Kurzweil PC4 Offers V.A.S.T. Synthesis Capabilities & More

Kurzweil has officially announced the PC4 – a new ‘Performance Controller & Production Station’ that promises an updated take on the company’s V.A.S.T. synthesis heritage.

The Kurzweil PC4 features massive polyphony, support for classic 80’s FM synthesis, a 16-track sequencer and more.

Features:

  • 256 voices of polyphony
  • 2 GB of factory sample content + 2 GB of user-loadable space
  • 1000+ factory programs
  • New! – 6-operator FM Engine with the ability to import 80’s/90’s FM SysEx files
  • 9 sets of programmable knobs+sliders+buttons
  • 88 note fully-weighted hammer-action with velocity sensitive keys with aftertouch
  • Full native V.A.S.T. editing capabilities
  • 16 track Sequencer with dedicated front-panel transport buttons
  • 16 arpeggiators (Classic or Step sequencers) with dedicated front-panel controls
  • 16 MIDI CC Step Sequencers
  • 16 Riff Generators
  • Dedicated front-panel transposition and tempo controls
  • Ribbon connector input
  • (2) 1/4 inch audio input connectors
  • (1) stereo 1/8″ audio input jack with FX
  • (2) pairs of stereo outputs
  • (4) switch pedals (via 2 stereo jacks)
  • (2) CC pedal inputs

Pricing and Availability

Details on pricing and availability for the Kurzweil PC4 are still to come at the Kurzweil site.

35 thoughts on “Kurzweil PC4 Offers V.A.S.T. Synthesis Capabilities & More

  1. This looks pretty amazing.

    I’ve got a K2500, which I love, except for the aliasing you get in the upper ranges. Can any Kurzweil fans tell me if this has been fixed and, if so, when did they fix it? I kind of like the old-school design of the K2500, but the aliasing is pretty noticeable in the high ranges. If it’s something they fixed by the K2600, I could settle for that because that’s my main ‘con’ with the K2500.

    1. I don’t think the K2600 solved the aliasing issue, though it may have improved it. You have to choose whether to use a DSP generated oscillator, vs a sample based one. (I think the latter is cleaner).

  2. You can get hundreds of GB in a fingernail sized flash card but we wont have any of that in this production station.

  3. You can get hundreds of GB in a fingernail sized flash memory today but that wont be seen in this production station from Kurzweil. I bet those rubber keys sucks and they are not saying if the display is OLED. Bet they just want to make some money.

  4. Kurzweil starts as a company with creative efforts, but since the K2500 (VAST has to be cool, if it had been done) comes nothing, for what the name Kurzweil stands in the past. Now, VAST again… Do you have no other ideas? Like mostly all other companies you rest on your old ideas… it is sooo boring. Their a so much new ways to make creative Instruments, i guess. Whith all this today processing power, mass-memory storage and software possibilities you can build up everything. I’ve stopped for years, sending ideas to the music industry. Sleep well.

    1. There are several ways that VAST actually ALLOWS for a “future-proof” model. First, it is based on a very flexible routing system with an expanding selection of DSP blocks. Second, it has a best-in-class modulation system, with secondary depth controls, and complex FUNction relationships between controller sources. Nothing else comes close– in software or hardware. Third, the VAST algorithms can be expanded, the DSP blocks can be improved and new ones can be added. Fourth, other modes like KB3 (tone-wheel emulation) can be implemented to make the instrument into another product.

      There are legitimate complaints. First, the modulation scan rates have been too slow– even so, the engine does smooth envelopes, though not as fast as they could be. Second, some earlier models had some aliasing with DPS generated oscillators. And third, there were some limits to polyphony and memory in various products over the past decade. I personally was a little disappointment to lose the ability to edit the sample ROM, and the loss of ARRANGE mode in the sequencer.

      At the end of the day, Kurzweil is an impressive example of overcoming adversity, and coming back strong.

      1. YEAH! What stub said! A Kurzweil K-anything is deeply modular inside. Every company’s keyboards have their own sound aroma, but VAST allows you to build most of the things you’d commonly want plus the means to program a synth macro from Mars. They’re not casual buys. There’s a whopping good reason Kurzweil still dominates a lot of Broadway orchestra pits and has had a solid place in Pink Floyd’s rigs for years. The 9 sliders also make their commitment to proper Hammond drawbar behavior clear. Don’t buy a K unless you’re willing to approach it as a modular to some extent, because that’s a lot of what it is. I’m not buying one. Its smarter than me because I had too many pineal coladas as a kid.

    2. If you think that the VAST in the PC4 is the same as the K2000 then you have some reading to do. Even in the PC3 VAST is so much more powerful: user definable routing within algrithms, 32-layers that can cascade in any order (K2000 and K2500 only had parallel layers, K2600 only had Triple Mode), anti-aliasing DSP oscillators, FX per layer, the list goes on. RTFM

  5. Depending on the price, it could be a much better alternative to Yamaha’s MODX, simply because it has aftertouch. For those Yamahaphiles who are ready to throw rocks, I know that Yamaha’s stuff has more sophisticated FM these days, but aftertouch is more important.

    1. No, it isn’t. Aftertouch is by the far the most overrated midi spec ever. Any keyboard I’ve ever used that had it had to be pressed in until your finger snaps in order to get the stupid aftertouch to register. And when it does register, it’s extremely unpredictable and lacking nuance due to how hard you have to press the key — give me a foot pedal.

      For every one person who cries about the lack of aftertouch, there are a hundred more who are happy it was brought behind a shed and shot. Give me the better FM engine, fuck aftertouch.

      1. Well Brain Drain, aftertouch on the original DX-7 worked very well. I had it and used it a lot. Even on instruments like the Ensoniq SQ-80, it worked well. Many artists over the years, like Chick Corea and many others made good use of it. Yamaha thought it was important enough to put in on the Montage. I’m sorry that you’ve had crappy instruments over the years, or that your fingers aren’t up to the task. I would like to know where you get your information on the 100 to 1 preference against aftertouch. Made up out of thin air perhaps?

        1. While I don’t love (mono/channel) after-touch, I will bloody well defend your right to have it and appreciate it. It’s an important control source to access without having to leave the keys.

          It has its downsides:
          1. Always starts at zero, the ramps up to some value then always back down to zero before releasing the key(s).
          2. Hard to set the right sensitivity to not generate values with hard playing, while still not requiring insane force to initiate use.
          3. If the sensitivity can’t be properly calibrated, can generate lots of data in sequence that must be filtered or edited.

          As a side note, I got a used PC3, and one of my minor gripes is that the after-touch sensor adds some cushion at the bottom of the key travel that makes the keys feel more heavy and tiring to use. Still, I’m REALLY happy with the PC3, and if/when a PC4 comes out, I’ll strongly consider upgrading.

          1. Hi, Stub. Regarding aftertouch point 2 on a PC3: I got around that by running aftertouch and an ASR mini-envelope through a FUN, taking the minimum of the two and using that as the pitch mod for a guitar. Result: even when I hit hard, aftertouch response is delayed by maybe 150 milliseconds — short enough to be imperceptible in conscious usage, but long enough to prevent initial velocity from affecting the AT value.

            That’s one of the reasons I love the VAST architecture.

            I don’t know anything about Kronos — does its architecture allow the insertion of a customizable lag time on AT?

  6. One of the cool things about the great K2500 and K2600 was the controllers – including the large ribbon.controller. It’s kinda sad that the ribboncontroller was abandoned.

    1. Not entirely. It has a ribbon input, so those who want one can buy the Kurzweil Ribbon and use it natively. It’s a pretty nice compromise. Though I agree that having it built in is pretty nice. No breath controller input, but that’s understandable since BCs are hard to find and/or expensive.

  7. Dream come true. VAST is super powerful so Kurz doesn’t have to develop anything new just for the sake of doing so. If you are bored with VAST I respectfully suggest you take up fishing or golf…or knitting. Hoping for a 61 key (76 would have to do for me if they only release that variant).
    I don’t think it’ll steal thunder from Yamaha MODX because it’ll regrettably be up there in price…damn I hope it is not the case as it typically is with good Kurz stuff.

  8. We still haven’t determined whether this is the GREATEST product ever to be announced on April 1.

    Is it? Is… it?

    1. I think that title goes to Gmail. Not that it’s a better product, even a little bit, but that was a WAY huger snafu in terms of marketing.

    2. OK 100% confirmed straight from Kurzweil that this is the REAL DEAL, and not an April Fools thing. Unfortunate timing for a new release, but exciting news, none the same.

      Looks like a VERY impressive feature set. 2 GB of user loaded sample space is a big deal.

  9. I have 3 Kurzweil 88 note machines – K2500XS, PC3K8 and Forte – and a lot of time spent with them, so hope this helps.

    The Forte is 128note polyphonic, the PC4 is 256note polyphonic. That’s the biggest leap here from what I can see. 256notes is more and more de rigeur for 88noters in the production/piano category. Compare with Korg Kronos, Kawai MP7SE, etc.

    The Forte has a dedicated master section by the volume knob. The PC4 appears to have lost that (may have been moved), but adds new rotary knobs above the faders.

    That there are no ribbons on either is a loss, I still use that K2500XS one. There is not enough room on a PC3K8 or Forte panel to use the separate one (use double sided tape to attach it). No ribbon socket on a Forte at all.

    A Forte can load 3.3Gb sounds; PC4 2Gb; from a thumb drive.

    There are not that many libraries out there for the Forte in the “synth” category. There is backward compatibility where automapping K25/K26/PC3 files makes sense, but mapping your old K2500 sounds is Work, despite the import/read capability. There is no sysex documentation to help you code your own batch file utilities. Unless you are into reverse engineering the editor link. Sysex is most useful information so if this is important to you, you may be disappointed.

    There is a comprehensive PC editor, which is USB connected, for the Forte. You can send MIDI over USB or 5pin DIN. There is also a VST so you can drop the Forte direct into the DAW as a plugin. I imagine, again check, that similar tools will be forthcoming for the PC4, as it makes sense.

    Kurzweil promote their machines on the basis of VAST – and make no mistake, it’s very very deep and capable, they are right to be proud of it. The comment about orchestra pits is right – doubtless is will suit show designers and installations.

    But I would make sure you are happy with the mundane aspects of the design too. Do you like the display, the speed of the action, does it have a range of sounds you want to use personally, day in day out, and can you figure out how to perform comfortably with it?

    I was disappointed that the Forte had a Fatar two-switch action, which for a stage piano is not great for fast single note repeats, especially when Casio, Korg, and Roland all have triple switch actions, and are 256 note capable. If Kurzweil offered me a graded hammer action with triple-sensors as a Forte upgrade that would be money well spent here.

    Got be honest, I still use my K2500 a lot, far more than the Forte in fact. It’s old, and has been repaired more times than that, but it’s STILL got a lot going for it, especailly the sound palette. To me, that is testament to VAST. But the physical aspects have let the K2500. The switch parts have never been durable enough. The PC3K8 was not much better. A synth is more than the electronics – it has to be durable, and maintainable. I just hope the PC4 is built tougher than its predecessors.

    1. Hi, David,

      I’m struggling between getting a K2600R for my Kurzweil MidiBoard or to buy a PC3K8 / Forte 8 / PC4. You wrote you’ve been using the K2500XS more than the Forte mainly because of its “sound palette”. Can you tell me what did you mean by that? Isn’t the Forte everything the K2500/K2600 were + a lot new stuff?

      Thank you in advance,
      Mirko

  10. Aftertouch gets a raw deal because its not well implemented very often. Keyboard mechanism quality has dropped a lot in recent years, partly because the number of EDM dabblers began to outstrip the number of dedicated keyboardists. That’s the market. I’ve played a couple of higher-end synths that had a smooth aftertouch behavior. Never mind mere vibrato. When you can gently press down and get a deeper reverb effect that pans left & right just a little bit, you immediately get it. I can manage that with most of my softsynths, but even now, it eats up bandwidth like a mufuh, so I only turn it on in specific places. Its sure sweet for strings and pads. The chances are pretty good that Kurzweil has gotten it right. Again, its a matter of a K not being for the faint of heart.

  11. I always wanted to have the power of the Forte (FM, Sequencer, Riffs etc) but in an easy to use SP6 type interface…and this looks like it does just that. Interested for sure

  12. This looks exciting. Addition of FM is a big draw for me.
    I wonder if it will be expressly Midi MPE compatible.

  13. Would love to see some innovation on the UI side of VAST. It is indeed still an amazingly powerful system all these years later but it remains centered around a whole lot of screen paging and 4 buttons to control the UI.

    Or maybe the the 8 sliders/knobs/buttons could have a ‘dynamic’ mode where they’re used to select and program whatever is on the screen. Which could be enlarged and expanded to 8 simultaneous controls. Or maybe this already exists and I’m 15 years out of the loop. Again. 🙂

    1. The UI innovation comes in the form of Sound Tower – the free editor that can run as a stand-alone app or as a VST plug-in.

  14. Hmmm…I still find my Kurzweil K2000 superior to this newer series…okay its is not so “high-end”, but has a more gritty touch, which is what most end-users want anyway plus it has capabilities to read Akai, Ensoniq and Roland cds/format and it has sample input….

  15. I’ve had the K 1000, the K 1200, the K2000, and the K2500, and I’ve always liked them as synths, but unfortunately almost everyone had problems with squeaks in the audio chain.
    You could hear both at the end of the sound, and in the change from preset to preset. I don’t know what this defect is called in technical terms, but it was very annoying. I sold everything.
    I would like Kurzweil to come back with a TRUE SYNTH VAST. without those defects he had many years ago. Unfortunately, they too just want to make money and so their inventiveness and creativity stopped. More than 28 years have passed by now if they don’t change now they can keep their discrete tools.

Leave a Reply