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Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) #1336704 12/30/09 12:04 AM
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ezimm7 Offline OP
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Hey--first time posting. I'm looking for a good digital piano, but don't really need excessive tones/sounds, rhythms, recording, etc.

I don't necessarily mean I want a "cheap" one, I just mean I'd rather spend my money to get a quality piano sound rather than bells and whistles I won't use.

So far I'm interested in the Casio Privia CX-130 and the Yamaha P-85. But I thought I'd ask around for other suggestions as well.

I guess realistically weighted keys (perhaps on the heavier side) and a quality piano tone are the most important qualities for me.

Thanks!

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Re: Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) [Re: ezimm7] #1336709 12/30/09 12:07 AM
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dewster Offline
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What's your budget?

Re: Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) [Re: ezimm7] #1336761 12/30/09 01:36 AM
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ChrisA Offline
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Originally Posted by ezimm7
... I'm looking for a good digital piano,...
So far I'm interested in the Casio Privia CX-130 and the Yamaha P-85.

I guess realistically weighted keys (perhaps on the heavier side) and a quality piano tone are the most important qualities for me.

Thanks!


Do you have a budget?

Your description of what you are looking for sounds a lot more like a P155 than a P85. "Good piano sound" and "perhaps on the heavier side" is more descriptive of the P155.

I'd also look into the Roland RD700GX. I think the keys are even better and there are more good sounds but twice the price of the p155.

Re: Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) [Re: ChrisA] #1336867 12/30/09 08:40 AM
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Michael Darnton Offline
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I had your criteria and bought a PX130. I didn't like the Yamaha keyboard as much, since the other piano I play on has softer-edged keys, like the Casio. Either would have been a good choice. The Casio keys are a bit heavier than the Yamaha's, which is also a better match for the Steinway at work. I also seem to remember that the Yamaha won't take a 3-pedal setup, but the Casio would.

If I'd wanted to spend 2X what I did, the P155 Yamaha would have probably been the one, but as you do, I also wanted to spend the absolutely least amount of money to get a "real" feel.

I wasn't too concerned about sound, but the Casio sounds much better through headphones. Fortunately, that's how I intended to use it most of the time.

I have not had a key problem, and I'm not too worried about it. Generally that kind of stuff sounds worse on forums than it really is because everyone with a problem will complain, but the people with no problem stay silent. Casio couldn't sell a product if it really did have a high failure rate.

And as you check other discussions about this topic, be sure to remember that someone saying "P85" 300 times is not the same as 300 different people saying it once each. :-)

Last edited by Michael Darnton; 12/30/09 09:16 AM.
Re: Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) [Re: Michael Darnton] #1336912 12/30/09 09:55 AM
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ezimm7 Offline OP
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Thanks for the responses. My budget is somewhere around the PX330 and/or Yamaha DGX 630 range, but my understanding is that the PX130 is basically the same machine as the 330 without the extra sounds/rhythms, right? That's sort of where I'm leaning now.


Re: Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) [Re: ezimm7] #1336922 12/30/09 10:12 AM
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snazzyplayer Offline
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If you haven't tried the P-85, please do so before you commit to anything else.

I have two of them and in my opinion, they are one of the best entry level instruments that still feel and sound like a piano. The action is a bit lighter, but still offers extremely good control and resistance.

There are several P-85 owners here, who would echo the same sentiment, and seemingly far more than those who have expressed complete satisfaction with Casio...peruse the forum and check the results yourself.

If you are looking for an instrument with accompaniments, the Casio PX-130 and DGX-630 are good choices, the latter having the more robust keybed, in my opinion.

Wobbly keys were reported on some Casio, and my friend, who is a music dealer, refuses to carry them, not wanting to have to deal with warranty claims and such.

Still, some like 'em.

The P-85 has an optional stand and an optional three-pedal unit, that I recommend as well, having used them on one of my P-85's.

All the best of luck in your search.

Snazzy


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Re: Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) [Re: snazzyplayer] #1336968 12/30/09 11:14 AM
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Pianisti Offline
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Originally Posted by snazzyplayer


Wobbly keys were reported on some Casio, and my friend, who is a music dealer, refuses to carry them, not wanting to have to deal with warranty claims and such.



I don't know about those wobbly keys, but I have experience with that warranty thing.

I tried to order my PX-130 from UK:
"The reason why we cannot ship these outside the UK is that every time we sent one it arrived completely broken. We have tried several times and after quite a few attempts it was decided that we would not ship these items outside the UK anymore."

Notice that this store still ships INSIDE UK.

I still bought it because of the action compared to P-85 and in the end I found a webstore that had the best price + 100% guarantee for all returns within 7 days (shipping costs included) so no worries about it. My shipping was handled by UPS.

Still, I think Casio has not done the best job with the packaging of the product. I wonder though how they survive to the stores or maybe the pallets are better packed...

BTW. That DGX-630 has the same action as P-85.

Last edited by Pianisti; 12/30/09 11:18 AM.

Casio Privia PX-130 + VST = quite close to the real thing.
Re: Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) [Re: snazzyplayer] #1336981 12/30/09 11:27 AM
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dewster Offline
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If you don't have to buy one right this minute, I would hold off.

Personally, I'm not buying any DP until the industry brings itself up to at least a 2005 level of electronic technology. We'll see what this NAMM reveals, but I'm not holding my breath anymore.

Re: Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) [Re: dewster] #1336995 12/30/09 11:34 AM
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I must agree with dewster in one sense...the P-85 has been out for a bit, and may be soon replaced with another, even better, unit.

On the other hand, there will be some awful sweet deals on the P-85 if there is a replacement, and it is, essentially, a very good entry level instrument.

Snazzy


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Re: Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) [Re: snazzyplayer] #1337405 12/30/09 08:52 PM
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I just spent the past few weeks looking at digital pianos myself, espeically ones in this price range, and was pretty much absolutely floored by the Korg LP 350 and its little sister, the SP 250. I played the Korgs, Yamahas (both the Clavinova line and others) Casio, and Roland. In terms of value for $$, the Korg is on top of the list. It's got a great feel (The showroom had acoustic grands from $30 - $200K to compare with) and the sound is fantastic. The SP250's speakers aren't quite what the LP350's are, but it's a stage piano, so that's expected.

It doesn't have all the high-end sounds, computer interfaces, etc. as some of the Clavinovas and Rolands, but it's also half the price. (Street price $1K) The sound was far better than the lower-end Yamaha keyboards. If budget wasn't an object, obviously the Clavinovas have a more "refined" cabinet and a few extra bells and whistles, but IMO, in terms of feel and sound alone, it's no where near enough of a difference to justify twice the price.

Alas, the store only had the white version in stock, so I'm stuck waiting for Korg to ship more black ones. Ah well, I've waited this long, what's a few more weeks, eh? It's worth waiting for.

Later,

K

Re: Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) [Re: kstrong] #1337411 12/30/09 08:58 PM
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I thought the SP-250 was pretty nice too...especially the extra sounds; the piano was okay, but that's a personal and subjective thing.

I just didn't want to be carrying a 40 lb piano around, which is also why the 25 lb P-85 appealed to me, aside from the fact I liked the action and the piano sound a lot.

For a home instrument the SP-250 seems to be a good deal.

Snazzy



Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)
Re: Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) [Re: kstrong] #1337508 12/30/09 11:06 PM
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People here seem to like the Korg LP 350 and its little sister, the SP 250. Everyone's got their opinions, and mine is their sample memory is way too small, even by DP standards. They try to hide it by horribly stretching the harpsichord, and with unnaturally fast decay on all of the voices. It's still not clear to me whether the LP350 is multi-strike, but after playing with the SP 250 for a while, I'm not sure I even care. Korg can make a pretty DP, and I like the integrated stand, but that's about all I can say good about this line.

Re: Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) [Re: dewster] #1337583 12/31/09 12:39 AM
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Originally Posted by dewster
...and mine is their sample memory is way too small, even by DP standards. They try to hide it by horribly stretching the harpsichord, and with unnaturally fast decay on all of the voices.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "sample memory." I couldn't hear anything objectionable in terms of the overall piano sound samples, even compared to the acoustics in the same room. It doesn't have a ton of extra sounds (and the harpsichord is a bit lacking), but I'm not buying a harpsichord. For my purposes, I'm interested pretty much solely in its piano sounds, and that was certainly realistic enough for my ears.

Originally Posted by dewster
It's still not clear to me whether the LP350 is multi-strike, but after playing with the SP 250 for a while, I'm not sure I even care.

I'm assuming you're referring to how quickly you can repeat the same note--and that you can do that without fully releasing the key. The Clavinova sales guy was all over the fact that the Clavinova can do that very well (and it does). I noticed no difference between that and the Korg, certainly within the limits of what I play.

Sound and feel is such a subjective thing, there's really no arguing right or wrong. It's very much "tastes great, less filling." It's all in what we're used to playing. I've never played two acoustics that felt and sounded alike, so there's definitely no expectation of consensus in the digital world.

@Snazzy, fortunately, I have no intention of porting this puppy around, so weight isn't a consideration. I ported keyboards around all through high school and college in a big honkin' Anvil case that took up the back of my Subaru. I hear you on the weight.

Later,

K

Re: Best model for piano sound/feel (no bells and whistles) [Re: kstrong] #1337782 12/31/09 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by kstrong
I'm not quite sure what you mean by "sample memory." I couldn't hear anything objectionable in terms of the overall piano sound samples, even compared to the acoustics in the same room.

Sample memory is the Flash or ROM or whatever memory they use in the digital piano (DP) to store the recordings (samples) of a real piano. When they don't have much (i.e. after they design too much of it away in the cost cutting phase) they start playing serious games with the samples, most of which are fairly audible:
1. LOOPING - the end of the sample is removed, and replaced with a short snippet which is played over and over, with a decay envelope applied. Generally the most audible, the initial attack sounds fine, the decay sounds fake or buzzy. There may or may not be a short cross fade between the sample and the loop, which helps mask it somewhat.
2. STRETCHING - the sample (or samples) associated with a single note is pitch stretched for use as one or more adjacent notes. Noticeable if you play one note at a time, traveling up or down the keyboard. Extreme stretching is very audible, as all of the natural fixed resonances of the instrument are also stretched, which can sound very unnatural.
3. NO VELOCITY LAYERS - in better sample sets each key is sampled at more than one velocity. In a three layer (or "triple strike") sample all of the keys (if there is no stretching) are sampled three times, once played softly, once played medium, and once played loudly. When a key on the DP is played, the velocity at which it is played is used as an index into sample memory to pick the layer that will be played back. Sometimes cross fading is used between layers to make the velocity transition less abrupt, but this can lead to strange phase issues, particularly noticeable in headphones. On a few DPs a single layer is coupled with filtering keyed to the velocity of the note played, which can fairly effectively take the place of multiple layers, but only if done correctly. They Yamaha P85 falls in this category.

Originally Posted by kstrong
I'm assuming you're referring to how quickly you can repeat the same note--and that you can do that without fully releasing the key. The Clavinova sales guy was all over the fact that the Clavinova can do that very well (and it does). I noticed no difference between that and the Korg, certainly within the limits of what I play.

Repeated note handling of they key action is important. Next time you are demoing DPs check to see how far you have to return the key to the rest position in order to have it play again. Obviously the less distance here the better, though even real pianos require some return distance in order to replay the note.

Originally Posted by kstrong
Sound and feel is such a subjective thing, there's really no arguing right or wrong. It's very much "tastes great, less filling." It's all in what we're used to playing. I've never played two acoustics that felt and sounded alike, so there's definitely no expectation of consensus in the digital world.

Once the same set of defects designed into the sample sets of virtually every DP become audible to you - and if you play one long enough, they will, even if you can't put your finger on it - you will discover that it isn't an objective thing at all. I truly wish it were, actually.

You're right about real pianos varying by quite a lot, both in feel and in sound. Most I try are pretty horrible. I find the key action on most DPs to be fairly acceptable, and the piano sounds to be fairly lacking.


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