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It all started as a bet between friends when Stevie Wonder (yes, that Stevie!) bet his friend, Ray Kurzweil, that he couldn’t invent a synthesizer that could recreate the sounds of acoustic instruments.
Sure, other keyboards had instrument sounds, but they weren’t true instrument sounds. Kurzweil, an author, engineer, scientist, and inventor, responded to that challenge.
The result is something that changed the world of music forever: a synthesizer that actually recreated the true sounds of acoustic instruments. Stevie Wonder got what he had truly been wanting, and the Kurzweil company was born, with Kurzweil keyboards becoming the go-to for some of the most popular musicians in the world.
In this comprehensive Kurzweil piano review, take a look at one of those keyboards: the Kurzweil ARTIS. Described as having "astonishing sound quality" and "one of the most underrated professional keyboards on the market today", our review covers:
- Quick overview of the Kurzweil ARTIS
- Who this model is best for
- What you get with this model
Let's jump in!
Kurzweil ARTIS: A Quick Overview
If you're looking for a keyboard that's going to give you the true sound of an acoustic grand piano, there is no technology like Kurzweil technology, and the ARTIS is no exception.
This is a nine-foot grand piano keyboard that has amazing sound quality, and it plays like a real piano.
It offers up more than 1,000 Kurzweil effects, including 256 voices. Now, you would think that a keyboard with so many features would require a user who has a degree in engineering to figure it all out. Not so. The ARTIS has controls that are easy to use.
This is a keyboard that was designed to be every musician’s dream, simple to use and with powerful sound quality. This keyboard has a 128-note polyphony, and 88 hammer-weighted action.
It offers playability that is unsurpassed in the industry today, and is the next best thing to having an actual grand piano to play on. In fact, it may even be a bit better than the real thing, when you consider all of the awesome features it has to offer.
The ARTIS is for professionals who want nothing but the best for their performances, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a great piano to have for personal use at home. This German nine-foot grand piano keyboard has real instrument tones, and there is even a damper pedal noise that you control that will make the piano experience even more realistic.
There are B3 Tone Real Organs, nine drawbar sliders, and switches that will help you to control every aspect of your performance. The ARTIS has 256 factory programs that include sounds from the PC3K and KORE 64 ROM expansion.
These programs include strings, horns, drums and percussion, guitars, and a whole lot more. There are also 256 factory multis, each having as many as four zones, and a quick split/layer function.
You will be able to enjoy internal and external MIDI control, and more than 1,000 effects that include reverbs, delays, chorus, flange, phaser, distortion, and many others.
Who is this Keyboard For?
The Kurzweil ARTIS is for anyone who loves music and wants to have the best instrument that money can buy. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, this keyboard is going to have features that will appeal to you. This is a terrific piano for home or stage, and even though it is in a high price range, it is something that is definitely going to pay for itself.
The playability and user interface are both top of the line, making this a keyboard for musicians of all levels. Whether you are a professional who is taking this keyboard on the road, or a beginner who wants a quality instrument to learn on, you are going to be thrilled with everything that the ARTIS has to offer.
This is a keyboard with many intuitive features that make it ideal for someone who truly wants to learn how to play the piano. Of course, there are also many high performance features for professional musicians.
Kurzweil is known for creating some of the best keyboard technology in the world, and now you can have a piece of this technology for yourself, no matter what your piano needs are. This 88-key digital piano is an investment that will be worth every penny, and then some.
You won’t be getting a big bundle package when you purchase the ARTIS, but this doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to get your money’s worth. The Kurzweil ARTIS costs around $2,300, which may seem expensive for a keyboard, but when you think about what you are really getting, this price is actually quite reasonable.
After all, if you were to go out and spend a lot of money on a traditional grand piano, you would be shelling out several thousand dollars, and you wouldn’t be getting the effects that you get with the ARTIS. The ARTIS package comes with the 88-key stage keyboard, a user manual, and a damper pedal that is user-controllable.
The keyboard itself measures 55 X 6 X 16 inches, making it large enough to play even the most complicated pieces, yet small enough to fit into most rooms because it is not overly deep. You can place the ARTIS against a wall, and even though it is a full size keyboard, it isn’t going to be in the way. This is a keyboard package that is small, yet mighty.
Overview of Features
This keyboard has so many awesome features that it is difficult to know where to begin, and even more difficult to fit everything into one article. So, let’s start by talking about our favorite features of the ARTIS.
First of all, it has dedicated zone volume sliders, as well as one mute switches. This makes it easy to adjust the volume quickly, which is important for anyone who is going to be performing on stage. Some of our favorite features of the ARTIS include:
The ARTIS has a global, three-band master output equalizer that has dedicated front-panel controls. It also has sweepable midrange, as well as an enable/disable button (dedicated).
It offers 22 programmable controllers (sliders, switches, wheels, switch pedal units, and CC pedal unit), as well as dedicated up/down transposition buttons which can be found right above the pitch/mod wheels.
The sound selection tool is easy to use, with the direct category and program/multi options that includes an assignable category default program.
There are 10 front panel buttons that you can use for easy one-button recall of the programs and multis that you use the most. It may seem like there are a lot of controls to fiddle with, but this keyboard is actually very user friendly.
Some keyboards only offer a 64-notepolyphony. The ARTIS has 128-note polyphony, so you never have to worry about dropping any notes while playing complex pieces. In addition to this, the ARTIS also has a special feature that automatically knows which voices to drop and which ones to add, so you will always have the most natural sounding performance, even if you are using a lot of effects and layered sounds.
This keyboard has 256 pre-set factory programs so you get the best array of sounds that you could want from a digital stage piano. These programs feature sounds from some of the very best Kurzweil instruments, including the PC3K, as well as many other true to life instrument sounds, such as guitars, strings, synthesizers, horns, clavs, and a whole lot more, with each sound working together to give you the most realistic sounds.
If you are going to spend this much money on a keyboard, you want something that is going to give you the feeling of playing on a real acoustic grand piano. That is exactly what you get with the ARTIS, thanks to the hammer-weighted keys that also have velocity sensitivity. This means that they respond properly to the speed in which you play, ensuring that the hammers will strike at just the right point for the best volume and tone.
This may seem like a complicated piece of music gear, but actually, it has a very user-friendly interface. In fact, you may even find it easier to use this keyboard than others that have fewer features and effects.
You can easily fine-tune the sounds while you are playing, as well layering and splitting to easily combine and layer sounds. This makes the ARTIS a great stage piano because you don’t have to stop playing in order to change settings.
One of the things Kurzweil keyboards are known for is amazing sound quality, and the ARTIS will not disappoint. This is a keyboard that has the most realistic instrument sounds, not to mention terrific tonal quality that goes above and beyond the expectations of even the pickiest of professionals. Of course, it has that famous Kurzweil sound, which is favored by many of today’s most popular musicians.
Not only are there all of your favorite sounds that you can adjust right on the keyboard, you can also take your editing to the next level, thanks to a free download for a software editor. This is going to allow you to do all kinds of editing right on your PC or Mac. You can even use this with other devices, including the iPad. You have the power to create your own perfect sound when you are using the ARTIS.
How to Use the Kurzweil ARTIS
The ARTIS does not come with a stand or a bench, but it is ready to play as soon as you take it out of the box.
You are going to have loads of fun learning how to use all of the various features, although it may take a bit of time to figure everything out.
We recommend that you read the instruction manual from cover to cover in order to learn as much as possible about your new keyboard.
If you really want the quality of a Kurzweil piano keyboard, but you don’t want to spend over $2,000, there is another option to consider. The Kurzweil Artis 7 is a 76-key stage piano that has the features that you love from Kurzweil, but it costs less than $1,700. It has semi-weighted action, velocity sensitive keys, and is close to being a full keyboard.
There are 256 factory programs, including German grand piano sounds and many other great instrument sounds. It also features a 240X64 pixel monochrome LCD screen with front panel contrast adjust.
This keyboard has all of the controls you could ever possibly need, including nine realistic drawbars. There are factory multis that are expertly programmed, along with four zones, split/layer, MIDI control, and individual zone volume with mute control. You will be able to enjoy more than 1,000 effects chains that are incorporated into the programs with some of the best effects in the world, including reverbs, delays, chorus, flange, phaser, distortions, rotary speaker simulators, compressors, equalizers, and much more.
There is an intuitive user interface, featuring sound selection, as well as a favorites section for 10 of your favorite sounds. This is definitely an option to consider if you want Kurzweil quality.
Whether you are a serious professional musician, a music teacher, someone who just loves to play the piano, or even a beginner, you are going to absolutely love the Kurzweil ARTIS digital keyboard. Kurzweil is a name that has been trusted in the music industry since Stevie Wonder made that famous bet.
Who would have ever thought that a simple conversation (with Stevie Wonder, no less!) would turn into something so huge, and lead to an awesome instrument such as the ARTIS? This is a keyboard piano that is perfect for all types of musicians, and at all skill levels.
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