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How good can they be? Pretty dang good, as it turns out. Compared to the Xboard, they feel a bit heavier, with stiffer springs. The black keys are also broader and beefier.
Unlike a lot of things in this price range, this plays like an instrument, not a note-entry appliance. I own an E-mu Vintage Keys module, which almost certainly contains some of the same raw sample material as the 64 featured sounds on the Long- and Shortboards.
A single button lets you bang together splits and layers quickly and easily. You get knobs for filter cutoff and resonance, envelope attack and release, and reverb and chorus amount.
We both noticed, though, that playing chords of four or more notes on this sound and to a lesser extent, the Rhodes sounds produced a slight flam where not every note crisply attacked at the same instant.
I really enjoyed the Shortboard onstage for synth stabs, leads, one-handed pop and rock piano parts, and the like. Since the Shortboard and Longboard have builtin transmitters, you only need one Pipeline to go wireless.
At 20 feet, on a stage with three wireless mics, wireless in-ear monitors, and an audience full of smartphones, I had no trouble. At home, an active connection interfered with my WiFi. Changing the keyboard and Pipeline channels solved the problem. Inside the Pipeline is a rechargeable battery with enough life to do a whole gig on a fresh charge. This audio demo was recorded into Pro Tools LE 7. Everything was played live to audio with no quantizing. I expect that E-mu will sell a jillion Longboards and Shortboards.
Great sounds. Nice-feeling keys. Built-in wireless audio transmitter. Easy to use. CONS On piano sounds, big chords produce some note flam. WxDxH Longboard: 39" x Shortboard: Shortboard: 12 lbs.
E-mu SHORTboard 49 Manuals
E-mu Longboard 61 and Shortboard 49
E-mu SHORTboard49 Manuals