Piano sounds: P80 vs. S80 vs. S80 plugin

Posted by: scherr

Piano sounds: P80 vs. S80 vs. S80 plugin - 03/30/00 06:18 PM

Hello all!

I am strongly attracted to the S80, having played with it in store for some time. However, the store also has a P80, and I find the piano sounds a bit woodier and more 'natural' than the S80.

I know that I can get a plugin for the S80 that enhances the piano sound. My question: will the plugin give the S80 the same quality piano sound as the P80? From reading other posts, both here and elsewhere, I gather that the S80 piano plugin has a 'woodier' sound, although there's disagreement about the relative quality. I know I can hear a difference between the P80 and S80.

The difference is almost enough to move me to buy the P80, recognizing that it is not a synthesizer at all, and barely a capable MIDI driver. The S80 has so much more flexibility and expandability, as a . But (at least in part) I'll use the instrument for solo home performance, and can really tell the difference in sound (I've accepted that the keyboard action of the P80 is more subtly modulated than the S80).

So should I accept the (to my ear) lesser quality sound of the S80 (together with the less modulated keyboard) in favor of the P80; or go with the great synthesizer?

Any comparison of the plugin sounds with the P80 would be helpful; and any more general advice on the choice would help as well.


Posted by: LifeForceExplorer

Re: Piano sounds: P80 vs. S80 vs. S80 plugin - 03/31/00 12:56 AM

Amazing...I just went through the same struggle and ended up picking the P80. In fact I actually bought and took home the S80, then returned it for the P80 (plus about 600 bucks back in my pocket). But it wasn't a financial decision.
The really subtle, natural piano feeling and sound of the P80 are just tooooo perfect for pianists. They've really nailed the touch on this one. In my humble opinion - and I tried em all over the past 3 months - at only $999 the P80 is the premier classical / jazz pianists keyboard to be had.
Now I can't address your main concern - sorry to say I never had the piano plug-in with the S80. But I've seen a lot of people give it a kinda shrug of the shoulders as no great improvement over the already very beautiful piano sounds resident in the S80. Just more good pianos.
Let me tell you the main reason I dumped the S80. The tiny LCD display drove me NUTS. Every audio and MIDI term is reduced to 2 or 3 letter abbreviations and there are a lot of sub-screens that must be excavated (with multiple button-dial combinations) to finally get at what you want. If you are quite experienced and agile with MIDI-digital/audio I'm sure its a great synth. But if you are not, the owners manual is USELESS and a real BEAR. Pages and pages about what the synth's functions are and skimpy, frustrating references about HOW to actually IMPLEMENT them step-by-step. NOT a synth for someone (like me) who has only been into MIDI for about a year now - and I've been working in a college MIDI lab regularly with a lot of gear so I'm not a "newbie" either.
Finally...I hate the way you cant really learn important, basic things about these synths til you buy them and FINALLY have an owners manual. (Hats off to the manufacturers who are putting pdf versions of owners manuals on their websites.) With regard to the P80 manual, I find that it gives you easy access to all the basic MIDI functions -especially the all important "local off" so it can be used as a true controller with other modules. Except for the lack of a MIDI thru (not insurmountable either) I'm convinced it can be a fine controller and I'm very happy to be discovering new things about it in the manual. Just one example - reverb is easily scalable on a 1 to 20 scale - you arent just stuck with the room-hall1-hall2-stage scale. And on and on.
Well...there's a million stories in the naked city and that's mine. I'm sure the S80 is a great device too - but not for me.
Posted by: scherr

Re: Piano sounds: P80 vs. S80 vs. S80 plugin - 03/31/00 04:14 AM

Hey LifeForceExplorer:

Thanks for your extended comments. They really help. In particular, I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in recognizing the special touch of the P80 keyboard. Others whose comments I've read have been more equivocal, but side by side comparison even with the excellent weighting of the S80 tells the difference. I like the S80's feel; but as a long time acoustic user, I feel at home on the P80.

FWIW, I've posted similar messages on other boards, and listservs, including one devoted to the S80, and your conclusions on touch ring true with others. I get more ambiguous messages on sound. However, between those who feel I can get what I want with the native sounds of the S80, and those who value the plugin's additions, the consensus seems to be that sound is (or can be made) less of a dividing line from the P80.

If that's true, then the choice appears to lie between the performance capacity and kinesthetic pleasures of the P80, against the more cerebral, sound factory and compositional flexibility of the S80.

Your cautions about the (needless?) technical challenges of mastering the S80 are daunting . . . but only up to a point. I expect to have this machine for some time, and actually enjoy the challenge of deciphering the manual. A long time sim gamer, used to impenetrable technical explanations, I've accepted that at some profound level, life is a puzzle that unlocks itself with patient attentiveness.

I've compared the P80 and S80 PDF manuals and pretty much understand what I can do with the P80. The fact that I still don't really know all of what the S80 allows, even after slogging through the manual, actually appeals to me, in a bizarre, probably pretty disturbing way.

In any case, thanks again for your helpful thoughts.

Posted by: Agent428

Re: Piano sounds: P80 vs. S80 vs. S80 plugin - 04/01/00 05:05 AM

I got the PF (piano) plug-in board with the S-80. Honestly, I don't think it offers much above the sounds on the S80 itself. Check it our for yourself before you buy it. Lot of EP sounds, not too many different "grand piano" sounds.

I like the first piano sound on the S80 the best (A01) which is a stereo grand. Of course, there's a lot of capability to edit the individuals sounds more to your liking as well. I haven't got to that yet. Any other S80 users edited piano sounds to get something more to their liking. If so, how?
Posted by: scherr

Re: Piano sounds: P80 vs. S80 vs. S80 plugin - 04/01/00 06:48 AM


Thanks for your review. Your ambivalence about the PF (piano) plug-in board matches comments I've read elsewhere. I went and bought the S80 yesterday, and have been spending a fair amount of time with it. I'll not think of getting the plugin board for a while, until I've come to terms with what I might do with the S80's own sounds.

I've developed something of a love / hate relationship already with the A01; sometimes it sounds fine, other times it's too hard and bright for what I'm wanting. A softer alternative shows in the default Int, A03 (BrtStereo) which to my ear isn't quite as hard. I have started messing with the sounds, but haven't quite worked out even what all the various parameters do and mean.

Thanks again for your help.

Posted by: Agent428

Re: Piano sounds: P80 vs. S80 vs. S80 plugin - 04/11/00 06:58 PM

Great!! Glad you're an S80 user now!

I like the A01 stereo grand with the low EQ increased (at about 2:00 position) relative to the high EQ straight up -- I like more bass in the piano sound.

Another piano sound to check out is JazzBallad which is somewhere in Int, but can't recall where.

Let me know if you are successful editing any of the piano sounds to get something more to your liking. I haven't had time to explore this in any depth.