Ketron Klavi Pro Piano-Expander
Ketron Klavi Pro Piano-Expander, 12 Piano-sounds Grand Piano 1/Grand Piano 2/Rock Piano/Upright/Electric/House/E-Piano 1-2-3,FM Piano 1-2/Pianomix, 64 polyphone, reverb, chorus, Midi In/Out jacks, Line out L/R jacks, headphone jack, Slider volume control, dimensions L x B x H in mm: 120 x 130 x 40, weight 0,6 kg, incl. power supply
2 of 7 feedback textsRead all reviews
The stereo grand piano sample is characterful and lively.
The Rhodes type of sample is great.
The Wurli type of sample is also good.
The unit is robust - metal case.
Now the issues. I'm afraid I'm going to go into these in some detail, in the hope that I save somebody else from buying one of these and being disappointed because they don't get what they expect.
Issue #1. Midi issues. The Klavipro listens on all midi channels. You cannot set the midi channel that it listens on. What this means is that you can't use it in a multi-instrument setup with different instruments on different channels from a single master keyboard. This limits its use for the professional musician massively.
The Klavipro accepts midi CC commands on the midi channel it most recently received a note on. This means that you can't even send a volume cc 0 message on a channel that no other devices are using, because as soon as you then send any note on another channel the Klavipro springs back into life at full volume.
The only way to use this in a multi-instrument midi set up is to turn the master volume up and down using either the slider on the front or a fader on your mixind desk. One more annoying thing to remember to do when changing sounds live.
Issue #2. Stereo Grand piano sample issues. There are a number of problems with the sampling. First, the grand piano that has been sampled is out of tune. The worst note is the second F below middle C, which makes my eyes water. Second, there is a very obvious volume split: as you hit the notes harder, the tone changes suddenly from very dull but quite loud to very bright and very loud. Third, the samples are quite noisy - there is a loud hiss that accompanies the notes between about 5kHz and 10kHz. I would estimate it's about -40dB. Fourth, there are timing issues with the samples on lower notes - beginning with the third E below middle C and all the notes below it - these sound delayed by about 100ms, that is literally you strike the key and the sound starts a fraction of a second later. Fifth, across all notes the volume difference is small between a gentle strike and a hard strike of the note - smaller than you would expect for the difference in tone. It sounds as if the quieter notes have been compressed.
Despite all of this, it is a characterful piano sound and quite usable live and with a band. However, I would not use this for recording or solo live work: if the occasion arose, I'd be hiring a van and taking my Kawai CN33.
Issue #3. Polyphony. A few minutes after plugging the unit in I could hear a few notes chopping off. I thought this was very strange because the polyphony is quite high, and it took me a while to work out what the problem was. It turns out that each individual note on the keyboard is monophonic, like an organ. So if you hold down the sustain pedal and press any note repeatedly, rather than the sound building up like on a real piano, each press cuts the previous note off. If you play a loud note like this followed by a softer note, there is a very distinctive chopping effect which is alarming and noticeable - nothing like how a real piano would behave.
Issue #4. Phono connectors. Not 1/4" jack or XLR. Not a massive issue but it just means I need a special audio cable just for the Klavipro.
Issue #5. Quality of the other sounds... I have mentioned at the start of this review that the grand piano is characterful and lively, and that the Rhodes and Wurli electric piano sounds are good. The rest of the sounds are pretty awful, if truth be told, although that's just my opinion.
I appreciate I've hardly been positive about this little unit which is a shame. I was very disappointed and nearly returned it, but there is nothing else on the market at this time which gives you just a piano sound. I can't deal with virtual instruments and laptops live - as a gigging musician that's the last thing I need to be worrying about. And I can't afford to spend thousands of euros on a rack mount synth with thousands of sounds just to get a useable piano. So despite all the issues, I will be living with this little unit for a while, at least until something else comes on the market.
I like using sound modules for my keyboard rig and I wanted a really good piano sound from a module but the only way to get one was from an expensive Roland or Yamaha module that also had hundreds of other sounds I did not need.
The KlaviPro has many different types of Piano and electric piano. I love number 10 upright. This is a mono sample and has a beautiful strong, pure tone similar to the Roland natural piano sound. To me worth £200 on its own. Also the Fender Rhodes piano is stunningly good. It tinkles, growles and has a sweet strong sound as good if not better than any I have heard. It can also be enhanced by the excellent stereo chorus (marvelous!) Possibly worth buying for this sound alone too. I find the action works best with a light or soft velocity curve which gives just the right touch sensitivity. Most but not all controller keyboards have this adjustment. The M-Audio Keystation 61ES does not. I have ordered an ESI keyControl 61XT to use with this module so will be reviewing that keyboard so watch this space.
Two of the acoustic piano samples are out of tune. I do not know if this is to deliberately impersonate pianos in the real world and add more 'characture' to the sound or if Ketron had sampling or tuning problems. Fortunately my fav. piano is bang in tune. I emailed Ketron twice about this issue and got no reply. I also told Thomann and they sent me another unit in case the original one was faulty but the replacement was exactly the same so I conclude they're all like it.
One of my pet hates is when manufacturers add effects to samples by default. I can hear the bosses saying 'slap plenty of effects on chaps, make the sound bigger and sell more boxes!' Effects can be added but anything from easy to impossible to remove depending on the other gear used. Some people like myself want to choose whether we want effects and I don't want reverb on any sound. There is a small amount of reverb on all the sounds which can be removed by midi commands (perhaps a fader on a controller with CC91 assigned to it). As soon as another sound is selected the reverb comes back on as the module has no internal storage. I can customise the settings by chaining the PC2r by a midi cable to the KlaviPro and controller keyboard so that way I just press one button from the controller keyboard and get as much or little effects as I want. I have asked several controller keyboard manufacturers and music shops if they sell keyboards with the ability to send customised effect settings with the press of one button but none said they do. So if using the KlaviPro with just a controller keyboard one would have to adjust effect setting with every program change.
To sum up
Very happy with this dinky module. I have found a work around for getting the right amount of effects and it adds amazing piano and Fender Rhodes piano to my set up. Strap it to a 5 octave controller keyboard and you could have an excellent portable piano that weighed at least 7Kg less and cost £300-£400 less than a Roland RD64.
The service from Thomann was excellent and they sent a new model out as soon as I sent the first back. Also responded to my emails the same day so great comm. I was charged about £10 more than Thomann said the cost would be and it looks like Paypal have charged me without warning me or even saying where the charge had come from. The reason is because of a foreign exchange rate conversion (I think 3.5%) which is extremely devious and will never use them again for international transactions if I can help it! Something to bear in mind for the final cost.
The KlaviPro sounds great but if you have a technical query and email Ketron in Italy don't expect a reply any time soon (if ever!)
£ price - guideline price only
|sales unit||1 piece|
|available since||August 2010|
|in this category||Rank 40|
|at thomann.de||Rank 24453|