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request for help with digital pianos #1786667 11/10/11 09:04 PM
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Bluebasstrb Offline OP
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Hi, everyone,

Thank you all for this very useful forum. I would like to consult those of you who have experience with digital pianos on the following:

I want to buy a Digital Piano since they are getting very close to a "real piano" (Touch & Sound), but of course all the information I read so far got me overwhelmed. I definitely need a professional opinion if you please could.

Before I start, I'd like to give you some background information about myself. I am sure it would help you help me.
I started studying the piano at a very early age but after an unfortunate accident (broke my left arm badly) I had to change my instrument to trombone. Since then I have been playing the trombone. Currently I am playing at the Chicago Civic Orchestra as a regular trombone player. I want to start where I left playing piano, that is, playing Bach fugues and "Playing jazz" and to improve my piano playing for my own satisfaction. At the same time, I would like to teach my girlfriend, who has never played the piano before. I also do a lot of composing and arrangement using Finale. So I would definitely like to connect my piano to my computer.

I am looking for a very close piano "touch" feeling. Then decent sound and midi and usb connection. Currently I am practicing on the pianos CSO has in their practice rooms. They are amazing, and I know I can not get close to that in terms of what I can afford but at least when I come home, I do not want to feel disappointed.

If I were to rate what I want/need on a scale of 1-10 ;

Piano "touch" feeling = 10
Sound = 6 to 10 (Depends to my budget) Sure I want 10 but I can give up certain degree to save some money.
MIDI and USB = 10 . (I would love to compose and do my arrangements just playing)

And I want Cabinet version Digital piano not a stage piano. Stage pianos do not have 3 pedals and if I want to add 3 pedals they all move around and not comfortable to use at all. And I do not want to use an external speaker system.

These are what I could decide on based on all that I have read on the internet. Please advise on which ones would be most suitable for my needs at an optimum price. Ideally, I should pay lower than 2000 dollars. I know this will not give me the best options but please recommends those around such a price range.

I would really appreciate your advice and expertise. Following is the list of pianos that I could find on the internet.

Many thanks in advance,
(Grand Hammer)

Suzuki DP-1000(64) (USB)( (15Wx2)
*Suzuki HP-99(64) (USB)LCD (60Wx2)
*Casio AP-620(128)(USB) LCD (30Wx2)
*Kurzweil MarkPro 1i(64) (USB)( (15Wx2)
*Kurzweil MarkPro 2i(64) (USB)( (30Wx2)
YDP161(128)(20Wx2)
*YDP181(128)(USB)(20Wx2)
CLP320(128)(20Wx2)

(Grand Hammer3)

*Roland DP990F/RF(128)(USB)(12cmx2)
Roland HP302(128)(USB)(12cmx2)
Roland HP305(128)(USB)(12cmx2.5cmx2)
*Kawai CN43/33(RH)(96)(USB)(16cmx2)
*Kawai CE200(96)(USB)(12cmXx2)
*Classenti CDP2(64)(20Wx2)
*CLP330(128)(USB)(20Wx2)
*CLP340(128)(USB)(LAN)(40Wx2)
CLPS406B(256)(USB)(40Wx2)
CLP430(128)(30Wx2)
CLP440(256)(USB)(40Wx2)

(Natural Wood)

*KawaiCE200(AwaProII)(96)(USB)(12cmx2
*Kawai CA63(RM3)(192)(USB)(100W/4)
Kawai CA93(RM3)(192)(USB)(135W/6)
Kawai CS6
CLP370(128)(USB)(LAN)(40Wx2)
CLP380(128)(USB)(LAN)(LCD)(35Wx2+20Wx2+20Wx2+12Wx2)
CLPS408(256)(USB)(40Wx2)
CLP470(256)(USB)(40Wx2)
CLP480(256)(USB)((30W+30W+20W)x2+20Wx2)

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Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1786678 11/10/11 09:23 PM
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Dr Popper Offline
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The three that stand out on that list are the
Kawai CA93
Roland HP305
and
Yamaha CLP480

All will perform very well.

As for the sound you need to play all three and work out which you prefer.



"I'm still an idiot and I'm still in love" - Blue Sofa - The Plugz 1981 (Tito Larriva)
Disclosure : I am professionally associated with Arturia but my sentiments are my own only.
Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1786681 11/10/11 09:30 PM
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Out of those, from what you say, I'd try to audition:

Kawai CN33, CN43, CA 63 and CA 93
Roland HP 302, HP 305.
Yamaha YDP 161 & 181, the CLP 430 and others in that range.
Casio AP 420 and AP 620

If you can try them in the same shop, so much the better. They're all great and it depends on your preference especially to the keyboard feel.

Your requirements are almost exactly the same as mine: prefer a cabinet piano, keyboard feel is most important factor, followed by piano sound, followed by quality of other sounds and features (midi, usb etc).

Amplifier quality, not so important as they all tend to be a bit ropey except for high end, and frankly over priced models: you can easily hook up a much better amplifier & speakers to get the sound you want.

Based on all that, and personal preference, I got a Roland HP 302 - it's great: very convincing piano sound with nice resonances, the extra sounds (some 300-400) were a bonus, which will indeed be great for arranging/ composing using a laptop.

But the most important thing is to take time to try them properly - take a good pair of headphones and a list of scales/ pieces/ trills etc that you'd want to feel comfortable playing on the new keyboard.

Last edited by toddy; 11/10/11 09:34 PM.

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Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1786686 11/10/11 09:36 PM
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FYI, the specs you listed for the CN43 are incorrect.

Anywho, I've been shopping the past two weeks. Didn't care much for any of the Yamahas - touch-wise. Shame as I'd always enjoyed playing my Yamaha acoustic gp. I liked the touch on the Kawai CN33 just okay. This weekend I'm heading north to play the Kawai CN43.. which has enough bells and whistles to keep me amused when I get frustrated with the advanced pieces I'm going back to. I prefer a "dashboard" type layout, so the CA63 is not an option for me.

Pricing-wise......the Roland cabinets are quite dear. I didn't care for the sound. Touch was so-so on the high end models I played. Sounds like a Steinway the salesman says. I thought. Oh.. I wonder which one? Ugh........

I'm thinking perhaps with your employment, you'd be entitled to an industry discount and could get a CA63 pretty close to your budget. Otherwise, price-wise the CN43 should fit nicely with a little negotiating.

Everyone likes a different touch based upon their past experience. So what works for some, doesn't work for others.

Which pianos are in your practice rooms? I've never liked playing studios at all.

BTW - for Bach I prefer a much lighter touch than I do for most other work.

Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Dr Popper] #1786687 11/10/11 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr Popper
The three that stand out on that list are the
Kawai CA93
Roland HP305
and
Yamaha CLP480

All will perform very well.

As for the sound you need to play all three and work out which you prefer.




You know, you may get tons of thoughts on this subject but you may not get any better advice than the above statement(s).

I have a KAWAI CA63. I love touch/feel of the keyboard but do not like the sound. Some say the sound is fantastic. I use Piano software to get my sound through external speakers. So, now I love to play again.

No-one will be able to pick the sound for you. You will have to play them extensively to find that and you may not be satisfied with any of them. If not, you sound like you could deal with piano software so you have an alternative.



Don

Kawai MP11SE, Focal Professional CMS 40 near-field monitors, Yamaha HS8S Powered Subwoofer, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs (Seldom Used)
Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1786689 11/10/11 09:39 PM
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the YDP-181 is a good bet for under 2000. Just my .02


Yamaha P-250 | Galaxy II Pianos | Galaxy Vintage D | The GIANT | Ravenscroft 275
Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1787533 11/12/11 12:14 PM
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Bluebasstrb Offline OP
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Hi Guys,

Sorry I was busy for a while. I truly appreciate all your comments.

Seems like with my needs and combination of your recommendations, I should focus more on Kawai(For touch and feeling). In the future, if I am not satisfied with the sound, as suggested, I can hook up a much better amplifier & speakers by connecting my laptop with the Digital piano anyway.

By the way, I tried some of Yamaha's and I did not care for the "touch" and "feel". It is sad that their Grand Pianos are great but digital pianos do not really match that quality yet. Of course, it is my humble opinion. I will try the Kawai digitals soon.

I had no idea that there is an "industry discount". I will definitely look into that and it seems like I can afford Kawai CA63 with that.(I am willing to pay a little bit more, too).

I am off to try Kawai digitals...

Thanks again for all your comments; they definitely helped and gave me some direction to follow.

Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1787845 11/12/11 10:03 PM
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I went through all the same things you did, and had the almost same list of requirements.

We are now the very happy owners of a CA63, and do not regret a thing about it. As dmd said, there are better sounds, we like them ok, but the CA63 keyboard touch and action is what made our decision. TADutchmans patch combinations keep it interesting, but there is always Vintage D (thanks to your advice dmd, that's probably our next step).

As others have said though, all are good choices. Play with some good headphones to find what you like best; good luck!


Between the drums, guitars, and my CA63, I am in desperate need of more hands!
Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1787903 11/13/11 12:10 AM
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Staying under $2k, Casio's AP420 & 620 are among the least expensive. The YDP-161 & 181 are very nice. Roland has the F-110/RP-201 but is likely to introduce a new competitive model in this price class to replace these with a better action and (hope!) SN sound. Kawai has the CN23.

IMO, if you like Casio's sound, it's a great way to save some dough. Yam's 161 is well balanced, has all your priorities and little else. I think the Rolands with the alpha II action have better sound but not as nice of action, and I have the least experience with that Kawai.

One interesting proposition that toys with your "wants" list but is so strong it needs to be considered - it does take you a bit over $2k. The Roland FP-7F might be considered a slab, but it has optional nice stand, decent built-in speakers and Roland's 3 pedal unit (RPU-3) solves your pedal question. The PHAIII action, SN sound and other features make it super competitive. If you get into this range, you can add the Kawai CN-33, Roland DP-990F and probably another Yamaha model.

It never ends. Some of your choices are definitely more expensive, but we'll be happy to help you spend your money wink Good luck!


Sam Bennett
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Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1787967 11/13/11 07:01 AM
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Good luck on your quest, Bluebasstrb. And congratulations on your trombone success!

I played double bass in the Civic 40 years ago, and I still consider it one of the defining experiences in my life. The Civic was and is an amazing institution.

Getting into the bass section is one thing -- we had as many as 11 or 12 players at one point in the season.

But getting one of the rare wind or brass seats -- especially in a town with a brass tradition like Chicago's (Clevenger, Herseth, Jacobs, Friedman, Crisafulli, etc.) -- that's REALLY an accomplishment.

Best of luck to you, though luck probably has little to do with your success!

Last edited by ClsscLib; 11/13/11 09:24 AM.

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Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1787997 11/13/11 08:45 AM
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Don't make a separate column for 'wood' actions in digital keyboards. The use of wood is a marketing tool period. My CP5 has wood in the key but I never notice it when playing - it is a marketing tool.

Since you give $2000 as your limit and since you mention you've gotten your information from the internet, the next step is for you to forget all that information and go to a piano store and spend hours playing and then make your decision.

_Never_ buy a keyboard without first playing it.


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Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1788010 11/13/11 09:28 AM
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Some people like wood in the keyboard, and swear by it. I don't know why.

It seems to me that wood suffers dimensional instability over changes in humidity. Plastic does not. Wood suffers from manufacturing variability. Plastic does not.

Wood does have one advantage: The wood is not likely to fracture. On plastic keyboards, fracture of the plastic parts is the most frequent failure.

Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1788206 11/13/11 04:20 PM
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Another benefit to plastic keys - simple and inexpensive replacement. Somebody dropped a mike stand across my Casio AP-500 and scratched three adjacent black keys, the results of which were painfully obvious to my non-safe-cracking fingers.

One phone call to the NYC Casio parts dealer (American Perfit, an odd shop but one that delivered), and for $21 I had three new black keys at my door. After a mere 45 minutes and a few headscratchings to ponder the disassembling, they were installed in my keyboard good as new.

Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1788264 11/13/11 06:03 PM
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I suspect wood does make a difference. I can think of two possible reasons:

1. It has a different hardness than plastic and transmits impact vibrations differently. I agree that it's not a critical factor (and its hard to say how big it is because no one makes the same action in wood and plastic).

2. Probably the bigger difference is that wood actions are often built quite differently. Are there any plastic actions with long keys that push up on hammers the same direction that acoustics do, rather than short ones that push on levers that are under the keys? I think plastic, as it is used in DP's, may not be suitable for the long-lever use. At least, I don't see any actions that contradict that hypothesis.

I agree that top actions in wood or plastic are both good, but that doesn't mean there is NO difference between them.

Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1788268 11/13/11 06:05 PM
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Chaps, please remember that not all wooden-key actions are the same. The general consensus among Yamaha and Kawai digital piano owners appears to be that:

- Yamaha wooden-key actions feel largely the same as their plastic-key counterparts.
- Kawai wooden-key actions feel better than their plastic-key counterparts.

James
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Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: gvfarns] #1788349 11/13/11 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by gvfarns
1. It has a different hardness than plastic and transmits impact vibrations differently. I agree that it's not a critical factor (and its hard to say how big it is because no one makes the same action in wood and plastic).


Yamaha NW (wood) action is the same in a mechanical sense as their GH3 action. There are wooden elements forming part of the white keys - so it should be possible to try both in a blind test to establish which feels better...if indeed there is any difference at all.


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Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: EssBrace] #1788442 11/13/11 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by EssBrace
Yamaha NW (wood) action is the same in a mechanical sense as their GH3 action. There are wooden elements forming part of the white keys - so it should be possible to try both in a blind test to establish which feels better...if indeed there is any difference at all.


Wooden elements? Is that the action with thin slices of wood on the side of the keys? If so, I classify it as a plastic action and it genuinely is just a marketing ploy.

Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1788472 11/13/11 11:57 PM
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The Yamaha NW natural wood keyboard: All wood, or just wood trim on the sides of each key?

That debate raged here some time ago. Has it ever been settled?

Re: request for help with digital pianos [Re: Bluebasstrb] #1788498 11/14/11 01:12 AM
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Anyway, I take the fact that we don't see plastic keys in any acoustics, including Kawai acoustics, which have ABS plastic in other parts of the action--anywhere they can--as evidence that plastic, even the strong stuff, is not a feasible replacement for key in a long lever/hammer type action. Granded, RM3 keys are not as long as those on grands, but they are pretty long by DP standards.

It's true that real wood keys like in RM3 are not dimensionally stable, but as was mentioned, they don't tend to chip or break and they can be sanded or otherwise "regulated" similar to what is done in acoustics. Dimensional stability (I think) is most important for the very fine small pieces in acoustic actions that are a hassle to get to and work with, but which do not take a lot of impact or force. I may be wrong here, though.

Further, I suspect you could buy replacement wooden keys from Kawai as easily as you can get plastic ones from Casio. I see no reason associated with the material why that would not be the case.

To be clear: I don't think wood keys are the be-all-and-end-all, or even that they are particularly important, but I do think the difference is real and it's not all just hype.

Edit: Actually now that I think about it, I'm not sure why no acoustic keys are made with plastic. Surely some metal rod with plastic supports would work for that purpose and probably be perfectly weighted, with no future need for adjustment. Or maybe carbon fiber, like a tennis racquet. Maybe the issue with acoustics is just a matter of reluctance to try new things on the part of consumers. I'll leave that question to people who know more about acoustics.

Last edited by gvfarns; 11/14/11 01:15 AM.

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