Currently I “between bands/gigs”, having left Welsh Floyd to pursue my own music, and because of the day job I can only commit to weekend gigs, which was going to cause a problem with the Floyd band at some point. So I intend to get back to my own stuff which has been languishing on the shelf for too long. I am now the wrong side of 50, so feel it is better to try my own stuff, even if it fails, rather than spend another 10-20 years playing Pink Floyd (iconic and timeless music that its), and I have been doing the 'Floyd for 10 years; it has taught me a hell of a lot, but it is time for a change.
Anyhow, I will have some spare dosh coming my way in a month or so that I can splurge on musical toys, so the G.A.S is starting to bubble
My current gig rig, keyboard wise is a Roland FC300 Foot controller, Yamaha EX5 (main controller) and a Korg Kronos (top tier). Then I have a laptop running Cantabile - I used that in Pure Floyd to host backing tracks, the light show and NI B4II, but in Welsh Floyd I had the organs in the Kronos, so Cantabile was just running the backing tracks and light show in that incarnation of the band. Oh, I have also gotten my Nord G2 engine back in service in the gig rack.
Now I certainly intend getting a decent Brick PC similar to the ones being suggested in other topics, and getting Cantabile at the heart of the rig (instead of at the end of the chain) so it can run the plethora of VSTis that I have - the current laptop is not quite up to the job.
I wish to retire my EX5 from gigging as it is 17 years old, so the big question after all that preamble is what to replace it with. I like to have two boards on stage to spread the sounds out on two keyboards in complex songs. So my choices are to replace the EX5 with another “major board” from Yamaha, Korg, Roland, Nord or Kurzweil. Or do I just bite the bullet, save a shed load of money and get a MIDI only controller to go with the Korg and whatever I have hosted in Cantabile?
In terms of going for a controller only, I am not a piano player, so do not really like fully weighted keyboards. The Kronos is the 61 key “synth action” keyboard type, so I would like the controller to be a semi weighted similar to my EX5 - which I really like the feel of, and I like the length of the keyboard - 76 notes.
So, I am interested in opinions from other community members on what they would do in my position, and based on your collective experience.
Q1. Would you even bother with another board with sound generation built into it these days?
Q2. If you went for a controller only board, what is the best out there in terms of feel and control surface options?
I am probably going to visit a music shop with a good range in to try out the hardware options - a six hour round trip for me to a decent shop! But I will probably have a very critical ear and hard nose in terms of “Does this give me anything over and above a Kronos, a Nord G2 and all of those Soft synths”!
E.g. I am a huge Yamaha fan, but got bored of their Motif, Motif, More Motif phase, got fed up of waiting for them ever doing anything interested again and went for the Kronos instead in 2014. They now have come up with the Montage which I am interested in, but I am on the fence about until I get to try it. It probably sounds great, but do I really need AWM 2 when I have HD-1 in the Kronos (with uncompressed samples streaming from an SSD, and with Wave Sequencing to boot) FM-X is “half an FS1r” (I have one of those), I have more FM in the gig rig/studio than I know what to do with(!), and I am disappointed that Yamaha did not revisit neither AN and VL modelling or the EX5 FDSP concept within the Montage.
But… If I went Controller and VSTi only, the cost saving on the hardware would allow me to get a more powerful Brick PC and probably a few more VSTis…
Controller wise, there is actually nothing wrong with the EX5, but I have had reliability problems in the PSUs, which are switch mode (urgghhh) and Yamaha no longer repair them - but the A3000 (cheap as chips) use the same PSU, so getting a few of them as donors is an option. My EX5s are a bit tatty now, so one option is to look for a pristine model as my controller.