When Waldorf introduced the Zarenbourg in 2006, this piano was one of a very small minority. It had dawned on us that few contemporary instruments offered electric pianists and keyboardists that elusive quality called soul. Reduced to the essentials, this rare breed of instrument does one thing so well that it grows on the player, becoming an extension of body and mind.
It has that magical touch of purism that all-in-one devices lack. So we aimed high, achieving a sound nothing short of sublime. And we conjured a look that blends the hallmarks of classic designs with a more contemporary clean and cool vibe.
Handling is intuitive, not inquisitive. No more fussing with cords for this and that; simply power up, play, and possess instantly satisfying sound for player and audience alike. Its aluminum hood offers a sturdy perch for your other favorite instrument, and its integrated speaker system can render the piggybacked device’s signal. Let your laptop roost on this tower of power, and you can control plug-ins via USB and monitor the results via the Zarenbourg’s audio input.
Searching for the perfect speaker system, we turned to our friend Michael Seipel, owner of EMES, a prestigious maker of studio monitors. He agreed to develop a 2.1 speaker system for the Zarenbourg. The two fullrange front speakers aim for the spot where the sound is sweetest for the player. The omnidirectional woofer brings up the bass to round out the rig. Combined with a high-performance power amp and a precision digital crossover, this setup is the calibrated reference system for its class. Its sound is crystal-clear and transparent. Even chords pounded with a very heavy hand and strident bass notes on the sampled Steinway B grand piano come across ear-pleasingly clean and crisp.
Next, we set out on a quest for the optimum keyboard. It took us to Italy, where we encountered Marco Ragni of Fatar, the world’s leading manufacturer of premium-grade keyboards for electronic musical instruments. We wanted a perfectly balanced e-piano keyboard with a comfortable feel, not too heavily weighted, and a good repetition mechanism responsive enough for fast, precise playing. And we found the perfect counterpart to the Zarenbourg in the TP 100. As an added bonus, it has the lightest hammer action keybed on the market.
What we had in mind for the enclosure was something sleek, stylish, and strong as can be – though in a lightweight package. Our engineers developed a hybrid housing with a precision-welded aluminum hood on a birch multiplex chassis. All speakers are fully enclosed in shell-like casings made of low-vibration MDF. The front panel is milled from a solid block of aluminum. We sourced its classic knobs from the venerable US company Cosmo. Everything about them says, “Built to last and look sharp.” Custom-made for the Zarenbourg, the chromed legs screw into sturdy threaded bushings on the bottom of the base plate.
We sought to create an instrument people would covet; an instrument so close to technical and visual perfection that cannot be improved upon; an instrument people will want to keep for many tomorrows to come. The Zarenbourg is that instrument, the stuff of many a keyboardist’s dreams. And to make it all yours, you can add a personal touch with the optional hood color that strikes your fancy.
Zarenbourg Editor Software
Developed specifically to conjure electric piano sounds, this physical model replicates all the components of an archetypal instrument with jaw-dropping accuracy. It actually lets you manipulate the material, shape, and consistency of tone forks and reeds, the design and action of hammers, the position and type of the pick-up, and many more key details. What makes the e-piano sound so vibrant and compelling is its vast dynamic range. We believe that this sound generator captures the full breadth of its sonic glory – and with staggering authenticity at that.
Direct Streaming technology remains the solution of choice for the sounds of classic grand pianos and their electric equivalents. Paired with a sizable sample memory, it is able to render vast sample libraries – hyper-realistically, directly, and with no time spent in buffering limbo waiting for samples to load. Uploading user samples is a piece of cake.
Six-operator FM synthesis
No e-piano arsenal would be complete without the instrument that dominated ‘80s music, the FM piano. Neither samples nor physical models truly capture the power and dynamics of its sound. So we equipped the Zarenbourg with a six-operator FM sound engine. Now it offers classic DX pianos as well as a bevy of other trademark FM sounds. Used alone or in combination with sample- and model-based sound generators, they add yet another mouthwatering variety of flavors to the Zarenbourg’s sonic smorgasbord.
The effects section offers all the must-have piano effects in to-die-for quality. What’s more, the chorus, flanger, phaser, echo/reverb, auto wah, equalizer, and overdrive may all be used simultaneously. Accessing each effect’s key parameters poses no difficulty. Tremolo is available universally for all sounds. And you can add to the seven factory presets by storing up to 21 user programs.
The software editor (Mac & PC compatible, available summer 2014) affords direct access to all generators’ fundamental sound-shaping parameters, as well as to the Zarenbourg’s menus of internal sounds and layers.
- LCD free User Interface
- Physical Modeling for E-Piano Sounds
- Direct Nand Streaming Sample Playback for Pianos and user content
- True FM synthesis
- 4 Gigabyte Nand Flash for Samples
- 76 keys weighted hammer action keyboard
- Three way active monitor system by EMES
- External Stereo Input
- Dedicated external volume knob
- Digital crossover network
- 7 Presets and 21 user Sounds
- Chrome plated stands
- SD Card slot for firmware and sample upgrade
- MIDI in/out/through
- Stereo Line out
- Digital S/PDIF output
- 7 Effects (Chorus,Flanger,Phaser,Echo/Reverb,Auto Wah,Equalizer,Overdrive)
- Unlimited combination of Effects
- Tremolo, both Stereo and Mono
- Continuous Sustain Pedal allows for dynamic pedaling
- Assignable Expression Pedal
- High performance Dual core Digital Signal Processor
- Editor Software for Windows and Mac (available 2014)
- 7 Preset Sounds
- 21 User Sounds
- Precision-welded aluminium hood
- Massive Aluminium frontpanel
- Standard color "Offwhite"
- Special Order optional Colors: Tangerine Orange, 3D Kevlar Black