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My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. #2456124
09/02/15 04:24 PM
09/02/15 04:24 PM
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bitnick Offline OP
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I'm looking for a digital piano for quiet practising. One thing I immediately noticed while trying out some Kawai DPs was the unnaturally short decay time of the notes. (This is a problem for me e.g. when playing the 1st movement of the Moonlight sonata, where the whole bass tones disappear halfway through the bar.)

I later found Dewster's excellent DPBSD thread, which helped me get an understanding of the compromises made in digital pianos, some reasons why I might not like the way they sound, and a few ideas on how to test them out at the store.

I'm using my acoustic upright (a Baumgardt, built in Linköping, Sweden in 1904) as a reference in this comparison. All data is subjective - the decay for example is the time from a firm keypress until the sound is no longer "usable". So take all this with a huge grain of salt. It's simply my personal reflections about a few pianos that I'm testing.

All pianos have been factory reset by me just before I try them out, and I'm always using my AKG K-401 headphones.

I'm just getting started, but will fill in the table as I go. All the pianos in the list is up & running at a couple of piano sellers in my vicinity; I just have to find the time to go there and try them out!

Piano Decay B1 Decay B3 Decay B5 String resonance Dynamic range Notes
Baumgardt 25 s 11 s 7 s Yes Very good Acoustic upright anno 1904
YDP-162 9 s 5 s 2 s No Mediocre (Ran out of time, will test more.)
RP301-R 12 s 6 s 2 s Yes Good Sound is very synthetic/flat sounding. I don't like it at all. Action is quite "bouncy".
F-130R
CN-14/KDP90 Action (AHA IV-F) feels a bit "mushy" - a bit more weight and friction than I'm used to, and not much mechanical feel.
CN-24 I like this action (RHII)!
CN-25 I'm having trouble playing softly on this action (RHIII). The notes disappear/does not trigger.


Last edited by bitnick; 09/02/15 04:25 PM. Reason: Nicer HTML
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Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2456417
09/03/15 04:28 PM
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I tested the B1 sustain, out of curiosity, on my DP and it is 23 seconds before really straining. But it depends of course how hard the key is pressed, and how loud the volume is turned up, also whether listening via headphones or speakers. So it could be longer or shorter. Your measurements are interesting but that's all, not objective.

Compared to my teachers acoustic, sustain length is often not the problem, when for a lot of music the pedal is used every bar (not always I know), but the real difference for me on the acoustic compared to my DP, is controlling the loudness in the LH along with the multitude of resonances, and the dynamic range in both hands.

Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2456454
09/03/15 07:33 PM
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Absolutely - my values are not really measurements, but rather a subjective comparison between different pianos.

What DP do you have? Sounds like it may have a nice long decay (unless your subjectivity is way different than mine smile ).

Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2456530
09/04/15 02:47 AM
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I tested the B1 sustain, on my CN35 at about 55-60% volume, and when I hit it "medium", then its over 20 seconds.

When I hit it quite hard (but less than I could) and turn up the volume to 80-90%, then the decay is over 30s. Actually, I can still hear it fading at 35s.

This is with default settings and default concert grand.

So I think is is quite important to find a way to always hit with the same force when comparing.


Kawai CN35. Daughter wanted a piano, so we got one. Now who'll learn faster? ;-)
Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2458215
09/09/15 02:03 PM
09/09/15 02:03 PM
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I no longer seem to be able to edit the first post to fill in more data (I cannot find an Edit button). Any idea why?

Edit: I can edit this post though. Is there a time limit for edits?

Last edited by bitnick; 09/09/15 02:04 PM.
Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2458217
09/09/15 02:09 PM
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There usually is a time limit for edits. I suggest you just copy and create a new post with the updates you have.


Kawai CN35. Daughter wanted a piano, so we got one. Now who'll learn faster? ;-)
Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2458877
09/11/15 01:30 PM
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Ok, so here is an updated table, copied from the first since I can no longer edit that post. Again, these are my own notes from playing these pianos at a few different occasions - YMMV! I try to spend at least 15 minutes on each piano, and I always use my own headphones and reset to factory defaults before playing.

Piano Decay B1 Decay B3 Decay B5 String resonance Dynamic range Notes
Baumgardt 25 s 11 s 7 s Yes Very good Acoustic tall (135 cm) upright anno 1904. The action is quite light (~40 g static weight).
YDP-162 9 s 5 s 2 s No Mediocre The action feels "inert", a bit heavy to play. Boring, unengaging sound.
CLP-525 12 s 7 s 4 s No Bad Keys are stiff initially, then "falls through". Difficult to play dynamically - there's no forte/fortissimo in this piano!
RP301-R 12 s 6 s 2 s Yes (ghostly wail) Good Sound is very synthetic/flat sounding. I don't like it at all. Action is quite "bouncy". Edit: Actually sounded better to me the second time I played it. Better than YDP-162. Doesn't "sing" (resonate?) like the Baumgardt though.
F-130R 10 s 9 s 5 s Yes (ghostly wail) Good! "Distant" sounding (not enough amp power for my headphones?), somewhat tiring sound. Weak bass, shrill treble.
PX-860 15 s 8 s 2 s Short, 2 s? Bad - won't really play pp nor FF Keys have a rougher surface than other pianos (feels OK though). Black keys difficult to depress further in (short fulcrum distance?). Only tried it without pedal connected, so cannot really judge the sound.
CN-14/KDP90 Action (AHA IV-F) feels a bit "mushy" - a bit more weight and friction than I'm used to, and not much mechanical feel. Very bouncy (when played on the ES100).
CN-24 I like this action (RHII)!
CN-25 I'm having trouble playing softly on this action (RHIII). The notes disappear/does not trigger.


Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2459333
09/13/15 04:02 AM
09/13/15 04:02 AM
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Thanks for sharing this - I made a similar list for myself last year, but didn't share it with anyone!

(And, I didn't get hands on with as many instruments as you, and as someone who hadn't touched a piano in about 20 years, I didn't trust my own judgement either smile )

You've got rp-301r in you list - are you sure you mean 301r as that is marked as "discontinued" on the Roland web site?

Last edited by BusyWait; 09/13/15 04:03 AM.

Regards,
Steven
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Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2459338
09/13/15 04:36 AM
09/13/15 04:36 AM
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On CN25 there is the Virtual Technician etc. that allows you to change how the keyboard responds, light touch, etc.


Kawai CN35. Daughter wanted a piano, so we got one. Now who'll learn faster? ;-)
Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2459721
09/14/15 11:39 AM
09/14/15 11:39 AM
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Hello bitnick,

I agree with you about the PX-860 barely playing ff. I also think the YDP-162 doesn't play pp well.
I'm looking for a DP that can "surprise" you when a piece goes loud after a while of being soft.
Do you think the RP-301R does pp and ff better than the Casio and the Yamaha?

Moshe

Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: BusyWait] #2460055
09/15/15 09:32 AM
09/15/15 09:32 AM
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BusyWait: You're welcome! I'm not sure how useful one single person's judgement is (even if he/she is experienced), but maybe if more shared their "piano lists" the collection as a whole would become quite useful?

The RP301-R is a demo piano that one of the stores is trying to get rid of at a discounted price. That's why it's in my list. smile


Hendrik42: I guess your comment concerns my problems playing softly on RHIII? Yes, I did play with those settings on the CN25, but I think the problem was that the sensors sometimes didn't even register a key press at all when I tried to play pianissimo. This was not affected by the touch settings. It probably has to do with the fact that I'm not used to grand actions (and their escapement) at all.


Zippoxer: Yes, if I recall correctly, the dynamic range felt quite a bit better to me on the RP-301R than on the PX-860 and the YDP-162. But don't take my word for it - try it! smile

Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2461445
09/19/15 10:48 AM
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Another update (after visiting a Kawai showroom):

Piano Decay H1 Decay H3 Decay H5 String resonance Dynamic range Notes
Baumgardt 25 s 11 s 7 s Yes. Very good. Acoustic tall (135 cm) upright anno 1904. The action is quite light (~40 g static weight).
YDP-162 9 s 5 s 2 s No. Mediocre. The action feels "inert", a bit heavy to play. Boring, unengaging sound.
CLP-525 12 s 7 s 4 s No. Bad. Keys are stiff initially, then "falls through". Difficult to play dynamically - there's no forte/fortissimo in this piano!
RP301-R 12 s 6 s 2 s Yes (ghostly wail). Good. Sound is very synthetic/flat sounding. I don't like it at all. Action is quite "bouncy". Edit: Actually sounded better to me the second time I played it. Better than YDP-162. Doesn't "sing" (resonate?) like the Baumgardt though.
F-130R 10 s 9 s 5 s Yes (ghostly wail). Good! "Distant" sounding (not enough amp power for my headphones?), somewhat tiring sound. Weak bass, shrill treble.
PX-860 15 s 8 s 2 s Short, 2 s? Bad - won't really play pp nor FF. Keys have a rougher surface than other pianos (feels OK though). Black keys difficult to depress further in (short fulcrum distance?). Only tried it without pedal connected, so cannot really judge the sound.
CN 14/KDP90 Action (AHA IV-F) feels a bit "mushy" - a bit more weight and friction than I'm used to, and not much mechanical feel. Very bouncy (when played on the ES100).
CN 24 13 s 11 s 6 s No. Good. I like this action (RHII)! After playing the "Grand Feel II" (on the CA 67) it feels a bit spongy/springy though.
CN 25 I'm having trouble playing softly on this action (RHIII). The notes disappear/does not trigger.
CA 67 25 s 11 s 6 s Yes. A lot weaker than on my acoustic, even at max setting. Difficult to hear if it sounds "right". Very good. This is a > €2300 DP, included for comparison. The decay length is nice, but only the first 4-5 s (of bass note B1) sounds natural: it then turns very "dead" into a slow "fade-out", pretty unlike a real piano. The action ("Grand Feel II") is clearly nicer than the CN24's RHII - it feels pretty much like a real piano! :)

This is probably my last update to this table. The CN25 has the same sound engine as the CN24 ("PHI"), so I'm guessing that the decay times are identical.

Conclusion? I'm not that happy with any of the pianos in this price class (except possibly CN 24 as a fallback option). They are not similar enough to my acoustic piano for it to feel fun to sit down and practise for an hour. The short decay times make it impossible to learn a sane pedal technique. And they're still a lot of money; too much money for something that I know from the start that I won't be satisfied with.

Right now I'm hoping that something in the €1700 segment will make me a lot happier (e.g. Kawai CA 17 or Roland HP-504). Another option could be CN 24 + Pianoteq.


Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2461645
09/20/15 05:42 AM
09/20/15 05:42 AM
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Having spend some hours in acoustic piano showrooms in the last weeks I did sit down at my CN35 and increased the string resonance with the virtual technician: I agree with you that the default should have more.

I am actually ok with the decay times, but of course there is the option to increase those as well.

Maybe my decay time reference is screwed up. All the DP should mimic grand pianos who have grand decay times. I do test play concert uprights (the tall ones), but of course if I ever get a acoustic it will probably be in the 114-125cm range, so I play those more and they do have shorter decay times than grands or tall concert uprights of course.


Kawai CN35. Daughter wanted a piano, so we got one. Now who'll learn faster? ;-)
Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2469028
10/11/15 06:48 PM
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Bitnick - would you consider Kawai MP7 w/ RMII action from CN24 + Harmonic Imaging XL from CA67? ... not a console style but it's very flexible. You can add as many studio monitors as you like.


Yamaha U1 | Roland FP90+JBL LSR305
Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2469032
10/11/15 07:20 PM
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Well, I haven't played it, but RHII action and HI-XL sound could be a nice combination.

The form factor is not good for me however: I will have the piano up against a wall, so connectors on the backside is a problem. I also absolutely want some kind of a lid to prevent cat hair and dust from getting into the piano as much as possible. And where would I put the sheet music?

All of these things can of course be solved with a bit of ingenuity and handiwork, but in this case I prefer to buy a console instead. smile

Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2469097
10/11/15 10:41 PM
10/11/15 10:41 PM
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Quote
. . . Another option could be CN 24 + Pianoteq. . .


Any Pianoteq version will give you control over the "MIDI velocity map" (the relationship between how hard you strike the key, and how loud the sound is), and the overall dynamic range of the sound.

Pianoteq "Standard" or "Pro" would give you control over the decay time, and the amount of string and damper resonance.

But you'd have to like the _sound_. Some people do, some people don't.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: bitnick] #2469128
10/12/15 12:49 AM
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Originally Posted by bitnick
<p>Another update (after visiting a Kawai showroom):</p>

<p>
<table>

<tr>
<th>Piano</th>
<th>Decay H1</th>
<th>Decay H3</th>
<th>Decay H5</th>
<th>String resonance</th>
<th>Dynamic range</th>
<th>Notes</th>
</tr>

<tr>
<td>Baumgardt</td>
<td>25 s</td>
<td>11 s</td>
<td>7 s</td>
<td>Yes.</td>
<td>Very good.</td>
<td>Acoustic tall (135 cm) upright anno 1904. The action is quite light (~40 g static weight).</td>
</tr>

<tr>
<td>YDP-162</td>
<td>9 s</td>
<td>5 s</td>
<td>2 s</td>
<td>No.</td>
<td>Mediocre.</td>
<td>The action feels "inert", a bit heavy to play. Boring, unengaging sound.</td>
</tr>

<tr>
<td>CLP-525</td>
<td>12 s</td>
<td>7 s</td>
<td>4 s</td>
<td>No.</td>
<td>Bad.</td>
<td>Keys are stiff initially, then "falls through". Difficult to play dynamically - there's no forte/fortissimo in this piano!</td>
</tr>

<tr>
<td>RP301-R</td>
<td>12 s</td>
<td>6 s</td>
<td>2 s</td>
<td>Yes (ghostly wail).</td>
<td>Good.</td>
<td>Sound is very synthetic/flat sounding. I don't like it at all. Action is quite "bouncy". Edit: Actually sounded better to me the second time I played it. Better than YDP-162. Doesn't "sing" (resonate?) like the Baumgardt though.</td>
</tr>

<tr>
<td>F-130R</td>
<td>10 s</td>
<td>9 s</td>
<td>5 s</td>
<td>Yes (ghostly wail).</td>
<td>Good!</td>
<td>"Distant" sounding (not enough amp power for my headphones?), somewhat tiring sound. Weak bass, shrill treble.</td>
</tr>

<tr>
<td>PX-860</td>
<td>15 s</td>
<td>8 s</td>
<td>2 s</td>
<td>Short, 2 s?</td>
<td>Bad - won't really play pp nor FF.</td>
<td>Keys have a rougher surface than other pianos (feels OK though). Black keys difficult to depress further in (short fulcrum distance?). Only tried it without pedal connected, so cannot really judge the sound.</td>
</tr>

<tr>
<td>CN 14/KDP90</td>
<td></td>
<td></td>
<td></td>
<td></td>
<td></td>
<td>Action (AHA IV-F) feels a bit "mushy" - a bit more weight and friction than I'm used to, and not much mechanical feel. Very bouncy (when played on the ES100).</td>
</tr>

<tr>
<td>CN 24</td>
<td>13 s</td>
<td>11 s</td>
<td>6 s</td>
<td>No.</td>
<td>Good.</td>
<td>I like this action (RHII)! After playing the "Grand Feel II" (on the CA 67) it feels a bit spongy/springy though.</td>
</tr>

<tr>
<td>CN 25</td>
<td></td>
<td></td>
<td></td>
<td></td>
<td></td>
<td>I'm having trouble playing softly on this action (RHIII). The notes disappear/does not trigger.</td>
</tr>

<tr>
<td>CA 67</td>
<td>25 s</td>
<td>11 s</td>
<td>6 s</td>
<td>Yes. A lot weaker than on my acoustic, even at max setting. Difficult to hear if it sounds "right".</td>
<td>Very good.</td>
<td>This is a > €2300 DP, included for comparison. The decay length is nice, but only the first 4-5 s (of bass note B1) sounds natural: it then turns very "dead" into a slow "fade-out", pretty unlike a real piano. The action ("Grand Feel II") is clearly nicer than the CN24's RHII - it feels pretty much like a real piano! :)</td>
</tr>

</table>
</p>

<p>This is probably my last update to this table. The CN25 has the same sound engine as the CN24 ("PHI"), so I'm guessing that the decay times are identical.</p>

<p>Conclusion? I'm not that happy with any of the pianos in this price class (except possibly CN 24 as a fallback option). They are not similar enough to my acoustic piano for it to feel fun to sit down and practise for an hour. The short decay times make it impossible to learn a sane pedal technique. And they're still a lot of money; too much money for something that I know from the start that I won't be satisfied with.</p>

<p>Right now I'm hoping that something in the €1700 segment will make me a lot happier (e.g. Kawai CA 17 or Roland HP-504). Another option could be CN 24 + Pianoteq.</p>


You are comparing a used acoustic with new DP's.. which is okay

But if you compared brandnew DP's with a brandnew Acoustic, you would have to spend much more money to find an acoustic for $2300 comparable to the CA67...

In the end my conclusion might be you are trying to buy a chicken that lays golden eggs for a few quarters. That will never happen.. DP's these days come close to acoustics, but only if you are willing to pay enough money, otherwise you will allways end up with a trade off, and thats never good.

Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: Bachus] #2469207
10/12/15 09:01 AM
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Dunno bout thart. . . I quite like my trade off. Wouldnt want it any other way. Uncontrollable resonance aint for me.-


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

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Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: peterws] #2469295
10/12/15 01:04 PM
10/12/15 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by peterws
Dunno bout thart. . . I quite like my trade off. Wouldnt want it any other way. Uncontrollable resonance aint for me.-

Let's disagree, but one of the pleasures of an acoustic is getting the best out of its timbre, dynamics, sustain, etc. and that means learning to control the beast.

Re: My personal comparison of pianos in €900-€1200 range. [Re: spanishbuddha] #2469330
10/12/15 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
Let's disagree, but one of the pleasures of an acoustic is getting the best out of its timbre, dynamics, sustain, etc. and that means learning to control the beast.


Whatever happened to "making music"?

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