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Reproduction tones across brands - what's the difference?


Wylie2112

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Hello,

 

I've got a question regarding peoples' opinions on the quality of emulations from various keyboards. For instance, some people will say that the Rhodes sound or B3 sound on a particular brand is OK but they wouldn't gig with it, or that it's brilliant, or complete rubbish. I've just picked up a Casio Privia and, though I don't have the experience to tell the difference, all the tones on it sound pretty good to me, but some people have really criticised these on the Privia.

 

What is that makes the difference between a good and a bad reproduction tone? What are people listening to that tells them one is good whilst another is not? I know this is purely opinion, but there must be something people are basing those opinions on.

 

Cheers,

Wylie

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Originally posted by Wylie2112:

...Though I don't have the experience to tell the difference, all the tones on it sound pretty good to me.

Manufacturers must make choices about how to make a unit cost effective. A $600 US keyboard just isn't going to have the same sound quality as a $2500 keyboard. Sample memory is one place where they cut corners. You'll get an attack portion of the tone, then a long loop for the decay portion of the tone. This will never sound as good as a long, memory-intensive sample. The tone doesn't have enough information to be totally convincing. Also, the D-to-A converter (where the digital sample turns into an audio signal that you can feed into your amplifier) may not be as high a quality as on a more expensive unit. I've noticed this with some Roland pieces. The XP-30 isn't as clear or present as the XP-80, with essentially the same soundset.

 

That said, many of today's keyboards in the price range of the Privia are pretty damn nice, all things considered.

 

If you're happy with it for the price you paid (and you should be--it's a nice board), enjoy it and don't worry about the reviews.

 

:)

 

k.

 

 

 

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KSoper,

 

Thanks, that's what I was interested in knowing. I'm completely happy with the Privia, especially since I got it for the action and not the tones, per se. I was just curious as to what trained ears were listening for and how people could tell the difference between a real Rhodes sound and a reproduction one.

 

Thanks!

Wylie

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My sense is that, to have a real ear for this stuff, you had to have played and heard the original to know whether a digital sample reproduction sounds "good" or not. In other words, if you actually played a REAL Rhodes or a REAL Hammond B3, you'd know what they actually sound like. Then, if you played a variety of keyboards that supposedly produce similar sounds, you're much better able to determine the quality of the reproduction.

 

Since I have never had the pleasure of sitting behind a real B3 or a real Rhodes, I, too, think that many of the reproductions that I hear on digital instruments today sound pretty good. I am, however, very familiar with real acoustic grand pianos, and I'm therefore much more comfortable judging the quality of acoustic piano sounds in those same boards.

 

Just a theory . . .

 

Noah

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Noah is right, those of us who have had our hands on the real thing have certain things we look for. In a Rhodes sound you look for dynamics. For instance if you play lightly does it have a warm, smooth sound with a touch of bell sound? If you play it hard does it bark, which is, brighten up distort a little, and just sound a bit nasty. But that is the way my Rhodes sounded. You could set a Rhodes up to react differently so others could have a different description.

Jimmy

 

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho

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I agree. To some extent we just listen and judge.

 

But the bottom line is that we have licks and parts and styles that we learned on the real deal, and on some imitations they work and on others they fall flat. The best imitations are the ones where we can do the most stuff we learned before and they leave us smiling rather than frowning.

 

On the other hand, judging an instrument this way has a real disadvantage: we miss the things that the "imitation" actually does better than the real deal, or we miss the opportunity to learn new licks, styles, etc., that wouldn't have worked on the old standard but are way cool with the new toy.

 

For example, regardless of many of us playing digital pianos for quite some time now, how many of us play a piano chord with the expression pedal up and then smoothly pedal down to fade the chord in? It's a lovely sound, actually, but rarely do I hear it (or do it). Two reasons: (1) we're all still thinking inside the box -- we're trying to play a *piano*, not an *instrument*, and (2) we want the result to sound like a real piano.

 

The first reason is unconscious and a limitation. The second reason is choice and judgement. But I for one will admit to being guilty of (1) a lot! On the other hand, I do try to play *the instrument I'm playing* rather than *the instrument it's supposed to imitate*.

 

Funny, too, because if anything, electric and electronic keyboards started out as a huge departure from "standard". But now they've become standards, even things like a Minimoog. Believe me, when we first started playing those babies, we were playing NOTHING but the instrument at hand, trying to see what it could do. But now half (or most) the time we're old farts being nostalgic for a better (imagined) day.

 

Regardless, when I spank a Rhodes it better bark or I'm not gonna be happy!

 

;)

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Originally posted by learjeff:

On the other hand, I do try to play *the instrument I'm playing* rather than *the instrument it's supposed to imitate*.

I agree with you 100%. I strongly believe in the saying "if it sounds good, it is good." Hell - if using a sustain pedal on a B-3 patch while pitch bending a Rhodes patch and using a volume pedal on a

grand piano sound fits the song and sounds good, then do it!

 

 

I too, sometimes, get caught up in trying to authentically recreate a vintage instrument - but in the end, it's really much more about your performance than about how "dead-nuts" your sound is.

 

I mean, Hammond organs were originally developed as a "portable" and cheaper alternative to a pipe organ. For most applications, I'd rather thake the emulation (Hammond) than the real thing. Obviously, the first wave of inspired B-3 players were far more interested in playing the instrument at hand than in re-creating a cathedral organ.

 

Also, I don't think Stevie Wonder gave a crap what a true Clavichord sounded like when he cut the intro to "Superstition." Somehow I don't think that Mozart hooked up a wah pedal to his...

 

So - basically, if you like playing it and it sounds good to you - then it is good.

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As long as nobody uses pitch bend on a grand piano patch.

 

Because that is considered the ultimate sacrilege. Worse than the worse mortal sin.

 

Even the Devil himself wouldn't dare try it. :)

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Originally posted by Cydonia:

As long as nobody uses pitch bend on a grand piano patch.

 

Because that is considered the ultimate sacrilege. Worse than the worse mortal sin.

 

Even the Devil himself wouldn't dare try it. :)

Pitch bend it, sample it, and reverse the loop. That way they won't know it was a grand piano patch in the first place!

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