Gear Review: Spectrasonics Keyscape

To be honest, I’ve been looking forward to this review ever since hearing rumors about Keyscape. Eric Persing leads a dream team of folks at Spectrasonics, dedicated to making the best music software, period. Keyscape is a massive collection of 36 of the finest new, vintage, and exotic acoustic and electric pianos on the planet, sampled to perfection. It has been ten years in the making, and will be another game changer for the industry.
OUT OF THE BOX

Downloading Keyscape will take a minute. The full version weighs in at 77 GB, and there is a lite version at 30GB. You might choose lite if you are playing live with a Laptop. For this review I chose the full install. My Internet runs about 100Mbps, and I think it took about two hours. There is also a thumb drive version available as a boxed version through music retail stores, which installs quite fast. Next comes Authorization via a challenge code and response. Very painless and no iLok! You can also Authorize on more than one of your own computers. Another nice thing is that if your drive ever crashes, for $10.00 you can get another download 24/7. Users can archive the initial Keyscape download and install from it at no extra cost. I use Carbon Copy Cloner to back up all my studio internal and external drives. I recommend it. It’s easy & inexpensive. The minimum System requirements are OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher, WIN 7 or higher, Native 64 bit host, 8GB ram, and 80Gb of Hard Drive space (SSD recommended). It’s compatible with all DAWS using AU, VST 2.4 and AAX.
IN USE

Keyscape shows up as both a separate instrument and as a Library in Omnisphere 2 (if you have it already installed) in your DAW. Opening it as a Library in Omnisphere 2 gives you access to the Steam engine for deep editing and creative layering possibilities. Inside Keyscape are 36 separate Instruments including new, rare, vintage, and electronic keyboards with 500 “best in class” sounds. Each patch is made of multi-sampled sounds with up to 32-way velocity switching, and Round Robins for repeated notes. Each instrument patch has it’s own custom controls for things like Multi-Microphones, Timbre, Character, beautiful Reverbs, and Modulation effects.

I started with the LA Custom Yamaha C7. It’s stunning, really, and may be the best software grand I’ve ever heard. The attention to detail is superb, including the authentic sounds of the pedals and rich harmonic overtones. There is a vintage Wing upright. This piano has extra pedals that engage little balls and blades inside for unusual sounds. This makes them strangely modern sounding. There are four different Rhodes: an LA Custom “E”, Classic Mk1, Piano Bass, and the 1946 Rhodes Pre-Piano, the very first instrument Harold Rhodes developed. They come with all kinds of amps & effects. Also included are two lovely Wurlitzers, Clavinets with Wah, Delays, and Amp modeling, old Pianets, Toy and Bass Pianos, a Harpsichord, a Clavichord, a Dulcitone, a CP70, a Celeste, and three classic Roland digital pianos. There’s even an electrified Harmonium called a Harmochord. It takes hours and hours to try out all these sounds. Another feature are the “DUO” sound presets made by combining two separate keyboards in Keyscape.

OMNISPHERE 2

As amazing as Keyscape is, opening it in Omnisphere 2 adds even another creative level. I had great results layering these beautiful authentic sounds into crazy hybrids using the EDM patches, Granular Synthesis, Arpeggiators, and Innerspace.

CONCLUSIONS

Once you hear it, Keyscape is simply a must have. Owning that amazing Yamaha C7, the classic Rhodes, Wurlys, Clavs, and the vintage exotic keyboards together make for quite an arsenal. As a keyboard player you will get a ton of mileage and inspiration with Keyscape. It is to the Piano what Omnisphere was to the modern Synth. Most companies would split all these keyboards into numerous packages, eventually costing lots more. By combining all these into one product Spectrasonics has made an amazing offering at a very cost effective price. Be sure to watch the video!

Originally published in Christian Musician Magazine, Nov/Dec 2016. Used by permission.

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Publisher and writer for Worship Musician Magazine, Christian Musician Magazine and Collectible Guitar Magazine.

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