Kurzweil PC4 Review – Better Than The FA 08?

PC4 Keyboard Review

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.

Before I jump into the review, here are a few other workstations that I recommend checking out:

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS  
Editor’s Pick Genos Workstation
  • Incredibly Impressive Arranger & Workstation
  • Full Backing Band In A Keyboard
  • Tons Of New Sample Packs Regularly
  • Great Sounds
Budget Roland FA 08
  • 16 Pads
  • Easy To Use
  • Lightweight
  • Great For Tours

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.

Overview

Kurzweil PC4 Review
Kurzweil PC4

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.

Interface

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.

Keys

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.

Sounds

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.

Features

  • 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

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.

You can check out the FA 08 reviews on Amazon with this link here. It’s really helpful to read other people’s opinions.

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.

5 comments
  1. I wouldn’t go near Kurwzeil, let alone the PC4.

    My PC3LE8 is 2 months out of warranty and has developed a frequent drum pad bug that constantly plays a drum beat no matter what sound I select. This renders my PC3LE8 unsuitable for playing at gigs and I put it in for a warranty service. Kurzweil have refused to recognise warranty and have offered to either disable the drum pads or I have to pay freight and to have the parts replaced. 2 months out of a 2 year warranty on an expensive keyboard. I have never hooked it to a computer or downloaded any samples – which is what they seem to believe I have done. A hard reset didn’t solve it and Australis Music Group (whom I highly recommend btw) can’t solve it and seem to be embarrassed that I have to pay to have it fixed. They are contributing the labour – otherwise I would have to pay a whole lot more. Thumbs up to Australis, thumbs down to Kurzweil.

    1. The Kurzweil LE series were garbage. The only thing they had in common with the venerable PC3 was–well, the PC3 included in the model name. Beyond that they were not even close to the quality of Kurzweil’s flagship PC3 series. IMO Kurzweil’s professional series boards: Forte, PC3, PC4 even the Artis 7 (a unique board unto itself) are the best boards out there for programming, durability and professional use.

  2. Hey guys! First of all, I was a huge Kurzweil fan since they released K2000 back in 1990 and just fan during the PC3 era. In my proud possession are K2000r, K2500r, K2600r and not-so-proud-but-really-ok PC2r and PC3K8.
    And what do we have now? To sum up: it’s absurdly large number of gigabytes and 256 notes polyphony wasted over just 2 analogue stereo pairs, no digital outputs nor MIDI thru, screen so small that not even stretched enough to fit over softkeys, and all of the above stuffed into a cheap looking plastic case, 13kg vs 24kg in PC3K8. Didn’t had a chance to check out how PC4 sounds, but I’m pretty sure it sounds great. Just as great as PC3K before it. Which, in turn, sounded almost as K2600. Should I go on or do you catch my drift?
    So, in conclusion, I’m not going to bother with PC4 unless be able to get it for well under $500. But my opinion will change drastically if Kurzweil came up with a 3U rack unit with steel case, huge display and at least 16 analog outputs. =)

  3. Owned a PC3 76 and that was a tank that never went down eventually selling it. Miss the Cp70 on it. But weighed a lot and was all steel. Made sounds on that never to be heard again except for the band I sold it to.

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