HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!!

Posted by: Puzzled

HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/11/13 05:29 AM

Hi Everyone, New to the forum. Just registered as I need some help. I'm about to start gigging and I'm in the market for a digital piano that isn't too hard to transport weight-wise. I have a budget of around £2000. At home i currently use Logic Pro and I'm happy with the VST piano sounds etc that I get from it. I have a old Yamaha YDP 113 which I really like the feel of, and as I use it as a midi controller, it's ideal. HOWEVER, it's so heavy, it's not practical to carry to gigs, and I don't want to bring my home computer (iMac) every time I do a gig either. SO, my question for anyone reading is.... Do I go for the Nord Piano2 with all the sounds built in, OR, my other choice is to get a Macbook with Logic Pro and get myself a more transportable midi keyboard? Any advice would be welcomed. Thanks in advance!
Posted by: PianoZac

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/11/13 08:59 AM

I would say either the Nord Piano 2 or a MacBook Pro/Casio PX-5S would work well. The nice thing about the NP2 is everything is all in one, everything is seamless operationally, and the Nords are updated frequently whether through software or all new samples. With the NP2 you ave free access to over a thousand sounds in the Nord Piano Library and Nord Sample Library, and more samples added what seems to be every month. The NP2 represents a strong case for a gigging piano/eyboard player. The one disadvantage (relatively speaking) of the NP2 is no B3 organ sounds or samples.
Posted by: Dave Number 4

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/11/13 12:02 PM

I had a similar dilemma, but already owned a decent laptop, so controller + software seemed more economical.

I went with a yamaha CP33 as controller (I wanted to have some built-in sounds as insurance against computer failure during a gig) and got the galaxy vintage D for Kontakt player.

The Vintage D sounded (and sounds) great through headphones, and pretty good by myself through a powered PA speaker. But the first time I tried it with a band it didn't cut well at all so I went with the CP33 sounds instead. I've been gigging sans laptop since, even though the cp33 AP sounds are nothing to write home about.

On the other hand, I recently tried a great Rhodes EP VST (Neo-Soul Keys) in a band rehearsal for the first time and it was fantastic, so I may be gigging with laptop in the near future.

Since you would be spending the same either way, the NP2 seems like much more of a sure thing. (Unless you also really want a new MacBook!)
Posted by: Puzzled

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/11/13 02:48 PM

Thanks Zac and Dave. I really am in a dilemma! I've never had £2000 to spend before on a piano and probably never will again, so I want to make the right decision! I've got my first gig for 7 years at the beginning of April so I feel like I need to sort something soon, so I can get used to what ever set up I choose. I thought I always wanted a Nord Piano(2). I got to try one at the weekend for a short time, and while it's obviously good, I spent my time trying to get a similar sound to the Steinway + a 'touch' of rhodes that I use at home through logic. That got me thinking, should I be best taking the sounds from logic pro that I'm happy with and using them in a gig situation. I haven't got a laptop (only the house iMac) so I would have to invest in a Macbook Pro. Maybe that should be the major investment? As I say, I've been happy using my old yamaha YDP113 (hammer action, weighted keys) as a midi controller. So if I went down the cheaper piano/ laptop + Logic, I'd be looking for something £700 or under. I've just been reading about a few, including;

Yamaha P105
Yamaha P35
Yamaha P155
Casio Px150
Roland A88

I'm inclined to agree with Dave, it might be good to have a half decent piano sound built in case of a mac failure, so perhaps midi only isn't the best option. I still like the weighted feel of my Yamaha, so feel is important, as is a movable weight. (My old Yamaha is 36kg!) I wonder does anyone reading this use a Mac and Logic sounds (or Mainstage). Perhaps a macbook and logic gives me more options in future than the nord piano 2? Any more thoughts anyone? Thanks.
Posted by: Dave Number 4

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/11/13 03:00 PM

Will your gig(s) be in a group situation? If so, have you (or can you) arrange to drag your iMac and controller to a rehearsal, or drag the other folks to your house, and see how it feels and sounds with the band?

36 kgs is really heavy! You can definitely have a fully-weighted-feeling keyboard that weighs a lot less.
Posted by: Puzzled

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/11/13 04:19 PM

It's a solo outing, so you hear everything! Used to be in a very quiet 8 piece, now going it alone. Possibly one other person playing flute/clarinet. It's pretty quiet music. Would like to hear from anyone who uses logic as their bank of instruments and what piano they use as a controller. I sound like I'm talking myself out of the nord piano don't I?!
Posted by: maurus

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/11/13 04:26 PM

Try it out, with rented or borrowed instruments. A Yamaha GH action might already do the trick on a budget (as in CP33 or CP50), or the new Kawai VPC1 (but that's quite heavy already). Concerning Nord Piano 2: Go and try it as well.
Posted by: Puzzled

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/11/13 05:01 PM

Wow that Kawai looks beautiful. But it's just too heavy for gigs. Would look great at home if it didn't have to keep moving. I'm wondering about this yamaha p105?. People talk highly about the Casio px... too, but I need to get over the fact that it's a Casio to consider that!
Posted by: maurus

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/11/13 05:39 PM

P35, P95, P105 all share the same GHS action. Fairly lightweight, not for me. But if you go this way, save your bucks and get the P35 for your purposes.
Posted by: Puzzled

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/11/13 05:54 PM

I'll have to try and find those Yamaha's in a shop and see how they feel. The cp33 looks good too. Have you tried one Maurus? I'm not really into lightweight keys either.
Posted by: origen

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/11/13 06:29 PM

Puzzled, I think youre on the right track for gigging, personally I wouldn't substitute the NP2 for anything else out there if portability, sounds and ease of performance are important. I tried the software/midi board combo and it can be a pain, its great if you're at home jamming and can get in to edit things that dont sound right or feel right but if you're using this for gigging, its impossible to find a better board, the only real complaint people have is the key action but something has to be sacrificed when you want something lightweight, let it be said though that many people like its action.
Posted by: Puzzled

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/11/13 06:59 PM

Origin, I think I'll go back and have another play with the Nord for sure, but the keys felt quite light in weight compared to the Yamaha fully weighted that I'm used to. When I sit down at home to write, I'm mainly using one sound! (The Steinway grand with a tiny layer of Rhodes and even tinier touch of synth). I did really think I wanted the nord piano, but I'm afraid I'll be searching for the sounds I've been writing with from logic. That's what made me start thinking about the midi keyboard/ laptop route. It might be a better workflow, so to speak. I'm still so confused, there's so many choices! :-0
Posted by: fizikisto

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/11/13 09:12 PM

Puzzled
I have an old Yamaha P250 (the thing is built like an 80 lb tank and has one of the heaviest actions of any DP i've ever played -- and it's quite a bit heavier than my parent's old upright). When I got my Nord stage 2 I couldn't believe how light the action felt in comparison. It felt, I dunno, insubstantial to me to me at first. Well, I happened to go without playing my yamaha for a couple of months, and I couldn't believe how heavy the action felt when I got back to it. It felt as "wrong" to me as the nord did when I first got it. If you love making music with your keyboard, I think you'll adapt to the action, you may even come to enjoy it. I did.

Now I actually prefer the action of the Nord. I find that though it's lighter, it connects to the sound beautifully. Plus, I had a hand injury (work related not piano related) a couple of years ago that forced me to lay off playing for almost a year so psychologically I feel like the lighter action is stressing my previously injured hand less. So the Nord may be worth giving a chance.

P.S. Nothing would stop you from using the Nord Piano with Logic or any DAW that you find yourself drawn to.
Posted by: Puzzled

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/12/13 03:56 PM

Thanks Fizikisto. Interesting to read your thoughts on the Nord piano 2. I think I'm going to go and have another good play of it tomorrow. In my head, the keys are all light and plasticky, but it might surprise me to have a go for a second time. Like you say, I can always use the nord with logic at home to access sounds, I just hope I could replicate the sounds I like in the logic instruments on the Nord when I play live.

I was thinking earlier about if I did go down the laptop/ midi route, what is the regular way of feeding this to the venue's pa? Is it just the Macbook Pro's headphone socket?
Posted by: Dave Ferris

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/12/13 04:27 PM

.
Posted by: fizikisto

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/12/13 06:34 PM

Puzzled,
I wouldn't use the headphone jack. You'd probably want to get a USB Audio interface box (basically an external sound card that has a variety of audio inputs and outputs) to go with your laptop. Ideally it will be something with a low latency, something that supports ASIO drivers.

warm regards
Posted by: Puzzled

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/12/13 06:59 PM

Dave, interesting to hear your take on the sound of a virtual piano/ laptop in a live context. I hadn't really considered that I couldn't get that great sound that I get in my headphones when playing live. I wonder if the bad sound would be down to way you output the sound from the laptop then? Would a USB audio interface solve this problem? I already have a Presonus firebox which I use at home with my iMac. Perhaps this would work. I use it just for audio inputs at home. Not quite sure how it would work live. I don't use the midi connections on it. I use a USB to midi leads to my current Yamaha beast of a piano. Can you use the firebox purely for audio out? It's got FireWire.
Posted by: emenelton

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/12/13 07:26 PM

The Nord Yamaha and Roland are all superior solutions for live. The Nord is the best.
What Dave said!
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/12/13 07:40 PM

Originally Posted By: fizikisto
I wouldn't use the headphone jack. You'd probably want to get a USB Audio interface box (basically an external sound card that has a variety of audio inputs and outputs) to go with your laptop. Ideally it will be something with a low latency, something that supports ASIO drivers.

For a Mac running Mainstage, that equation changes a bit. ASIO drivers don't apply. I'm not sure whether or not a USB interface would give you better audio than the headphone out, though.
Posted by: kiedysktos.

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/13/13 09:13 AM

PUZZLED, I guess you have a specific needs and taste, since you're using mainly piano+rhodes+synth hybrid. So the question is: will your taste change over time? Because at this setup I see you don't want to have simply most authentic grand piano, you want to have your own specific sound you like which also I believe have great piano. For this it looks like you'll want to have laptop, because it's more elastic, you can stack up any sounds. But you may develop you taste to simply look for single sound, grand piano with very authentic timbre and response - then what Dave said applies. Of course NP2 will be very comfortable, you have everything in one unit, with instantaneous startup, with keyboard velocity already set to optimal, and with great pianos/rhodes you can rely on.

about testing:
- take tour headphones with you
- try dual play in Nord Piano
- if you have any laptop/portable recorder, you may take it with you and record your testing, than compare it with your computer sounds directly

Of course you don't want make choice based on recordings, but I found sometimes when you listen to your recording performances on different instruments you may learn something about how to choose the sounds. You may also download some demo versions of software pianos and try them.

About controller+laptop setup: it's good to have some protection. So if your DP-controller has LINE IN, you connect it this way: laptop out --> DP-in --> DP-out, with DP volume at 0, so audience hears only a laptop. So if the laptop hangs, you just volume up your DP. Another solution is using small mixer for that.
Posted by: emenelton

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/13/13 09:12 PM

If it was me and I had £2000 to spend, I would absolutely get the Nord. Spending that kind of money buying a laptop setup (especially as a newb) for a gigging rig is a total mistake.
If you have the nord and want to expand as you go, get a laptop to take with. You still have your core board.

Having a solid board to gig with should be your first step.
Posted by: Dave Ferris

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/13/13 09:46 PM

.
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/13/13 09:59 PM

I believe an inexpensive, lightweight board combined with a laptop has the potential to produce superior sounds to any Nord current product.

However, once the sound is output through speakers, it's debatable as to whether the audience members would be able to perceive any significant difference in quality.

Then, as Dave notes, you have to factor in the extra cables, interfaces, start-up time, and general hassle of having additional gear as opposed to an all-in-one solution.

I love the idea of using a computer in the studio for recording, etc. However, in my opinion, when it comes to live gigging use, nothing beats the immediacy of a single board - just 'plug and play'.

Cheers,
James
x
Posted by: warlock214

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/14/13 12:49 AM

Get over the fact it's a Casio! The piano sounds are very good! I have the PX-150 and enjoy playing it!! If you need more built-in sounds the PX-350 or PX-5S(due out in a month) is the way to go!
Posted by: Puzzled

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/14/13 05:55 PM

Thanks for all the replies. If it sounds like I'm making the decision too complicated it's because I don't want to spend the money and make the wrong decision! It's a one off purchase! I need to make the right decision. Went and had another little play of the Nord yesterday. It's quite addictive. (Emenelton, you make a strong case!)

I need to know more about the layering function. I wonder if anyone could help with that? Can you layer a piano with a touch of Rhodes? And then do you still have the option for use of the sample synth section? Or can you only layer one instrument and use the sample synth as your second layer. (can you have 3 layers is what I'm asking?!). I ask this cos this what I use in logic. I agree about having a sounds in the hardware, not just relying on laptop.

In the shop I went down to have a look at the 'serious' stage pianos. The guy's opinion of the Nord piano wasn't a good one. He said get one if you want to feel like you're playing a bontempi keyboard! :-0 Well, I sat and had a good old play of the Roland fp4f and the fp7f. Both felt pretty good with a decent piano sound. The fp7f I felt was superior. Got some quirky voice harmonising and looping which I didn't try out. Thought it was the same weight as the the fp4f but then got told it was 25kg. I have a bit of a dodgy back and I'm not sure if this is too heavy. The Nord is 18.kg, but then with the stand (5.5kgs) it becomes 24 kg so little difference. I wonder what peoples experience of carrying these instruments are?

One other question for Nord piano owners reading is this.... There's a cover of a killers song on youtube and i really like the sound.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46opPL-ffPI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

How would you achieve a similar sound? It says In the info..."Ryan was playing his Nord Piano which was also triggering a Rhodes sound from a Kurzweil K2600".How exactly would this be triggered? Is that a midi signal along with the internal piano sound? If anyone has any answers to my many queries, I'd be slightly less confused! Thanks everyone. Really helpful forum.

Ps Warlock, they had no Casios to try in the shop! So I'm still ignorant to their virtues!
Posted by: fizikisto

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/14/13 06:33 PM

Puzzled, I believe the Nord piano can only layer synth sounds with piano sounds. I don't think it allows one to layer two sounds from the piano engine. There may be some useable piano/EP sounds in the sample library (or that you make yourself) that you can load into the nord piano synth section and then combine that with one of the piano sounds, but they won't be as rich sounding.

Nord's flagship product, the stage 2, has much greater sound layering capability. If that's a feature you need, it may be worth checking out (though the cost of a stage 2 may be prohibitive). The stage 2 has an on board a synth section (much more advanced than the synth on the nord piano), an organ section, and a piano section. It is possible to layer 1 sound from all three of those sections together. You can also create a second set of layers (organ synth and piano) and play them all simultaneously with the first set of layers, thus it is possible to play six sounds at once on the NS2 (two organ configurations, two different piano sounds and two different synths). The stage 2 also gives you much more flexibility for creating split keyboards and setting effects parameters for the various sounds.

FWIW, I originally intended to get a Nord Piano 2, but as I started comparing it to the stage 2, I was just blown away by how vastly superior the feature set of the stage 2 was. Depending on what you need, it may be a worthwhile investment.

Warm Regards.
Posted by: Puzzled

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/14/13 06:55 PM

Thanks for your reply Fisikisto. Well, I'm living up to my name now. I can imagine its great to have all those options on the stage 2 when you need them, but price would put a stop to this. Definitely can't budget for that. Does it feel the same as the piano I wonder.
Posted by: fizikisto

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/14/13 07:17 PM

Puzzled,
Yes, my understanding is that the two keyboards feel essentially the same (comparing the nord piano 2 to the Stage 2 88 key model). There is a very slight difference that is due to the fact that the NS2 has an aftertouch control strip as part of the keybed assembly, but the keybeds are otherwise the same.

I understand about the cost being prohibitive. I managed to get a crazy good deal on mine, and it was still crazy expensive. Have you considered some of the options from other companies like kawai, roland, yamaha, or even casio? The new PX5S from casio looks like a very impressive controller/keyboard for WAY less money. If you haven't checked it out, you might be impressed.
Posted by: emenelton

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/14/13 08:29 PM

The Roland 700 NX has all the layering functions but it is heavier than the NP2(I think).
If you are looking for an acoustic piano tool(mostly) than the Nord is arguably a better choice, but that is an opinion.
Many keyboard players like to have their dedicated piano and then a second board for organs or pads or whatever. You can get that 'down the line,' as you develop.
Posted by: fizikisto

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/14/13 09:44 PM

emenelton, Yes, the Roland 700NX is 55 lb. compared to 40 lb for the nord piano 2. The roland 300NX is about 39 lbs, and might make a better choice if weight is a concern. Of course the 300NX lacks some features, so one's mileage may vary.
Posted by: Puzzled

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/17/13 04:18 PM

Hi everyone. I'd like to say thank you to everyone who helped me out this week. Your input has been really helpful in making my decision. I went into my local music shop yesterday and made my decision on the spot!

After having another play on the Roland Fp4f and the Roland rd300, I had my third extended pay on the Nord Piano 2. And I fell for it. First go, a couple of weeks ago, I was unsure about the keybed. The Roland's supernatural piano sound is very good, but in the end, after exploring the Nord a little further, i personally felt that there was no comparison. The piano sounds are just great, and after playing for a short time, the keys feel good... Like other people say, they really do connect with the sound well, and you soon forget that was ever an issue. The sample synth section on the Nord is great too. Actual useable sounds, rather than many of the ones I would have ignored on the Roland. I think you can expand the sounds on the Roland too, but really, if the budget allows, I don't think anyone would be disappointed with the purchase of a Nord piano 2. It really is a instrument to fall in love with. I've only had it a day, but it's quite addictive and I'm really going to enjoy tailoring the sound to whatever suits. The controls are all there right in front of you and I don't think you an beat that on a stage piano. Really enjoying the triple pedal too. Looks beautiful. At 18 kg, you can actually carry on your own too. I got the Roland KS-18z stand to go with it, as it's apparently much faster than the Nord legs to take off quickly when you want to get off the stage. Really looks the part too. I did like the look of the Nord legs, but didn't want to be hanging around a stage struggling with them after a gig! Others may tell me that that isn't the case, but I went on the advice i was given.

Anyway, love it. When I get some recordings done with it, I'll be back and share the results. Thanks all. I hope this thread has been helpful to others too.
Posted by: maurus

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/17/13 05:10 PM

Congratulations and welcome to Club Red!

The NP2 sure is a nice instrument. Enjoy it, and let us know how it goes on your gigs.
Posted by: fizikisto

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/17/13 05:20 PM

Congratulations! It's always great to get new hardware that fills a need. I hope your new piano will bring you a lot of joy.
Warm Regards
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/17/13 06:27 PM

Originally Posted By: maurus
Congratulations and welcome to Club Red!


Indeed! wink

+1
Posted by: Puzzled

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/17/13 07:19 PM

I'm in club red, ha! Happy to be. You know you've made the right choice when you wake up and think, 'I've got a Nord piano waiting to be played downstairs'! smile don't think I really would have felt like that had I gone for the Rolands.
Posted by: emenelton

Re: HELP! For gigs... Nord Piano2 or laptop and midi keyboard?!! - 02/17/13 10:22 PM

Congrats!