By Tony Orant
We’ve all taken that last-minute sub gig where we’re going in blind and are expected to provide not just piano and electric piano but some other sonic flavor as well, and make it seem like we’ve been working with the band since day one. To that end, walking in with a lightweight, easyto- use digital piano in one hand and a small tabletop or rack module full of your favorite sounds in the other can make those gigs less nerve-wracking, especially when your keyboard has great sounds and MIDI controller abilities that make it seem like you spent days preparing. Studiologic’s Numa Piano gives you a handful of core sounds, but really excels at adding MIDI capability with no brain drain. There’s no menu diving here—every button is dedicated, with some activating a second function when pressed with the Function button. All functions are labeled right on the panel surface. In a sentence, it lets you play it smart while keeping it simple.
03-2011 Studiologic Numa Piano by KeyboardMag
Sounds, Splitting, and Layering
The Numa Piano provides you with the necessities you’d expect: two very rich pianos (one a brighter rock piano), three electric pianos (their take on the triumvirate of Rhodes, Wurly, and FM), Clavinet, strings and synth pads perfect for layering beneath a piano, two all-purpose organ tones, and upright and electric basses to split with the piano for when you’re doing double duty. All sounds can be treated independently with modulation and reverbs; while the reverb times are fixed, a dedicated knob determines the level. Chorus/Phase/Rotary/Tremolo also has its own dedicated Level knob, with the rate controlled by the modulation wheel. This layout is simple and logical.
Layering the keyboard is equally intuitive: Press the buttons for the two sounds you want to layer, and tweak the Balance knob. Press Split, and the last sound selected defaults to the right-hand half of the keyboard (you can override this by choosing another sound); press Split again and another sound button to select your left-hand sound. To set the split point, press the Function and Point buttons, then press the appropriate key. Once again, the Balance knob controls their relative volumes. Genius! There are four preset velocity curves, but hitting the Fatar Touch button and then dynamically playing the keyboard teaches the action to respond to your playing style, saving the result as a fifth velocity curve.
The Numa Piano’s control of external sound sources is just as logical and just as easy to use on the fly. Having used a dedicated MIDI controller for 20 years now, and having spent countless hours preparing zone maps and presets for performing, I really appreciate the beauty of the Numa Piano’s “keep it simple” approach: The MIDI section (like the internal sounds) has a dedicated On/Off button and its own volume knob—yes! The MIDI button steps between Program, MSB, LSB, channel, and octave, any of which you then change with the + and – buttons. Want to layer your external MIDI synth on top of your internal piano? Hit the On button and turn the volume to the desired level. Want just the external MIDI sound with no piano? Turn the Sound Bank button off, or turn the knob down and fade to the appropriate level. It’s so stupidly logical!
As you can tell, this machine is a breeze to play live. The Numa Piano subscribes to the “less is more” approach with just 20 sounds. With dedicated bass, treble, balance and volume knobs, and the built-in effects, you have enough to get yourself through most casual gigs. If you need a little more, you bring along your favorite sound module. I do think it would have been smarter to put the otherwise brilliant controls all the way to the left of the panel, not in the center. It’s easier to keep playing with my right hand while grabbing a knob or button with my left, and that’s a bit difficult when my left hand has to reach over my right. Also, you’ll find yourself grabbing the tone, balance, and volume knobs a bit, which makes their placement at the far right unfortunate. One strange anomaly is that whether using my own sustain pedal or the supplied sustain pedal, the Numa Piano never recognized it upon powering up; I always had to power cycle once more, and it would be fine—but that bug needs to be addressed.
The Numa Piano comes with a clear music stand that attaches at the back and fits in your gig bag, letting you leave one more thing at home. And thank you, Studiologic, for using an internal power supply in a keyboard this light. Nothing to misplace—just a standard IEC power cord and you’re good to go.
I really appreciate the Numa Piano’s approach. The Fatar Grand Touch keybed is a joy to play, with just the right amount of resistance to connect you with the “Grand” and “Bright” pianos. The keys have a textured finish that prevents slip and lets you dig in. Plus, the Numa Piano is so easy to use that I took it to my first rehearsal literally as soon as FedEx delivered it—I didn’t download the manual until later. Other than the sustain pedal issue, everything was logical and newbie-proof. You have a total of 50 memory locations that you can fill with tweaks to internal sounds, splits and layers, or MIDI setups. With the incredibly quick and flexible external MIDI control, you can get a lot more use from this machine. Factor in the ability to plug in an external audio device (and the dedicated volume knob for that input), plus the dual headphone outputs, and the Numa Piano also makes an incredibly smart teaching and practice instrument.
PROS Great feeling hammer action keyboard in a tight, well laid out package. Very good piano sounds with some MIDI controller functions. Incredibly easy to figure out. Internal power supply is unusual given the light weight.
CONS Would benefit from some ergonomic repositioning of controls. Had difficulty recognizing my sustain pedal on power-up.
CONCEPT Ultralight stage piano with split/layer ability and MIDI controller functions.
POLYPHONY 128 voices.
KEYBOARD ACTION Fatar TP100 fully weighted hammer action.
EFFECTS Separate modulation and reverb sections.
W x D x H 51.2" x 12" x 4.8".
WEIGHT 25 lbs.
PRICE List: $1,899.95
Approx. street: $1,500