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CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? #2744082
06/13/18 08:02 AM
06/13/18 08:02 AM
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EvaJV Offline OP
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Hi all,
Newcomer and newbie piano player here. First, let me just say thanks for this engaging and informative forum. Reading the posts has helped me learn a lot.

I want to buy a digital piano that feels realistic enough for it to feel like acoustic and that won't stimie my growth as a learner, but also not to overspend on nuances I won't be able to notice for years.

I looked into pianos a few years ago and had settled on the HP506. Alas, finances changed and I couldn't buy. But now I can.

I've read a lot, tried out the Roland HP601, HP603, HP605, Kawai CN27, CA78, CA98, Yamaha CLP635, CLP645, CSP150, and CSP170. I haven't been able to try out Casios yet, but based on my reading, I'm not sure they would compete anyway.

I *think* I've narrowed it down to the HP603 or the CA58 (which wasn't available to play). With the CLP645 still hanging on as a maybe. (I checked and the HP506, HP508, CA67, and CA97 are not available at my local dealer or else one of them would probably be my choice.)

I can tell enough about action to have narrowed it this far (making some assumptions on how I'll like the action in the CA58), but I don't have enough experience to really figure out my preferences further. Sound-wise, my first impression of the Yamaha was it sounded just a bit electronic to me and the very low notes sounded kinda ugly, which is why it's trailing; but when I tried it again, those impressions were not as strong. The Roland was good but very...tinky in the high notes. The Kawai sounded great in the low and high notes, but the mid range had a slightly funny tone to me that I'm gonna have trouble describing. Granted, I have not spent much time around acoustic pianos so I don't really know how these compare to 'real' pianos. But I did grow up playing viola, so I'm relatively familiar with string sounds. Love the sound of a nice cello. Hate the sound of a nasal (for my lack of a better word) violin.

I did eliminate any models (like the KDP110, CN27, and CA48) that didn't have a line in. Seems a pretty vital element to get the most out of a digital piano.

I know the HP603 is probably at the end of its cycle. And the CA58 just came out. They are priced very similar where I am--$3200 and $3100 respectively.

Any thoughts or suggestions? Do you agree with my narrowed down options? Any other considerations I should be thinking about? Thank you for your awesomeness!

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Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744086
06/13/18 08:41 AM
06/13/18 08:41 AM
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Point: You mentioned the HP603 and the CA58, along with prices for them.
Keep in mind that the "price" is not the price. The former is just the dealer's asking price. Don't pay that. You can work yourself a better deal.
You can find list/MSRP prices of current models at pianobuyer.com.
Among the mid- and high-end consoles you can easily get a piano for 20% to 25% off list. And maybe 30% or 35%.
Also check the prices paid thread in this forum. People list how much they paid. I have those data compiled in a spreadsheet on Google ... but I don't have the link handy. I'll try to find it tonight, after work.

Question: You said you've eliminated pianos that don't have line inputs. Why is that?

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744096
06/13/18 09:32 AM
06/13/18 09:32 AM
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Do have a look at the Kawai CA67 and CA97. Those models were recently replaced by the CA78 and CA98. In terms of features the CA67 and 97 are quite similar to the 58. The 97 has a better speaker system. The sound engine on CA58, CA67 and CA97 is the same. However, the CA67/97 have the GF-2 action (the same as on the CA78/98) which is (subjectively) better than the GF-C action on the new CA58. Compare the detailed specs at Kawai Global.

You will find stores now selling the CA67 and 97 at a discounted price to clear the stocks and you may be able to find a good deal. As an example, you can get a new CA97 in Europe for around 3100 USD (including taxes). Not sure about the prices in the US though...

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: MacMacMac] #2744097
06/13/18 09:34 AM
06/13/18 09:34 AM
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EvaJV Offline OP
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Good point. Of course negotiating is my least favorite part smile but maybe it will come down to which dealer offers a better deal if otherwise it is a toss up. If the dealer feels the HP603 is end of cycle, that might be leverage.

About the line in--I want to be able to listen to music through the piano speakers (both just listening and playing along). My understanding--and I admit that ports are not my forte--is that requires either a line in or bluetooth audio--have a got that right? Not a whole lotta pianos have bluetooth audio, and I'm not sure I would want to rely solely on bluetooth anyway given changes in tech over time; plus I think all that over bluetooth audio also offer a line in.

Up to now I've focused on action and sound, as I think those are by far the most important considerations. But learning support is really desirable, too, and that's something I still need to look into. The dealer showed me on the Yamaha CSP150 how you can play a song--any preloaded or imported from your iTunes collection--through the speakers, slow it down, toggle the left hand or right hand on and off, and auto generate sheet music for it. That seemed like an awesome learning tool (...though I have read criticism that the import tool does a lousy job right now of generating the left hand score...though that will get better over time, I'm sure, as the software updates). If the action were better on the Yamaha, I'd probably buy that. But to get what feels to me like good action, you have to go up to the CSP170, and that jumps out of what I think is reasonable for me to spend right now given my novice status. Do you know if what I'm describing on the Yamaha is possible to do on the Roland or Kawai? I figured not, but that maybe there is an app out there or else probably at least coming soon.

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Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744112
06/13/18 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by EvaJV
...About the line in--I want to be able to listen to music through the piano speakers (both just listening and playing along). My understanding--and I admit that ports are not my forte--is that requires either a line in or bluetooth audio--have a got that right? Not a whole lotta pianos have bluetooth audio, and I'm not sure I would want to rely solely on bluetooth anyway given changes in tech over time; plus I think all that over bluetooth audio also offer a line in.


The speakers on a DP are not the best to playback music. Bluetooth audio is only useful to play streamed music. You cannot use BT to stream real-time audio from an app into the DP due to the high latency. For that you would indeed need a line-in input on the DP or connect headphones to your external device or connect the device to proper speaker setup. But, IMO the line-in should not be a deciding factor when buying a DP unless you have a very specific use case.

Originally Posted by EvaJV

Up to now I've focused on action and sound, as I think those are by far the most important considerations. But learning support is really desirable, too, and that's something I still need to look into. The dealer showed me on the Yamaha CSP150 how you can play a song--any preloaded or imported from your iTunes collection--through the speakers, slow it down, toggle the left hand or right hand on and off, and auto generate sheet music for it. That seemed like an awesome learning tool (...though I have read criticism that the import tool does a lousy job right now of generating the left hand score...though that will get better over time, I'm sure, as the software updates). If the action were better on the Yamaha, I'd probably buy that. But to get what feels to me like good action, you have to go up to the CSP170, and that jumps out of what I think is reasonable for me to spend right now given my novice status. Do you know if what I'm describing on the Yamaha is possible to do on the Roland or Kawai? I figured not, but that maybe there is an app out there or else probably at least coming soon.


If your goal is really to learn how to play the piano then you should select a DP with the best possible action for your budget. You can always try to "upgrade" to better sound sources with an external VSTi later. The Roland and Kawai models you have on your list are all excellent choices (and also look at the Kawai CA67/97). However, I would suggest you to ignore all these marketing bells-and-whistles that you were shown by the dealer and that add absolutely no value to the instrument itself. There are plenty of iOS/Android apps and PC/Mac computer software that offer the same functionality and that work with any DP. And an alternative is to get some of the half a million scores available on the public domain (http://imslp.org/) instead of trying to auto-generate sheet music with some cool app ;-)

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744119
06/13/18 11:04 AM
06/13/18 11:04 AM
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I think it would be a mistake not to at least try the Casio's. Even the PX line has action realistic enough that it won't be detrimental to future playing.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Casio GP-400
Schimmel SP-182T
Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744159
06/13/18 03:04 PM
06/13/18 03:04 PM
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Regarding this point:
Originally Posted by EvaJV
Of course negotiating is my least favorite part smile but maybe it will come down to which dealer offers a better deal ...
I think you have it backwards. The dealer doesn't make you a good offer. The only good offer is the one that YOU make to the dealer.

That is, you don't look at the dealer's (high) asking price and try to talk him down.
Instead ... make your own (low) offer, and let the dealer try to talk you up.

This is fundamental. And it is critical.
Really really! Vraiment! Bien sur!

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: arc7urus] #2744228
06/13/18 08:28 PM
06/13/18 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by arc7urus
. . .
If your goal is really to learn how to play the piano then you should select a DP with the best possible action for your budget. You can always try to "upgrade" to better sound sources with an external VSTi later. The Roland and Kawai models you have on your list are all excellent choices (and also look at the Kawai CA67/97). However, I would suggest you to ignore all these marketing bells-and-whistles that you were shown by the dealer and that add absolutely no value to the instrument itself. There are plenty of iOS/Android apps and PC/Mac computer software that offer the same functionality and that work with any DP. And an alternative is to get some of the half a million scores available on the public domain (http://imslp.org/) instead of trying to auto-generate sheet music with some cool app ;-)


+1.

I _think_ that the Roland HP603 is the least-expensive Roland console with the PHA50 action and "SuperNatural Modelled" sound generator. It should take you a quite a while to outgrow it.

The FP-90 might be an alternative, if you'll be happy with a "slab piano".

There are some people who don't like Roland's modelled sound. Your own ears will let you judge if you're one of them.


Last edited by Charles Cohen; 06/13/18 08:33 PM.

. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744351
06/14/18 09:32 AM
06/14/18 09:32 AM
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Thanks, all, for the tips. The CA67/97 would be good options--if I can find them. I called a few places and no go. I was told the distributor stopped selling them four months ago so stock would have cleared out. Any tips for finding discontinued pianos? Or is it a matter of deciding if it's worth the time to call a bunch of stores and see if I get lucky? (Feel free to PM me if you know of any on the US East Coast)

@MacMacMac, I appreciate the guidance on mindset. Tough for me--and frankly, the approach would never have occurred to me. I'll do my best to channel my inner MBA smile

@Charles_Cohen, I did consider a slab. Actually, at the start of this--after reading and before trying--I thought I'd end up with one. I was able to try an FP90 and liked it...but even on furniture stands, they don't evoke the same feeling for me as sitting at a piano, which is what I'm going for.

I totally get the advice of letting your own ears be the judge. (The whole laurel vs yanni phenomenon really showed how much of hearing is individual perception. Brains are weird and wonderful.) But once you narrow the options to close competitors, letting your own ears be the judge is a bit of a catch-22 when you're talking a beginner. It's hard to judge a piano until you've spent hours with it, and it's hard to spend hours with it until you have a piano and learn to play.

Which is why is why it's great to hear the impressions of more experienced players. Don't worry, I'll take it all with a grain of salt wink

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744379
06/14/18 11:52 AM
06/14/18 11:52 AM
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Hi Eva,

Today I took delivery of a Roland HP603, and it was available to me at a discount price because it has been replaced by the HP603A. The only difference between the two models is that the 603A can stream audio via bluetooth from a device. The 603 can not, but it has a line-in anyway, so you can connect a device that way.

The tone of the piano can be customised extensively. I've played around with hammer noise, damper resonance, duplex scaling, etc, and I think I've found some settings I'm happy with. There were two selling points for me on this piano other as well as the price. The points are that the action is excellent (whether it's the best or not, I've no idea, they're all pretty good at the level you're looking at to be honest), and the SuperNatural piano now has unlimited polyphony, which is great for playing virtuosic pieces because there's no drop out of notes with the sustain pedal on.

The long and the short of it is that Kawai, Roland and Yamaha are competing head-to-head. The difference with Roland is that they put the same sound engine and keyboard on all their models so the 603, 605, LX7, LX17, GP607 and GP609 are all, from a computer and touch perspective, the same piano. The difference lies in the speaker systems and cabinets. Speaker systems and cabinets are important to those who play the piano without headphones, but they're not so important to me because I use it as a keyboard to lay off the grand piano.

My friend has a CLP635, and it's a good piano. It has a nice touch and sound. In many ways the touch and the sound are similar quality to the Roland, but it's not as resonant (to my ear), the decay isn't as good, and there is drop out of notes when using the sustain pedal for virtuosic passages. That might not be important to you at this stage, but it might be in 5 years time.

The Kawai has a nice natural touch too, and an excellent sound. It doesn't have limited polyphony and in the UK Kawai is quite a bit more expensive than the equivalent Roland. For the record though, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland took delivery of Kawai CA65s for some of their warm up rooms, which visiting concert artists and students use before they give recitals, and for a digital piano to find itself in such a position is very high praise indeed. The RCS has a relationship with both Kawai and Yamaha, and of course Steinways.

My two cents is that you can't go wrong with either model that you're looking at. I preferred the Roland, and the price was right, and the timing was right, so I went with it.

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: joe80] #2744393
06/14/18 12:24 PM
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Are you sure about this?
Originally Posted by joe80
Roland ... put the same sound engine and keyboard on all their models so the 603, 605, LX7, LX17, GP607 and GP609 are all, from a computer and touch perspective, the same piano.
The other brands tier their pianos. The high-end models contain much more sample memory, and the low-end models contain much less.

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: MacMacMac] #2744401
06/14/18 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Are you sure about this?
Originally Posted by joe80
Roland ... put the same sound engine and keyboard on all their models so the 603, 605, LX7, LX17, GP607 and GP609 are all, from a computer and touch perspective, the same piano.
The other brands tier their pianos. The high-end models contain much more sample memory, and the low-end models contain much less.


According to Kawai James, all "HI-XL" DPs are the same in terms of engine and sample size, and all "SK-EX Rendering" are the same as well. Presumably "Progressive Harmonic Imaging" and other engines do the same, but Kawai at least discloses the engine in their literature.

Roland's latest models all use SuperNatural modeling (no samples at all), so there's no sample memory to consider. Whether there are differences in the modeling engines is unknown (and Roland has been stubbornly opaque about the point).

Yamaha may have had undisclosed sample memory differences between models in the past, but I haven't heard or seen anything about this in their latest models (CLP-5xx and 6xx) line. But they don't really advertise this as well, so it would probably take a teardown to confirm whether it's actually happening.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50 || Kawai NV-10, MP11
Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: Gombessa] #2744437
06/14/18 03:11 PM
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I discovered this about Yamaha from the service manual.
Originally Posted by Gombessa
Yamaha may have had undisclosed sample memory differences between models in the past, but I haven't heard or seen anything about this in their latest models (CLP-5xx and 6xx) line. But they don't really advertise this as well, so it would probably take a teardown to confirm whether it's actually happening.
So ... who's got the SM for the 600-series Yamahas?

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744470
06/14/18 05:07 PM
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If there is an engine upgrade in the more expensive models, it’s surprising that they don’t give it a name and boast about it.

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: MacMacMac] #2744471
06/14/18 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I discovered this about Yamaha from the service manual.


This is OT, but I would nerd out for a full week if companies just made their service manuals publicly available.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50 || Kawai NV-10, MP11
Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744477
06/14/18 05:25 PM
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You mean for free?

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744481
06/14/18 05:41 PM
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In one of the videos for the LX17, a Roland team member says that the LX17 is identical to the HP605 except for the cabinet and speakers. On another video a different Roland team member says the HP603 is identical to the 605 except for the cabinet and speakers, and the ability to stream bluetooth audio. I presume that means they're all the same piano as far as touch and sound engine are concerned. There is no sample memory because it's a modelled sound.

Roland do make a range of lower-spec pianos in the HP504, RP501, RP401, RP102, all of which have limited polyphony and a previous generation action. They're actually still pretty good-spec pianos it seems although I haven't played any of them.

The HP601 is a scaled down version of the technology in that it has limited polyphony, and sits between the HP504 and 603 in terms of spec.

My guess is that if Roland had put a much higher spec sound engine on the grand pianos and the LX17, they'd have boasted about it as someone else pointed out.

Anyway I've been playing my 603 all day, it arrived today. I've tweaked it a bit, and I'm very happy with it.

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744484
06/14/18 05:49 PM
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Glad you’re enjoying it. My FP 90 arrives tomorrow. I really only bought it for the action, but my computer charger is broken, so I’ll be using the internal sounds for the first few days. Maybe I’ll want to stay in the modeled world. In a way I’m glad because I’ll be forced to take the time to get the best out of it...

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: MacMacMac] #2744486
06/14/18 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
You mean for free?


I've gotten service manuals for free from manufacturers in a variety of different industries (including for DPs), but even in those cases, they still tend to be closely guarded material, and difficult to find online. It would sure be nice if they were as easy to access as owners manuals, which you can find and download from multiple places for free.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50 || Kawai NV-10, MP11
Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744492
06/14/18 06:28 PM
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Kawai ‘s grand piano service manuals are freely available, but I suppose that makes sense as the instruments will mostly be serviced by non-Kawai approved technicians. It would be fantastic to get a DP manual. I know someone who used to service gear, and a call to the distributor was usually all it took, but that was a good while ago.

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744495
06/14/18 06:53 PM
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I have had the Roland RD-2000 with me for 3 months and am selling it. Not because its gorgeous keybed (PHA-50), but because neither the Supernatural pianos nor the V-pianos come even close to the rich sound of the Kawais.

Am trading it for a Kawai ES110 only for the piano sound alone. That should tell enough about Kawais piano sample quality. The keybed is also very good too. And the weight... Half of the RD.


Eduardo
Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: Gombessa] #2744506
06/14/18 07:20 PM
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The SM for mine came on a CD. Yamaha got $15 for it. If you need it it's worth it.
Originally Posted by Gombessa
I've gotten service manuals for free from manufacturers in a variety of different industries (including for DPs), but even in those cases, they still tend to be closely guarded material, and difficult to find online. It would sure be nice if they were as easy to access as owners manuals, which you can find and download from multiple places for free.

Re: CA58 vs HP603 vs ...? [Re: EvaJV] #2744607
06/15/18 03:10 AM
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Europe
About the sound engine - it's been confirmed in the past by Jay Roland - the entire HP/LX line has the same sound engine and keybed, so via headphones, it's the exact same experience. That goes for the FP90 as well.
The more recently introduced HP601 however has the older sound technology, not the full modelling like the rest (despite some websites listing it as modelled, as they do for the FP60 too, which is in the same situation). I think it was introduced as a replacement for the HP504, and kept the older sound engine but upgraded the action (and BT).


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