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Starter Piano
#2003974 12/24/12 01:45 PM
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I need a keyboard for my 11-year-old son who's just started lessons and needs something better than a 1980s Kawai with no velocity/touch sensors. And I used to play years ago and never got that good but might play again with a better keyboard.

We live in a 4th floor walkup with no elevator, and are strongly leaning towards something portable. It's helpful for example that he can move the current keyboard to another room if the sun is too hot in his bedroom.

My other big priority is a full keyboard with a really good feel.

Sound quality and a million sounds are not important. All those buttons are a distraction for my son, and for home usage they all sound pretty good. (And if we ever wanted to write a song and record it at home and become instantly rich and famous, there's always garageband.)

So I've put my untrained hands on some keyboards. First the P-105, which is a huge step up from plastic toy keys. I also tried the YDP-141 and 181, which we don't want because they're cabinets, but I couldn't find a P-155 to try and supposedly the 181 and the 155 share the same keyboard. Honestly while they did feel different it didn't seem an enormous step up to me.

But what DID seem like an enormous improvement is trying the RP301 and then later some higher end Rolands like the DP90 and the HP505. These felt like pianos to me. (If I was going to settle on something with a cabinet, I think I'd be very happy with the DP90).

But here's what I'm wondering: is the difference in feel at that point important? In other words, maybe the only thing I'm really feeling is the escapement feature on the high-end Rolands, and while that might make the action feel like an actual piano, is it really important in terms of practicing and playing skills?

And are there any other portable keyboards out there that you think I should really try?

Thanks,

tom

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Re: Starter Piano
Tom Fine #2003983 12/24/12 02:01 PM
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In my opinion, a good action is the key element of a good digital. If you aren't super discriminating, the quality of the tone engine is pretty ok on most decent digitals. Speaker quality varies a lot, but if you are using headphones, which is very common, that doesn't matter.

From what you write, you don't particularly think much of Yamaha's GHS and GH actions, but you like Roland's PHAIII action and you want something reasonably portable. You don't want to shell out for a ton of sounds you won't use. Given all those things, there's pretty much a single solution to your problem: the Roland FP7F, assuming it's in your price range.

It looks like you haven't given Kawai a pass yet. Before buying, you might take a look around and see if you can try out the RH action in the MP6, the RHII action in the ES7, and/or the RM3 (wooden) action in the MP10. Kawai also has a new GF wooden action but they haven't put it in any portables yet. We are all hoping/expecting to see a product announcement with GF in a portable at NAMM in January.

Also don't forget Casio. It's relatively low end, but you might like it and if you do you will save some big bucks by buying the PX150. At the end of the day, budget is key and practicing on a lower end (but still ok) piano is better than not practicing at all.


Last edited by gvfarns; 12/24/12 02:07 PM.
Re: Starter Piano
Tom Fine #2003990 12/24/12 02:10 PM
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Yamaha CP33 ... $999 but no built in speakers and you'll need a stand.

link to Yamaha's CP33 page



website | mp3 files | Yamaha AvantGrand N3 | Roland RD 2000 | Sennheiser HD 598 headphones
Re: Starter Piano
Tom Fine #2004022 12/24/12 03:30 PM
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I would suggest the Kawai ES7 with the Furniture stand.

It is light enough to carry around the apartment but relatively sturdy with the furniture stand.

The keybed and sound are very good.

Do not get the 3-pedal unit that you can order for it, as (in my opinion) the pedals are too close to the front of the piano.

It comes with a pedal that works fine.


Don

Casio PX-S1000, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq, Focus Rite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface
Re: Starter Piano
Tom Fine #2008576 01/03/13 02:33 PM
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Thanks for the replies.

I finally found a place where I could put my hands on a whole slew of different keyboards in the same room, including the Yamaha P105 and P155, Korg SP250, Casio PX350, and Roland RD300NX and RD700NX (which I'm assuming have the same feel as the FP4F and FP7F respectively).

What I ultimately concluded is that I'm probably overthinking the issue of action. I couldn't consistently feel that one keyboard is better or worse than another even though they all seemed a little different. I think I just don't have enough experience for it to matter (and neither would my son). Basically they're all "close enough" to a piano for now, so I took a closer look at other issues.

I ruled out the Rolands because they're over $1500 and everything else I saw was under $1000. I ruled out the Korg because it bothers me that it's five-year-old technology. And I ruled out the Yamahas because I'm a Mac guy and there's a piece of software used for transferring data that they don't make for the Mac. So I'm a bit surprised (because I had poor brand association) but I think I'll be getting one of the two Casios.

Before I pull the trigger, are there any downsides I should know about? Durability or maintenance issues?

And then I have to pick between the two. I love the lack of button litter on the 150. But the lack of a line-in is an issue if I want to hook up to Garageband. I could always use headphones or a stereo or boombox, so it's not insurmountable, but is annoying. And the record-to-thumbdrive feature of the 350 is very attractive. As well as better speakers.

(And now that I look there are some subtle differences in the MIDI implementations of the two keyboards. The 150 lacks smooth damper pedal values, and key off velocities. Again this is into "overthinking" territory for me, I just wanted to mention it.)

Last edited by Tom Fine; 01/03/13 03:15 PM. Reason: fixed P150 to P105
Re: Starter Piano
Tom Fine #2008595 01/03/13 03:00 PM
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If you like Roland and want portable, go with DP-90S, not just DP-90 which has less advanced action, or FP-7F.

If you like the sound of Yamaha, look for CLP-430, not 181 - they are pretty similar and the price difference I believe is around $40-50 at most, but CLP has more advanced action.

Although difference in action between the mentioned models will be important not earlier than on 4-5th year of study.

Roland and other higher-end models have other advantage though - they have more expressiveness and no visible / audible change in volume depending on velocity level.

Last edited by personne; 01/03/13 03:02 PM.

Roland HP-507RW | Yamaha U1 | Roland FP-90
Re: Starter Piano
Tom Fine #2008697 01/03/13 07:44 PM
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My choice came down to the Casio PX-350 or Yamaha P155. I liked the keyboard on both -- close to "real piano" feel. Got the PX-350 because of its extra voices, lighter weight, $250 lower cost.

I didn't hear much difference between them in the piano sounds through headphones. I suspect the Yamaha has better loudspeakers, but didn't do critical listening.

If someone offered me a P155, I would not turn it down. My first reaction to it was "This feels like a piano!"

I didn't realize the PX-150 comes without a "Line In" jack -- that's strange.

I can't speak to the long-term durability of the Casio. Yamaha has a good reputation. [One thing I noticed: the PX-350's "Line In/Out" jacks are mounted on the circuit board, not secured to the case. We'll see what happens . . . ]

Time was that "buying a piano" was a long-term commitment, and a large investment. But the PX-150 is around $550 here (Vancouver, BC). Think of it as "consumer electronics", not "fine furniture with music". If it lasts you for a five years, you can probably replace it with something new, better, and costing about the same.

. Charles

PS -- the Yamaha P105 is competitive in price with the PX-150. Of the two, I preferred the PX-150 / PX-350 keyboard feel.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq
Re: Starter Piano
Tom Fine #2008703 01/03/13 07:54 PM
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Did you go to http://www.casiomusicgear.com/ to register your product.
Gives a 3 year warranty.


All these years playing and I still consider myself a novice.
Re: Starter Piano
Tom Fine #2008724 01/03/13 08:42 PM
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You don't want to shell out for a ton of sounds you won't use. Given all those things[Linked Image][Linked Image]


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Re: Starter Piano
Tom Fine #2008766 01/03/13 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom Fine
What I ultimately concluded is that I'm probably overthinking the issue of action. I couldn't consistently feel that one keyboard is better or worse than another even though they all seemed a little different. I think I just don't have enough experience for it to matter (and neither would my son). Basically they're all "close enough" to a piano for now, so I took a closer look at other issues.


Yeah, going to a piano store can bring to the forefront the randomness in our testing methodology. I spent a little time in a big Yamaha shop today (I was in the neighborhood). I was playing their AvantGrands and being all impressed. Then I went down and played a CLP430 and was very surprised how small the difference seemed. That piano was pretty impressive. Then I played a P155, which has essentially the same action as the CLP430 and it felt terrible. Just goes to show that it's hard to tell quickly which action is the best. Many factors (your mood, the quality of the piano speakers, the default volume of the piano) can affect your judgment, especially if you don't spend a lot of time there.

Quote
(And now that I look there are some subtle differences in the MIDI implementations of the two keyboards. The 150 lacks smooth damper pedal values, and key off velocities. Again this is into "overthinking" territory for me, I just wanted to mention it.)


Yeah, I wouldn't stress the key off velocities. Partial pedal is more important in my opinion, but the Casios have an optional stand and pedal that allow them to do partial pedal. Of course, that wipes out some of the flexibility and cost advantage of the Casio, but there you go. If you don't have strong feelings about the various actions after playing them, the Casio is probably still a win, even with the optional pedal.

Re: Starter Piano
gvfarns #2009180 01/04/13 10:49 PM
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I have had the PX350 for 2+ months and really enjoy it. My favorite 2 things are the keys/action and the variety of piano sounds.

In my honest opinion, the speakers on the 350 are clearer than on the 150. To me that was worth the price difference alone ($680 after discounts vs. $500 after discounts)

Button litter- I agree. I probably would prefer something without a digital screen but the variety, action, and sound qaulity of the 350 are excellent
2 years ago I picked the P95 over the P330 because I felt at the time I did not need the additional features.

Although I have owned various Yamaha products over the years, I found myself more excited to play the PX350 than the 105 I upgraded to (105 sent back, bad luck, had 2 defective)



Kawai Es8
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Yamaha P125
Re: Starter Piano
PossumES8Krome61 #2009201 01/04/13 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Possum PX130350
. . .

In my honest opinion, the speakers on the 350 are clearer than on the 150. To me that was worth the price difference alone ($680 after discounts vs. $500 after discounts)
. . .


I checked the specs in the two Owner's Manuals. The PX-150 has one loudspeaker per side; the PX-350 has two. I think they're both 8 watts per channel.

The PX-350 also has several "Grand Piano xxxx" sounds which are not in the PX-150 tone bank.

[IMHO, the built-in speakers on the PX-350 don't do justice to the sounds hiding inside the box. But that's a separate issue . . ]


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq
Re: Starter Piano
PossumES8Krome61 #2009248 01/05/13 01:52 AM
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Is there, really, that great of a difference between the PX-150 and PX-350 speakers.
I've heard the PX-150 speakers and compared to the Yamaha P-105, the yamaha wins hands down.

Speaking strictly about the built-in speakers.

Re: Starter Piano
Tom Fine #2009258 01/05/13 02:38 AM
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The yamaha has a total of 4 speakers (it has two tweeters as well two standards).It also has line outs which give very good sounds when connected to a high power stereo system.

The 350 has a lot more bells and whistles, but I think Piano1 on the 105 is, for me, a great sound. Perhaps it was because I have a sample of the Garritan Orchestra/Jazz Band/Marching Band with my AcidPro7, I wanted specific features I liked better on the p105.

It really depends on how the EP's feel to you and the specific uses you have for an EP. I'm a true "Newbie" and so far the p105 has been everything I wanted and more. It was very easy to setup the lineout and USP functions. The sounds through my Bose QC3's is very good, and I spend a lot more time with headphones than any of my speaker systems.

From what I've seen for low cost EP's I don't think one can really go wrong with either the p105/p155 or the PX-150/350 and I spent a lot time looking and reading.


Jeff
Casio PX-5S Pro - my new adventure
Yamaha p105 - gone but not forgotten
Re: Starter Piano
NikoKiko #2009331 01/05/13 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by NikoKiko
Is there, really, that great of a difference between the PX-150 and PX-350 speakers.
I've heard the PX-150 speakers and compared to the Yamaha P-105, the yamaha wins hands down.

Speaking strictly about the built-in speakers.

The difference is (as Charles said) that the PX-150 has one speaker per side (the "woofer" acting as a full range speaker), the PX-350 has two per side (woofer and tweeter), so the sound will have a clearer high end on the 350.

I happen to like the Yamaha sound better than the Casio, but with the new models, I think the Casio has the better action. So, if you have the option of triggering a software piano, I'd go for the Casio, but if you're sticking with internal sounds, that's a tougher call.


Re: Starter Piano
Tom Fine #2009332 01/05/13 08:30 AM
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I really think that any on-board speakers are going to be less than ideal for most situations. You'll want to get a good set of headphones or use separate speakers for the best sound, IMO. So don't let speakers be the reason you spend more money.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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