Siel Piano Quattro
This six-octave electronic piano is built into its own flight-case, which is finished in simulated teak formica to render it more socially acceptable. The lid is easily removed by releasing four locking catches, and reveals the keyboard and control panel.
All the sounds are generated by conventional analogue circuitry (presumably derived from square waves), and the onboard effects include chorus, flanging and a six-band graphic equaliser.
The keyboard is a positively-sprung organ type, and is velocity sensitive to simulate the playing dynamics of an acoustic piano, though the feel is quite different.
A strong tubular stand is included in the price, as are sustain and tremolo pedals and all these accessories come in a large, zip-up vinyl case for easy transport and storage.
No figure for the weight of this piano was included in the instructions and that's probably because the paper isn't wide enough to get all the noughts on; it's heavy and, what's more, has no carrying handles! It's hard to understand why the Quattro is so large and heavy as circuitry of this type is relatively compact and could be made to fit a case little larger than the keyboard itself.
The control panel is conveniently situated above the keyboard, and all the parameters are adjusted by means of pushbuttons or sliders.
There are four basic piano voicings (hence the instrument's name), two acoustic and two electric. Only one voice may be selected at any one time, but this may be treated by the built-in effects, the first of these being chorus.
This is selected by means of a pushbutton which contains an illuminated indicator LED, and both the rate and depth may be varied by means of two sliders, a detune button deepening the chorus effect to produce a honky tonk sound when required.
Next comes the attack section which imparts a metallic, percussive quality to the sound, and this may be preset long or short, the intensity being set by means of the depth and brightness sliders.
The equaliser section can be patched in or out of circuit, and there is also a balance slider that enables the equaliser sound to be mixed with the untreated sound in any proportion. The circuit is a six-band equaliser which applies cut or boost at one octave intervals, and the centre frequencies cover the range 250Hz to 4kHz.
When the button labelled bass is selected, the bottom two octaves play in a bass register (the top four octaves remain unaffected) and this arrangement works on all four preset voices.
Although - as already mentioned - pedals are supplied as standard, the sustain duration may be set by a front panel slider, while a further slider transposes the keyboard up or down by about a fourth, the centre position being detented so that normal tuning may be easily reset. The pitch at this centre position is fine-adjusted by means of the Tune control and, as the instrument is locked to a single oscillator, the relative tuning of different notes should never drift.
Subjectively, even though two of the presets bear the legend 'acoustic piano', none of the sounds bear much resemblance to that instrument, particularly in the lower registers where the sound becomes dirty and rather too obviously electronic.
All four presets produce usable voicings that could perhaps best be described as electronic piano variations, and both the chorus and flanger options can be employed to further modify the sounds available.
The velocity-sensitive keyboard responded fairly well, except when playing very gently when notes occasionally failed to appear at all, but this is probably one of those things that the user will adapt to and master only with practice.
The Siel Piano Quattro is a rugged yet attractive keyboard and would probably adapt well to life on the road due to its flightcase-style construction.
I can see no reason to justify the weight of this instrument, however, and considering its price, the voicings are not particularly impressive.
The built-in chorus and flanger are a good idea and they work well, but they do little to improve the authenticity of the piano sound.
This is a well-built piano with a good keyboard and a sensibly laid-out control panel, but for the facilities and sounds on offer, I can't help thinking that the price is higher than is reasonable for such an instrument. I think Siel would do well to bring their flagship piano more into line quality-wise with their excellent MIDI polysynths or, for that matter, their less expensive PX and PX jr pianos.
Review by Paul White
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