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#2341634 - 10/26/14 01:20 PM Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions
vidio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/20/05
Posts: 17
There are very few user reports on the Kurzweil Forte so I thought Iíd write up a bit of my initial experiences. I bought the keyboard from Sweetwater without ever seeing it in person but trust in their return policies and the relationship with my salesperson built up over many years of equipment buying.

My needs were primarily for live performance. I have many keyboards in my recording studio and lots of software sounds, etc. as well as an acoustic 7 foot grand. But I wanted something that would be an all in one unit that was portable for my occasional live performances. The Forte was on my short list.

Overall I would say I am impressed with the keyboard and that it has arguably the best samples of any portable keyboard currently available. I have never found a stand alone keyboard that could come close to the sound of my software Ivory collection of keyboards but that was what I was after. I would say the Forte does that, or at least comes very close with their 9 foot grand. The ď16 gigĒ of samples do really produce excellent sounds, particularly in the acoustic and electric pianos. I would not say the sounds are extraordinarily better than other top keyboards from Roland, Nord, etc.. They donít blow the others out of the water but I do hear a difference with these larger sample files. Frankly its about time someone started putting large files into stand alone keyboards. To me 16 gig is hardly enough to brag about but at least Kurzweil is stepping up. Its beyond me why keyboards donít routinely come with 100 GB or even Terrabytes. Memory is much cheaper now but I think keyboard manufacturers are stuck thinking the same way they have done for the last 25 years. Iím frankly surprised that there havenít been more huge advancements in recent years.

Anyway - I digress, back to the Forte. So the quality of the sounds to me are excellent for a portable keyboard, comparable to some top software pianos and synths, albeit without quite as much diversity of sound. Thereís a lot of sounds and its competitive with other stand alones but not with huge software libraries. The best is the 9 foot grand and to a slightly lesser extent the 7 foot grand. And the Rhodes and electric pianos are all very nice, superb really. A lot of the Multi instruments are very nicely executed as well. All the samples are very rich and with 16 gig you layer some very complex sounds. I have been a fan of all the Kurzweil sounds for many years.

The layout of knobs and sliders and their functions is very nice and facilitates changes and selections in live performance. Thereís a lot of customization that can be done quickly and easily. I am finding it really comfortable and quick for live performance. The split and layer capabilities are easy to use and produce superb results. The interface is a joy to work with. The ďflash playĒ is quick, especially compared to say the 2600. But really - so what? It should be by now. What decade are keyboard companies living in? The color display is very nice, certainly better than most other keyboards. But again its really no big deal compared to what can be done with modern displays.

The keyboard itself is OK. I was using a Roland 300NX previously to play out and its in that same ball park, action wise. Maybe a bit better although I think I might like the action on the newer Roland 800 even better, but not by much. Compared to playing a real piano they all suffer unless you have wooden keys like on the Kawais. I used a keyboard like that to play out for a while but the problem is the weight. Just too heavy unless you have a crew to carry it for you. Even the Forte is to me what I would consider on the upper end of acceptable weight. So its a trade off - portability over action. One thing I found was that it made a big difference to set the Velocity map in the Global menu. It comes standard with what to me is a very light touch. If you are like me and often play an acoustic piano this will result in a sound that is very jumpy and not so nice. When I first turned it on I played with my heavy hand I was not blown away by the sounds because they so easily jumped to the harder layers. When you go to the Velocity map menu there are about 10 levels with names like easy touch, light, heavy, etc. I think the default is easy touch and for me its not good. There is one called piano touch that they recommend for ďpiano players.Ē However I found even this one to be too light. I ended up choosing ďHard 1Ē (There is also Hard 2 and Hard 3 which have the hardest touch.) Once I did that the samples were much more pleasing. So even if you normally donít read manuals I strongly suggest you dig into the Velocity map and adjust according to your playing style. These samples have a lot of layers that respond to velocity so it makes a difference.

The sustain pedal is another somewhat average thing. It only does standard on and off. I have to remind myself that it canít do the expressive pedaling you can on a real piano. You can accidentally let off the pedal just a bit and bang it goes dead. I wish their samples supported at least half damper pedaling and even better - lets get going with full range pedaling.

Finally there is the intangible - is it enjoyable to play? Despite the average action, at the end of the day I found this to be a very enjoyable keyboard to play. Once you tweak the velocity and other sound parameters it produces very pleasing sounds - Iíd have to say the most pleasing of any portable keyboard Iíve ever played (and Iíve played most).

Is it worth the price? Couldnít you just connect any keyboard to a laptop and use Ivory or any of the thousands of other soft sounds. Yes. Itís all a matter of convenience and personal preference. Is it 3 times as good as the 300NX I was using? Probably not in those strict terms. But it is worth it to me as it increases the pleasure of playing and I think makes for a better performance. Is it the best of the top ones by Nord, Yamaha, Roland, Kawaii, Korg, etc. I have owned or have played most and I donít think there is a ďbest.Ē Each are excellent and have certain strengths. It is certainly one of the best. If youíre like me and did not have access to a Forte you might have watched all those You Tube videos with people playing various keyboards side by side. But its very difficult to tell just by watching those videos. You donít know how their playing style affects things or how the keys are set up (see velocity mapping above). The Forte will be most worth it to someone who wants the very best sounding samples in a portable keyboard - and is willing to pay the premium price they are charging for it.

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#2341655 - 10/26/14 02:00 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12139
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Disappointing about the no half-pedal feature.

What is the weight of the Kurzweil? Also, I'm curious as to how noisy the action is.

I, too, and perplexed as to why more memory can't be used in DPs these days to allow for a more software-like sound, or updatable software libraries within the same company, anyways.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2341726 - 10/26/14 05:26 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: Morodiene]
thercman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/12
Posts: 147
Loc: Spokane WA, United States
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Disappointing about the no half-pedal feature.

I, too, and perplexed as to why more memory can't be used in DPs these days to allow for a more software-like sound, or updatable software libraries within the same company, anyways.


+1

No half pedal feature in a $4000 board?!? Not sure what the manufactures are thinking when they debut their "flagship models" that don't have the features of "lesser" boards.

The lack of memory thing is reminiscent of Apple products, milking it on all four.... Which is why I am back to using PC and android.


Edited by thercman (10/26/14 05:29 PM)
_________________________
NP2, Arturia Laboratory 61

Addictive Keys, Kawai EX Pro
Heil PR-40 Mic, Allen & Heath Mixer, Yamaha HS80

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#2341732 - 10/26/14 05:44 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: Morodiene]
vidio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/20/05
Posts: 17
The action is not too noisy. Not objectionable to me. Playing side by side with the Roland 300 I'd say it is more muffled than than Roland. A lower thump, while the roland makes a bit more bright knock.

Weight is about 50 lbs.

The half pedal thing is a bit more complex than I wrote. There's some indication the keyboard can support half pedaling when used as a MIDI controller and with an appropriate pedal. But their samples DONT support half pedaling. HUH????

I don't want to make too much of a negative tone on the review. It really is a spectacular keyboard, It's just frustrating that they're so close. Perhaps this is something that can be addressed in an update. One can only hope.
There might also be some way to do it that I'm missing too. I've only had it a short while and could have overlooked something.

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#2341744 - 10/26/14 06:20 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12139
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: vidio

The half pedal thing is a bit more complex than I wrote. There's some indication the keyboard can support half pedaling when used as a MIDI controller and with an appropriate pedal. But their samples DONT support half pedaling. HUH????

I don't want to make too much of a negative tone on the review. It really is a spectacular keyboard, It's just frustrating that they're so close. Perhaps this is something that can be addressed in an update. One can only hope.
There might also be some way to do it that I'm missing too. I've only had it a short while and could have overlooked something.


Well, so with software pianos great. But since they have more memory than most boards, why didn't they use that to support half-pedaling? I don't think an update will resolve this, as it has to do with the actual number of samples taken I believe.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2341745 - 10/26/14 06:27 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
thercman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/12
Posts: 147
Loc: Spokane WA, United States
Originally Posted By: vidio

I don't want to make too much of a negative tone on the review.


I completely understand the sentiment. However I believe there is to much of that these days. We need to be impartial and call it like it is. If not, "A", the manufactures never make changes because we aren't pointing out the faults we find in their product, and "B", someone like myself might order a $4000 board based on these reviews. In doing so we think we are safe buying sight unseen and ultimately end up being disappointed.

With that said I appreciate your overview of the Forte. smile Thanks!
_________________________
NP2, Arturia Laboratory 61

Addictive Keys, Kawai EX Pro
Heil PR-40 Mic, Allen & Heath Mixer, Yamaha HS80

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#2341755 - 10/26/14 07:16 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: Morodiene]
anotherscott Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3408
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I, too, and perplexed as to why more memory can't be used in DPs these days to allow for a more software-like sound, or updatable software libraries within the same company, anyways.

Updatable sound libraries requires an expensive kind of rewritable memory (as in the Nords, the Kurzweil PC3K series, and the Yamaha MOXF/Motif XF with the optional flash cards); or they can stream from a rewritable disk if they are built on a platform that supports it (i.e. Kronos, which is built on the foundation of Linux running on a standard motherboard, or Muse Receptor). In the Forte, Kurzweil is using some kind of patented tech to manage their large samples, but I haven't seen any indication that the Forte samples are rewritable/updatable. Korg also does something interesting in the Krome, where I think they are basically loading large samples from flash into RAM, but again there doesn't appear to be any facility to change the contents of flash or load data from some other source into the RAM. Still, they did come up with some way to have large samples in a relatively low-cost board, which is interesting, even if the trade-off is a slow boot.

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#2341762 - 10/26/14 07:35 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9534
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
vidio, thank you for sharing your thoughts about the Forte, and congrats on your new board!

Oh, and welcome back to the forum too! wink

Cheers,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#2341798 - 10/26/14 09:33 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2223
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Just perhaps, the next step for Kurzweil would be to use their current "direct FLASH streaming" technology purely for the pre-load (instead of RAM), backed by perhaps slower, but much larger storage. I.e - it'd be like current disk streaming software players, except that the RAM "pre-load" would be in FLASH, obviating the need to "load" the pre-load, if that makes sense.....

Greg.

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#2341846 - 10/27/14 01:58 AM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
Dave Weiser Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/12
Posts: 57
Loc: Boston, MA
Nice to see some more Forte reviews showing up online! Thanks for sharing.

If anyone needs help finding a unit to audition in the US or just has questions I'd be happy to assist.
Also, anyone in the Boston area is welcome to drop by my place and take my Forte for a spin.
weiserdav@gmail.com

While I did work as a contractor on the Forte, I'm not a full time employee and I don't speak for Kurz. But I'm hopeful that there will be some good news coming with the next OS release regarding half-dampering. wink

What I can say with certainty is that the Kurzweil R&D group, with a very small team of engineers and musicians, managed to pull off a near-miracle with the Forte. I witnessed firsthand some amazing creative thinking applied to head-explodingly complex challenges. These guys and gals worked late nights, weekends and holidays for over two years on developing an instrument with GB sized samples (plus 32 layers of synthesis per program), very low latency, very quick boot-up time and robust reliable performance. All this while keeping in mind that the thing couldn't take 5 years to develop and cost $9K.

Of course the Forte isn't perfect, and every product has room for improvement... but I do think Kurz has made some major strides with this one.
The good news:
1. The Kurz team has always been very interested in and responsive to customer feedback.
Keep the reviews coming and I'm sure they'll do their best to respond with future OS updates. (Ask anyone who's owned a PC3/PC3K - many of the current features are direct responses to customer requests.)
2. A board like the Forte should up the ante and spur other manufacturers to make their own great strides, which is great for everyone.















Edited by Dave Weiser (10/27/14 02:22 AM)
_________________________
Custom Sound Design and Keyboard Sales
www.weisersound.com
https://www.facebook.com/weisersound?ref=hl

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#2341909 - 10/27/14 08:34 AM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: Dave Weiser]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12139
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Dave Weiser
Nice to see some more Forte reviews showing up online! Thanks for sharing.

If anyone needs help finding a unit to audition in the US or just has questions I'd be happy to assist.
Also, anyone in the Boston area is welcome to drop by my place and take my Forte for a spin.
weiserdav@gmail.com

While I did work as a contractor on the Forte, I'm not a full time employee and I don't speak for Kurz. But I'm hopeful that there will be some good news coming with the next OS release regarding half-dampering. wink

What I can say with certainty is that the Kurzweil R&D group, with a very small team of engineers and musicians, managed to pull off a near-miracle with the Forte. I witnessed firsthand some amazing creative thinking applied to head-explodingly complex challenges. These guys and gals worked late nights, weekends and holidays for over two years on developing an instrument with GB sized samples (plus 32 layers of synthesis per program), very low latency, very quick boot-up time and robust reliable performance. All this while keeping in mind that the thing couldn't take 5 years to develop and cost $9K.

Of course the Forte isn't perfect, and every product has room for improvement... but I do think Kurz has made some major strides with this one.
The good news:
1. The Kurz team has always been very interested in and responsive to customer feedback.
Keep the reviews coming and I'm sure they'll do their best to respond with future OS updates. (Ask anyone who's owned a PC3/PC3K - many of the current features are direct responses to customer requests.)
2. A board like the Forte should up the ante and spur other manufacturers to make their own great strides, which is great for everyone.













How cool to hear from someone who actually worked on it! Can you shed some light on why your team decided to not do half-pedaling? It seems from this reivew that it is indeed innovative, so was there an issue that prevented you from doing this?
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2341987 - 10/27/14 12:50 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: Dave Weiser]
emenelton Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/09
Posts: 535
Originally Posted By: Dave Weiser
Nice to see some more Forte reviews showing up online! Thanks for sharing.

If anyone needs help finding a unit to audition in the US or just has questions I'd be happy to assist.
Also, anyone in the Boston area is welcome to drop by my place and take my Forte for a spin.
weiserdav@gmail.com

While I did work as a contractor on the Forte, I'm not a full time employee and I don't speak for Kurz. But I'm hopeful that there will be some good news coming with the next OS release regarding half-dampering. wink


Nice, what do you think about sympathetic resonance?

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#2341996 - 10/27/14 01:21 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: Morodiene]
Dave Weiser Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/12
Posts: 57
Loc: Boston, MA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: Dave Weiser
Nice to see some more Forte reviews showing up online! Thanks for sharing.

If anyone needs help finding a unit to audition in the US or just has questions I'd be happy to assist.
Also, anyone in the Boston area is welcome to drop by my place and take my Forte for a spin.
weiserdav@gmail.com

While I did work as a contractor on the Forte, I'm not a full time employee and I don't speak for Kurz. But I'm hopeful that there will be some good news coming with the next OS release regarding half-dampering. wink

What I can say with certainty is that the Kurzweil R&D group, with a very small team of engineers and musicians, managed to pull off a near-miracle with the Forte. I witnessed firsthand some amazing creative thinking applied to head-explodingly complex challenges. These guys and gals worked late nights, weekends and holidays for over two years on developing an instrument with GB sized samples (plus 32 layers of synthesis per program), very low latency, very quick boot-up time and robust reliable performance. All this while keeping in mind that the thing couldn't take 5 years to develop and cost $9K.

Of course the Forte isn't perfect, and every product has room for improvement... but I do think Kurz has made some major strides with this one.
The good news:
1. The Kurz team has always been very interested in and responsive to customer feedback.
Keep the reviews coming and I'm sure they'll do their best to respond with future OS updates. (Ask anyone who's owned a PC3/PC3K - many of the current features are direct responses to customer requests.)
2. A board like the Forte should up the ante and spur other manufacturers to make their own great strides, which is great for everyone.













How cool to hear from someone who actually worked on it! Can you shed some light on why your team decided to not do half-pedaling? It seems from this reivew that it is indeed innovative, so was there an issue that prevented you from doing this?


In my experience at Kurz (13 years full time as sound designer and later product manager) we were often faced with difficult feature decisions that without context/explanation could seem strange to anyone outside of the R&D group. (I'm sure this is how it is at most companies.)

With a small group (around 20 full timers plus some contractors like me), they had to be very careful about allocation of man-hours and prioritization of features. At no point do the engineers say something like "Nah let's not do half-dampering, we don't care about that."

First, there are usually big-picture items that demand the most attention: sound quality (this includes sample editing but also the quality/flexibility of the synth and fx engines), performance (low latency and fast boot up speed), and stability. Deadlines come and go, and as with many projects at many companies, the Forte deadline was extended a few times. But eventually they *have* to release a product... otherwise it could be in development forever as feature-creep takes over.

As painful as it is to the engineers, most of whom are musicians, some features must get pushed off to a later OS release. For a small group this is a much safer path than trying to squeeze in a few extra features at the last minute before initial release.
The reason: every time a new software feature or bug-fix is added, there's a chance that it can introduce a new (unknown) bug somewhere else in the system. Avoiding these bugs requires testing, testing requires time. Letting a few features wait until an OS update allows time for getting it right. It also gives the team a little time to come up for air, clear their heads, see their families and re-charge... and all of those things lead to much better, more focused work.

For me personally the Forte was the most fun I've ever had on a work project. My small role was creating all of the EP and Clav programs and contributing some of the AC pianos. Getting to work with these amazing new samples in an architecture with 32 layers of synthesis and 32 blocks of insert fx (all of which respond to hundreds of control sources - sliders/pedals, velocity, release velocity, envelopes, randomizers, etc) was a blast, a "kid in a candy store" type experience. Added bonus for me was getting to play along with some classic tunes from Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Ray Charles, etc while dialing in emulations of sounds from specific songs.

While I spent much of this and last year working on Broadway shows and big rock tours I was honestly always looking forward to getting back home and programming more Forte sounds.
I'm very much hoping that one of these future OS updates will involve some more programming work for me, as it's one gig that does not seem like work at all. smile

Note - if I do end up getting more sound design work for the Forte, I will post here (and at the Keyboard Corner forum) to ask for sound requests. Several KC forum requests I received last year made it into the Forte as presets.
_________________________
Custom Sound Design and Keyboard Sales
www.weisersound.com
https://www.facebook.com/weisersound?ref=hl

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#2342052 - 10/27/14 03:50 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
PianoManChuck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 100
Loc: Los Angeles, California
Originally Posted By: vidio

The half pedal thing is a bit more complex than I wrote. There's some indication the keyboard can support half pedaling when used as a MIDI controller and with an appropriate pedal. But their samples DONT support half pedaling. HUH????

When used as a MIDI controller, it is capable of passing continuous controller messages onto another MIDI device (such as those MIDI cc signals from a half damper pedal). But the Forte internals don't support half-pedaling, and I don't see that it will because the sustain/damper input jack merely detects on/off signals from a pedal. It has other pedal jacks that do support continuous controller signals (ie: from say, an expression pedal)...


Edited by PianoManChuck (10/27/14 03:51 PM)

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#2342077 - 10/27/14 04:42 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
PianoManChuck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 100
Loc: Los Angeles, California
Actually, I just posted my initial overview / operations / review on the Kurzweil Forte over here:

http://youtu.be/xIYOipiyYIM

And a supplement to that review here:

http://youtu.be/sBVBOdHQzbI

Hope you find it useful!!

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#2342088 - 10/27/14 05:12 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
Dave Weiser Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/12
Posts: 57
Loc: Boston, MA
Just got off the phone with the Kurz software department and received the "all clear" to say:
Half-damper is a definite for the next OS release.

Turns out the sustain pedal jack is a continuous jack, the hardware has been there the whole time. It was just software that had not been enabled.
I've been told that for now the pedal that definitely works with 100% compatibility is the Korg DS1-H.

Customers who are part of their beta test program should see this feature sometime next week in a beta release. I'm psyched to check it out but I'm working on other projects at the moment.
_________________________
Custom Sound Design and Keyboard Sales
www.weisersound.com
https://www.facebook.com/weisersound?ref=hl

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#2342090 - 10/27/14 05:15 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: Dave Weiser]
PianoManChuck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 100
Loc: Los Angeles, California
Originally Posted By: Dave Weiser
Just got off the phone with the Kurz software department and received the "all clear" to say:
Half-damper is a definite for the next OS release.

Turns out the sustain pedal jack is a continuous jack, the hardware has been there the whole time. It was just software that had not been enabled.
I've been told that for now the pedal that definitely works with 100% compatibility is the Korg DS1-H.

Customers who are part of their beta test program should see this feature sometime next week in a beta release. I'm psyched to check it out but I'm working on other projects at the moment.


Interesting, because on the back of the unit, the sustain pedal input (1 of 3 1/4" switched jacks) is clearly labeled "Switched". There's another set of 2 1/4" jacks labeled CC.

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#2342153 - 10/27/14 08:43 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: Morodiene]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1481
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
. . .
Well, so with software pianos great. But since they have more memory than most boards, why didn't they use that to support half-pedaling? I don't think an update will resolve this, as it has to do with the actual number of samples taken I believe.


The problems of sampling a "half-pedalled" note are serious:

. . . dampers hit the strings at slightly different heights.

To test for this, take a well-regulated acoustic piano, depress the pedal half-way, clamp it there (or put a block under it and hold it down), and play some scales, slowly.

I'll bet that the notes don't all decay at the same rate.

I could be wrong about this (and DW would know for sure):

. . . I think you could implement "half-pedalling"
. . . by putting a decaying envelope, with a
. . . time-varying low-pass filter,
. . . on the "sustain" portion of the piano sound.

That is, you'd make the high partials die out faster than the low partials, which is how a piece of felt held lightly against a string would act. The decay time (and the time-varying low-pass filter) would be controlled by how far the pedal was depressed.

If that's true, you don't need more samples, but you _do_ need more software (and there's a heavier load on whatever DSP chips do all the work). To maintain "naturalness", each note is going to need its own time constants.

. Charles

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#2342202 - 10/27/14 11:35 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: Dave Weiser]
GospelKeys Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/27/11
Posts: 17
Loc: CT
Originally Posted By: Dave Weiser

Customers who are part of their beta test program should see this feature sometime next week in a beta release. I'm psyched to check it out but I'm working on other projects at the moment.


Good to hear as I joined the beta program. Looking forward to testing the new release. I just ordered a Korg DS1H pedal to try it. Apparently all of the pedal inputs are TRS jacks as even in the current release you can use the switch pedal inputs to generate continuous CC data - just not half pedaling yet.

I have been using my Forte for a while now for live playing, replacing my Nord NS2, and I have to say I love it. It has been a while since I got excited about a stage piano. I was of the opinion that all the top ones sound good, just have different character - so just buy the one you like the most and go play it.
But the Forte is something special, at least to my ear. They even got the EPs right ( close at least ). I love the Rhodes sound, I still have my '78 Rhodes suitcase, could never part with it. And the Forte is the closest I have heard as far as dynamics and expressiveness to the real thing.

One other thing I will mention that surprised me is how good KB3 mode is. Especially if you use the dual leslie ( none of the factory presets use them which is just plain weird ). But once you change the effects chain to one of the dual leslie presets they sound great.
Not as authentic as my SK2 / vent combination but has a nice edge and the dual leslie sim sounds really good in a live mix.

The Forte OS is young and I'm sure the folks at Kurz have big plans for all that hardware.

3 things I am waiting for are:

1) Please get the editor done!

2) Need better support for importing PC3 sounds. There is a ton of great sounds available for PC3 that could be used in the Forte.

3) Sample loading! No doubt there is available ram for user samples. Hope they decide to implement it at some point.

Aside from the 50 lbs I only have one complaint. The default leslie fast/slow switch is right below the transpose + button. I found out the hard way that is not a good thing "Hey guys I was being artsy playing that lick a half step higher".

So now I use a foot pedal for leslie switch blush
_________________________
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#2342487 - 10/28/14 03:52 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: Charles Cohen]
Dave Weiser Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/12
Posts: 57
Loc: Boston, MA
Originally Posted By: Charles Cohen
[quote=Morodiene]. . .


I could be wrong about this (and DW would know for sure):

. . . I think you could implement "half-pedalling"
. . . by putting a decaying envelope, with a
. . . time-varying low-pass filter,
. . . on the "sustain" portion of the piano sound.

That is, you'd make the high partials die out faster than the low partials, which is how a piece of felt held lightly against a string would act. The decay time (and the time-varying low-pass filter) would be controlled by how far the pedal was depressed.

If that's true, you don't need more samples, but you _do_ need more software (and there's a heavier load on whatever DSP chips do all the work). To maintain "naturalness", each note is going to need its own time constants.

. Charles


Ah this is exactly how I would do it on an existing platform like the PC3K, if somehow we were able to mod it with a half-damper input. The programming tools in both the Forte (for developers) and Kurz include numerous envelopes, including the natural amp envelope, which can be assigned to filters on a per-note/per layer basis. (That part actually isn't such a huge DSP hit.) You can also create equations (called FUNs) that add, subtract, multiply or combine in a number of ways an envelope with something like a shape, key-tracking, release velocity, number of notes held, or with things like sliders, pedals, LFOs, etc. Nerdly stuff but powerful. That FUN can then be applied anywhere that you'd apply an envelope.

To be honest I have not seen exactly how they do it on the Forte because it wasn't implemented during my contract work, plus I was focused mainly on EPs and Clavs. But knowing how much work it took I think it must be more complex than just filters and envelopes. They've got a ton of samples, and a ton of DSP, so my guess is that it's a combination of both.
If it's something really clever, they probably don't want to reveal the method. Usually Kurz is cool about sharing "how we did it" unless it's something really proprietary and this seems like it might qualify.
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#2342541 - 10/28/14 06:15 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: Dave Weiser]
anotherscott Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3408
Originally Posted By: Dave Weiser
Ah this is exactly how I would do it on an existing platform like the PC3K, if somehow we were able to mod it with a half-damper input.

No need to modify the hardware. You can plug an appropriate continuous-value sustain pedal into one of the continuous control pedal inputs. Now you just have to program it. ;-)

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#2342667 - 10/28/14 11:35 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: anotherscott]
Dave Weiser Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/12
Posts: 57
Loc: Boston, MA
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Originally Posted By: Dave Weiser
Ah this is exactly how I would do it on an existing platform like the PC3K, if somehow we were able to mod it with a half-damper input.

No need to modify the hardware. You can plug an appropriate continuous-value sustain pedal into one of the continuous control pedal inputs. Now you just have to program it. ;-)


Ha true!

But there is the crucial step of needing someone to hire me to program it. Has not yet come up in my work queue. I'm psyched and curious to check it out in the Forte though.
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#2342689 - 10/29/14 12:57 AM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
vidio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/20/05
Posts: 17
I'm the OP and I just wanted to do another quick update to say the more I play this keyboard the more I am loving it. The sounds are incredible and the interface is really so well designed. I can't stop playing it. Some tech you get bored with but this is the opposite. The more I work with it the better it gets. I haven't had the keyboard that long but feel totally confirmable using it this weekend for a show. I programmed in all my favorites instruments for two sets worth of material, customized splits, added layers, created some new user Multis and worked out variations within songs. And I haven't read the manual yet. I'm starting that tonight. smile The samples are rich captivating. BTW - I'm playing the keyboard through the Space Station V3 amp which is a great complement for the keyboard because it preserves the stereo effects and sonic panorama - really lets you utilize the fantastic samples in this machine.

The news about the half damper update is like icing on the cake - really will make this the ultimate performance keyboard.

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#2345586 - 11/04/14 07:09 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
PianoManChuck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 100
Loc: Los Angeles, California
Originally Posted By: vidio
I'm the OP and I just wanted to do another quick update to say the more I play this keyboard the more I am loving it. The sounds are incredible and the interface is really so well designed. I can't stop playing it. Some tech you get bored with but this is the opposite. The more I work with it the better it gets. I haven't had the keyboard that long but feel totally confirmable using it this weekend for a show. I programmed in all my favorites instruments for two sets worth of material, customized splits, added layers, created some new user Multis and worked out variations within songs. And I haven't read the manual yet. I'm starting that tonight. smile The samples are rich captivating. BTW - I'm playing the keyboard through the Space Station V3 amp which is a great complement for the keyboard because it preserves the stereo effects and sonic panorama - really lets you utilize the fantastic samples in this machine.

I echo what you just said... and I'm about to do a gig with the board and haven't cracked open a manual yet either! Very intuitive to use. Only downside is the key action - its acceptable, but I wish they'd use a better keybed.

How do you like the SpaceStation v.3? I'm going to check one out this week...

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#2346563 - 11/06/14 09:52 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
vidio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/20/05
Posts: 17
I like the Spacestation a lot. I'd go so far as to say it might be my favorite thing in its size and price range for the Forte. However - my use is in a small jazz combo. The amp is plenty loud but if someone were looking for a big powerhouse for a loud rock band this might not do.

But the huge plus is the stereo sound which is quite remarkable. I have found that the Forte sounds best in stereo. The best samples of the 9 and 7 foot grands and the electric pianos are in stereo and it seems like to get the full effect of the Forte you are best playing back in stereo. Summed mono sounds very good if done right but stereo is even better. And for this the Spacestation is amazing.

Now having said that I must also add that the acoustic samples are not quite as strong on the Spacestation as the other samples. I'm not technical enough to know exactly what the issue is but something is happening to make them sound a bit more "electric" sounding. It still sounds better than any other amp that size I've tried but this weekend I am going to test it with a pair of Bose L1s. Now this is a very unfair comparison because the price difference is huge. i'm kind of hoping there isn't that much difference in a way because I know if I hear a big difference I'm going to want the Bose.

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#2346572 - 11/06/14 10:17 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
PianoManChuck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 100
Loc: Los Angeles, California
Originally Posted By: vidio
I like the Spacestation a lot. I'd go so far as to say it might be my favorite thing in its size and price range for the Forte. However - my use is in a small jazz combo. The amp is plenty loud but if someone were looking for a big powerhouse for a loud rock band this might not do.

But the huge plus is the stereo sound which is quite remarkable. I have found that the Forte sounds best in stereo. The best samples of the 9 and 7 foot grands and the electric pianos are in stereo and it seems like to get the full effect of the Forte you are best playing back in stereo. Summed mono sounds very good if done right but stereo is even better. And for this the Spacestation is amazing.

Now having said that I must also add that the acoustic samples are not quite as strong on the Spacestation as the other samples. I'm not technical enough to know exactly what the issue is but something is happening to make them sound a bit more "electric" sounding. It still sounds better than any other amp that size I've tried but this weekend I am going to test it with a pair of Bose L1s. Now this is a very unfair comparison because the price difference is huge. i'm kind of hoping there isn't that much difference in a way because I know if I hear a big difference I'm going to want the Bose.
Thanks for the feedback regarding the SpaceStation v.3. I was afraid it might not handle power gigs, but would be acceptable at smaller, or solo gigs. I've pretty much stuck with mono out for live gigs, simply because a stereo sweet spot on your typical stereo speaker pair is so limited within an audience area. I've used Roland KC-110 for small venues and the stereo seems 'ok' with it, but always end up using it as a double mono amp instead of stereo. Can't wait to try a SpaceStaion v3.

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#2346612 - 11/07/14 01:48 AM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
vidio Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/20/05
Posts: 17
With the Spacestation there is no one sweet spot. The whole room hears the stereo because its done with M/S rather than right - left. It really works. It doesn't quite put left in the left ear and right in the right but it definitely creates a stereo field that can be heard just about anywhere in the room. Wait till you hear the organ patches with the Leslie or the electric pianos with phasing or other stereo effects.

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#2347048 - 11/08/14 01:47 AM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
Dave Weiser Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/12
Posts: 57
Loc: Boston, MA
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#2347748 - 11/09/14 01:47 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: Morodiene]
GWILLY Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/17/14
Posts: 48
Morodiene: regarding your comment.

I have to think there's some sort of an agreement between the big companies, not to start a tech war. Hence they can keep models relative to each other, and relevant for a few years of manufacturing, before change. (however, I absolutely have no proof of this) smile Just seems like gentle evolution, not revolution in the stage keyboard industry. Maybe that's the difference between being fundamentally "instrument" companies, versus tech companies. Just a thought I've had for a while.


Edited by GWILLY (11/09/14 02:17 PM)

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#2348291 - 11/10/14 06:19 PM Re: Kurzweil Forte Initial Reactions [Re: vidio]
Dave Weiser Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/12
Posts: 57
Loc: Boston, MA
I only worked for a small synth company, but I have friends at several of the larger ones...
From what I've seen it's a miracle that they were all able to agree on the MIDI spec when it was devised by Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla back in 1899. They've not agreed on much since then.

The progress in the world of hardware keyboards does seem slow when compared to the advances made with phones, laptops, tablets, etc. But those devices are selling millions upon millions of units. The first iPad sold over a million units on the first day of sales. Those numbers are simply in another galaxy, and they can drive R&D into hyperspace. If a hardware keyboard sells 20,000 units it's considered a resounding success. Of course the advances made in those other gadgets *does* affect the tech in keyboards, but not nearly as much nor as directly as one would hope.

Considering how tiny the market is, seeing a small group like Kurz up the ante from 256MB (in a PC3K) to 16 GB plus a new screen and UI all in one product gives me hope. It's strides like this that might nudge the other companies to take similar leaps.
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