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YDP 181 or similar?
#2438731 07/05/15 11:56 AM
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zeugma Offline OP
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Hi, new poster but lurked here a while. Recently I've been looking at the lowish-end of digital pianos and wanted to run it by the collective wisdom here.

Naturally I'd like to try in person but unfortunately have a limited selection here (mostly Guitarcenter, some Yamaha dealers, notably no Kawai within reach). After trying the P105, P255, YDP142, YDP162 and YDP181 (as well as some other available brands in the same price range), I found the P255 and YDP162 to be the first ones at their price or below that had a realistic piano sound (actually pretty good) but YDP181 was the first one at its price or below that felt alive. Maybe there is a technological reason for that, but I'm not entirely sure. The opinion is the same with or without headphones, so it has to do with the action to sample coupling.

Now here's my question. I don't need a cabinet like the YDP181 has, in fact would prefer more portability if there is an exact version without one. YDP181 is also more expensive than I would like, but the P255 really bored me, and there is no point getting an instrument that feels dead to me. I heard P155 was actually better but those are nowhere to be found any more. Any other Yamaha's I should explore? I'm also missing a huge hole in Kawai and Roland equivalents. Any suggestions and reviews on equivalents in the sub-$1500 ish range? I think RP301 and RP401 are Roland's offerings there, how are those? And what about Kawai's? I've heard great things about Kawai from multiple sources. I would especially like to know how expressive or dynamic a particular model feels, rather than just if it has perfect sound or realistic action. I know there is no substitute for trying personally but mainly I want to know whether P255's situation (deadish but great sound) is similar to all other sub $1500's and not particular to Yamaha.

Thanks for reading!

Re: YDP 181 or similar?
zeugma #2438805 07/05/15 03:50 PM
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Are you looking for internal speakers?


Kawai Es8
Korg Krome 61
Yamaha P125
Re: YDP 181 or similar?
PossumES8Krome61 #2438810 07/05/15 04:03 PM
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Sure, preferably internal, but I'd be happy to hear suggestions for no-speaker models that are very good otherwise.

Re: YDP 181 or similar?
zeugma #2438824 07/05/15 05:03 PM
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Whether a piano sounds alive or not often depends on the settings; you can vary most of `em greatly with reverb and resonance criteria. I thought my DGX650 was uninspiring till I fiddled with it in the shop prior to buying. You want a good dynamic range that your fingers and ears feel good about. There are plenty out there without paying an arm or a leg. . . try as many as you can and don`t be overawed by the expensive stuff, or dismissive of the cheaper models. Have fun; that`s what they`re for!


"I am not a man. I am a free number"

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Re: YDP 181 or similar?
zeugma #2438871 07/05/15 09:00 PM
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zeugma, I strongly recommend attempting to play-test a selection of Kawai and Roland instruments before making your decision. There are dealer locators on the Kawai US and Roland America websites, and you may also wish to give both companies a call directly to ask about availability in your area. The feedback and advice from folks on forums like PW is very useful, but it can only get you so far - at some point, you'll need to play and hear the instruments for yourself.

Regarding the models to consider:

Portable with speakers:
- Yamaha P255, CP300 (if you can find one)
- Kawai ES7
- Roland FP-80/FP-50

Portable without speakers:
- Yamaha CP4, CP40
- Kawai MP11, MP7
- Roland RD-800, RD300NX

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: YDP 181 or similar?
zeugma #2439024 07/06/15 09:56 AM
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The P155 can be found, but it may be hard to test first. It looks like Guitar Center
in GA has a used one. Not sure where you are, but the point is if you keep your eyes out for one on craigslist and other sites, you may be able to go test it.



private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: YDP 181 or similar?
zeugma #2439513 07/07/15 09:19 PM
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Thank you for the good suggestions. Is P155 indeed the same as YDP181 in a different form factor? Can anyone confirm? Would be nice to have recordings on both of the same MIDI file.

Re: YDP 181 or similar?
zeugma #2439560 07/08/15 01:00 AM
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According to the specs, the YDP181 has a AWM 3 velocity levels and the P155 a Pure CF Sampling (based on AMW) 4 velocity levels.

The rendering of the same MIDI file should be different... But I don't know how far they will be.

Last edited by Frédéric L; 07/08/15 01:03 AM.

Yamaha CLP150, Bechstein Digital Grand, Garritan CFX, Ivory II pianos, Galaxy pianos, EWQL Pianos, Native-Instrument The Definitive Piano Collection, Soniccouture Hammersmith, Truekeys, Pianoteq
Re: YDP 181 or similar?
Frédéric L #2448911 08/09/15 12:04 AM
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zeugma Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Frédéric L
According to the specs, the YDP181 has a AWM 3 velocity levels and the P155 a Pure CF Sampling (based on AMW) 4 velocity levels.

The rendering of the same MIDI file should be different... But I don't know how far they will be.


Been browsing some Youtube videos. They sound almost the same, except in the bass. The YDP 181 is more substantive there, even on headphones.

Also I finally understood that "Pure CF sampling" has nothing to do with "Pure CF sound engine." As some wrote here, "Pure CF sampling" implies it is sampled from the CFIII grand piano (vs. other pianos?), though I think it means nothing at all. What does seem to make a difference is the "Pure CF sound engine," which as far as I can tell, sucks balls compared to the "AWM sound engine." This statement may cause some controversy, but newer does not always mean better. For all I know (pure speculation), the Pure CF sound engine is just a collection of compression algorithms and rewrite of some functions to support more processing and artificial synthesis in order to fit more voices and samples into the piano, with the result that each sound is less dynamic. That's my impression anyway. Given a market where 'features' sell, I wouldn't be surprised if I am right.

I also went to a local chain store again and meticulously auditioned all the non-synth Yamaha DP's there (CP4, YDP181, P255, P115, YDP142, YDP162, YDP V240). Once again, only the YDP181 has the feel of directly playing an instrument, followed, surprisingly, by YDP142. Furthermore, P115 felt better than P255, despite the P255 having better layer transitions and "cleaner" but more sterile audio. I've come to the conclusion that the Pure CF engine only "works" with GHS action, while the GH is much better with the AWM engine. The coupling of touch to sound is important for the feeling of expressivity, and the lighter GHS and the associated genres that express well on it also seem to express well with the more electronic Pure CF engine.

On Yamaha's page, it says of the Arius class, the following keyboards have GH:
YDP-162/YDP-181/YDP-S51/YDP-C71PE
and the following have Pure CF engine:
YDP-142/YDP-162/YDP-S51

The ones not in the intersection of these sets nor the intersection of their complements are... YDP181, YDP142, and YDP C71PE. Just listened to some Youtube videos of C71PE, sounds very good.

Re: YDP 181 or similar?
zeugma #2448930 08/09/15 02:29 AM
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My claim is justified by the CLP320 page of Yamaha where the overall description use the Pure CF sampling expression and the specification page is about the AWM sound engine. (See http://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical-instruments/keyboards/digitalpianos/clp_series/clp-320/)

It is also interesting to search a Pure CF sampling piano in the DPBS topic of this forum (the P105 for exemple) and see its defects : stretching, velocity layers switches. If there is an error in the CLP320 page, I don't think it would make the Pure CF sampling far more better than AWM. (See http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb...0The%20DPBSD%20Project!.html#Post1966941)

Last edited by Frédéric L; 08/09/15 02:49 AM.

Yamaha CLP150, Bechstein Digital Grand, Garritan CFX, Ivory II pianos, Galaxy pianos, EWQL Pianos, Native-Instrument The Definitive Piano Collection, Soniccouture Hammersmith, Truekeys, Pianoteq
Re: YDP 181 or similar?
zeugma #2448936 08/09/15 03:40 AM
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I suspect what's going on is that previously they sampled some 3 layer set and called it "Dynamic Stereo Sampling" and the sampler that plays it back is called "Advanced Wave Memory". Since the whole thing of whatever was sampled got played back they didn't bother to make a distinction between sound engine and sample.

Then they made a new source sample with (apparently) 10 layers off of the CFIII and called it "Pure CF Sampling", and for various pianos they subsampled pieces of that, from 3-5 layers on the Clavinovas, according to marketing material, and maybe similarly for lower-end lines, like 4 for P155. I may be wrong, but at least all the Clavinovas that claim to use "Pure CF Sampling" (CLP380, CLP370, CLP340, CLP330, CLP320, CLPS308, CLPS306) use AWM as the sampler (i.e. sound engine). AWM probably plays back the samples directly with very little distortion.

Then we come to the (actually quite rare) "Pure CF Sound Engine" as the new sampler (i.e. sound engine) listed on such lower end pianos as YDP142, YDP162, YDP S51, YDP S52, P105, and P255. I cannot find it on any other piano. That alone hints that it may be an inferior technology. The second red flag is it doesn't even list the number of levels/layers used on the specs page whenever Pure CF Sound Engine is in play. Unfortunately DPBSD doesn't have any "Pure CF Sound Engine" Yamahas but for P105, so we don't know what's really going on there. Maybe it's synthesis-heavy faking with just 2 or fewer layers. Otherwise why would they switch away from AWM? The third hint is that people's ear tests have confirmed they dislike the sound whenever a model line switches from "AWM" to "Pure CF Sound Engine", such as from P155 to P255.

Last edited by zeugma; 08/09/15 03:51 AM.

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