There was a small write up in this months issue. Read on..
At first glance, you could mistake the SD-5 for some kind of military-spec keyboard. In Ketron’s words, they’re a small company that doesn’t have unlimited resources to put into slick industrial design and starship-like user interfaces, preferring to invest them all into the sound. After spending a couple of weeks getting to know the SD-5, I see where they’re coming from: this keyboard has some of the most live-sounding styles in this roundup. Partly this is because each main variation section can be up to 32 bars long, so your ears get bored less easily; the styles also have the same uncompressed quality as the Genesys Pro S, but with note-for-note sophistication more in the Korg Pa800’s league. The SD-5 changes the instrumentation a bit less from one style to another — a good analogy is how the David Letterman band just absolutely shreds on any tune you can think of, but on a relatively uniform set of instruments. Strummed funk guitars in the styles are particularly authentic: “Funky1” and “Funky2” had me dancing like a dork in the Keyboard studio.
Some styles are exceptionally realistic, thanks to the unique, unexpected Drum Remix feature: The styles’ “Drum2” part can slice, stretch, and squish audio files that sync up with the rest of the MIDI-based accompaniment. In “Soka,” for example, a long audio loop of a Latin percussionist wailing away is part of what you hear. We’ve run columns about how you can make programmed drums sound more real by adding an acoustic recording of, say, real congas or cymbals, and the concept is similar, only these tracks perfectly follow your tempo and style section changes. The SD-5’s big brother, the SD-1, can import and adapt WAV and Akai samples for the Drum2 track, but with the SD-5, you need to use custom, pre-encoded files, which you’ll be able to download from www.ketronus.com.
Limitations? There’s a definite learning curve to this axe, and its 32-track “sequencer” is only for song file or style playback, not recording songs, so the SD-5 doesn’t qualify as a full composing workstation. But it has a great-feeling keyboard, with aftertouch, and once you get to know it, it’s an amazingly clever, well-thought-out live rig