Stage 3, the difference between the HA and HP action in a nutshell is that the HA action feels better (for both piano and for organ), but the HP action weighs less, allowing for a much lighter travel weight for the board. (Though even though it weighs less, it is not a lighter feeling action to play... if anything, people tend to say it feels heavier.)

 

Having the drawbars there is not essential, once there is some ability to alter things via software or on board. 

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8 minutes ago, Smallobear said:

Having the drawbars there is not essential, once there is some ability to alter things via software or on board. 

 It still eliminates that Dexibell, as there are no drawbar adjustments. (As opposed to say, a board like the Roland FA where there are drawbar adjustments, even though there are no drawbars.)

 

I think your choice is easy. If you want everything you listed, self-contained (without adding an external sound module, iPad/iPhone. laptop, etc.), at the price of the Nord Electro 6HP, the only choice is an Electro 6HP.

 

 

 

 

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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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33 minutes ago, AnotherScott said:

 It still eliminates that Dexibell, as there are no drawbar adjustments. (As opposed to say, a board like the Roland FA where there are drawbar adjustments, even though there are no drawbars.)

 

I think your choice is easy. If you want everything you listed, self-contained (without adding an external sound module, iPad/iPhone. laptop, etc.), at the price of the Nord Electro 6HP, the only choice is an Electro 6HP.

 

Just one question. The Electro 6HP has just a single stereo output. Is it possible to output, let's say, electric piano on one channel and organ (played on a midi controller) on another channel? Obviously both would be in mono (unfortunately). Are there any other output options?

 

 

 

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Yes, the Electro 6 stereo outputs can be set for dual mono, with mono organ out one side, everything else to the other side. (And that is the only "alternate routing" available.)

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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On 3/14/2022 at 5:30 PM, Docbop said:

Looking like it might be the time to bite the bullet raise your budget and just buy the Nord Stage 3.   If you don't get what you want you're going to end up selling whatever you do buy to eventually move to the Stage 3.    

 

I agree. You won't be disappointed, even when another Stage instrument comes out. For live use the size, weight and functions of my Stage 3, 76 are near perfect. I figure that any upgrades will include some of the features already in my main studio keyboard, a Roland Fantom 7. But the 76-key Fantom 7 weighs 39 lbs, and is the same size as Yamaha CP88. The Stage 3,76 weighs 27 lbs and will actually fit in some 61-key cases.  And for what I usually play, two-zones each of tonewheel organ, piano/electromechanical keys, and a versatile, modeled poly synth are plenty. I have additional fairly light ways to make it a two-keys rig, if necessary.

 

That Stage 3,76 has been all over the region with me for the past five years. Best gigging choice by far, since the Yamaha S90ES I practically played into the ground.

'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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Not to pile on here, but ... having hung out over on the Nord user forum now for many years (great bunch of folks, btw), it seems that the Electro is Nord's gateway drug to get you to buy a Stage.  You don't really start lusting after one until you play an Electro, and then you start to appreciate what the fuss might be all about.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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That's very funny! I seem to be resistant; so far, having an Electro 6D 73 has not made me jones for anything else, even a Stage. But that may be because, to paraphrase AnotherScott, the only board I tried that did everything the Electro 6D could do was ...the Electro 6D. I made an appointment at a music store to try 6 different keyboards, and the Electro was probably the one I *least* expected to walk out with. But I did, and I love it. 🙂

 

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On 3/17/2022 at 5:36 PM, Lyon said:

That's very funny! I seem to be resistant; so far, having an Electro 6D 73 has not made me jones for anything else, even a Stage. But that may be because, to paraphrase AnotherScott, the only board I tried that did everything the Electro 6D could do was ...the Electro 6D. I made an appointment at a music store to try 6 different keyboards, and the Electro was probably the one I *least* expected to walk out with. But I did, and I love it. 🙂

 

That's great!  Give it a few years, and you might notice a persistent itch ...

  • Haha 1

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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