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Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
#2429185 06/06/15 06:34 AM
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Hello,

I am working in a different city right now and I am therefore commuting every week. During the weekends I use my SCHIMMEL upright acoustic piano in our house, which I bought new about 14 years ago for about 10 000 Euro. It has been tuned and regulated every year.

My Neighbor and friend owns a very nice GROTRIAN STEINWEG acoustic grand piano, which I sometimes play.

My piano teacher has a very nice STEINWAY acoustic grand, which I play during lessons.

So in order to be able to practice also during the week in my small apartment there, I bought a digital Kawai CA 97, which I found much better than the Yamaha CLP585 (see http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb...A97_vs_YAMAHA_CLP585_/_.html#Post2418958 )

I thought that playing at my house with my good SCHIMMEL upright on weekends would be pure joy and playing the digital CA 97 weekdays would be a compromise.

But after a few weeks of comparison, its just the other way around, at least for me:

The action of the SCHIMMEL (i think its a Renner action) seems clumsy compared to the CA97. Especially playing real pianissimo is much harder if not impossible on the acoustic upright. This is also the case on other uprights I tried. So its not a specific problem of SCHIMMEL.

Even the action on the steinway grand of my piano teacher (which is already a little worn out in my opinion, but not in the opinion of my teacher) feels not really better for me than the action of the CA97. But playing a real pianissimo is of course also possible on the Steinway :-)

Soundwise, the CA97 sounds better for me than the Schimmel upright, but of course the sound of Steinway acoustic grand of my teacher is still number one...

So at least for me I am now looking forward to the weekdays playing the digital CA97, and playing the acoustic upright during the weekends is a compromise.

Of curse the best thing still (at least soundwise) is playing my Teachers Steinway.

I this only my weird opinion or do top digital pianos become really better than good acoustic uprights? What are your views?

Daniel

Last edited by danielp11; 06/06/15 06:44 AM.

KAWAI CS11 (sold KAWAI CA 97), KAWAI GX2 acoustic grand piano (sold SCHIMMEL acoustic upright)
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Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
danielp11 #2429191 06/06/15 06:55 AM
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So I guess you prefer the CA97 digital action regardless of its sound as compared to the acoustics you mentioned?

What do you mean saying that the Renner action is clumsy? Has it and been properly regulated recently?

I agree that the grand action has the potential to produce softer sound than an upright but I disagree with your comment that pianissimo "if not impossible" (to play) on an upright.

Ian (Knight K10 upright, Langer 80 action)

Last edited by Beemer; 06/06/15 06:56 AM.

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Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
danielp11 #2429200 06/06/15 07:15 AM
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Much of the preference between acoustic and digital lies in the players personality, IMHO, all things equal. (Well tuned and regulated acoustic)

In the end, with a digital, you are ultimately listening to a speaker, and all your body motions are being reduced to 1's and 0's. For some people, this is less than ideal on an emotional level, if you think about it.

I think perception is 50% of preference.

If this is the case, it is impossible to make an objective opinion.

As for me, I have subjectively hated playing any kind of digital piano, so far. But then again, I tune acoustic pianos for a living :-)

Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
danielp11 #2429213 06/06/15 08:35 AM
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Hi Daniel
I ended up making an identical decision: We chose the CA97 over the CLP585, and also over a variety of new acoustic uprights. I found the action far more precise in the CA97 than in the majority of "reasonably priced" acoustics. I can appreciate than an upright has far more moving parts than a CA97, but in the end I'm the one pressing the keys, so for me the feel and response is really the important thing. The Yamaha NU1 stood out as an excellent hybrid, but I didn't go with that for other reasons.

Finally, regarding the samples, for the Kawai EX and Shiguru SK, none of the uprights came close. We did play a $218k Bosendorfer, which was a lot nicer, but since we could not fit it in the car, we went with the CA97 smile

Link to my comments re CLP585 & NU1 (a couple of posts):
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2427042/Yamaha_NU1_or_CLP_585.html#Post2427042


Last edited by AllanH; 06/06/15 08:44 AM.
Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
danielp11 #2429219 06/06/15 08:53 AM
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I just tested a Kawai K500 today.
I own currently a DP, a Roland HP-507. I play for 2 years.
Not so easy... here is my feeling:

- About the sound: there is no discussion here, the real thing is unbeatable. The Kawai has a very nice sound, better than my Roland (which is nice too)
- About the action, honestly I can not say that the Kawai is superior. They are different; but the Roland's action is very playable. At least at my level I don't think it can be an issue for me to continue on my DP.
- As for the power... the best way to test that would be to measure the level. I have not do that. Now, after testing the K500, I think the Roland is more powerful with the volume slider at +/- 70%. I feel that on the Kawai, you can hit the keys as strong as you want, there is a point where the sound stops to increase. That's probably how it must be on an acoustic piano. On the Roland the sound continues to increase even at high level, giving a nice playability.

All in all, except for the sound where the Kawai is way ahead of the Roland, on the others aspects, the Roland should not be ashamed in comparison with the Kawai.

I don't want to open a war here (DP against acoustics). These are just my thoughts after a 30 minutes test.


Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
danielp11 #2429222 06/06/15 09:13 AM
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Why did you introduce the Roland/Kawai comparison? What has that to do with the original post?

If you learned about MIDI you would know the answer to your statement "I feel that on the Kawai, you can hit the keys as strong as you want, there is a point where the sound stops to increase".

Ian


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Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
Beemer #2429223 06/06/15 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Beemer
Why did you introduce the Roland/Kawai comparison? What has that to do with the original post?

If you learned about MIDI you would know the answer to your statement "I feel that on the Kawai, you can hit the keys as strong as you want, there is a point where the sound stops to increase".

Ian

@ Beemer, he meant the KAWAI K500, which is an acoustic Piano..., that has nothing to do with MIDI... :-)

Daniel


KAWAI CS11 (sold KAWAI CA 97), KAWAI GX2 acoustic grand piano (sold SCHIMMEL acoustic upright)
Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
danielp11 #2429229 06/06/15 09:53 AM
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There's no way a good acoustic will lose out to a CA97 in terms of sound or key-action. The key-action in a CA95/97 is nothing compared to a good acoustic. I've tried the Schimmel C130 and K122, and the key-action in these 2 upright models beat the key-action on CA95 by miles.

Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
Beemer #2429231 06/06/15 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Beemer
Why did you introduce the Roland/Kawai comparison? What has that to do with the original post?

If you learned about MIDI you would know the answer to your statement "I feel that on the Kawai, you can hit the keys as strong as you want, there is a point where the sound stops to increase".

Ian


The original post ends with a question about a comparison between acoustic and digital piano. That is what I tried to do.
And danielp11 is right, midi is not concerned here since (and that is only my feel) it seems to me that the dynamic range is greater on my dp than on the k500. Maybe strange but that is my feeling.

SK

Last edited by stamkorg; 06/06/15 11:07 AM.
Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
iceporky #2429233 06/06/15 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by iceporky
There's no way a good acoustic will lose out to a CA97 in terms of sound or key-action. The key-action in a CA95/97 is nothing compared to a good acoustic. I've tried the Schimmel C130 and K122, and the key-action in these 2 upright models beat the key-action on CA95 by miles.


I agree. I'm a fellow U3 owner and I do find that a well set up Yamaha upright action still beats all the digital actions. But I do think the CA97 has a really nice feel to it. A real acoustic (a good one) has a connection and realism that digitals can't reach.

The thing that I find strange with digitals is that they have these 9ft concert grand samples, but the sound comes from such a small instrument. It doesn't emanate from a broad expanse and dissipate in all directions like a 9ft grand would. For this reason, it feels a little incongruous to me to get that sound out of a small piano. For me, hearing an upright piano with an appropriately scaled sound for its size makes it a better experience for me. It has an intimacy that matches the scale of the instrument. I wish the DPs had less of a focus on 9ft grands as their target of emulation and went for something more modest like a 6 or 7 footer or an upright. That would make it feel a lot more real I think. (I know Kawai's latest has the SK5 sample, which is a great move)

But despite all this, I'm still looking to get a nice digital for quiet night time practice. Kawai and Roland are high on my list of contenders.

Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
danielp11 #2429304 06/06/15 02:30 PM
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I find no problem playing PP on my Yamaha U7 upright.
I press down the Soft Pedal and bring all the hammers closer to the strings for softer strikes.


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Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
danielp11 #2429325 06/06/15 04:23 PM
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I made similar experiences with my Kawai Upright and the new CA 97. It's the same discussion as in times fotography changed from films to digital.
Of course a Steinway will ever be a Steinway, but who can have a Steinway D at home? After three weeks with the CA 97 and my mechanical Kawai parallel, I prefer the digital one. The main reason: I play MUCH more than with my Upright, because I can play in the night or in the morning. On the weekends I play my Upright and it's not a problem to change between digital and mechanical.
The CA 97 is a complete store full of different Pianos, Grand Pianos and Cembali-and all in this small instrument. I worked with Pianoteq 5 also, it's very comfortable to play this software with the excellent keyboard of the CA 97. When you do this, you'll hear, how excellent Kawais Grand Piano Samples are. So I use Pianoteq more for the fantastic historical instruments: what an experience to play a Chopin Waltz on a Pleyel Grand Piano, Chopin loved these instruments very much. And if you do this or play Bachs WTC on the Cembali of the 17th century or Mozart on the Fortepiani you get a closer look to these works and the texture of the compositions, because all these componists developed their works on instrument from their time of course. And who can afford to have all these instruments in mechanical versions at home?
And I think you have to regard these aspects too in the discussion between digital or mechanical. Of course, I'm glad to have both ones, but if should choose, I would take a CA 97 instead of an average upright. Of course my first choice would be a Steinway Grand- but I think in a few years we have to discuss this question again. And of course a few people are taking fotos with a film today...

Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
Tristan251263 #2429339 06/06/15 06:32 PM
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Its apparent these days that many here buy a top line digital, and utilise a software piano for sound, often disregarding the finest onboard efforts of the DP manufacturers.

Some, like myself, will use both. This creates, in my case at least, a vastly different and enhanced stereo effect where the sound rumbles from within the cabinet through the lid which is open and wherever else it can.

Whilst my DP is assuredly not the finest, its shortfalls are thus minimised and it sounds as g0od as any upright.

Provided of course, that I knock it out of tune slightly. . . smile

Last edited by peterws; 06/06/15 06:33 PM.

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Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
peterws #2429661 06/08/15 04:02 AM
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Originally Posted by peterws
Its apparent these days that many here buy a top line digital, and utilise a software piano for sound, often disregarding the finest onboard efforts of the DP manufacturers.

Some, like myself, will use both. This creates, in my case at least, a vastly different and enhanced stereo effect where the sound rumbles from within the cabinet through the lid which is open and wherever else it can.

Whilst my DP is assuredly not the finest, its shortfalls are thus minimised and it sounds as g0od as any upright.

Provided of course, that I knock it out of tune slightly. . . smile


If I understand, you use at the same time your DP + your software (through the DP)...
Interesting, but did you tune your software (or your DP) yourself? Do they match well?

Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
danielp11 #2429981 06/09/15 07:04 AM
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Hello

I just came back from my acoustic, upright SCHIMMEL (used on weekends) in my house to the digital KAWAI CA97 in my apartment (used on weekdays), so I had the change to compare once more…

On my good SCHIMMEL I felt like a butcher and on the CA97 I felt like a neurosurgeon:

The precision in articulating the notes and therefore the possibillites to shape the melody and really bring feeling and expression to delicate, gentle and subtle pieces like the Satie Gnossiennes is much much better with the CA97, at least for me.

Also the resonance, warmth and richness of the sound of the CA97 seemed to be much better than the sound of the SCHIMMEL, especially in the 4ème Gnossienne with the long scales in a lot of different keys. Maybe that’s just because I used the new shigeru kawai (top concert grand piano from kawai) sample and this is the sound of a grand, compared to the acoustic “upright” sound of my SCHIMMEL.

So after one more comparison this weekend, at least my feeling is that the CA97 is much better compared to my good acoustic SCHIMMEL.

I really whished it would be the other way around, because I love acoustic instruments very much and I have been in love with my SCHIMMEL for many years, but its seems that technology advances more and more (vinyl vs. CD, analog vs. digital cameras,…)

I would be really interested in your experiences...
Daniel

Last edited by danielp11; 06/09/15 07:57 AM.

KAWAI CS11 (sold KAWAI CA 97), KAWAI GX2 acoustic grand piano (sold SCHIMMEL acoustic upright)
Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
ando #2429984 06/09/15 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by ando
Originally Posted by iceporky
There's no way a good acoustic will lose out to a CA97 in terms of sound or key-action. The key-action in a CA95/97 is nothing compared to a good acoustic. I've tried the Schimmel C130 and K122, and the key-action in these 2 upright models beat the key-action on CA95 by miles.


I agree. I'm a fellow U3 owner and I do find that a well set up Yamaha upright action still beats all the digital actions. But I do think the CA97 has a really nice feel to it. A real acoustic (a good one) has a connection and realism that digitals can't reach.

The thing that I find strange with digitals is that they have these 9ft concert grand samples, but the sound comes from such a small instrument. It doesn't emanate from a broad expanse and dissipate in all directions like a 9ft grand would. For this reason, it feels a little incongruous to me to get that sound out of a small piano. For me, hearing an upright piano with an appropriately scaled sound for its size makes it a better experience for me. It has an intimacy that matches the scale of the instrument. I wish the DPs had less of a focus on 9ft grands as their target of emulation and went for something more modest like a 6 or 7 footer or an upright. That would make it feel a lot more real I think. (I know Kawai's latest has the SK5 sample, which is a great move)

But despite all this, I'm still looking to get a nice digital for quiet night time practice. Kawai and Roland are high on my list of contenders.


This is a really good point, and something that as of yet hasn't been resolved by the digital piano manufacturers - not that they haven't tried. It's just not there yet in terms of the experience of playing even a small acoustic upright and getting sound that fills every corner of the room.

However, I would say that the best DP actions these days are more comparable in feel to a large acoustic grand, rather than an upright. Yamaha uprights (and many others) are fine instruments to play, but they will always be wanting because of the nature of it being an upright action. It's a totally different mechanism than a grand, and I would say not as good as a grand action. So naturally, DP manufacturers are looking to recreate the feel of a grand.

All this to say, I think it is possible that the top DP actions in the industry would most likely surpass a good acoustic upright in feel. As for sound, with the DP of course you do get the sound of a large grand with all those characteristics (and the ability to modify it to your taste), but not the same connection. It's better with good speakers and a treated room, I'm sure.


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Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
Morodiene #2430002 06/09/15 09:06 AM
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With the soundboard on the CA97, it does a pretty good job of filling the room actually. To me, the difference with the acoustic is much more complex resonance of the cabinet itself, and the sound lingers on a lot more. Staccato on the CA97 feels very very short, and the sound disappears very quickly on releasing the key. My acoustic upright you continue to get quite a bit of sound from the cabinet. That could well be because its relatively cheap though. When I went to yamaha Music London, and tried the expensive Bosendorfers upstairs, I noticed the dampers kill the sound very quickly too.

This extra resonance after key release, is the only thing I miss about my AP though. In every other way, the 97 surpasses it. The clarity and quality of the sound is much much better, the touch is far better, control and responsiveness of the full dynamic range, fine pedal control etc. An you can experience it at 1am if you want, without disturbing anyone :-)



Kawai CA97 black

Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
tabber #2430011 06/09/15 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by tabber
This extra resonance after key release, is the only thing I miss about my AP though. In every other way, the 97 surpasses it. The clarity and quality of the sound is much much better, the touch is far better, control and responsiveness of the full dynamic range, fine pedal control etc.


I didn't own an acoustic before I bought my CA95. I read comments like this and thought to myself, yep, a top-end CA95 is the way to go. Now that I have a Yamaha U3, I really can't understand why people feel that a digital piano is even close to a good acoustic. To me, there's just no comparison; a good acoustic upright is clearly so much better.

Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
Morodiene #2430023 06/09/15 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
However, I would say that the best DP actions these days are more comparable in feel to a large acoustic grand, rather than an upright. Yamaha uprights (and many others) are fine instruments to play, but they will always be wanting because of the nature of it being an upright action. It's a totally different mechanism than a grand, and I would say not as good as a grand action. So naturally, DP manufacturers are looking to recreate the feel of a grand.


I think the upright's key-action has been bashed too hard. We know that some good acoustic uprights have very good key-actions. Even though it's true that they might not be as good as a grand's key-action (I'm not talking about baby grands here; some of the baby-grands key-actions are poor), a good acoustic upright has much better key-action feel than what's out there on digital pianos.

Someone once came over to play on my CA95. After 30 mins, she commented that the action on CA95 was good. Before she left, she played some scales on my Yamaha U3 and she went, "Oh, wow... this action is fantastic!".

I can't say for old acoustic uprights as I bought mine brand new. My limited experience tells me that the Grand Feel action on a CA95 is nothing compared to my new acoustic upright. In fact, I never touched my CA95 after my Yamaha U3 arrived.

I'm not trying to bash CA95 or the top-end digital pianos. But to say they are close or even better than an acoustic upright, that's just laughable.









Re: Is a good acoustic upright worse than a top digital Kawai CA97?
stamkorg #2430035 06/09/15 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by stamkorg
Originally Posted by peterws
Its apparent these days that many here buy a top line digital, and utilise a software piano for sound, often disregarding the finest onboard efforts of the DP manufacturers.

Some, like myself, will use both. This creates, in my case at least, a vastly different and enhanced stereo effect where the sound rumbles from within the cabinet through the lid which is open and wherever else it can.

Whilst my DP is assuredly not the finest, its shortfalls are thus minimised and it sounds as g0od as any upright.

Provided of course, that I knock it out of tune slightly. . . smile


If I understand, you use at the same time your DP + your software (through the DP)...
Interesting, but did you tune your software (or your DP) yourself? Do they match well?


Indeed the two voices do match well, either in tune or out of. Mind you, theyre not factory tuned identically anyway, and im not a particular sort of guy. But they do have this great spacial effect together which they lack seperately which, to me at any rate, gives great character.


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