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Thread: Which 88 Key keyboard should I buy? Kronos X/ Stage 3/ Montage/ Fantom X8 etc.

  1. #1
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    Which 88 Key keyboard should I buy? Kronos X/ Stage 3/ Montage/ Fantom X8 etc.

    Which keyboard should I buy? Options: Korg Kronos X 88 Key/ Nord Stage 3 88 Key/ Yamaha Montage- 8/ Roland Fantom X8 or RD- 2000/ Kurzweil Forte 88 Key/ any other good keyboard you might suggest.

    Hello. I was considering these keyboards as I'm about to go to a Music Conservatory in London, England this year. I live in New Delhi, India at the moment and I have a Korg Krome 88Key and a Kawai KX-21 Upright Piano. Since, I'm not too pleased with the capabilities of the Korg Krome and adding to that the price of having it sent to London this year would be almost as much as the keyboard itself, I was wanting to replace it with a newer, higher end one. As I do live in New Delhi, it is almost impossible to try these keyboards in person. So, I have to rely on the internet for the most part.
    I am a classically trained pianist. I have been playing piano since I was three. Needless to say, a lot of my repertoire is Classical music, ranging from Ravel to Liszt to Shumann etc. So, a good action and a decent piano sound is a must. I find it annoying that sometimes when I sustain the piano sound on the krome, rather than dying off slowly, it does that to an extent and then cuts off. I'd like to change that if any of these keyboards offer that (I'm not too sure if any of them do). I will rely on the grand pianos in the conservatory for most of the refinement of the pieces such as adding colour to it and as the action on a grand is much different than that of an upright at least. But, I do need a keyboard to practice at home too. I also gig with a lot of bands. I often end up covering some complicated songs which need several patches, layering, splits etc. I do like the seemless transition/ patch remain on the Krome although it does make the previous sound a bit louder when changing which I don't appreciate. I record music mostly on DAWs on my computer. I end up almost never using the recording capabilities of the in built facilities of keyboards. That said, I almost never take a laptop with me on a gig and rely mostly on the keyboard's capability. Also, I never play as a one man band. So, backing tracks, drum tracks and arpeggiators are completely useless to me. I also don't care about in built speakers as I mostly connect the keyboard to an amplifier. Although, I wouldn't mind the speakers if it doesn't add too much weight, not that it is a big deal. I do not like the piano sounds on the Krome. Although, they do the job. I have been using Korg keyboards for quite some time now. I'm quite used to the interface as I had an M-50 and an M-3 earlier too. Although, I wouldn't mind a change if it is worth it. That said, let's get to what I think about these keyboards.
    1) Korg Kronos X 88 key:
    This, to me, is the safest option. I am used to Korg and this is an obvious upgrade. But of course, since I don't really love the sounds on the Krome, I am a bit sceptical. It has 120 voice polyphony on single mode. Which is much more than that of the Krome. That said it's been released since more than four years which gives me the feeling that Korg might replace it, although there is not much competition in the market to force it to. Although, it is still a great all rounder and the interface will be easy to switch to as it will be almost the same as the Krome with added features.
    2) Nord Stage 3 88 key:
    I'm quite intrigued by this one. I like the hands on controls that this keyboard offers. I find it to be much more useful in a live setting than finding it in a menu on a touchscreen or something similar. The cons seem to be the polyphony as it does about 60 voices on a single piano sound in stereo. Also, it does not have as many sounds as most of the other keyboards on the list. But if the quality is great, it seems to be a decent comprise. I don't appreciate that the Nord Piano 3 has a Keyboard itself as it has a triple sensor technology instead of the double sensor one on the Stage 3. Though, I don't know how much of a difference that makes. I also read some reviews saying that the split mode is limited. I'd like to know more about that. Also, it doesn't help me that Nord changes/ updates the models almost every year. Giving the feeling of an outdated product within approximately 1.5 years.
    3) Yamaha Montage- 8:
    I have played with a Tyros that I used to get for gigs from a company who used to sponsor some of the gigs I did. I was quite impressed with the sound. From what I've heard from people who play it, they love it. The 128 note stereo polyphony is great and it has an actual FM synth, unlike the Kronos. Yamaha owns Bosendorfer and the CFX range of pianos by Yamaha are great themselves too. So, I expect the piano sounds to be put together well. This does limit the range of the piano sounds but I would not care if the quality of the sounds are great.
    4) Roland Fantom X8/ RD-2000:
    I've heard that the action on the RD-2000 is amazing. The Fantom X8 apparently has an 'Ivory feel' keyboard. The Fantom X8 is again about five years old. So, it does again give the feeling of buying an outdated product which might be replaced soon. The RD-2000, on the other hand, was released about two years ago. I don't know much about these keyboards. I'd love to hear from you if they are worth considering.
    5) Kurzweil Forte 88 key:
    As far as I've read about it, I don't like this one. It doesn't even have seemless transition/ patch remain. It does come with flying drawbars as an option. Although, I've not found any specifications for that on their site. The only reason why I've added this to the list is that a lot of people have recommended me this one. Some of them say that it has a great interface. Apparently, it's not as hands on as the Nord but also not as menu based as the Korg/ Yamaha. Others just swear by Kurzweil for some reason. I'd like to know why.
    Other thoughts:
    So far, the Nord Stage 3 seems to be the most interesting but I'd like to know how much I'm sacrificing on the other functions of the other keyboards for 'better' sound and a more hands on experience. I'd like to know how much the polyphony effects the playing. And how 'limited' the split sections are. I'd also like to know if the Montage is actually a 'better' all rounder than the Kronos. The other two keyboards, I don't know much about. So, any good information on those, especially the Roland ones, would be appreciated. Any information on the keyboard action, sounds, ease of use, effects and other functions on any of these keyboards or other ones would also be greatly appreciated. The price, so far, shouldn't be a problem as long as I land up on a worthy investment because I have been saving up for this for quite some time. I hope you guys can help me make a decision.
    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    As a professional lead guitarist-vocalist, I can only provide some general comments.
    Kurzweil was an inventor for the C.I.A. in the United States and is always cutting edge.
    When Stevie Wonder bought his invention for reading books with a human voice,
    he phoned him and asked if he could do that with the sounds of musical instruments.
    When he put out his first album with that technology, he called it " The Talking Book".
    All the Kurzweil equipment I've tried out felt cold, for some reason.
    That could be because I don't live very far from that border, than I never will cross.

    I've always liked Roland and Boss equipment, cutting edge, always having a nice feel.
    It's the kind of manufacture that musicians can take out on the road up here in Canada,
    going through all the seasons, being taken in and out of venues in all kinds of weather,
    and it really holds up well, only needing repairs if you spill something on the keys,
    or use one for traction in the snow if your vehicle is stuck.

    But overall, by far, the best synthesizers are made in Italy, usually over $15,000.
    As Clan Watt, and someone who respects the electrical values of Marconi, I'm not surprised.
    A friend of mine, now retired with stage monitors on the floor of his apartment for his speakers,
    has a new Italian synth that has three "Miles Davis" settings.
    He said to stand in the middle of the speakers, and I heard a muted trumpet over my shoulder,
    beautiful, just beautiful.
    One of my best girlfriends was a bassoonist in the Ottawa Symphony and Ottawa Symphony Orchestra,
    and I would sit onstage during rehearsals, so I know trumpet sound and also owned a nice one.

    What gets me about all modern keyboards is their claims about action and weight for the keys.
    They're all different, so for me, I'd be looking for the kind of action that plays the best.
    Some plastic feels slippery, and other plastic doesn't feel good if your fingers get sweaty.
    For sure, you would have me with ivory keys.
    And I wouldn't look for the most expensive one you can afford.
    I think having two or three stacked up would allow the most versatile sound use.
    You should also consider bass pedals.
    If you are India born and bred, let me paraphrase something Mahatma Ghandi said:
    not American, but "English society, what a concept."
    I hope your spirit survives.
    When I'm in Niagara Falls on a bus, in the city or coming into the city,
    I can be the only local in a group of joyful and vibrant students from India.
    One afternoon, it was a bus full of girls all dressed up for a special celebration.
    I felt like I was riding on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway,
    and with my tartan shirt, pants and jacket, I blended in.

    I also recommend looking in the organ forum here,
    to see what a traditional, if not historic, keyboard can be with modern capabilities.
    I would ignore the thread "The Nuclear Organ for World Peace".
    I know you can't afford that.
    Last edited by John Watt; Jan-26-2018 at 13:21.

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