88 Key Stage Pianos


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I'm in the market for an 88 key weighted-action stage piano, as my 13 year old Ensoniq KS32 is waaaay overdue for an upgrade! :p In recent year or so I've been using a Roland FP2, which I'd bought as a lightweight cocktail hr. piano (easy to move and set up) but it's not that great-sounding and has limited add'tl sounds (beyond pianos + strings).

My top contenders are:
  • Yamaha S90ES
  • Roland RD700GX or RD300GX
  • Kurzweil PC3X
Is anyone else out there looking at these puppies and what are your experiences, conclusions?

There's only one store where I'll be able to try all of these out side-by-side (Alto Music - I'll go to the one in Middletown, NY) and they don't have the new Kurz. or Rolands in yet... maybe end of April.

Meanwhile I'm just scanning for info, opinions, experiences, etc... - I know the Yam. S90ES has a HUGE user-base, which is always good. But the new Rolands and the brand-new Kurz. PC3X look like killer machines as well. :cool:

The Nord Stage Piano is just too expensive at over 3K USD - and a bright red instrument is just not what I'm looking for...
 
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The S90 ES is great(Hey, I own one!).

There are 'some' issues, although not major.

The first and foremost is, although it has a magnificent piano sound, it's actually a fully featured synth, so unless you want to mess around with creating your own sounds or modifying the existing ones alot, you are going to pay for something you arn't going to use. The sound bank is extensive, with more than I have had the chance to listen to though, and the sound is very good. As you might know, the piano sound is exceptionally good since they dedicated I think something like 20% of the soundbank's memory(53mb for the piano with something like 220mb for the rest) to just the one piano sound, which they sampled from Yamaha's top of the line grand piano. Plus it has half-damper functionality.

The second is that I have noticed the key action to be slightly heavier and slower than the acoustic pianos I have played on(the key takes a bit longer to return), but this only means you might have an issue playing repeated notes fast, and I have seen videos of people playing insanely fast on the S90 ES, and since I'm still a novice I can't say for sure. But, this is mostly a very minor thing, and hasn't been a problem, just something I noticed.

There are some sound issues if you are going to be changing sounds left and right and layer/split them, but the S90 ES wasn't designed with that in mind so unless you are trying to fill in the role of an orchestra live(like I'm trying to do :D) this won't be an issue. If you want more info on details of this just shout.

All in all, in my opinion, it's worth every cent that I paid, and I'd buy it again. It's a great keyboard/synth for it's price. Although, it is a bit heavy. The only reason why I would advice against buying it is because I think there will be alot of functionality in the S90 ES you will be paying for but won't be using, atleast from what I can tell from your post.

Unfortunately I know nothing about the other keyboards you mentoined, but I hope this helps.
 
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letsel -

Thanx for the insight... like most S90/S90ES owners, you seem to be thrilled w/that unit.

Although I understand that in addition to a great stage piano, the Yam. s90Es is a powerful synthesizer that I'll probably never take full advantage of... it's ok - I don't mind ponying up the money if it seems to be a good match for my needs... one reason is because even though I may not be a hard-core synth programmer, I can always find/download/purchase sounds for a machine like the S90ES from other people/vendors - so therefore the extra-deep synthesis engine doesn't go to waste at all, it'd just be that I'm utilizing it w/someone else's programming. :)
 
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Well, yeah, I love my baby alot. *grin*

I can say though that, since you do plan on using some other sounds aside from piano, the synth does provide with alot of tweaking options, so if you are willing to spend the time to understand how the synth works(which I havn't gotten around to yet), you can tailor the existing sounds to match the exact timbral qualities you want(or atleast get closer :D). I have however played with some of the easier accessable functions(like cut, reverb, attack, delay etc...) and they already help alot in getting the sound right for their specific parts, especially in context of the other instruments playing with you.

I should also point out that the reason I bought the S90 ES was because it had everything I wanted(great sounds, synth, customizability, fuctional power, it's piano sound) and nothing I didn't want(sampler, sequencer) that usually gets bundled with the features I wanted in other keyboards.

I took a look at the other products you mentioned, and well, strange selection given the big differences in the products. Maybe what you should do is take a few days to think over what want to do, what you might want to do, and read up what is possible to do. Personally I think the PC3X would be too much for you, and I don't think it's piano sound would count as a selling point, unlike the S90 ES and the Roland Digital pianos(well, digital piano's in general), plus it has even more powerfull features which you might end up not using, although it's sequencer could provide with accompanyment for solo playing.

But, as some other people have mentioned, Yamaha products generally has the best sounding acoustic sounds(they make alot of acoustic instruments), so you should also keep that in mind.
 
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