Looking for that perfect setup…


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I’m taking all the time I need to decide on what I really want now ;)
But it sure is not easy to find the right balance between the sounds I want and the keybed feel I’m looking for.

I already have a Korg Kross 2 88, and a Spider Pro stand. For a second tier, I’m still looking but I won’t spend too much on it since I will sell that combo in about a year as I will be moving permanently to my new appartment. Might go for a Numa Compact 2X, since the built-in speakers might come in handy and would save me having to buy another amp or set of monitor speakers ; will only play this combo occasionally, after all (I will be using my Laney AH150 for my main setup).

The real challenge, though, is finding a combination for my second Spider Pro and main setup.
I have upped my budget to a max of 6k euro, so I’ve got some breathing room (but it goes without saying that I don’t need to spend it all, of course :p ).
Been looking at all sorts of combinations, with varied looks and features (sounds are of the utmost importance, but so are looks - maybe it's because I work in graphic design).
What I would prefer, is a high quality 88-key weighted keyboard on the bottom tier, and a semi-weighted board with waterfall keys on the second - I might go for semi-weighted synth shaped keys but only if they’re of the highest quality, and so far, I haven’t played/tried any board with this type of keys that meets my expectations.
I want very good piano, EP, organ and eighties FM sounds (let’s say it’s going to be 50 to 60% piano and EP, and 40% for all the rest : Billy Joel, Elton John, The Doors, Queen, a little bit of classical music, etc. and mostly music from the sixties, seventies and eighties).
Before, I thought I wanted synths, hence my previous workstations, but I’m simply not into programming or tweaking sounds. I’m a fan of Queen and that arpeggiator from Radio Ga Ga, well, I wanted to reproduce that and other stuff like it, and thought that a workstation might help me do that. Of course, a workstation CAN do that, but it requires a lot of work and tweaks, something I’m just not prepared to do. Seeing Spike Edney demonstrate his Kronos made me drool, but ultimately, I’m not going to fall into the same trap again :D
I would be throwing my Macbook Pro in the mix somewhere as well, though, with Logic Pro X, if necessary.


Anyway, these combinations are my personal favorites (IMHO). I’m quite stubborn (as well as being a perfectionist) so persuading me to change the combinations is going to be quite a challenge ;)
Here goes (not in any specific order) :

1.
Korg Grandstage 88
Vox Continental 73

This is a combo I’ve been eyeing for a long time and it still appeals to me a great deal. Still, playing the SV-1 again has made me doubt about the Grandstage. The SV-1 is just so unbelievably cool looking, plus it's got the same keybed. Pity that there are quite a lot of reports of technical problems with the board (some keys that stop working, in some cases the board just completely locks up, etc.). It has been out for 10 years now and I don’t assume there will be any more software updates for it. The RH3 keybed is old, too, but still feels great (not the best, though). Still, best looking board of the lot, no competition and Korg has some of the best sounds around.

2.
Roland RD-2000
Roland VR-730

Yes, I know, I’ve owned the VR-730 and sent it back, but I kind of liked it. Perhaps it was the combination with the FA-08 that killed it for me. In any case, the reason I’m looking at the RD2000 is because of the keybed. Don’t like the look of the board too much, but it really is an excellent keybed, so I’m considering it again. Very good sounds, too (and lots of them). Only gripe is that it doesn’t look all that exciting and doesn’t invite you to play. As for Axial, it's nice, but even a top of the line board like the RD2000 only has 2 expansion slots available at one time, same as the older FA-08, if I recall correctly. That's a bit lame, isn't it ?

3.
Dexibell Vivo S9
Dexibell Combo J7

Liked it immediately, the looks and the hybrid wood keybed. Excellent sounds, too, and the motorised sliders are just that small touch of detail that oozes quality. Attention to detail is what's catching my eye. Pricey, but so is Nord…

4.
Nord Piano 4
Nord Electro 6D 73

I was looking at the Stage 3 first, have played it but didn’t like the keybed all that much; I guess my expectations were too high as this is top of the line board from Nord but since it's a do-it-all, it's safe to say you have to make compromises. Also, I might never even use the synth tweaking section. The Piano 4 is supposed to have a much better keybed so considering this one, but will have to try it out for myself first. Anyone here have a Piano 4 ?

5.
Nord Grand
Nord Electro 6D 73

Same board for the second tier, but this time with the Grand instead of the Piano 4. The Grand uses a Kawai keybed, hybrid wood/plastic that’s supposed to be like the one in the Kawai MP7SE. Haven’t tried it yet, but Pianoman Chuck is raving about it and hearing Kawai makes me hopeful...

6.
Kawai MP11SE

Can’t get this one out of my head, the keybed is just so good. No idea for a second tier, maybe some midi controller keyboard like the Arturia Keylab 61MkII of Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61 (apparently high quality keybeds, and both come with a huge sound library, but they’re still synth action, probably won’t like them)… Could be combined with a sound module, like the Dexibell Vivo SX7, or even the Roland Integra 7 (the number of sounds on this thing is probably overkill but it's not much more than the Dexibell SX7 which only has 80 sounds and some downloadable).
I’d have to return my second Spider Pro, though (got 3 weeks left), not ideal for this board. Not sure which one that will hold a second tier, and a laptop and some accessories.

7.
Kawai VPC1

Same as above, but just a MIDI controller with a slightly lighter board and slightly different keybed than the MP11SE.

8.
Kawai MP7SE

Haven’t played it, but gets raving reviews. Will have to try and compare it with the Nord Grand since they supposedly use the same keybed more or less.

9.
Viscount Physis Piano K4 EX

Have looked at this briefly, and from what I’ve read, this is really a professional, high quality piece of kit, but the keybed doesn’t seem to match the rest of the board. Haven’t played one, haven’t seen one anywhere in a store. Could combine it with the Integra 7 or Vivo SX7, and the Arturia Keylab 61 MKII. But it’s a bit of an odd one, don’t think I’ll bother looking into it further. Besides, the pro-level MIDI capabilities would be wasted on me...

10.
Studiologic Numa Concert
Studiologic Numa Organ 2

Cheaper, and apparently very good. The Numa Concert is supposed to have an excellent Fatar keybed and the Numa Organ gets nothing but positive feedback. Haven’t played them yet. Could also combine them with either of the aforementioned sound modules (of course, they both do have some internal sounds). Or I could go cheap and use the Logic Pro X sounds, but then I would dependant on my laptop for most of the time. The SL88 Grand could be an option as well.

11.
Arturia Keylab 88 MkII
Arturia Keylab 61 MkII

Two controllers, which come with an excellent sound library, and many more available (for a price, of course). Not sure about the keybeds, though, no idea which Fatar action is used...

12.
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61

Same as above..

Of course, there are other boards within my budget, like the Yamaha Montage and Korg Kronos and the likes, and they are unbelievable keyboards with amazing possibilities, but ultimately, they are way too complicated for my taste. And where's the Yamah CP88, you will ask. Well, it ticks most of the boxes, has very good sounds, and and excellent keybed, but I just can't get over the looks. It tries to be Nord like but it does it completely without style. Think I might try and lock myself in a room with it for a week and see if I can avoid getting nauseous :p. Joking, of course, it's not THAT bad, but still, it would take some real getting used to, and I don't think I've got the time ;)
And I haven’t mentioned Kurzweil : to be honest, don’t know what to make of it, they categorize their boards in a peculiar way on their site and you don’t really know what does what (workstations are obvious, but then you've got production stations, performance controllers... there seems to be some overlapping), except for the SP6 and SP1, which are obviously stage pianos. Their line-up is a bit confusing, in my opinion. The new PC4 seems like a good board but it’s a pity that they’re turning to plastic to lower the weight, it takes a hit on quality, I think. Still, the SP6 and PC4 are the only ones I would consider at this time as I feel the rest is getting on a bit. Not sure about those Medeli K6 keybeds either, there’s even less information about those than Fatar. Don't know. Somebody explain Kurzweil to me ?

So there. And I might stumble upon some other boards and/or combinations along the way, so the list may not be finished.
Of course, I’m going to read your input and feedback (if you’re still willing), but which I might ignore altogether, not making any promises :p

Also, I found this on Youtube :
It’s an older video but it’s not very promising for Fatar keybeds. I know you can’t generalise because Fatar keybeds are customized according to the board they’re used in, but still, makes you wonder.
Also, how to know which type of Fatar action is used in any particular board. Google can help but a lot of the times, you can’t find any info on this.

Anyway, my apologies for the lenghty post and I hope you will still have me after all my ‘shenanigans’ :D
 
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My choice for what you want is to go for the Nord Piano 4 in combination with your Juno.

Whilst I have had a play of one the look, feel and adjustments are all good for me. For my own use the 6D would be a better buy but even then it would come in second to a Korg PA4X.

Why not bite the bullet and get a Kronos, you want the best so go for it.

If the Kronos is not for you then i would then suggest that you give up on keyboards and take up wingsuit flying.
 
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My choice for what you want is to go for the Nord Piano 4 in combination with your Juno.

My Juno ?
Like the Piano 4, and it would make a great combo with a 6D, but haven't played it yet (it's Fatar, so I'm always suspicious about those). And want to try a Nord Grand first. But the Electro 6D with either a Grand or P4 from a very likely option.

For my own use the 6D would be a better buy but even then it would come in second to a Korg PA4X.

The PA700 and PA1000 weren't what I had expected, so what makes you think a PA4X would be any different ? The keybed of the PA1000 was better than that of the PA700, but still not very good. In any case, the difference between a Nord Electro 6D and a Kord PA4X couldn't be any bigger.

Why not bite the bullet and get a Kronos, you want the best so go for it.

Never buying a workstation again...

If the Kronos is not for you then i would then suggest that you give up on keyboards and take up wingsuit flying.

Have already been considering skydiving so I wouldn't be surprised...
 
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You might be better off to just open your own keyboard store. Then again, wingsuit flying might be the ultimate answer? Have you considered just upgrading headphones? Don
 
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I find that sometimes a small change can save you money and appease the GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). All musicians get GAS to some degree. - Don
 
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Do you actually read what member post to you?

I wrote in my response ..... For my own use the 6D would be a better buy but even then it would come in second to a Korg PA4X.

You replied.....The PA700 and PA1000 weren't what I had expected, so what makes you think a PA4X would be any different ?

I will post it again but highlighting the important part..... For my own use the 6D would be a better buy but even then it would come in second to a Korg PA4X.

I would not suggest any Arranger keyboard for you.

In fact I am now done responding to this thread.
 
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Have been trying out some stage pianos again and have finally chosen the one that I will be completely happy with. I wanted to do too much in the beginning, but now I'm concentrating on what's most important to me. I'm a pianist at heart, really, so there was only one choice : the Kawai MP11SE.

Just back from the store and tried a few stage pianos : Nord Piano 4, Kawai MP7SE and Kawai MP11SE, but really, there's no comparison.
To be honest, they've all got 'good' to 'very good' key action, but the MP11SE just blows them all away (IMHO). Out of the RD2000, CP88, MP7SE, Grandstage and Piano 4, I liked the Nord the least.
As for the Grand with the Kawai action : it has the same keybed as the MP7SE, an instrument that costs 1400 euro ; the Grand is nearly 3500. So, even though the Kawai keybed is customised by Nord, and you get access to the famous Nord Library, I don't feel it's worth the extra money. If the Nord had the Grand Feel action, same as the MP11SE, I might have considered it, but as it stands, the MP11SE is hard to beat at 2200 euro.
I'll probably get a semi-weighted board with waterfall keys as a second tier, though, since the MP11SE has no organ sounds, either the Roland VR-730 or the Nord Electro 6D 61 or 73 (I can't live without being able to play The Doors ;) ). I know the VR-730 has a good keybed, the 6D is Fatar, and that makes me nervous already. Not that Fatar has bad actions, they're just noisy. Plus the VR-730 has some very good sounds which would complement the Kawai perfectly. Have looked at Hammond SK1 and XK1c but for the price, better go for Nord, then. Haven't played the 6D, so no idea about the keybed. Anyone here who has played both the 6D and the VR-730 ?
Also, as for Nord, I've read something about using the sounds from a 5D 73 on a 88 key bottom tier being limited to 73 keys (i.e. the other 15 keys are silent). A software update fixed that, but even then, it seems that not all of the sounds of a 61 or 73 key board can be spread across a full 88-key keyboard.

Anyway, choice made, the right one this time. Will post my findings !
 
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