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#668481 - 09/04/08 06:45 PM Roland RD700GX versus OLD Rd700 - Honky Mids?
jesujuvaou Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/04/08
Posts: 3
Loc: Oklahoma
Hi,

I'm new to this forum, and it looks like the people here know pretty much everything, so i thought I'd share some recent frustrations and see if anyone has any insight. I know there is a similar thread about "clarity" in an RD300GX, but this is a slightly different topic, a directgc comparison between the RD700 and RD700GX and the problems I perceive. I posted almost the same post on the Roland Clan forum.

I have been happily playing an RD700 since it came out in 2001. I am not super-picky about piano patches: I don't own a sampler or workstation or even any SRX cards. I use my keyboard for worship music services and events, for recreational solo piano, and for garage/basement ban fun times with friends. My most often-used patches are St. Concert 1 (the default) and Band Piano 1 (to cut through the mix), with an occasional foray into some of the other good accoustic piano patches on that board. Anyway...

I recently purchased an RD700*GX* for my church, to be played mainly by me in our new contemporary worship service. I figured, 2 generations down the line (or 3 if you count the mysterious 750) this great board could have only gotten better, right? I ordered one without really bothering to preview them in stores. Mistake. After it was already on the way, I did play one in a Guitar Ctr., but didn't think much of the honky mids cause I figured it could be the speakers there, or something.

So I take the thing out of the box yesterday, and it is beautiful. Love the keys. Love all the features, all the detailed editing you can do. One problem: the raw material for that editing is absolute crap. Most of the piano patches on the 700GX sound like someone took the patches from the 700, turned the Mid EQ knob all the way up, and then sampled them. Am I crazy or can someone else with experience with both these boards feel my pain? [For reference, I'm playing through the same KC500 that I use for my old 700, in the same room, near side-by-side comparison.]

I spent a good chunk of today fiddling with the 4-band EQ, trying to turn "Expressive Grand" into something I can actually stand to play. Superior Grand is not superior, and Ultimate Grand is ultimately horrible. I cut 800 Hz and 1600 Hz and that gets rid of most of the offensive honky tinny mids, but it still doesn't sound *good*.

I have always been a fan of Roland ever since I played the RD600 at a worship leader workshop once and though "I need to get one of these" - I soon got the 700. I just don't understand how they could take some of the best piano sounds around and totally mess them up before putting them on a sweet keyboard with phenomenal features for a stage piano in the GX. I really want to like this thing! All the other sounds are as good or better than their predecessors, and the realfeel keys are great, etc.

If anyone has any editing or other suggestions, I'm listening =) I feel dumb for having us buy this keyboard and now being disappointed with it. Maybe I should run out and buy an expensive EQ unit that can make tighter and more precise notches... but I shouldn't have to do that just to get good piano sounds out of a top of the line digital piano! What happened to the good samples from RDs past?

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#668482 - 09/04/08 08:15 PM Re: Roland RD700GX versus OLD Rd700 - Honky Mids?
propianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/08
Posts: 131
Loc: England
 Quote:
Originally posted by jesujuvaou:[/b]
I recently purchased an RD700GX for my church...
For reference, I'm playing through the same KC500 that I use for my old RD700, in the same room, near side-by-side comparison.
I spent a good chunk of today fiddling with the 4-band EQ, trying to turn "Expressive Grand" into something I can actually stand to play. Superior Grand is not superior, and Ultimate Grand is ultimately horrible.
Hi,

I don't own either of these Roland products, but I've played them and heard similar issues.

First, I think the Roland KC series combo amps are particularly bad. I played the RD700SX through one and it barked like a dog with a sore throat! That model has the same "Superior Grand" 4 layer New York Steinway multisample, and "Ultimate Grand" Yamaha multisample as on your new RD700GX. Both of these are unsatisfactory, in my opinion, but I think the GX's new "Expressive Grand" Hamburg Steinway multisample sounds a lot better. I have played RD700GX model through a KC amp too, and again, it didn't sound very good. On headphones it sounds okay (well, okay-ish) but it doesn't work very well through Roland's own KC amp. You'd think it would, but no...

I suspect this poor midrange sound quality is due to several complex factors...

1. Roland KC500 amp is a 15 inch woofer plus 2 inch horn tweeter. ie. there's no dedicated midrange driver! The midrange is badly distorted by the 15 inch woofer cone breakup modes (not working in linear piston range) and by very unnatural crossover to a compression horn, through this critical frequency range.
It cannot reproduce the complex waveform of the piano sample accurately, and is giving you a very rough quality of sound.

2. The KC500 is a mono amp. Your piano samples are stereo, but are possibly being combined into summed mono through the amp, and this would cause unpredictable phase cancellation and comb filtering problems between the left and right signals of the stereo samples. This will make the midrange sound honky, and either shrill, brash or scooped out and hollow, depending which notes you play...!

3. You are making things worse by EQing which is introducing further distortion and phase shifting. The problem isn't that midrange is too loud, per se, it's that it sounds inaccurate!
Fidelity rather than volume.
EQ cannot fix this. Turning the midrange EQ down just lessens the obviously audible problem area, but doesn't magically replace the gaping hole in the sound you leave behind with anything better. The midrange sound is damaged like a broken arm, but amputating it altogether isn't the best solution! You need to repair the damage, rather than cut it off completely. I'm not saying this is easy to do - you will need a different speaker system - but you have to heal and restore your midrange so you can use it again. It is part of the piano sound and it needs to be there.
Buying an expensive EQ won't help, as the problem is not the relative volume balance between the frequencies - it's the sheer fidelity of reproduction of those frequencies. With top quality speakers, you can actually play a piano sound with almost any creative EQ setting (lots of warm bass / very bright treble / midrange presence or whatever boost or cut) and it still sounds very much like a piano, because the overall fidelity is so good.

4. The new RD700GX probably plays with greater dynamic range than your old RD700 and will "bite" more at fff and sound more "peaky" and "contrasty" in typical playing than the older model. This may be a good thing in theory, but through a mediocre quality speaker with poor midrange fidelity, it will sound more painful and grate on your nerves all the more. The RD700 probably gives a more friendly, easy-going sound, without such vivid dynamics, although frankly I'm surprised you aren't complaining about how bad that sounds through the KC500, compared to how much better it sounds on headphones.

5. There could be numerous other explanations, which all contribute a little to the midrange boost problem. For instance, Roland's piano lid up / down simulation with graphic animation, is basically just a midrange boost. If you're playing RD700GX with "Lid fully up" ie. mid EQ fully boosted, that could sound nasty, and maybe you should try "lid closed" or "flap open" settings, up to about 2 out of 5, I think.
Also, if you have edited in a LOT of sympathetic string resonance, it may sound a bit fierce and shrill. Also, check your velocity touch curve so that it's not over-reacting to your playing, especially too strong in the higher notes.
If the KC500 cabinet sounds harsh or rattley, try tightening the screws that hold the woofer to the front baffle. This is a common hi-fi tweak that can make the sound a bit clearer, believe it or not. Also, if you can open the cabinet and stuff some more of the fluffy acoustic wadding inside the cabinet, which can help to deaden internal reflections. The cone obviously projects backwards into the cabinet as well as forward, and these soundwaves are reflected off the back wall, straight back through the cone. If you can muffle them a lot, you will get a clearer sound. Try reading about these loudspeaker topics - there's lots of articles if you search on Google - I can't describe it all here!

6. Try and get hold of a stereo pair of high quality hi-fi speakers and try those instead, at the church venue. Look for at least a 3-way speaker with dedicated midrange, besides woofer and tweeter. There are a few 3-way keyboard combo amps on the market, such as Behringer KX1200 which has a 5 inch midrange as well as 15 inch woofer, but I wouldn't recommend a keyboard amp anyway. You're better off with serious loudspeakers in stereo, or a 3-way PA system type speaker, of which there are many on the market, from cheap passive Yamaha to expensive active Mackie, and many others. I can recommend the Hz Z500 cabinets as a convenient compact, yet powerful 3-way design.

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#668483 - 09/05/08 12:27 AM Re: Roland RD700GX versus OLD Rd700 - Honky Mids?
jesujuvaou Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/04/08
Posts: 3
Loc: Oklahoma
Hey propianist!

Thanks for the thorough reply, that gives me a lot of insight. Unfortunately I can't really take most of the advice at the moment, but I'll keep it in mind. You're probably right about the old 700 just giving a more "friendly, easygoing sound." I know the KC500 isn't the best, but it's served me well all this time. When I first got the setup, I was really impressed at the realism of the grand pianos and the nylon guitars of the RD through the KC. That rolling box has also been very handy for vocals and guitar in many situations. Thanks for the hints on tightening screws and inserting foam - it has gotten a little distorted on me over the past couple years or so.

As for my church situation, we're out of cash and PA channels at the moment - I can't even run the keyboard in stereo. Eventually I could get some kind of stereo setup for my own piece of mind onstage, but it would have to be small.

So you're basically saying that the GX patches are just too good for the equipment they're being played through. I took a look back through my old 700 patches and noticed that many of the pianos had "1" and "2" varieties, with the 1's all being "good" to my ears and the 2's all having the same kind of honky/tinny mids as the GX patches do - maybe Roland made a permament switch to this "type 2" sampling which is technically more accurate but unpleasant on average equipment. As I've listened to the GX piano patches, I have noticed a lot of realism especially in the upper range - the upper range on some of the patches is really quite beautiful, and the lows aren't bad either. It's just that offensive octave around middle C, which is unfortunately the worst note of all =0 It does sound somewhat better in headphones, but still not as good as the old 700 does in headphones - but maybe I need better headphones too.

I've played with the Lid settings and they don't really help; I can hear the nasal-type tone on all of them, though I tend to like the mid-range settings best, and the fully open settings would probably be good in a mix.

The thing that seems counter-intuitive to me about the thought that these new samples are actually more hi-fi is that my initial impressions were quite the opposite: many of these patches, especially the "Ultimate Piano" which apparently comes from a Yamaha (go figure, Roland does a crappy job of sampling a Yamaha!) sound more *electronic* than the old ones. Ultimate Piano sounds really more like a Clav patch. It's just asking for some Wah and tremolo and it's ready to get funky. Turn up the High-Mids and all the rest of them sound the same way.

As for keyboard amps, do you think the Traynor K4 is worth it? It's a 3-way and would take up less space than my KC500. I've been thinking about saving up for one. Saving up for two would be a bit much - but still less than those Hz's you suggested. I'm going to do a little investigation and see if the house PA has midrange drivers or not.

Anyone else have any GX advice?

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#668484 - 09/05/08 01:28 AM Re: Roland RD700GX versus OLD Rd700 - Honky Mids?
Dave Ferris Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 1725
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
I had the 700 GX for about 2 weeks. I used it on maybe 3-4 gigs and spent about 5 days, 2-3 hours a day playing and tweaking the thing.

Let me just say I think the 700 GX is a great instrument but ultimately I ended up taking it back and exchanging for the Yamaha CP300. I felt for overall live playing the Yamaha was a better choice for what I do.
The Roland (Superior Grand)sounded great on a few solo recordings I made and it was beautiful through my AKG 240 phones. However, even with my fairly high level sound sytem (2 EV SXA360s active speakers and Mackie 1202 VLZ)I wasn't happy with the sound I was getting live and in the Rhythm section.

PP hit it on the nose....you HAVE to run that thing in stereo if you want a fighting chance at any kind of satisfactory sound.

Most people don't want to go there ......but spending has much or even more on your sound reinforcement than the keyboard is not unusual to get optimum results for live playing.

In addition to my EVs I also have the stereo Motion Sound KP200 amp which is considered by many to be the best sounding "combo amp" you can get. I use it when set up space is tight and getting two speakers on stage is a real challenge. You can't beat the convenience of an amp when you want to get in and out of a place quickly. However, acoustic piano samples still sound thin and strident with that.

Has PP mentioned, I'm not not a huge fan of Roland amps either. Back in the late 90's I had a 500 along with the Kurzweil PC88. Since at that time the samples weren't as developed it sounded pretty good for 10 yrs. ago. The new Roland GX sample really needs a higher end speaker to reproduce it effectively.

Another option that might work better for you is going with 2 of the smaller KC amps (350 ?), at least you'd have the stereo thing going. But for the same price you might be able to find a used pair of JBL 10" Eons or maybe Mackie SM350s off CraigsList....again not optimum but an improvement over any of those Roland amps. I don't think you'd be happy with that Traynor amp either...mono, maybe louder, but certainly not a good piano amp, sonically speaking.

I did find one mono amp that was very impressive sounding in the store. This the Acoustic Image Coda, some say the Corus sounds better for keyboards. I don't know for sure, I just heard 700 Gx with the Coda before I returned it. I know $1300 is a lotta dough especially after dropping $18-2200 on your keyboard. I think he has a 14 day trial period. I'm pretty much tapped out myself after the getting the CP300, otherwise I would have bought this on the spot.

http://www.gollihurmusic.com/product/1138-CODA_R_SERIES_III_COMBO_AMPLIFIER.html

Good luck with it.
_________________________
http://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

2005 NY Steinway D, Yamaha CP5, CP4, Nord Piano 2

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#668485 - 09/05/08 02:39 AM Re: Roland RD700GX versus OLD Rd700 - Honky Mids?
Dave Ferris Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 1725
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
FWIW...the Roland amps are not well received on this other forum I hang out in from time to time.

http://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/1987765#Post1987765
_________________________
http://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

2005 NY Steinway D, Yamaha CP5, CP4, Nord Piano 2

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#668486 - 09/05/08 07:09 AM Re: Roland RD700GX versus OLD Rd700 - Honky Mids?
propianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/08
Posts: 131
Loc: England
 Quote:
Originally posted by jesujuvaou:[/b]
As for my church situation, we're out of cash and PA channels at the moment - I can't even run the keyboard in stereo.
I know everything costs money! At my church I have to play their twelve year old Technics digital piano PX107, so I sometimes take my Kawai MP8 instead. ( I really NEED sympathetic resonance...!) All I can do is answer factual technical questions - I won't say whether it justifies spending money to remedy the problem. But surely, you could find or borrow some old stereo hi-fi speakers just to try a few different options, though...

As far as the Roland RD700GX patches, I think the new "Expressive Grand" patch is their best offering, so I'd definitely stick with that one. I agree the others sound bad, but the KC amp is still the weak link in the chain IMHO.


 Quote:
Originally posted by jesujuvaou:[/b]
As for keyboard amps, do you think the Traynor K4 is worth it?
I do think Traynor K4 is better than Roland KC series, if you're literally comparing only those two. Traynor has 12 inch woofer (less boomy for piano) and dual 4.5 inch midrange cones and dual 2.5 inch compression horn tweeters. It also includes a valve buffer preamp, and this can sound nice too. However, I'm basically not a fan of combo amps of any description, and it's still basically just a mono loudspeaker source.
You need to try playing your RD700GX through lots of different speaker systems before you decide exactly what to buy. Don't just move from one combo amp to a better combo amp. Try hi-fi speakers, PA speakers, studio monitors, satellites and subwoofers, stereo / mono, line arrays, local stage speakers vs Front-of-House speakers, floorstanding, pole mounted, wall mounted, active, passive, 3-way, 4-way, 5-way, etc! Think outside the box.
I've got four different speaker cabinets plugged into my Kawai MP8 right now, with two different outboard amplifiers, and a total of 12 different drive units making noise!

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#668487 - 09/05/08 10:31 PM Re: Roland RD700GX versus OLD Rd700 - Honky Mids?
jesujuvaou Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/04/08
Posts: 3
Loc: Oklahoma
Dave,

Thanks for that link. I'm really interested in the Acme Bass B1s now that someone mentioned on the other board. A pair of those run by, say a 600w Carvin Amp (which might be slight overkill) would come in at less than the Coda you mentioned.

http://www.acmebass.com/

I spent some more time on the GX today, and I am starting to warm to the first piano sound (the Expressive Grand). My EQ adjustments are not as drastic; I'm letting it speak for itself more and listening with my headphones. I'm playing with all the editing power of the 700GX and starting to make working setups like I have on my old 700. I hate that I have to "make myself like it," but the fact is that it is good enough and has enough strong points that I don't want to go through the hassle of returning it through the local dealer, explaining to the church people why I don't want it, picking out an alternative, etc. etc. Between the Expressive Grand, the Dark Ballad, and the General Midi sounds (lol), it's servicable. I play a lot of layered P&EP anyway, and it should be good for that.

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#668488 - 09/06/08 12:57 PM Re: Roland RD700GX versus OLD Rd700 - Honky Mids?
cloudswimmer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/16/08
Posts: 42
I heard both David Benoit and Brian Culbertson at NAMN last year playing the RD-700 GX live at the Roland booth, and it sounded incredible.I have no idea what the sound reinforcement was, nor if they were playing stock patches, but it is obviously a very capable instrument once dialed in, so don't give up.I ended up buying one myself after going through 3 Kawai MP8II's, and though I like my soft piano's the best, the stock GX sounds I've been able to tweak to satisfaction running through my Mackie 1604-Haefler Pro 2400 amp-Tannoy PBM 6.5's-and Velodyne CT-120 sub, another words a home studio setup.

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