Kurzweil PC3X Reviews
Welcome to world-class sounds from stunning pianos all the way to stellar analog synths. I continue to be amazed at the organ sounds and the way I can use the sliders as drawbars to add expression and feel. The weighted keys with hammer action have a great feel and add life to your piano sounds. With the PC3X you can dig in as deep as you want, preset your favorite patches, assign sliders and wheels for parameters, and borrow layers from patches to add to others. In short, the PC3X has all the capabilities you would want in a keyboard and the bottom line is, it sounds great!
As the owner of a fully blown-out K2600, I was surprised that Kurzweil could find a way to improve on what I had always considered to be a masterpiece. The PC3X is an amazingly powerful keyboard worthy of flagship status in the Kurzweil line. The onboard sounds rival some the very best sample libraries, and the controls allow you to sculpt your performance to perfection. The VA-1 synth engine brings raw synth power to the already formidable capabilities of the VAST engine, and the KB3 organs sound great. The keys themselves have that great Kurzweil feel that I've come to know and love, and with the free editor/librarian software (available from SoundTower) you can program your PC3X from your computer!
from San Diego, CA
February 23, 2011Music Background:
Worship Leader, singer, songwriter, recording engineer
Treasure Island!!i decided to get myself a good keyboard last Christmas, I played several but only the yamaha 70 xs and the Kurzweil Pc3x caught my ear. I found the operating system of the Yamaha far from intuitive, Both had a good feel for the action. i agonized over which way to go and finally pulled the trigger on the PC3x. This thing just takes me away the sound is phenomenal,the lay out is staight forward, the display is big enough to read ( unlike the Yamaha). there is a DVD tutorial I picked that really speeds up the learning curve.I could not be more jazzed about this machine, beautiful in all ways, it is a treasure.... I tun it on... turn it up ... and soon I'm in on my own little music Island.
from New Jersey, USA
June 13, 2009Music Background:
The most amazing and inspiring keyboard I've ever playedAs a longtime owner of competing synthesizers/workstations, I was delighted to be blown away by the Kurzweil PC3x. It's not often that I feel compelled to write rambling reviews, but the PC3x fills me with so many superlatives that I'd be sorely remiss if I failed to let them fly. In short, this is truly a player's instrument, an extraordinary thrill ride that inspires me to create music for hours and hours.
The heart of the PC3x is its V.A.S.T. synthesis engine, whose power far exceeds that found on any previous Kurzweil. Not only can you edit scores of existing algorithms, but the new "Dynamic V.A.S.T." also lets you roll your own from scratch. The depth and complexity of this synth engine are astounding; somehow I imagine that it may take me years to learn everything there is to know about such a technological colossus. Having said that, I must give Kurzweil kudos for the thorough, well-written manual [note: make sure you have the latest version] and the online video tutorial series, both of which are extremely helpful if you can spare some time and patience. Just as importantly, the PC3x's dynamite presets and intelligent user interface make it easy to plug in, turn on, and make great music in no time.
The onboard sound palette, in my opinion, has more character and realism than that of any other hardware synth out there. What's most refreshing about this peerless array of sounds is just how usable they all are (unlike so many of those cool, flashy out-of-the-box noises that wow you in the store but end up not making sense in most music). Kurzweil has been known for its pianos for years, and the myriad variations offered here are sure to please classical, jazz, blues, rock, pop, new age, country, and ragtime aficionados alike. These pianos are complemented by a weighted action that is wonderfully sensitive and responsive in all the right ways, without being too heavy or restrictive. The EPs [Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Clavinet, Pianet, RMI, CP80, etc.] and Mellotrons are out of this world -- only Clavia is in the same league of electromechanical accuracy, although even their Nords don't offer quite the level of control and flexibility as found here. And you simply won't find better, more expressive orchestral sounds (especially strings) on a hardware synth. If I were forced to choose a sonic weak spot on the PC3x, I might point to the guitars or non-orchestral brass; these are merely good as opposed to stellar. However, with the other programs being so dead-on perfect, it's hard to complain about a couple of minor exceptions.
Organists will be mightily impressed with KB3 mode, which turns the PC3x's nine sliders into drawbars and gives you full hands-on control of all those B-3 niceties, such as vibrato/chorus, key click, leakage, and a well-above-average digital Leslie. But the real highlight for synth enthusiasts is no doubt the inclusion of Kurzweil's VA1: a virtual analog monster that really is every bit as good as its hype. The VA1's uncanny ability to emulate a Minimoog, Prophet, ARP, or other vintage legend is rivaled only by its limitless potential for new, totally far-out sounds. No other analog modeling synth can come close without requiring a computer and a whole lot of gigabytes. If I had one wish for this facet of the PC3x, it would be some fat knobs to grab onto [the never-released VA1 prototype had knobs, buttons, and switches galore]; fortunately, the sliders can be programmed to serve whatever realtime function you desire, making knobs more luxury than necessity.
Enhancing the aural magic of the PC3x is its treasure trove of effects. Inherited from Kurzweil's award-winning KSP8 processor, these studio-quality tools are applied with a real master's touch, breathing extra life into the sound without suffocating it. Of course, as with nearly everything else on this 'board, you can manipulate and re-route effects until your heart's content. One of the best details here involves patch remain: if you switch to a new program or multitimbral setup while holding down notes from the previous one, both the sounds and the effects remain on the old notes, while the new sounds and effects apply only to new notes pressed. This feature -- an industry first -- elevates the PC3x's effectiveness as a live gigging board into the stratosphere.
As for using the PC3x as a workstation, the one thing some users might sorely miss is sampling. [Kurzweil builds a sampler into its K-series but not the PC-series.] Personally I don't miss it one bit; instead, I'm grateful for the PC3x's awesome sequencer, which I find much more flexible than most others I've ever used. In fact, for me, the sequencer's unique and versatile "Riffs" feature actually replaces what I most often used sample triggering to accomplish. Although the onboard LCD -- more than adequate for comfortable live performance -- is a bit small and crowded for deep behind-the-scenes editing of programs and setups, users can download a free, customized sound editor from Soundtower. This desktop editor allows you to connect the PC3x right to your computer and tweak every imaginable parameter in style. And boy, does V.A.S.T. let you tweak!
In over 30 years as a musician, I have never been this excited about a single instrument before. If you haven't already, you owe it to yourself to try this keyboard. Its comprehensive combination of sounds, action, effects, programming depth, performance control, and production tools make the Kurzweil PC3x a dream come true for any serious player. Factor in the addition of both the KB3 and VA1, and I dare say that the PC3x should be considered a worthy (albeit non-sampling) competitor of Korg's mammoth OASYS -- at less than half the price. Above all, it just feels so organic and downright musical, much more like an actual instrument than a machine. I'll gladly spend those aforementioned years learning everything there is to know about it, because I anticipate that the PC3x will remain the centerpiece of my rig for a long, long time.
from Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts US of A
November 30, 2008Music Background:
Full Time Composer, Keyboardist,Arranger
PC3x Rocks big !Starting with the 250, I've enjoyed 7 Kurzweils over the years (K2600,PX1000,PC88mx etc) and this one really has me excited! The touch is wonderful(yes, I own a Bosendorfer; and still nothing is like the real thing, but this is really a nice action)The sounds and variety is top-notch, but the software and getting around is still very 'Kurzweilish', and they still insist on using terms like'object'...Aisde from that, this is a reall winner and should re-establish Kurzweil as the 'go to' stage piano/controller of 2008/9. Kudos Kurzweil!
from Vahon Island
October 27, 2008
Sounds AmazingI was in the market for a new keyboard, so I read about this in various online forums. A lot of people said they didn't like the PC3x because it doesn't have a big flashy display screen (none of these people actually owned one). I went to several keyboard manufacturer's websites and demoed the sounds of their instruments. Sound quality is what matters most to me. To my ears there is really no comparison to the sound of the PC3x. It sounds lush, beautiful and realistic. The orchestral sounds are wonderful. It is possible to sequence an entire symphony and it is likely that no one would be able to tell that it is not real. This keyboard also has an unusually large library of useable sounds. It's the first keyboard I have ever owned that has such a high percentage of sounds that I might actually use.
from Eastern North Carolina
March 28, 2008Music Background:
reed player since H.S; bass guitar since 80's, Intermediate Keyboard player, member of Church Praise Band and College Jazz Ensemble.
Initial Impressions on the PC3XI've had my PC3X (purchased from Sweetwater) almost a week now; time to share some first impressions. This is one of the first 65 shipped in North America, with pre-release software.
Very clean looking board. All of the functions that are working with the pre-release software have been totally reliable so far. Note: I also have a PC2X for comparison (and K2000VP, PC2, and K2661). I have only sold one of my Kurzweils - the SP88X, which was no longer needed after I got the PC2X as a higher end replacement.
I've never seen a keyboard from ANY company with such a large percentage of USABLE sounds. Whatever your musical tastes, there will be something in this board that matches.
Acoustic pianos: This is one main objective to me, my family uses the PC2X in the living room as a piano, and I wanted a good 88 key weighted controller in my shop/studio. The primary piano sounds are clearly descended from the Triple Strike Piano, but they sound cleaner, sharper, more resolution. The sustain in the couple of octaves above middle C (with sustain pedal operated) has been substantially increased, more like a real piano. I found that the PC2X would give me a good range from pp to a loud F; but this new board just keeps on going beyond FF to FFF when needed. There are also other piano sounds, like Japanese piano (should cut through a band well - lots of treble). Some of the sounds show attention to detail such as simulating the resonance of strings when the damper pedal is depressed.
Electric pianos: My PC2X had both ROMs, this one is way ahead in realism on Rhodes, Wurly, and CP80 type sounds.
Bass - My other primary instrument was electric bass. One reason I keep my old K2000VP around is that its bass sounds are "ballsy." Well - the PC3X has got good bass sounds nailed, way beyond either the PC2 or K2661.
VA-1 sounds - Haven't yet learned how to manipulate these well; but I won't need my computer running Native Instruments PRO52 any more. I had a real Prophet 600 back in the 80's, it died - now I have all the power of the 600 without the drift.
KB-3 sounds - These aren't fully complete yet; but just from the ones in the current software, I will also be able to stop using my computer with NI B4 software. Finally - a full 9 sliders so all the "drawbars" are lined up next to each other, and the mod wheel is still separate.
Orchestral - WOW - All the Strings have their OWN ROM now (128 sounds), so the rest of the Orchestral is also expanded. Sections as well as solo and ensembles. This keyboard is going to be a new standard on Broadway and in Hollywood.
Operations - I never did really like that my PC2 was so different in how things were done from my two K series instruments. The PC3 is much closer in the way things are done to the K series. No, it will not sample; there will be an instrument later that will do that (I have the 2661 and a DAW if I need to sample something).
I received the instrument 4 months and 2 days after placing the order. I have had direct contact with Kurzweil, emailed an updated set of software files (loaded in a total of a minute or so), and even people in the company who actually WANT my feedback on the instrument.
It has been worth the wait. NOTICE: I serviced electronic musical instruments for almost 30 years, including a few Kurzweil. My firm was an authorized service center for Yamaha and several organ companies. I have no financial connection whatsoever with Kurzweil (other than being a satisfied customer).
People have different tastes, this won't be the keyboard for absolutely everyone; but it will be for a LOT of musicians.
from Epping, NH USA
February 10, 2009Music Background:
Kurzweil is the kingI have the 76 key version of this board, it is the best keyboard I've ever played. I own a Motif and for years I thought nothing could top the sound, but Kurzweil not only beats Yamaha in sound quality, but the sequencer and effects modes are far superior as well. The PC3's sequencer is so easy a caveman can do it, if you are familiar with older Kurzweils you will hit the ground running, and the best part is you don't have to save the sequences before you shut it down... genius! Take that Motif! I hate the Motif's sequencer now, I hate having to store and reload my files every power cycle, and Kurzweil's system is such a breeze you may find yourself glued to the thing for hours, it is so much fun. The sound quality as I said is AMAZING, especially the classic keys, EP's, clavs, pianos, basses, and orchestral sounds. The organs are awesome too but comparable to Motif, and have a lot of sizzle and character. The guitars are good, not as detailed as Motif, and the horns are average. Buy this just for the real keyboard sounds alone and you will be very pleased, because honestly leave the guitars and horns to real guitars and horns, you know what I mean? As far as real KEYBOARD sounds go, this is the best functioning and sounding board out there no question.
from Utah, USA
February 6, 2011Music Background:
Somewhere between pro and hobbyist
Orchestral sounds and pianos - great. The rest...Too many reviewers give PC3X the highest score. These reviewers are, without a doubt, impressed by the quality of the sound. Indeed, it is amazing. Yet, after the amazement passes, we discover that the instrument so rich in wonderful pianos and dozens of truly unparalleled orchestral strings, lacks, simply LACKS many other, important samples. Some good synths, several so-so guitars, a few flutes, three or four pipe organs, ethnic instruments virtually non-existent...
This is an especially bad in an instrument that lacks the capability to import waveforms. So, PC3x will be a good option ONLY if your musical style is compatible with its highly biased sample selection.
Before opening the box of the PC3X I imagined becoming intimidated by gadgets and lights. I guess when I hear the term "workstation" I have a preconceived notion that I will need to spend days just to figure out how to make sounds. This is not the case with the PC3X, its sleek design, bold marked buttons and perfect sized screen make this workstation inviting to jump right in and be creative. The screen has a perfect tilt for visibility and the brightness can be altered. The sturdy feel of the soft keys and sliders is the major clue showing you how durable the PC3X is.
I immediately jumped into sounds-and there is no better patch to start off with than the Standard Grand. The pianos are absolutely gorgeous and the hammer weighted action help you bring out expressiveness and dynamics in the music. The low end response on ALL patches is amazing. I knew Kurzweil would deliver when it came to pianos but I was pleasantly surprised with the response of the multi-layered pads and hard leads. The analog synths are perfectly aggressive with grit and bite. Plus the organs paired with the sliders serving as drawbars are superb. The feel of an organ and how the drawbars respond is top notch in the PC3X. When it comes down to it-sounds are the most important quality of a keyboard and you won't find a better sounding keyboard than the PC3X.
While I was amazed with the sounds I did not forget that the PC3X is a workstation. I found it easy to set tempo and then make a mix tracks. Of course speed and flexibility is most important when building songs and the PC3X provides simple navigation. The editing capabilities are fantastic. Most of the the sounds/patches are layers which are easily "borrowed" and applied to other patches. For instance say you love the pads behind ColdPiano but could use that sound backing an electric piano. With the punch of a menu soft key you can easily import separate layers to build custom sounds.
All-in-all the Kurzweil PC3X has all the capabilities you would want and need in a keyboard and the bottom line is it sounds amazing.