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Viewing topic "PLG150-AP - hands on review"

   
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Posted on: November 05, 2004 @ 08:16 AM
ThePro
Total Posts:  0
Joined  07-17-2003
status: Newcomer

Ok, I’ve spent an afternoon with the PLG150-AP installed in my 9000 Pro and have been comparing it to a 9000 Pro with the older PLG150-PF installed and a Motif ES 8 which also has the PLG150-PF installed.

First - well I’m not as blown away with the sound as I expected; there are some flaws with the sample transitions in the critical lower midrange that are very disappointing. More on that in a minute.

Let me start by saying that the AP has a good piano sound; better than the Motif ES famed triple strike “Full Grand” by far (which I always disliked) and better than the 9000 Pro’s “Live!Grand” by far, and even better than the PLG150-PF’s pianos but not by as much of a margin as the first two instruments I mentioned. The immediate thing I noticed was the high end notes sound extremely realistic with all the overtones I often miss with other piano emulations. It really sounds like an expensive grand piano when you tickle those high notes. The lower midrange sounds a little dull to me, but so do many real grand pianos… I adjusted the velocity curve to “Soft1” and that brought out a little more tone. With the velocity curve on “Normal” you practically have to beat the keyboard to death to get any brightness at all… unless of course you select some of the brighter presets that seem better suited to rock. And the bass piano tones are great with lot of resonance. So far so good.

It’s the midrange tones where most left-hand chording occurs that I dislike, and there is an obvious sample change from G# to A below middle C. From that G# down to about D# the samples suffer from sample-slowdown-syndrome and they don’t sound as realistic as the rest of the tones. It’s obvious no matter what preset you try. The PLG150-PF and the Motif ES 9’s “Full Grand” patch by comparison don’t have this problem at all, but it sticks out on the PLG150-AP. This is the AP’s biggest flaw IMHO.

BTW: the AP piano sounds very “stretch-tuned” to me with no non-stretched variations available. When chording in the same area as I mentioned just below middle C, play a Cmaj7 with C as the root and you can hear those notes beating against one another. It’s less evident but still discernable in other areas of the keyboard also. This isn’t a fault, just an observation - makes it more realistic IMHO.

The PLG150-AP seemingly has one purpose in mind: solo piano playing. It’s more expressive than anything I’ve compared it to from Yamaha so far but I don’t have a P250 or the like to compare unfortunately. But that damn lower midrange really seems like a small tragedy for what is otherwise a very nice expansion card.

A quick mention about the other sounds: they are all variations of the acoustic piano, with more/less reverb and EQ and then some have some S/H trickery with questionable usefulness. Pretty much what you expect… no EP’s or clavs, although there is an imitation dulcimer patch.

Oh - need I mention that as usual with Yamaha the documentation is POOR! Not one word of how to use this card with the 9000 Pro yet again and barely a mention of how to use it with the Motif ES (at least the Motif has a dedicated forum). And there are parameters that have no definition/description at all in the thin manual, such as “DSP Stage2 (slow/fast)”. This means what?

Yamaha includes a CD but there’s only 324k of data on it which would’ve easily fit on a floppy, including demos and plug-in voice data for the Motif, S90, etc.

Is the PLG150-AP worth the money? IMHO, just barely… it could’ve been better. Owners of the original Motif will be thrilled but ES owners might be a little less impressed.

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 05, 2004 @ 09:02 AM
alogie
Total Posts:  2100
Joined  10-16-2003
status: Guru

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

Thanks for the review. Can you post any MP3’s to illustrate the comments you made, or is an MP3 too compressed to allow us to hear what you’re talking about?

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 05, 2004 @ 09:11 AM
bunapi
Total Posts:  0
Joined  02-20-2004
status: Newcomer

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

Thanks for the first user review of this piece.  Any chance of you popping it into your ES and recording some simple demos (no need to be fancy...scales and triads would be just fine) of the board and maybe an example focusing on the sample problems you noted below middle C?  No one was expecting perfection, but if those notes stick out like a sore thumb each time you play the piano, that would be a deal-breaker.

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 05, 2004 @ 09:12 AM
Bad_Mister
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Joined  07-30-2002
status: Legend

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

ThePro,
You of course are welcome to your opinion. But playing the PLG150-AP in a 9000Pro you cannot hear the included voicing.

As you may have noticed there is no voicing done for the PLG150-AP for your 9000Pro so you are playing the raw voice data. There is no floppy because the units it was developed for do not have floppy drives. The CDROM contains User Voice data that utilize the wave data on the PLG for the S80-CS6x-CS6R; S90-Motif-Motif Rack; and the Motif ES.

If your agenda is to keep on Yamaha for support of the 9000Pro, I understand (and I certainly have passed on) but your “review” is full of mis-statements. The Voice data with an asterisk are “stretched tuned” versions of the Voices.

Your opinions otherwise are, of course, welcome.

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 05, 2004 @ 11:53 AM
abath07
Total Posts:  0
Joined  08-29-2004
status: Newcomer

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

I suspect it would be too dull sounding live with bass and drums. It sounds like you are thinking that way too.

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 05, 2004 @ 01:50 PM
gigilo88
Total Posts:  0
Joined  08-15-2002
status: Newcomer

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

Question for the Bad One;
Could you explain what you mean by voicing? Is this to do with the use of filters or to do with how the sample data is played back? (An there’s me thinking Its only hammers that that need to be voiced to bring an aggreable tone to a piano.)
I have allready pre - ordered this board and this tread has got me worried. Mind you with all the enthusiastic endorsement that Mike Martin has given to this product If it turned out to be a bummer that guy is gonna lose some cred.
So here’s hoping my S90s going to morph in to a P130 soon!

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 05, 2004 @ 03:05 PM
BradWeber
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Total Posts:  14986
Joined  07-26-2002
status: Legend

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

I believe the voicing that Bad_Mister is speaking of is the integration of the PLG150-AP with the host machine’s internal effects processing. Thus for your S90, the voicing (in the form of pre-programmed voice bank) that is delivered with the PLG150-AP would take advantage of the S90’s insertion effects as well as it Chorus and Reverb effects processors.

Regards,

Brad Weber

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 05, 2004 @ 04:19 PM
alogie
Total Posts:  2100
Joined  10-16-2003
status: Guru

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

I suspect it would be too dull sounding live with bass and drums. It sounds like you are thinking that way too.

Well he did mention some brighter presets “more suited to rock” so it sounds like there are a number of different voices to suit different situations.

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 05, 2004 @ 04:58 PM
Captain Adrenalin
Total Posts:  342
Joined  02-17-2004
status: Enthusiast

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

Bad Mister,

So what kind of differences we can expect if we put the AP board in different hosts? I have no more place in my ES and Mo-Rack and planned to put this board into my Plugstation connected to SW1000XG. Would this be a good choice? Or the effect processing in SW1000XG (and Plugstation) is not as good as not to hear the inferior quality of piano sounds on the AP board compared to the ES or the Rack?

Thanks,

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 05, 2004 @ 05:15 PM
ThePro
Total Posts:  0
Joined  07-17-2003
status: Newcomer

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

Wait a minute…

First - the PLG150-AP is currently marketed by Yamaha for use with the 9000 Pro so dammit it should work with the 9000 Pro, but Bad Mister is saying that it will only play the raw data because Yamaha didn’t include voicing data for the 9000 Pro? And voicing data is the integration of the AP and the host keyboard’s effects?

The AP board initialized when the 9000 Pro booted after installation, and I seem to have control over the patch selections and the parameters I should have control over - reverb, EQ, velocity curves settings and more… including “DSP Stage2 (slow/fast)"… whatever that is. I don’t get the impression I am playing raw data at all.

I’ll try the PLG150-AP in my Motif ES 8 and report back, with samples.

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 05, 2004 @ 07:54 PM
lvercaut
Total Posts:  0
Joined  10-01-2003
status: Newcomer

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

ThePro,

thank you for doing this, it’s very much appreciated !

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 05, 2004 @ 08:40 PM
CharlyT
Total Posts:  0
Joined  08-25-2002
status: Newcomer

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

I have to agree with ThePro. If it’s marketed to work with the 9000 Pro it should do that out of the box, all voiced, set up and ready to go, same as if it were put in an ES, Motif, S-90, or whatever other PLG hosts it’s marketed to work in.

I must add that I’m not surprised however. Yamaha is losing ground with me rapidly.

It will be most interesting to get reviews from Motif/ES and S-90 users impressions.

The 2 things that interest me most are:

1) Does the sustain volume drop rapidly after the initial attack like the rest of Yamaha’s piano samples.

2) Does simply having the card installed in the host slow down the entire system like the rest of the PLG’s do.

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 06, 2004 @ 06:16 AM
midiotlv
Total Posts:  0
Joined  08-02-2003
status: Newcomer

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

I plugged mine in yesterday (into an ES7) and played with the raw data last night.  To me, the piano was very pleasing, although it did sound sampled towards the lower middle part of the keyboard.

This morning, I loaded the voice data into PLGUSER1 and was surprised by the presence of the voices vs. the raw sample played directly from the card. I’ve made a couple of performances using the new piano and I’m really happy with it.

I was looking for a slightly more muted piano than the stock ES FullGrand.  For me, this is a great card and I’ll use it as my piano from now on.  Having said that, I’m sure there will be many opinions on both sides. 

The new AP piano is different enough (to my ears) to warrant serious investigation from the ES crowd - going back and forth betweeen the AP piano and FullGrand makes the AP card sound even better to me.

I still have to mess with my room EQ (it is all out of whack and I haven’t pinked it yet), but I’m expecting some really good sounds out of the AP card once I’m back to flat response in my room.

Overall, I’m happy with my purchase and, like I said, the AP piano will become my new standard piano.  Next, I’m going to midi my P80 up and test drive the sound on weighted 88’s.

I’ll try to make a simple mp3 from the ES and post it early in the week.

D

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 06, 2004 @ 08:53 AM
Wellie
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Total Posts:  6204
Joined  05-08-2003
status: Guru

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

I thought that Yammy had set up a new forum through keyfax for PSR and arranger workstation keyboards - I was trying to find the link and it would appear that it is

[url=http://www.arrangerworkstation.com]http://www.arrangerworkstation.com [/url]

As far as I know that would be the place to look for help if you are using PLGs in boards like the Tyros and PSR 9000Pro and stuff.

Pro - that might be a place to seek deeper answers for your situation though we are all grateful for your posts.

Cheers

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 06, 2004 @ 11:08 PM
ThePro
Total Posts:  0
Joined  07-17-2003
status: Newcomer

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

Hi all - thanks for the encouragement. First of all, let me confirm several things along with some good news - I put the PLG150-AP into my Motif ES 8 and it sounded different right away, even before I loaded the voice data. The pronounced sample transition in the lower midrange that I was so disappointed with when the card was in my 9000 Pro is gone. Loading the voice data only seemed to improve the sound even more. Pretty much every fault I found with the card’s sound initially is not an issue when the AP is in a Motif ES… and the sound is great - mellow and full. It’s a far better and more natural piano sound than the ES’ native triple strike piano, especially in the upper midrange which I find to be thin and shrill on the “Full Grand” patch that comes with the ES.

I can now recommend the AP without reservation, as long as you own a Motif ES. What this card will sound like in other host instruments is anybody’s guess - the evidence seems to be that it will sound different in each host instrument, unlike the PLG150-PF piano expansion card which sounds the same whether I installed it in the Motif ES or my 9000 Pro. The AP card includes voice data for the CS6x, CS6R, S30, S80, S90, Motif, Motif-Rack and Motif ES. There is no voice data for the SW1000XG and Yamaha doesn’t promote the AP card for use with this soundboard so I wouldn’t recommend it. The Plugstation might also not be a good host.

Two final points:

Yamaha: there is no excuse for the poor owner’s manual of the PLG150-AP or any of the PLG cards - they are pitifully lacking important information as to how these boards work with the different hosts that you market these boards for. There should be clear documentation on what features and results these boards will have with every host instrument you are promising compatibility with.

Which brings up my second point: Yamaha clearly markets the PLG150-AP board for use with the Yamaha 9000 Pro keyboard. The AP board will only play raw data in the 9000 Pro and it’s now obvious that your people knew this in advance, re: Bad Mister’s comments above. Yamaha is conducting false and deceptive advertising in conjunction with the PLG150-AP… if you KNOW the PLG150-AP won’t work properly in the 9000 Pro but you advertise it for use with this instrument anyway, you are misleading customers to the point of legal liability. Since I rely on my 9000 Pro on stage and was looking forward to adding the triple-strike piano you promised, I can’t tell you how angry this makes me. Hopefully this incident will give buyers reason to question your company’s credibility when it comes to supporting your instruments.

  [ Ignore ]  

Posted on: November 06, 2004 @ 11:25 PM
lvercaut
Total Posts:  0
Joined  10-01-2003
status: Newcomer

Re: PLG150-AP - hands on review

I want one now for my S90.
I hope they are already available in Belgium…

  [ Ignore ]  


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