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KB Sounds--Too Many Variations on a String


ProfD
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Too many sounds and the SOS (same ole sh8t, er, sounds) in the latest model KB inspired this thread.😁

 

This is not a knock on KB manufacturers.  They have done their due diligence in trying to provide every type of sound one could need. 

 

Patch lists have grown over several decades of signature sounds used in popular recordings and changing technology.

 

Still, I get a chuckle out of walking up to a KB or looking at a patch listing and seeing 100 variations on a string sound.  Same goes for every other type of sound.

 

IMO, if a KB offers the full range of synth parameters and a complete suite of effects, a user could tailor a  string sound to meet their needs. 

 

I think a handful of editable core sounds would be time better spent and faster than scrolling through 100 versions of the same sound hoping to hear the one that works. 

 

Also IMO, part of the resurgence is analog synthesis in addition to nostalgia and curiosity, is users taking creative control over and learning how to create the sounds they need.

 

But, many folks spend more time looking for the *right* preset sound to the point of 1) analysis paralysis and 2) killing creativity.  There was a song titled, let's just call the whole thing off.

 

My suggestion would be to dial up a sound in the ballpark, twist a few knobs to change parameters, add effect(s) and play the gotd8mn thing.😎

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PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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I also hate scrolling through similar type presets, hoping to find the right one. And yes, as you're confirming, this will only get more difficult as newer KBs come loaded with more and more similar type presets for the same sounds.

 

I've always (and continue to) edit my sounds to my taste. Even if all I did was dial down the reverb a little, and boost the volume level... I have actually never used a patch on a KB for a gig that was in its initial factory settings.

Kurzweil PC3, Yamaha MOX8, Alesis Ion, Kawai K3M
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Perhaps they know their audience?  If most giggers and enthusiasts are performing cover material - they need to include all the bread and buttery butter, classic patches made popular by songs/eras plus add a few reflective of current trends, maybe a few outside the box.   
 

Even with the analogue resurgence I wonder how many owners are recreating their favorites from the 70s/80s vs creating new patches?  

 

Besides, presets were made to be tweaked.  I think the really question is what new waveforms are we wanting to see included?  Last week I needed a harp (absent from the cp88) which is a very old sound! 😀 I wound up using a GM harp off an older board. 
 

Maybe we’ve reached a point where a sample synth should be included on every new keyboard?  Manufacturers need to open up the instruments to additional and new sounds as opposed to locking us out with firmware only updates.  A generic format like sound fonts would be fine, if they still feel their sample library needs to be protected as propriety.  

Live: Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700

Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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1 hour ago, ElmerJFudd said:

Besides, presets were made to be tweaked.  I think the really question is what new waveforms are we wanting to see included?  Last week I needed a harp (absent from the cp88) which is a very old sound! 😀 I wound up using a GM harp off an older board. 

To that end, the next time a harp sound is needed in a pinch, pull up the pizz string on the CP88 and add a touch of reverb and delay. 😎

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Yeah. And don't do my accommodations for me: if your string sounds don't sound good without a cathedral's worth of reverb on them, that means they won't sound good when I take your dumb reverb off to use them the way a normal person would. So just give me better string sounds and let me be the one to twist Knob Number 1 to decide how big a concert hall the string line that precedes "Hurry don't be late" in 'Reminiscing' needs to occupy.

Manufacturers just don't have a great sense of where "second" boards fit in rigs anymore, with the explosion of controller-based music-making. So they throw the kitchen sink plus last night's rice into them hoping there will be something for everyone. Then they need to price those boards for that same "everyone," and cheap out on the rest of the build.

Just put in sound worlds and let me do the rest. Or relegate all the prebaked options to their own preset library and let the rest of the libraries be ballpark franks.

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14 minutes ago, MathOfInsects said:

Just put in sound worlds and let me do the rest. Or relegate all the prebaked options to their own preset library and let the rest of the libraries be ballpark franks.

I just posted a similar sentiment in another thread. 😁😎

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PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Can't agree more, especially as someone who has difficulty picking things in general.  What drives me most insane is when they give you 85 synth brass sounds that are all based around the same 4 waveforms, just with different effects and envelopes (I can do that myself, even cheap modern workstations have sliders or knobs to change these parameters), but then leave out other important sounds, like a good Yamaha CP sound (ahem, Roland).  I'm still waiting for someone to come out with a top board that is compact, has comprehensive front panel controls (think Nord Stage), and has a few, high quality and highly tweakable basic presets of all the main bread and butter sounds (I don't need 40 synth brass sounds, just one or two and some easy to reach cutoff, resonance, and ADSR knobs), but is mainly focused around editing the samples given (for acoustic instruments) and an editable organ engine, VA synth, and FM synth.  16 part multitimbrality and comprehensive midi routing are also on the list (basically if a Nord Stage and a Korg Kronos had a child).

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something

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Agree with the spirit of this thread...surely this trend was driven by marketing strategy, no?  "Keyboard X has 3000 patches" sounds a heck of a lot better than: "Keyboard X has 300 multisamples, 295 of which we've been using for 20 years"....so now we have 20 variations of the same Rhodes sample with different FX thrown on it smh...

 

I guess Nord is probably the only big player that doesn't really subscribe to this paradigm.  They have other limitations of course, but I think their less is more approach to patch management is admirable. 

 

Kurzweil is decent in this regard too...not as clean/immediate as Nord of course, but not nearly as bloated as say Roland

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Kurzweil has made a good practice of doing patches for  recorded versions of popular songs - indicative of the era or  genre patches rather than mangle fx to show off how wild things can get.  Similarly there are boards from the big guys that offer typical layers and splits that one might need right away. All nice. 
 

Nord’s inclusion of a sample synth for quick stuff one might need to replicate, a poly VA synth engine, and a growing library of sounds you can load on or off for the gig is admirable. Unfortunately this setup is only available on their top tier Stage, which comes in at a painful price (at least in the US).  At this price point I also expect an action in the Yamaha, Kawai caliber of offerings - perhaps the main reason I haven’t bought a Stage 1, 2 or 3.  
 

This inevitably has us looking to Win/macOS/iOS solutions for the sounds we need.  Or having to carry a second lighter, smaller boards for bells and whistles. 

 


 

 

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Live: Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700

Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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39 minutes ago, Sean M. H. said:

I guess Nord is probably the only big player that doesn't really subscribe to this paradigm.  They have other limitations of course, but I think their less is more approach to patch management is admirable.

Bingo.  Nord KBs have a limited # of preset sounds. The sample/synth sounds are tweakable.  They offer an editor/librarian for sample management. 

7 minutes ago, ElmerJFudd said:

Nord’s inclusion of a sample synth for quick stuff one might need to replicate, a poly VA synth engine, and a growing library of sounds you can load on or off for the gig is admirable. Unfortunately this setup is only available on their top tier Stage, which comes in at a painful price (at least in the US).  At this price point I also expect an action in the Yamaha, Kawai caliber of offerings - perhaps the main reason I haven’t bought a Stage 1, 2 or 3.

The Nord Electro 6D offers the sample/synth section. The # of synth parameters is on a diet but tweakable enough for the average bread and butter KB player.

 

Now, the Nord color choice leaves much to be desired but that's just one man's opinion. 😁😎

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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36 minutes ago, ProfD said:

Bingo.  Nord KBs have a limited # of preset sounds. The sample/synth sounds are tweakable.  They offer an editor/librarian for sample management. 

The Nord Electro 6D offers the sample/synth section. The # of synth parameters is on a diet but tweakable enough for the average bread and butter KB player.

 

Now, the Nord color choice leaves much to be desired but that's just one man's opinion. 😁😎

$2300-2600 dollars for a Fatar TP-8O in a red dress and no VA synth engine? ;)

No thanks.  As a second lightweight board I’d rather a Vox, VR, PC4-7, YC, MODX, Fantom-0 ($1300-1999).  Or a DS or a Krome.  Or a CT-S1.  Or an iPhone app. ;) 

Live: Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700

Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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57 minutes ago, ElmerJFudd said:

$2300-2600 dollars for a Fatar TP-8O in a red dress and no VA synth engine? ;)

No thanks.  As a second lightweight board I’d rather a Vox, VR, PC4-7, YC, MODX, Fantom-0 ($1300-1999).  Or a DS or a Krome.  Or a CT-S1.  Or an iPhone app. ;) 

Point taken. There are definitely cheaper options providing the sounds and key action are desirable.  It's easier to ignore 1,500 sounds and save $1,300. 😁😎

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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11 minutes ago, ProfD said:

Point taken. There are definitely cheaper options providing the sounds and key action are desirable.  It's easier to ignore 1,500 sounds and save $1,300. 😁😎

😆

Live: Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700

Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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I can't resist the urge to scroll through presets and audition each at least once, when I"m searching for a pluck sound, bass, pad, or whatever. 

 

Probably a carryover from when I was just out of high school, when I had just gotten a car and could drive wherever I wanted, but didn't have the money for a D-50, Korg M1, or whatever other keyboard I lusted after.   I'd just drive to music stores and spend hours going through presets and annoying the heck out of everyone.

 

I take notes of which ones to revisit, then do another pass to decide on which one to start tweaking if I don't get and exact match for what I'm looking for.

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Yes. So I spend a lot more time on my Korg Vox Continental  which has a small but very well chosen palette that is quite tweakable, especially the synth section which never ceases to amaze me, and the Hammond SKpro, which also has a small but very malleable selection of non-organ sounds, and rather less time on my Jupiter 50, which has some 2000 sounds including dozens of variations on classic Juno and Jupiter strings before you get to other synth string emulations and 70s string machines. My rack is also of that ilk, having replaced a Roland Integra with a GSI Gemini module and a Dexibell SX7. I just want something quality and in the ballpark with some editing options.

Keys: Hammond SK2, Hammond SK1, Hammond SKpro, Korg Vox Continental, Waldorf STVC

Amplification: Line6 L3T, Yamaha DBR-10, Presonus Air 10, Leslie 122V

 

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13 hours ago, ProfD said:

To that end, the next time a harp sound is needed in a pinch, pull up the pizz string on the CP88 and add a touch of reverb and delay. 😎

Or a sitar sound, pull up a clav, adjust EQ and add phaser to taste

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Keys: Hammond SK2, Hammond SK1, Hammond SKpro, Korg Vox Continental, Waldorf STVC

Amplification: Line6 L3T, Yamaha DBR-10, Presonus Air 10, Leslie 122V

 

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I think this is analogous to the quandary of going to a restaurant and finding 50+ items on the menu - it’s overwhelming, and I agree with the general sentiment here.

 

That said - I’m all about the shortest distance between two points so if I find a preset that works - very happy to use it.

 

 

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Just for background....some of us remember:

 

1) A synth with no presets

2) Believing heaven opened up when 8 sounds could be saved

3) Managing 1 MB of sample memory with floppy disks

4) Expanded sample memory going from 2MB to 128 MB with a Zip drive

5) Flash Memory

 

So, there was a natural evolution that led to 2k sounds in a KB. 

 

Then, there's Omnisphere with 10k sounds.  Holy smokes. 🤣 

 

I hope Spectrasonics offers a searchable database with a magnifying glass in the top right corner. 😁😎

 

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PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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I don't think there's a single preset on my Nords that I've used as-is, as I always thought the intent was just to show you what the board could do. Some of my sounds are ground-up builds, others are simply lightly-edited presets.

 

I compare that with the soft synths on iOS where I find myself endlessly scrolling through presets, rarely finding anything that catches my ear.  Sort of like cable TV or FM radio in that regard.

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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