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88 Note Live Keyboard Recommendation - Keyboard Player needs help

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88 Note Live Keyboard Recommendation - Keyboard Player needs help

Postby OK1 » Thu May 03, 2012 12:42 pm

I need some advice on a choice of keyboard. Also is there a shop in the South East UK where I can walk-in and audition the shortlisted keyboards - especially over this weekends bank holiday.

After dabbling with software keyboards(Ivory)as an amateur for many years, I would like to take this interest further, and acquire ONE excellent and inspiring "instrument" keyboard for live professional playing. I know that this will be an expensive outlay but I'm fed up with trying to polish turds (cheap keyboards)

Basically I need a good keyboard that can give me a decent representation of the keyboard/orchestral/horns/synth/pad sounds that I hear on records, so I can "sound" professional, and be inspired to "play" rather than struggle with the keyboard trying to get a good sound, which has been my experience with the keyboards on the lower end of the cost spectrum.

Typical use will be piano backing up choirs, and solo singers, and filler music. Usually as the only other instrument alongside a real drummer. Priorities are durability, sound quality and playable action.

Options I am considering :

Yamaha: CP1(wishful thinking), CP5, CP50, CP33, CP300, S90-XS, S90-ES,
Roland: RD 700-NX, RD 300-NX,
Nord: Nord Piano 2 or Nord Stage 2
Kawai: MP 10 or MP 6
Korg: Kronos 88 - I have not heard good things about the keyboard keybed reliability.

Previously owned kit: CME 61 note semi-weighted which I discovered has terrible action only when I acquired the vintage Yamaha KX88, which is lovely but the action requires a lot of force to hit the highest velocities, and is also too heavy to lug around.

Must have : Weighted hammer action, 88 notes, and extremely durable action. I do not have the time or patience or money to become involved in repairs, of any sort.

Type of Sound wanted: Good electric pianos (spanning rhodes, dx, modern electric), organs - electronic and sampled church/cathedral organs, highly playable acoustic pianos - grands, uprights, orchestral - strings, woodwinds, combis, synths, and lots of pads,

Features: ability to layer and split and cross fade - i.e some master controller features would be nice and ability to vary velocity sensitivity both on the internal sounds as well as when used as a controller. a few knobs and sliders would be nice for controling my current software based setup.

Thanks for helping out.
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Re: 88 Note Live Keyboard Recommendation - Keyboard Player needs help

Postby tacitus » Thu May 03, 2012 1:28 pm

Not sure how much help this is, but when I bought my digital piano in 2000 I decided to forgo the organ sounds and got a Roland RD150 - long superseded, but it had all the pianos I needed plus a usable harpsichord. I later bought a Hammond clone module which I ran off the Roland or any other keyboard that happened to be lying around at the time.

At the level you're considering, most of the differences will be more a matter of taste and opinion than actual fact, so I'd suggest trying the various makes to see which action you like best and go from there. You may find while you're checking these keyboards out that one particularly grabs you and other(s) turn you off. If you're spending a couple of thousand on a keyboard, you'll get good quality but you still need to check that you like it.

So yes, you need to get to a store somewhere and try some. I can't help there as I'm much further North than you, but hopefully somebody will be able to help. In the meantime, get Googling and get as many opinions as you can from the various forums: it's no substitute for trying them but people often ask about these things as they can't get to a big music shop and some owners are prepared to say what they like about their kit in some detail.

Don't forget that you'll need to invest roughly the same time and money in amplification as in the keyboard itself.
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Re: 88 Note Live Keyboard Recommendation - Keyboard Player needs help

Postby OK1 » Thu May 03, 2012 4:11 pm

Thanks tacitus for all your comments

Ah - Keyboard amplification - this is new to me.

I need a good recommendation as this is relatively new to me - At home I use active speakers - Alesis M1 MK2's. Not the best but does the job. But I obviously cannot cart these around.

Will I need a stereo amp?

Thanks in advance.

tacitus wrote:Not sure how much help this is, but when I bought my digital piano in 2000 I decided to forgo the organ sounds and got a Roland RD150 - long superseded, but it had all the pianos I needed plus a usable harpsichord. I later bought a Hammond clone module which I ran off the Roland or any other keyboard that happened to be lying around at the time.

At the level you're considering, most of the differences will be more a matter of taste and opinion than actual fact, so I'd suggest trying the various makes to see which action you like best and go from there. You may find while you're checking these keyboards out that one particularly grabs you and other(s) turn you off. If you're spending a couple of thousand on a keyboard, you'll get good quality but you still need to check that you like it.

So yes, you need to get to a store somewhere and try some. I can't help there as I'm much further North than you, but hopefully somebody will be able to help. In the meantime, get Googling and get as many opinions as you can from the various forums: it's no substitute for trying them but people often ask about these things as they can't get to a big music shop and some owners are prepared to say what they like about their kit in some detail.

Don't forget that you'll need to invest roughly the same time and money in amplification as in the keyboard itself.
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Re: 88 Note Live Keyboard Recommendation - Keyboard Player needs help

Postby Bob Moose » Thu May 03, 2012 7:11 pm

OK1 wrote:
Will I need a stereo amp?

For acoustic piano: most of the time. There are very few mono sampled pianos, and stereo ones were usually not sampled with mono dowmnmix in mind I'm afraid (I even prefer to use only ONE channel if there is only one amplifier).

The most compact solution: 2 small powered speakers installed side-to-side.


For other sounds, it depends on which sounds and how they were recorded.
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Re: 88 Note Live Keyboard Recommendation - Keyboard Player needs help

Postby tacitus » Fri May 04, 2012 8:10 am

On my Roland, I always use stereo for the main Grand piano sounds, but make do with mono for the rest. If I'm using the organ module with the Leslie simulator, I'd go stereo on that too. I've never had much problem just using the mono out (i.e. left channel with nothing plugged in the right channel), but that's usually in a band situation where an inelegant mix to mono of the keyboard is about the 23rd most important thing we need to worry about ...

I use a pair of active PA speakers for stereo and in mono I'm usually just plugged into the band's PA. Some people use an actual keyboard amp (some of which can be paired up into stereo) but the general feeling as far as I can tell is that the PA speaker route works best. QSC K10's and K12's are popular - clean and powerful without being too heavy.

I played bass in a band once where the keyboard player used a Roland KC300? amp for her Yamaha keyboard. I thought it sounded quite good so I plugged my Roland keys into it one day and it sounded rubbish, so you need to check this stuff out and not assume that if it's the same make it plays well together.
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Re: 88 Note Live Keyboard Recommendation - Keyboard Player needs help

Postby alexis » Fri May 04, 2012 7:09 pm

OK1 wrote:Thanks tacitus for all your comments

Ah - Keyboard amplification - this is new to me...
Will I need a stereo amp? ...

Thanks in advance.

I use a pair of big old heavy (15 inch woofer) powered speakers. I put them up right next to the rest of the band's PA speakers, run them stereo out of my keyboard.

Need to consider though if stereo is really a good idea ... if it's a large venue, everyone except the people in the middle are going to hear basically only one channel, which might be worse than just splitting the L/Mono channel out to both sides of the stage.
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Re: 88 Note Live Keyboard Recommendation - Keyboard Player needs help

Postby Bob Moose » Fri May 04, 2012 8:11 pm

alexis wrote:Need to consider though if stereo is really a good idea ... if it's a large venue, everyone except the people in the middle are going to hear basically only one channel, which might be worse than just splitting the L/Mono channel out to both sides of the stage.
Yes indeed, but for me the problem with mono acoustic pianos is not here.

When starting to play with an old keyboard/bass/drums band, I used to put the piano speakers on both sides of the stage (which was usually quite small). The drums were not amplified and the bass had a dedicated amplifier. But later I found the whole band sounded way better when putting the speakers on both sides of the piano, so that the piano+speakers setup was not larger than an upright piano. I even played with both speakers installed just under the stage piano.

But usually, using a single speaker did not work very well for acoustic piano. My piano samples are not really mono-compatible! To be more precise, the electrical L+R channel summing results in unpleasant phase cancellings. I'm not sure if there is a commercial stage piano or software with very good mono piano samples today.

Fortunately, for most other sounds, I can either use mono samples (Rhodes for example) or program monophonic instruments.

Like many people I would like to make my own acoustic piano sample bank, but I don't have access to a good-sounding piano (and room) at the moment, and no time for doing this (emulating acoustic instruments is probably the last thing I am interested in when it comes to music).
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Re: 88 Note Live Keyboard Recommendation - Keyboard Player needs help

Postby alexis » Sun May 06, 2012 3:29 pm

Bob Moose wrote: ...

When starting to play with an old keyboard/bass/drums band, I used to put the piano speakers on both sides of the stage (which was usually quite small). The drums were not amplified and the bass had a dedicated amplifier. But later I found the whole band sounded way better when putting the speakers on both sides of the piano, so that the piano+speakers setup was not larger than an upright piano. I even played with both speakers installed just under the stage piano.

But usually, using a single speaker did not work very well for acoustic piano. My piano samples are not really mono-compatible! To be more precise, the electrical L+R channel summing results in unpleasant phase cancellings. I'm not sure if there is a commercial stage piano or software with very good mono piano samples today.
...

I agree totally, my acoustic piano sounds sound horrible when the L/R channels are summed to mono.

What an intriguing idea to put the piano stereo speakers just on either side of the piano itself! I play in a band with electric guitars and electric drums, and all their output is through the main PA speakers at the front of the stage. I wonder what it would sound like if only one instrument (mine!) was perceived by the audience as coming from a "different place" than the rest of the band's (i.e., the keyboard sounds coming from the area of the keyboard, rather than the main PAs).
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Re: 88 Note Live Keyboard Recommendation - Keyboard Player needs help

Postby Bob Moose » Mon May 07, 2012 7:51 pm

alexis wrote:What an intriguing idea to put the piano stereo speakers just on either side of the piano itself! I play in a band with electric guitars and electric drums, and all their output is through the main PA speakers at the front of the stage. I wonder what it would sound like if only one instrument (mine!) was perceived by the audience as coming from a "different place" than the rest of the band's (i.e., the keyboard sounds coming from the area of the keyboard, rather than the main PAs).

Well the band I was talking about features electric bass, acoustic drums and digital stage piano. The drums are not amplified because they are loud enough. The bass has its own amplifier. So it is logical to use dedicated speakers for the piano instead of the usual two FOH speakers in this case.
Of course, you have to place the sounding instruments (drums, bass amplifier, piano amplifiers) correctly on the stage.

And when there are more amplified instruments, I really prefer to use dedicated amplifiers and no main PA system. Of course it requires to find all these amplifiers and to play with musicians who accept to be 100% responsible of their sound. Most electric instrument players are used to it, like are players who use live electronics (and they often have the right speakers). I think it gives a broader sound space, and honestly I don't really like the idea of concentrating 10 instruments on 2 speakers that are potentially inadapted for some instruments. Again, instruments and amplifiers have to be placed carefully on the stage.
All this is something entirely personal of course, I completely understand that it is more usual to use 2 huge speakers in front of the stage (which requires stage monitors and a sound engineer as soon as the stage is larger).
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Re: 88 Note Live Keyboard Recommendation - Keyboard Player needs help

Postby deecha » Wed May 16, 2012 9:43 am

i will get myself a nord for stage performances when i have the necessary change :) but that's more an intuitive decision...
i can imagine a sound coming from various instruments as much richer, but i guess it will take a long time to soundcheck that kind of setting. actually you get a real room sound that way!
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Re: 88 Note Live Keyboard Recommendation - Keyboard Player needs help

Postby mc9320 » Sun May 27, 2012 4:17 pm

OK1 wrote:I need some advice on a choice of keyboard. Also is there a shop in the South East UK where I can walk-in and audition the shortlisted keyboards - especially over this weekends bank holiday.

After dabbling with software keyboards(Ivory)as an amateur for many years, I would like to take this interest further, and acquire ONE excellent and inspiring "instrument" keyboard for live professional playing. I know that this will be an expensive outlay but I'm fed up with trying to polish turds (cheap keyboards)

Basically I need a good keyboard that can give me a decent representation of the keyboard/orchestral/horns/synth/pad sounds that I hear on records, so I can "sound" professional, and be inspired to "play" rather than struggle with the keyboard trying to get a good sound, which has been my experience with the keyboards on the lower end of the cost spectrum.

Typical use will be piano backing up choirs, and solo singers, and filler music. Usually as the only other instrument alongside a real drummer. Priorities are durability, sound quality and playable action.

Options I am considering :

Yamaha: CP1(wishful thinking), CP5, CP50, CP33, CP300, S90-XS, S90-ES,
Roland: RD 700-NX, RD 300-NX,
Nord: Nord Piano 2 or Nord Stage 2
Kawai: MP 10 or MP 6
Korg: Kronos 88 - I have not heard good things about the keyboard keybed reliability.

Previously owned kit: CME 61 note semi-weighted which I discovered has terrible action only when I acquired the vintage Yamaha KX88, which is lovely but the action requires a lot of force to hit the highest velocities, and is also too heavy to lug around.

Must have : Weighted hammer action, 88 notes, and extremely durable action. I do not have the time or patience or money to become involved in repairs, of any sort.

Type of Sound wanted: Good electric pianos (spanning rhodes, dx, modern electric), organs - electronic and sampled church/cathedral organs, highly playable acoustic pianos - grands, uprights, orchestral - strings, woodwinds, combis, synths, and lots of pads,

Features: ability to layer and split and cross fade - i.e some master controller features would be nice and ability to vary velocity sensitivity both on the internal sounds as well as when used as a controller. a few knobs and sliders would be nice for controling my current software based setup.

Thanks for helping out.

MusicLand in Bromley has a few of these Yamaha keyboards you have listed. I would give them a call, tell them your list and see what they say. They have another store in Romford I believe
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Re: 88 Note Live Keyboard Recommendation - Keyboard Player needs help

Postby Peter Conz Connelly » Tue May 29, 2012 12:48 pm

OK1 wrote:Options I am considering :

Roland: RD 700-NX, RD 300-NX,


I recently used a RD300NX and, although it has a nice piano feel, it is a little hard for my liking. Roland describe this as "Ivory Feel-G Keyboard with Escapement". I just got a Roland Fantom G8 (with "Weighted PHA II Ivory Feel") and I much prefer this. The RD700NX has a "Deluxe PHA III Ivory Feel Keyboard with Escapement" as does the V-Piano so can only assume this is a more refined version of the PHA II technology. I'm sure a newer Fantom (which I feel is imminent) will also use the PHA III technology also.

Cheers,
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