Roland RD-2000 vs Nord Stage 3


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Hey all,

Looking to purchase a new 88-note weighted keyboard with the following features:
  • A high quality selection of sounds across all categories – pianos, B3 organs, EP’s & Strings being most important but I need everything else too.
  • A Favourites feature for quick access to frequently used patches and performances (layers/splits).
  • 4-8 zones for splits & layers (8 is ideal but 4 is not a deal breaker).
  • Sound not cutting off when I changes patches/performances.
  • Ability to import my own samples would be useful but not a deal breaker if not available.
  • Easily configurable with external sources like MainStage.
I'm currently looking at the Roland RD-2000 and the Nord Stage 3. The Roland is more within my price range but I wanted to see if anyone has any experience/opinions on both of these models?

The Nord fixed split point thing seems rather limiting but I'd love some user opinions if anyone has any.

Finally how does the keyboard action compare between the two?

Thanks!
 
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Keyboard action depends upon the model, the Nord has three different actions. 73 with waterfall keys, 76 with light hammer weighted action and full hammer action on the 88. I have played both a 73 and a 76 and like the action of both, but if you look at reviews and comments Nord actions are not universally liked.

The RD2000 is c£1350 whereas the Nord Stage 3 is c£2750 so quite a high difference in price certainly here in the UK.

Whilst I have not played an RD2000 I have played an FP90 which has the same PHA50 action which I found to be very good and certainly it has a feel more suited for me.

You will have the 8 zones on the RD and it would probably be the better choice for integration with software instruments plus it is easily expandable.

I have played a Stage 3 and liked the feel of the keys and the sounds, the range of on the fly adjustments available are typical Nord, performance orientated.

If I was considering spending so much cash on a Nord then I would definately be looking at other keyboards in this price range, namely Roland Fantom and Korg Kronos.
 
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Cannot comment on the features but as far as the keybed is concerned, the RD2000 beats the Stage 3 88 hands down... The Fantom 8 that Biggles suggest also has the PHA50 keybed, same as the RD2000.
And yes, the RH3 keybed from Korg (Kronos 88, Grandstage, etc) is also better than the Fatar keybed in the Nord.
These are my personal opinions, mind you.
I'm not saying Fatar keybeds are crap, and they're used in other brands as well (Dexibell, for one), but for the premium price one pays for a Nord (and Dexibell for that matter), one would expect a premium keybed as well. For one thing, the highly rated Nord sound library on its own does not justify the high price tag of the boards (in my humble opinion).

The RD2000 is high quality instrument and ticks all of your boxes, I believe (I don't have any personal experience with Mainstage, but as far as I knkow, the RD2000 has extensive midi capabilities), plus it has multifunctional sliders, giving you actual drawbars when you need them. Only problem might be the sounds : lots of people don't like Roland's Supernatural modelling engine. Personally, I don't have any problem with either sampling or modelling.
 
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Looking to purchase a new 88-note weighted keyboard with the following features:
  • A high quality selection of sounds across all categories – pianos, B3 organs, EP’s & Strings being most important but I need everything else too.
  • A Favourites feature for quick access to frequently used patches and performances (layers/splits).
  • 4-8 zones for splits & layers (8 is ideal but 4 is not a deal breaker).
  • Sound not cutting off when I changes patches/performances.
  • Ability to import my own samples would be useful but not a deal breaker if not available.
  • Easily configurable with external sources like MainStage
Discussing those 6 bullets just from the Nord perspective:

1. Nord is excellent for pianos and organs, above average for EPs, okay for strings.

2. Nord has 5 patch select buttons which can be used in different ways. For a fixed set of favorites, you could use them for 5 favorites that can each be selected with a single button press, or 25 favorites that can each be selected with two button presses. You can also navigate to different sets of 5 or 25 favorite sounds.

3. Nord lets you split/layer up to 2 piano sounds (includes related instruments like clav and EP), 2 organ sounds, 2 other internal sounds, and 2 external sounds (from another attached device you may have), for up to 8 sounds total, sharing up to 3 split points. But there is no way to (for example) split/layer three internal sounds that don't include some kind of piano or organ, the max is two. IOW, zoning/splits/layers is not its strength. It is consistent with Nord's general approach... make it easy to do the things that are most commonly needed, but often impossible to do the things that are not. Splitting/layering a small number of sounds? Easy. Splitting/layering a ton of sounds? Impossible.

4. Sound does not cut off when when changing programs (what you refer to as a patch or performance), however sound CAN cut off when changing a sound WITHIN a program (i.e. turning different split/layered sounds on and off WITHOUT going to a different program).

5. Among boards where you can import your own custom samples, Nord probably does it most easily. However, you are limited to single-velocity samples (you can't trigger different samples at different velocities).

6. If you mean having the Nord control Mainstage sounds, a Nord program can include up to two external (in this case Mainstage) sounds addressable on different MIDI channels. If you mean having Mainstage control the Nord, Mainstage can recall Nord Programs, or treat it as a 2-sound multi-timbral sound source (by treating each panel separately, each panel having up to three internal sounds... one piano, one organ, and one other).

And yes, the RH3 keybed from Korg (Kronos 88, Grandstage, etc) is also better than the Fatar keybed in the Nord.
These are my personal opinions, mind you.
For a different personal opinion... I think the 88 key Nord Stage 3 action is a lot better than the Kronos RH3. (But I feel different about different models. The 76 key Nord Stage 3 doesn't feel nearly as good as the 88; the RH3 in the Korg SV1 feels a lot better than the implementation in the Kronos.)

That said, Kronos is still a strong option for the OP to consider. I'd personally rank them this way, in terms of the OP's sonic priorities:

PIANO: All three are good. I happen to like Nord best, but this is very subjective, and someone else could easily prefer Korg or Roland.
B3 ORGAN: Nord best, then Kronos, with Roland in last place.
EP: Kronos best, then Nord, with Roland in last place.
STRINGS/ORCHESTRAL INSTRUMENTS: Kronos and Roland beat Nord.

The Roland Fantom has the best Mainstage integration, but so far, does not support importing custom samples.

I'd also consider taking a look at the Kurzweil Forte and PC4. I think that's another option that beats the Roland in organ, EP, and possibly strings. PC4 is very well priced and is lightest to carry around of all the options mentioned, though Forte has the better action and better piano/EP compared to the PC4 (though both are good for piano/EP). Purgatory Creek makes some very nice additional EPs you can download into the Kronos and Kurzweils.
 
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It all depends what your priorities are. I'm not versed in midi and DAW capabilities but if you want the best action, then it's the RD2000.

Next up (or rather, down) is Korg's RH3 (I agree with anotherscott that the implementation in the Kronos is less 'pianistic' than in the SV1 (and also in the Grandstage, and SV2, and D1, probably because the Kronos has aftertouch and the Kronos is a 'do-it-all' workhorse) ; the Fatar is up there (or I should say, down there) with the likes of Yamaha's GHS and Korg's NH, and with the Medeli K6 action that you'll find in the Kurzweil SP6 and PC4.

I'm very particular about piano action, and although Korg's RH3 is not considered to be 'ideal' for piano, I still rank ik just below Roland's PHA50 and Kawai's RHIII (not to be confused with Korg's RH3). I don't like Fatar keybeds, but you've already gathered that.
Yamaha's NW(X) keybeds are also really good but I don't know of any workstations that have them, only stage and portable pianos, and I don't think that either the P515 or the CP88 would be options for you...
 
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the Fatar is up there (or I should say, down there) with the likes of Yamaha's GHS and Korg's NH, and with the Medeli K6 action that you'll find in the Kurzweil SP6 and PC4.
Again, I think you need to distinguish the models. I'd say that the Fatar in the Nord Stage 3-88 (a TP40 variant) is better than any of those others you mentioned, whereas the Fatar TP100 you'll find in some other boards is more in that other category.
 
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Again, I think you need to distinguish the models. I'd say that the Fatar in the Nord Stage 3-88 (a TP40 variant) is better than any of those others you mentioned, whereas the Fatar TP100 you'll find in some other boards is more in that other category.

My bad, then. I was under the impression that the Piano 4 had the TP40 and the NS3 the TP100. Would be more logical to give the 'piano focused' model the better keybed...
 
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Interesting about the action. Here's what Kurzweil Australia said about the PC4 action when I asked about the PC4 vs the PC3K8.

  • PC4 Action: RPHA: Real Piano Hammer Action / 88-note, fully-weighted hammer-action with velocity and aftertouch sensitive adjustable keys
  • PC3K8 Action: 88-note, fully-weighted hammer-action, with velocity and aftertouch sensitive keys, featuring a quick release spring, striking an ideal balance of playability between piano type parts and synth/organ parts. (Fatar TP40L)
So the PC4 action is kinda similar to Yamaha GHS action?
 
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Cannot comment on the features but as far as the keybed is concerned, the RD2000 beats the Stage 3 88 hands down... The Fantom 8 that Biggles suggest also has the PHA50 keybed, same as the RD2000.
And yes, the RH3 keybed from Korg (Kronos 88, Grandstage, etc) is also better than the Fatar keybed in the Nord.
These are my personal opinions, mind you.
I'm not saying Fatar keybeds are crap, and they're used in other brands as well (Dexibell, for one), but for the premium price one pays for a Nord (and Dexibell for that matter), one would expect a premium keybed as well. For one thing, the highly rated Nord sound library on its own does not justify the high price tag of the boards (in my humble opinion).

The RD2000 is high quality instrument and ticks all of your boxes, I believe (I don't have any personal experience with Mainstage, but as far as I knkow, the RD2000 has extensive midi capabilities), plus it has multifunctional sliders, giving you actual drawbars when you need them. Only problem might be the sounds : lots of people don't like Roland's Supernatural modelling engine. Personally, I don't have any problem with either sampling or modelling.
Yeah I hear you. One thing that's turning me off about the RD-2000 is that many of the sounds are 20+ years old and are just sounding tired next to some of the newer instruments e.g. the Yamaha Montage. I'm not sure I want to pay that much for sounds that just haven't gotten any better.

I do like the action on the RD series (haven't played an RD-2000 yet) but I'm really not sure it's worth it for those average sounds.
 
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Discussing those 6 bullets just from the Nord perspective:

1. Nord is excellent for pianos and organs, above average for EPs, okay for strings.

2. Nord has 5 patch select buttons which can be used in different ways. For a fixed set of favorites, you could use them for 5 favorites that can each be selected with a single button press, or 25 favorites that can each be selected with two button presses. You can also navigate to different sets of 5 or 25 favorite sounds.

3. Nord lets you split/layer up to 2 piano sounds (includes related instruments like clav and EP), 2 organ sounds, 2 other internal sounds, and 2 external sounds (from another attached device you may have), for up to 8 sounds total, sharing up to 3 split points. But there is no way to (for example) split/layer three internal sounds that don't include some kind of piano or organ, the max is two. IOW, zoning/splits/layers is not its strength. It is consistent with Nord's general approach... make it easy to do the things that are most commonly needed, but often impossible to do the things that are not. Splitting/layering a small number of sounds? Easy. Splitting/layering a ton of sounds? Impossible.

4. Sound does not cut off when when changing programs (what you refer to as a patch or performance), however sound CAN cut off when changing a sound WITHIN a program (i.e. turning different split/layered sounds on and off WITHOUT going to a different program).

5. Among boards where you can import your own custom samples, Nord probably does it most easily. However, you are limited to single-velocity samples (you can't trigger different samples at different velocities).

6. If you mean having the Nord control Mainstage sounds, a Nord program can include up to two external (in this case Mainstage) sounds addressable on different MIDI channels. If you mean having Mainstage control the Nord, Mainstage can recall Nord Programs, or treat it as a 2-sound multi-timbral sound source (by treating each panel separately, each panel having up to three internal sounds... one piano, one organ, and one other).


For a different personal opinion... I think the 88 key Nord Stage 3 action is a lot better than the Kronos RH3. (But I feel different about different models. The 76 key Nord Stage 3 doesn't feel nearly as good as the 88; the RH3 in the Korg SV1 feels a lot better than the implementation in the Kronos.)

That said, Kronos is still a strong option for the OP to consider. I'd personally rank them this way, in terms of the OP's sonic priorities:

PIANO: All three are good. I happen to like Nord best, but this is very subjective, and someone else could easily prefer Korg or Roland.
B3 ORGAN: Nord best, then Kronos, with Roland in last place.
EP: Kronos best, then Nord, with Roland in last place.
STRINGS/ORCHESTRAL INSTRUMENTS: Kronos and Roland beat Nord.

The Roland Fantom has the best Mainstage integration, but so far, does not support importing custom samples.

I'd also consider taking a look at the Kurzweil Forte and PC4. I think that's another option that beats the Roland in organ, EP, and possibly strings. PC4 is very well priced and is lightest to carry around of all the options mentioned, though Forte has the better action and better piano/EP compared to the PC4 (though both are good for piano/EP). Purgatory Creek makes some very nice additional EPs you can download into the Kronos and Kurzweils.
Thanks for your replies, everyone.

How do you find the Kurzweil pianos? Ready to go out-of-the-box? Or do you find they need some tweaking? It all comes down to personal taste, I know.

Also the Kurzweil Forte doesn't seem to ship with a heap of factory sounds. Is there much scope for loading your own into it?
 
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So the PC4 action is kinda similar to Yamaha GHS action?
Yes, I would say that it's in the same general range. Though even some GHS actions feel different from some others.

Also the Kurzweil Forte doesn't seem to ship with a heap of factory sounds. Is there much scope for loading your own into it?
Yes, Forte has 3.3 GB of space to load your own samples, and about 3000 empty program locations you can fill. You can also load programs from other Kurzweil models into it. ksetlist.com is a good resource for this kind of thing.
 
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I do like the action on the RD series (haven't played an RD-2000 yet) but I'm really not sure it's worth it for those average sounds.

Fair enough. Only you can decide where your priorities are, action or sound. You can always add sounds with virtual instruments, you cannot swap out the keybed...
But it's a fact that if you want both an advanced workstation AND good key action, it's going to cost you. I'd say Kronos 2 88, or the new Fantom 8, which is even more expensive than the almighty Kronos.
 
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How does everyone rate the Yamaha Montage 8? I think for what I want, including great variety & quality of sounds that aren't the same old tired Roland sounds) I might have to compromise on weight and consider it. I do love the Montage but I was hoping for something a little lighter to lug.
 
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Interesting about the action. Here's what Kurzweil Australia said about the PC4 action when I asked about the PC4 vs the PC3K8.

  • PC4 Action: RPHA: Real Piano Hammer Action / 88-note, fully-weighted hammer-action with velocity and aftertouch sensitive adjustable keys
  • PC3K8 Action: 88-note, fully-weighted hammer-action, with velocity and aftertouch sensitive keys, featuring a quick release spring, striking an ideal balance of playability between piano type parts and synth/organ parts. (Fatar TP40L)
So the PC4 action is kinda similar to Yamaha GHS action?

The GHS is not the greatest action, it is the Standard level keybed fitted to the lower end of Yamaha’s keyboards. It is the variants like GH3 that are improved versions with quicker rebound.

Can you explain what your usage of the keyboard is intended to be?

The musical styles you want to play?

The interaction that you seek with other equipment?

Instrument voices you primarily will be using?

There is quite a lot of discussion on hammer action, but fully weighted keys and organs/synths are not usually considered a good blend.
 
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There is quite a lot of discussion on hammer action, but fully weighted keys and organs/synths are not usually considered a good blend.

That's true. I guess the keybed that would offer the best 'blend' without compromising too much on 'real piano' action would be Korg's RH3. But I'm kind of enamoured with that particular keybed :p
The PHA50 is really good for piano, but I feel it's not that well suited for synth.
 
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One thing that's turning me off about the RD-2000 is that many of the sounds are 20+ years old and are just sounding tired next to some of the newer instruments e.g. the Yamaha Montage. I'm not sure I want to pay that much for sounds that just haven't gotten any better.
As mentioned earlier for other reasons, if you go with Roland, the new Fantom may be the one you want to look at. It's the one you'll still see new sounds coming out for. Though it's almost as heavy as a Montage 8.

How does everyone rate the Yamaha Montage 8?
Great board, though lagging behind most of the others in B3 organ. It is almost as expensive as the Nord Stage 3-88 you're considering, stronger in some ways and weaker in others.

I do love the Montage but I was hoping for something a little lighter to lug.
MODX has the same sounds, but only the GHS action and some other missing features. The seamless transitions you care about work for combinations of up to 4 parts, rather than the 8 of the Montage.

It is the variants like GH3 that are improved versions with quicker rebound.
While most people feel the GH3 action is better than GHS, I'm not sure I'd say the rebound is any quicker. It's actually a bit heavier feeling, overall.

fully weighted keys and organs/synths are not usually considered a good blend.
That's true. I guess the keybed that would offer the best 'blend' without compromising too much on 'real piano' action would be Korg's RH3.
I don't think the RH3 is good for organ at all. If you want a hammer action board that is about as good as such a board can get for organ, I'd say the best is the TP40L used in the Forte. Also above average is the slightly heavier TP40 variant used in the Nord Stage 3 88, and the action in the Kawai MP7 (I haven't yet played the newer MP7SE which has a different action).

Getting back to the OP, have you considered buying two boards? Then you can get an action more suited for piano AND an action more suited for organ. It may also be a way to get everything you want at less total cost than some of the other options mentioned, and/or less total travel weight. Or even if total weight goes up, it's still easier to move two lighter boards than it is to move a single 60+ lb board like a Montage or Fantom 88 (and remember you have to add the weight of the travel cases, too).... though none of the boards with the best piano actions are especially light. One way to help address that a little could also be to consider a 7x-key hammer action board. If you have a whole second board at your disposal, you may find you can more easily get away with 7x rather than 88 keys on your piano board, i.e. if much of the reason you wanted 88 was to have the available real estate for splits rather than because you needed all 88 keys for piano. You could also start with just one board, but with an eye toward adding the second in the future, which may make some of the compromises involved in choosing a single board less onerous.
 
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Music Bird

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I'd rate the RD-2000 great just because of the old sounds since I always preferred dated sounds to trendy ones. Plus my band got to use one and it had a great organ sound.
For 2 keyboards I'd recommend the Fantom X7 and Montage 8. One may be older but it still sounds good.
 

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