Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Best piano + walking bass?


Cap

Recommended Posts

In 30 years I've gone through about 12 keyboards (I just use one at a time), and am looking for one I can stand to play for 3-4 hours without tiring of the sound. The best was the Kurzweil K1000--not only the most natural, present, warm grand piano sound and killer vibes but responsive bass for those gigs that don't support a bass player, and the option of adding a ride cymbal now and then. Unfortunately, I finally wore out the action beyond repair. I now have a SP-76 (handy, at least) and PC2 (disappointing, quirky, exasperating--but I'd stay with it if I could be a believer in any of the piano sounds. They sound empty, distant, detached in the all-important middle register). Are there real options to the PC2? What's the difference between the Roland FP-3 and the RD-150? Unfortunately, it's not convenient for me to try stuff out in advance. And even when I do drive into the city, I find that the single "test-drive" of a keyboard in a store can be very deceptive. You don't know until you use it on a gig, and then it's usually too late to return it. I just want to be able to walk my own bass lines (acoustic and electric) in the left hand; blow piano, vibes, organ lines in the right. Can't stand any "effects" (except Chorus and Leslie for B3 sounds) for live performance, which is all I do. Just wondering if there are still great-sounding, reliable, enjoyable keyboards for players who don't do recording, sequencing, layering, effects, midi-ing.
Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 33
  • Created
  • Last Reply

The Yamaha P80 has a killer piano sound and a pretty good upright bass with a nice variation patch that also has a ride cymbal added to each bass note.

 

You can sound exactly like the Esbhorn Svennson trio!

 

The piano is about the best I've heard and the action is a dream... the electric pianos (a'la rhodes) are pretty awful though..

 

There is no electric bass sound though...

 

Peace

Neil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cap,

I'm a bit surprized about your comments on the PC2 piano sound. Could you tell me more about how you are using it? Are you using it in a live situation? Are you running in mono or stereo? What OS are you using?

 

Have you tried MIDI Setup #15 Piano Trio

 

Sincerely,

 

[ 11-12-2001: Message edited by: Mike Martin ]

-Mike Martin

 

Casio

Mike Martin Photography Instagram Facebook

The Big Picture Photography Forum on Music Player Network

 

The opinions I post here are my own and do not represent the company I work for.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As well as the Yamaha P80, there's also Yamaha's new digital piano, P120. You can check it out here:

 

http://www.the-soundfactory.net/TPS_El_Piano.htm

 

or here:

 

http://www.yamaha.com/cgi-win/webcgi.exe/DsplyModel/?gPSP00005P120

 

It's quite new, so hasn't shipped to all stores yet (I haven't seen one yet), but it's supposedly a re-worked P80 with some additional sounds (such as electric bass in addition to the acoustic bass on the P80), and on-board speakers. It still weighs in at 40 lbs which is pretty good on the ol' back.

 

The P80 has a really good piano sound, and the acoustic bass is not bad. The Rhodes sounds are not great (one of them has a crudely implemented velocity-switch, the other just simply doesn't sound that great), and the electric organ is pretty cheesy. Supposedly the Rhodes is improved on the P120, but I'll have to hear it for myself to believe it.

 

I think you should also find a Roland FP3 to audition. It might be right up your alley.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by neil loughran:

The Yamaha P80 has a killer piano sound and a pretty good upright bass with a nice variation patch that also has a ride cymbal added to each bass note.

 

You can sound exactly like the Esbhorn Svennson trio!

 

The piano is about the best I've heard and the action is a dream... the electric pianos (a'la rhodes) are pretty awful though..

 

There is no electric bass sound though...

 

Peace

Neil

 

Not having an electric bass sound did prove a real drag. Also, neither the sales person nor I could figure out how to turn the cymbals on and off, despite trying the feature on 2 different keyboards. I traded it in after a couple of gigs. I sure liked the weight and convenience, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Mike Martin:

Cap,

I'm a bit surprized about your comments on the PC2 piano sound. Could you tell me more about how you are using it? Are you using it in a live situation? Are you running in mono or stereo? What OS are you using?

 

Have you tried MIDI Setup #15 Piano Trio

 

Sincerely,

 

[ 11-12-2001: Message edited by: Mike Martin ]

 

Yes, I'm using it live with a Roland Cube 60 (80s vintage, I recently picked up another.) After much trial and error, I found that amp sounded best with the K1000. I'm a bit puzzled, though, by the PC2 manual's strong emphasis on using patch cords with "stereo" plugs. To really hear the instrument, esp. the rotary sound, do I need to use 2 cords, each running with a stereo plug to a separate amp? How can some amps advertise themselves as "stereo" when they have only one speaker? I'll admit that part of my problem may be the amp thing.

 

Sam

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by GuestUser@GuestUser.com:

As well as the Yamaha P80, there's also Yamaha's new digital piano, P120. You can check it out here:

 

http://www.the-soundfactory.net/TPS_El_Piano.htm

 

or here:

 

http://www.yamaha.com/cgi-win/webcgi.exe/DsplyModel/?gPSP00005P120

 

It's quite new, so hasn't shipped to all stores yet (I haven't seen one yet), but it's supposedly a re-worked P80 with some additional sounds (such as electric bass in addition to the acoustic bass on the P80), and on-board speakers. It still weighs in at 40 lbs which is pretty good on the ol' back.

 

The P80 has a really good piano sound, and the acoustic bass is not bad. The Rhodes sounds are not great (one of them has a crudely implemented velocity-switch, the other just simply doesn't sound that great), and the electric organ is pretty cheesy. Supposedly the Rhodes is improved on the P120, but I'll have to hear it for myself to believe it.

 

I think you should also find a Roland FP3 to audition. It might be right up your alley.

 

Thanks much for both tips. The Yamaha definitely sounds promising, as I tried the P80 and thought it was getting there. I'm still not clear on the 2 consumer niches Roland apparently has in mind for the RD and the FP series. I once thought the FP series was more for the non-professional musician, but maybe not. Cap

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I saw quite a long demo of the FP-3 this past weekend. The sound is much better than you would expect for a keyboard that size. The keyboard is the same as the new RD-700. Both have a nice walking base, both with and without cymbal. The organ with rotary effect was good, and it had a few other nice sounds. The RD-700 sounds a bit better and will hold the nice SRX-02 64 meg piano expansion, but it also seems to weigh twice as much and is a much deeper cabnet.
This post edited for speling.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm a bit puzzled, though, by the PC2 manual's strong emphasis on using patch cords with "stereo" plugs. To really hear the instrument, esp. the rotary sound, do I need to use 2 cords, each running with a stereo plug to a separate amp? How can some amps advertise themselves as "stereo" when they have only one speaker? I'll admit that part of my problem may be the amp thing.

 

Patch cords with "stereo" plugs are BALANCED cables. The PC2 series has balanced outputs, though it will function fine with regular 1/4 unbalanced cables. The advantage of balanced cables is that they deliver a much lower noise floor and eliminate the buzz and ground hum that regular cables often pick up.

 

In your situation though, I doubt your Roland Cube amp has balanced inputs so a regular 1/4 cable should be fine, but there are some other very important things we need to address.

 

The majority of piano sounds on the PC2 series use stereo samples. When running in mono you don't want to use these. This can result in an "distant" sound that your describe. When using acoustic piano sounds, try program #6 or #11 which are both MONO programs. You should also change the Bass+Ride/Piano Setup to use one of these pianos on zone 2 instead of the stereo one.

 

Last but not least, go to GLOBAL mode. Scroll right (using the >> button under the display) until you find "Output Mode". Set this to MONO.

 

I think you'll find that these changes make a dramatic difference in the way your PC2 sounds in a Live situation.

 

To answer your other question about "stereo" amps that only have one speaker....Many of those have the ability to "chain" a second amp for stereo use. When you only have one amp, its obviously in mono.

 

Hope this helps,

-Mike Martin

 

Casio

Mike Martin Photography Instagram Facebook

The Big Picture Photography Forum on Music Player Network

 

The opinions I post here are my own and do not represent the company I work for.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Cap:

I'm still not clear on the 2 consumer niches Roland apparently has in mind for the RD and the FP series. I once thought the FP series was more for the non-professional musician, but maybe not. Cap

 

Well, for me personally, I try to use whatever works for me, rather than worrying about what a company's marketing department wants me to think, although I don't think I'd have the balls to take a PSR 9000 Pro to a gig. If something aimed at a home user ends up having a feature set that's closer to what I need than their so-called 'pro' model, I'll use it.

For instance, Yamaha's P200 is their top-of-the line 'pro' model digital piano, but for me, the P80 is a better choice because it's smaller, and weighs 38 lbs, which is much easier to carry to a gig. The P200, on the other hand, weighs a back-breaking 66 lbs. P200 has built-in amp and speakers, is that a 'pro' feature? Not sure. Finally, the P200 has the same crude, amateurish-sounding two-layer velocity-switching on its Rhodes patches as the P80. Not a pro feature on either model, if you ask me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by GuestUser@GuestUser.com:

Finally, the P200 has the same crude, amateurish-sounding two-layer velocity-switching on its Rhodes patches as the P80. Not a pro feature on either model, if you ask me.

 

Just out of curiosity, Richard...whose Rhodes samples do you like? I don't recall hearing you give your approval to any...I'd love to know what does work for you.

 

My advice to someone with as demanding an ear as yours obviously is would probably be - get a Rhodes. Ain't nothing like the real thing. ;)

 

Or, perhaps you should try your hand at sound design...you could be the guy who makes the definitive Rhodes sample set. I'd be very interested in which engine you'd choose to do that.

 

dB

:snax:

 

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

 

 

Affiliations: Cloud Microphones • Music Player Network 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Dave Bryce:

Just out of curiosity, Richard...whose Rhodes samples do you like? I don't recall hearing you give your approval to any...I'd love to know what does work for you.

 

I've heard lots of individual samples that I like. What bothers me is the *switching*. To me, the ideal thing is if the switch would be so subtle that you can't hear it. But you always seem to get the other kind! Oddly, on acoustic piano samples, there seem to be lots of examples of velocity-switching done really well. My P80, for example, apparently has 3 velocity layers on its acoustic piano voices, but I can't hear the switch points. A+!

 

So, if you're asking me, whose implementation of velocity-switching do I like on a Rhodes patch? Well, I haven't found the ideal one yet. But the Nord Electro does a pretty good job. I think they have four or five layers, is what it sounds like. Too bad the uppermost five or size notes (on the 61-key version) sound so weird (bad sample).

 

Actually, I think physical modelling is the way to go. Look what physical modelling has done for B3 clones (Korg CX3, for example), and virtual analog - they sound great. Emagic has their EVP88, I think that's a step in the right direction. I hope that technology evolves quickly and makes its way onto some performance keyboards.

 

My advice to someone with as demanding an ear as yours obviously is would probably be - get a Rhodes. Ain't nothing like the real thing. ;)

 

I did own a Rhodes for a long time, wish I hadn't sold it. But, it killed my back every time I had to move it. I had a severe back problem a few years back, and since then, light weight has been a requirement.

 

Or, perhaps you should try your hand at sound design...you could be the guy who makes the definitive Rhodes sample set. I'd be very interested in which engine you'd choose to do that.

 

I don't think I'm cut out for that. Wish I was.

 

Sorry to harp on the velocity-switching thing all the time, but I don't see any other course of action. I think the industry needs to be challenged to come up with something better than they've been doing, and I don't see anyone else complaining about it, so I guess I have to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Dave Bryce:

 

Just out of curiosity, Richard...whose Rhodes samples do you like? I don't recall hearing you give your approval to any...I'd love to know what does work for you.

 

My advice to someone with as demanding an ear as yours obviously is would probably be - get a Rhodes. Ain't nothing like the real thing. ;)

 

Or, perhaps you should try your hand at sound design...you could be the guy who makes the definitive Rhodes sample set. I'd be very interested in which engine you'd choose to do that.

 

dB

 

I think Richard makes a valid point regarding the P80 rhodes sounds, they are unbelievably bad. I have contributed to the rhodes forum frequently for nigh on 4 years and have made up my own sample sets in the past on keybaords as archaic as Rolands W-30 which beat Yamaha e-piano sound into the ground. I'm certainly no expert on sound design, but I'm bewildered by Yamahas e piano sample set on the P80. there is even a sound font for the SB Live which beats the hell out of most stock keyboard sounds. I provide a link here to one of the ones I downloaded recently.

 

www.lancs.ac.uk/ug/loughran/rhodes.zip

 

This sf is 8mb as it uses 3 layers...

 

Perhaps some keybaord makers still design keybaords for the US market where FM tinkly sounds never really went out of vogue... perhaps putting a sound as obviously old and vintage as a rhodes would be seen as a bold move by a company like Yamaha on a product such as the P80 even though its what most of us musos want.

 

Peace

Neil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by GuestUser@GuestUser.com:

So, if you're asking me, whose implementation of velocity-switching do I like on a Rhodes patch?

 

Yep. I'm curious as to what someone who has spent as much time as you seem to have done checking it out has concluded. I've never heard a killer set of Rhodes samples - I'm wondering if you (or anyone) has.

 

Originally posted by GuestUser@GuestUser.com:

Well, I haven't found the ideal one yet. But the Nord Electro does a pretty good job.

 

Yeah, I didn't mind that one, either.

 

Originally posted by GuestUser@GuestUser.com:

Sorry to harp on the velocity-switching thing all the time, but I don't see any other course of action. I think the industry needs to be challenged to come up with something better than they've been doing, and I don't see anyone else complaining about it, so I guess I have to.

 

Well, hopefully the industry will respond. It's actually harder than you might think - I've tried, and had dismal results. I tried doing one for my Kurzweil, as it has an engine that I think can handle it - I just couldn't seem to get the results I wanted.

 

My inclination is to think that it needs to be done with a single layer hard strike sample, and severe filtering. I currently like the Ray's Roads program for the QS8 the best of anything that I have...

 

I'm inclined to agree with you that modeling is the way. I haven't played with the EVP88 yet, but most of the folks that I know who have say that it's killer. I wish it ran under MAS... :rolleyes:

 

Thanks for your response!

 

dB

:snax:

 

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

 

 

Affiliations: Cloud Microphones • Music Player Network 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Dave Bryce:

My inclination is to think that it needs to be done with a single layer hard strike sample, and severe filtering.

 

Yes, I prefer that approach to the velocity-switched approach, unless the velocity-switching is done very subtlely. I think that users should be given a choice, especially on something like a preset digital piano where you can't edit the programs. I think the P80 did it right, the main Rhodes patch is velocity-switched two-layer, and the variation is a one-layer. I always use the variation, but unfortunately, it's not a very good Rhodes sample.

 

I currently like the Ray's Roads program for the QS8 the best of anything that I have...

 

It's been a while since I heard that, but as I recall, it's a two-layer velocity-switched, with a fairly obvious switch point, isn't it?

 

The best one I have based on sampling technology is patch 14 from the MicroPiano, "Classic Electric Piano", which is a one-layer. One day when I still had my Rhodes Stage 73, I set up the Micropiano next to it and A/B'd them, and the Kurz was very close. The only problem with that patch is that it doesn't change much in timbre when you hit it hard. Still, it's satisfying to play. I've also been auditioning a PC2 lately, and they seem to have done a good job on some of their Rhodes patches as well, but I don't know whether some of them are switched or cross-faded or what. Some of the switched ones are really obvious, but there are others that respond quite naturally.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part of the problem with sampling a Rhodes is the instrument itself. Play soft and you get a specific character

play louder the character changes, and if you get somebody really strong and let them have a go at it the character changes again. So what is that so far, three layers at the bare minimum? Now add in between soft and loud that any in between volume levels won't be consistent. It is actually easier to get a good predictable mid-volume level out of an acoustic piano.

One way around the Rhodes simulation velocity switching problem is to play either hard or soft and compensate with a volume pedal. Come to think of it, didn't some Rhodes players use volume pedals to get more control?

michael

Q:What do you call a truck with nothing in the bed,nothing on the hitch, and room for more than three people in the cab? A:"A car"....
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by tenthplanet:

Part of the problem with sampling a Rhodes is the instrument itself. Play soft and you get a specific character

play louder the character changes, and if you get somebody really strong and let them have a go at it the character changes again. So what is that so far, three layers at the bare minimum? Now add in between soft and loud that any in between volume levels won't be consistent. It is actually easier to get a good predictable mid-volume level out of an acoustic piano.

 

I've thought about that myself. One idea I had is a mechanically-controlled "robotic finger" made of hard rubber, capable of striking the key with, let's say, 128 different velocity levels. If it was accurate, and could be calibrated such that it wouldn't damage the instrument, then that would allow you to sample 128 different velocity levels for each note. I wonder if such a device exists? Something similar to this must have been used on the old player pianos, and on Yamaha's DiskClavier, except that the "robotic finger" is insider the piano, not hovering above the keys.

 

One way around the Rhodes simulation velocity switching problem is to play either hard or soft and compensate with a volume pedal. Come to think of it, didn't some Rhodes players use volume pedals to get more control?

 

Do you mean, given a two-layer, velocity-switched Rhodes, that I should either play soft or hard to accomomodate the instrument? I've tried that, and it's really hard to do, without interfering with your technique. You can't really play naturally while doing that. I think that's the wrong approach anyway. I don't want to have to compromise my playing to accomodate a flawed technology.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Rabid:

I saw quite a long demo of the FP-3 this past weekend. The sound is much better than you would expect for a keyboard that size. The keyboard is the same as the new RD-700. Both have a nice walking base, both with and without cymbal. The organ with rotary effect was good, and it had a few other nice sounds. The RD-700 sounds a bit better and will hold the nice SRX-02 64 meg piano expansion, but it also seems to weigh twice as much and is a much deeper cabnet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That really sounds tantalizing. I see the FP-3 lists at 40 pounds and 51 inches, as light as the Yamaha P120 but 3 inches less wide. Roland and Korg are about the only keyboards I haven't owned, but at this point I'm predisposed to the Roland, though I'll probably try a P120 as well. I love the fact that these keyboards have actual "knobs" and controls "dedicated" to specific functions, like EQ and volume levels for each split. The PC2 is driving me nuts trying to get all these variables programmed, then I have to keep checking LED's (outside, forget it) to see if the EQ's are still holding.

 

Does the FP-3 include an electric bass sound? And how is it different from the RD-150 apart from being 9 pounds lighter and several inches more compact?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Mike Martin:

 

Patch cords with "stereo" plugs are BALANCED cables. The PC2 series has balanced outputs, though it will function fine with regular 1/4 unbalanced cables. The advantage of balanced cables is that they deliver a much lower noise floor and eliminate the buzz and ground hum that regular cables often pick up.

 

In your situation though, I doubt your Roland Cube amp has balanced inputs so a regular 1/4 cable should be fine, but there are some other very important things we need to address.

 

The majority of piano sounds on the PC2 series use stereo samples. When running in mono you don't want to use these. This can result in an "distant" sound that your describe. When using acoustic piano sounds, try program #6 or #11 which are both MONO programs. You should also change the Bass+Ride/Piano Setup to use one of these pianos on zone 2 instead of the stereo one.

 

Last but not least, go to GLOBAL mode. Scroll right (using the >> button under the display) until you find "Output Mode". Set this to MONO.

 

I think you'll find that these changes make a dramatic difference in the way your PC2 sounds in a Live situation.

 

To answer your other question about "stereo" amps that only have one speaker....Many of those have the ability to "chain" a second amp for stereo use. When you only have one amp, its obviously in mono.

 

Hope this helps,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Mike Martin:

 

Patch cords with "stereo" plugs are BALANCED cables. The PC2 series has balanced outputs, though it will function fine with regular 1/4 unbalanced cables. The advantage of balanced cables is that they deliver a much lower noise floor and eliminate the buzz and ground hum that regular cables often pick up.

 

In your situation though, I doubt your Roland Cube amp has balanced inputs so a regular 1/4 cable should be fine, but there are some other very important things we need to address.

 

The majority of piano sounds on the PC2 series use stereo samples. When running in mono you don't want to use these. This can result in an "distant" sound that your describe. When using acoustic piano sounds, try program #6 or #11 which are both MONO programs. You should also change the Bass+Ride/Piano Setup to use one of these pianos on zone 2 instead of the stereo one.

 

Last but not least, go to GLOBAL mode. Scroll right (using the >> button under the display) until you find "Output Mode". Set this to MONO.

 

I think you'll find that these changes make a dramatic difference in the way your PC2 sounds in a Live situation.

 

To answer your other question about "stereo" amps that only have one speaker....Many of those have the ability to "chain" a second amp for stereo use. When you only have one amp, its obviously in mono.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Thanks so much. I currently own 3 Kurzweils, and even though I've been less than thrilled with the PC2, the customer support from Kurzweil is simply unbeatable. Whenever I've had a question (quite often), I've gone to Youngchang.com and gotten a specific response within a day. This is another such instance. I'm printing out your answer and giving it a try tonight. (I will grant that the PC2 piano will provide brilliant treble and thunderous bass close to the best acoustic pianos, but I'm still waiting to hear middle-register piano sounds that begin to equal the old K1000. We'll see.)

 

Cap

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by GuestUser@GuestUser.com:

 

Well, for me personally, I try to use whatever works for me, rather than worrying about what a company's marketing department wants me to think, although I don't think I'd have the balls to take a PSR 9000 Pro to a gig. If something aimed at a home user ends up having a feature set that's closer to what I need than their so-called 'pro' model, I'll use it.

For instance, Yamaha's P200 is their top-of-the line 'pro' model digital piano, but for me, the P80 is a better choice because it's smaller, and weighs 38 lbs, which is much easier to carry to a gig. The P200, on the other hand, weighs a back-breaking 66 lbs. P200 has built-in amp and speakers, is that a 'pro' feature? Not sure. Finally, the P200 has the same crude, amateurish-sounding two-layer velocity-switching on its Rhodes patches as the P80. Not a pro feature on either model, if you ask me.[

 

The Yamaha P120 sounds like a good compromise. Only 40 lbs., and I'm beginning to think that on-board monitors might be a pianist's only way of hearing himself in the company of deaf drummers (I'm assuming those speakers don't cut out when when you use an external amp). I went through 3 Rhodes in the 70s (never had a Suitcase model--those were a load) and confess I'm not sure what "velocity-switching" is all about.

 

Cap

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...