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I am in the midst of buiding a music studio. I compose primarily for the piano and am looking towards orchestration and ambiant textures as an extension of my compositional style. I have already purchased a Mac G4 and will be working with Cubase. My only quest now is a keyboard....


My questions are as follows.


1. Being that I primarily write for the piano, is it better to purchase a weighted keyboard? I ask this because if I do want to explore using purcussive sounds, will the weighted keyboard dull the attack? How can I get the best of both worlds/


2. I am really interested in purchasing the XV-88. I think it has nice "authentic" piano sounds. But will it be way over my head for someone who's just starting out? It's also a bit pricy. Now, I don't mind paying the price for the quality but does anyone have any suggestions on other less expensive models that offer the same quality or purchasing cards that would simulate that authenticity? Some with say you get what you pay for but I'm new to this whole "technology" thing so I want to make sure I'm not buying into a name or purchasing a product that have too many unnecessary embellishments. I'm not too interested in heavy manipulated sounds for the moment. Simple synthy, and clean authentic orchestral sounds are what I'm primarily interested in.


3. Do I need to purchase a keyboard with 88 keys or can I get away with 64? (I understand that all keyboards with 64 keys are not weighted or only semi-weighted. This may tie in with question #1)


I would be greatly appreciative if I could get some feedback from you guys. I hear you're the experts and would love more than anything to get your unbiased knowledgable opinions.





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Lia, it's really so much a matter of personal preference that, unfortunately no one can really guide you on this.


My advice is to spend plenty of time in music stores trying out weighted and non-weighted keyboards. Focus on the kinds of sounds you're most likely to use, and note the perfromance differences between weighted and non-.


First, find one that feels acceptably piano like to you. Since you're a pianist, I'd say this is priority one.


Secondly, on the keyboards you try, dial up a drum set patch and just play some simple "three finger" grooves. Try to play the drums expressively, try some fills and rolls. See if weighted or non-weighted feel substantial different for this purpose. I perform drum parts on my QS 8 weighted keyboard, and honestly the deep action can be a real bitch. But please note that I am not a real pianist. Our host Dave says he controls pretty much all his synths from a QS 8 ( and that's a lot of freaking synths).


As for the XV-88 being over your head, well, if you're a true newbie, anything but a dedicated digital piano is going to over your head at this point, so if you're moved by the sounds of the Roland, I'd bet it's a great place to start your uphill learning climb. With their expansion system, you can build out from that board for a long time. I'd also recommend spending some time with the Yamaha S80 and Motf 8. Many have sung the praise of their unique PLG expansion systme, in which you don't merely add new sounds on a card--you add a whole new and different synth engine. I like 'em. Trial a Kurzweil too.


Hope this was some help, and keep us posted as you try out keyboards.



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If you are mainly a pianist, I recommend that you get the weighted 88 - especially if you're composing mainly for the piano. I hate playing piano on a non-weighted keybed.


Magpel is right - I use a weighted 88 as my main controller, and I have no problem playing percussive sounds on it, or almost any other - organ sweeps tend to be a bit awkward if you catch the edge of the keys the wrong way; but, besides that, I really haven't found it to be a problem. When it comes to percussion sounds, I find that I tend to be able to hit as hard as I want with weighted keys - playing percussion on synth keys makes me hold back a bit.


As a pianist, you'll be fine with the 88. Your hands will already know how to talk to the keys, and that'll translate well on all sounds.


As far as the XV-88 goes, Roland gear is notoriously difficult to figure out how to work; however, you should let your ears and hands be the main judge - the rest is just details. You might want to try out a few other options, and see how you like them - I recommend the Kurzweil PC2X, and the Yamaha S80. This is an expensive purchase, so it's definitely worth it to spend an afternoon (or more) at a music store playing on as many of them as you can. See if you find the operating system one one of the to be more intuitive to you than the others. That is usually the case with these things - folks frequently connect with one instrument over the others. Ask the music store guy if you can look at the manuals as well. Take your time. Don't let anyone hurry you.


Feel free to post any specific questions that you have about any of the products that you're auditioning here. We'll all do the best that we can to help you. However, above all else trust your judgment - you're the one that has to live with the decision.





:keys:==> David Bryce Music • Funky Young Monks <==:rawk:



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I'm a pianist that jumped into keyboards about 6 months ago. The first keyboard I bought was the XV-88 and I loved it! But it turned out to be too much keyboard for me, so I traded it for a digital piano and a simpler setup.


I would pick a weighted keyboard over a non-weighted keyboard, if you found you needed non-weighted keys, you could always buy a cheap MIDI controller to do the job.

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Dave's right about those organ slides. There are only two pitfalls for me with the weighted boards, organ slides and they're pretty heavy to lug around if you're playing live. I've never had any problems playing percussion sounds with a weighted board, and that weighted action really feels so good!!


As far as some of the different models are concerned, I have an XV-88, but I don't like the action as well as my Motif 8 or the S-80, which I do not have. The XV action feels a little clackety to me, as does the Kurzweil K-2600 88 key. The Yammie boards feel more natural to me. I believe they call their action balanced weighted hammer or something like that, but whatever it is, it feels nice. You should definitely try them all to see which you connect best with.


Keep in mind that Roland already has Orchestral expansion cards available and Kurzweil has excellent orchestral sounds on board and is planning to make expansion boards available for the PC2X, though I don't think they've announced them yet. The Roland has some excellent synth sounds available in several expansion cards, but I haven't played with the PC2 enough yet to know what synth sounds it offers.


The PLG expansion system that can be used in the S-80 and Motif from Yamaha has some nice boards available, and those two keyboards offer a lot of synth sounds even without an expansion board. You can use two expansion boards in an S-80 and up to three in a Motif 8. These boards are somewhat unique in that they afford you entire new synthesis engines, as opposed to just more sample ROM. The VL, AN and DX boards are particularly nice. Demos of the sounds are available at www.yamaha.com


Roland has probably the biggest selection of expansion sounds, though it would have been nice if they had allowed more expansion space in the XV-88. The new SRX expansion boards sound very good, and the old SR-JV cards offer some really nice add on sounds too.


The Roland user interface takes a bit to learn, but once you do you'll find yourself moving around within it pretty easily. Don't look to the manual for much assistance though, because they are notorious for being written in Engrish, a twisted version of our tongue. However, I have found the Roland Video Owner's Manuals to be pretty helpful. I like the Kurzweil and Yamaha manuals, though some people have told me they think the Yamaha is a hard board to learn too.


Hope that helps,



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