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Dynamic Sloth 02/17/2018

Alesis QS8 : Dynamic Sloth's user review

"Great Value / almost perfect"
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Value For Money : Excellent Audience: Anyone
I have been looking for a decent stage piano that can fill my needs for Rhodes, Wurly, Clavinet, and acoustic piano sounds. Being able to do some decent B-3 tones was not necessary but definitely a plus, as I have another keyboard that fills my needs for that. I did not want to spend over $500 for a used board, as I had my eyes on the Casio Privia PX 5S. In short, I was getting this as a stage piano. I don't perform a lot, but I do intend to gig with it some and use it for recording. I am not a professional musician. I am an intermediate level player, and I create my own jazz, blues, pop, rock, and R&B music. I do consider myself to be fairly picky when it comes to overall feel and sound quality. That being said, I have not played on an actual wurlitzer or Rhodes, and I am not trying to say that this feels or sounds exactly the same.

First impressions: The sounds were pretty good. The Wurly and rhodes tones were usable, as was the acoustic piano. I have played better ones, but they are not bad. I was pretty underwhelmed and a little disappointed with the clavinet sounds, however. The action wasn't bad, but it was not as good as some of the Korgs, Yamaha's, and others that I have tried out. Definitely not a deal breaker though...

I did a little looking around for available sound cards, to see if I could get a little closer to the sounds I was craving. I noticed that Q cards were available on Ebay, and I decided to order a vintage keys card and a jazz piano card. The reviews of the jazz piano card were overall favorable, and I am pleased with it. It is certainly an upgrade. I was skeptically hopeful of the sounds that I would get from the vintage keys card, as the reviews were a little more mixed.

I have to say, after playing it with the vintage keys sounds, I am in electric piano heaven. I love the vintage keys card. Plenty of Rhodes and Wurlitzers that sound great to my ear, and finally I found several fat and funky clavinet sounds. This is perfect for me. I paid a little over $200 for both the jazz piano card and the vintage keys card, so I am in this now for a total of a little over $400. I would rate the overall package a solid five star value, but since I had to pick up 2 sound cards to get to get it done, I dropped one star (or half a star if I could).

Pros: This is a very high quality keyboard. It is built like a tank. The action is decent and it does have some pretty good sounds. Along with the sounds that I mentioned above, it has some really nice pads, vintage synths, funky spacey sounds, and decent tone wheel organ sounds. The pitch and modulation wheels are awesome (probably the smoothest action that I have ever felt). It also has 4 performance sliders that can be programmed to desired effects on the tone. Overall, in spite of being over 20 years old, this is a versatile instrument that would perform well in a variety of settings. Having the sound cards still available on Ebay is a plus too. I do not see myself upgrading, as this fills all of my needs very well. If you can find one for $300 or less, I wouldn't hesitate. I was happy with both sound cards, and even though they are expensive, it was worth it to me, as I was able to really dial in the tones that I was looking for. I cannot imagine a better deal for under $500 (of course, including the price of the sound cards).

Cons: With it being built like a tank, keep in mind, it is HEAVY. The frame is all metal, and it has solid oak side pieces... very nice looking BTW. The biggest con is probably the size of the screen. It is small, and in order to navigate through the parameters, it gets to be a bit of a process... not a huge deal to me, as I am mostly finding the sounds and parameters from the cards to be fine without tweaking. I don't consider the internal sounds to be bad (in fact, many are downright amazing), but I guess that I could say that a slight con would be that until I got the external sound cards, it was not perfect. Now it is close to perfect. I suppose that if I was being really picky, I could say that the hammer action, as I mentioned before is not on par with the very best stage pianos, but that is really nit picking.

Keep in mind, if you do get one and decide to get a Q card or 2, if you have the QS8, as I do, you will need to get the 2 more expensive cards. The guy who makes them makes 3 different card configurations, and the $115 card will work in either slot on the original QS8. The $99 card is configured to work in just one of the slots (I think it is the lower one).