Dave B wrote:
Kurzweil owners have debated this on their own forums for years.
So a couple of points worth considering :
1. Kurzweil has been a 'boutique' manufacturer now for a long time - well over a decade. It's not anywhere near the same league as the big three. But then so is Nord. And both companies are producing instruments that people still want, despite not being everything to everyone. They simply don't have the resources to launch a new synth or major update every year. But their gear is stable and well known. And sound great. There is something to be said for longer product lifespans and I know people who have been burned when 'failed' products have been ditched and no spares / repairs are available a couple of years later.
2. Saying that, VAST has had a few tweaks over the years. When the PC3 launched, they updated it so that layers could also process other layers and added algorithms to handle that. Plus they now have very high resolution, non-aliasing oscillator blocks so creating more traditional synth sounds is lovely and clean all the way up the keyboard. (and associated filters - basically all the work they did with creating a VAST-based VA synth that never got made).
But, tbh, VAST has been a programmer's wet dream now for over 20 years. It's pretty darned good
Yes, you do have to learn their way of programming, and to know it fully is a daunting prospect, but there are YT tutorials out there for wave sequencing, FM, all sorts of mad things.
In some respects, their new kit is ahead of the game : I weep that my Kronos doesn't retain samples after power down. But then rejoice that my Forte does. (all 3.3Gb of it and that's quite respectable). Polyphony is 128 notes same as most - but then the whole (fully polyphonic) organ emulation is free on the Forte. Nice.
Back to VAST, as I said earlier, the user base has discussed this for a while. And that includes the occasional Kurz staff member. The general consensus of that speculation is that any next gen VAST will probably not have much in the way of programming tweaks, but might see some macro based editing as a 'simple view' to get you started and allow you to go under the hood and use full VAST for trickier stuff. Sounds sensible to me - I'll wait and see if it happens.
In the mean time, for a boutique manufacturer, they do ok. And the OP is right - they are definitely big in the Theatre. I've just sold one to pro who does time in the pits and he pointed out that a certain high profile show, which made a big deal of the fact that the main keys player uses a Kronos, is actually coming off Kurzweils behind the scenes...