The Kurzweil PC4 is Kurzweil’s latest workstation and it has a lot of keyboardists talking. This workstation comes loaded with massive polyphony of 256 notes as well as the virtual analog VAST synth engine.
In the days of MIDI controllers, a lot of people are questioning whether or not workstations are still capable of competing. I believe that they are, depending on what exactly you’re looking to do.
You can view the Kurzweil PC4 at Sweetwater here.
Before I jump into the review, here are a few other workstations that I recommend checking out:
The FA08 is a great choice for a workstation. This is extremely light and it has an easy to navigate interface.
Arguably the most powerful workstation currently available. This thing is an absolute tank that keeps getting better with updates.
My initial opinion of the Kurzweil PC4 is that it is definitely a quality workstation. It comes in at a price tag similar to the Roland FA 08 and I do believe it competes with the FA 08. Let’s get into the review below.
The Kurzweil PC4 is an extremely powerful workstation that has taken a big leap forward from its previous generation.
It comes in with 1000 presets, the VAST synth engine, 256 notes of polyphony, 6 – operator FM synthesizer, and a beautiful interface. As far as controls go, they have been expanded with a row of knobs to go hand in hand with the faders.
The initial PC4 is being advertised as 88 fully-weighted hammer-action keys, however, it is expected to also be available in 76 and 61 keys.
I recently wrote about some of my favorite keyboard workstations in this roundup here.
There’s a 16-track sequencer that now has riff generation as well as step sequencing with MIDI CC recording.
The interface is a 4.3′ LCD display that has six soft keys underneath. The size of the interface is ideal and it also is very easy to navigate. I’ve found other workstations to be difficult at first to navigate and this isn’t the case.
The key-bed on Kurzweil’s has never been to my personal liking. The keys just don’t compare to that of a Roland to me. With this being said, I play a Roland FA 08 that I love.
The key-bed is velocity-sensitive with aftertouch and this is important to me as well as many other pianists. Some people say aftertouch is over-rated, whereas others absolutely love it.
The lush pads are definitely the strongest part of the sounds. One thing I have to say is that a lot of the presets don’t, in my opinion, compare to what you can get with VSTS.
I’ve been feeling this way with workstations as of lately, however, creating patches is where the Kurzweil PC4 really excels.
If you’re a beginning piano student, you can easily tweak sounds to your liking without having to create your own.
If you’re not a fan of workstations, you can simply run this as a MIDI controller. I actually use my FA 08 as a controller about 95% of the time. If you go this route, you can easily lay down demos on your PC4 and then use a DAW to lay down the real track.
What I Like
The Kurzweil PC4 has an all-new 6 – operator FM engine with the ability to import FM SysEx files and more. The VAST synth engine is also the staple for Kurzweil’s and I have to agree, there’s an infinite amount that you can do with it in terms of sound design.
Kurzweil PC4 VS The Roland FA 08
In my personal opinion, I would take the Roland FA 08. I think that it wins in a few different departments and most importantly, the keys. I have always loved the keys on Roland workstations. They are the closest feeling thing that I have felt to ivory keys
- PC4 256 notes polyphony vs 128
- FA 08 2,000 presets vs 1,000 presets
- PC4 28 pounds vs FA 08 35 pounds
- FA 08 has better sample pads
I am personally a big fan of the preset sounds of Rolands, however, I still find myself using soft synths more often than not. If you’re someone who wants to pick something based off of the keys, then go with the Roland FA 08.
If you’re getting something specifically because you want to build your own patches and dive deep into creating songs on your keyboard, the PC4 could be a great choice.
- Keys: 88 Weighted hammer-action keys
- Analog VS Digital: Digital
- Aftertouch: Yes
- 2 wheels, 9 sliders and knobs
- Polyphony: 256 notes
- Sequencer: 16-track
- Memory: 2 GB factory
- Storage: USB Flash
- MIDI I/O: In/Out/USB
- Weight: 28.6 pounds
Overall, the PC4 is definitely a step up from the previous models from Kurzweil. If you’re in the market for a workstation, this definitely ranks in there with the FA 08, the Montage 8 and the Kronos.
The synth engine is extremely powerful and I think the main downside is the storage. It’s hard to top beat controllers as the workstations often can’t pack the same amount of storage.
The Kurzweil PC4 will be a workstation that battles with the top brands for the next couple of years, in my opinion.
What’s your current favorite workstation on the market? Have you played on any of the staple workstations and what do you think is currently the most impressive? Let me know in the comments.