ON A LARGER SCALE
When I think of an 88-note digital piano, I think of just that, piano sounds. Usually, I would expect this to be ac- companied by a hammer action to the key bed and generally a limited range of preset sound to work with. This is where the new Hammond SK1-88 caught me by surprise. In fact, I wasn’t expect- ing to get an 88-note keyboard form Hammond this month, so I knew I was in for a treat when I hit the frst chord. The semi- weighted key bed action by Fatar has a really natural feel that organ players are going to love, but it will also appeal to pianists who are used to heavier hammer actions. This does not feel like a springy keyboard, every strike of every key has a defned feel, and with five different sensitivity settings, you can set the keys to respond just how you want them to. This is the bigger organ that the pianist will love.
I have to admit, there were quite a few chords simply played over and over as I went through the range of sounds and settings. It is easy to lose yourself when you get stuck into the drawbars on this keyboard, so making good use of the ten ‘Favourites’ buttons to recall the sounds you will most use is a good idea. Add in some Leslie cabinet emula- tion, vibrato and chorus and you get great results. You can even split the drawbars settings to the lower and upper ranges of the keyboard, with the settings for each zone stored before the drawbars are moved to set the next zone. A very handy addition is the ability to stream audio directly from a USB stick, so backing tracks can be called up in a fash. The browsing and recall of fles is fairly simple and pretty much instant, so you can get your tracks playing at any time in a set if needs be. The only real downside to the USB option is that when importing new sounds, you can very easily expend the limits of the unit’s memory and may need to remove some sounds in order to load new ones in. But, if you can’t be kept happy with the sounds already on this keyboard, you haven’t listened hard enough. On-board memory doesn’t allow multiple large patches to be uploaded.