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Class Piano Lab Manufacturers: Korg

Korg's class piano/group piano lab is the GEC3 Group Education Controller. Updated in 2002 from the original design, the new GEC3 is equipped with a touch-sensitive screen (borrowed from their Triton music workstation) and is fully DIGITAL.

The Korg GEC3 is only available directly through Korg and is not available through local music stores which sell Korg equipment.

Individual keyboards are equipped with a small mixer -- student interface units (SI Units) -- into which are plugged the sound output of the keyboard along with the student's headphones. The SE-16's are then connected to the GEC3 via ethernet-cables which are plugged into the back of the GEC3. Students have control over their individual volumes by adjusting a volume control on the SE-16.

The GEC3 is equipped to control 16 individual keyboards and can be connected to another GEC3 for a total of 32 individual stations. An expansion card (the EXPIII) is available which can create "splits" in the individual keyboards. Consequently, it is possible for as many as 64 students to work in the lab at the same time (the musical equivalent of CLASS PIANO HELL). We cannot imagine a practical situation where someone would want to do that. However, it IS available if someone would like to implement it.

There is a USB computer connection which allows the unit to be connected to a Windows computer (Mac version is promised in the future -- but don't hold your breath). Software is available to facilitate the computer connection and this essentially reproduces on a computer screen what the teacher would see on the smaller touch-screen. Customized teacher/class lists can be created along with (we assume) grading and attendance records.

Also new with this design is a MIDI port which allows for a "daisy-chain" setup for all the keyboards in the system. This configuration allows the teacher to control individual student keyboards by selecting specific sounds (patches), send system exclusive commands to default the setups of each keyboard, etc.

Visit Korg's site to view detailed specs for the GEC3

We found the Korg GEC3  touch pad to be confusing and often "fussy" -- for example, when you first turn on the system you get the GEC3 logo but you do not go to the control panel until you touch the screen.  Also, the contrast control is easily changed and it is possible to blank out the screen entirely.  This is particularly problematic for instructors who are not technologically inclined.  We found the specialized Koss headphones which use the mini-xlr plugs to be expensive and frustrating, despite their life-time warranty.  For example, with heavy use, the headphones have to be replaced at least every 6 months. To replace them, you have to ship them back to Koss along with a $5.00 service fee. We found the turn-around on getting a replacement to be at least 4-6 weeks. Korg has available an adaptor ($29.00) which will allow off-the-shelf headphones to be used. But the adaptor is configured for a MONOPHONIC microphone and all current inexpensive headsets with microphones are STEREO and have an altogether different OHM value.  Consequently, the microphones on off-the-shelf headsets simply WILL NOT WORK with these adaptors. The headsets work fine.  Finally, we found the student headphone boxes to be cheaply constructed and often had to be replaced. Out of a lab of 12 students pianos and 1 teacher piano, we had to replace 5 headphone boxes within 9 months.

See Korg's Student Interface Units (SI Units).

Contact us for information about designing and installing a class/group piano lab in your school.


The GEC3 has 3 modes of operation: LECTURE mode; PRACTICE mode; and GROUP mode.

Lecture Mode: The is the DEFAULT mode when you first turn the unit on. All students hear the teacher play on the teacher's piano and hear the teacher speak through the teacher's microphone.

PRACTICE Mode: Students work independently and can only hear themselves play.

Group Mode: Students are arranged in groups and can hear each other play. The original GEC only allowed for set groups of students who where sitting at adjacent pianos. The GEC3 allows for any combination of groups.

Key Features of the GEC3:

* Customized settings for up to 16 teachers.
* Each teacher can configure 8 classes and display student names for each class.
* Teacher remote control of student keyboards via MIDI.
* Class and student lists can be created/edited using the QWERTY keypad on the touch screen OR by using the USB remote control from a personal computer (Windows 98, 2000; Mac version is promised soon). All touch screen functions of the GEC3 can be duplicated remotely from a PC.

Back of the GEC3 showing AUDIO inputs and outputs.
Back of GEC3 showing MIDI controls.

AUDIO Specs:

Inputs:
• Teacher Instrument In – Dual RCA stereo
• Auxiliary In 1 – Dual RCA stereo
• Auxiliary In 2 – Dual RCA stereo

Outputs:
• Tape Out – Line Level, Dual RCA stereo
• Room Out – Line Level, Dual RCA stereo
• S/PDIF Out – CoAx 16 bit/48 KHz

MIDI Specs for the GEC3 teacher controller:

Computer Connection: USB
MIDI Connections: IN and OUT
Special Function: Split Function

AC Input: 90-230V 47/63Hz
Dimensions:17.75" Long x 8" Wide x 3.26" High (Maximum height)
Warranty: One year manufacturer’s parts and labor


Here is what is included with a typical KORG GEC3 Class/Group piano lab consisting of 16 student pianos and 1 instructor piano:

1 Korg GEC3 teacher controller
16 Student SCI3 interfaces
17 Koss SB40 (lifetime warranty) headphones/microphones
1 set of powered speakers for the main room
17 Korg keyboards (88 note,weighted action) keyboards*
17 padded keyboard benches
All wiring, cables, etc. specifically designed for your class piano lab.

Although you can purchase Korg keyboards at any music retailer which deals with electronic musical instruments (such as electric guitars, synthesizers, drums, etc.), the GEC3 teacher controller unit and related paraphernalia are only available directly through Korg. Check with your local Korg dealer for details.  However, most music stores which sell Korg electronic products will not be familiar with this specialized equipment.


See A Critical Overview of Class Piano Lab Manufacturers.

Back to Class Piano Lab Resources.

Contact us for information about designing and installing a class/group piano lab in your school.


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Site last updated: May 1, 2013