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  • Best workstation keyboard for composing...

    Hey guys. I have played piano since high school (am now 23) and was considering purchasing a keyboard to start composing my own music with. I would really like to compose film and videogame music, but I realize that the likelihood of achieving financial success composing ANY style of music is slim. Selecting from among the flagship keyboards (Korg M3, Roland Fantom-G, Kurzweil PC361, or Yamaha Motif XS) from the major equipment manufacturers, which workstation would you recommend for someone who is looking to compose in a diverse variety of musical genres?



    I have read several reviews of the Kurzweil PC361 which stated that its sounds were the most realistic of all the hardware keyboards. However, do you guys tend to agree or disagree with this assertion? Also, how would you assess its sequencer in terms of user-friendliness and severity of learning curve?



    Also, I actually do have a Roland Fantom-S that I obtained in 2004. But when I "got out" of music for a while, the keyboard essentially remained in storage (indoor, thankfully) for a number of years. However, before I decided to stop composing for a while, I noticed that the keyboard often wouldn't connect via USB to my computer; essentially, sometimes the connection would appear on my computer and most of the time it wouldn't. Additionally, whenever I would play it, the sound would often "go out" in one ear of my headphones/speakers. I'm not sure what actually happened to spur these two malfunctions.



    But that leads me to ask another question: are the sounds (in terms of realism) and technological capabilities of "modern" keyboards substantially improved enough to justify the purchase of a new workstation keyboard? I just figured that with the Fantom-S being based on such antiquated technology, I might as well buy a more recently-released model of whatever keyboard I end up choosing. Of course, I'll likely look into selling the Fantom-S and the SRX boards I have to help offset the cost of the new 'board. I will hopefully be starting graduate school this summer, and my plan is to actually transfer the remainder of the cost to my student loan balance (or just pay for the keyboard with money disbursed for "living expenses").



    Wow, that post ended up being a lot longer than I had originally intended for it to be. If there's anyone still reading who wasn't put to sleep by the last few paragraphs, I would appreciate any advice and suggestions you'd be willing to offer!



    I'd have to say that at this point, I'm considering the PC361, but my preference is definitely still subject to swaying.

  • #2
    pc361 is a highly regarded keyboard. but I must admit the keys are an acquired taste. and I hate it. please try it at a store. It retails at $1400 average and it's priced the best amongst its peers (XS, M3, fantom G)

    Comment


    • #3
      Try to find a used K2500 Kurzweil with sampling option. It should be enough for all your creativity.

      You will KNOW when you need to upgrade. Richard

      Comment


      • #4
        Take a look at the new Korg Kronos and decide if you want to wait for it to come out. Perhaps also consider that when it is released there might be a flood of second hand M3s on EBay. I would also consider an all-software instrument setup with a controller which could be your old Fantom just using the midi ports and a cheap midi interface.
        Gribs

        ...Music can be used to stimulate mass emotion, while mathematics cannot; and musical incapacity is recognized (no doubt rightly) as mildly discreditable, whereas most people are so frightened of the name of mathematics that they are ready, quite unaffectedly, to exaggerate their own mathematical stupidity.

        G.H. Hardy in A Mathematician's Apology (London 1941).

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for the replies that have been posted so far. Honestly, I would really just prefer to buy a "modern" board instead of a used older-model board. I wasn't aware of the Korg Kronos, so thanks for tipping me off to it, Gribs. I just did some brief research on it, and it sounds cutting-edge, but I'm curious (and I don't think this specification has been released yet)... will the Kronos have all-new sounds, or will it just be a combination of sounds culled from both the M3 and OASYS? If that's the case, I might as well get a PC361 if the sounds in the PC361 really are more realistic/natural than those in the M3 and OASYS. I do recognize the virtue in demoing each of the keyboards for myself and gaining a subjective perspective on each board's sounds, and I will hopefully do that this week.

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          • #6
            motif XS of course is the best.

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            • #7
              tremens, would you say that, in general, the sounds on the Motif XS are better than those on the PC361? I have heard a few people remark that the acoustic guitars on the Motif XS sound better than those on the PC361, but I haven't heard/seen many other comparisons.

              Comment


              • #8






                Quote Originally Posted by SpicedCider
                View Post

                tremens, would you say that, in general, the sounds on the Motif XS are better than those on the PC361? I have heard a few people remark that the acoustic guitars on the Motif XS sound better than those on the PC361, but I haven't heard/seen many other comparisons.




                yes, I have never heard so realistic acoustic instruments as in motif XS or XF.

                many demos on youtube.

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10Da0...28B11D18DBD40A

                Comment


                • #9
                  SpicedCider, what sounds are important to you? each board has is pros and cons

                  Comment


                  • #10






                    Quote Originally Posted by tremens
                    View Post

                    motif XS of course is the best.




                    I don't know if they fixed this on the Motif XS, but the solo orchestral sounds (strings, woodwinds, brass) of the ES and original Motifs have this awful, fake sounding vibrato that kicks in after about 1 second of sustain, making them all but useless. And you can't change it, since the vibrato is present AT THE WAVEFORM LEVEL. In other words, it's not a timed modulation setting in the patches. It's embedded in the raw waveforms. A terrible oversight.



                    I think the Motif has great pianos, EPs, guitars, basses, and drums, but if you're planning on writing orchestral pieces, Kurzweil (or even Korg) is a much better option. I say this as an owner of a PC3X, M3, and Motif.
                    Kronos, Fant.G8, PC3X, K2500RS, A6, Q, M3-61, Fant.X7, Motif 8, EX5(x2), V-Synth, K2000(x2), D50, JD800, JD990, JP8080, XP30, MC909, MC505, JX-10, JX-305, TR-707, Juno 1, DR-202, Radias, Triton Pro, Wavest. SR, EMX1, ESX1, ER-1, EA-1, R3, Poly 800, RS7000, FS1R (x2), RM1X, AN200, DX200, QY70, QY100, K5000S, OB-12, Maschine,ASR10,ASR88,ASR-X Pro, EPS,Virus B, Equinox,E-Mu XL-7,MiniAK, Synthstation,X-Station, XioSynth,TG33,Venom,V50,UltraNova,Z1,Spark,Moog LP Stage II, JP8000,Tetra,Supernova 2.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here are some YouTube examples illustrating the problem.



                      I'll also add that the *tone* of the Motif is good, and that most of the 'section' patches (i.e. string section, brass section, etc.) don't have this problem. But the solo instruments are another story. Somebody needs to tell Yamaha that vibrato is something you add manually as you play, with aftertouch or the mod wheel. Or at the very least, program it into the patch so that it can be altered to taste.



                      You might get away with playing pieces in allegro and leggiero, but playing pretty much anything in adagio or grave will not sound natural. Vibrato does not normally come out so early (and consistently) when sustaining a note at medium or slower tempos.








                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j05WrcaOedY








                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQjF12Gtrbw








                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3Biqdmk3fk
                      Kronos, Fant.G8, PC3X, K2500RS, A6, Q, M3-61, Fant.X7, Motif 8, EX5(x2), V-Synth, K2000(x2), D50, JD800, JD990, JP8080, XP30, MC909, MC505, JX-10, JX-305, TR-707, Juno 1, DR-202, Radias, Triton Pro, Wavest. SR, EMX1, ESX1, ER-1, EA-1, R3, Poly 800, RS7000, FS1R (x2), RM1X, AN200, DX200, QY70, QY100, K5000S, OB-12, Maschine,ASR10,ASR88,ASR-X Pro, EPS,Virus B, Equinox,E-Mu XL-7,MiniAK, Synthstation,X-Station, XioSynth,TG33,Venom,V50,UltraNova,Z1,Spark,Moog LP Stage II, JP8000,Tetra,Supernova 2.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Zoink, I don't see any problems with orchestral solo instruments.

                        Obviously you have to know how to play good vibrato to sound right,

                        the same as you would have to practice on real acoustic instrument.

                        Difference between motif ES and XS is huge so no sense to compare them.

                        Comment


                        • #13






                          Quote Originally Posted by tremens
                          View Post

                          Zoink, I don't see any problems with orchestral solo instruments.

                          Obviously you have to know how to play good vibrato to sound right,

                          the same as you would have to practice on real acoustic instrument.

                          Difference between motif ES and XS is huge so no sense to compare them.




                          But that's my point. The Motif (including the XS evidently) doesn't give you the chance to 'play' vibrato, since it's part and parcel of the raw waveforms. Your choices are to either play with brief sustain, or sound artificial.



                          As it happens, this is not the case with Kurzweil and Korg, and they sound correspondingly more realistic. The last of the videos posted above is all XS, and I'm still hearing vibrato kick in at about one second of sustain. It sounds even worse when you sustain multiple notes of the same solo instrument.



                          I think the XS sounds very lush and full -- especially the section patches -- but the vibrato on the solo instruments just grates on the ears.
                          Kronos, Fant.G8, PC3X, K2500RS, A6, Q, M3-61, Fant.X7, Motif 8, EX5(x2), V-Synth, K2000(x2), D50, JD800, JD990, JP8080, XP30, MC909, MC505, JX-10, JX-305, TR-707, Juno 1, DR-202, Radias, Triton Pro, Wavest. SR, EMX1, ESX1, ER-1, EA-1, R3, Poly 800, RS7000, FS1R (x2), RM1X, AN200, DX200, QY70, QY100, K5000S, OB-12, Maschine,ASR10,ASR88,ASR-X Pro, EPS,Virus B, Equinox,E-Mu XL-7,MiniAK, Synthstation,X-Station, XioSynth,TG33,Venom,V50,UltraNova,Z1,Spark,Moog LP Stage II, JP8000,Tetra,Supernova 2.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            OK sell the Fantom if you have not done so already. Buy the PC361 to get started. Also look into a good computer and DAW. Record the Kurz into the audio parts of the DAW and then find some interesting softsynth like Omnisphere to complement. Void this if you have these things or have done these things already.



                            If you are a MAC guy like me, Logic=GOOD DAW AND SOFTSYNTHS to BOOT use the KURZ to control.



                            The Kurz fully loaded is about 1,000 cheaper than a fully loaded Motif XF at this time. Buy from Sweetwater if you can.



                            The Kurz is not going to be your easiest workstation choice out there and the Motif has more on board insofar as grooves and presets, but if you ask me, Kurzweil has always had a purity to it's sound; plus the new board has a Virtual Analog synth BUILT IN!!!



                            Finally the PC361 has been heavily discounted due to unpopularity or for what ever reason. This has no reflection or meaning as to it's quality or sound. It is a PC3 through and through.



                            Good luck...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks for the advice, guys! To be honest, I'm kind of surprised that nobody has said, "You have a Fantom-S, so just stick with that," LOL. And after listening to demonstrations of various sounds on the PC361 and Motif ES, I can see -- er, hear -- why. One of the main problems with the Fantom is that, when you first turn on the keyboard, many of the sounds are fairly realistic. However, those sounds are also fancied up with often numerous FX that are largely responsible for "making" the realistic, polished sound. Once you turn on the sequencer, though, the sounds are more or less very naked and MIDI-sounding since the FX settings are not carried over when sequencing mode is entered... and the worst part is, you can only utilize a few FX settings while in sequencing mode (from what I remember). As a result, compositions in almost any style of music would sound very MIDI-ish and rudimentary because it simply wasn't possible to assign more than a couple FX settings, which ended up being assigned to one or two solo instruments. On top of that, having only 64 notes of polyphony made it a practical impossibility to compose orchestra music using a full spectrum of instruments (I.e., not just one or two orchestral pads) without notes noticeably dropping out.



                              I'm just afraid the minor technical issues (which I now am aware the old Fantoms are somewhat infamous for) in my keyboard will preclude me being able to sell the keyboard for more than a couple hundred dollars. :-(



                              @zoink - I do hear the forced vibrato sound of the Motif XS, and I agree that it sounds unnatural and would make string sounds stick-out in almost any piece -- and not in a good way. That was also an issue in the old Fantom-S.



                              @zzzxtreme - I would like to compose primarily orchestral music, some electronic music (house, dance -- not into rap), and whatever else would make me more likely to gain videogame/film composing jobs. But I realize that this is more of a pipedream than an aspiration that is likely to be realized. I would say that I will be composing MOSTLY orchestral music with the occasional dance-y track, although I am also a huge Lyle Mays/Pat Metheny fan and would also like to (attempt to) compose jazz fusion.



                              I can safely say, more or less, that I won't be composing any rap/hip-hop unless some kind of composing gig comes along.



                              @DJ RAZZ - To be honest with you, I would really prefer to just sequence on whatever keyboard I end up purchasing. I know it sounds old-fashioned and backwards to depend on a hardware sequencer, but I just really like the inclusiveness of having my entire music workstation contained within one piece of hardware. So unless there are some serious pitfalls with the sequencing capabilities of the Motif ES or the PC361 (the two boards I've more or less narrowed it down to), I probably won't be using any softsynths or computer-based sequencers or samples.

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