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In need of advice.

In need of advice.
« on: February 02, 2019, 03:32:24 PM »
Hello all!

I currently have a 61 key Krome as my only keyboard.  I recently took up the piano as I was tired of just noodling on the synth.  I am mainly playing baroque and classical pieces and this has led to running out out of keys rather quickly. 

As much as I am learning older pieces, I am still interested in the modern as well as I want to get into analogue synthesis and sound design.

So here is my conundrum:  do I get an 88 key synth such as the Kronos, all be it used (have seen one selling as b-stock complete with warranty), or should I go with a less expensive stage piano and use the savings to get a Prophet Rev2?

For the 88 key board I would like to get as close to the feel of an acoustic piano as I can.  I am not much of an N+1 person and my wallet cannot afford much GAS so 2 boards is pretty much all the room I have available for the moment. 


Re: In need of advice.
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2019, 03:41:06 PM »
If the 88 keys are essential to you and if you like to use a piano action keyboard for all purposes, you can also consider to just add a Rev2 module, which is more affordable compared to the keyboard version. The synth engine is the same.

Re: In need of advice.
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2019, 05:50:24 PM »
Food for thought.  Thank you.  though I will say that up here in Canada the module is only barely $300 less than the one with the keys. 

Re: In need of advice.
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2019, 05:08:31 PM »
My .02.  You didn't say whether the keyboards are primarily live use or in a home studio.  That can make a big difference of how to move forward.  If it is for live use, weight is seriously important.  Find a light 88 key instrument, and put up with the not-so-perfect keyboard action.  Then put modules around it.  Your back with thank you.  For live, I use a Yamaha MX-61, and take the P-12 module with me.  I have an 88 key Casio, but I gravitate to the MX-61 primarily for weight reasons.  The Casio is about 30 pounds, and the MX-61 is 6.  It's a big difference for me and my old back.

Assuming home studio, I would start with a keyboard which you would use as your main controller.  Weight is not really important in that environment.  The Kronos would be a good choice.  Start building around that keyboard.  Once you have that instrument, it is not going to matter so much whether you get modules or keyboard versions surrounding it.  You will probably use the main keyboard as the controller regardless. 

The Kronos is really first rate.  However, you may want to investigate the Montage too.  The Montage is more synthesizer oriented than the Kronos.  Pluses and minuses for each instrument.  Like you, the key bed feel is very important to me.  The Montage 88 key bed is the most piano like of any electronic instrument I have played.     So, it is worth looking at.  I bought mine "used" at Guitar Center -  a store demo.  It was in perfect condition.  Based upon the serial number, it was about three months old when I bought it.  With the Guitar Center 1 year warranty it cost me $2850 plus tax total.

Whether you buy a Kronos or a Montage, both are very deep instruments.  You can learn a lot about analog synthesis from the Montage.  Not so sure about the Kronos.  Also, the Montage has a full 8-operator FM synth engine similar to the DX-7, but with more modulation capabilities and 8 operators (6 in the DX).  So, it can also fulfill the FM synth duties too- and much more user friendly than the DX.  There will be a lot to work with and a lot of time invested learning either synth.  In the meantime, you can save the money for the next synth. 

Another alternative is the Yamaha S-90.  It's an old synth but a really good workhorse.  The key bed is on par with the Montage.  However, some of the early S-90's had problems with their key beds.  Yamaha has a non-publicized recall on those.  So, be careful if you go that route.  The sounds are from the Motif and are somewhat dated.  There are some analog synth-like programming capabilities, but it is not a full fledged synth like the Montage.  However, you can get one for $1000 or less in really good condition.  The S-90 was my controller keyboard until I bought the Montage. 

I agree with Paul Dither that a module may be the way to go for the second instrument.  I have seen P-08 modules advertised for as little as $700 and Rev 2 as little as $1200.   I went with a module for my P-12.  No regrets.    Even if you buy a synth keyboard, if you are like me, you will gravitate to using the 88 key controller rather than the keyboard on the synth.

I love DSI products.  You can see in my signature block, I have three.  Very capable synths.  However, I would not recommend, except maybe for the P-X (haven't worked with one yet), a DSI synth as the main controller for your setup. 
Jim Thorburn .  Toys-  Dave Smith: Prophet 08;
Pro 2; Prophet 12; EastWest Orchestral soft synths; Yamaha S-90; Yamaha Montage 8, Yamaha DX-7; KARP Odyssey; Ensoniq ESQ-1.  All run through a Sonar DAW with a Tascam DM-24 board.


Re: In need of advice.
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2019, 11:20:00 PM »
I would say that the Kronos is pretty good for learning analog synthesis, if you don't need a knobby interface and can deal with the touch screen. It has 3 different sound engines that simulate analog synthesizers. Two of them are models of former Korg Synthesizers (Polysix and MS-20), the third is the AL-1 which is not designed after a concrete model and is the most freely usable engine. AL-1 offers 2 OSC (with sync and FM) + Sub and Noise, 4 Envelopes, 4 LFOs, a step sequencer a lot of 'hardwired modulation routings' and a pretty powerful modulation mixer (out of my head... I'm sitting in a train at the moment). There are different filter types and if you don't use the 24db filter, you can choose two of them at the same time to route them parallel oder in series. Behind all that you can use Kronos powerful effect section with all kinds of effects you can imagine, and you can modulate them as well. To be honest: it doesn't sound as warm as an analog synth, but it is still sounding very good. In my opinion there's only the VA engine of the Kurzweils that is sounding better (my PC361 has more balls... but that could be a little subjective).

In addition to that you get an 6 OP FM Engine if you want to play with that. I don't think this engine is as interesting as in the Montage, but it's still worth looking at it. You get excellent pianos, E-Pianos and Organs and sampling engine as well... so put in there what you like.

The only downside is the price, even when you consider buying a used one. But you get a lot for the money and i'm sure you will need years to get all out of this beast.

If you need a cheaper one, I would also consider getting an old S90(ES). I would also say, that the keybed is even better than that of the Kronos. And there are some sounds in there that I still play until today (sampled in my Kronos). It's a very nice board and has everything a Masterkeyboard needs.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that the new Yamaha CP88 seems pretty interesting to me. I didn't play one yet, but from my experience with all other Yamaha hammer action keybeds I'm pretty sure it will be very good. Perhaps this could be a compromise between an 15 year old S90 and an really expensive Kronos. You won't get an analog synth engine in there, but you could still buy a powerful module for the difference between a new CP88 and a Kronos.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 12:25:17 AM by jok3r »
Prophet Rev2, Novation Peak, Korg Kronos 2 88, Kurzweil PC 361, Yamaha S90ES,  Akai MPK 261

Re: In need of advice.
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2019, 07:25:44 PM »
thank you all for your great advice. 

I thought things over the past few days and I have decided to order the Kronos.  As much as it is a floor model, and not shiny new, i got it at a good price but still included the full warranty which tipped the scales in its favour. 

I will dive into it once it arrives next week. 

I look forward to seeing what Dave Smith comes up with in the near future once I am ready to purchase an analogue synth.