Back in the 80s, a certain Japanese musical instrument manufacturer was working on a new technology they called Structured Adaptive Synthesis (or SAS) ... we call it physical modelling these days ... and they implemented it in their RD1000 digitial piano (Elton John's favourite stage piano for some time).
It was clever (for its day) and quite ahead for the time. Using a custom computer system they nicknamed SALLY, they analysed various pianos, acoustic and electric, and also harpsichord and clavinet and - for the time - they did a damned good job and it was fairly realistic all things considered, certainly within the context of a mix. It would never replace a Steinway or Bösendorfer of course and you didn't see the LaBeque sisters giving recitals on one but nonetheless, it was pretty good ... especially for its time.
It had its limitations though - 16-voice (12-voice when the electric piano 'models' were selected) and effects were restricted to just tremolo and chorus but even so.
Undeterred, the manufacturer released a rack mount version in the form of the MKS20 which we have here...
It proved to be relatively popular, following the form factor of other MKS modules of the period (MKS80, MKS70, MKS10, MKS50) and it did pretty well for itself. A big of a bugger though - it was deeper in length than it was wide and a bit of a bastard to fit in a rack.
We grabbed one off eBay recently (and as a mark of its popularity, it wasn't cheap - still holds a value even today, 25 years or so on). Not just a good opportunity for us to re-create what some might consider a classic little instrument but something to have a lot of fun with and tinker with features...
We've added our own sounds (the 'EXTRAS') and added split and layer modes and extra effects in the form of delay and convolution reverb, a stereo enhancer and have brought the 3-band EQ to the front panel rather than hidden away in a bunch of arcane menus as it was on the original. And of course, polyphony is not an issue.
We've kept the essential 'form factor' and for normal use - you simply click on the buttons to select a sound - couldn't be simpler. But we also added layering and keysplits.
We also couldn't resist playing with the LCD. Whereas the original had a contrast control, you can change the colour on the vKS20...
All good fun!
Not just that but we've added synth functions in the form of ADSR envelopes for amplitude and the filter not possible on the original...
And you can edit the effects...
All in all, this version is greater than the sum of its parts and a vast improvment on the functionality of the original. Layer strings or crusty Fairlight vocal pads with the other sounds or blend an FM e.piano with one of the SAS/modelled e.pianos ... or DX e.piano with string synth and so on - layer two of the pianos with a hint of detune for a honky tonk and Piano 3 with a smattering of chorus does a pretty good Peter Gabriel-esque/Keane CP70/80.
The vKS20 is fairly unique in that it's retro - very much so - but still sounds modern and is much more than just 'a digital piano'. Whatever your chosen genre - electronica, new age, techno, hip hop, gospel, prog, rock, whatever - there's a place in your sonic armoury for the vKS20.
|| Mario Krušelj
||Hollow Sun and Mario Krušelj
||Hollow Sun (with some help from Bach and Debussy), Andy Hardwake (Digital Mechanics)
Kontakt 4.2.4 full version
Windows® XP (SP2, 32bit) / Vista® (32/64 Bit), Windows 7® (32/64 Bit), Pentium® or Athlon XP 1.4 GHz, 2 GB RAM
Mac OS® X 10.5 or higher, Intel® Core™ Duo 1.8 GHz, 2 GB RAM
|NOTE : Requires the full version of Kontakt 4.2.4 or higher.
It will work with the Kontakt Player but only in 'demo' mode and the session will be time limited.
I have bought your new shining diamant, named the vKS20!!
Really, I am out completely!! Wonderfull, beautiful sounds, this is the best start of a new year, you can get.
F''kin incredible stuff as always. I just don't know how you can put out such consistently good libraries at affordable prices. Luv yer stuff man. I think I have all of it. Great work.
Just wanted to drop by and wish you the best year yet !!!
Your work is always so amazing ! Please keep up the great work !
I've just bought the vKS20 at the special introductory price and have taken it for a quick spin - well done, again. All of the keyboard sounds are very *useable* and sound like they'd sit really well in a mix.
I look forward to digging in a bit deeper when I get a chance, but for the moment - thanks, and another Hollow Sun job well done.
I have always wanted an MKS20. A friend had one years ago and I loved it. Thank you for recreating it so well and the extra sounds are a real bonus.
You did an awesome job with the VKS20. The sounds are Awesome. Easy to use. Great GUI. Looking forward to your products in 2014.
I own every one of your releases and have never been disappointed in the slightest! This will be no exception I'm sure.
just ordered and downloaded this one and must to tell you that it's f a n t a s t i c.
Think it's the best you ever did.
Exceptional. I just buy everything you make because I just know it won't disapoint. And this is no exception. I ran thru the presets but playing with layering - OMG
Just fyi, HS pretty much blows everything else out of the water, so yeah there may be a similar sample set out there, but its not a HS instrument.
Panphobia - KVR
Outstanding. I had the original when it came out. This is better with the layering and effects..
Love it, love it, love it. Thanks.
Bought this, liked the stock sounds but when I got into layering ... wow. What a machine.
Love the Sherlock intro in the audio demo. You nailed that sound. The Bach reference was wonderfully Walter Carlos and the Debussy would have made Tomita proud. I have grabbed that demo and it's on my iPhone and I love it.. I bought the VKS and it is fantastic. I do new age and ambient music and I know the vks20 will be invaluable.
Just to say Steve that I think your VKS20 is truly excellent. Great sounds, great GUi, great functionality and great price. Another winner from Hollow Sun. Your material never dissapoints. Always top notch work. Happy new year to you and Mario.
Wasn't sure what to make of this one but bought it anyway because your libraries are always interesting and affordable
Just a few words about Hollow Sun's vKS20 which is a Roland MKS20 for Kontakt. Used to own an MKS20 and vKS20 is a superb emulation. Sounds exactly how I remember the original with some excellent very useful extra features and additional sounds.
Rolandrat - KVR
I have several multi-gigabyte piano libraries but this is almost becoming my go-to piano. It sits well in a mix and is more interesting and fun with the layering. The sounds and graphics are excellent. A great job as usual.
I had an MKS20 and this is just such a fantastic emulation.