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  • Kurzweil PC361: First impressions of a new owner

    Disclaimer: the following are the initial impressions by a Kurzweil newb. I've always been intrigued by Kurzweil's reputation, but had never been able to try one out. I took advantage of the latest blow-out prices from Nova Musik and it arrived on Friday.

    First impressions are very positive: It looks great. It has a solid metal casing, top and bottom; nicely compact. The screen is nice and bright. Sliders and buttons feel solid too. The slider caps feel ever so slightly rubberized for an easy grip. Including a sustain pedal was a great idea and very useful out of the box.

    Keybed
    I was most concerned about whether the non-weighted synth keybed would be to my liking, after using an original Motif then a Triton for the last 10 years. This will be my main midi controller too, so a good keybed is important to me. I needn't have worried. The keybed is different but has a high quality feel. In fact I think Kurzweil do themselves a disservice by saying it's not semi-weighted. How is it different to the Triton, then? It's shallower (the keys don't press down quite as far); It's much quieter (the Triton clunks loudly, the PC361 "rattles" gently); It's fast, and without the bounce-back the Triton has. The aftertouch is especially easy to control. It doesn't trigger accidentally, and doesn't require finger-breaking pressure to make it work either. I'm happy so far. I will see how accurately it outputs midi velocity when I hook it up to Logic next week.

    Updating the OS
    It had a really early OS version (0.63?) so before spending too much time playing around, I upgraded to the latest, v2.0.3. The instructions seemed daunting (about 20 steps) but in practice it was very clear and easy via USB cable and went very smoothly. It was done and rebooted in a couple of mins.

    Sounds
    Program mode: It took me a long time to audition them, as I spent a lot of time playing each one. I like that everything is very musical, no filler, no flashy sounds to sell the synth that are unusable in real music and take up ROM slots after sale. Just well programmed and nicely detailed bread and butter sounds.

    I was surprised that the mod wheel didn't seem to be set to do anything on a lot of sounds. The sliders also didn't do anything on the sounds when I remembered to try them. (I was more interested in just playing yesterday, so I'll go back and be more thorough). I was expecting them to control filter cut-off, ADSR perhaps. A good place to start tweaking maybe. I realize not all sound with have a Filter+ADSR structure in VAST.

    I'm excited about using the orchestral sounds in something very soon. Beautiful strings and so many variations. The VA sounds were very striking. There's something really cutting and sharp about them that took me by surprise. Can't wait to see how they fit in a mix and start making some more of my own. A very different sound to the VSTs I've been using. There are a LOT of drum kits that I probably won't ever use, but that's not to say they are bad. Some kits are GM mapped, some aren't, which is a little strange and will be harder to swap between them. Toontrack EZDrummer is my goto for drums at the moment. I didn't hear anything to beat that yet.

    Setup mode: these sounds confused me. I almost expected to find them blank, all ready to put together some layers, splits, etc. of my own. But there are quite a few pre-programmed sounds in there. Are they meant to be useful or just to demonstrate how to use setups? They seemed random and not completely "finished." In some, drum loops and arps start randomly, and don't follow the chords I'm playing. Sections of the keyboard are sometimes blank. Maybe this is one of those moments when I'm carrying over expectations from previous synths, but I expected the arps to match the chords I was playing, and to "hold" (continue) when I lift my hands, etc. More like Triton Combis? It's not a big deal. This arranger-type stuff isn't what I need or will use them for. But maybe I'm missing something about them?

    Navigation quirks
    You can tell that the navigation system hasn't evolved with growth of included sounds. The 2 base banks make full use of the dedicated category buttons, e.g. press Base 1 > Strings > Programs 1-8. It's a simple way to quickly find a sound. But the other 5-6 banks don't have pianos, e-pianos, drums, percussion, etc. so these dedicated category buttons are kinda pointless for the majority of sounds available. They still work, but you have no idea what you'll get. On the Triton the sounds have a category and get grouped together by that category when browsing. It's a small thing to draw attention to, but that's a lot of buttons on the front panel that will mostly go unused and if I'm looking for a piano sound I have to search around in several banks to find them all... and will likely miss many options along the way.

    The User bank can't be selected. I'm going to assume for now that's because I haven't created any of my own patches yet

    Next steps
    I'll report back when I've used it as a controller with Logic, and tried programming some new sounds. I've also downloaded the editor software and will try that out also.

    So far I feel like I got a hell of a lot of synth for $969!
    Music: http://soundcloud.com/neil-ramshaw
    Current gear: Yamaha CP-5, Kurzweil PC361, Logic Pro, Native Instruments Komplete, Korg Legacy, Arturia VCollection, RealGuitar, Toontrack EZdrummer.
    Past glories: Moog Rogue, Roland MC-202, Roland Juno 1, Korg Wavestation, EMU E6400, Yamaha Motif 6, Korg Triton.

  • #2
    How did you like the eps and aps.

    Comment


    • #3
      Some kits are GM mapped, some aren't, which is a little strange and will be harder to swap between them.


      There is a setting to make them all GM mapped I think. Hahaha, I've owned 3 of these things but I can't recall where that is off of the top of my head.
      Keyboards: Roland Fantom G6 (2); Korg Kronos 61; Muse Receptor VIP; Nord Electro 3; Privia PX-350Guitar Stuff: Route 101 Solimar; Line 6 POD X3 Live, Pocket POD (2)

      Comment


      • #4
        Master->MAPS->DrumRemap: GM
        If you need a KSP script, e-mail me! Depending on amount of work, the price can be arranged!

        Folio: Zero-G - Animato | Sonokinetic - Tigris & Euphrates - Desert Voice - Carousel - Toccata - Voices Of Israel - EMP - FE | Hollow Sun - HSDV Drum Synthesiser - Music Laboratory Machines Series - RMI Electrapiano

        Comment


        • #5
          I played a Kurzweil PC361 for the first time this past winter NAMM, and I must say, it was the highlight of my first NAMM visit. Thanks for your small review, and will look forward to hearing about your workflow with Logic! Cheers!

          Comment


          • #6
            I was so close to get PC361, so just to twist the knife in the wound a bit more, how does the key feel compare to Korg M3? And does Tritons keys compare to Z1's(I haven't touched Triton).
            I am wanting, I am thinking
            To arise and go forth singing,
            Sing my songs and say my sayings,
            Hymns ancestral harmonizing,
            Lore of kindred lyricking.
            In my mouth the words are melting;
            Utterances overflowing
            To my tongue are hurrying,
            Even against my teeth they burst.

            Comment


            • #7
              I was so close to get PC361, so just to twist the knife in the wound a bit more, how does the key feel compare to Korg M3?


              I was told the PC361 has the same keybed as the K2661. If that is indeed a fact, I can tell you first hand the Korg M3's keybed is superior as I have played both at a friend's studio.
              Too many keyboards, not enough music.

              Comment


              • #8
                I was told the PC361 has the same keybed as the K2661. If that is indeed a fact, I can tell you first hand the Korg M3's keybed is superior as I have played both at a friend's studio.


                Phew! From peoples descriptions I imagined its weightlesness might feel a bit like M3, which I love(even, when I typically prefer a bit more resistance)! Can Alesis Fusion owners confirm this? Doesn't it have the same keys, than PC361? How does it compare to M3?
                I am wanting, I am thinking
                To arise and go forth singing,
                Sing my songs and say my sayings,
                Hymns ancestral harmonizing,
                Lore of kindred lyricking.
                In my mouth the words are melting;
                Utterances overflowing
                To my tongue are hurrying,
                Even against my teeth they burst.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Master->MAPS->DrumRemap: GM


                  A-ha! Thanks for the tip.
                  Music: http://soundcloud.com/neil-ramshaw
                  Current gear: Yamaha CP-5, Kurzweil PC361, Logic Pro, Native Instruments Komplete, Korg Legacy, Arturia VCollection, RealGuitar, Toontrack EZdrummer.
                  Past glories: Moog Rogue, Roland MC-202, Roland Juno 1, Korg Wavestation, EMU E6400, Yamaha Motif 6, Korg Triton.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How did you like the eps and aps.


                    I like them. Kinda what I expected from a sample based workstation. I didn't think wow, but I also have a Yamaha CP5 so I didn't spend too much time on these sounds yet.
                    Music: http://soundcloud.com/neil-ramshaw
                    Current gear: Yamaha CP-5, Kurzweil PC361, Logic Pro, Native Instruments Komplete, Korg Legacy, Arturia VCollection, RealGuitar, Toontrack EZdrummer.
                    Past glories: Moog Rogue, Roland MC-202, Roland Juno 1, Korg Wavestation, EMU E6400, Yamaha Motif 6, Korg Triton.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I was so close to get PC361, so just to twist the knife in the wound a bit more, how does the key feel compare to Korg M3? And does Tritons keys compare to Z1's(I haven't touched Triton).


                      I've not played an M3 or Z1. My references are Korg Wavestation, Yamaha Motif 6, Korg Triton (Classic Pro). It's different from all of these, but not in a bad way. I imagine the Z1 would be similar to the Wavestation? But I don't know that for sure.
                      Music: http://soundcloud.com/neil-ramshaw
                      Current gear: Yamaha CP-5, Kurzweil PC361, Logic Pro, Native Instruments Komplete, Korg Legacy, Arturia VCollection, RealGuitar, Toontrack EZdrummer.
                      Past glories: Moog Rogue, Roland MC-202, Roland Juno 1, Korg Wavestation, EMU E6400, Yamaha Motif 6, Korg Triton.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I imagine the Z1 would be similar to the Wavestation? But I don't know that for sure.


                        They really aren't. The are worlds apart. Both are good in very different ways - I love the Z1, and also used to have a Wavestation EX back in the mid nineties and it was great back then, but can't see myself ever buying one again. It just sounds so 1993 almost no matter what you do with it. I also have the Legacy Collection version, and it gets very little use (but I've started to use the Legacy Poly Six again - and hey, it's pretty good! but that's another story bla bla bla)...

                        ...
                        Selected Gearlist: Yamaha PSR-760, 3 meter long Hosa stereo cable (jack to phono).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Phew! From peoples descriptions I imagined its weightlesness might feel a bit like M3, which I love(even, when I typically prefer a bit more resistance)! Can Alesis Fusion owners confirm this? Doesn't it have the same keys, than PC361? How does it compare to M3?


                          I don't think so, the Fusion is semi-weighted.

                          I do like the M3/Kronos 61 keybed better than the Fusion's though. Not that the Fusion is that bad, but the Korg is clearly superior here.
                          http://www.reverbnation.com/christianschulze

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            They really aren't. The are worlds apart. Both are good in very different ways - I love the Z1, and also used to have a Wavestation EX back in the mid nineties and it was great back then, but can't see myself ever buying one again. It just sounds so 1993 almost no matter what you do with it. I also have the Legacy Collection version, and it gets very little use (but I've started to use the Legacy Poly Six again - and hey, it's pretty good! but that's another story bla bla blah


                            Sorry if I wasn't clear. I was only referring to the possibility that the same keybed might have been used in both keyboards. I loved my Wavestation all througth the 90s, and only sold it out of necessity when I moved from the UK to the US. I have the Legacy Collection also, and love it to get some of those shimmery, moving sounds now and then.
                            Music: http://soundcloud.com/neil-ramshaw
                            Current gear: Yamaha CP-5, Kurzweil PC361, Logic Pro, Native Instruments Komplete, Korg Legacy, Arturia VCollection, RealGuitar, Toontrack EZdrummer.
                            Past glories: Moog Rogue, Roland MC-202, Roland Juno 1, Korg Wavestation, EMU E6400, Yamaha Motif 6, Korg Triton.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sorry if I wasn't clear. I was only referring to the possibility that the same keybed might have been used in both keyboards. I loved my Wavestation all througth the 90s, and only sold it out of necessity when I moved from the UK to the US. I have the Legacy Collection also, and love it to get some of those shimmery, moving sounds now and then.


                              Don't worry about. I've obviously lost my ability to read. I can only blame the fact that I've been pretty busy lately....
                              Selected Gearlist: Yamaha PSR-760, 3 meter long Hosa stereo cable (jack to phono).

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