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Feedback to Yamaha on DGX 660
#2699714 12/26/17 01:32 PM
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Hello, everyone! Yamaha just surveyed me on my recent purchase of a DGX 660, so I thought I'd reproduce my comments to them as a review below. I realize that this model is on the low end for this forum. but thought it might be helpful for some users, especially those who stray in through a search engine link. Please keep in mind the price range while reading my comments and rating.

Some background: I studied piano for about 10 years as a child, progressing to an intermediate level, but have hardly played for the last 40 years. I did buy a Casio CPS 700 some 25 years ago, but its non-weighted (though touch-sensitive) keys ensured that it was not played much. I started looking for an upgrade a couple of months ago and got a good deal on the DGX 660 (see Prices Paid thread) around Thanksgiving.

Feedback to Yamaha follows:
Overall rating: 8 out of 10

Positives (in no particular order):
1. Excellent user interface: 55 buttons, two dials and a multi-information screen allow one to easily navigate an instrument with a lot of capabilities. I would rate this "best in class".
2. Well-written manual, with cross-references and a lot of detail, helps show what the piano can do and how to do it. Best in class.
3. Wide variety of instruments and rhythms helps in choosing exactly what one wants.
4. Good speakers: mid-range x 2 plus tweeter x 2, not concealed in a cabinet, get the best out of low-power amplifiers.
5. Built-in songs showcase the instrument's capabilities and ability to view scores, turn off tracks, slow down tempo, etc., are very helpful in learning new music. Best in class. But please give registered DGX-660 owners an option to download midi files/scores for "50 Greats for the Piano" that the P-115 has built-in, as these are more challenging pieces.
6. Piano Room function is useful, being a quick way to get back to "normal piano playing" after experimenting with other voices and rhythms.
7. Good connectivity options and Yamaha apps, but would like to see Android device support as well.
8. Attractive appearance in all black, though I might have preferred some differentiation in button color as you had on the prior model (DGX-650).
9. Generally good build quality and packaging, though one key (C3) is slightly lower than the others and a few keys appear to slightly scrape adjacent keys.

Negatives:
1. The GHS key action is adequate but not the best in its price range. I understand that you do not want to cannibalize YDP sales with GH3, but think about what you can do to improve.
2. Amplifier power is a little too low and much less than competitors. I recommend an increase, even if small. Why does the P-115 have 7W amplifiers and the DGX-660 only 6W?
3. The Demo/Background Music button is too close to buttons normally used, such as Score. If hit accidentally, as I have done, this can have a startling effect.
4. Some resonance issues, e.g., on C2 (too loud) and G4 (ringing) that may be due to cabinet design.
5. Data List printing needs to be improved: larger fonts for Drum Kits list, perhaps using a diagram of the keyboard alongside (see Casio manuals). Please do not print data on the rear cover just to save a couple of pages of paper; it gets dirty easily!
6. The optional LP7A three-pedal unit has a mismatched backing board (gray not black), cheap-looking plastic pedals too high off the floor, and squeaky plastic-on-plastic connections -- not up to the standard of the piano itself. Had it looked and performed better, I would have bought it, but got the FC3A single pedal instead. I know that Yamaha does not want to cannibalize YDP sales, but note that Casio, Kawai and Roland offer attractive three-pedal options on their lower-end pianos.

Yamaha asked what had been my best experience with the instrument so far, and I replied:
I have listened to built-in songs I had never heard before, switched off the lead track, and played the lead myself -- sometimes by ear, sometimes viewing the score on the display -- using instruments ("voices") I had never played before. It is this experience that makes ensemble digital pianos light years ahead of acoustic pianos for learning.

Yamaha asked me what other pianos I had considered, and I named the usual suspects from Casio, Kawai and Roland. I will add a few more thoughts here, just my view, not to get into an argument with anyone:
I liked the weight and ivory feel of Casio's keys but not the uneven key spacing or noisy return action, intolerable while playing softly or staccato. I liked the feel of Roland's keys and action but deplore its terrible user interface on ensemble models: just 13 buttons and a three-digit LED to navigate myriad functions, or buy an iPad and use an app to simplify things slightly. I would have loved to try Kawai, but my local dealer only carries high-end digitals, being primarily an acoustic grand piano retailer. It has a nice owner who let me play whatever I liked despite me being upfront on my price range and with whom I had a pleasant conversation on the state of the piano market today.

Hope my review helps someone, as this forum has helped me. Thank you!

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Re: Feedback to Yamaha on DGX 660
Lotus1 #2699723 12/26/17 02:08 PM
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I agree on the action, Yamaha at that point should start using GH at least. GH have a more solid feel, a faster response... And it's not a new piece of tech either, so they could at least move on and compete with Kawai and Roland in terms of better actions at the entry levels. I really dislike GHS and Casio's action.

I think GHS is too wobbly, not a very solid, if you have to play fast pieces it doesn't help you... and I'm not even talking about Romantic Piano Repertoire... certainly I wouldn't try Chopin, even Debussy on P-115, DGX-660... It's already tough to play Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven... The acoustic upright I have is not as heavy as the Kawai Grand, and Steinways at the College, but it's more solid than GHS and Casio's action...I decided not to practice after 7 p.m. so my neighbours won't complain. But if I could afford a better digital piano, I would definetely buy a more heavy and faster action, probably with 3 sensors.


"But its got a crap keyboard action Dave ... no amount of great sounds help that."
Dr. Popper

Piano Student at University of São Paulo - Ribeirão Preto
Music Education and Piano Pedagogy at Music Department of FFCLRP - University of São Paulo

Re: Feedback to Yamaha on DGX 660
Lotus1 #2699760 12/26/17 05:16 PM
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Quote
. . . 2. Amplifier power is a little too low and much less than competitors. I recommend an increase, even if small. Why does the P-115 have 7W amplifiers and the DGX-660 only 6W?


That difference is 0.7 dB -- probably not audible, or just barely audible. And the loudspeakers are pretty close:

DG660: 12cm x 2 + 5cm x 2

P115: 12 cm x 2 + 4 cm x 2

I'd follow the general rule for low-end DP's, using low-powered amps:

. . . Play with the volume control turned as high as it will go, without distortion.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Feedback to Yamaha on DGX 660
Charles Cohen #2699780 12/26/17 07:21 PM
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Not a bad review. Having had the 650 for a couple o' years, I have to say the GHS being light, was preferable to GH on a keyboard of this type. Nor did it hamper in any way any of the Schumann or other composers' music I played. Wasn't wobbly either, but . . . .most others are better imo.
The sound was not bottom end either, but like most digitals, Pianoteq is an improvement and played well through the DGX.
If you don't mind my saying, think twice before you change it, Having said that, the visual LCD display is usually the second thing to go apart from the triple pedal board. Good for about 8 years; the board lasted me only 18 months of heavy use before fracturing. . . .
Have fun; it is a fun instrument.


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

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Re: Feedback to Yamaha on DGX 660
Lotus1 #2699789 12/26/17 08:24 PM
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Thanks, all, for your comments.

Pedro, I tested GHS extensively before buying the DGX 660 and it is adequate for my pace of repeated notes and trills. But I can see how it might annoy better players attempting more challenging music, which is why I cited it as a negative in my feedback to Yamaha. There are many things about this piano that are "best in class" (at this price point), but key feel and action is probably not one of them.

I think that Yamaha fears cannibalization of its more profitable (my guess) YDP line if it improves the action significantly. The lower-end YDPs such as the 103 and 143 have the same action, and it is only the YDP 163 that gets the better GH3. I would tell Yamaha that people who buy a YDP are probably set on a cabinet-style piano, whereas folks like me are happy with and may even prefer the sleek modern appearance of the DGX with its easily accessible buttons, dials and screen. The same goes for a better three-pedal option than the gray plastic LP7A, so there is no need to "clip the wings" of the DGX 660 unnecessarily.

Charles, to clarify, I don't think amplification is a big issue. While the DGX 660 does not compare well with competitors on amplifier specifications (6W x 2 vs. 12W x 2 or even 20W x 2), the position of the speakers (pointing upwards) and the fact that there are four speakers (not just two) get the most out of the small amplifiers. The volume is fine playing for myself (no other listeners) in a 14' x 20' room with "cathedral" ceilings. I keep the volume dial at max while using piano voices, but have to lower the volume if I am using some other voices or built-in accompaniments, as it gets too loud.

I also noticed that Yamaha's default volume setting for the Main Voice is only 94 on a scale that goes up to 127. This setting is independent of the main volume dial and is accessible via the Function button. If I push it up all the way to 127, it distorts, but somewhere in between would probably be fine. If I have an audience (which I don't, lucky for them!), I might experiment with this.

Hello, Peterws! I was waiting for you to comment, knowing that for a long time you were a valiant defender of the DGX series on this forum. I hope to be content with my new DGX 660 for quite a while!

Re: Feedback to Yamaha on DGX 660
Lotus1 #2700111 12/28/17 10:16 AM
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A couple of clarifications to my earlier comments:
1. When I said Yamaha's default volume setting for the Main Voice, I meant default volume *limiter* setting. This is accessible via the Function button and serves to limit distortion. Its default setting is 94 on a scale of 0-127. Using the Piano Room after changing this setting seems to make it revert to the default.
2. I have been using the default Medium touch setting, but tried playing with the Soft touch setting yesterday, when "forte" immediately sounded much louder. I normally play with a delicate touch, perhaps more so because I'm treating the new piano gently! Have reverted to Medium touch as I need to ensure that proper posture, arm weight and finger strength are the drivers of dynamics.

I did not comment on the DGX 660's rhythms, accompaniments, Smart Chord and recording features in my review because I've tried them only to check whether they work, which they do. Yamaha is sending me a free microphone as part of its holiday promotion, so I haven't tried that capability yet. The promotion also includes two free midi songs/backing tracks/scores to be downloaded from their website.

I initially thought that I would buy a piano that looks more like an acoustic upright, with its built-in pedals and key cover, but found the features of the DGX 660 too good to resist at this price point. I replaced the plastic sustain foot switch that came with the piano with a Yamaha FC3A metal pedal ($36, see thread "New piano -- sustain pedal question" for details), and am happy with it. With a cover of a red fleece throw folded in half ($3) and a matching Yamaha four-leg bench bought used from a neighbor ($15), I find that it looks attractive in its own modern way at my house. Well done, Yamaha!

Re: Feedback to Yamaha on DGX 660
Lotus1 #2784958 11/26/18 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Lotus1
But please give registered DGX-660 owners an option to download midi files/scores for "50 Greats for the Piano" that the P-115 has built-in, as these are more challenging pieces.

If you haven't figured out this yourself by now: it is available for anyone to download:

https://usa.yamaha.com/files/download/other_assets/7/888267/50GreatsForThePiano_2012.zip

I don't recall which songbook matches it, so here's the link to all the Yamaha's songbooks:

https://usa.yamaha.com/support/docs_data/index.html?l=en&c=keyboards&k=song

Congratulations on not getting intimidated by the technology and the buttons despite receiving the "classical" education. You are one of the rare people who managed to surmount this obstacle.

Last edited by 90125; 11/26/18 02:09 PM. Reason: clarification
Re: Feedback to Yamaha on DGX 660
Lotus1 #2784998 11/26/18 04:02 PM
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Thanks, 90125! I did find the link to the "50 Greats for the Piano" MIDI files a few months ago, downloaded them, and they work fine on the DGX-660.

Yamaha does not sell or allow one to download the scorebook for these pieces; it only comes (free) with some of its higher-end pianos such as the Clavinovas. But I bought an almost new copy on eBay for $5!

Thanks for your kind words about my transition from a classical education on an acoustic piano to the DGX-660. In fact, I find it simple to use precisely because Yamaha's designers did not unnecessarily restrict themselves to making it look like a traditional piano. The DGX's big screen, many buttons, dials and numeric keypad make it easy to access all its functions, and I have hardly referred to its 96-page manual and 24-page supplement after reading through them once. I find that many digital pianos try too hard to look like acoustic pianos, dispensing with useful screens and dials, that make those with ensemble capabilities almost impossible to use in practice.

Re: Feedback to Yamaha on DGX 660
Lotus1 #2785056 11/26/18 07:03 PM
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Thanks for the links. I looked for this stuff years ago and it did not exist (or I simply failed to find it).


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