Don't ask about how the general midi banks sounds because it hasn't got one (THANK GOD!!). It has very realistic wind (trumpet, trombone, horm and sax sounds ('dirty sax' on my card bank is so real that I actually fooled some people at a gig last year!!!! the best sax in a synthe- even my sax playing friends are impressed!!!!). The oboes and clarinets are less successful but I love the flutes- very playable. The solo violin and cello are great but the string ensembles lack realism (this does not mean they sound bad- quite the opposite!). There are some great choir and voice sounds (clearly synthesized but beautiful sounding- the massed choirs make you melt!!). Both acoustic and electric guitars are great (I can't stop playing the steel and nylon patches when I run them through my Wavestation AD effects!). Basses are good (both electric and synthe- they really punch!). Electric pianos are the best I have heard from a synthe- I love the dry Rhodes sound! Of course, I believe that the spectrum of analogue pad and lead sounds this instrument can produce is trully amazing! I AB'ed (and c'd!) the Z1 with a Roland JP8000 and Yamaha AN1X and whilst these instruments clearly have their own sound and both sound good, the Z1 put both to shame with it's huge flexibility (Granted it is more expensive!). The real time controllers on the Z1 are great and all important parameters can easily be assigned to any of the 5 knobs underneath the green LCD display. There is also a bank of 14 real time knobs for real time filter and envelope shaping as well as switches for oscillator and filter select. To the left of the keyboard we find pich and modulation wheels and above that (this is what sold me on the Z1- besides it's sounds!) AN X/Y 'touchpad' Using this for real time control is trully FRIGHTENING. There are also 4 swiches for portemento- etc. Now I am going to give some advise to anyone considering purchasing this beautiful instrument- If you play it like a keyboard, don't expect to get any realism from the instruments that are supposed to sound real. USE THE REAL TIME CONTROLLERS AVAILABLE!!!!!! Play it like you are playing the actual instrument not a piano or organ!!!! Did I mention that whilst the factory organ sounds are not that good (except the pipe organs) editing and programming can yeild some great organ sounds. I must say in concluding that the only 2 groups of instruments that the Z1 can't produce are acoustic pianos and drums. Wouldn't it be great if Korg were able to allow us to add new structures to the oscillators?????
I will be getting the latest operating system upgrade (whatever it is). When I use mine with a sequencer, if I reset to the start of the song, the Z1 seems to have some of it's paramenters randomly changed which effects the sound. When I contacted Musiclink (Korg's Aussie distributor) I was told that this is a bug which can't be fixed becausee the main guy who designed the Z1 passed away and Korg won't be looking at it!!!!!! WHAT- The Z1 is still a current Korg Keyboard (December 1999). Lets hope they fix this up!!!!
If it were lost or stolen, I would definetly get another Z1 (or whatever Korg have planned to supercede it Z1pro perhaps?). I initially had no intention of buying one (not that I didn't want one, I just couldn't afford it!) but TECHNOLUST got the better of me and I got a great deal for one at a music shope sale. However even before this I compared the Z1 to the JP8000, AN1X and EX5 (all of which use physical modelling of some sort). They all make some nice sounds no doubt- but the Z1 is just so much more flexible (the EX5 VL and AN voices are only 1 and 2 note polyphonic respectively!). The Roland has 8 voice and the Yamaha 10 voice polyphony. The Roland and Yamaha only have one type of synthesis model (analogue) whilst the Z1 has 13 types!! In addition, it has a nice action 61 note keyboard verses the Roland 49 note (non aftertouch) and the Yamaha's 61 note (with plasticky action!). The Z1 sounds different to everything else I own (Except the MOSS board in my Triton!) It can sound warm and analogue or bright and digital with everything else in between. I feel that it's weakest link is in the way the effects are set up. ALSO WHY ONLY 2 OUTPUTS AT THE BACK????? At least 4 should have been there (it is multi-timbral afterall!). It would be great if Korg allowed you to expand on the oscillator types via software (mabey to add a drum emulation like the Roland V Drums!). However this board certainly inspires me to make music. I forget to mention the flexible multi patches (like combi's in other Korg instruments). I have been playing since 1980 and as well as co-owing a MIDI based studio I also teach piano and organ privately. The ZI is not a synthe that you would buy as you 'one and only' keyboard. It makes a fantastic 2nd (or 3rd.....) instrument and compliments my Triton, JV1080's and Wavestation's beautifully!!!! I rate this board very highly- And it looks great as well!!!!!