kurzweil ktm250

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freeyerheel
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kurzweil ktm250

Post by freeyerheel » Wed Aug 20, 2014 4:54 pm

im wondering if this would be a fun synth. i have the chance to buy one for 100 bucks, i really like the look of it but it looks huge. im also wondering how hard they are to use and program and if they can sample without using discs? if you dont care if the sample is saved can samples be used and manipulated without discs?

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Vsyevolod
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Post by Vsyevolod » Wed Aug 20, 2014 6:35 pm

Ancient technology. Most likely it's not 100% working. Not worth it if it isn't IMHO, unless you are in need of a very large and heavy door stop. Very expensive to fix.

You could go check out the Kurzweil Yahoo Group or Mastering VAST forum to get even more answers/opinions.

Stephen




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EMwhite
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Post by EMwhite » Wed Aug 20, 2014 7:33 pm

Do you mean K250? If so I have one and can tell you everything about it. If it's something else... pffft never heard of it :hihi:
Beware of programmers with screwdrivers...

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doombient.music
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Post by doombient.music » Thu Aug 21, 2014 6:47 am

100 bucks is a steal. If space is no issue for you, go for it.

One of my dream machines ca. 1989. It is a museum piece today, massive, huge, and very limited at what it does. Sampling was an add-on in order to stay competitive but it never was the 250's main asset -- its main asset was instant playability and first-class sounds (for that era). It required some ancient Mac with an ancient hard drive, running ancient software to store samples with. There were various resolutions and various ways to share the sampling time available between samples.

If it's the keyboard version and you are a player, then I guess it's worth it just for the keyboard alone. If it's the 19" rackmount I guess there is no bigger box to stuff your rack with than this.

Either way, make sure it comes with as many Sound Blocks on board as possibly can. Don't buy a keyboard version if the pedal/power supply unit is missing -- buy it only if you need spares (or pass it on to someone who might be in need of some).

Stephen

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NYMo
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Post by NYMo » Thu Aug 21, 2014 7:48 am

K250 beautiful keyboard..and one of the ones I always wanted but could never afford.
Btw..you don't want to pay the shipping price !!

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Post by CJ Miller » Thu Aug 21, 2014 8:46 am

If you love high-end, old-school digital then a K250 could be rather fly. The implementation may be old and heavy, but these units are well made, sound great, and have interesting features. But yes, be prepared to get your hands dirty doing setup and maintenance. IMO they are well worth the current prices, but only for those with a lot of space and technical inclination.

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EMwhite
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Post by EMwhite » Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:06 am

I remember when they were first released; Keyboard Magazine ran a feature and included a soft-45 record containing the demo. it was incredible, and > $10k WoWl, what a price tag. Of course I was a senior in High School at the time and didn't even have a car, let alone $$ for anything more than the CZ-101 that my friends dad gave me.

Some years later (25) I bought one off eBay. It was recently reconditioned but spent the hot summer in my mothers garage (in Florida) until she made her trip up North in the fall. Yes I guilted her into getting it into her Hyundai Sonata and driving it up for me. She picked it up from the seller who was at a Gun show (he was also a Gun dealer) in SW Florida.

Came with a full set of manuals including the service manuals and schematics, demo tapes, all sound blocks installed and 'yes!' that original floppy record from 1984.

It has a full size Baldwin (wood) keybed and as mentioned above is a monster; weighs > 100 lbs with the power pod.

Built in sequencer, 256 stage amplitude envelopes, all sorts of performance features, but really, it's a 12 voice sample player. Unique (at the time) because it could trigger different samples depending on how hard you strike the key; particularly useful on the Rhodes sample.

It's got Orchestral sounds, a number of choir, horn, piano, bass, stringed instruments and harp, you name it.

Made with the highest end electronics available (hence the tall price tag), it has super high fidelity D to A components but aspects of it tend to fail over time; Mine is solid but some folks lose voices. There is a Yahoo group that has plenty of support, various versions of firmware posted etc.

My K250 was originally owned by a Kurzweil Engineer and has prototype firmware that I'm not aware is anywhere else, in fact, my CPU board has been modded to allow for bank switching (more memory) but in essence, it's the same as the highest version in most K250s out there.

There is SCSI support and yes you CAN use a Mac if you want to not necessary; many owners have one for the purpose of posterity/history; I wouldn't bother with it. Some have a cartridge kit installed which allows for additional samples to be inserted easily into a cart slot int he center below the keyboard; mine does not have this option.

Some years ago, Sweetwater bought the rights to sell all of the parts/enhancements/maintain sound block libraries, etc but they've since gotten completely out of the business and it's all NLA.

And yea, it's a monster in size. Three large PCBs in a drawer at the rear end of the unit dominate 2/3rds of the footprint; behind the lowest keys is the analog board containing all of those high end audio electronics, in the middle is the sound blocks and on the right is the digital board which in essence is a 1984 era computer which manages the 'interface'.

Brilliant that the Power pod/pedals was external; but the nicad battery on the digital board tends to leak acid over time in the same way that the first solid state pinball machines did thus destroying the board with corrosion; removal of heat dissipation issues prolonged the 'environment' around the battery but it is still a problem on some machines.

Ray Kurzweil was a madman, brilliant and really broke some technological barriers with the advent of this monster; and they sold many many of them despite the price tag. Of course Stevie Wonder and Keith Emerson are two of the more famous players over the years. Paul Shaffer still plays his and in fact you hear it on the David Letterman theme song (layered horns); if you look back in YouTube you can find Keith Emerson and Paul playing together however I think Paul just played his hammond during that track.

There is also a Keyboard Magazine walk through of Paul's "rig" which hasn't changed in years. Lots more to say but my advice would be to pick it up for $99; you can always get boards/parts etc.

And if you are absolutely bonkers, you can buy the rack mounted K250 and chain them together to get 24 voices! :hihi:
Beware of programmers with screwdrivers...

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The Real MC
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Post by The Real MC » Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:14 am

The standalone 250 is essentially a ROMpler with excellent (traditional) bread-n-butter sounds. It was the first sampler to steal some thunder away from Fairlights and Synclaviers.

Sampling and SMPTE synch is only possible with the antique Mac II, *IF* you can find the software. And you can't store user samples on the 250, they have to be stored on the Mac. Expansion ROMs with added samples were offered, but haven't been made for decades and the EPROMs used back then are no longer made and getting hard to find.

If you want a sampler for non-traditional sounds, I'd hold out for a K2000 whose prices have been steadily falling.

Vintage samplers are cheap for a reason. They use a lot of components that are no longer made (DRAMs, ASICs, custom ICs). Many modern features taken for granted were not available back then (IE DSP effects, digital filters). The media for user samples and loading OS are antiquated (floppies, SCSI HDs, old Flash cards). The media drives fail and generic drives will not work in them. Many of them are SMT and are not easy to repair. You can very quickly reach the point of diminishing returns trying to restore them.
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Vsyevolod
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Post by Vsyevolod » Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:34 pm

The Real MC wrote:Vintage samplers are cheap for a reason.
+1

Stephen




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knittingram
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Post by knittingram » Sat Apr 11, 2015 11:10 pm

Reviving and old thread here. I got a pretty cherry 250 last year. The battery
Is dead and one voice is dead, as well. Anybody know of any k250 experts
In Southern California? I mainly want to get the battery fixed as I can just disarm the busted voice. I've searched and haven't found anybody that specializes in these.

I got all four sound blocks, all the manuals, the apple iici with every necessary
Program and more. I got the computer off the kurzweil yahoo group from a
Former Kurzweil engineer and I got the 250 off of Craigslist for $325.

Help appreciated. Thanks.
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It can give you the exact mathematical design,
but what's missing is the eyebrows.

-FZ

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