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Joined: Nov 2009
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Hi everyone,

So I went to audition some pianos today in my local music shop. I tried the Yamaha CLP675, the Casio Grand Hybrid GP300 and the Roland HP603 and HP605.

The Yamaha felt too tight to me, the keyboard felt like it had a bit of inertia in the touch and once my finger got through that the weight felt a little un-natural. It has a good sound, but there's an audible drop out of notes when playing virtuosic pieces (the opening to Mazeppa....).

The GP300 felt convincing enough in the actual keyboard, but there was a kind of funny way in which the notes didn't trigger every time. The actual sound quality wasn't as nice as the Yamaha in my opinion, but it felt real enough. I tried all three piano sounds, but the repetition really bothered me. The key can repeat fast but the sound doesn't trigger every time.

The Roland HP603 and 605 for me really hit the sweet spot between sound and touch. The key action felt really quite natural, even more so than the Casio, and the sound was for me by far the most expressive of the lot. The 603 and 605 have the same touch and sound, and I don't really have use for the extra features of the 605 because I'd be practising with headphones. I already own two grand pianos so I'm aware of how a 'real' piano feels.

My question to you all - does anyone here own a Roland HP603, or other one of the current generation of SuperNatural pianos, and how are you getting on with it? Any problems with it? Or is it a trouble free purchase? I'm thinking of trading up my Yamaha CP300 (I don't need all the controller features and the touch is frankly industrial).

Let me know what y'all think!

I've tried the Kawai pianos too, I quite like them, but the price is also an issue. The store I'm looking at has a very attractive deal with the Roland pianos which is obviously a factor.

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I have an HP605 polished black. I've had no issues mechanically or otherwise. My only disappointment was the modeled sound; now it acts more as controller for VI pianos.

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I have the Roland LX-17 and have not had any issues with it. And it's not always treated gently, sometimes my little nieces play on it (which is more like banging) and my cats will jump on it (which is definitely banging).

Personally, I like the SuperNatural modeling sound, although I did a lit bit of tweaking on mine (not a lot). Others have done more, and others just plain don't care for it. For me, I love it, and one of the things I love most about it is how responsive it is to touch.

I did have the HP605 for a couple of weeks, but I decided to upgrade to the LX-17.

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The only prob that I've encounter with Roland's SuperNatural line is it sounds "unnatural", muddy somewhat in the mid-high range, as oppose to their impressive bass


In 2 years: Casio AP250 - Kawai CN24 - Kawai CA65 - Kawai CA67
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All 3 are good DP's. Buy the one you like the most and be happy with it. I looked at all 3 and choose the Casio. I bought a 400 . I loved the touch and felt that if I transition to an acoustic, it was the closest of the 3.

The 400 sounds actually quite a bit better then the 300 and I suggest you try it.

When I practice the GP-400 feels amazing, put on headphones and think you are on a grand.

Good luck with your choice, once you pick and buy one stop comparing, play and enjoy!

Don't fall into the trap of creating unnecessary buying remorse. They all have their strength and weaknesses.( as you would expect in that price range)


When you play, never mind who listens to you. R.Schumann.

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Well... I bit the bullet, so I now have a Roland HP-603 coming for private practice in my room after hours.... which will give the Bluthner a well-earned rest....! Also, the heavy work, the repetitive slow practice, the stop start stuff, I like to do that in private, and doing it on the grand piano always leaves me feeling a bit exposed.....

It's coming Thursday....!

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Congrats, hope you enjoy it. The nice thing about silent practice is, you can learn a piece without anyone knowing and then blow them away when they hear it for the first time.


When you play, never mind who listens to you. R.Schumann.

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Congrats, Joe! I'm one who really likes the new Rolands and prefer PHA50 and supernatural modeling to other DPs I've tried. They are rock solid pianos that are built well and can take a beating. One of the most hassle free DPs on the market. Enjoy and share with us more your thoughts and pics after you receive it.


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Thanks guys. Yes I like silent practice and I like doing all the donkey work with the volume low, because let's face it, 6 hours of grand piano is difficult on the ears.

I found the actual keyboard of the Casio more realistic than the Roland, but the way the action responded with the sound engine was actually to my preference on the Roland. Back in 1998 I bought a Roland HP-330e, and I had it for ten years. Every successive piano they brought out until about 2007 used the same sound engine and a keyboard so similar that it was hardly worth upgrading. Then they brought out the HP-207 which was an 88-note sample, but it wasn't as good to my ear as the Yamaha at the time so I went for a CP-300. I found it less expressive than the Roland 330e but it was more realistic in tone.

I must admit, although I enjoyed the HP-330e I did long for Roland to return to something like the Structured Adaptive Synthesis that made them so popular with pianists in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and I really wasn't sure why they abandoned the idea. Then the HP-307 came out in about 2009, and the concept of it's sound engine sounded very like SA/S but by then I'd already bought the CP-300.

Anyway I'm glad I waited because having a digital piano with a modelled and editable sound, with limitless polyphony and a convincing enough keyboard to do a heavy practice schedule on, at a price which doesn't take long to recover from, is what I'm looking for.

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Hello Joe, thank you for sharing your thoughts on these instruments, and congrats on the purchase of your new Roland.

I would be interested to hear a little more about your thoughts on the Kawai (and also where you play-tested these models too!), either in this thread or via private message if you would prefer.

Kind regards,
James
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James I must apologise, I've played the CA67 and CA97 quite often, and enjoyed them, but I haven't played the 78 and 98. .

I'll make it my business to find out what the latest ones are like and get back to you, but it could be a while before I've got time.

I'm going to be flat out honest here, one very important factor with the Roland is the price. The store I have bought it from bulk-bought a load of Roland HP-603s and have been able to sell them off at £1399, which is a reduction on the retail price of £1900, and a reduction against their closest competitor at £1600. It's a local store in Scotland, and I bought the last one. However, I wasn't pressured in to buying it at all, I said to them in the store 'give me a couple of days to think about it, and if it's gone by then, it's gone". It hadn't gone, and I weighed it up against the CLP675, 645, and GP300, and figured that the quality-price ratio, and the use that the piano will be getting (it's not my main instrument at all), meant that this was a smart purchase.

My nearest Kawai dealer is 90 miles and 2 hours drive away, unfortunately, so I don't get much of a chance to play them. Not like when I was in Norwich and could pop in and see your dad!


Anyway my main reason for purchase is that my CP300 is getting clapped out after 9 years of not particularly heavy use I must say, and I'm driving the hammers on my grand piano flat.... and my neighbours are starting to get weary of hearing Liszt exploded!

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Hello Joe, thank you for your reply.

No need to apologise - I appreciate that it's not always possible to play-test Kawai instruments, not least the latest models!

£1399 for the HP603 is an absolute bargain, and a lot of piano for the money. I wonder how the retailer was able to acquire the pianos at such a low price? Just out of interest, did you buy the HP603 or the HP603A? I gather the later model was announced last Autumn and added Bluetooth Audio (the original HP603 featured Bluetooth MIDI only).

Regardless, I'm sure your new Roland will serve you very well, especially for those times when the Blüthner(s) need a rest. wink

Cheers,
James
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Hello James!

Well, the retailer was able to buy them because they're a big chain in Scotland and the guys who own the store have worked closely with Roland for decades. They were able to bulk buy a lot of HP603 pianos, all in contemporary black, and because of that were able to offer them at this price.

I'm not quite clear on the exact story as to why they bought all these pianos. The staff in store said *something* like since the pianos have now been available for just over 2 years, they are expecting a new series of models soon - in the next year or 18 months - and this company is Roland's main dealer in Scotland.

It is the HP603, and not the HP603A. The only difference between them is the ability to bluetooth audio, which I'll never use. My other piano doesn't have that function, in fact you can't even change voices on it and it goes out of tune....

I believe in the line up of Roland pianos, the 603, 605, LX7, LX 17, 607 and 609, they're all the same piano in terms of touch and sound engine, and they differ only in the bluetooth functionality, cabinets, and speaker systems. The HP601 was just not quite robust enough for my liking. The music desk didn't sit high up enough off the keyboard for me, and it doesn't have limitless polyphony on the piano sound, which is actually quite important since a piano has limitless polyphony. The 601 offers 288 notes which is of course excellent but I thought for not very much more money given this deal, I'd just make the jump. My first Roland piano back in 1998 had 64 notes, and I was studying virtuosic repertoire back then as well, but I guess I just accepted what was available to me... it's funny how we forget!

The HP605 was being sold at £2200, and they were prepared to go to £1900 on it, but since it was functionally the same piano when using headphones, I thought it wasn't worth me spending the extra money on it. For someone who wants it as their only piano it might be worth it.

If I'm being perfectly honest, the Yamaha Clavinovas in store had a little bit more realism in terms of the actual sound, and they have an excellent tone, but the experience of playing the Roland felt more natural, and I preferred the key touch of the Roland over the Yamaha. The differences are of course marginal. If you sit my down at a Yamaha CLP675 and ask me "do you like this piano" the answer is still very much "yes". I find all of the digital pianos these days are very good instruments.

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Many thanks for the additional information Joe, it's always good to read your insightful analysis.

Cheers,
James
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I think I mentioned a few months back on another thread that I'd seen the 'non A' 603 variants for a discounted £1400ish, think it may have been reidys.

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Reidy's is now selling only the HP603A and it costs £1739. Perhaps they were selling the HP603 for £1400, but I'm wondering if actually the 603 is being discontinued in favour of the 603A and that's why there have been some knock down prices on the model.

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Joe, I expect you may be right - this is what I was eluding to in my post.

James
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Having done an online search I see that some retailers are selling the HP605 for the same price as, or in some cases a little bit less than the HP603A. It seems to depend on the finish as much as anything else, and I haven't taken the polished black 605 into the equation.

In that case I would say either the HP605 is too cheap, or the 603A is overpriced. The digital piano market has always been very competitive though, and prices can be all over the place. Clavinova and Kawai prices seem to be pretty consistent, but Roland seems to be a bit more variable. I've no idea why. That was actually the case 20 years ago when I bought the HP330e... the equivalent Clavinova (whatever it was in 1998) wasn't available discounted locally (it wasn't as simple as doing an online search back then - one had to go to the store, which actually I did this time as well anyway), and the Roland varied from £1499 to £2100 at that time depending on whether one went to Bruce Millars, Sound Control, or whatever. Both Bruce Millars and Sound Control have ceased trading now so I can mention them without any fear!

Back in 1998 Kawai digitals weren't as good as Yamaha or Roland in my opinion, and the Roland sounded a little warmer to my ears. Fast forward 20 years and I'd say Kawai are probably the best overall, I prefer Roland to Yamaha, and Roland won out on price. If this was my only piano I may have made a different choice, and I'd probably have taken more time over the selection. To be honest with the three leading digital makers, they're all pretty good.


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