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The Kurzweil K2700 was first introduced at the NAMM conference at the beginning of 2021. The Kurzweil K2700 boasts an updated version of its VAST(Variable Architecture Synthesis Technology) synthesis engine
Kurzweil’s K2 synths first debuted the VAST during the 90s, and it was renowned for its ease of use and control, which offered the basic layout and building-block approach to synthesis with digital controlled routing.
I rarely give out five stars. The K2700 is an incredibly powerful machine with some of the best stock sounds I have heard to date. I highly recommend checking this keyboard out if you like workstations.
I recently was able to get my hands on the Kurzweil K2700, and right out of the gates, I’m excited to bring you this review.
After multiple weeks of diving into it, this article will break down my full review of the Kurzweil K2700. I will also compare and rate it against today’s most popular keyboard workstations.
As a touring musician, I look at things differently than most producers/musicians may. I’ve always loved the sheer power that workstations possess and their key-beds. I’ve typically always run workstations when performing live, and I use them as a MIDI controller.
This is a big deal as I feel like workstations have proven to be highly reliable for me over the years of touring.
Note: The K2700 can do all of the bread and butter type things you expect from a workstation, such as composing, performing live, and providing excellent connectivity. Where it excels is in its editing and sound customizability. For example, you can tweak pianos/electric pianos in seconds to your liking, which is a significant selling point. The K2700 would work as the main keyboard in a rig for touring musicians exceptionally well as it can cover the main types of sounds you will be using.
I have reviewed the K2700 based on the following criteria:
- How it compares to the rest of the field
- Controller capabilities
How It Is Shipped/Packaging
The packaging that the K2700 came with from Sweetwater was superb. One of these reasons I prefer Sweetwater is that shipping has been smooth out of my 25+ orders with them every time.
The gear is always secured well, and Kurzweil also had their box, which was packaged correctly as well.
- Massive sound library
- Great for gigging and sound customization
- Reverb knob
- Incredibly deep and allows for musician growth
- Great-sized LCD screen
- Built-in audio interface
- Functions exceptionally well as a MIDI controller
- Has aftertouch
- Keys are on the lighter end
- On the heavier end
Note: I put heaviness as a con as most keyboardists I know prefer lighter weight keyboards as far as touring goes. My personal preference is that I don’t mind heavy keyboards, even when touring, as they are typically far more durable.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the specs that make this an impressive keyboard for serious musicians.
- Keys: 88 fully-weighted with aftertouch and Fatar TP/40L
- Display: 480 x 272 high resolution color LCD
- Polyphony: 256 voice
- Architecture: VAST sound engine
- Sound Engine: 6-operator FM engine
- Aftertouch: Yes
- Pads: 16
- Presets: 1500, Over 700 Factory Multis, Over 4000 User Multis
- Controllers: Pitch-bend, mod wheel
- Arpeggiator: Yes
- Analog/Digital: Digital
- Sequencer: 16-track
- Weight: 52 lbs
- Height: 5.5″
- Width: 51″
- Power Internal power supply
- Inputs: 2 x 1/4-inch audio input connectors
- Outputs: 2 pairs of stereo outputs
- Headphones Jack: Yes
- Controls: 9 sets of programmable knobs, sliders, and buttons
Kurzweil K2700 Overview/Design
The Kurzweil K2700 is the high-end successor to the K2600, and it packs a mean punch, ultimately bringing this series up to speed with the rest of the high-end workstations.
The Kurzweil K2700 is built like a tank. As a guy who played the Roland Fantom G8 for eight years, I can say it’s constructed similarly to that workstation, which is a good thing, in my opinion.
The K2700 is sleek, coming in a glossy black with blue, red, and green accents.
It’s heavy, but everything feels well constructed, for the most part. Although still fully weighted and equipped with hammer-grade action, the keys are on the lighter end.
I also want to note that the keys are relatively soft on your fingers. I’ve used this key-bed before on other keyboards, and it felt different. Those who like a more delicate touch will enjoy these keys.
The LCD screen in the middle of the keyboard caught my eye when I initially pulled the keyboard out. For laying out a set for live music and performing live, it is perfect, in my opinion. It might feel a little small to manage if you’re composing tracks directly on the K2700; however, I typically work with a DAW.
All of the pads are laid where you would expect them on a workstation, being on the right. There are 4 sets of 4, equaling 16 pads total, which is also common.
These sample pads are perfect for triggering loops and samples that you might have in your music/tracks.
The transport controls are also located on the right-hand side, which allows you to have seamless integration with which DAW you might be using.
On the left, we have the faders and control knobs, which allow you to tweak sounds onboard as well as through your DAW.
On the left side, you will also find my favorite effect on this workstation, the reverb knob. When you apply this to some of the pianos and electric pianos on the K2700, you will be taken away like I was.
Upon reviewing it, one of the first things I do with any keyboard is to immediately start touching/using all of the sliders/knobs/pads available on the instrument.
This gives you a decent understanding off the bat as to the quality of the keyboard. Also, while the top of a control knob that falls off isn’t the end of the world, it can quickly become problematic, as I’ve seen first-hand. Broken sliders can prove challenging should you use your K2700 as a MIDI controller, as they can start to change parameters in your DAW should they be damaged.
Overall, the sliders feel solid, and I don’t get the sense that I will break them easily.
In terms of durability, I believe this is built to last. I tend to enjoy heavier keyboards just due to my playing style when performing live, to the point where I don’t mind lugging something that’s a bit heavier if it’s going to allow me to perform how I need to.
Kurzweil did a great job making this keyboard extremely user-friendly. While it’s a very deep instrument, I was able to maneuver around pretty quickly, which allowed me to begin experimenting with the sounds.
When I sat down to play the K2700, my initial thought was to for the electric pianos and the pianos. I am glad I did so because I smiled as soon as I played the first preset piano, which is Bristol.
I was skeptical about the key-bed until I started playing and realized the action was really nice.
The first thing I noticed when playing my first few notes on the K2700 was that the keys felt light. Kurzweil used the Fatar TP40L for this keyboard, common among many popular keyboards.
So, how does the key-action stand up against the heavy-hitters such as Roland? I am partial to Roland’s high-end key-beds. This is because I grew up on them, and I believe they are the closest thing to ivory piano keys.
The K2700 plays beautifully; the action is crazy responsive, despite me being a little bit worried about the lighter keys.
On top of the keys feeling a bit lighter, they are also softer than other keys that I’ve played. The outside of the keys is also not as sharp as other key-beds, which many people might enjoy.
The keys themselves are not noisy, which is a good thing.
One of the frustrating things years ago with workstations was the time it would take to boot up and or change patches. The K2700 starts relatively quickly and features Flash-Play, which provides massive horsepower. There’s a zero-load time when switching patches, which ultimately allows pianists to be more versatile when playing live.
Let’s take a look at my favorite part of the K2700. Until the K2700, I have been solely a MIDI controller guy. I’ve never found a workstation where I thought the sounds were comparable to what I could do with a DAW and a MIDI controller.
For this part of the review, I will break down some of my favorite sounds and highlight the eight different banks of sounds.
Please Note: I have a 9 minute video that I will link in this article that breaks down some of my favorite sounds.
My favorite piano sound is the first on the K2700, called Bristol. My first thought with this piano is that it’s not overly bright. My personal preference has always been darker and warmer-sounding pianos.
Another piano sound I enjoy is the second preset, the dynamic 9-foot grand. This thing sounds massive and bright in the high-notes.’
Comparing the stock piano sounds from this to Roland’s workstations, the K2700 is much more to my liking.
Overall, there are 48 different piano sounds, most of them worthy of being in the presets.
Lastly, the K2700 has a few bluesy pianos, such as the New Orleans piano preset, which sounds similar to something you hear in a jazz or blues club.
The electric pianos are some of my favorite electric piano sounds I have heard. Again, the only thing I can compare them to is some of my favorite electric piano plugins, nothing on other keyboards.
Beck’s retro EP is my favorite preset regarding electric pianos on the K2700. Another pretty interesting preset is the mellotron. Mellotrons are hard to get right, and I think Kurzweil did a great job. I found myself writing 3-4 new ideas with this preset.
Some nice sounds in this department. I didn’t find myself using these sounds as much as others; however, I didn’t have any complaints. The harpsichord preset did surprise me with this being said.
The organ section is one of the sections I was looking forward to checking out. It didn’t disappoint. They are modeled after classic organs with nine drawbars, including rotary speed, chorus/vibrato, and percussion.
Nord gets a lot of attention with electric organs. With this being said, if you’re looking for an alternative to Nord, I highly suggest the K2700.
The string section has some warm sounds overall. With this being said, I don’t find myself using the strings too often as I’m typically using the pianos/guitars.
When it comes to adding effects, you can create some extremely fat sounds in the string department with the K2700.
The pads are warm and easy on the ears. They are also vast. If you’re a fan of the classic Roland pad sounds, you will find yourself liking the customization and overall sound on the K270.
The synth section is solid. For making tracks on the K2700, they are perfect. I would go back to a couple of sounds for song ideas; however, I would likely use a synth or VST for some of these sounds.
The brass sounds were not harsh on my ears. I typically don’t find myself using brass sounds on workstations as they usually sound cheap to me. There were a few sounds in this department that I went back to a couple of different times in my tracks.
The guitar/bass category was one of my favorite categories with the K2700. Some of the sounds are crazy realistic, especially when playing solos using the mod wheel.
Chunky vintage is the preset I found myself using the most. It’s excellent for crunchy low-end and also for lower solos.
The guitar section is legitimately the most impressive guitar section I have played on any workstation.
The last area that I was genuinely surprised by was the percussive sounds. Some of the sounds of these kits was on par and better than most drum VSTs I’ve used in productions.
These kits help make this workstation viable when it comes to tracking directly to the K2700.
The ribbon controller is located in the middle of the K2700. It is set to pitch-bend out of the box, but this can be changed to whatever you feel.
With this being said, the pitch bend wheel is one of the most accurate wheels I’ve used, and it also feels nice on my fingers.
Built-In Audio Interface
The audio interface is perfect for electric guitars/bass guitars. I suggest checking the manual for specifics regarding gain levels with the interface. Should you plug in a microphone, it requires phantom power.
Kurzweil K2700 VS Fantom
The Fantom and K2700 are currently my favorite choices on the market in this department. In terms of overall sounds, I am highly partial to the K2700. However, when it comes to tracking, the Fantom gives it a run for its money.
The Fantom has incredible keys and action, so I’m partial to the Fantom here. The K2700 is in my opinion, the most impressive sounding workstation by far on the market.
If you choose between these two, you are making a good decision either way.
K2700 VS FA 08
In terms of internal sounds and effects, the K2700 gets the nod, in my opinion. When it comes to performing live, the K2700 outperforms the FA 08.
The FA 08 gets the win in the keys department. The FA08 is equipped with heavier keys that feel closer to ivory keys. This being said, the action on the K2700 is still top-notch and competitive.
K2700 VS Nord Grandstage
I know a lot of people are in love Nord and their Grandstage. I’ve played them for years and they are definitely high-quality. With this being said, I would take the sounds of the K2700 over the Grandstage.
You can also do far more on the K2700 as it is a much deeper instrument in terms of sound design. If you’re looking for a keyboard to add to your studio, rather than just use live, I would pick the K2700.
The K2700 doesn’t disappoint when it comes to effects. The effect I found myself falling for was reverb. I love being able to add a little warmth to my pianos and electric pianos, and reverb always seems to do the trick for me. Overall, the K2700 has very powerful effects including the following:
- Amp simulations
The coolest part of this is that all of them are entirely editable, as well as the signal processing chain. To me, the effects department is what truly takes the K2700 to the next level when compared to some of its competitors.
The rear panel from left to the right consists of:
- Power switch
- Power jack
- MIDI In and Out ports
- USB ports
- LCD knob
- Audio out left/Right
- Audio In left/Right
- Sustain and SW2 ins
- Headphones jack
The transport controls work for both the 16 track sequencer and for controlling all mainstream DAWs such as Ableton, Cubase, FL Studio, or Logic.
The overall workflow is pretty solid for a workstation. In terms of using it with Cubase, it was fantastic and provided a great workflow.
It is excellent using its sequencer; however, the screen size is tough to get used to after using a DAW for so many years.
MIDI Controller Functionality
The K2700 worked the same way as my FA08 does when it comes to connecting it as a MIDI controller.
You are able to use the pads to switch sounds on your DAW as well. It also comes with a USB cable to connect to your laptop or PC.
The mod wheel is highly accurate and allowed me to perform incredible pitch-bends with the guitars. I spent a few hours multiple times just riffing with the mod wheel, and it’s not only accurate, it’s also durable.
You might already know that Ray Kurzweil created the first computerized instrument to faithfully capture the sound of the grand piano, the legendary K250. You might not know that the K250 was also the beginning of Sweetwater! After its first appearance at the June ‘83 NAMM show, the K250 became an immediate, runaway success.
In 1985, Sweetwater became one of a select number of Kurzweil dealers in the US. Sweetwater founder Chuck Surack, ever the experimenter, began building his own sound libraries for the K250 from scratch, eventually sharing them with amazing artists like Stevie Wonder and Dolly Parton. The rest, as they say, is history!
Kurzweil is a bit of a unique and impressive story. It was created by Stevie Wonder, Ray Kurzweil, and Bruce Cichowlas in 1982.
My experience with Kurzweil has been very much so positive over the years. One of my good friend’s tours with a couple of Kurzweil boards, so I’ve learned a lot from him about the sounds and the company.
My Experience With The K2700
After two full weeks with the Kurzweil K2700, I can genuinely say it exceeded my expectations. Being someone who has played the best Korg, Roland, and Yamaha keyboards, I have to say, the K2700 competes.
While the feel of the keys might not be my favorite, the action is still there and allows pianists to play at a high level.
Where I believe the K2700 truly shines is in the sound department. The K2700 fills the void for a solid piano sound from crisp, punchy pianos to verbed-out pianos.
I have typically relied on piano VSTs to fill this hole as I haven’t found many stock piano sounds that I genuinely love from workstations.
My problem with workstation keyboards in the past was always that I would find one with a great key-bed but sub-par sounds when compared to VSTs.
The K2700 is the first workstation that has blown me away and left me wanting to use its internal sounds for live music and recordings rather than averting to VSTs.
If you’re someone who hasn’t checked out Kurzweil keyboards and you’ve stuck to the classic Korg’s or Roland’s, I suggest getting your hands on one and having some fun with the sounds.
I can’t state enough how impressed I am by the internal sounds on this board. Look for the K2700 to shake up the workstation industry going into 2022.
Should you have any questions about the K2700, leave a comment and check my Instagram and Youtube channels for a video I will be releasing on it.