New Kurzweil Keyboard Workstation – the Most Advanced Ever?

Kurzweil has earned a reputation for producing some of the most capable and best-sounding keyboard workstations. Their K2500 and K2600 lines have become workhorses for professionals worldwide. Now, Kurzweil has announced the latest in its line of ultimate synth workstations, the Kurzweil K2661.

Fully compatible with all Kurzweil K2x00 models, musicians should be able to update to the K2661 with the confidence that their archived work will be compatible.

Kurzweil K2661Kurzweil’s powerful V.A.S.T. architecture provides 127 algorithms to shape your sounds. In addition, the KDFX effects processors provide 5 stereo bus effects with 24 bit processing. The K2661 is a complete workstation, allowing the user to work from concept to completion without changing from station to station.

Compatibility: All K2000, K2500, and K2600 Series libraries are forward compatible with the K2661. Maintaining an consistent architecture has allowed Kurzweil to build one of the largest sound library in the world. In addition, Kurzweil reads other major formats directly into the system for use with its V.A.S.T. architecture. Kurzweil has done a great job in the past of maintaining compatibility, and keeping enhancements available for older systems long after they have gone out of production.

V.A.S.T.: Kurzweil’s powerful Variable Architecture Synthesis Technology (V.A.S.T.) is a state-of-the-art synthesis system. V.A.S.T. can accurately model or emulate many synthesis processes. In addition, V.A.S.T. has many processes not available anywhere else.

New Features: The K2661 includes features that K2600 players around the world have asked for. New features include:

  • ADAT optical output for 8 channels of 24-bit digital output;
  • A SmartMedia slot for convenient storage and upgrades;
  • All the standard ROM sounds from the K2600, plus the Orchestral ROM block and Contemporary ROM block.
  • A General MIDI 1 sound set is provided for convenient authoring of MIDI files for the World Wide Web.

In its announcement, Kurzweil identified many other features that musicians were asking for:

  • A 61 note, unweighted synth-style action with monophonic aftertouch
  • 48-voice polyphony with 192 oscillators
  • Fluorescent 64 x 240 backlit LCD display
  • Up to 128 MB of sample memory
  • Flash memory for OS and ROM storage (allows software updates via SmartMedia, MIDI and SCSI)
  • Full MIDI controller capabilities including eight sliders, optional ribbon controller, footswitches, pedals and breath controllers, all assignable
  • 60 DSP functions
  • 126 sound shaping algorithms for per-voice processing
  • Extensive sample-processing capabilities
  • Over 450 programs provided
  • 32 track sequencer with full editing
  • 16 MIDI channels, each can be a 32 layer program
  • Sampling option with analog and digital inputs and sample-while-play capability
  • Up to 48MB on board ROM sounds, including Kurzweil’s acclaimed Stereo Grand Piano
  • Powerful KDFX 5 stereo bus, 24-bit digital effects
  • Live Mode, real-time processing of live inputs
  • Stereo headphone output

KB-3: The KB-3 Organ Mode accurately models a Tone Wheel Organ. The sliders and mod wheel are used as the drawbars for real-time control. This synthesis modeling tool gives the user the power to blend harmonics in real-time to create and control unique new timbres. Full polyphony is always maintained, with a single-voice containing 9 harmonics that may be blended, controlled and/or recorded in real-time.

Sequencer: The K2661’s full-function 32-track sequencer is equipped with many features only found on the sophisticated software-based sequencers. With a maximum internal resolution of 768 ppq, sequencer functions include: Linear, Pattern and Step (Drum Machine), Record Modes, Reference Quantize, Event Edit List, Cut, Copy, Paste facilities, Advanced Auto Arranger functions (allows sequences to be triggered from keys with velocity sensitivity and transposition), grab (imports tracks from other sequences) and more. Reference Quantize allows the user to quantize to a groove track, and to quantize tracks not previously recorded with a click. The Event Edit List, with view filters and audible scroll, enables precise, computer-style editing. The K2661 can import and export either Type 1 or Type 0 MIDI files on DOS format media..

MIDI Control: The K2661 is a complete MIDI controller. The front panel has eight independently assignable sliders, useful as MIDI sliders, for sequencer mixdown, or as organ drawbars in the KB-3 Mode. Two buttons above the pitch and mod wheels are completely programmable. The optional 600mm ribbon controller is programmable in three distinct zones or one long zone. Additional controllers include sequencer “transport control” buttons, 4 footswitch inputs, and 2 continuous control pedal inputs (1 CC and 1 CC/breath controller). The breath controller input accepts Yamaha BC-1, BC-2, and BC-3 breath controllers. The multitude of flexible controllers make the K2661 the ideal center piece for any MIDI production.

Balanced Outs: The K2600 includes 24-bit Balanced Audio Outputs with patented output circuitry that deliver professional audio signal levels (1/4″ t/r/s). Unbalanced (1/4″) outputs are also supported.

Options: The K2661 user can install options including Sample RAM (up to 128MB) and Sound ROM boards.

Live Mode: Powerful V.A.S.T. DSP capabilities to process any incoming mono or stereo signal via the digital inputs or analog inputs (requires the sampling option). This lets you plug your guitar, microphone, mixer or tape track directly into your K2661 and customize the sound using any of the V.A.S.T. parameters, all in real-time. You can even add effects using the K2661’s state-of-the-art KDFX. The K2661 is one of the most advanced real-time signal processor ever created. With the ADAT/AES selectable optical I/O connections you get up to 8 inputs and 8 outputs which can bi-directionally communicate with other devices such as Adat Modular Digital Multitrack recorders or computer digital audio interfaces.

On-Board Sounds: The K2661 offers over 450 programs (with 100s more available) for a wide and useful selection. A search string functions allow the user to locate a program, setup or object quickly in memory. The K2661 uses a file format that is K2000, K2500, and K2600 compatible, enabling it to read Kurzweil or third-party sound libraries for each instrument from SmartMedia or any SCSI disk (such as CD-ROM). The K2661 can also read other manufacturers’ sample libraries including Roland’s(r) 700 Series, Akai(r) S1000, S1100 and S3000, and Ensoniq(r) EPS and ASR file formats. The K2661 gives the Kurzweil owner access to the largest sound library in the world.

Interactive Setups: The K2661 interactive setups allow for easy creative inspiration using multi-timbral “grooves.” Kurzweil gives the user instant access to the most useful parameters for real-time control of programs and setups from a wide assortment of preassigned controllers.

Connectivity: The rear panels of the K2661 provides additional controller inputs for a multitude of interfacing possibilities. The controller inputs include the 600 mm ribbon controller, four footswitch, one breath-controller and two continuous control pedal jacks (1 CC pedal and 1 CC/breath input). Interconnection is easy with a 25-pin SCSI connector and MIDI In, Out and Thru (Thru switchable to a copy of Out). Rear panel outputs include a pair of mixed audio outs, four individual 24-bit balanced audio outs with Kurzweil’s patented output circuitry, and one headphone output. In addition, optical ports provide selectable ADAT Lightpipe or S/P-DIF I/O. Add the K2661 Sampling Option (SMP-2X) for a full range of additional digital and analog inputs.

KDFX: Not really a soft-rock radio station, KDFX (Kurzweil Digital Effects) utilizes Kurzweil’s proprietary VLSI chips and DSP algorithms. It includes a versatile 5-stereo-bus design, 24-bit signal processing, cutting edge DSP functionality, and unparalleled real-time control, all with an extremely flexible routing scheme. All I/O can be routed through KDFX including 8 outputs and 8 inputs from the ADAT digital I/O or analog sampling I/O.

Sound ROM: The K2661 has 32 MB of internal sound ROM, and two expansion slots for a total of up to 48MB of ROM sound samples. The internal sound ROM includes all of the samples from the K2600, the K2600’s Orchestral and Contemporary ROM options, and a General MIDI 1 sound set. In addition, the Stereo Dynamic Piano, and Vintage Electric Pianos ROM options can be installed in the expansion slots.


Model: K2661 – 61-note unweighted synth-style keyboard

Power Supply: User switchable international power supply.

Architecture: Proprietary V.A.S.T. system.

Polyphony: 48 voices.

Display: 64 x 240 fluorescent backlit display with brightness and contrast controls.

Analog I/O: 4 balanced audio outs with 24-bit converters plus mix stereo pair (can also be used as unbalanced). Stereo headphone out.

With SMP-2X sampling option: Stereo 1/4 in. unbalanced analog hi-Z input (tip/ring/sleeve); two balanced lo-Z (XLR) inputs.

Digital I/O: 8 channels of 24-bit ADAT input and output or 2 channels of S/P-DIF input and output via optical ports.

With SMP-2X: 2 channels optical S/P-DIF inputs.

Sample Up to 128 MB via 1 non-composite 72 pin SIMM.

Sound ROM: Up to 48 MB; 32 MB base ROM plus 8 MB Stereo Dynamic Piano ROM, and 8 MB Vintage Electric Piano ROM

Sequence/Program RAM: 1.5 MB user-programmable battery-backed RAM.

SCSI support: One SCSI-1 25-pin connector.

Software Upgrades: User-installed upgrades via SmartMedia card, MIDI or SCSI. Software available for download from this web site. DOS compatibility required.

AFMS File System: User-friendly cataloging and retrieval of individual objects. Powerful utilities including: file search, info about media/available space, disk macros, startup file applications, and more.

KB3 Drawbar Mode: Allows blending of nine harmonics per voice in real-time (full polyphony maintained at all times). KB3 Mode allows realistic tone wheel organ emulations and innovative, dynamic new timbres.

Live Mode: Process any incoming signal via the digital or optional analog inputs with powerful V.A.S.T. synthesis functions and built in KDFX capabilities.

Sample Processing DSP: Non-real-time DSP functions include time compression/expansion, pitch shifting, re-sampling, pasting samples on beats-per-minute timeline (Mix Beat), volume ramps, mix sample, and many other functions. Sample Processing DSP does not require the sampling option to be installed.

Sequencer: Full-function sequencer with 16 song and 16 arrangement tracks. Offers pattern, linear, and step recording, cut/copy/paste, advanced ‘groove’ quantizing, event list editing and other powerful editing tools. Sequences can be triggered in real time from the keyboard.

Compatibility: Reads/writes Standard MIDI Files, AIFF and WAVE files. Reads libraries in Roland 700 series, Akai S1000, S1100, and S3000, and Ensoniq EPS, and ASR file formats.

Options include:

SMP-2X Advanced Sampling Option with Analog and Digital (optical) input, and Sample-while-play.
Stereo Dynamic Piano ROM, and Vintage Electric Pianos ROM Sound blocks add additional ROM samples, along with new preset programs and setups.

Dimensions: 39.4″ x 14.2″ x 4.3″ 100.2 cm x 36 cm x 11 cm

Weight: 32 lbs. 14.5 kg

One thought on “New Kurzweil Keyboard Workstation – the Most Advanced Ever?

  1. Dear keyboardists,

    I proudly own a K2500XS and…If I need another keyboard its just because of the voice limitation (period). Thus, I plan to add the new K2661. For me VAST is everything. Some people call me dogmatic, but, somehow they know I am right. The difference between me and them is just that I read the manuals and like to program while they prefer pre-made soundbanks…

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