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Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality #2618532
02/27/17 01:36 PM
02/27/17 01:36 PM
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pinkfloydhomer Offline OP
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I need a digital piano action that

- feels and plays like a quality grand piano action
- allows for fast, precise playing, fast key return, fast repetitions
- has good consistent build quality

As far as I can tell from various threads, the Kawai Grand Feel II is about the best in its class. But I also read negative things about the build quality of this and other Kawai actions. There are threads about how to do various fixes at home and various videos on Youtube about quality issues with CA-67 and others. Keys that aren't level etc.

Also, there are threads about the Kawai actions begin "sluggish" and having slow key return making repetitions hard. Some say that the PHA-50 found in Roland FP-90 and other models is as realistic an action as GF2 and that it has faster key return and better build quality.

Can any of you shed some light on any of this? It's a difficult decision and it is not made easier by all the conflicting information.

I am open to other actions besides GF2 and PHA-50, as long as they fit the bill. I am even considering the VPC1. I don't know if there are other models or actions that I should consider?


Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
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Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618538
02/27/17 01:53 PM
02/27/17 01:53 PM
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Having had very recent experience of the GF2 and PHA-50 I don't think there's any comparison. The Kawai just feels so much more satisfying to me. But the only opinion that matters is yours. Can't you find somewhere to try these things out?


Roland RD-1000 | Nord Piano 3 | Dexibell Vivo P7 | Yamaha CLP 645
Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618544
02/27/17 02:05 PM
02/27/17 02:05 PM
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EssBrace: Does that mean that you don't find GF2 sluggish and that PHA-50 isn't faster?

I have tried some of these models, but first of all my technique isn't good enough yet to determine if they are fast enough. Also, it doesn't tell me about the build quality over time or the consistency from specimen to specimen.

Are there other actions/models besides the GF2 that you think comes close? VPC or something from Yamaha etc.


Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618562
02/27/17 02:32 PM
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I've recently had some playtime on the GF2 action and some very limited time on the PHA-50. Overall, I agree with EssBrace that the Kawai feels better to me (maybe I'm biased because I normally play on a GF1 board), but I was REALLY impressed with the PHA-50, mainly in terms of how much it has changed/improved from Roland's PHA-IV Concert and Ivory Feel actions. If I was "forced" to give up my MP11 and play on a PHA-50 board, I could absolutely do so and enjoy it, but all things being equal, I prefer the Kawai. I think this is a very long-winded way of saying that for these specific requirements (feel, similarity to grand, repetition speed) you really, really need to sit down with both and play them for yourself. The question of QA/reliability is one that's probably better suited for analysis online.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50 || Kawai NV-10, MP11
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Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618566
02/27/17 02:46 PM
02/27/17 02:46 PM
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Why are you so focused on "fast enough"? Especially if your technique isn't good enough for "fast" anyway? This fixation on repetition speed seems strange. I can't remember that prospective piano buyers over at the acoustic subforum are discussing repetition speed in great detail and as an important factor (though I may certainly have overlooked it).

Mind, I'm not saying the GFII isn't fast, it's plenty fast imo. Just saying that repetition speed is probably the least important factor when assessing actions, unless playing near performance diploma level. There aren't many pieces below that level that require a repetition speed that even an entry level like the Roland FP30 or Kawai ES110 wouldn't be able to deliver. And all the top level actions of all the main brands will be able to give you all the repetition speed you'll ever need. You'll outgrow digital pianos as a whole (requiring a real acoustic grand for your further diploma education) before you'll outgrow their repetition speed.

And anyway, an action that feels good and "real", and thus is comparable to an acoustic action, will automatically be comparable in repetition speed too. It's probably not even possible (except with high effort) to build a premium action that feels like an acoustic action in all respects, except for having a bad repetition. If everything else is acoustic like, then repetition will follow and will also be acoustic like.

I'm sure the GFII will not limit you regarding repetition speed, so if it otherwise feels good to you (you have tested it?), then don't bother about such strange details...

Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618576
02/27/17 03:40 PM
02/27/17 03:40 PM
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JoBert: I am focused on "fast enough" because my entire point in getting a good digital is to have something good enough to practice on that will allow me to evolve without constantly wondering whether the action is holding me back or whether any shortcoming I encounter is about me or about the piano.

I currently own a cheapish acoustic Nordiska 120 upright from 2004 and a digital Yamaha CP33. Both of these seem to be impossible to play fast and evenly on. I want to have a digital piano that has a good enough action that all doubt is removed, so that I won't have to worry about the action but can focus on developing my technique.

Also, as I wrote in the first post, other people have commented on the GF2 action as being "sluggish". It's not something I made up myself but something that other people are discussing.

Also, repetition speed is not some strange, unimportant feature. It is discussed in the technicians forum and is one of the main differences between an upright and a grand action.

Last edited by pinkfloydhomer; 02/27/17 03:44 PM.

Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618583
02/27/17 04:09 PM
02/27/17 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by pinkfloydhomer
JoBert: I am focused on "fast enough" because my entire point in getting a good digital is to have something good enough to practice on that will allow me to evolve without constantly wondering whether the action is holding me back or whether any shortcoming I encounter is about me or about the piano.


I really think you should check out the kind of performances that can be achieved on modern digital pianos, including those with Kawai GF2 actions. If you really believe you will attain and exceed that level of ability then good luck to you. But it seems to me that a good DP action, which emulates a grand piano, and which has gravity assisting the repetition speed, can potentially far exceed the repetition capability of upright pianos and indeed many grands which may not be operating at their optimum for any number of reasons.

As JoBert says, you are looking at a non-issue. It is far more important to feel comfortable playing whatever action you may choose. Repetition is one thing. Dynamics, nuance, expression etc are all far more important than mere speed, given that almost every action available today will be 'fast enough' for you now, well into the future, and, most probably, indefinitely.



Roland RD-1000 | Nord Piano 3 | Dexibell Vivo P7 | Yamaha CLP 645
Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618589
02/27/17 04:18 PM
02/27/17 04:18 PM
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I fully admit I tend to have severe GAS, and frequently rationalize my new purchases based on what it will eventually allow me to grow into.

But I also watch a lot of amazing performances online (and encounter them live) with virtuoso-level playing and fingers flying at a blur through single-note repetitions and trills that I know I simply will never ever approach. And the number of times these are performed on a DP as good as or better than the one I own?

[Linked Image]

In fact, most of the time these players are on 10-15 year old Yamahas using the same GH action as in OP's CP33.

I'm not saying there aren't better, "faster" actions out there than Yamaha's Graded Hammer, but it's really not holding back players who are performing at a level I'll never reach, so I use that as a way to temper my need for the newest and greatest smile


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50 || Kawai NV-10, MP11
Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618590
02/27/17 04:22 PM
02/27/17 04:22 PM
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Pinkfloydhomer: I greatly sympathize with your quest. There seem to be two competing schools of thought when it comes to piano actions. Great virtuosi like Glenn Gould and Horowitz believed in a lighter action. But the majority opinion on these forums disagrees with that.

Also, I suspect that there is something in the digital piano industry, where a heavier action is associated (rightly or wrongly) with a more "authentic touch".

Then, there's the teaching idea that a heavier action may serve to "better train fingers".

All of this pushes in the direction of heavier (as opposed to lighter) actions. But I believe in a lighter action, so I am in the minority here, and you are, too, apparently.

Despite the fact that PianoManChuck doesn't seem to play anything with any velocity, there is one moment where he demonstrates the repetition speed on a Ravenworks Digital modified VPC1, and that looks promising to me. I wonder whether that repetition speed is possible only because of the expensive Ravenworks modification, or whether it is possible even on the stock VPC1:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7heUyLkjCY&feature=youtu.be&t=2m52s

Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: EssBrace] #2618608
02/27/17 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by EssBrace
Originally Posted by pinkfloydhomer
JoBert: I am focused on "fast enough" because my entire point in getting a good digital is to have something good enough to practice on that will allow me to evolve without constantly wondering whether the action is holding me back or whether any shortcoming I encounter is about me or about the piano.


I really think you should check out the kind of performances that can be achieved on modern digital pianos, including those with Kawai GF2 actions. If you really believe you will attain and exceed that level of ability then good luck to you. But it seems to me that a good DP action, which emulates a grand piano, and which has gravity assisting the repetition speed, can potentially far exceed the repetition capability of upright pianos and indeed many grands which may not be operating at their optimum for any number of reasons.

As JoBert says, you are looking at a non-issue. It is far more important to feel comfortable playing whatever action you may choose. Repetition is one thing. Dynamics, nuance, expression etc are all far more important than mere speed, given that almost every action available today will be 'fast enough' for you now, well into the future, and, most probably, indefinitely.



Don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that I will eventually exceed the capabilities of GF2. I am saying that I don't want to spend time wondering whether a bad action is holding back my progress. For this purpose I want something that is "good enough" according to you guys. It might be the GF2, it might even be something that cost less. I am open to anything, you can just recommend whatever actions you feel would fit the bill.

What I _can_ tell you is that the GH action in my CP33 doesn't fit the bill. I have no doubt that someone who has already developed a good technique can probably play fast on it. But that doesn't mean that it is a good action to learn on, to progress on. No matter what I do, I can't seem to play fast on it. Also, it feels nothing like the actions of the many grand pianos I've tried in stores.


Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: agent8698] #2618611
02/27/17 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by agent8698
Great virtuosi like Glenn Gould and Horowitz believed in a lighter action. But the majority opinion on these forums disagrees with that.


Whoa there...I don't think anyone is talking about action weight here? Nor has anyone implied that a heavier action is better or worse for repetition...

And I really haven't seen any consensus here that "heavier is better" as you suggest. I think rather, the majority here want as "authentic" an action as possible, and if there's one major criticism I'd offer, it's that a lot of people are chasing a standard they may never actually play in person (an action in a 9' concert grand).

But that means heavy actions are criticized for being heavier than a big grand, just as light actions are....


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50 || Kawai NV-10, MP11
Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618612
02/27/17 05:23 PM
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To everyone: What is the cheapest action or digital piano model that you would consider good enough for this purpose?

I've been focusing on the GF2 because it is supposed to be the best. But from what you're all writing I might as well get a VPC1?

Is there something cheaper than the VPC1 that would also be good enough?

In this thread, I don't care about sounds, speakers etc, only the action. If I'm not satisfied with whatever sounds or speakers comes with whatever piano I choose, I will buy better piano software and/or speakers.


Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618613
02/27/17 05:28 PM
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I think we should make a distinction between a performance piano and a practice piano.

I would much rather practice on the Yamaha NU1 since I find that much more difficult to control than my N3.

I'd much rather perform on my N3 than practice on it.


website | mp3 files | Yamaha AvantGrand N3 | Roland RD 2000 | Sennheiser HD 598 headphones
Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618713
02/27/17 10:56 PM
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Why wouldn't you practice on N3?

I want to practice on an action that is good enough to promote good technique and not let the limitations of the action interfere.

Practicing on an inferior action doesn't promote good technique. It might make you better at adapting to bad actions, but that's something else.


Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618724
02/27/17 11:26 PM
02/27/17 11:26 PM
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pinkfloydhomer, may I ask which instruments you have play-tested so far?

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618756
02/28/17 03:51 AM
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Yesterday I found a bit of time to play around in a large shop with a few digital pianos in order to update my knowledge (all of the stage piano type).

First result, not unexpected: It really makes a difference to play the best action of each manufacturer. So, the Kawai MP11, the Yamaha CP4, and the Roland FP90/RD800 are really the way to go, and much better than these manufacturer's cheaper instruments - when action is top priority.

I found both the MP11 and the CP4 very satisfying to play. I also found the FP90 quite nice but couldn't form a final opinion since someone else was playing very loud music right next to it at the same time.

Which of these you prefer (especially between the CP4 and the MP11) depends on other factors - do you need to carry the instrument a lot yourself? then the MP11 is out, unfortunately; do you like the sounds of each?

For a good and quick action, don't rule out the CP4 though besides the MP11.

Some side notes: I also briefly checked out the Nord Piano 3 - the sounds of which I absolutely love and use in my Electro 5 - but pianistically the Fatar action is still a bad compromise compared to the others. Then I was interested in the Dexibell Vivo - they had a P3 standing around, trying to sell it at a reduced price. The Fatar action was OKish on the Fatar level (it is their lightweight TP100, also used in the Electro HPs), apparently quite well integrated in mechanical terms. But man, what a disappointment soundwise. For me, unfortunately, a non-starter.
Finally, when it comes to Kawai: The Shigeru sounds in the ES8 are really nice to have, but in the end its action cannot compete (for me) with the MP11. It will be interesting to see what Kawai will be doing with the next iteration of their flagship stage piano.



Shigeru Kawai SK-2, etc.
Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618855
02/28/17 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by pinkfloydhomer
JoBert: I am focused on "fast enough" because my entire point in getting a good digital is to have something good enough to practice on that will allow me to evolve without constantly wondering whether the action is holding me back or whether any shortcoming I encounter is about me or about the piano.

I currently own a cheapish acoustic Nordiska 120 upright from 2004 and a digital Yamaha CP33. Both of these seem to be impossible to play fast and evenly on. I want to have a digital piano that has a good enough action that all doubt is removed, so that I won't have to worry about the action but can focus on developing my technique.

Also, as I wrote in the first post, other people have commented on the GF2 action as being "sluggish". It's not something I made up myself but something that other people are discussing.

Also, repetition speed is not some strange, unimportant feature. It is discussed in the technicians forum and is one of the main differences between an upright and a grand action.

I agree with JoBert. Repetition, first of all, is not the end-all be-all of a piano action. But even if it is, I have never felt that the GF action (I have not played GFII) has held me back in that regard. I do not feel it is sluggish, and I'm comparing this to a Renner grand piano action - the best you can get. Is it as responsive? Of course not, but most pianos I perform on aren't either. They don't hold me back, I just have to learn how to achieve the sound I want.

Of the advanced music I play, repetitions in the way you seem to be looking for are not that common. Most Chopin doesn't require this. Maybe Lizst La Campanella, Bartok's Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythms No. 6, some Scarlatti...but I would say we're looking at 20% of the vast "classical" repertoire available, and much of which may not ever be something you'd wrestle with.

While it may be discussed on a technician forum and one of the big differences in grand and upright actions, the actions of DPs nowadays are all seeking to imitate the grand piano action (except ones that use an actual upright action).

FWIW, I don't believe the CP33 (GH action) has triple sensor, which is what you'd want to look for in any action in order to play repetitions or trills easily.

Maybe someday I'll polish up and record the Bartok just to show that it can be done on the GF action.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618930
02/28/17 01:59 PM
02/28/17 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by pinkfloydhomer
Why wouldn't you practice on N3?

I want to practice on an action that is good enough to promote good technique and not let the limitations of the action interfere.

Practicing on an inferior action doesn't promote good technique. It might make you better at adapting to bad actions, but that's something else.


I completely agree with that.

Originally Posted by pinkfloydhomer
To everyone: What is the cheapest action or digital piano model that you would consider good enough for this purpose?

I've been focusing on the GF2 because it is supposed to be the best. But from what you're all writing I might as well get a VPC1?

Is there something cheaper than the VPC1 that would also be good enough?

In this thread, I don't care about sounds, speakers etc, only the action. If I'm not satisfied with whatever sounds or speakers comes with whatever piano I choose, I will buy better piano software and/or speakers.



I think you all ignoring the most important question of the OP.

Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: pinkfloydhomer] #2618946
02/28/17 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by pinkfloydhomer

Also, as I wrote in the first post, other people have commented on the GF2 action as being "sluggish". It's not something I made up myself but something that other people are discussing.

Also, repetition speed is not some strange, unimportant feature. It is discussed in the technicians forum and is one of the main differences between an upright and a grand action.


I think there's a few myths and misinformation that flies around on this subject so a couple of points.

In terms of DP actions, cheaper ones are more likely to be able to repeat faster than the more expensive 'authentic' ones and, in fact, acoustic pianos themselves. The only provisios to that really is that they have a triple sensor and that they aren't so poor quality as to be full of friction.

That might seem counterintuitive but it's actually a fairly simple result of the physics involved. Acoustic pianos have a fair bit of mass with a whole pile of hammer/damper gubbins on the far end and then are typically weighted with lead on the near end to have around 50-70g pushing them back depending on whether the sustain pedal is down. Now F = m*a or a=F/m. Large mass, small force = low acceleration and slow return.

A cheap digital action meanwhile isn't going to have that mass and typically, to make the keyboard feel a little more realistic, will have a heavier static weighting to compensate (I think someone here said the Yamaha gh3 is 83g for example). Small mass, larger force = higher acceleration and faster return.

So yes, gf2 is more sluggish in that regard. I find it far easier to do fast trills on cheaper digital actions, but then it's also easier on those cheaper actions than it is on an acoustic grand. For that matter it's easier to do said trills on an older upright, assuming correctly regulated, as they are often lighter than the current 'standard'.

Which leads to the second point, uprights and repetition. Uprights are not inherently poor at repeating and you should not have to fully lift a key to reset the jack on them, that is a myth that I can only assume is borne of neglect probably because they're generally cheaper. If you are having to lift fully it means the regulation is off, likely the back check is too far back or the jack is lifting too far from the butt (let off or aftertouch). What is a little easier for single note repetition on grands to me is getting consistent note volume, for speed there's littles difference.

Re: Grand Feel II, PHA-50, etc - speed, repetitions, quality [Re: Kawai James] #2618979
02/28/17 05:02 PM
02/28/17 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
pinkfloydhomer, may I ask which instruments you have play-tested so far?

Kind regards,
James
x


I have tried most top level digital pianos or actions at least. But my problem is that by definition I'm not good enough a player to assess whether an action is good enough for me to develop technically to a level that I've never been at. All these pianos feel okay. None feel like the ten different high end Steinway, Shigeru Kawai or Yamaha acoustic grands in the same store that I also tried. How can I know from trying an action if it is good enough to allow a higher level than I am currently at?


Nordiska 120CA (Dongbei) upright from about 2004. Yamaha CP33 digital. Sennheiser HD 600.
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