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  SG Pro X At a Glance
Click for larger view arrowReleased: 1997  Specifications
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Jeff Ahrens (ahrensj@umich.edu) writes:
March 26, 1998. This is half of a rather lengthy exposition on my 6-month mission to buy a good ìstart-upî home studio. I bought an 88-key weighted controller, a synthesizer/sampler, and a digital multitrack recorder. I wanted to share my shopping experience on-line because many of these sites are devoid of truly useful info. Ideally, this provides objective advice for those of you shopping for similar products. Look for both the controller and sound module reviews on this site.

88-KEY WEIGHTED CONTROLLER

This is the central nervous system of a rig, and I recommend an emphasis on feel and playability. Sound modules come & go, but these boards should remain in a studio or on the road for a long time. There is a general consensus that the Roland A-90/A-90EX has the heaviest action ñ most like a big grand piano. Fatar-made boards (found on the Kurzweil PC-88/PC-88 MX, Kurzweil K2500X, Alesis QS8, Ensoniq KT88) are noticeably lighter but feel a bit ëchunkyí to me. (Note: Iíve seen a few postings that complain about their quality too.) The Korg SG Pro X (also the Trinity Pro X and new N1) is somewhere in between. The Yamaha P-series digital pianos are a higher quality version of the Fatar, bordering on Roland-level beefiness. These are quite popular, however I preferred the Korg. The SG action is soft enough for great expression (from attack to aftertouch) but crisp enough to fly when necessary. The sounds were good enough to justify the purchase too. The piano doesnít mea! sure up to the Roland or Kurzweil for the most discriminating listeners, but I like the clean, processed sound Korg uses. Again, I can always get a piano module later. Play them for your self ñ your preferences may differ from mine.

Of course, the sounds cannot be completely ignored ñ you are paying for them, after all. There is a general consensus about the piano sounds too. Yamaha P-series are true and accurate, and quite bright and powerful. These would cut through any mix. The Kurzweil piano is equally as accurate but more neutral ñ the most realistic IMHO. The Roland piano is darker, more classical. The low end is especially rich. The Korg is full and dynamic, but becomes ever so slightly ëtinnyí or airy in the upper registers. The Alesis was even less true, but lacked the presence that makes the Korg so pleasant. It was almost metallic at times.

The other sounds on each board, which I considered as just a bonus (secondary to the feel), had a greater variation than the piano itself. The Korg SG Pro X has fewer than the others (in number), but all were useable and very high quality. Its electric pianos are beautiful, and the other sounds exactly what youíd expect: warm and full. The Roland A-90 EX just had too many redundant sounds for my taste, and stuck to the ìRoland soundî too much. Too many of the electric pianos were average and nearly identical (all D-50 eps). Roland also included way too many Jupiter-type strings and pads when they could have expanded the instruments instead. The Alesis QS8 seemed to sacrifice quality for quantity. Its library was impressive, but I would rather have fewer, fantastic sounds than a few hundred Iíll use only once a year. The others boards Iíll leave for you to listen to, or write me if you like.

The controller features were another distinguishing feature. Obviously, specialized controller boards (A-90, PC-88, SG Pro X) have an edge here. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the capabilities of the average synth nowadays. In fact, I almost left the controller area altogether because most of my work will be at home, where I donít need much in the way of assignable controllers. This is why I considered the Ensoniq E-Prime (only 76 keys) and the Korg N1. However, I felt in the end that the SG Pro X was the best for me.

A few final comments: I found the non-piano sounds on the Yamaha P-series to be uninspiring, a big surprise considering the fun MU100R library. The Roland sounds on the A-90 were also a bit bland, but perhaps with a bit of processing they would come to life ñ they seemed to have good texture. I just wish they would let go of their old boards (keeping only a small number of the best sounds) and include better DX e-pianos and higher quality/more diverse organs. Speaking of organs, I had a twinge of regret leaving the Ensoniq E-PrimeÖ check out the Flute Stop and Warm Reed organ sounds ñ absolutely beautiful. Its basses and leads are pretty nice too; too bad the other sounds are par. Alesis is very ìsynthyî but I havenít heard the Q-cards to discover what they have for Classical and acoustic sounds. Korg, as usual, has a very rich, processed sound. I like it. However, where is the Harpsichord? A flute or reed organ? Thatís why Iím still looking at modules.

Finally, PRICE. The Roland was high, the Yamaha, Kurzweil and Korg just behind. The Alesis is a bargain but I was willing to pay a bit more for a bit more class. Iím very happy with the SG Pro X.

Comments About the Sounds:
True, rich piano. Fantastic electric pianos. Typical beautiful Korg strings. Basses good. Organs good. Layers OK.

(Thanks to Jeff Ahrens for this info.)
and www.zzounds.com for the pic

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