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Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
#2177540 11/05/13 12:55 PM
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Hi all,

It’s long past time for me to upgrade my old (and I mean old – I bought it in 1997) digital piano. RIP Technics!

I’ve done my research and have lurked here for a while and am ready to go try some out.

So far I’m planning to test the Kawai CA-65 and the Yamaha CLP 470. I don’t think it would make sense to go for the CA95 or CLP480 considering I use headphones 99% of the time, but I’m willing to reconsider. I’m mainly writing to see if I’m missing anything worth a look – here’s my list:

1. Wood/ivory keys – essential
2. Feel/action is much more important to me than sound (I always use headphones)
3. I only play classical and don’t care at all about bells and whistles, extra instruments, recording myself, etc.
4. If it matters, I grew up playing a Yamaha grand piano. I guess my level would be intermediate? I did the 3rd movement of Pathétique for my final recital when taking lessons many moons ago, but when I play it now I sound like a drunk Frankenstein because I am so out of practice
5. Budget: up to $6000 USD. But from doing research, it seems like I can get something that meets my needs for much less. I thought prices would be a lot higher. An acoustic is not an option right now.
6. I’m not interested in a stage piano or a hybrid. A hybrid will likely be my next upgrade, but I’m waiting because I think the technology will advance quite a bit over the next few years.

So, am I missing anything I should try out? I’d love to hear any opinions on the Roland HP-507 vs. the Kawai CA-65.

I’m willing to wait a few months if something great is about to be released. I’ll be traveling for most of Jan and Feb, so it probably makes sense to wait until then anyway even though the little kid in me wants to run out and buy something today.

Thanks for any advice; it is much appreciated.
Lee

Last edited by lilydell; 11/05/13 01:04 PM.
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Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
lilydell #2177556 11/05/13 01:26 PM
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The CA65 and Roland HP507 are great, but well apart in both feel of the action and sound. Only you could decide. There is a new HP508 just announced that may be available when you are ready. Did you consider Yamaha at this level (some don't like the bright sound)?

Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
lilydell #2177573 11/05/13 02:10 PM
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This rules out the Yamahas. Their "wood" key is just wooden side panels on a plastic key.
Originally Posted by lilydell
Wood/ivory keys – essential

It seems people here prefer the Kawai for the action. Kawai has made some improvements over the past few years. Yamaha has changed nothing in over a decade.
Originally Posted by lilydell
Feel/action is much more important to me than sound (I always use headphones)

Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
spanishbuddha #2177594 11/05/13 02:45 PM
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Quote
Did you consider Yamaha at this level (some don't like the bright sound)?


Thanks for your reply - I do plan to check out the Yamaha CLP-470. I have a feeling I'll be deciding between that and the Kawai CA-65.

Last edited by lilydell; 11/05/13 02:46 PM.
Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
MacMacMac #2177597 11/05/13 02:49 PM
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It seems people here prefer the Kawai for the action. Kawai has made some improvements over the past few years. Yamaha has changed nothing in over a decade.


Thanks, mac. I am leaning towards Kawai but only because of what I've read. I still want to try out others because it's such a subjective thing.

Last edited by lilydell; 11/05/13 02:50 PM.
Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
MacMacMac #2177616 11/05/13 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
This rules out the Yamahas. Their "wood" key is just wooden side panels on a plastic key.


That actually got debunked recently. Actually their wood keys are almost totally a solid piece of wood with a slim piece of plastic around part of them. It so happens that it is positioned such that it looks like it is plastic with thin bits of wood.

Yamaha's wood actions have more plastic involved than Kawai's but they are still basically a single big piece of wood.

I like Kawai's wood action (I own one) but I have also played Yamahas NW action and I like it very, very well.

Last edited by gvfarns; 11/05/13 03:29 PM.
Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
lilydell #2177647 11/05/13 04:31 PM
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You're thinking of the old CLP-990, which pv88 bought a while back. It has fully wooden keys.

The successor models were just wood-shimmed plastic, as seen in a photo someone posted here.

Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
MacMacMac #2177681 11/05/13 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
You're thinking of the old CLP-990, which pv88 bought a while back. It has fully wooden keys.

The successor models were just wood-shimmed plastic, as seen in a photo someone posted here.


No confusion here. As you say, the CLP-990 is definitely all wood with basically no plastic, but it turns out that the NW successor pianos also have solid wood...it just doesn't look like it because there's a slim piece of plastic that runs along the bottom and another that runs along the top. The idea that the keys are plastic with wood shims was a long-lived misunderstanding that affected basically all of us.

See discussion and pictures here.

I was as surprised as you or anyone else is at learning this.

Last edited by gvfarns; 11/05/13 07:43 PM.
Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
lilydell #2177751 11/05/13 09:36 PM
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That's exactly the picture I was thinking about. And despite the text description ("solid hunk of wood with plastic laminate on top and plastic mechanism strip on the bottom"), that's not what I see in the picture.

I'm seeing a solid plastic key with thin shims of wood on the sides. It's a shim sham. smile

Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
gvfarns #2177763 11/05/13 10:22 PM
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Thanks - to Mac and gvfarns above - for mentioning the CLP-990 as it is indeed a nice digital for one that is now 12 yrs. old and I plan on keeping it indefinitely even if I should trade in my other digitals for something else.

Regardless of what we think we might see in that one picture it still hasn't been proven if the newer Clavinova models (i.e., CLP-470 and 480) have solid all spruce wooden keys like the CLP-990 - as there is more than likely only pieces of wood glued to plastic key shells.

I won't be taking my CLP-480 apart to prove (or, disprove) the theory although since I own both models (480 & 990) it is apparent to me as a player the keys feel heavier and more acoustic-like in the older CLP-990.

I also prefer the quality of the piano sounds in the CLP-480 and 990 over Kawai as the CA95 I had owned jangled my nerves and hearing as for the harder and raspy metallic piano tones - which to my ears became very unpleasant.

There was everything to like about the responsive weighted action in the CA95 (very smooth and it bottoms out nicely) although the Clavinova's have a far less metallic quality in the piano sounds.

This is the subjective decision I made when switching over to the Yamaha's.

Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
lilydell #2177803 11/06/13 01:07 AM
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@lilydell Personally, I found the action of Kawai CA-65/95 much more enjoyable than that of the CLP-470. Not that long ago, I was considering both these pianos and (as my signature shows) decided to go with the CA-95, which sports a soundboard speaker system and a few extras in addition to what the CA-65 has to offer. (The CA-95 is in fact a competitor of the CLP-480, which is -- or used to be -- about $1000 more expensive.)

But action is only one aspect one should consider when shopping for a digital. The sound is the other one and that can only be decided by listening to the piano directly. In general, Yamaha pianos tend to have more mellow sound than Kawai, which usually sound brighter. Also noteworthy is that with the recent release of new firmware for the CA-65/95, the quality of the sound was improved quite a bit for me, which is definitely welcome. smile

Anyway, whatever you decide to go for, I hope you will enjoy your new piano. wink


-- Zbynek N.

Learning to play the piano since 06/2013 on a Kawai CA-95.

Music is what feelings sound like. ~ Author Unknown
Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
MacMacMac #2177929 11/06/13 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I'm seeing a solid plastic key with thin shims of wood on the sides. It's a shim sham. smile

Don't believe your lying eyes! wink

jve owns the CP1 in those pix, and jve's report is that it is a solid hunk of wood, not shims.

I feel pretty bad for my participation in this "wood veneer" myth.

Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
Clayman #2177972 11/06/13 12:29 PM
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Thanks for your replies everyone. Clayman wrote:
Quote
Not that long ago, I was considering both these pianos and (as my signature shows) decided to go with the CA-95, which sports a soundboard speaker system and a few extras in addition to what the CA-65 has to offer.


clayman, I'm so glad you responded; your posts have been really helpful to me as I've lurked here over the past few weeks. I am very willing to consider the CA-95 instead of the CA65. From my reading, I was under the impression that if I use headphones most of the time (which I do) that it wouldn't be worth paying more for the CA-95. Did you notice a big difference when you compared them?
I guess I should bring my headphones with me when I go try them out. Knowing me, I will probably get the "better" one anyway because it's within my budget.
When you were looking for your piano, did you try out the Roland HP507 by any chance?

Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
lilydell #2178264 11/07/13 12:57 AM
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lilydell, I didn't compare the CA pianos per se; by that time I already knew I wanted the higher model (I have always been like that wink ) so I have no hands-on experience with both but a few fellow forumers here (like debrucey IIRC who also picked the CA-95 over its "lesser" sibling) did find the difference to be quite significant.

I suppose that if you use headphones most of the time, the extra bells and whistles might not justify the inflated price tag (since, soundboard system aside, the differences are minor at best) but if you're willing to spend the money and your budget allows it, I say why the heck not. laugh

Since I usually get to sit at the piano late(r) in the evening during most weekdays, I also mostly play with my headphones on but I also try to put them down from time to time and enjoy the sound of the soundboard, usually during the weekends and holidays. Some time ago, I invited a few of my friends that I consider relatively skilled pianists to playtest my piano and they liked its sound quite a bit, especially in the lower registers where the soundboard literally shakes up the whole piano. If you feel you also want the authenticity of the experience of sitting at the piano, the soundboard does wonders in that regard.

And as for Rolands -- I did initially include them in my to-consider list but after "playtesting" (as in trying to play with no prior piano playing experience wink ) the HP-505, I eventually ruled them out because I thought their key action was on the louder side and, in retrospect, more similar to that of the CLP pianos than the CA pianos in terms of the general feel.

So there. I hope this little bit of info will help you in your quest. smile Feel free to drop me a PM if you have any more questions, I'll be sure to reply ASAP. wink

Last edited by Clayman; 11/07/13 02:35 PM. Reason: Wording :[

-- Zbynek N.

Learning to play the piano since 06/2013 on a Kawai CA-95.

Music is what feelings sound like. ~ Author Unknown
Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
Clayman #2178408 11/07/13 10:21 AM
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Just to add to Clayman's post, like him I tried several DPs, including Casio, Korg, Yamaha, Roland and Kawai. I did try the Roland HP505 too, which I quite liked but found the keys very noisy and I know that I would be annoyed by that after a few hours playing it. I even tried the LX-15, with a fantastic touch but also quite noisy keys. It would surprise me if the HP507 has a more silent keybed.

I also tried the Yamaha CPL470, which I really liked - quite a lot- but I didn't feel it was worth the difference in price with the CA95, CA65 - and even the CA15! I only discarded the CA15 because it didn't had a USB to device connection.

As per prices you can get a Yamaha CPL470 for around the same price as a Kawai CA65. For me the touch and sound of the Kawai is simply much better, but really that is something you need to check by yourself. I tried all the Kawai CA models and they were simply perfect to my fingers and to my ears.

Eventually I went for the CA65 because I got a good trading-in deal for my old piano, so I went over my initial limit to get the best I could get. I would only have gone for the CA95 if I had the money AND I planned to live in a detached house. As we plan to go back to Spain in a few years time and my piano will be in a flat, I know that I will be using headphones most of the time... a couple of hours a week doesn't justify for me the extra cost of the CA95, especially as I already went well over my limit, but again, my reservations were more connected to the money than anything else.

Really I think that you'll end up with a CA95, simply because it's still well under your limit and it's one of the best you can get, I would actually say the best at its price. You really need to try it against a more expensive Yamaha model to compare similar quality.

Let us know what you eventually go for!





Last edited by evamar; 11/07/13 10:22 AM.

Serious since Dec 2013. March 2014, Kawai CA95!

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Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
Clayman #2178492 11/07/13 01:36 PM
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So there. I hope this little bit of info will help you in your quest.


Wow, clayman, you have no idea how helpful this is to me. I really appreciate your taking the time to answer.

I'm on my way to the dentist, who is right next to Allegro pianos (only Kawai dealer in NYC). I'm going to have to use all of my strength not to go in there because I know myself well enough to realize I can't be trusted not to buy something on the spot. I'm trying to wait until I return from a 2-month trip in Feb. Not sure I'm going to make it!

Last edited by lilydell; 11/07/13 01:36 PM.
Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
evamar #2178499 11/07/13 01:48 PM
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Really I think that you'll end up with a CA95, simply because it's still well under your limit and it's one of the best you can get, I would actually say the best at its price. You really need to try it against a more expensive Yamaha model to compare similar quality.


Hi evamar, thanks so much for your reply. I read your posts while I was lurking and found them really helpful. I think you are correct that I will probably end up with the CA95 unless I really love one of the Yamaha CLPs.

I guess at this point I should just go try them out and make a decision. Thanks again! This forum is a great resource.

Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
lilydell #2178520 11/07/13 02:38 PM
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No prob, lilydell. Have fun in the shop, I'm sure you will enjoy the Kawai pianos. wink I'm still firmly convinced the GF action on the CA pianos is the best in the <$5000 price segment.


-- Zbynek N.

Learning to play the piano since 06/2013 on a Kawai CA-95.

Music is what feelings sound like. ~ Author Unknown
Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
Clayman #2178653 11/07/13 07:41 PM
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OP Here: I'm back from trying out pianos. I was planning to wait but I can't be trusted to behave myself. I ruled out the Yamahas pretty quickly.

I was very surprised with the results and it just goes to show how subjective this stuff is and how necessary it is to try them in person. I was so sure I'd end up with a Kawai but I fell in love with the Roland HP-507.

I don't like the way they sound on video demos I've seen online, but it was very different in person. I liked the action a lot more than the Kawai - they were right next to each other in the room so I just went back and forth for an hour playing the same songs/notes on each and fiddling with the settings trying to convince myself that I liked the Kawai more.

I also like the Roland's appearance a tiny bit more. I've decided to get one in polished ebony (I didn't even know they offered a shiny one - I thought that was only for the LX-15).

I'm sure I would have been very happy with the Kawai as well - it was a really nice piano. But the Roland just felt "right" under my fingers.

It's on back-order til January but I don't care since I'm going to be out of town most of the winter.

Embarrassing story: I went to the piano stores after having minor dental surgery and didn't realize that I had some blood smeared on my face until I got home and looked in the mirror. They must have thought I was some kind of weirdo.

Thanks to everyone for your help!

Last edited by lilydell; 11/07/13 07:45 PM.
Re: Ready to Upgrade - what am I missing?
lilydell #2178824 11/08/13 01:08 AM
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Not a problem, I'm glad you found yourself a piano that will bring you joy whenever you sit at it, regardless of brand. smile


-- Zbynek N.

Learning to play the piano since 06/2013 on a Kawai CA-95.

Music is what feelings sound like. ~ Author Unknown
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