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DP suitable for recitals
#1233217 07/18/09 03:39 AM
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I have developed a respect for digital pianos recently after trying out the latest Yamaha CLP's and Roland HP's. Not long ago I would have steered my students towards acoustic uprights at all cost but I now happen to think that the digital is a better prospect for many of them.

Anyway, my problem....

I have so much difficulty finding venues for student recitals. There are hardly any decent pianos in the town where I live and the only places with them are large concert halls which are expensive to hire. Local schools are possible but the pianos are often in a poor state and the rooms are very big for the kind of small scale recitals I would like to hold on a more regular basis. I can fill a large hall with a full studio recital about once a year but that is not enough performing experience for my students.

Recently I have been looking at church halls and community centres which I can hire by the hour at low cost. Unfortunately I still haven't found any with a decent piano. One or two have old uprights but they don't maintain them and the action is shot and the sound is awful. They don't inspire confidence and I would not like to perform on them.

The last couple of small recitals I have held have been for beginners and early intermediate students. There were less than 10 students involved and about 20 more in the audience. I found a nice hall but no piano so I took my digital (a Technics PC-SX25). This was a tough choice because I have really been against using a digital for recitals and my Technics is almost 10 years old although it still plays quite well and sounds okay. Nobody complained about playing it or listening to it.

So now I am thinking of getting a brand new digital to use in these situations. My priorities are:

- Most realistic sound and action possible

- Sturdy and substantial build. It must have a decent speaker system as I don't want to bother with amps. Also it needs to have a good stand with fixed pedals. I hate using X stands and loose pedals because the piano bounces around and the pedal slips away.

- With the above in mind, it needs to be portable. I loved the Roland HP-207 but there is no way I am putting one in the back of the car every month! Also it is too expensive!!

- I would like something that looks stylish and not too fussy. I don't need features, just a basic piano.

- Would be nice if I could make recordings as well. Not just for teaching use but for myself. What I want is to record my playing and then upload it onto my laptop or PC so a USB port would be useful.

The Technics is not good enough for my more advanced students. It doesn't feel quite right and also the sound distorts if you try to play bigger, more powerful pieces. If you use the pedal a lot you can hear when the polyphony cuts out. A modern one should solve that.

So, any ideas?

The only two I can think of at the moment are....

Roland DP-990. I haven't seen much talk about this model here. A while ago I did play one but I was not really paying too much attention at the time. I seem to remember it was good but I would need to go back and compare it with the larger Rolands.

Kawai ES-6. Never tried it but I like the look of it. Especially as it's a stage piano but you can get a sturdy stand and fixed pedals. Lots of talk here about Kawai being closest to a real piano as well and it seems to have all the right features for the right price.

Any opinions on these?

Thanks.

Oh, by the way, if I don't respond it's because I am away for the weekend. I'm not being rude!


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Re: DP suitable for recitals
Chris H. #1233218 07/18/09 03:57 AM
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Good idea. Though I'm against DPs for practice purposes, for recitals they could well come in handy.

Re: DP suitable for recitals
keyboardklutz #1233222 07/18/09 04:30 AM
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I think if I can find something that I would be happy to perform on I will have cracked it. I still can't get over how much better these digitals are than they used to be.

I forgot to say my budget is no more than £1500 which is about the cost of the DP990.

I like Yamaha as well but I can't seem to find one that ticks all the boxes.


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Re: DP suitable for recitals
Chris H. #1233228 07/18/09 04:58 AM
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Also, for those of us who can't transpose for toffee...

Re: DP suitable for recitals
keyboardklutz #1233236 07/18/09 05:28 AM
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The Kawai ES6 is very nice and has a very playable action. The speakers are not very large, though, so I'm not sure if it would be enough for a hall without any external amp. This is true of most portables with speakers--generally the speakers are intended more for in-room practice than for live performance. You may need to get a small amp or PA to suppliment the sound.

The Roland is also nice, although I have mixed feelings about Roland's portable actions. The Roland FP-4 is aso worth looking at.

On the lower end of your budget, the Korg SP-250 and the Casios (e.g. PX-320) are also possibilities.

Re: DP suitable for recitals
Geoffk #1233239 07/18/09 05:45 AM
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I have read some things about the ES6 that I like the sound of. If you buy the fixed stand it has a sub-woofer in it which boosts the sound over and above the internal speakers. I need to find one and try it out to see if it's loud enough. Unfortunately Kawai's are not as widely available as Roland and Yamaha. The only thing that looks a bit flimsy is the music rack.

Geoff, what were your concerns about the Roland action? Also, does this apply to the DP990. I did get a chance to play a Roland stage piano (forget which one) and it didn't feel as good as the HP's. But the DP990 seems to be inbetween. Roland call it a 'lifestyle' piano and when you read the spec it sounds like the action is the same as on the HP. What do you think?

I have played the Korg. Good for the money but it looks a bit drab and I don't like the tubular stand. It did feel a bit lightweight as well (not in a good way). They do appear to do a more substantial model though, the LP-350 I think. Not sure if it can record though.

Casio is a possibility. The new Privia's look good. You can position the speakers in the stand so that they face the audience rather than the pianist. It's another one for the list anyway.


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Re: DP suitable for recitals
Chris H. #1233241 07/18/09 06:08 AM
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Okay, now I am a little confused. I just checked the Kawai website.

Kawai UK

I am sure I did see that ES6 with a stand that included an extra speaker. But the model shown on the site doesn't seem to have such a thing. It does say it's 'new' though and I wonder if the upgraded speakers are now built in? It says 2x 13 Watts which sounds pretty good. Only problem is that when I listened to the samples on the website it didn't sound as good as the CN or CA models. I'm not sure why they sound different!

I checked the Roland site as well. The DP990 has the PHA-2 action with escapement which sounds the same as the action of the HP-203. Is that right?

The Casio is the PX-720 which does look great and is a good price. Does anyone know if you can remove the piano from the stand in order to transport it easily?

Edited because I keep searching the internet and finding more info.

Last edited by Chris H.; 07/18/09 06:22 AM.

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Re: DP suitable for recitals
Chris H. #1233272 07/18/09 09:05 AM
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The Roland portables supposedly have the same PHAII action as the console models (HP-20x). However, I find that the keypress on the Roland portables feels very shallow and unnatural. This is something that you really should try for yourself. Some people aren't bothered by it at all and some people notice it very much. If it doesn't bother you, than everything else about the Rolands is fine.

It just goes to show that you can't trust the spec sheets. You really have to play these instruments yourself to be sure.

Re: DP suitable for recitals
Chris H. #1233326 07/18/09 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris H.
I think if I can find something that I would be happy to perform on I will have cracked it.


That's it in a cracked nutshell.

Hi Chris,

Got the urge to splurge once again, heh? I can't imagine how your wife tolerates you. grin

You're asking a lot here. For one thing, it seems that you want an instrument that can showcase the talent of your more advanced students as well as your beginners. That ups the ante considerably.

" The Technics is not good enough for my more advanced students. It doesn't feel quite right and also the sound distorts if you try to play bigger, more powerful pieces."

BTW, that distortion could be speaker-based rather than sample-based. I say that because newer dp technology hasn't eliminated that problem. A lot of onboard speakers are only passable.

Also you want an instrument that looks stylish. The problem with that is that regardless of how spiffy a digital looks on its own, the audience image of a solo performer working a dp (stage or console) is closer to a seamstress on a sewing machine than a performer on a grand piano. grin

Since you are another of the X stand haters, I would stay away from that Roland 990. By the way, it's a console....not a portable. It's designed for tight spaces. It's susceptible to forward and back rocking. The depth is only around 14 inches at the base and it lacks any rubber feet to grip the floor. The X that I use for setting up away from home has a base depth of 20 inches and the rubber grips, front and back, are three inches each.

My advice to you would be to go with a true stage piano and to use a platform stand with four folding legs. The cases of stage dp's are designed for mobility. They are far more resistant to scratching and dinging than the console cases. Consoles usually have thin veneer over composite material. Each time you break down a console for toting and put it back together, the holding ability of the screws will weaken as the screwholes gradually expand. If you somehow carry a console without breaking it down, you will invevitably put stress on the cabinet assembly joints that the unit is not really designed to withstand. That will take its toll over time. Packing it in one piece into your vehicle and removing it will inevitably result in cosmetic damage.

I understand your concerns about stage piano pedals slipping and sliding. For working musicians duct tape is an easy fix. In your recital application (where you would obviously care about appearance), you could use double-sided tape on the ground contact areas of a three pedal unit instead of lashing it down by going over the top.

Knowing your taste a little, I'd recommend you include a Yamaha CP300 and a Roland FP7 in your auditions though I certainly don't recomend you limit yourself to those. My homespun standard advice on any dp is to play unisons all over the keyboard with different strike velocities to check the potential for dynamic levels and tonal variation, and also to listen critically for undesirable artifacts. Next focus on unisons ascending the treble to find the point where the tone gets screechy and the sustain falls off. In some pianos that problem is very pronounced. In others it's more subtle. If you find one that doesn't have it at all, send me a PM. grin Next check the low bass for unnatural boominess. Most dp's enhance their lower bass samples with reverb-type stuff to simulate acoustic grand growl. Some achieve better results than others. BTW, do everything you do with and without sustain pedal.

Finally, if your proposed recital space is going to be larger than a normal room and/or has higher than usual ceilings, play the thing at full volume to see how the onboard speakers can handle it. In your stated price range, nothing in the way of a console or a stage piano is going to handle it like acoustic grand projection, but you have to decide how much compromise is acceptable to you.



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Re: DP suitable for recitals
Geoffk #1233337 07/18/09 12:05 PM
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Chris,

Judging by the manual on the Casio website, the stand for the PX720 is not designed to be disassembled from the keyboard on a regular basis.

Don't give up on stage pianos. There are other stands than the X stand. I use a double X, which works pretty good on carpet. For more stability there are Z stands and table stands.

Rich


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Re: DP suitable for recitals
Chris H. #1233391 07/18/09 01:31 PM
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I'm not a teacher, nor am I anything but a novice on the piano, but I've worked sound reinforcement for 15+ years. If the place in which you hold your recitals is larger than a standard sized living room, or if you need to pump up the volume on the dp much past two thirds of the way, you're going to definately need a small P.A. It's not just the speakers in the dp(although that's a big part of it). The power amps in them are probably not high enough quality to avoid power amp distortion at high levels. If you want clarity and clean sound at a high volume, you'll need something more than the dp can deliver. MHO, FWIW.


Mike
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Re: DP suitable for recitals
pianonewb #1233623 07/18/09 11:40 PM
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A corrolary to that is that you will want to avoid any instrument that doesn't have an Aux-out for use with an amp or PA. Some of the cheaper Yamahas and Casios (e.g. PX-120, 720) don't have an Aux-out and using the headphone jack isn't really an acceptable substitute.

Re: DP suitable for recitals
Geoffk #1233909 07/19/09 05:17 PM
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IMO you cannot overdrive the Yamaha Clavs. All of their componentry is engineered product specific. A CLP380 will fill most halls.


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Re: DP suitable for recitals
Chris H. #1234007 07/19/09 09:38 PM
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ChrisH,

Quote
I have read some things about the ES6 that I like the sound of. If you buy the fixed stand it has a sub-woofer in it which boosts the sound over and above the internal speakers.


This was true of the ES5 (somewhat confusingly named as it is actually one generation older than the ES4), however I'm afraid the ES6 does not include additional speakers built-into the stand.

Quote
The only thing that looks a bit flimsy is the music rack.


Overseas ES6 models include a wire music rest, however a solid translucent version is included with the stand accessory.

Kind regards,
James
x


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Re: DP suitable for recitals
Marty Flinn #1234012 07/19/09 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Marty Flinn
IMO you cannot overdrive the Yamaha Clavs. All of their componentry is engineered product specific. A CLP380 will fill most halls.


Marty, I would not dream of arguing with you over a product that you are much more familiar with than I , but, generally speaking, component engineering isn't the point. Virtually all power amps will overdrive or clip(ie;distort) when pushed hard enough. It' the nature of the beast. This is why most sound engineers match speakers with amps that put out at least double the wattage the speakers are rated for. This way, they can push th speakers to the volume needed without pushing the amp into distortion. If you turn the thing up enough and play hard, it WILL distort. That said, if the Clavs have enough wattage to handle the venue before getting to this point, they'll work just fine. I'm not up on the specs of different DPs, but I've seen them rated as high as 40 watts a side. That's a pretty respectable amount of wattage. It wouldn't be enough for a group situation, but alone it would probably handle a lot of places.


Mike
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Re: DP suitable for recitals
turandot #1234166 07/20/09 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by turandot

Got the urge to splurge once again, heh? I can't imagine how your wife tolerates you. grin


Hahaha. Turandot, you know me too well! I will send you a PM.

These replies have given me plenty to think about. I know I need to go and try out some pianos (no hardship!) but it's always worth asking here. Thanks guys.

At the moment I am not going to rule anything out although it will take a lot to tempt me to go for an X stand and loose pedal. The kids might think it looks cool but I'm not sure about the parents. My students play mostly classical and I want to avoid the rock concert look.

I take the point about amplification. Having checked the spec on the Technics I noticed that it has 15 Wattx2 output which is more than the Kawai ES6. It's not enough. In fact the only pianos which offer more are the consoles which are starting to get a bit too big and heavy.

Marty, I would be more than happy to perform on a CLP380. It kicks out 60Wx2 plau 20Wx2 according to the write up which is more than enough. Unfortunately at 92kg I will struggle to get it in my VW Golf! Also I can't seem to find anyone who would sell me one for £1500. £3500 maybe. So the CLP380 doesn't make the shortlist.

There are some smaller consoles that look similar to my Technics. The Kawai CN22 for example. It's around the same weight and has slightly more power from the speakers. Could be worth a look but I know these pianos are not designed to be portable. My Technics has quite a few scratches and dings already.

I'm looking forward to looking!


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Re: DP suitable for recitals
Chris H. #1235005 07/21/09 06:44 PM
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This is perhaps a bit over budget, but I use a Kurzweil PC3X in my shop/studio daily for practice; and I carry it to recitals (I am a student, not a piano teacher, and am playing Late Intermediate/Early Advanced level).

Tabletop type stand (no interference with leg room), external amplifiers/speakers are needed (I gig with a PC3 76 key so I had all this equiment), the pedal problem is solved - Kurzweil makes a dual pedal unit that has enough weight not to slide around. I have modified the ones that I have to have the center pedal also. An example can be seen at the bottom of my avatar. I use a two level Z stand in the studio, but the platform stand is easier to carry when I don't need two keyboards. I've had this keyboard for about 15 months now, and keep liking it better.

My instructor is a concert pianist, lives in an apartment, and was impressed enough with the sound and feel of my Kurzweil that he purchased a Yamaha Nocturne for his home. He says he can get to about the 90 to 95% level on it, then needs to finish practice on a borrowed grand at a local church.


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Re: DP suitable for recitals
Chris H. #1235013 07/21/09 07:02 PM
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Chris H.,

I think this is a kind of slippery slop you are on. You first accept that DP is good alternative for practice, then perhaps you may think it is acceptable for giving lessons, now you are considering it for recitals as well.

I think it depends on your students abilities. My first recital was many years ago on a Steinway B. It was my first experience on a good piano, and I could tell you the experience was worth the stress of preparing for the recital, even though I had no idea what a Steinway was. I still remember the event like yesterday, and I still remember how incredible that piano felt.

Every time I play a DP at a store then return home to my real piano, I still say, wow, what a difference. Of course, I understand some times, you just have to compromise, which is why I'm shopping for one.

I think the biggest problem with a DP is the lack of real pedals. I was at my daughter's first recital recently, and one of the teacher's student played Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata First Movement. I would say that the pedal work and expressivity of this requires a real piano, imho.


Re: DP suitable for recitals
Geoffk #1235032 07/21/09 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Geoffk
A corrolary to that is that you will want to avoid any instrument that doesn't have an Aux-out for use with an amp or PA. Some of the cheaper Yamahas and Casios (e.g. PX-120, 720) don't have an Aux-out and using the headphone jack isn't really an acceptable substitute.


The YPG 635 has a jack that says "phones/output" and I've been wondering how to use it best. I suppose I could get a split line and attach 2 small speakers. I don't want much really, but the volume is low even for at home.

Re: DP suitable for recitals
4evrBeginR #1235189 07/22/09 03:08 AM
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Originally Posted by 4evrBeginR
Every time I play a DP at a store then return home to my real piano, I still say, wow, what a difference. Of course, I understand some times, you just have to compromise, which is why I'm shopping for one.


Yes, it's a question of compromise.

Like you say, the ideal situation is a Steinway B in tip top condition. If such a thing existed anywhere near where I live then there would be no problem. Unfortunately the only acoustic pianos available to me for recitals are horrible old uprights in poor condition.

I still notice the difference when playing my own acoustics. But the last time I played on the current generation of DP's I started to think that they offer a good alternative when needs must. Actually I would say that the action is better than either of my uprights although I still prefer the sound and character of acoustic.

I don't think that pedal is a problem anymore. It used to be. On my Technics the pedal seems to be either on or off but the new DP's have much greater sensitivity.


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