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#355523 - 11/29/12 09:04 AM ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012
john smies Offline
Member

Registered: 05/05/00
Posts: 989
Loc: koudekerke, Holland.


ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012

Some personal reflections …


I/ introduction
II/ Prices and Priorities
III/ Internal Rom sample size
IV/ Musician versus Entertainer
V/ Arranger keyboards versus Backin tracks
VI/ Sounds and audiences

I/ INTRODUCTION

With the arrival of the new MOTL Yahama and Korg keyboards some personal reflections on the overall situation, do feel free to comment.
First of all it should be emphasized that virtually all of those participating on the SZ forum fall into differently categories. From professional entertainers to home musicians , from those who sing and play to those who only play the arranger keyboard.

II/ PRICES AND PRIORITIES

The keyboard market with the exception of the Ketron Audya, possibly the very best arranger keyboard on the market but highly overpriced with overall poor reliability and poor after sales customer service in most parts of the world, is now firmly dominated by KORG and YAMAHA. With the advent of the new MOTL models we can now savely limit our choices to the Tyros 4 and PA3X in the top range and the PA600 and PSR 750/950 as regards the motl models.Many have been putting forward questions and remarks regarding these last arrivals and how they compare to thier more expensive counterparts, often costing twice if not three times their amount. Some, like Diki for example ( a random pick, so no offence Diki ) have not tired of pointing out the “ deficiencies “ of the PSR 750/950 models.
I have read most of these with a certain scepsis and a fair deal of amazement, I must say.
Surely it will be plain to every individual that an arranger keyboard costing three times as much ( e.g. PA600 vs PA3X) is better equiped, has a better sound, etc.
The only legitimate question to be posed should be: Is the high end arranger keyboard worth twice or three times as much as its budget counterpart for you personally?
As most of you know I personally adhere to the view that one is always best served by having both a Yamaha and Korg arranger keyboard at one’s disposal, and if your budget is limited to two or three thousand bucks at the most, I would personally prefer a combination of the Yamaha PSR 950/750 with the PA600 , rather than having the Tyros 4 or PA3X. Naturally if money is no problem one should go for both top models or one of these combined with a MOTL arranger of the other brand.

III/ INTERNAL ROM SAMPLE MEMORY

A question rarely put forward and more often than not omitted from the extensive list of specs is the question : What is the size of the internal ROM sample memory ?
As many of you may know my current main keyboard is the PA800. Now I happen to know that the internal Rom sample memory is 128Mb. In addition it has a modest RAM sample memory of 64 Mb. In other words whichever sound(s) come out of the instrument are related to these two memories and factory wise only to the 128Mb Rom memory. Although I am not familiar with the relevant data regarding for example the PA500/600 or PSR models I venture to say it will be a safe bet to state that their Rom memory will be smaller, accounting for an overall (slightly?) reduced sample/sound quality. On top of which corners willl have been cut as regards DACs ( digital to audio converters) and other electronics components as well as cutting out extra functions such as aftertouch, vocaliser,etc. which goes a long way to explaining the substantial different price tag as well as the overall sound of the arranger board.

IV MUSICIANS AND ENTERTAINERS.

Why, is there a difference I can hear many among you say ? Basically there is of course though I should hasten to add that they overlap one another, often even significantly.
A musician tries to create music from scratch or at the very least tries to re-create music by significantly re-arranging existing songs or music.
An entertainer by contrast does what the word suggests: entertain an audience during a (live)performance, often by re-producing the songs as close to the original as possible. Mind you by establishing this difference I am merely pointing out an observation and am not judging any category or anyone. The least one can say is that I prefer a good entertainer over a lousy musician and vice versa.
What is the bearing of all this on the arranger keyboard scene anno 2012 ? A fair lot I would think.It has often been cited that Yamaha keyboards produce a more finished kinda CD quality product and that Korg by contrast has the sound of a live band, a view shared by yours truly. It is also a wellknown fact that Yamaha has an enormousand versatile selection of SONGSTYLES enabling the entertainer to offer the audiences the feast of recognition.
Depending on your requirements you can pick your choice. Personally I am of the opinion that virtually all entertainers are out there to please the crowds and are often well served by the plethoria of songstyles on offer for all Yamaha keyboards. For those who lean towards song interpretation , re-arranging songs and of course the much applauded live-feel the Korg seems to be the better choice, as well of for those who do not perform publicly at all but search to re-arrange music within the confines of their homes.Mind you here again there is a substantial overlap and I continue to believe one is always best served with having both a Korg and Yamaha model at one’s disposal.
Incidentally, a few months ago Donny sent me one of his old recordings ( the song HURT) done on the PSR-900 (2006) which sounded absolutely terrific. It just goes to show that professionals can make any keyboard sing… ( nevertheless Donny, congratulations on acquiring the PA3X !!)


V ARRANGER KEYBOARDS versus BACKING TRACKS

Having recently witnessed a few karaoke nights using high-quality Backing Tracks ( Sunfly,Legends, etc) I wonder in how far it makes any difference to the audiences wether the entertainer actually tickles the ivories or performs using professional audio backing tracks.
Such a choice becomes even more relevant if the performer is availing himself of the thousands of Song Styles available, in particular as I mentioned ealier for the Yamaha arrangers. Not to mention those who actually fall back on Midifiles and either do not play at all or play along with the midifiles. Personally I think the crowds could not care less as long as they are having a good time and as long as the overall sound, both that of the singer and that of the music, is pleasing to the ear.Which brings me to my final and very important observation :

VI THE SOUNDS AND THE AUDIENCES

It is interesting to try and enumerate the reasons why folks come and listen to a keyboard entertainer. What do they expect and what do they focuss on ?

1 Do I know that song?
2 Do I like this song ?
3 Has the performer got a pleasant voice ?
4. Does it sound “Nice “ ?

NICE seems to be the operative word here. In view of all that is and has been said here on the forum regards the samples and sounds of the recent bunch of motl and totl arranger keyboards it is perhaps somewhat disappointing to realize that the way the keyboard sounds is not top of the list here.
Let us take the prime example of the default sound of most arranger keyboards: the acoustic piano.Discussions about the merits or not of this sound on all arranger keyboards have been prolonged and endless including these sounds on the new models. Even opinions on the sound of the acoustic piano on for example the PA3X vary greatly, though all will agree that they are amply sufficient. All this may be of prime importance to those considering recording a professional CD and even then there is no accounting for tastes. Professional entertainers (including quite a few here on the forum) can produce a great sound and convincing performance using even a dated Korg , Yamaha or whichever keyboard and very few in the audiences will be able to tell the differences to which so much attention is paid overhere. All in all one should realize how relative all this nitpicking about sounds is. In the past I owned several Ketron keyboards and recently I had the SD5 for a short while. The drums and sax on the 1990s Ketron keyboards were already stellar and on a par with the most advanced sounds in the current top of the line arrangers, which just goes to show. We can all be grateful for the tremendous choice and quality on offer and use our creativeness to make the most of these great keyboards. Nevertheless there will always be lurking a new arranger keyboard temptation just around the corner… As stated elswhere I recently purchased a Yamaha PSR750 to compliment my Korg PA800.
…..”What a wonderful World “ …

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#355553 - 11/29/12 04:57 PM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: john smies]
hammer Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2049
Loc: Texas
Hi John,
You must have returned from your trip. Hope all is well with you.

Deane

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#355555 - 11/29/12 05:12 PM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: john smies]
NoteBender Offline
Member

Registered: 10/15/12
Posts: 76
Loc: Nova Scotia, Canada
Generally in non-electronic acoustic instruments many of the more subtle sound characteristics of an instrument that a musician hears and loves when playing their instrument are usually not heard by anyone that is a couple of meters or more away.

As to opinions on keyboard sounds, since I am new at the keyboard, I honestly don't know if the same holds true and especially once the output of the keyboard goes through an external PA.
_________________________
Monty -- KORG Pa600

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#355574 - 11/30/12 12:44 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: john smies]
Tonewheeldude Offline
Moderator

Registered: 01/21/10
Posts: 1469
Hi John,

Interesting reading, but I have to pull you up on your statement about the Audya because its incorrect.

Overpriced: When the 76 note Audya was released, The Tyros 3 was £200 more. But you should not compare the Pro 76 note Audya with a Tyros anyway..like for like the Audya 5 is Ketrons equivalent to the Tyros 4 (both 61 note arranger designed for home but often used on stage)

Reliability: Granted, their have been a handful of problems just as with any electronic device, however poor reliability of the Audya is a total myth stirred up for the most part on this very forum by a few anti-audya members even before the keyboard hit the shops..plus a minority of users that did not get the product or simply enjoyed the conflicts! Genuine faults have been minimal and mostly due to ignorance because of the very different technology used. In fact, if someone can be bothered to go back through the archives and search for all these so called problems posting them in a separate thread I am fairly certain I can respond to almost all of them.


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#355577 - 11/30/12 01:27 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: john smies]
abacus Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/21/05
Posts: 4556
Loc: English Riviera, UK
Have to disagree there, the original prices on launch of the Audya was £3999 and the Tyros £3450, so not sure where you got the £200 cheaper from unless you were comparing it to the Tyros complete with speakers, stand, volume & Piano pedal, which even then could be got for cheaper than an Audya.

As to being overpriced, then this cannot be quantified as the Audya has features that other arrangers don’t, so you can’t directly compare them.

Bill
_________________________
English Riviera:
Live entertainment, Real Ale, Great Scenery, Great Beaches, why would anyone want to live anywhere else (I�m definitely staying put).

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#355579 - 11/30/12 02:43 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: john smies]
Bernie9 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 3919
Loc: Port Charlotte,FL,USA
TWD

I am glad you posted a rebuttal as to price and reliability of the Audya, as your opinion involves experience with many customers. I wholeheartedly agree. My Audya is 100% reliable, and, especially with the AJAMSONIC package, knows no equal.

Bernie
_________________________
pa4X 76 ,Audya 76,Yamaha S970 , vArranger, Hammond SK1, Ketron SD40, Centerpoint Space Station

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#355581 - 11/30/12 03:26 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: Bernie9]
john smies Offline
Member

Registered: 05/05/00
Posts: 989
Loc: koudekerke, Holland.

My reflections as such were meant to illicit comments on whichever part of it you think fit. As to Ketron and Audya,I was speaking from personal and non personal experiences here in Holland and Belgium. As to prices and service in the USA I stand corrected.But it is a great keyboard no doubt about that.

regards,
John

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#355584 - 11/30/12 06:48 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: john smies]
hammer Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2049
Loc: Texas
TWD

Good post and for the most part accurate. But, I do have personal experience with Ketron as a company and here in the US support is Non-existant. AJ does his best but is not able to do what is really needed. I have a simple SD2 unit which burned up after installing a Ketron recommended updated and finally gave up trying to get it replaced after a year of calling, leaving voice mails, sending emails and not even a return call, or email from the US distributor. Does anyone think I would sink $4000.00 into product from a company like that??? This has NOTHING to do with how good, or not, it sounds or plays, or any other musical part - pure business!!

Deane

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#355587 - 11/30/12 07:40 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: hammer]
captain Russ Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/02/04
Posts: 6272
Loc: Lexington, Ky, USA
Your post is mostly "dead on", John. As far as Ketron goes; good product, terrible US distribution.

In my many years in the business I never saw anything like it.


Russ

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#355591 - 11/30/12 07:57 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: john smies]
DonM Online   elvis
Senior Member

Registered: 06/25/99
Posts: 13909
Loc: Benton, LA, USA
I have a great idea, Russ. Let's BUY the U.S. Distributorship. I'm thinking it wouldn't cost TOO much.
DonM
_________________________
DonM

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#355597 - 11/30/12 08:45 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: DonM]
captain Russ Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/02/04
Posts: 6272
Loc: Lexington, Ky, USA
Yea! Then, we could sell units directly to "Zone" members, bypassing distributors completely, ignore repair issues...and if anyone complained, just IGNORE THEM.

It would be GREAT!


Russ

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#355599 - 11/30/12 08:59 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: hammer]
Tonewheeldude Offline
Moderator

Registered: 01/21/10
Posts: 1469
Originally Posted By: hammer
TWD

Good post and for the most part accurate. But, I do have personal experience with Ketron as a company and here in the US support is Non-existant. AJ does his best but is not able to do what is really needed. I have a simple SD2 unit which burned up after installing a Ketron recommended updated and finally gave up trying to get it replaced after a year of calling, leaving voice mails, sending emails and not even a return call, or email from the US distributor. Does anyone think I would sink $4000.00 into product from a company like that??? This has NOTHING to do with how good, or not, it sounds or plays, or any other musical part - pure business!!

Deane


Its hard for me to defend that kind of treatment - and I am sorry. It is the responsibility of each distributor to take care of their customers (although sometimes problems occur when people buy outside of their country), but in your case I would have telephoned the factory, if only to lodge a complaint. Although they are in Italy the office staff speak excellent English.

If you still have the unit I would give them a call. I don't have the number on me, but I think its on the ketron.it website. Don't email though as it will automatically get directed back to your distributor.

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#355604 - 11/30/12 10:22 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: john smies]
hammer Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2049
Loc: Texas
I wonder how many folks are like me - I would probably buy a Ketron keyboard if after purchase service existed. just wondering!!! I was one of the people present at Don Mason's get together in Shreveport when AJ brought the Audya and gave us a demo. It was the first in the US. Donny was also there along with about 20 others. At the time pricing kept me out of the market but now it would center around Ketron's US distributer and the lack of interest in them after they get the money.

Deane



Deane

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#355607 - 11/30/12 11:30 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: hammer]
captain Russ Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/02/04
Posts: 6272
Loc: Lexington, Ky, USA
Deane, I'm certainly in your corner. I have 2 old MS-60's, an SD-5 and a Midjay.

You couldn't give me a new piece of Ketron gear until the major problems with distribution are addressed.

Worst distribution I have EVER seen.

How sad!


Russ

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#355631 - 12/01/12 02:09 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: john smies]
Tonewheeldude Offline
Moderator

Registered: 01/21/10
Posts: 1469
For the benefit of those wandering in from a search engine result I would like to point out the above comments are discussing the USA distributor. This certainly does not apply in the UK distributor.

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#355634 - 12/01/12 04:34 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: Tonewheeldude]
john smies Offline
Member

Registered: 05/05/00
Posts: 989
Loc: koudekerke, Holland.

It does however also refer to distribution in Holland and Belgium where the arranger keyboard market is huge.
Having said that I am somewhat sorry to see that this thread has meanwhile been kind of hijacked on the merits of the Ketron distributor which was not my intention. I hope folks will also put forward their thoughts on other reflections put forward by yours truly.

kind regards,
John

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#355642 - 12/01/12 07:43 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: john smies]
hammer Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2049
Loc: Texas
Good point John - sorry I took it off in another direction.
Deane

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#355651 - 12/01/12 11:57 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: hammer]
sparky589 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/12/11
Posts: 600
Loc: NJ
John- You used a terrific word that many bypass here- SUFFICIENT. To me, there is always bigger and better. The key is not to overspend beyond what is sufficient for your use and satisfactory to your ears, and to those of your audience. I like motl arrangers for this. Sure it's nice to have all the bells and whistles and by all means go ahead if it suits you and is within your budget. But I believe some of the newer motls are sufficient for most....
_________________________
The older I get, the better I was..

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#355656 - 12/01/12 01:45 PM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: john smies]
Diki Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 12861
Loc: NW Florida
It DOES, however, point to a total lack of concern by the parent company that their product is adequately represented in foreign territories.

Yes, CURRENTLY, the UK distributor seems on the ball. But should Ketron ever change distributors, watch out! They obviously do not give a damn about the US distributorship (or how their product is represented and serviced over here)... you better hope that you don't get a distributor as lackadaisical in the UK as we have.

This falls squarely upon the parent company, IMO. They cannot fail to be aware of the issue.

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#355721 - 12/02/12 06:06 PM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: Diki]
sparky589 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/12/11
Posts: 600
Loc: NJ
I spoke to a Ketron dealer in the midwest and he said that the parent company is satisfied with its market share and support in the UK and Europe, and that US sales are simply not that important to them, making it difficult for him to continue with them. And I am more interested in the reliable SD5 than the Audya at this point. It is sufficient for me...
_________________________
The older I get, the better I was..

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#355762 - 12/03/12 09:54 AM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: john smies]
Diki Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 12861
Loc: NW Florida
Then they should simply withdraw from the market in the US. It does them more harm than good, as global as our reach is nowadays when it comes time to complain and generate negative publicity, to have such a large and vocal country constantly being stiffed by our distributor.

If Ketron ever go to another US distributor, they should at LEAST get a contractual commitment to carrying spare parts and a well situated national service center open 5 days a week. One of the reasons I wouldn't touch these things with a barge pole is the fear that my gig could suffer while I wait weeks for a repair (or a spare part to be shipped). Who could afford TWO Audya's, just to have one spare in case of a failure?

I had an issue with my G70 about a year after I had it. Roland replaced every single board in the unit (because we didn't have time in my schedule to have it diagnosed), and I only had to drive 40 miles to the nearest service center. My total downtime was three DAYS!

THAT'S what working pros need, not months!

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#355772 - 12/03/12 12:49 PM Re: ARRANGER KEYBOARD SCENE 2012 [Re: john smies]
DonM Online   elvis
Senior Member

Registered: 06/25/99
Posts: 13909
Loc: Benton, LA, USA
Well, I have waited THREE MONTHS for a part from Korg. I am trying to reach my attorney now to see what legal remedies are possible.
DonM
_________________________
DonM

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