A Question For All The Arranger Experts Out There???


happyrat1

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Everytime anyone comes here looking for an arranger the same recommendations come up over and over.

Korg and Yamaha are good and apparently Roland makes crappy arrangers and Casio rarely even gets an honorable mention.

I may be wrong but what about Ketron Arrangers? What about Orla?

They may not be common in North America and the UK but shouldn't they at least be tested by someone before they dismiss them outright?

Has anyone test driven any of these units?










Gary ;)
 
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Gary
Yamaha make about 12 starter Arrangers and they have various designators up to the E series with the top of that range being the 463. Next they have the S models and newer SX. With the Genos being the top of their Arranger range at a cost way above that of a Roland Fantom.

Casio have a good range of starter arrangers headed up by the X5000.

Korg has zero arrangers in the low cost end, their entry model is the EK50. Then they have the older PA models before their real entry model in the PA700.

Roland have their EA models, none of which I have ever seen yet alone played. Over here they are available but not widely and they do get good reviews but not so good support. With Korg and Yamaha there are a lot off free or low cost add ons available plus Korg have their free Webinar tutorials every month where they use their Arrangers. What are Roland’s entry level keyboards? Check out tge Roland Go Keys and Go Piano, you will probably then find that a Casiotone is way cheaper and more likely to be a first buy by parents for their kid.

Yamaha have the beginner market sewed up, it is the way it is and those who start off with an E series are more likely to move on to another Yamaha despite the dire menu systems accessible only by button push after button push.

Ketron and Orla! well I would bet that if someone go into a Music Store anywhere in the world and there will be low end Yamaha’s available that will undercut Ketron and Orla.

The Ketron Audya does have the look about it of a Yamaha from 15 years ago but it is hard to suggest a model that has very limited market penetration, unknown pedigree and even more unknown support.

At the end of the day up from a beginner Arranger there are only the models I quoted in another thread as viable all in one Arranger keyboards.
 
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happyrat1

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Cheaper prices are NOT always better.

Besides which I am seeing a lot of suggestions of Montage and PA series.

If people are shopping in those price ranges they should at least be informed that Ketron fits in their budgets as an option.

Gary
 
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The Ketron is an expensive keyboard being between the cost of a Korg PA4X and a Yamaha Genos.

Other models are available at c£2000.

I have never seen one in a music store nor heard one.

Yes, any potential buyer does need to be made aware of their existence.

I wonder if anyone on the forum has hands on experience of them.

Ketron do have a UK base, but no outlets as such other than their own which is 150 miles away from where I live.

Is anyone aware of any Ketron dealerships in their Country?

Similar re Orla, fantastic kit but highly specialised and the unit you quote dates back 12 years when they were pretty expensive and they did not catch on.

I go into Rimmers Music 15 minutes away and they have Yamaha, Korg and Casio Arrangers. Plenty of acoustic pianos, plenty of workstations and DP’s but no other make. Same thing with PMT who are massive in the UK, but only Korg, Roland and Yamaha Arrangers.

Moving over the English Channel and into Germany, Thomann who are the biggest Music Store in Europe go with the same big three.

Hence is there really any point in quoting a manufacturer with no or limited presence?
 

happyrat1

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My point is that these manufacturers offer modules as well as keyboard arrangers.

These are characteristics that some shoppers might find highly attractive.

These should at least be mentioned when spouting the usual stream of Yamaha PSR and Korg PA.

Ketron does make some affordable modules btw with some apparently brilliant tech.

Apparently the second video I posted is of a module that can even function with an electric guitar instead of a keyboard.

Face it. It's a module that sells in Canada for only about $1200CAD. It's cheaper than Juno DS 88.

And who needs to physically test drive a module? Reviews, manuals and specs pretty much give the whole picture. If there's no keyboard to test then what sort of "hands on" reviews are people looking for?

How many people dropped the same money on a crappy Yamaha SX-XXX when by the looks of it, a Ketron can play rings around them?

You don't need to fondle a module with your greasy fingers in a store to get one either. Ketron seems to have authorised dealers in most of the world. Action is probably Fatar on most of their keyboards anyway, so you can judge feel by comparing to a different board using a similar or identical keybed. And with a module there is simply no keyboard to test...

Honestly, half the time I feel like Mike is a Yamaha salesman, and you are a Korg salesman in those threads. I thought Keyboard forums was supposed to be brand agnostic.

Gary ;)
 

happyrat1

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My interest in arrangers is growing and I just made an offer to a local guy who's selling off a used Roland BK-7M. If I can get it for around $550 CDN I would be interested to add it to my arsenal.

That's as much as I would be willing to spend on a 10 year old piece of hardware.

Keeping my fingers crossed. :)

Gary ;)
 
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I do not know what it is like in other countries but Arrangers do broadly fall into two categories.

1 - cheap Casio and Yamaha’s that parents buy for their fickle kids who want to learn an instrument.

2 - retired folk who want an all in one instrument which an Arranger does vastly better than any workstation.

When I talked with the Sales guy in my favourite Music Store I asked about how the new Yamaha’s were going, his response was very quickly. In particular the £3000+ Yamaha Genos was being bought by long time retired folk.

So yes a module may be a good product but so far they have not caught on in terms of popularity and certainly adding a box and the connection pitfalls that may very well ensue would put off the vast majority of arranger players.

To each their own and good luck if you follow up on the BK.
 

happyrat1

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Well the guy rejected my offer but I offered him a fair price given that as of this march it is ten year old technology and originally sold for $899 CDN.

Maybe he'll change his mind in a few days.

You're correct in that it was not a very popular option when it came out but the SD40 and the MidJay from Ketron are hella expensive and if I want to get my feet wet with arrangers, a used BK unit is probably my best option.

Besides, once I hook it up to the Juno I'll have the best of two worlds. Arranger and Workstation all in one.

Gary ;)
 
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I hear what you are saying about how everyone gravitates towards the more familiar brands and that obviously stands to reason. At the end of the day, it is all about product marketing and customer confidence.

I have made many mistakes or maybe I should say blunders and uneducated decisions when buying arrangers and keyboards in general but I have found out what I like through making those mistakes.


I had the Yamaha Genos and Montage both incredible boards but something was just missing for me.. more with the Montage than the Genos. Yamaha is great for professional production but most of the sounds are very bright and "sterile" sounding.

It's a shame but we don't all have the ability to go to a music store where we can try all these different brands out and we rely on Youtuber suggestions which is not always the best way to go lol

I have my Kawai MP11se and I am going to take my time and rebuild my rig from there!

As far as an arranger goes I am looking at the KORG PA4X and maybe a Nautalis. As you said in your OP Gary, Ketron is maybe something worth looking at too!! it's all fun and game!

:)

Chris
 
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I know that my response is somewhat late, considering that this original thread was started in January 2021, but I thought that I would respond anyway.

I have used arrangers since the Mid-90's, in one form or another...

My first 'arranger' was a Technics SX-PR270. It was called a 'Digital Ensemble' and cost me about $5k USD. I wrote many albums on that thing and took it live (with the help of bandmates, since it weighed about 200 pounds). It had 32-notes of polyphony, a 100 watt stereo speaker system built in, and 88 weighted keys. It was one of the best units I have ever owned. I lugged that thing everywhere and it always performed well.

I lost it in a bad business deal (lost a bunch of PA gear too) and there are times that I still miss it. Its ease of use and sound really drew me to it.

I was also exposed to the Solton (Ketron) arrangers in the late 90's and they had a fantastic sound. Additionally, a mentor/friend of mine had the Korg i2 and we always had fun jamming together. I had switched to full synths by that time, and was firmly planted in the Ensoniq camp by then...

My next foray into arrangers was with the Roland E-09. I needed something quick and dirty that I could use as the principle music instrument for a band I was leading. I was able to MIDI a bunch of gear to it and made my sound huge. I was the band, providing all of the instruments for the singer(s) to sing over. I used it on the road for years and when I started my nursing home music ministry, it was the exclusive instrument I used at the homes. It had all of the styles I wanted, a good Roland piano sound, and a speaker system that did not mind being turned up all the way to minimize my having to bring external speakers to the homes.

Sometime during 2012, I ended up purchasing the Korg PA500. It was vastly different than the E-09 and I just did not connect with it, even though it sounded really good. I ended up getting rid of it and went back to the Roland E-09.

Fast forward to 2017 and I decided to get another arranger because the E-09 started sounding dated. I had actually bought another E-09 as a backup to the first unit, as I was playing around 80 nursing homes a month, I had the direct line to Roland, because I kept ordering extra buttons for the E-09 and was replacing them myself fairly often. I even had to replace the LCD screens in both units. I still have one of those E-09 arrangers in a case in the closet...

In September 2017, I bought the Korg PA700 and never looked back. I waited a few months before actually taking it out to the nursing homes, but once I did, it really opened up what I was able to do at the homes. The PA700 has turned into my main songwriting tool in the studio, still does the nursing home stuff, but is also the principle instrument for any duo/trio that I am in. I also use it for my solo music and it works very well.

I had considered the Ketron products as well, but support here in the USA is limited, as are available units to play. If I am going to spend that kind of money on the Audya or SD9, I really want to play it first before pulling the trigger. I am intrigued by the tech in the Ketron products, as I think that their live-backing stuff is really realistic sounding. I know that Yamaha has dabbled into using WAV files for guitar stuff and such, but Ketron really has a neat sound and I like how they sound.

The biggest limitation with most arrangers are the guitar sounds, especially when doing rock music. It is much different to use actual guitar riffs via WAV or whatever than to use a guitar sample and run that through an amp simulator. I like the live drums too that Ketron used, and the bass sounds. It is like having a real band in the box and you just put them together.

Even though the Korg PA700 does not do what the Ketron does with the backing sounds, I can still get good tones from it and my PA700 can rock with the best of them, in my opinion. The DNC stuff that Korg uses really helps with creating realism in the sounds.

I have experience with Yamaha arrangers too, but I always thought their sound was very canned and almost bland sounding compared to what I am using. Maybe it would be different if I had a Genos, but I do not think so. I have had friends who had Tyros arrangers and they LOVED them and their integration when producing commercials, jingles, etc...

If I had the $$ and availability of a Ketron product in my area, I would probably own one of those, maybe even instead of the PA700. With that said, I do not regret the purchase of the PA700 at all, and it has totally paid for itself many times over since I have owned it.

I am not experienced with Wersi, Orla or the other offerings out there from less well-known companies here in the states. I did own a Roland BK5 for a time, but when compared to the PA700, I ended up getting rid of the BK5, as it was too far underneath the feature set that I needed. I got spoiled by the touch screen of the PA700.

Some users in the Korg forum have complained about the feel of the keys on the PA700 and other Korg arrangers, and I guess I am a different type of user. Sure, the feel of a nice weighted keybed is preferred, but I can adapt to any keybed and play on them. Maybe it is all of my years on the road playing so many different synths, but I am not terribly picky. I do prefer a nicely weighted 88-key action for solo piano, but other than that, I guess I do not mind all that much.

With the above said about action, my favorite action is on my Lowrey (Kawai) digitla piano. It is so solid and just feels like butter under my fingers. I also have a couple of Korg Kross 88 synths and the action is good on those too, especially live. I also recently bought the Kurzweil SP1 and while the piano sounds on it are absolute crap, I LOVE the action on it. I also love the action on my trusty Ensoniq VFX-SD, but it is over 30 years old and well-worn. I do not mind the action on the PA700, M50, or Kross 61 units I have as well, but I would prefer to play the 88-key units, especially for piano. Again though, I am not terribly picky.

One of the worst actions I have played on was on the Roland VR-09. Since I was using it for Organ sounds, the lack of waterfall keys made really digging into the organ technique kind of difficult. I have a background with organ as well, and those waterfall keys really do help with organ technique.

Maybe I got off course a bit? Not sure. Even though I have a lot of stuff from the 'Big Three' companies, I also like products from the 'underdogs' because it seems like they have to try a bit harder...

Grace,
Harry
 

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