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Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

After 15 years of great discussions, the Sweetwater Forums are now closed and preserved as a "read-only" resource. For discussions about current gear, check us out on Facebook, YouTube, inSync, and our Knowledge Base.

Old Pro - - Same Dilemna

Senility

I am a 65 year old retired pro piano plunker. I recently sold my Roland RD600 piano and the rest of my live performing gear. I am not a technogeek. I do not tweak; I do not edit; I do not update keyboards. I still (after all these years) want a single simple, straightforward, top-notch stand-alone instrument which incorporates the highest quality action and feel along with the BEST acoustic-voiced solo piano, EP and orchestral instrument voices augmented by a range of sparse to densely textured ensembles and symphonic strings sections. The instrument I now purchase will be used AS IS - - right out of the box - - for the remainder of my life. I do NOT need (or want) 10 funky, off-the-wall, no- practical -value- laden derivative tones for each instrument voice; just the truest acoustic one, thank you very much. I do NOT need (or want) sequencers, zone controllers, arpeggiators, MIDI files playback capabilities, built-in recorders, metronomes, USB ports, 99 built-in sing along songs or an integral automatic booty wiper. I do NOT need (or want) the magnificent, dynamic sounds of emergency sirens, earthquakes or catastrophic calamities. I do NOT need (or want) the thrilling sound of an effusively flatulent elephant complete with fuzz and wah wah. In short, I crave a single performance piano with superb feel and comprehensive onboard acoustic instrument sounds - - and nothing else. Now, - - I well understand that no stage piano manufacturer is going to design a piano expressly for me; but why is my stated criteria apparently deemed to be "too austere and simplistic", "of limited appeal and thus not cost effective", "unreasonable" or "untenable" by said keyboard manufacturers? I have owned - and used - vintage Wurlitzers, Rhodes and the venerable old Yamaha CP70 Electric Grand in days long since passed; however, over the course of the past quarter century or so, I have owned and employed several Roland products after auditioning them head-to-head against comparable Yamaha, Kurzweil and Korg models. What is the CLOSEST currently available contemporary product conforming to my stated priorities at this time? You have my humble and profound gratitude for any insightful advice you may have to share with me.
March 1, 2011 @02:28am
roundhill

I can feel your frustration. I used to record on the original ADAT’s. It was simple and the sounds were good. When they stopped working I found out it would cost a fortune to have it repaired. I did not want to switch to a computer DAW because I did not want or need the “extras” bundled with the software. Also, I couldn’t afford to justify the cost of a computer, interface, and software for my hobby. Not to mention the other hassles of server compatibility, upgrading software, latency issues, crashes, etc. Bought a porta-studio and it is a downgrade in sound and quality.
Technology does not cater to simple folks. I’m sorry I can’t give you any advice but you bring up an excellent point that I agree with. You have a great sense of humor. I also despise “the thrilling sound of an effusively flatulent elephant”! Good luck to you, Triple P.
March 1, 2011 @08:34pm
Senility

Thanks for your sympathetic commiseration, Triple P. I surely cannot be the only digital pianist who is looking for a simple performance keyboard of superlative cutting edge quality in regard to both sound and feel - - without all of the myriad attendant added on doodads and functionary bells and whistles. Basic, simplistic digital keyboards can be procured for as little as $300; but they do not even begin to approach the minimum performance quality standard I insist upon in terms of sound and touch. There are a number of very fine units available for $1800 or so upward; however, ALL of them appear to be replete with far more features that I DON'T want than they are with features that I DO want. I understand that for many keyboardists "more is better", and I've often heard the countering argument that by buying a feature laden keyboard - - even if one has no practical use for some of the inherent features - - that greater value is achieved by the manufacturers' grouping "popular" features and incorporating them into their "one size fits all" products. Bear with me for a moment, please. Should I happen to patronize a popular diner, notice that "the specialty of the house" is "Chef's Salad Smothered with Liver And Onions", and should I muster the temerity to order the "Chef's Salad" without the accompanying aforementioned "Liver And Onions" - - - - if that diner followed the precedent set by the keyboard manufacturers, I would probably then be frostilly informed that the house's chef's salad comes topped with liver and onions, that there is no extra charge for the liver and onions, that I should be profoundly grateful for their magnanamous generosity, and that if I want a chef's salad, that's the way it's served there - - take it or leave it. Now, - - I might well respond to such a terse announcement with the heartfelt exclamation that I absolutely LOATHE liver and onions, and that I don't want the ******* liver and onions ladled onto MY chef's salad, even if it IS free!! At that point, I would undoubtedly arise and amble out the door in search of another diner which would be willing to let me have what I want - - MY way. That's the pickle I'm in now; I'm in frantic search of a digital piano manufacturer who is willing to let me have it MY way, and I DON'T CARE if the proliferate appointments and features on a specific product are added free grattis or at a greatly reduced price - - - I DON'T WANT THEM!!! Thanks for allowing me to vent.
March 1, 2011 @09:29pm
ACB

"Automatic Booty Wiper"
There's a song in there somewhere! lol!
Sounds to me like you're concerned about big $$ and don't really want to spend a lot to get what you want, which is ok-I've always been a fan of perfprmance to price ratio.
Have you ever checked out the Yamaha MO 8?


If you like what you hear,we'll discuss further....
March 1, 2011 @09:37pm
Senility

Thanks for your thoughtful input, ACB. The Yamaha MO8 is a very fine SYNTHESIZER which, indeed, performs a plethora of functions in a splendid manner. I have had the privilege of playing one which belongs to a keyboardist of my acquaintance. However, I am in search of a bona fide digital stage piano which performs a very limited range of basic functions via an uncluttered, intuitive, easily navigated front panel layout with a very limited number of simple, dedicated buttons. Price is not the factor of overriding concern for me; superb quality sound and touch and the exemplary rendering of true acoustic voices , in conjunction with sparse controls comprising an utter simplicity of operation mark the extent of my specific personal criteria.
March 1, 2011 @11:16pm
cvcguy

Undoubtedly it's worth following your thread for the pure enjoyment of your writing skills and sense of humor. I believe that the question of "the exemplary rendering of true acoustic voices" is so subjective that many of us feel safer with 1000 sounds than a dozen- especially when you factor in the varying sound systems and listening conditions that the instruments with be performing with. That is one reason that I bought a Yamaha S90XS for our church last year. To get the choices in sounds, we got a lot of features that we don't use, but we have found voices that we are happy with. Alas, navigation of its controls can be intimidating.
What came to mind as being closer to what you are looking for is the Yamaha CP1. Have you played with one?
March 3, 2011 @11:34am
jpleong

Why did you part with the RD600?
I have the FP-5 which is the simpler version of the RD600. Roland's successor is the FP-7: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/FP7FBK/
The top-of-the-line Kawai digital pianos have, in my opinion, the BEST action but they are very, very heavy: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MP10/
JP
March 3, 2011 @04:05pm
DAS

A thought about the relative complexity of instruments. In my advanced years (ha, ha) I have also found myself gravitating towards simpler interfaces. But I also find that a complex, or feature rich product can sometimes be remarkably easy to use so long as your needs are basic and you are willing to invest a little time to learn how to get it to do what you want. Many instruments sold today are like this. There is a lot of complexity under the hood, but you spend a few days mastering the few things you need it to do and you're home free.
What's more important to me is stability and reliability. If I can press three buttons and count on the appropriate action happening then all I have to do is get things to a point that I know the three button presses. I can learn that.
Just food for thought.
March 3, 2011 @04:56pm
Senility

Undoubtedly it's worth following your thread for the pure enjoyment of your writing skills and sense of humor. I believe that the question of "the exemplary rendering of true acoustic voices" is so subjective that many of us feel safer with 1000 sounds than a dozen- especially when you factor in the varying sound systems and listening conditions that the instruments with be performing with. That is one reason that I bought a Yamaha S90XS for our church last year. To get the choices in sounds, we got a lot of features that we don't use, but we have found voices that we are happy with. Alas, navigation of its controls can be intimidating.
What came to mind as being closer to what you are looking for is the Yamaha CP1. Have you played with one?

Thanks, cvcguy, for both your generous praise of my admittedly somewhat off-the-wall prosaic style and your observation on the practicality of the many diverse tonal choices packed into the megabanks of today's fine keyboards. You're absolutely correct in stating that comparative sound quality (and the perceived superiority of one manufacturer's product over another's) is totally subjective. In addressing the proposition of the inherent value of a seemingly endless array of tonal alternatives, I can only state unequivocally that it would be pointless, ludicrous and singularly unavailing at the outset to debate the merits of the various hamburger emporiums plying their trade in a specific locale with someone who utterly detests meat in general - - and beef in particular. Even those who might profess to savor hamburgers would undoubtedly find themselves at odds over the inclusionary choices of cheese, onions, pickles, relish, lettuce, tomato and condiments. Still others may very well adamamtly and argumentively state quibbling preferences for the utilization of specific portional cuts from the bovine carcass, as well as the ideal specific fat permeation percentage of the meat and the pertinent ingredients of the most succulent and delectable seasonings. The nitpicking can be virtually endless. As you may have surmised from my above postings, I have been repeatedly chagrined and importuned by enthusiastic keyboard sales reps who were intent upon demonstrating to me the abundance of features, functions and processional intricacies intrinsic to the "latest and greatest" digital keyboard marvel to make its triumphal debut into the arena of "gotta have" electronics. Such enthusiastic hype and ballyhoo is totally ineffective and wasted upon yours truly. I want a simple, superb quality live performing instrument which incorporates the SINGLE representative instrument voice deemed by the manufacturer to be their "state of the art" acoustic tonal achievement for each instrument - - with no funky, quirky variations of any of the voices represented. My usage will be limited expressly to live performance and an occasional recording studio acumen. I will NOT be interfacing with computer software, playing MIDI files, or availing myself of built-in drum machines. I want a simple, straightforward live performer's stage piano with superb acoustic sounds and cutting edge action, in conjunction with a fully weighted feel with aftertouch; nothing more - - - and nothing less. Apparently, the digital stage piano manufacturers consider the premise of superlative quality sounds married to basic operational simplicity to be utterly unreasonable and foreign to their marketing strategies.
I have not had an opportunity to audition any of the new generation Yamaha CP models. The breathtakingly prohibitive price of the CP1 would provoke a pause for some seriously judgemental cost analysis evaluation for even those among us of quite substantial means. I happen to dearly love, crave and dote upon premium quality ice cream; but there is NO carton of ice cream available on the market anywhere on God's green Earth for which I would sacrificially pay $100; my inborn sense of value perspective would positively forbid it. Ditto digital stage pianos. I have had two keyboardist acquaintances tell me that they were disappointed in some of the rather crucial primary sounds contained in the new derivative CP50, - - but I believe that we've already established the questionable validity and fickle nature of subjective opinion.
March 3, 2011 @10:15pm
Senility

Why did you part with the RD600?
I have the FP-5 which is the simpler version of the RD600. Roland's successor is the FP-7: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/FP7FBK/
The top-of-the-line Kawai digital pianos have, in my opinion, the BEST action but they are very, very heavy: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MP10/
JP

A very young gentleman sporting a discerning ear and a flush wallet was inexplicably enamored of my personal playing style at one of my live performances, and ponied up $1800 cash for my esteemed RD600 and my ancient Roland U20 synth, perhaps thinking that those particularly roadworn and somewhat less than pristine iconic models from yesteryear embodied the keys to his future stardom. I did not have the heart to rain on his parade by administering a dose of dastard disillusionment, so I pocketed the sale proceeds wearing my best nonchalant, deadpan expression, and sought the exit door exhibiting my smoothest casual powerwalking gait. I trust that you are happy with your FP5. The ownership of a Kawaii digital piano would represent a viable opportunity for yours truly to incur a high probability factor incapacitating hernia, with the likely side benefit of a ruptured spleen. They are fine instruments, but they're far to ponderous and unwieldy for my taste and purpose; but I appreciate your assessment of their sound quality. Thanks for your interest, and for your observations, jpleong.
March 3, 2011 @10:50pm
Senility

A thought about the relative complexity of instruments. In my advanced years (ha, ha) I have also found myself gravitating towards simpler interfaces. But I also find that a complex, or feature rich product can sometimes be remarkably easy to use so long as your needs are basic and you are willing to invest a little time to learn how to get it to do what you want. Many instruments sold today are like this. There is a lot of complexity under the hood, but you spend a few days mastering the few things you need it to do and you're home free.
What's more important to me is stability and reliability. If I can press three buttons and count on the appropriate action happening then all I have to do is get things to a point that I know the three button presses. I can learn that.
Just food for thought.

Thanks for your "food for thought" reply, DAS. I must candidly admit to a regretably strong indolent nature. I am blessed (or cursed, pursuant to your particular perspective) with a blatant lack of curiosity about the nuts-and-bolts operational schematics and manifold applications of detailed electronics algorythms and progressional waveform mutations. Such is my disposition in regard to practically everything of an electrical or mechanical nature. I never buy a vehicle with a manual transmission, and I have absolutely no use for a tachometer. I couldn't care less whether my chosen new ride negotiates the proverbial 0-60 floorboarded pedal-to-the-metal smoldering, spiraling speedometer sprint in 6.9 seconds, - - or 9.6 seconds. That criteria is meaningless and unimportant to me; my priorities are ride and handling and creature comfort. I have no argument with those who delight in experimentation, and in the honing and refining of new skills and related tutorial applications. Such pursuits simply hold no interest for me. Should I need to purchase a snow shovel, I would have no interest in a new, "superduper" model which features a built-in intercom system, FM radio receiver and pager incorporated into the handle; my only purpose in purchasing a snow shovel would be to utilize it to effectively remove snow from my porch, walkway and driveway. I'm strongly inclined to purchase products which confine their conceptual purposes and stated performance parameters to those applications which cater to my specific personal needs and requirements agenda ONLY. I'm fully cognizant of the fact that such an attitude may well be indicative of one who is reprehensibly utilitarian and narrow minded in scope.
March 3, 2011 @11:22pm
Joe Muscara

I keep reading your posts and thinking "Nord," but there are a few features that you require that Nords do not have, such as aftertouch. However, they are designed for live performance. The sounds start from the raw versions, no effects applied. You add what effects you want in the Effects section. Of course, you can save these as presets for easy access later. Nord has some presets set up, but they're easily replaced.
The other thing the Nords don't have are the orchestral voices. Well, they do and they don't now. The primary focus of Nords are keyboard instruments, starting with piano, organ, and electric pianos. Some models have synths (Nord Lead, synth section on the Stage). However, they've expanded their palette a bit to include Mellotron and Chamberlin samples, which have string samples, for instance. But these aren't generally considered "realistic." Instead, they sound like the old tape-based "samples" the keyboards had. Still, I'd suggest you poke around http://nordkeyboards.com and see if something there suits you.
March 4, 2011 @01:59pm
Senility

I keep reading your posts and thinking "Nord," but there are a few features that you require that Nords do not have, such as aftertouch. However, they are designed for live performance. The sounds start from the raw versions, no effects applied. You add what effects you want in the Effects section. Of course, you can save these as presets for easy access later. Nord has some presets set up, but they're easily replaced.
The other thing the Nords don't have are the orchestral voices. Well, they do and they don't now. The primary focus of Nords are keyboard instruments, starting with piano, organ, and electric pianos. Some models have synths (Nord Lead, synth section on the Stage). However, they've expanded their palette a bit to include Mellotron and Chamberlin samples, which have string samples, for instance. But these aren't generally considered "realistic." Instead, they sound like the old tape-based "samples" the keyboards had. Still, I'd suggest you poke around http://nordkeyboards.com and see if something there suits you.

Thanks for your insight on Nord products, Joe; I'm thoroughly unfamiliar with them - - and I've never even physically directed my peepers at a Nord unit.
Your mention of a melatron tone recalled to remembrance my 70s personal experiences with melatrons and with the quaint old tape loop echo units commonly incorporated into PA setups during that era. During that time period, I was playing a Hammond B3 organ "L-bracketed" with a suitcase Rhodes piano.
I have been extensively involved in writing, arranging and producing for studio recording sessions for many years, and I still receive a substantial number of calls from clients of long standing (in addition to a significant number of referrals from said long time customers) who are extremely reticent to take "no" for an answer. Hence my need for the high quality orchestral voices in addition to the various prerequisite top notch piano sounds incorporating a superb fully weighted action with aftertouch. I occasionally employ live strings and/or horns (whenever the clients' pocketbooks and taste discernment can swing the added expense), but most of my orchestral strings, brass and specialty lead instruments are digitally sourced.
I refuse, at this juncture, to drag around a superfluous slew of ponderous gear or to constantly update a keyboard with periodically superseded expansion boards or a bevy of related software. Frankly, the closest I've come, to date, to pinpointing a stage piano that does everything I require without a ton of tonal overkill and exasperating complexity, is the new Roland RD300 NX. That new unit still employs a moderate amount of overkill for my purposes, but it employs a sparse, intuitive control layout. I'm not knocked out by the jazz organ voice, and the brass sounds (like those of most manufacturers in this regard) leave more than a little to be desired. I tend to favor Kurzweil"s orchestral sounds, - - but several Kurzweil afficionados of my acquaintance have had reliability issues with their Kurzweil units, - - especially on the road. The instances of such finicky handling foibles appear to be rather prevalent with Kurzweil products in general. Additionally, Kurzweil piano sounds have a very definite tendency (according to my ears) to manifest a rather dark, european textured tone with a somewhat heavier action than I ascribe to. I'm still in limbo.
March 4, 2011 @07:05pm
michaelhoddy

I also was thinking "Nord," specifically the Nord Stage. It won't have orchestral sounds, it's red, and it may not check all the other boxes, but it is the closet thing to what you've described so far in having a few very playable sounds, being easy to navigate and use, and being perhaps the closet thing to an actual instrument of anything electronic I've used so far. I've had mine since 2006 and I wouldn't part with it.
March 4, 2011 @08:42pm
Senility

I also was thinking "Nord," specifically the Nord Stage. It won't have orchestral sounds, it's red, and it may not check all the other boxes, but it is the closet thing to what you've described so far in having a few very playable sounds, being easy to navigate and use, and being perhaps the closet thing to an actual instrument of anything electronic I've used so far. I've had mine since 2006 and I wouldn't part with it.

Thanks for your additional input in regard to Nord pianos, Michael. As I admitted in my preceeding post, I'm totally unfamiliar with Nord by either experience or reputation. The competence of onboard orchestral sounds are an absolute must for my purposes. I'm still involved in quite a bit of gospel, vintage R&B and classic country studio recording session work; ergo, I positively MUST have the extensive high quality big band and symphonic sounds on tap, in addition to premium quality keyboard sounds and feel incorporated into a single unit which weighs approximately 40 pounds. That narrows the field appreciably, doesn't it?
March 4, 2011 @09:20pm