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Owners of CPS XL - please advise

Postby saxmaneagle » 12 Jul 2019, 00:10

I'd like to hear from those who actually own and use, a CPS Spacestation XL. I am on the verge of purchasing one, but would like to know first if after having made your purchase, you would do it again...no regrets.

Any and all input would be appreciated. Again, just owners of these amps. I have read ad nauseum the pros and cons. Everyone has their own beliefs on amplification. I have a Stage 3 88 and believe this is what I wish to get for my baby. But I'd like to hear from other "Owners" and users of them.

Thanks !
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Owners of CPS XL - please advise


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Re: Owners of CPS XL - please advise

Postby cphollis » 12 Jul 2019, 01:42

It might help to share what you're looking to achieve, the types of gigs you play, etc. It might be the case that the CPS XL is a great amp, but just not for you.
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Re: Owners of CPS XL - please advise

Postby saxmaneagle » 13 Jul 2019, 19:42

Well, several things actually. Stereo. Tired of being stuck in mono mixes, through the FOH with a monitor.
My gigs vary, but my goal is to hear stereo from my baby. B3 sim, synth patches, gorgeous piano pans. Tired of living musical life at the hands of the dude on the board. Trusting his ears. I figured if the CPS is what it is cracked up to be, I've found my solution. Stereo, but, from a single source. Sweet spot "everywhere". Drawback with a pair of say PA speakers, is that not the whole audience, band nor myself, is going to be in the sweet stereo bliss "happy spot". From what I've read, the CPS with it's magical design gives that sweet spot joy everywhere. No one I know of in the Twin Cities area, is using one of these so sadly I have been unable to hear one live. The good news is, I have been in contact with Aspen and he let me know a local dealer is getting in some samples this week. Thank God ! I plan on hauling my Stage 3 over, bringing a few buddies and putting one through it's paces so I can tell in person, if this is that solution I am seeking.
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Re: Owners of CPS XL - please advise

Postby cphollis » 13 Jul 2019, 21:09

Thanks, that helps a lot. We would agree on a lot, e.g. (1) stereo rocks, (2) sweet spots can be problematic, and (3) trust the FOH person at your own peril. Also great that you've got a plan to actually try one out in the flesh.

First, the obvious. It is a big, heavy and expensive piece of gear. If I had one, I'd consider mounting wheelie casters so I could tilt and roll it, if possible. Aspen didn't appear to scrimp on the components nor the design, so I would expect it to do what my CPS V3 does, only much more so. You will have to place it some reasonable distance from you to hear what it's doing -- which can be hard to do on tight stages.

The CPS V3 does maybe 80% of what I want. The best results are when you use an amp stand, and lay it sideways with the side-firing speaker facing downward to bounce off the floor. APs never sound quite right on it, but acceptable. One of the reasons is that many AP samples on the Nord have minimal stereo content, so most everything comes out the front speaker, which is not the best speaker for APs. I would expect a similar issue (but to a much lesser degree) on the XL.

Playing devil's advocate, that sort of coin gets you a very nice pair of self-powered PA speakers. A pair of QSC K8.2s, for example on short poles behind your shoulders. The wide dispersion angle (135 degrees) means much more sweet spot with less effort, although it's not the "magic stereo everywhere" effect. I would expect a pair to be louder and cleaner than the XL, if that's important to you.

Aspen doesn't use a DSP in his design, and (for me) that's not a positive factor, as a DSP can correct for lack of flat response in a way that's difficult to do externally. He does have a circuit that puts a bit of delay in the front speaker so it can phase align with the side ones, which creates the magic.

Then again, the proof will be in the playing. I'd be interested in your comments (especially around raw APs) after you've had a chance to try it out.
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Re: Owners of CPS XL - please advise

Postby saxmaneagle » 13 Jul 2019, 22:36

I sincerely thank you for the feed back. IF...I do purchase one of these, I will likely use a small mixer between the Nord and XL even though I've heard it not necessary. I think that would give me some added additional eq, even though the Nord itself has options there. (Compression, amp sim, filters, etc..). I grew up playing a Yamaha 6'3" Grand so my ear is very tuned for APs. I am hyper critical of them and man O man, when I first played a Nord Stage 3 Royal 3D, I was sold. I also hauled around a chopped B3 for a decade, along with it's Leslie, until the band said "....It's either you, or that beast !". (We dropped it once on the drummers big toe while setting up for a wedding gig). Anyway, sold it, got a DX7 (sometime in the 80s) and have been playing electronic keyboards ever since. The Stage 3 B3 sound is killer, as are APs. I'm relatively new to the synth programming world and am flabbergasted at what I now can do just spinning a few knobs and playing around. ( YouTube has been insanely helpful there.)
Having so much wonderfulness at my fingertips, with the Stage 3 - I simply MUST do her justice sonically. I am also a sax and guitar player. My happiest at home, is running one channel into a Mesa Boogie single rectoverb clean channe and other into a Behringer KXD15 Ultratone. The Ultratone is a nice little amp. Those can be linked for stereo, so another option is getting a second one of those. Sigh, too many choices. It just so happens I do have the cake to spring on an XL (If I love love love it), or, some powered PA speakers (QSC K8.2 ?), or, another Ultratone.

I may even bring my tenor sax to try through the XL. I have a Line 6 digital delay stereo stomp box, I use to add a teensy wet sound on my bone when I play. Although I rarely play with much effect on my horn, it might be a good experiment to see what crazy sounds I can make.

Thanks again for the feed back !!
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Re: Owners of CPS XL - please advise

Postby cphollis » 19 Jul 2019, 05:43

Glad I could help.

Well, it seems you're looking for the ultimate aural experience with your Nords, so let me share my inventory?

The best-ever stage amplification I've ever played through are a pair of Fulcrum Acoustic FA12-ac units. Magic coax time-domain correction invented by a MIT professor. Serious ear candy, seriously expensive. You have to hunt down someone to sell them to you. I've had mine for 5+ years, they never ever fail to impress. Guitar players ask to play through them. Uhhh, no. That picture there is me playing a crappy gig for no money and not caring so much. Nords through them are completely outrageous.

Not for everyone, though.

Next step down, the legendary RCF TT08-a units. Yes, there's an update coming out, but it's not here yet, so ... A warm and engaging sound with Nord APs that you and the audience will savor all night. I'll probably own my RCFs for 20 years or more -- they're that good.

Elsewhere on the board is someone who's in love with their JBL 835p units. I get it, I owned a pair for a while. Serious loud joy to be sure. Not intimate in the least. Outside my frame as they are just too massive for what I do. I'm not going to haul 100+ lbs of keys amplification while I'm hauling the rest of the band PA stuff. I'm not a young stud anymore.

The real winner in my inventory is a pair of QSC K8.2s. I've recommended them to folks who are AP centric, and they are uniformly delighted. About 85% of what the RCFs deliver for a fraction of the price. Put a pair behind me on short poles, I'm good all night. Checks every box, and more compelling if you can get used or B-stock.

And from there, we get into legacy QSC K8/10/12s (not bad), the CPS SSv3 (not the XL), and -- oh yes -- the Bose L1s. These are amazing for acoustic-style mono gigs where it's all about the AP sound. The columnar line array thingie really rocks. I used to own a L1 Model II (the biggest), but now own a L1 Compact and a Model 1S. More than enough for acoustic gigs with singers and acoustic guitarist. Warning -- they crumble when things get loud.

Many folks have had good experiences with the EVs as well as the Yamahas. And there is a contingent who swears by the newer Motion Sound amps. I'm not going to investigate, because I'm pretty happy with my current stuff. Although I always am looking, right now I can play anything from a small solo gig to a large and loud outdoor festival with a sucky FOH dude -- and everything in-between. Not the cheapest approach, though.

To be honest, the XL doesn't float my boat, mainly because I've got a ton of other inventory to choose from. It may float your boat, though, and I'd be interested to hear your impressions, especially with regards to pristine APs.

You're only limited by your bank account. Serious audio bliss awaits you, plus the ability to create your own sound independent of any FOH *and* stand up to any guitar hero you may encounter along the way.

Cheers!
Last edited by cphollis on 19 Jul 2019, 05:53, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Owners of CPS XL - please advise

Postby Rob Millis » 28 Jul 2019, 19:32

saxmaneagle wrote:...just owners of these amps. I have read ad nauseum the pros and cons...

Sorry to completely ignore the instructions but as somebody who had the regular CPS SSv3 and after doing much to it gave up, I cannot refrain from sticking my oar in. If you are an organist, read on.

I loved it. Really wanted to make it work, but was ultimately beaten. It was fine for all sounds but organ; I'm a 70% B3 sounds guy anyway, and moreover if you ever want that CPS effect it is on a Leslie simulator! It farted out on certain organ duties. Fitted an expensive Beyma 8" coax to try and nurse more headroom. Nope. Tried the sub idea; still didn't cure it; it clearly wasn't a sheer bass issue. A pal and I nailed it down to the fact that most stereo keyboard sources have a huge chunk of common L&R information, so the main 8" speaker and HF tweeter were doing the heavy lifting and just the unique info was going to the side 6" driven by a far less powerful amp, without taxing it. A Leslie simulator, on the other hand, is throwing great big dollops of the spectrum around, and at any given time the little 6" speaker is doing half the work, and being expected to 'keep up' with larger components, themselves of a two way nature and driven with roughly twice the power.

I obviously looked long and hard at the XL. It's that same 6" side speaker. It hasn't been scaled up like rest, just two of them used. Went cold on the idea at that point. My engineer pal put some effort into this and concluded that you cannot really get a much bigger speaker to mechanically behave in the manner that the 6" dipole has to, so ultimately there's no other fix. Makes sense - I'm sure Aspen would have slapped a single 8" or 10" side speaker and kept the design much more akin to the regular SSv3 if he could have; he must have had to make logic changes to use two drivers to achieve the same effect.

Hope this helps and my intrusion wasn't annoying!
Twickenham's wayward son.

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Re: Owners of CPS XL - please advise

Postby saxmaneagle » 11 Aug 2019, 22:02

Rob,

Thank you sincerely for your input. I was once strictly a B3 player. Hauled a chop and leslie around for about a decade, before the band said "Dude...it is either YOU, or that organ !" I sold my setup and went electronic keys. (We were not a national act with roadies.) Fast forward to today. Decades of piano, synth, organ sounds from various electronic keys.
2 days ago, I was able to obtain a XL for a 7 day free test drive. The VERY DAY I picked it up, I learned Aspen Pittman had passed away in a car crash. I am devastated, as am sure all who knew of his contributions to this industry are. This, may also factor in to my final decision.

For me, so far, this beast is bringing the goods. I will be bringing it to an open mic jam, outdoors, in a few days. I plan on putting it on an angled amp stand, sending one of the side firing speakers reflecting off the floor. (I've read this is a good technique.) I may also try a few sheets of plexiglass, angled, with it standing upright. (Sort of a pretend corner setup). I'll let others use my rig so I can walk around the venue and then tinker if need be. I hope to truly be able to give this thing a real trial.

So far, in my home, this beast is a pure joy. I' had been playing it through a Berhinger 24 channel powered PA, with a pair of reasonable PA speakers. What blew my brains out, is a synth patch I use, with all sorts of fun goodies. (Feedback decay, a tad waa effect, tastey delay). When I hooked it up through the XL, I actually HEARD things I hadn't heard before. MANY things in this patch. My LFO setting was "audible" while previously it was more felt, than heard. Granted, I hadn't been using super spendy powered PA speakers, but, the XL is clearly not a cheap toy. I play the whole spectrum of keys....organ, piano, synth, strings, horns, etc... I do, howecer, play a majority of the time, B3 sounds. Phrasing with the leslie sim is crucial. I've tinkered with the Nord's leslie sim settings and have achieved a pretty good emulation of my "memory" of the real McCoy. I close my eyes, and can see....the horn and tweeter spinning in the room.

I wholeheartedly appreciate your input. I've never used a Ventilator, and have read those are amazing. Your comments are invaluable to me. My biggest driving force in all this, is ability to have a unique stereo clarity. I express a ton, sonically. I'm 59 years old, and have lived most of my musical life in a mono, (black and white), world during performances. I've tried and failed enough times to bring stereo (color) to an entire audience. Never happened. While the technical and perhaps actual drawbacks you highlight are legitimate, I ponder, do these outweigh the positives. The ability to bring a unique stereo (or 3D) experience to crowds who have listened to music with basically, one ear, for their whole lives. Will this technology open new doors to creativity ? I wonder. The jury is still out. I've only put about 10 hours play time into it so far.

Keep in mind, I am certifiably insane to begin with...ask any who know me. But, as Douglas Adams says about "Earth"...…..I am 'mostly harmless.'

Thanks again !
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Re: Owners of CPS XL - please advise

Postby saxmaneagle » 15 Aug 2019, 18:41

cphollis wrote:Glad I could help.


Cheers!


You're help has been beyond wonderful. Having played with the XL for 6 days, I now plan on returning it - and very likely going to purchase a pair of QSC K8.2 - based on your recommendations. I researched the hell out of options, and had the happy happenstance a few days ago of going to a block party. Garage band, so so in quality...BUT...low and behold they had a pair of QSC K8.2s on stands for their PA. O M G, I could NOT believe the sound of those babies ! The clarity, and accurate sound reproduction of those speakers blew my mind. I personally know the lead female vocalist of this band, and her voice sounded EXACTLY like she does face to face. That sold me.

Quick down and dirty on the XL. Loved it, loved it for what it does - but had a "too different" sound aspect about it ? If that makes any sense ? The Aps had a quality about them, that while excellent, were not what I could close my eyes...and "see" my old acoustic Yamaha Grand Piano. It was nice, but "different." That being said the Spacestation concept is fantastic, and for a strictly electronic musical palette...perfect. The Leslie sim did indeed convince my closed eyes I had a Leslie in the room. The synth patches with stereo effects was literally out of this world. I cannot praise it enough for that. Was blown away. However, I am at heart a piano man....and the stereo piano reproduction had a quality about it I cannot accurately, in words, explain. I just could not dial in a AP patch, that gave me what I sought. (While I was able to do so with 2 separate amplifiers in the past.)

Therefore, I am going to pull the trigger on a pair of QSC K8.2s. I sincerely thank you for sharing your massive experience of equipment you have access to, and your heartfelt suggestion of the QSC K8.2s.

You've sold me :)
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Re: Owners of CPS XL - please advise

Postby cphollis » 15 Aug 2019, 22:40

Hey @saxmaneagle, at least you gave the XL a shot. Your observations line up with what I found with the CPS V.3 -- so good at so many things, with AP not being one of them. That being said, my little SpaceStation still gets a ton of use. My rig is a NS3C using an older NP2 as a midi controller. Super slick, one panel to control everything, and a pair of stereo outs.

Those go to the SSv3, and I hand the sound guy a single 1/4" from the sub out (which is actually full range). No stereo for FOH which is OK as most FOH folks don't do well with stereo anyway. Get closer up to the stage, you'll hear my stereo.

I found that I could compensate the AP sound somewhat by using the "bright" piano filters, a dab of chorus and such. It's reasonable for a night or two, and super easy to schlep and set up.

I think you'll be happy with the K8.2s. Nothing is perfect, but they're pretty darn good at what they do, and many other folks who've tried them with Nord APs have all reported great results as I have.

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