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Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? #1777579 10/26/11 03:01 PM
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classicalpiano Offline OP
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I have been playing an acoustical piano for more than 10 years, mostly classical music (Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, ...). One year ago I moved to a different city for work and haven't played since then. I am now missing it so much that I decided to buy a digital piano (unfortunately an acoustical is not an option, for various reasons).

So far I tried the Roland HP305 and the Yamaha CLP440. I much prefer the keyboard of the Roland and also prefer the sound. However, I miss the clarity of the Yamaha in the sound of the Roland, especially in dense passages. On my next visit to the store I will be playing around with the different settings a little bit to see if that improves things.

A few days ago I found this forum, and after reading a bit it became clear that the Kawai DPs are very much appreciated here. So, my question is, how much trouble should I go through in order to try out a Kawai?
According to the Kawai store locator there are 2 Kawai resellers in my city; however they both sell only acoustical Kawais. I certainly would find one in the next big city, but a one-way trip there would cost me 30€ and 1h in addition to the time it takes to get to the store, which can easily take another 30min-1h.
Do you think the Kawai DPs are worth the trouble, or should I just get the Roland without having compared it to the Kawais?

Are there Yamaha DPs with a better keyboard than the 440?

Thank you for your help!

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Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: classicalpiano] #1777585 10/26/11 03:08 PM
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ando Offline
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You should absolutely try them out. If you are buying a good quality DP, it's worth investing some time and a bit of money into the decision. From what you say, the Kawai might offer you the clarity you feel is lacking in the Roland. The key action is also very good. For such an important decision I think you would be mad not to take a trip and see everything that's available. If you make the wrong choice, you will kick yourself for not putting in more effort. Do your homework and you will have no regrets.

Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: classicalpiano] #1777586 10/26/11 03:09 PM
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findingnemo2010 Offline
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I've only heard them through clips online and they don't sound that great to me personally. maybe thats why not too many people sell them. i don't see honestly whats so great about them.


music to me is kind of like putting together pieces of a puzzle
i call it the paino because its where i put all my pain
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: classicalpiano] #1777593 10/26/11 03:32 PM
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Since you're planning to spend three or four thousand dollars for something that you will be fairly intimately involved with for years to come I think you owe it to yourself to do all the research and comparison playing you can, even if it costs you a little more money and time. Make sure to compare all the DPs using a GOOD set of headphones, which will give you a more accurate idea of how they sound.

(Listening to clips of a DP online is absoutley NO WAY to judge how it sounds. You are hearing it through your computer's speakers, after all!)

Last edited by leemax; 10/26/11 03:34 PM.

Lee
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: leemax] #1777640 10/26/11 04:33 PM
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classicalpiano Offline OP
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Thank you for your advice. After listening a bit to Kawai samples, I think I might like it more than the Roland. I will do my best to find a dealer, and I'll keep you updated.


Originally Posted by leemax
Make sure to compare all the DPs using a GOOD set of headphones, which will give you a more accurate idea of how they sound.


You are absolutely right. The first time I tried out the pianos I didn't have headphones. Today I brought my excellent AKG K701, and it really makes a difference. Every imperfection is clearly noticable, not only on the recordings I have on CD but also on the tested pianos. I have to admit, I was a little less enthusiastic about the Roland afterwards.



Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: classicalpiano] #1777692 10/26/11 05:43 PM
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classicalpiano ,

Clearly I'm biased, however I absolutely agree with ando and leemax. If you're going to be investing a significant amount of money into a new piano, which will last you for many years, I strongly recommend playing the full selection of brands and models currently available. If not, I expect you will always have this lingering 'what if?' doubt in the back of your mind each time you sit down to play.

Best of luck with your purchase - regardless of the brand you decide on.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: findingnemo2010] #1777694 10/26/11 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by joeb84
I've only heard them through clips online and they don't sound that great to me personally. maybe thats why not too many people sell them. i don't see honestly whats so great about them.


Well, each to their own. However, I'd be a little weary of relying solely on online clips to judge the quality of a musical instrument.

Cheers,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: Kawai James] #1777696 10/26/11 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
Originally Posted by joeb84
I've only heard them through clips online and they don't sound that great to me personally. maybe thats why not too many people sell them. i don't see honestly whats so great about them.


Well, each to their own. However, I'd be a little weary of relying solely on online clips to judge the quality of a musical instrument.

Cheers,
James
x

my thoughts exactly.


music to me is kind of like putting together pieces of a puzzle
i call it the paino because its where i put all my pain
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: findingnemo2010] #1777728 10/26/11 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by joeb84
I've only heard them through clips online and they don't sound that great to me personally. maybe thats why not too many people sell them. i don't see honestly whats so great about them.


How could you possibly know what's so great about them when you've never seen, heard or touched one in person?

Last edited by stealle; 10/26/11 06:29 PM.
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: classicalpiano] #1777746 10/26/11 06:44 PM
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Absolutely worth checking out. Sound aside, obviously a lot of opinions in that regard, but the keyboard action was much more playable and realistic in my opinion than Roland or Yamaha. You definitely want to try at least the CA63, which doesn't have the same subtle letoff as the CA93 (or CN33), both CA63 and CA93 have the longer real-wooden keys with the ivory touch which is fantastic. While the CA93 has a wooden soundboard and better amplifier (and more sound samples), you can always produce the sounds you like with midi interface to software samples. I find the internal sounds to be perfectly adequate, and even more interesting when you try out some of TADutchman's layered formulas (see thread in this sub forum).

I went with the CA63 in the end, mainly based on the keyboard.


Between the drums, guitars, and my CA63, I am in desperate need of more hands!
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: stealle] #1777760 10/26/11 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by stealle
Originally Posted by joeb84
I've only heard them through clips online and they don't sound that great to me personally. maybe thats why not too many people sell them. i don't see honestly whats so great about them.


How could you possibly know what's so great about them when you've never seen, heard or touched one in person?

i don't know. thats what i said. grin


music to me is kind of like putting together pieces of a puzzle
i call it the paino because its where i put all my pain
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: classicalpiano] #1777769 10/26/11 07:21 PM
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Kawai James Offline
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The CA13 is also worth considering at this price - the same keyboard action as the CA63, but reduced features and specifications in other areas.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: classicalpiano] #1777796 10/26/11 08:08 PM
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Not to discourage you from taking a trip if you are really into it, but I have to say that 60 Euro round trip is a LOT of money and up to four hours is a LOT of time. I probably wouldn't do it. In fact, I didn't. I bought my last DP (Kawai MP8) never having played a Kawai digital. It would have been nice to have tried it, but I didn't have a car or lots of time and it was just way too inconvenient to find one to play.

My view is that at equivalent prices, the three big piano makers all make pianos with good actions and good enough sounds. Kawai actions are good. They are a little more meaty and heavy (at least, mine is). But they are not magical. If the Kawai action sounds like what you want, you might consider the trip, or maybe just getting a Kawai. If you multiply the cost of returning it by the (low) probability of wanting to return it, it might not exceed 60 Euro.

I wouldn't put too much weight on sound either. For one thing you can replace it with a software piano. Also sounds are always getting better, so you are guaranteed to have buyer's remorse on the sound front. If not now, later. My advise is to get something that sounds good enough, which is almost all of them.

If you liked the Roland touch (generally a little lighter than Yamaha and Kawai) and the Roland sound, I'd probably just get that. That's me, though.

On the other hand, if searching for and researching pianos is something you enjoy, as it is for many of us here in this forum, then go the distance and have fun!

Last edited by gvfarns; 10/26/11 08:10 PM.
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: classicalpiano] #1777816 10/26/11 08:35 PM
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The Roland sound is markedly different from the Kawai. Kawai has a brighter, more "transparent" sound; the Roland is darker and slightly dull-sounding on occasions. However, there is a greater complexity of sound in the decay of the Roland. The Kawai sound can be a little harsh and "stubby" in the upper register.

The Kawai RH plastic action is very playable and is very slightly heavier than the Roland PHAII and PHAIII (I haven't tried the RM3 wooden Kawai action). PHAIII, with its three sensors is capable of faster repetition than the Kawai actions, which may be important to you, but the HP305 has the two-sensor PHAII action, IIRC, and so is very comparable to the two-sensor Kawais. The Roland PHAIII on my FP-7F connects very well to the SN sounds straight out of the box, whereas the Kawai benefits from some attention paid to the velocity curve and piano settings.

Some people find they need to layer the Kawai pianos or use external software to get a sound they can live with. I must admit I find the Roland a little more pleasing in that respect, although it's certainly not perfect. However, given that I have the Kawai MP6 which has a less detailed/more compressed sound than the CA63 and CA93, you may find that the top-end Kawais are adequate in respect of sound.

I tend to buy my DPs blind, which may be more exciting, but is not a policy I'd recommend. However, if you feel you can't take the time to try the Kawais, I don't think you can go far wrong with either a top-tier Roland or Kawai. If you opt for Roland, I'd be tempted to spring for one that has PHAIII, which should prove more capable when it comes to serious classical works.


"you don't need to have been a rabbit in order to become a veterinarian"

mabraman, 2015
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: classicalpiano] #1777836 10/26/11 09:34 PM
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Well said voxpops; I was actually leaning toward the FP-7, great action, definitely stronger sounds (Roland SN samples are fantastic, better than Kawai and Yamaha IMO), and features (FP-7 will serve as a much better controller, has a lot more built in quality instruments). But if you want a console DP vs stage, you have to jump up to the HP307 to get the PHAIII action and FP-7 sounds, and that was going to cost twice as much as the CA63 - and I still liked the CA63 keyboard better (and my son and wife wanted a console).

@gvfarns: Goog point, but it depends on how long you intend to keep this DP - If you wish to keep it for many years, it is well worth the time and effort to get your fingers on one to judge for yourself before investing a lot of money in a new DP, especially if you find out you don't like it later. We spent months searching and learning (many more miles and hours than the OP is estimating) because I don't ever want to play someone else's that I like better :-)

Last edited by Jamvector; 10/26/11 09:46 PM.

Between the drums, guitars, and my CA63, I am in desperate need of more hands!
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: classicalpiano] #1777850 10/26/11 10:12 PM
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I agree.

When you total-up the number of hours you will potentially be sitting at your piano, throughout years of ownership, the time spent travelling to audition instruments is surely insignificant.

James
x


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Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: voxpops] #1777870 10/26/11 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by voxpops

The Kawai RH plastic action is very playable and is very slightly heavier than the Roland PHAII and PHAIII (I haven't tried the RM3 wooden Kawai action). PHAIII, with its three sensors is capable of faster repetition than the Kawai actions, which may be important to you, but the HP305 has the two-sensor PHAII action, IIRC, and so is very comparable to the two-sensor Kawais.

Going off OT again, the first is an interesting observation which I agreed with on the FP7F, but when I measured and compared the static down weight to start a key moving between a 7F and CN33 (RH action) the 7F came out heavier. I should say the 7F was new in a store and the CN33 has been played-in in my home. I don't know how to measure the dynamic force once a key is moving. At my level of playing I couldn't notice a difference in repetition speed between the keyboards.

Last edited by spanishbuddha; 10/26/11 10:43 PM.
Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: classicalpiano] #1777910 10/27/11 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by classicalpiano
So far I tried the Roland HP305 and the Yamaha CLP440. I much prefer the keyboard of the Roland and also prefer the sound. However, I miss the clarity of the Yamaha in the sound of the Roland, especially in dense passages. On my next visit to the store I will be playing around with the different settings a little bit to see if that improves things.

Have you tried a Roland RD-700NX? The "Studio" piano voice on it is somewhat clearer sounding to me than the default "Concert" piano. Or is a stage piano out of the question? Roland SN does key and pedal sympathetic resonance pretty well, as does Kawai, but Kawais (and virtually all other DPs) are looped, which is a total sound killer IMO.

Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: dewster] #1777912 10/27/11 12:29 AM
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Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by classicalpiano
So far I tried the Roland HP305 and the Yamaha CLP440. I much prefer the keyboard of the Roland and also prefer the sound. However, I miss the clarity of the Yamaha in the sound of the Roland, especially in dense passages. On my next visit to the store I will be playing around with the different settings a little bit to see if that improves things.

Have you tried a Roland RD-700NX? The "Studio" piano voice on it is somewhat clearer sounding to me than the default "Concert" piano. Or is a stage piano out of the question? Roland SN does key and pedal sympathetic resonance pretty well, as does Kawai, but Kawais (and virtually all other DPs) are looped, which is a total sound killer IMO.


I really like the studio grand for Mozart these days (though I was playing Chopin Op 25 Nos 1 and 2 on it this afternoon, and enjoying it immensely), and I think it is because of that clarity. There are a few notes (not all) where the unisons are ever-so-slightly out of tune and they go ever-so-slightly more out of tune the harder you hit them -- very much like the real "studio" piano I have sitting three feet away from the Roland. The sustain on the studio grand is a little lacking, but realistic (I recently played a 6 ft Perzina grand that was similar in this respect) -- noticeable, but not objectionable, on the aeolian harp etude melodic line. And, of course, the concert grand is always there, if you need more sustain or want those unisons locked together more perfectly. In any event, the studio grand on the RD-700NX is worth paying attention to. I'm glad I've got it, and I use it a lot.


Steinway B
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Re: Should I bother to try out Kawai DPs? [Re: findingnemo2010] #1777952 10/27/11 02:06 AM
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Originally Posted by joeb84
I've only heard them through clips online and they don't sound that great to me personally. maybe thats why not too many people sell them. i don't see honestly whats so great about them.


I see what you did there. Had me for a second!


Les C Deal




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