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Ketron SD2 Orchestra Wizard

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£329.00
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Product Description



The KETRON SD2 Orchestral Wizard is a pocket size sound module designed for all PC and Midi applications. Equipped with a new powerful sound engine,including a professional Sterio Grand Piano over 88 notes,huge Orchestral voices such as saxophones,Brass,Woodwind,Accordions,Organ Digital Drawbars and many others.

The SD2 has all the latest features for recording,programming and live prerformances.

The quality of the Solo instrument Voices (following the traditional KETRON Best Natural sound heritage) is a remarkable advantage of the SD2.

In addition the SD2 includes very distinctive Audio Drum and Percussion Loops selected from:

Slow, Jazz, latin, Acoustic,Traditional and Dance Styles.

Used in conjunction with a Computer,Master Keyboard,Midi Accordian or Midi Guitar the SD2 offers an "all in one" great sound resource that can be used to greatly enhance standard Midi files as well as for Home or Studio compositions and recordings.

The SD2's Midi capability allows for control of up to 32 Midi channels and DSP effects such as Reverb,Chorus,Delay and Distortion.

A very useful (optional) USB to Midi Cable also allows the SD2 to communicate fluently with any laptop which may not normally be fitted with a Midi interface. Special configurations with the sound map (Templates) are provided so that the instrument can 'easily work' with the most commonly used sequencer programs such as Cubase, Logic, Cakewalk as  well as the complete SD2 Drum Loop Library.

Templates and Loop Libraries can be downloaded free from the KETRON Internet Site

www.ketron.it        

 

Specifications

Sound Generation Stereo Grand Piano.384 GM Voices.
128 Special Orchestral Presets. Over 1000 Percussive sounds.
GM Standard. Digital Drawbars.
Drum 1 32 New Drum sets.
Drum 2 150 Live Drums, featuring Acoustic, Jazz, Pop and Dance Loops.
Effects Multi effect DSP. Reverb, Chorus, Delay, Distortion, Rotor Slow/Fast.
MIDI In, Thru. 32 Midi Channels. GM standard.
Outputs Left & Right Outputs . Stereo headphone.
Volume Volume Slider.
Dimensions L x W x H = (12 x 13 x 4 cms.) (4.8 x 5.2x 1.6 inches).
Weight 0.6 Kg. (1.32 lbs)
Power External 12 Volts Power supply.
Options USB to Midi cable.
  Specifications and appearances are subject to change without notice.

Review


KETRON SD2 ORCHESTRA WIZARD.

AUTHOR: David Etheridge

HEADLINE: MIGHTY MIDGET.

 

Today's synths pack a formidable sonic punch, light years ahead of products produced only five or so years ago. Everything seems to be getting smaller, leaner and more efficient. Many years ago, there was a joke that the Japanese

could always make it smaller and cheaper than the competition. Nowadays it's the Italians that would appear to be leading the way in 'bang for the buck' technology. Hang on a minute, The Italians? Yes, it's those sons of fun at Ketron who've done it again. Long standing readers of MM will know that I've had a look at various Ketron workstations over the last few years, with their truly idiosyncratic approach that provides instruments of true character.

 

The SD1 flagship offered features galore, the Vega and XD9 offered middle eastern sounds and alternate tunings, and the range is full of candidates for sound sources that truly don't sound like anyone else. Now I've always thought that what yer average established keyboard player would want would be a nice 1U rack brim full of Ketron sounds. I got my wish, but perversely

(as ever) Ketron have decided that the average 19" rack is just too passÇ for them, so the SD2 is in a size of it's own - literally. For this 32 voice little monster is about the same size as your filofax (should you have one) and less than 2 lbs (0.6kg) in weight.

 

Less is more.

 

The SD2's a veritable model of a modern MIDI module in the austere casing. At the front you have the power switch, power/MIDI activity blue LED, volume slider and a minijack socket for headphones. Around the back are MIDI In/thru, phono L/R outs, 12v adaptor connection, and er...that's it. The rounded sides and dinky rubber feet mean that it'll perch just about anywhere on top of a keyboard, amp, stand, desktop, or even in your pocket - it's that unobtrusive. Power is from the dreaded wall wart with a clip on mains 'prong' to the power supply itself. I'm guessing that Ketron have alternative 'prongs' for various electrical connections worldwide.

 

More is more.

However, lurking inside this Tardis of a module is more than enough sonic power to please the most jaded of synth palettes. A nice Stereo Grand Piano, 384 GM voices (that all have subtle or not so subtle differences from the usual GM fare), 128 Special Orchestral Presets (hence the moniker 'Orchestral Wizard'), over 1000 percussion sounds, and Digital Drawbars. On the Drum side, things are very different indeed for a module of this size: 32 new Drum Sets, and 150 Live Drum Loops (downloadable from Ketron's own website), which I encountered most recently on their SD5 performance keyboard. These latter cover Acoustic, Latin, Jazz, Pop and Dance Loops. Effects are provided by a multi effect DSP, offering Reverb (Aux channel 1), and Chorus, Delay, Distortion, and Rotor Slow/Fast (all on Aux channel 2). Lurking in the depths are also Bass boost, and an Arabic tuning scale.

 

As for the sounds, there are three main banks of GM (ish) sounds. Bank A is the pure GM bank, with variations on Banks B and C. The Preset Bank is their 'greatest hits' selection, while there are two banks of drum sounds. The first bank has a good representative range of kits, although the kit numbering is all over the place across the 32 available. Drum bank 2 are the live loops,

triggered by downloadable MIDIfiles from Ketron themselves. These again are the excellent fare from the SD5's ranks.

 

Performance.

By this time, you're presumably champing at the bit, so what does it sound like? The quick answer is: very good indeed and very powerful. I've pointed out before that Ketron's sounds have a -well, Italian flavour to them. The pianos are rich, the strings have that most romantic of vibratos, the sax and trumpet sounds include some delightfully cheesy (but stylistically accurate) vibratos and decorations, and the accordions are the usual Ketron wealth of options. The synths and pads are full and strong, the guitars and basses excellent for

the GM range, and they've put in some classics from the SD1: Django (a true sampled Maccaferri jazz guitar) and the 'Gospel' girl vocal group -just two of my favourites. There are a few dodgy sounds aboard too (aren't their always in GM modules?). The Mandolin is obviously derived from a single sample as the rate of tremolo changes with each note, getting faster the higher you go.

The Pizzicato strings are very odd indeed: fine in the upper octaves, but with a sloppy ensemble in the lower octaves that sounds like a string section after several days in the pub! That said, if you play the sound very short, it sounds fine; just don't keep the note sustained unless you like pizzicato anarchy!

So far so good; but here's the bad news. All of this sonic power needs some serious controller messages to access. In other words, you're not going to be able to press a single button on your master keyboard and get everything easily. In order to get the most out of the SD2 (and there is a lot on offer, after all), you'll need a control surface or keyboard with assignable sliders.

While this is no problem in the studio, it might need a bit of thought for live work. Perversely as ever, I found that the SD2 refused to play drum tracks on some (but not all) MIDIfiles that I fed it. Bank select on the SD2 uses CC0, but not CC32, which is a much simpler method than you may find elsewhere (in my experience Technics seem to be the most eccentric in their Bank

Select routines). When playing MIDIfiles from the net I had to delete the CC32 info and juggle a few values before I heard the drums. On other files, things played back perfectly, so I suppose we're par for the course overall!

 

Breaking news.


Updates are a doddle. These take the form of downloadable MIDIfiles from the Ketron site, and rev 1.1 is now online. This offers remapping of 'inexistent' (I think they mean non-existent) banks to the GM bank A, and an improved GM reset function. Although the website claims you need Windows Media Player for this, in fact it'll work with any MIDIfile player that sends Sysex. I managed to upgrade the SD2 from my ever dependable Atari with no problem! This all adds up to a good thing, as future revisions are simplicity itself to load into the SD2.

 

CONCLUSION.

This is a quite extraordinary little module, packing a sonic punch out of all proportion to it's size. Most of the sounds are excellent, a few are distinctly dodgy, while others are distinctive and quirky, while a good number are just terrific. For a studio it will make a useful, convenient, and above all sonically distinctive addition, while for a live setup the best results will be obtained with a master keyboard and/or control surface that can access all the parameters in real time. Best of all is the price: at just ú275 you've got access to all the greatest hits that Ketron put in their higher level (and obviously more expensive) workstations, and a GM module that is at least the equal, and in many respects superior to those of the opposition. Above all, it's different. Individuality rules!

 

High notes.

 

The price.

The size.

The power.

The sounds, which are as eccentric as ever with Ketron!

Easy MIDIfile updates.

 

Low notes.

 

You can only get at the goodies inside with some serious MIDI controller messages, and the ability to understand fluent hexadecimal language (according to the spec sheet). 

Some MIDIfiles might not play back correctly on drum channel 10 without editing.


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