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#2216128 - 01/17/14 09:33 AM Terminology questions + looking for DP / Synth advice
enhorning Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/14
Posts: 23
Loc: Perstorp, Skåne, Sweden
Hi, new here, I've spent the past couple of weeks reading a lot of old threads here, and am now ready to do my own version of the recurring asking for acquisition advice thread smile

But first, a few terminology questions:

* What's the difference between a workstation DP, and the track-editing capability in e.g. PX-780 or DGX-650?

* What is it that makes a Workstation DP a Workstation?

* What is an arranger piano?

* What is a "Hex Layer" on the Casio DPs?

* What does "string resonance" and "damper resonance" mean in practical terms?

* What is a "Rotary effect"?

... okay, that's it for terminology questions (so far).

Now, what I am looking for, is (unlike quite a few of the other threads I read) not the best simulation of an acoustic piano that I can get for my budget.

My budget is preferably under 10000 Swedish (= £940 GBP / €1140 euro currently) including stand and pedal where needed, but if there are good enough reasons, I could stretch it up towards 15000-16000 Swedish, i.e. 50-60% more. Shops I've been looking at are either http://www.4sound.se/ (for something semi-local - an hours train-ride to one of their physical shops - I live in Perstorp, Skåne, Sweden), or http://www.thomann.de/ (for an internet retailer) - but I would welcome suggestions for other good retailers.

Part of why I am not looking for the best similarity to an acoustic that I can get is due to my humble aspirations - I am mostly interested in playing traditional folk music, hymns, and experimenting with creating my own music and sounds - no advanced classical pieces for me, and I never expect to reach a particularly high level of competence. The other part is my high interest in other sounds, and experimenting with tweaking sounds and creating my own ones.

I have played several other instruments in the past, and am well familiar with musical notation - the DP will however be my first instrument capable of playing multiple notes at once, which will take time to get used to.

I do want hammer key action (and 88 keys), and reasonable piano sound - good enough that when I get the (very rare) opportunity to sit down at an actual acoustic piano, I am capable of playing my simple songs on it. (And of course, better key action and sound is always welcome - but not my priority.)

I also want a very wide variety of sounds - in particular, I would very much appreciate a variety of good pipe (church) organ sounds.

I would also like the ability to create or customize my own sounds (therefore the Synth part) - the music I personally listen to is mostly either traditional folk music, or Synth-based music (Synthpop / EBM / Industrial), and I would like to be able to produce some similar Synth sounds on my own. The more tone editing I can do on-the-fly whilst playing, the better.

I want to be able to record songs with multiple tracks and edit them. (Yes, I know a computer program would probably be more convenient for me - but I already spend way too many hours sitting in front of a computer; part of the idea of an instrument for me is to get away from the computer and relax doing something else. I do want to be able to hook the DP up to the computer when needed, but seems every DP supports that.)

A good interface for both editing tracks, and customizing sounds would be very helpful.

If possible, I want to be able to set up my own drum patterns / rhytm patterns.

... on the flip side - features I don't think I need:

Built-in speakers - I will probably be using headphones quite often, and I'll have my stereo (which has good speakers) in the same room, so I'm planning on connecting the DP to that as well. (Of course, decent built-in speakers doesn't hurt! But they are not a priority at all for me.)

3 pedals / half-pedalling - I doubt my piano skills will ever get advanced enough that I need those.

Really good action reproduction / piano sound - it will be extremely rare that I play on a real piano, and I expect to use other sounds more than the actual piano sound.

Portability - I'm not likely to move for many years, and it will have a fixed spot in my flat - I am not planning on doing any gigging either. While I don't object to a slab, if I can get the same features in a cabinet model, I'd probably go for that (e.g. rather PX-780 than PX-350).

... so, with those desires in mind, the models I've been looking at include:

* Casio PX-780 / 350
* Yamaha DGX-650
* Kawai MP6 (I've read praise for its pipe organ sounds - but the problem is it's not available locally, so I will be unable to try one out)
* Korg Kross 88
* Casio PX-5S
* Yamaha MOXF8
* Korg Krome 88
... several of which are pushing my budget a big higher than I prefer, but if they do all I want, it would be worth it.

Are there other models I should investigate? How well do those models above fit my desires? How good are they in general? (I've been at manufacturer's websites, and read quite a few manuals - but it's confusing - every manufacturer seems to use their own names for various features and their own way to do specifications.)

Tomorrow, I'll be travelling to Malmö and take the opportunity to visit a physical music shop - what things should I look out for when there? How do I (who haven't really got any piano skills to speak of - I played around a bit on my parent's old acoustic stand-up, but that was 20 years ago) test a DP? What questions should I make sure to ask? As I don't have a music shop locally, I would really like to make the most of visiting this one.

Thanks for any advice you can give!


Edited by enhorning (01/17/14 09:37 AM)

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#2216144 - 01/17/14 10:27 AM Re: Terminology questions + looking for DP / Synth advice [Re: enhorning]
willf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/02/10
Posts: 95
Loc: UK
The new Roland FA-08 (it is not available yet so you would have to wait a while). Roland workstations/synths typically have good pipe/church organ presets. I suggest that you wait until after NAMM (next week) to see if any new keyboards are announced.


Edited by willf (01/17/14 10:29 AM)
_________________________
willf

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#2216149 - 01/17/14 10:41 AM Re: Terminology questions + looking for DP / Synth advice [Re: willf]
enhorning Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/14
Posts: 23
Loc: Perstorp, Skåne, Sweden
Originally Posted By: willf
The new Roland FA-08 (it is not available yet so you would have to wait a while). Roland workstations/synths typically have good pipe/church organ presets. I suggest that you wait until after NAMM (next week) to see if any new keyboards are announced.

Okay, I had seen Roland praised for their Hammond organ sounds, but did not know that they did good pipe organs as well.

Waiting a bit is okay - I googled the FA-08, and a UK retailer listed it as coming in 31:st March - don't know if that date is realistic, but if it is, I'd be fine with waiting until then.

The thing about NAMM announcements is I don't know how long it takes before they're available for retail here in Europe. I'd be willing to wait 1-2 months, but not half a year. (... and there are always new better models coming out; at some point, one has to stop waiting and actually make a purchase!)

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#2216403 - 01/17/14 09:19 PM Re: Terminology questions + looking for DP / Synth advice [Re: enhorning]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1535
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
FWIW --

The marketing guys have determined that a "digital piano" doesn't need _real_ synth capabilities. So most DP's don't have deep sound-editing, sound-creation, or effects processing.

My PX-350 has something around 200 voices, but they're not _editable_ -- you can't change EQ, attack, decay, modulation (there's no "mod" wheel!), etc. That's true for most DP's.

The PX-5S is an exception. I don't know how much change is possible, but I gather it's more than most DP's allow. And I think it can be set up as a configurable (pseudo-drawbar) organ, which might be what you're looking for.

. . . more information at casiomusicforums.com if you want to chase it.

If you're not going to play classical piano, and you're not going to go back-and-forth between digital and acoustic pianos, it might not matter, much, what kind of action you get. We get all hung up, here, on questions of "repetition rate" and "escapement", but any reasonable weighted-key action should work for you.

If you're not playing classical piano, you might get by with a 61-key keyboard -- a MOX6, instead of a MOX8. It wouldn't be "weighted-key", though. And (I speak from experience) playing a touch-sensitive synth (or organ) action is quite different from playing a weighted-key action.

You really need to spend some time _listening_ to the boards on your list. The Krome and MOXn were built for doing what you want to do. Note that many of those boards are _essentially_ "sample players" -- they don't have the freedom of sound creation that a true synth does. But they'll give you more modulation, effects, and layering than most "digital pianos".

. Charles

PS -- bias -- I own a PX-350 (which I like) and a microKorg XL+ (brand new)

Quote:
. . .

* What is an arranger piano? . .


An "arranger piano" has built-in rhythms (lots of them), built-in accompaniment patterns, usually auto-harmonization, and lets you use "shortcut" chords in the left hand.

On the PX-350, I can do a version of "Day-0", playing steel drums, with a full backing band (with trumpets). It's not subtle or imaginative, but it works.

Quote:

* What does "string resonance" and "damper resonance" mean in practical terms?


They're things that happen on an acoustic piano. "Damper resonance" is the difference between hitting a key with the pedal up (dampers down on the strings), and with the pedal up (dampers up, _all_ the strings resonating with the one you hit).

"String resonance" is when you're holding down several keys (so the dampers are up on their strings, and they're free to vibrate), and hit a key which is harmonically related to one or more of them. Those "open" strings (and _only_ them) will vibrate sypathetically with the struck note.

In an acoustic piano, both of those effects are significant.

Quote:

* What is a "Rotary effect"?


Try Wikipedia for "Leslie loudspeaker" -- an electronic-organ effect.

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#2216448 - 01/17/14 10:50 PM Re: Terminology questions + looking for DP / Synth advice [Re: enhorning]
SoundThumb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/28/10
Posts: 346
Loc: San Diego, CA
Welcome to PianoWorld, enhorning.

Judging from what you would like your board to do, I think you do want a workstation. All keyboards allow you to play realtime, of course, and many or most offer a recording capability. But when you talk about editing, it now sounds like you are more interested in a workstation. A workstation allows you to play realtime and record, not just the sound, but the keystrokes. It typically also records many tracks. So you can record a simple solo piano melody for example. Then go back, let that play and record a bass track with it. Then, add a synth track, drums, act. During all of this, all the notes are being recording and you can now edit by changing the instrument in a particular track, moving notes around to correct mistakes, and many other things depending upon the particular workstation. Roland's newly announced FA-08 is their lower cost workstation. It is loaded with a lot of their Integra sound set, so you would have a huge library of good patches to explore. Not sure if it falls within your budget, however.

Good luck to you. You are going to have a lot of fun with this.

SoundThumb

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#2216487 - 01/18/14 12:54 AM Re: Terminology questions + looking for DP / Synth advice [Re: enhorning]
Dr Popper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/09
Posts: 1720
Loc: Hancock Park LA (not again)
Quote:
* What's the difference between a workstation DP, and the track-editing capability in e.g. PX-780 or DGX-650?


A workstation has a full midi editing onboard

Quote:
* What is it that makes a Workstation DP a Workstation?


A sequencer

Quote:
* What is an arranger piano?


Junk

Quote:
* What is a "Hex Layer" on the Casio DPs?


Marketing speak

*
Quote:
What does "string resonance" and "damper resonance" mean in practical terms?


Acoustic piano effects that add realism to the sound

Quote:
* What is a "Rotary effect"?


A effect that simulates the spinning speaker in a tone wheel organ

Quote:
Are there other models I should investigate?


Roland FA-08
Yamaha MoxF 8
Korg Krome 88

You want a workstation and that's about it for your choices.
_________________________
"I'm still an idiot and I'm still in love" - Blue Sofa - The Plugz 1981 (Tito Larriva)
Disclosure : I am professionally supported by but not beholden to various musical instrument manufactures including Yamaha

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#2216518 - 01/18/14 03:45 AM Re: Terminology questions + looking for DP / Synth advice [Re: enhorning]
willf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/02/10
Posts: 95
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: enhorning
[Okay, I had seen Roland praised for their Hammond organ sounds, but did not know that they did good pipe organs as well.


An example of the type of organ sound you might be looking for
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=op2XlVV__fE&t=26m56s


Edited by willf (01/18/14 03:46 AM)
_________________________
willf

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#2216628 - 01/18/14 10:52 AM Re: Terminology questions + looking for DP / Synth advice [Re: enhorning]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3439
Dr Popper's answers do cut to the chase! But overall I think he guides you well. It sounds like you do want a workstation, which allows you to create and edit multitrack compositions/arrangements on board. In your "extended" price range, I would lean toward the Korg Krome or forthcoming Roland FA-08, because those workstation functions generally benefit greatly from a large screen that can display a lot of information at once, as does sound editing. In your "preferred" price range, which means trading away the big screen, you'd find the Kross or the Kurzweil PC3LE8. Of those two, since portability isn't an issue, I'd take the Kurz, personally, with the caveat that I've never sequenced anything on either. I just prefer Kurzweil's sounds, features, and action. Kurzweil isn't the easiest to use, but once you're on a small screen, I think that issue will be a given.

Originally Posted By: enhorning
Tomorrow, I'll be travelling to Malmö and take the opportunity to visit a physical music shop - what things should I look out for when there? How do I (who haven't really got any piano skills to speak of - I played around a bit on my parent's old acoustic stand-up, but that was 20 years ago) test a DP?

From an in-person visit, without being much of a player per se, I would focus first on the sounds. Pick a handful of sound you know you're likely to want to use a lot (piano, drums, pipe organs, whatever), find the appropriate patches, and see if you simply like some unit's sounds more than the others. Bring headphones, so you are listening to everything via the same playback system.

You're not really going to be able to get a handle on the workstation functionality cold on a store visit. For that, the best thing to do is download the manuals. If you're ambitious, you can bring the manuals with you and try to do a couple of basic things (say, record a simple piano line, and then lay a string line on top of it), and see if the workflow of one seems more natural/intuitive to you than another. That will require a good time commitment, though, and a cooperative store! To the extent that you can get the gist ahead of time just from going through the manuals, that would help.

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#2216806 - 01/18/14 05:56 PM Re: Terminology questions + looking for DP / Synth advice [Re: anotherscott]
enhorning Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/14
Posts: 23
Loc: Perstorp, Skåne, Sweden
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
For that, the best thing to do is download the manuals.

Thanks for the various answers - I was in two stores today, talked with a salesperson in each, and tried a variety of DPs/Synths/Keyboards. One salesperson highly recommended Roland's sounds, the other was really disparaging of their sounds.

I'm leaning towards either the Roland FA-08 (which seems to do all I want, but is really pushing my budget to its limit once accessories is added in - the computer upgrade I was also hoping to afford will then have to wait until some later time), or the Casio PX-5S (which does not do all that I want, but does give me a wide variety of sounds, and is a lot cheaper).

I've downloaded and am planning on reading the PX-5S manual, but have been unable to find the manual for the FA-08 - it doesn't seem to be on Roland's site yet... is it available anywhere else, or is it just a matter of waiting?

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#2216837 - 01/18/14 06:48 PM Re: Terminology questions + looking for DP / Synth advice [Re: enhorning]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3439
Originally Posted By: enhorning
tried a variety of DPs/Synths/Keyboards. One salesperson highly recommended Roland's sounds, the other was really disparaging of their sounds.

That's the thing about sounds, there's a lot of subjectivity, which is why I said the first thing for you to do in person would be to bring headphones and see which sounds you preferred. ;-) The FA-08 doesn't exist yet, which makes that tricky. You could get a good sense of what to expect by auditioning other Rolands, but without an understanding of the differences in their models, you wouldn't know which sounds on the other Rolands would or wouldn't be representative of what's in the FA. For example, the FA sounds are all in the Integra-7, but not all the Integra-7 sounds are in the FA. It might be simplest to wait!

Originally Posted By: enhorning
I'm leaning towards either the Roland FA-08 (which seems to do all I want, but is really pushing my budget...), or the Casio PX-5S (which does not do all that I want, but does give me a wide variety of sounds, and is a lot cheaper).

If you don't want to spring for the FA-08, rather than the PX-5S, I would look at the Kurzweil PC3LE8 for not that much more money. The Casio is a very nice board, especially for its 24 pound weight, but with portability not an issue, I think the Kurzweil kills the Casio. According to Thomann, it's only 15% more (at least in the UK), which is amazing... in the U.S. it's 80% more, which to my mind, is more representative of the difference between them. It is a workstation, you could actually do your multitrack composition on it, which you could not do on the Casio. But even not counting that, it is a more fully featured and better sounding board. (The only place I'd say it falls short of the Casio is in polyphony, and there are ways to address that, but that's a whole other conversation.)

Originally Posted By: enhorning
I've downloaded and am planning on reading the PX-5S manual, but have been unable to find the manual for the FA-08 - it doesn't seem to be on Roland's site yet... is it available anywhere else, or is it just a matter of waiting?

waiting. The board was only announced a few days ago.

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