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Best Workstation. . .HELP!


UCDUDE

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This is targeted towards keyboard musicians with years of experience. I'm trying to figure out which workstation out there is the best of the "elite" in terms of sounds, piano feel, and upgradability. I've been looking at the following 4:

 

Kurzweil K2000XS

Roland Fantom X8

Yamaha Motif ES8

Korg Triton Studio 88-key

 

I want to buy one of these workstations, but I have no idea which is considered to be the best. Kurzweil is the most expensive, but that probably means nothing as far as quality. I've heard that the Roland and Yamaha boards are competing against each other but the Roland is too new to really judge. And I've heard little about the Triton. For me, cost isn't the issue (I've been saving for years), but I want the most bang for my buck. Anyone care to share their opinions? :thu:

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Originally posted by UCDUDE:

This is targeted towards keyboard musicians with years of experience. I'm trying to figure out which workstation out there is the best of the "elite" in terms of sounds, piano feel, and upgradability. I've been looking at the following 4:

 

Kurzweil K2000XS

Roland Fantom X8

Yamaha Motif ES8

Korg Triton Studio 88-key

 

I want to buy one of these workstations, but I have no idea which is considered to be the best.

Have you played any of them yet? I'll be that'd narrow the list down for you right away... ;)

 

They're all tremendously powerful, of course. Each has it's own advantages and disadvantages (also of course). How they will or will not work for you deopends mostly on how inspired you are by the way an instrument sounds to you, and how easy and intuitive you find the interface.

 

Welcome to the forum, BTW!

 

dB

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Just a little correction: There's no Kurzweil K2000XS. You must be talking about the K2600XS.

 

And, the current Korg flagship is the Triton Extreme. It has some things more and some things less than the Studio - you'll have to compare the features and decide what suits your needs.

 

I'm not a fan of workstations, but I'm familiar with the Kurzweil structure, so I'll say a few words on that. The Kurz is an incredibly deep instrument, but it requires, for this very reason, a bit of a lerning curve to really use its power. After you have a grasp, there's no limit - if you like to create your own sounds, and to program unusual timbres with an 'electronic' quality, you'll be in heaven! Among the cons, the onboard samples are old by now (but it's also a very complete sampler), and the polyphony is quite limited (but it has a voice-stealing algorithm which helps a lot).

The effects, called KDFX, are stunning - by far the most powerful on any synth. They're so powerful, the effect section becomes a part of the synthesis voice channel.

As you could have noticed, I love Kurzweil... :D

 

On to the fans of Japanese stuff now... ;) But don't forget to play all of them for a while before committing. Also, if possible, read the manuals for a feature comparison. Let your ears (and hands) be the judge, however.

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Oops, Yeah I meant the K2600XS.

 

I've tried out all the keyboards, except the Kurzweil. I did not care much for the Triton, but I was really impressed with the Roland and the Yamaha. I just wish I could play on a Kurzweil, but I'm still looking for a dealer in Chicago. I've heard a little about the "steep learning curve" that someone posted about, so I'm not sure what to think about that (perhaps that's why it's so expensive). I'll be going back to the store again soon to do some more exploration.

 

I'm mostly interested in traditional acoustic sounds, from western orchestral, to Indian and Mediterranean. Beyond that, I go for sounds that can occur in nature. It's VERY rare for sounds outside of nature to catch my attention, though some clever implementations of them do (think Autechre, Stereolab or even Bjork). Still, if I want to pretend that I'm Tori Amos, Horowitz or even Ravi Shankar, then I want that versatility in a board.

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Ive owned a Kurzweil for years, and Ive played a Triton Studio weekly for a couple years as well. Recently acquired a Motif ES6. Ive done professional sound design on all three, so I have a good understanding of these machines. The only one I cant say much about is the Fantom X. I havent even played the 88-key version yet.

 

Sounds: Best to worst *stock* sounds IMO: Motif ES, Triton Extreme, K2600. Ill agree that the K2600XS has the most sonic *potential* for single patches, provided you use sample RAM. KDFX goes a long way and has superb quality, but it still requires users to make compromises in multi-timbral use. If you want a K2600 to beat the other boards sounds, be prepared to invest a lot of time programming or at least a few hundred dollars in 3rd party sounds (maybe both). Im blown away by how great the Motif ES sounds out of the box, especially since I identify with acoustic / electric sounds more than synthetic ones. And Im also blown away by the power and flexibility of the ES effects system, which is a big consideration if you sequence. Much more horsepower than with the other boards. Im not quite as impressed with Korgs stock sounds (although much more than the K2600), but the Extreme certainly has a huge variety. More than 2000 nice patches ready to go. Korgs effects system is nice, but not nearly as luxurious as the Motif ES. Ditto for the Fantom X effects.

 

Ease of use: Id say the Triton series is easiest to use overall, followed closely by the K2600. The Motif ES is getting easier, but I still find it less intuitive than the other two. The ES manual hardly ever answers my questions.

 

Feel: You really should try the boards for yourself. For my taste, the ES8 wins, although all of them are certainly enjoyable. (Havent played the Fantom X8.)

 

Upgradeability: The most upgradeable boards are the Motif ES (physical modeling, analog modeling, DX7 board, vocal harmony board, drum sample boards, and loads of sample RAM) and the Fantom X (loads of 32Mb expansion boards effectively 64Mb each and large sample RAM). The Triton Extreme can take a physical modeling board and a meager 96Mb sample RAM. The K2600XS can take optional 8Mb ROM boards (effectively 16Mb each), 128Mb sample RAM, internal hard drive, and program / sequence memory.

 

Other: If performance control is an issue, IMO the K2600 has no competition from the other boards. Download a K2600 manual and read the Setup mode chapter. 8 zones with mute buttons, 8 faders, 6 pedals, 2 ribbons, and luxurious implementation to match. -- Filters: The K2600 and Motif ES have much better filter options than the Triton Extreme. Both even feature EQ that can be built right into the voice. I've heard warmth from the 2600 and ES that is much harder to achieve on a Triton.

Keven Spargo, Sound Designer

www.ksounds.com

Quality sounds for Yamaha, Korg, Kurzweil and Kontakt formats

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Dave Bryce was absolutely right in saying that you have to play them all first. But in my opinion, throw two right out of the window right now.

 

Roland Fantom is heavily geared towards dance music.

 

Kurzweil, I am not that familiar with, I've heard some of Kurzweil sounds but I was not too impressed with anything but its piano.

 

You probably want to lean heavily towards the:

 

MotifES 8, and Triton Extreme 88.

 

They both are very similar, some sounds better than others. The one advantage that the Korg has is the touchscreen, but thats only an advantage if you are used to the touchscreen. (which I am but you are probably not)

 

Go into your local music store, get some headphones, play both through monitors and headphones, try to get a sequence going on both and make your decision on what feels right to you.

 

OH AND BY THE WAY!!! Do not listen to the salesman at your store, I know from experience (I am an ex-salesman, GC, Mars) That they are gonna push you towards the one with the most profit margin.

"Why is Danny Ainge still employed in Boston?"
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I bought a K2000R last year. Within 5 months, I had bought 3 more Kurzweil synths/samplers/ROMplers--the K2500RS, K2600RS and the PC2 with Orchestral ROM. Needless to say, I like them enough to invest heavily in them. They sound great and they don't HISSSSSSSSSSSSS like the other synths I own. The PC2 boasts 119dB s/n dynamic range. All this makes a difference. The sound quality is fantastic.

The K2600RS is great for more pop/electronic music and New Age type sounds. The PC is my choice for orchestral work.

The Piano on the K2600RS (as reprogrammed to get rid of a thunky middle C) is great sounding. It sounds like a Steinway with that modification to the program, done by a Sonikmatter forum moderator for me last month. If you play classical piano, this box is the one to have.

Overall, a K2600 box is a tool you can't go wrong with, especially if you don't like everyone else's out of the box sounds. Individuality is possible with the Kurzweil because you can program it to sound like anything you want. And the new OS with the V4 objects makes for great factory presets. The old presets were pretty dull, but the new one is Best of VAST programs and a collection of great sounds. I upgraded for free and what an improvement--like having a whole new synth!

So I whole-heartedly recommend the Kurzweil. :)

Best Regards,

 

Mark A. Weiss, P.E.

www.ampexperts.com

-

 

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Lots of work with the Kurzweils and the Korgs.

 

Tritons, much more fun off the bat for most Preset players. They make sounding alright pretty easy. As for getting to programming, very easy, after a few months you should need to know most of every thing you can do. Issues, very limited as far a programming goes, lack of filters and rather fixed system. That is why it is easy to learn. Sounds rather thin, which is part of why it is such a great Pad synth. All in all, great synth, just not lots of detail in the sound and in the control of it.

 

Kurzweil, kinda the opposite, Presets are known for being uncool and some times down right goofy, with the exception of the Pianos, and strings in certain situations. The ROMs maintain backward compatability with the whole series, thus are rather sound dated at first. From there, things get a whole lot different. I've been using Kurzweils for around 7 or 8 years and will be the first to admit, I will be dead before I understand and can exploit all the programming possibilies of this box. I will also freely admit that after all this time I am still in the learn curve, think I always will be. Once you start programming and learn the limits of the instrument and how to get around the rather odd ball way the thing works at times and have a firm grasp of the MIDI spec and how it applies, the thing basically becomes one of the most advanced mangles of digital audio you can get your hands on. even if it aint the easiest way to get from point A to B, most likely there is some way to do so in the Kurzweil. The potential of the synth will depend on you and how you think of it, not on it, it has more options than most will ever know what to do with.

The quality of audio is second to none for any synth made, infact the DA in the K2661 is up there with stand alone converts such as the Rosetta's from Appogee and stuff of that ilk. Once you start getting good sounds into sample RAM, you will get back whatever you put in back plus what ever VASTing and KDFX you do.

 

I use both these platforms a lot and while I can get a Kurzweil to sound very much like a Triton, I can never a Triton to sound like a Kurzweil. The choice of one or the other is work flow and which instrument works best for job at hand.

 

But that is me, get the musical instrument that inspires you to make music and have fun playing and programming. Specs really don't mean squat when it come to music, get the one you enjoy using before all else.

Names to Remember:

Charles Stepney & Emory Cook

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Conclusion: I'm going with the Yamaha ES8.

 

I think this is probably the best keyboard for me at this point because it gives me great sounds straight off the bat. I love the action on the keyboard (the piano sounds sensational too), and I think it is a really great board for me to learn on. Although, I never managed to find a Kurzweil K2600 to dabble on, I gather that it may be too complex for me as a beginner. Although I'll continue visiting instrument stores for a while to play on the boards before I purchase The Yamaha, I'm really just looking for the best price. I doubt that I will grow out of the Yamaha any time soon and that makes it worth it for me. Thanks everyone for all your help! :thu:

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Good decision. I've had my ES8 for all of a week now, and it blows me away every day. It sounds great, feels great and is deep enough that I'll be exploring it for a long time. Good luck!

_______________________________________________

Kurzweil PC4; Yamaha P515; EV ZXA1s

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Originally posted by UCDUDE:

Conclusion: I'm going with the Yamaha ES8.

 

I think this is probably the best keyboard for me at this point because it gives me great sounds straight off the bat. I love the action on the keyboard (the piano sounds sensational too), and I think it is a really great board for me to learn on. Although, I never managed to find a Kurzweil K2600 to dabble on, I gather that it may be too complex for me as a beginner. Although I'll continue visiting instrument stores for a while to play on the boards before I purchase The Yamaha, I'm really just looking for the best price. I doubt that I will grow out of the Yamaha any time soon and that makes it worth it for me. Thanks everyone for all your help! :thu:

Did you alreay try all four in real life?

I would also go for the Yamaha. Kurzweils have given me waaaaay to many problems, the Korg and Roland workstations are fine but the Yamaha has something. Well, I can't explain, it just sounds right for my ears.

http://www.bobwijnen.nl

 

Hipness is not a state of mind, it's a fact of life.

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  • 3 months later...

A lot of classical piano players say the piano samples are too bright on the Yamaha. They are really designed for contemporary music, where you need to cut through a band or mix. However, they are easy to modify if you don't like the stock patches. You can save them off to a user patch or just take a little high end off when you select a patch. There are also other piano patches such as "Dark Grand" that bodes well with classical tunes. Yamaha's UI is not as easy to work as the Triton, but the sounds I use the most are the best on the ES8. Can't beat the expansion capability of the Motif ES either.

 

From media clips I've heard, I think the GEM Promega 3 has a great piano sound for classical and jazz tunes. Its not a workstation class instrument, it does piano very very well compared to the others.

 

I think that everyone one of the above mentioned boards has its good points and bad points. Its a matter of what your priorities are and what functions you absolutely have to have. Different strokes. :)

 

Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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