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Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2408876 04/10/15 12:49 PM
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Sabinnie,

since you have a lot of experience of acoustic pianos, I think your most important criteria is this:

Originally Posted by Sabinnie
Best key touch response I can afford


It's not possible to say which of the many available models will provide the best touch for you. Piano touch is highly subjective: the only way you are going to find out what suits you is to try out different instruments, for as long as you can.

If you can find a dealer (or two, or three) not too far away who has a selection of DPs you could try, it would be worth the trip. If you have a good pair of headphones, take it with you.


Steinway A grand (1919), Richard Lipp grand (1913), Yamaha P2 upright (1983), Casio PX-150 digital (2013)
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Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2408892 04/10/15 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Sabinnie

Jasper, I don't mind at all if portable or console etc.

I would prefer to have some sort of speakers, but if there was a super awesome DP for my requirements without speakers I would consider it.


The only one to consider without speakers I have in mind is Casio PX-5S. As it has no amplifier and no speakers, it can be quite good at its price.

In general, I would recommend to try out digital pianos from the big brands -- Casio, Kawai, Roland, Yamaha in your price range (and maybe a little over, in case of renting and perhaps buying later). And then I agree with MRC that it is personal from there.





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Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2408950 04/10/15 05:16 PM
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As mentioned in another thread the kawai CN25 might be worth checking out.

Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2408998 04/10/15 07:25 PM
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I will make another plug for the VPC-1 with Pianoteq in particular. If you want something that feels and plays like a real piano you can't get much closer than this combination. I haven't found anything else that makes me feel like I'm truly connected with a real instrument.

If you have a dedicated computer it may only be a few extra seconds to be up and running. I use a laptop which I cart around with me and really its no more than a half a minute or so to connect and start the software.


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Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2409021 04/10/15 09:19 PM
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The complete solution for a VPC1 would be a dedicated laptop just for the VPC1 -- include it as part of your budget.

If you know Linux, you can use a $180 Chomebook with Pianoteq (+$120). Press the power button once to return from suspend mode and it'll be on before your DP is done going through the lights. If you don't know Linux, pretty much any used laptop from the past 5 years will also work at roughly the same price. Otherwise, it's $500 for a new entry-level laptop.

Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Charles Cohen #2409076 04/11/15 03:46 AM
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Thanks everyone. Regarding budget, I am not looking at buying a DP outright (not possible), but paying it off over a couple months. I don't want to be paying off for more than a year, but if I save for a while I might be able to spend up to 2000 USD/1500 GBP in total over those 12 months.

I would very much prefer to rent, but I cannot find any store that rents DPs up here in North Scotland at all. =(

The VPC1 does look great, but I do only have a MacBook that I need all the time and would constantly have to lug around, so I'd need a dedicated PC/Laptop for the VPC. I will definitely try it out if there is an option in Singapore to do so.


Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
[quote]
I've played the F130R and the FP-80, sitting next to each other in the shop. IMHO (my fingers, my ears), the FP-80 (which has a previous generation "Ivory Feel-S" action -- Roland's "premium" action at time of introduction) is better than the F130R, both in "feel" and in "sound". Enough better to justify its higher price.


That's really interesting, thank you. Its so hard to find your way through all the different sound generation methods and keyboard actions that are used...wish there was a definitive giant comparison table where you could see it all at one glance!

Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2409084 04/11/15 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Sabinnie

I've been playing since I was 6 years old, but only ever on acoustic pianos. I was a firm opponent of DPs....

Here's what I am looking for:

- Best key touch response I can afford
- Will be mainly playing with headphones, so loudspeakers not that important

- I play mainly classical

Basically, I am looking for a DP that concentrates on being a piano, not a music box. I would rather spend my money on better touch response than on any fancy extras.





Based on what you've said, I'd be wary about using software pianos - definitely try before you buy. Though I don't know of any places (even in London) where there's a VPC-1 that's all set up and connected to a computer for punters to have a go at. Maybe in Singapore, where every other store on Orchard St is an electronics store, you might get the opportunity.....

I only ever tried software piano once, using the free Pianoteq trial that I uploaded into my MacBook Pro, and connected to my DP. Immediately, I felt a 'disconnection' between what I was playing and what I heard through my headphones, which some people here think may be a latency issue.

Whatever caused it, it wasn't something I can get on with - I still play acoustics regularly as well as my digital (- I do all my practising on my DP, and play a monthly recital on an acoustic grand). Though, apparently, hardly anyone here who use software piano noticed it.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
anotherscott #2409085 04/11/15 05:20 AM
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Hello Sabinnie!

I also had the same starting-point budget-wise as you, with exactly the same priority - the most realistic action I could get (this of course, being subjective, so the best advice you received here is try everything, and don't limit your testing to your budget, it's good to know what's out there).

Originally Posted by anotherscott
A number of people have mentioned the VPC1, which is a great board, but if the OP finds the FP80 to feel a bit too heavy, I suspect he will find the VPC1 to feel even more so.


+1 to this - I have tried the CA15, which has the same mechanics, and I found it significantly heavier than the Roland Ivory Feel S, PHA3, PHA4 premium/concert, which are the mechanics you should aim for from Roland if you specifically want very good mechanics for classical piano. The PHA-4 standard is very nice for the price and I prefer it to the other options in that price range, but I don't feel it's enough for what you aim for.
Also, don't hesitate to get their previous generation top actions if the price is good and you like the way it plays.

Haven't tested the Kawai CN25 (RH3 action), but I have tested the CN35 (RH2 action) and it is light and very responsive (although I prefer the Roland one). The new one I think it's safe to say is even better.
If you go significantly higher in price, there is the Grand Feel (and GF2) action from Kawai, found on MP11 (slab), CA65/67 (cabinet) which is a very good action and well worth the price if you can afford it and want the best.

Personally, I ended up getting the Roland HP-504, which I got for a very good price, but had I had a higher budget I probably would've went for HP-506 or Kawai CN67.

I think the info you received here is a very good starting point and the rest is up to you, to test as many models which fit the criteria (and some that don't) as thoroughly as possible and to find out what are the ones that fit you best.

And a final note: after playing for a couple of months, I have come to the conclusion that beside subjectivity, there's also adaptability in play. You want a really good keyboard that can respond properly to your repertoire (and above) and that can perceive the subtleties of the music well, but you'll also find that there is an adaptation process and in a short time you get used to the way different mid/high end actions feel, as long as the quality is there.

I hope my small novel of a post will be useful in your search! Good luck with it and do let us know how it plays out (pun intended)!

MColl


Last edited by mcoll; 04/11/15 06:40 AM.
Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2409120 04/11/15 09:23 AM
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If you are talking about £1500 and installments you can probably find the Kawai MP11 for around £1600-£1700.
I know we're pushing upwards here obviously, but owning one myself I know how convincing that DP can be. I came from acoustic as well and every DP action I tried was like no, no and no. Then the MP11 came out and it was yes immediately.
You could maybe try one and even decide to wait a little to save a few £ extra.

Last edited by phunqe; 04/11/15 09:28 AM.
Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2409528 04/12/15 03:08 PM
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Sabinnie,

This may not be within your budget, but I'd recommend starting with the best keyboard action you can afford. Right now, that's probably something like an MP11.

I have a Casio PX850 (1st DP) and an MP11 (2nd DP). (I got the MP11 just for the MUCH better keyboard action.) You can upgrade to better piano software, headphones, speakers, etc at reasonable cost, but the keyboard is a investment. If you're used to an acoustic piano, you'll probably be dissatisfied with a lesser quality keyboard feel.

While the MP11's piano sound is very good, virtual instrument software like Ivory II and Galaxy Vintage D are better. Good headphones and monitor speakers will sound better (typically) that mediocre ones. But those can be added later. An MP11 or similar with decent headphones can get you started in the DP world. From there, upgrade as needed.

Good luck with your decision.

Regards,

Dan.


Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2410170 04/14/15 08:35 AM
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Thanks again everyone. I've started to make a list of DPs and which action they have plus a rough price estimate to take with me to Singapore.

I also just bought a decent set of headphones that will come along with me.

The Kawai actions seem to be the most referenced in this thread - while doing more research I found out that the VPC1 uses the same action as the CA15. The CA15 is available at reduced price from a couple of retailers (would end up being the same as VPC1 with stand + dedicated laptop), so I am wondering if that might be an option?

Similarly, one level above, the MP11 and the CA65 both use Kawai's grand feel action and are about the same price in the UK. Why should I go for the MP11 over the CA65?

Have not gotten my head around the other manufacturer's actions yet, but there are two things that puzzle me: Triple sensors and Escapement. I understand that three sensors enable faster repetitions, but have found reviews saying they have not noticed a difference between two or three sensors. Can anyone comment on this?

Escapement seems to only exist in acoustic grand pianos, since I have played (older) acoustic uprights all my life, I'm thinking that this is entirely unneccessary for me, but I am not sure if I have understood it correctly?




Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2410173 04/14/15 09:10 AM
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There is a long running thread on soft bottoming keybeds.
Someone suggested that, to misquote; "slavishly trying to mimic the action/feel of a grand piano may not produce the best product". Approximately that.

For quite a while I have been of a similar opinion.
Electronic pianos are not wooden pianos, although they can produce a fair approximation of both sound and feel, however they are different instruments and there can be benefit to releasing ourselves from the "must sound and feel like a tier one grand" mindset.

If the "Feel of a concert grand" isn't THAT important to you then you might well find a lot of electronic pianos within your budget that would work for you, whether console, cabinet, slab, etc.

Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2410185 04/14/15 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Sabinnie
Thanks again everyone. I've started to make a list of DPs and which action they have plus a rough price estimate to take with me to Singapore.

I also just bought a decent set of headphones that will come along with me.

The Kawai actions seem to be the most referenced in this thread - while doing more research I found out that the VPC1 uses the same action as the CA15. The CA15 is available at reduced price from a couple of retailers (would end up being the same as VPC1 with stand + dedicated laptop), so I am wondering if that might be an option?
That very well could be a good option for you since you weren't terribly interested in the whole hooking up to a computer aspect. However, the sound will not be as good as what you can get on software pianos.

Quote
Similarly, one level above, the MP11 and the CA65 both use Kawai's grand feel action and are about the same price in the UK. Why should I go for the MP11 over the CA65?
The only difference then is whether you want something more portable like the MP11 or not. With the MP11, it is also something that is excellent for performing where you may need to switch sounds very quickly, use it as a MIDI controller, things like that. Unless you are planning to do gigs, there's probably little need for it above being more portable than the CA65. Keep in mind that with the CA65, you are kind of married to their speakers whereas on the MP11 you would have to buy your own but can potentially get much better. To me it sounds like a cabinet-style would be more suitable for your purposes, but only you can determine that.

Quote
Have not gotten my head around the other manufacturer's actions yet, but there are two things that puzzle me: Triple sensors and Escapement. I understand that three sensors enable faster repetitions, but have found reviews saying they have not noticed a difference between two or three sensors. Can anyone comment on this?
Triple sensors is needed to do fast repeated notes. It means that the key does not have to return completely to the up position before it can be restruck as it is with only two sensors. So trills and repeated notes will be harder on a two sensor action. I don't recommend going with two sensors, especially for classical playing.

Quote
Escapement seems to only exist in acoustic grand pianos, since I have played (older) acoustic uprights all my life, I'm thinking that this is entirely unneccessary for me, but I am not sure if I have understood it correctly?
Well, grand piano action is superior to play on compared with upright action. So the fact that uprights may not have escapement doesn't mean you should find something similar to that. You are trying to upgrade, correct? So you should want the best action you can get for your money.

On some DPs this escapement feature can be bothersome - I used to dislike it greatly on some older Roland actions. But it's not distracting on the GF action IMO (on the MP11/CA65). It just feels more authentic. Most of the people who I've heard don't like it do not play classical music. If you think that somewhere down the road you'd be playing on an acoustic grand (for recitals or just upgrading at home), then you will want to get something as close to an acoustic grand feel to minimize adjustment needed to get used to how the AP feels.


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Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2410239 04/14/15 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Sabinnie
Escapement seems to only exist in acoustic grand pianos, since I have played (older) acoustic uprights all my life, I'm thinking that this is entirely unneccessary for me, but I am not sure if I have understood it correctly?

All acoustic pianos, whether grand or upright, have an escapement mechanism: it's the mechanism that allows the hammer to "escape" from the connection with the key you are pressing, so it is effectively thrown at the string and will immediately fall back as soon as it has hit the string.

The difference between grands and most uprights is that grand pianos have a double escapement mechanism, while most uprights only have single escapement. The double escapement allows you to repeat a note even though the parts of the mechanism have not returned to their rest positions. This is useful both for controlling fast repeated notes and for very soft passages.

As far as I know, the only DPs with actual escapement mechanisms are the Yamaha AvantGrands and NU1. Many other DPs have a simulated escapement, but this is very different to a real escapement. Some people are happy with the simulation, others hate it. Here's a thread where a VPC1 owner explains how he removed the let-off (=escapement) simulation.






Steinway A grand (1919), Richard Lipp grand (1913), Yamaha P2 upright (1983), Casio PX-150 digital (2013)
Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2410363 04/14/15 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Sabinnie
I found out that the VPC1 uses the same action as the CA15. The CA15 is available at reduced price from a couple of retailers (would end up being the same as VPC1 with stand + dedicated laptop), so I am wondering if that might be an option?


Yes, the CA15 and VPC1 share the same 'RM3 Grand II' keyboard action and will therefore 'feel' the same. However, unlike the CA15, the VPC1 does not feature any built-in sounds.

Originally Posted by Sabinnie
Similarly, one level above, the MP11 and the CA65 both use Kawai's grand feel action and are about the same price in the UK. Why should I go for the MP11 over the CA65?


The MP11 and CA65 so share the same keyboard an sound technology, however as a stage piano, the MP11 is a far more flexible instrument, with excellent MIDI controller functions. There are also a number of sounds on the MP11 that are not found on the CA65.

Kind regards,
James
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Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2412348 04/21/15 03:59 AM
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I'm in Singapore now and went to the Kawai dealer today.

Tried out ES7, CN25, CN34 and CA95. I didn'T like the RHII and RHIII actions very much, I felt I had to work too hard somewhow. It felta bit difficult to me to get an expressive sound out of those models. I switched the response setting to "light" and it was a bit better.

However, I felt right at home on the CA95, it was so easy to play I almost thougt I was cheating.

Super bummed they didn'T have any models with the RM3 Grand II action, I would hve really liked to try all three next to each other - I don't know if I'll get to try a CA15 or CA17 at all now, and those two are the ones I am most interested in!

Very surprised to see they had a VPC1 in the store, but obviously not hooked up to anything so could not try it.

I was not impressed with the sound on any of the models, they all sounded a bit tinny to me until I found an "Upright" sound on the CA95 and played that with headphones on. It might be the headphones though,they are only about mid range quality.

Last edited by Sabinnie; 04/21/15 04:01 AM.
Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2412450 04/21/15 10:36 AM
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Did you at least try the action on the VPC1? I know hearing what you play is important but you can get some idea of how it feels compared to the GF action if you play both of them silent.

Last edited by bnolsen; 04/21/15 10:36 AM.
Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
bnolsen #2412617 04/21/15 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by bnolsen
Did you at least try the action on the VPC1? I know hearing what you play is important but you can get some idea of how it feels compared to the GF action if you play both of them silent.


Indeed, if Sabinnie is interested in the CA15/CA17, playing the VPC1 (even silently) will provide a good impression of how these instruments will feel as all three models share the same 'RM3 Grand II' keyboard action.

Kind regards,
James
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Re: Help with first Digital Piano for Longtime acoustic player
Sabinnie #2413870 04/25/15 12:22 PM
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Back from Singapore now - my trip confirmed what many of you have suspected - the low- to mid-range Keyboard actions simply don't feel good enough to me.

I managed to play DPs from all three big manufacturers, but all in separate shops. The only two I got to compare directly across brands were the Yamaha CLP-525 and the Roland FP-120, the FP-120 felt superior to me.

In general, I don't feel I have enough information to make an informed decision. I liked the CLP-545 (575 even better, but out of my price range). The Roland HP-506 is awesome, but I only had about 5 minutes with it. Still really like the FP-80. I went straight from trying the Rolands back to the Kawai store and tried the CA95 again - I honestly could not say if I preferred it over the 506. But the CA95 is not the comparable model to the 506, that would be the CA65 and I did not get to try that at all.

After reading your suggestions I played both the CA95 and the VPC-1 silently, but it is incredibly hard to judge a keyboard action without sound.

My impression is that the HP-506 is the best value for money out of my favourites, but I just can't make a decision with the little information I have and the 5 minutes I played it. I wish there was a store that had models from all three brands, but no joy.

I'm gonna have to have a look around and possibly travel to Edinburgh and/or Glasgow for more testing. Also going to check out Pianotec now!

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