Kurzweil PC3LE6 Review – a Mixture of Good and Bad

Kurzweil PC3LE6Welcome to my Kurzweil PC3LE6 review. That full name of the keyboard – Kurzweil PC3LE6 61 Note Synthesizer Action Performance Controller and Workstation Keyboard – is quite a mouthful, isn’t it? There’s a lot going on in there! So, not only is it able to control other instruments through MIDI and be controlled by other instruments, it also has its own vast array of built-in sounds, including its own synthesis engine which uses samples along with digital synthesis technology to create awesome sounds. But also, it has lots of onboard effects. No less than 700 actually.


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Contents


PROS & CONS

Pros:

  • The pianos, electric pianos, organs, and strings are very good.
  • Setup mode has some great arrangements and combinations of instruments, arpeggiators, and riffs.
  • Comes with a sustain pedal.
  • The pad, knobs, and other controls can be assigned to control whenever you want.
  • Can easily be configured for left-handed players.
  • Has a good feel to it.
  • Keys are nicely sensitive.
  • 64 note polyphony makes it great for layering sounds.
  • V.A.S.T. synthesizer engine produces some great synthesizer sounds.

Cons:

  • One user reported problems with the build such as rough keys.
  • Adjusting the setup mode is difficult and outdated.
  • The tiny display makes it difficult to find what you’re looking for.
  • Many of the setups are badly mixed, e.g. the drums are often too loud compared to the other sounds.
  • One user reported problems with getting his keyboard repaired when he had problems with it.
  • One user reported it randomly freezing.
  • Cannot be programmed like the K2000 could.
  • One user reported it randomly reboots while in a gig.

Rating:  (60%)
Recommended? No
Better Alternative: Korg KROSS 61

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Video Review


So as you can see, you can do some pretty good synthesizer performances with this by turning the knobs and using the pads. You can also play some pretty good strings and piano sounds, and good general keyboard sounds. It seems to cover quite a wide range of music styles and performance types. And it does a really good synth lead sound as well, don’t you think? I also really like how they have full-size piano style keys.


Who is the Kurzweil PC3LE6 Designed For?

I would say this keyboard is ideally designed for anyone who wants to perform a wide variety of keyboard sounds in a live setting. Because it covers such a wide array of sounds, from synthesizer to pianos to organs to string, and everything in between, it is extremely versatile in what it can do. So I can see this keyboard has been designed for the musician who needs to be available to perform a wide variety of styles of music live. I can also imagine that it would be useful in the studio as well, but the performance features definitely make it useful in a live setting.

My only concern is that some users have had problems with it which might make it unreliable in a live setting, which kind of defeats the point of a product like this which seems to have been mainly designed for live performance. So there seems to be a bit of a conflict between who this was designed for and who can actually successfully use it.


FEATURES

Wide Variety of Sounds

It has to be said, this keyboard contains a lot of different sounds, covering a wide variety of styles. You’ve got everything from pianos, organs, electric pianos, strings, other orchestral sounds, virtual analog synthesizer sounds, realistic basses, drum kits, guitars, percussion, plus loads of other standard sounds. There are over 1050 of them in total, which is a huge number of sounds to choose from. The sounds are all conveniently grouped into types, so for example if you choose synth leads you will get all the lead synthesizer sounds grouped together in one place which you can choose from. This is true for all sound groups across the keyboard.

V.A.S.T. Synthesis Engine

I can’t actually find any information at the moment about what V.A.S.T. actually stand for, but an educated guess is that it probably stands for Virtual Analogue Synthesizer Technology. But apparently, the way this works is this: it is full of loads of sound samples which can then be altered by the synthesizer to produce the desired result. I have to confess, I don’t fully understand it, but it does sound quite good.

Over 700 Effects

Of course, you can have all the sounds in the world, but without any decent effects then not much use in the real world. Luckily, this keyboard comes with over 700 effects. These cover everything from reverbs, phasers, flangers, choruses, and distortion. Everything you could think of to change your sounds and make them sound really cool.

Sound Customization

One of the great things about this keyboard is the ability to assign the knobs to any sound adjustment parameter that you like. This means that once you have a signed the knobs to your preferred promises, you can then adjust your sound while you were performing them, which is great in a live performance setting. One classic example of this is when doing electronic music, you can use them to adjust the filter cutoff and resonance parameters, for that classic techno sound.

Velocity-Sensitive Drum Pads

Yes, the PC3LE has fancy backlit drum pads, but they can be used for more than just controlling drum sounds. They can be used for triggering sequences and arpeggios, and even for playing pre-assigned chords. This could be great for making techno music live, for example. The fact that the pads are velocity sensitive means that you can play softly on loudly or anything in between, which adds another level of performance to the keyboard.

Familiar Kurzweil Features

The PC3LE6 comes with a vast array of features that will be familiar to existing users of Kurzweil keyboard. For example, it has over 1000 ID slots for your own quick access banks, setup, and songs. You can also use the PC3LE6 as a MIDI performance controller. There is also a full 16 track sequencer along with powerful editing features, which means you can use it as a fully featured music creation workstation.


PROS & CONS IN DEPTH

Great Piano, Organ and String Sounds

It’s fantastic that it does these kinds of sound so well because they’re going to end up being used in so many songs. Pianos, organs, and strings are really the foundations of keyboard playing, so to have them done so well here, really means that it can be used in a lot of performance situations.

Great Arrangements and Combinations of Instruments, Arpeggiators and Riffs.

Again, the combinations of instruments, arpeggiators, and riffs, means that it is very easy to quickly find the combinations of sound that you want to make a really good musical performance. It saves a lot of time with having to put together your own combinations of sounds.

Sustain Pedal

Although this could be overlooked by some people, I imagine this is sustain pedal could be very useful for some performers. I know that piano players would make good use of it, for example. Keyboard players using the synthesizer sounds might find it useful as well. For example, they might be playing a really cool synth lead sound, and then want to sustain that last note while they switch to playing another sound on another keyboard.

Kurzweil PC3LE6 ControlsCustomisable Pads & Knobs

This is another performance aspect of the keyboard which would be really useful live. I can imagine that being able to trigger samples and drum sounds with the tabs would you really good. Also, being able to tweak synth parameters like filter cutoff and resonance would be really good for playing electronic music live.

Left Handed Playing

Not being left handed myself, I can only imagine what it must be like trying to learn how to play keyboard when you are left-handed. You have to learn how to play all the high fiddly bits with your bad hand on the right. With this keyboard, you can switch the keys around, so that the high notes from the left and the low notes on the right. This means that a left-handed player can play all the high-end fiddly bits with their a good hand.

Nice Feel

Having touch-sensitive keys makes a really big difference, especially when playing piano sounds, and even when playing string sounds. For example, whenever you want to be able to have a soft touch, and then suddenly go louder and harder, having sensitive keys is essential.

64 Note Polyphony

Okay, so you know what polyphony is. Well, you should do. It is when you are able to play more than one note at a time. This keyboard can play up to 64 notes a time, but you’ve only got 10 fingers so you can only play 10 notes at a time. Well, the reason this keyboard can play 64 sounds is so that you can layer sounds on top of each other. This can make for some really wonderful layered soundscapes.

Great Synth Sounds

With an all round keyboard like this, it’s great that it does such good synthesizer sounds. In my mind, I think of synthesizers and piano/string sounds as being very different things to have it all in one keyboard like this, it means that it isn’t it amazing all round performance keyboard.

Setup Mode is Difficult to Adjust

It’s a shame that the set-up mode can be difficult to adjust because in a live setting you want to save precious time by being able to change your settings quickly.

Cannot be Programmed Like the K2000

Users of previous Kurzweil keyboards may end up being a bit disappointed that it cannot be programmed like the previous models could. If you are used to using the K2000, for example, one of their previous landmark keyboards, you may be disappointed if you cannot program this keyboard in the same way.

Kurzweil PC3LE6 DisplayTiny Display

With a keyboard claiming to be a full music workstation and having many features of a workstation, it is a shame that it has such a small display. Most really good keyboard workstations come with a decent display so that you can edit parameters easily on the screen.

Sound Setups are Badly Mixed

So, one user reported that the sound setups are badly mixed, for example, the drum sounds good being much less than the other sounds. This means that the user has to waste time thing in and adjusting mixes themselves before they can use them properly in a live setting.

Random Freezing and Rebooting

It’s a shame that some users have reported that this keyboard is a bit unreliable, for example randomly freezing or rebooting. This is really no good if you are going to be using it in a live concert situation, because if it freezes or reboots while you are performing, that ruins your concert doesn’t it?

Problems Getting it Repaired

And finally, there are problems getting the keyboard repaired if you do happen to have problems with it. One user said that it can take up to 60 days to get replacement parts. This is clearly no good if you are a professional musician going round performing at various concerts or recording in the studio. You need your keyboard to be reliable and be available when you need to use it.


Conclusion

So, on the face of it, when you go by the advertised features, this looks like a great keyboard. However, there are clearly some limitations, and several people have reported having serious problems with it. It looks like it could be an unreliable piece of kit, and getting it repaired could be a painful, long-winded process. My advice would be to stay away from this keyboard and look for an alternative.

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A Better Alternative to the Kurzweil PC3LE6

If you are looking for a great all round keyboard workstation with superb piano and string sounds along with excellent synthesizer capabilities, the Korg KROSS 61 is a better option. It is a lower price but seems to not have the problems that the Kurzweil PC3LE6 has.


I hope you found my Kurzweil PC3LE6 review helpful, but if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as I can.

All the best,
Marcus.

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