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GAS alert - Stage Compact first impressions


eric

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My Stage Compact arrived yesterday. It is truly a work of art. I am officially hooked. I am cross-posting my comments on a few forums, so sorry if you see this more than once.

 

I only had about 1 hour with it last night and thank goodness I had recently borrowed a friends Stage 88 for a few days and so I was already familiar with the interface. This made it a lot easier to dive in and start tweaking sounds. I may use it for a gig this weekend, if I can get a case for it in time. I'm sure I'll write up a longer review, but here are some high points from my initial experience with it:

  • It is the same footprint as the Electro 73 and same weight - I cannot see how it could be any more compact

  • The build quality for the chassis has improved over the Electro. Same basic materials, but the black part (front rail and underside) now has a different type of paint (kind of like a powder flake rough finish) and this seems to improve rigidity and probably durability.

  • The action felt better than my Electro 61, possibly a bit tighter. Not sure if this is just the new keyboard fooling me or if there was a subtle change. The aftertouch makes it bottom out a little bit softer (a good thing).

  • Playing acoustic piano from this action is much more fulfilling than the Electro. Not sure if this is the action or the improved sounds (probably a combination of both). I could almost convince myself that carrying an 88-note weighted board is not necessary for the general business gig.

  • The synth sounds come alive from the faster action. I found myself getting lost in the synth section, which impresses me more and more as I play it. I found a few sounds that evoked my old Nord Leads. Particularly, a string/pad sound based on a pulse wave with PWM sweepable from the timbre knobextremely analog-sounding. Also, there is a sync sound like the old Prophet 5 "Burning Down the House" lead. I've previously only heard this in my JX-8P and the Nord Leads. My S90 cannot do it very well at all (sounds very sampled in the S90 vs. the alive and dynamic VA synth sound in the Stage).

  • I learned how to do splits and also explored those 2 "live" buttons. Very cool feature to "hide" my go-to sounds to access from whichever bank I'm in. My plan is to use the each panel separately in the 2 live buttons to give me 4 of my bread and butter sounds (organ, clav, Rhodes, piano) and also set up some synth sounds under those live buttons as well.

It will take a bit of time to get it all programmed up for gigging, though I believe I could totally rock it right out of the box. I am right now VERY torn about whether to sell or keep my Electro. I think I'll hold off on making any rash decisions here, as I may regret selling it down the road. They are duplicative pieces, but I could see a need to have both of them.

 

Regards,

Eric

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Thanks for the review, Eric. I'm glad you have prior experience with the Nord Leads, how would you compare the Compact synth section with the NL I? My dream is to replace both my Electro 73 and my NL I with a Compact, how much would I be missing?

I made my last car payment yesterday, and will have my vinyl siding/new windows paid off next month, my GAS may soon get some relief! :)

Botch

In Wine there is Wisdom

In Beer there is Freedom

In Water there is bacteria

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Originally posted by Botch:

Thanks for the review, Eric. I'm glad you have prior experience with the Nord Leads, how would you compare the Compact synth section with the NL I? My dream is to replace both my Electro 73 and my NL I with a Compact, how much would I be missing?

That depends on how much you rely upon the two keyboard experience vs. doing it all from one. The Stage's synth is not as deep as the Nord Lead, but it is a surprising little beast. I have only scratched the surface of tweaking the small # of presets that ship in the unit and I've been very pleasantly surprised. You can get the hard aggressiveness of the Nord Lead easily and there is a Unison knob that gives the sound that stacked feel without reducing polyphony. You don't get as many knobs as the Nord Lead and some of the knobs play different roles depending on which engine you are using (analog, digital wavetable or FM). Just scrolling through the FM algorithms was like a blast from the past to 1984 when I played my first DX7. So you have a lot of options in the synth engine, not to mention the ability to stack two totally separate synth sounds, each with their own dedicated FX and controller settings, when you use the Panel A and B simultaneously.

 

I previously had heard the Stage synth section compared to a basic JX3P, but it is a little more than this. It won't replicate a Nord Lead 1/2 entirely, but it can get close. Combine that with the other features and great performance capability and I think you would be very happy to use it in place of your current rig.

 

Regards,

Eric

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Eric,

 

Congrats on your new purchase. You are going to enjoy your Stage for years to come. It's an inspiring instrument to play and tweak!!

 

I haven't delved into the synth section very much, but some day will have to do a little tweaking and knob turning to see what I can come up with!!

 

Enjoy it!!

 

aL

Gear: Yamaha MODX8, Mojo 61, NS2 73, C. Bechstein baby grand.

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daBowsa,

 

Has the Stage fixed it midi velocity problem yet? I seem to recall that it was still an issue recently.

 

That is a really intriguing rig... I am often temped to do a rig like this. The nice thing about it is the 88 is optional, and if you don't bring it, you aren't losing any sounds, just taking a hit on playability.

 

I think that this rig can do -almost- anything that my current clone + ROMpler rig can do (and a whole lot more...), but I sometimes have the need for brass sounds (ugh). I hate to do it, but my band mates like me to play the brass parts to soul man, etc... I suppose Synth brass would do. Maybe layered with Organ - whoa the power.

 

I have a stupid question. I currently have my clone going through a MS pro3t. I see on the tech specs at clavia's website that the stage has 4 Assignable Audio Outputs. I assume that this means I can have my organ sounds all coming out of separate outs. But is the assignability global, or per sound? In other words could I set up a specific rhodes (or synth, whatever) to go through the MS too? If so, that would be quite powerful...

I'm just saying', everyone that confuses correlation with causation eventually ends up dead.
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The synth engine, piano engine, and organ engine all have assignable outputs.

 

You can set whether it is per patch, or global. I have mine set up at home to send organ to output 3, where it goes thru a Roadbox. Since I want only the hammond and not the vox sounds thru the roadbox, I have it set up per patch.

 

When I play live without the roadbox, I set the output assignment to global to send everything out 1&2, easy to do and works just as you would want.

Moe

---

 

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great eric

looking forward to your impressions.

mr debowsa has done what Ive been thinking .

ive got the casio as my piano and was thinking of the compact as my top board but until Tom had posted the photo link I could not find the photo of the compact on nords site [god only knows why] and I had wondered if the compact was missing the mod wheel and pitch bend as it used the electro 73's box.Now thanks to this thread and link I now have it confirmed they are there...why there wouldnt be I couldnt work out.

 

This now gives me food for thought...ill check out aussie's availability...they'll probably say we dont bring in the small one...tee hee.

 

looking forward to more impressions eric

thanks for this thread.

Rusty

 

ps. mr debowsa i have found recently on trying the Casio PX300 midied to an alesis quadra synth piano plus that the velocity it sent to the alesis was not equivalent to the alesis' own keyboard's velocity and the sound did not react the same.Have you found the velocity compatible if you were to midi it to the nord?

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Congrats, Eric. I've had my NS88 for about six weeks now....I can still say that I like it more and more every day. Just a little prognostication here, however: Just wait until you start preferring the NS piano over your venerable S-90! Enjoy!

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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I don't have a Stage, I just like to live vicariously through Eric.

 

I have the Radio Shack rebrand of that Casio and when hooked up to my computer, the MIDI velocities seemed as I expected them.

 

I've been wanting a Compact since, oh it would seem March 29, 2006 .

 

My current rig:

 

http://www.thomann.de/prodbilder/193559.jpg

http://instrumentbutikken.no/images/Nor_lead73.jpg

http://img3.musiciansfriend.com/dbase/pics/products/4/0/8/440408.jpg

 

So, obviously the Compact would simplify things, but I'd lose the real analog and extra knobbies, gain some synth polyphony, but lose some synth oscillators.

 

Honestly, unless I start gigging again, I'm not touching my dream team.

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I wasn't refering to the midi velocities of the Casio. Sorry for the confusion. I was refering to the issue here:

http://www.musicplayer.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?/ubb/get_topic/f/18/t/015857.html

 

But I got it reversed... I thought the issue was only receiving certain ranges, but the issue is that it only SENDS (or sent) certain ranges. Sorry about the mixup - sounds like this rig would work afterall...

I'm just saying', everyone that confuses correlation with causation eventually ends up dead.
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Well, the 88 is only about 3 inches bigger than the 76 (I don't know if the 76 is bigger than the Compact or the same size, I'm guessing bigger). I have grown to really fall in love wiht the Stage (I liked it immediately, except for the pianos, which now have grown on me). It has been fully integrated into all 3 of my rigs.

With Hello Dave on really small stages, or short sets: Nord Stage with Electro on top as slave (using a pair of audio cables to amp/PA).

 

On regular sets, The Stage 88 with my XK1 and Speakeasy Roadbox 3.

 

With Pink Freud (www.myspace.com/pinkfreudchicago), I use the NordStage 88(local "off") with a Roland A70 on top controlling the Stage, Receptor, FantomXr, MotifRack, and Jd990. Now that is one VICIOUS rig!

 

I can't gush enough about how great the EPs and clavs and organs are, and how instantly playable and "personal" it is, especially once tweaking. None of us will sound the same!

 

That's a great instrument!

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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Every time a read a review of the electro or stage it makes me envious :-)

 

I'm new to this forum - I'd really like some advice here. I'm torn between a stage compact and an electro 73. I'm in a ska band and play mostly organ. But if I'm going to spend GPB1000+ then I'd like a good acoustic piano. The vox and farfisa sounds on the stage appeal to me. Can anyone offer me an opinion regarding: 1) The latest acoustic piano samples for electro (the early one I tried a while ago was really poor) and 2) The quality of the vox and farfisa organ sounds on the stage?

 

Many thanks for reading

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The latest acoustic pianos on the electro are far better than they used to be. They are cut down versions of the current Stage pianos.

 

The vox is one of my fun sounds to play with. I never had one, and this emulation sounds great whether raw, or dressed up with leslie, echo or phasing.

 

The farfisa is good too, but not great. It has most of the stops but not the treble booster I remember from my Combo Compact. The cheesy vibrato is faithfully reproduced.

Moe

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Originally posted by david.edwards8:

Every time a read a review of the electro or stage it makes me envious :-)

 

I'm new to this forum - I'd really like some advice here. I'm torn between a stage compact and an electro 73. I'm in a ska band and play mostly organ. But if I'm going to spend GPB1000+ then I'd like a good acoustic piano. The vox and farfisa sounds on the stage appeal to me. Can anyone offer me an opinion regarding: 1) The latest acoustic piano samples for electro (the early one I tried a while ago was really poor) and 2) The quality of the vox and farfisa organ sounds on the stage?

 

Many thanks for reading

Hmm well I'm not sure whether I can help you too much as I've had limited experience with the Electro and no experience with the stage. But seriously go with what you want, from a features wise perspective I think a stage is the way to go. But I think as long as you get a Clavia Nord, you'll be fine. and it's bright red too ;) . And yeah like mssr stubb said they've updated the sounds on the electro. I think if you go to their webspace and check out the sounds, you can go judge for yerself.

 

electro:

http://clavia.se/downloads/mp3/index.htm#ne2

 

stage:

http://clavia.se/downloads/mp3/index.htm

(it's the first one)

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Originally posted by mate_stubb:

The latest acoustic pianos on the electro are far better than they used to be. They are cut down versions of the current Stage pianos.

 

The vox is one of my fun sounds to play with. I never had one, and this emulation sounds great whether raw, or dressed up with leslie, echo or phasing.

 

The farfisa is good too, but not great. It has most of the stops but not the treble booster I remember from my Combo Compact. The cheesy vibrato is faithfully reproduced.

My first organ was a Vox Jaguar so I'm familiar with the sound. I've always thought taking the standard organ sim on the Electro, turning off the Leslie, adding Vibrato 2 or 3 (not chorus) and then adding a little distortion can get you pretty darn close to the transistor organ sound. I mean I appreciate the more detailed emulation in the Stage, but unless I was in a Doors tribute band, the above works for me.

 

Others disagree/agree?

 

Busch.

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"My first organ was a Vox Jaguar so I'm familiar with the sound. I've always thought taking the standard organ sim on the Electro, turning off the Leslie, adding Vibrato 2 or 3 (not chorus) and then adding a little distortion can get you pretty darn close to the transistor organ sound. I mean I appreciate the more detailed emulation in the Stage, but unless I was in a Doors tribute band, the above works for me."

 

I do the same exact thing. These days I only need it for "Pump It Up" but it sounds fine to me. Ewall

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I actually was in a band that played a lot of Doors, not the pop stuff but "When the Music's Over", etc.

 

The bass player went out front to do the Jim Morrison channelling, so I kicked bass just as Manzarek did.

 

My instrument?

 

Rhodes Chroma. It sounded fantastic!

Moe

---

 

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yeah first organ for me a Vox Jaguar...I miss its daring style and absolutely lightweight body.

Yes RED [sound familiar] with reverse colour keys.

 

I use to mount it on top of a yamaha CP 30 piano with a gantry at the back supporting it made out of Dexion slotted angle.Oh the joys of youth and not worrying about the visual appeal but its easy breakdown at the end of the night.

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Thanks guys, the -leslie +vibrato +distortion thing is really interesting. The features of the stage would be great, but it's over GBP500 more (wouldn't mind if I could really afford it!) so I'll take a close look at the Electro. Either way, it's got to beat the one organ sound I have at the moment that I'm happy with - the distorted organ on my faithful Roland XP10.
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