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Suitable digital piano keyboard for a church? #2779933 11/10/18 08:12 PM
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Jack Knuckle Offline OP
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The ten year old digital piano in my church looks like it's on its last legs and we can't find anyone who is willing to service it and solve unreliability problems (sound cutting in and out - almost certainly a circuitboard problem somewhere). So I'm on the lookout for a successor. I've identified three keyboards so far that are within budget and seem potentially suitable but would appreciate thoughts from other forum members.

Key attributes need to be reliability, decent sound and touch, within a budget £1500 including a stand), and able to offer extended features to advanced or more adventurous players but a very simple default piano mode. Balanced XLR outputs would be an advantage as the keyboard has to be plugged into a multichannel sound desk at the far end of the church. A personal preference for me would be split keyboard feature and dual voice with individual voice volume slider control for easy adjustments on the fly. The piano is generally played within the context of a modern worship band so the predominant style of music is contemporary though it tends to be played by classically trained pianists. For example I have attained Grade VIII and have a Bechstein grand piano at home.

The only keyboard that meets all the above criteria including XLR outputs whilst remaining within budget appears to be the Yamaha CP4. I get the impression this has been discontinued though it is still widely in stock. I quite liked the action when I tried one though wasn't entirely convinced by some of the sounds. Also it seems like it's meant to be played on a stand with the pianist standing up - most of our church pianists prefer to sit to play. Split keyboard and dual voice was very easy to set up and manage.

The Roland FP60 doesn't have the XLR outputs so would have to be connected via a phono lead and DI box. I quite liked the action and actually preferred the sounds to the Yamaha, and again it has the dual voice feature with slider controls. The more expensive FP90 had what I thought was an even better action, and all other features except XLRs. The Rolands also have the option of a sit-down console stand and tripedals.

I should add that I have also tried the newer Yamaha 515 which I liked but felt on balance that the Rolands just slightly had the edge, mainly on ease of use in live performance, quality of sounds and quality of key feel. I have not seen the Kawai ES8 on display anywhere but as with the 515, the lack of dual voice sliders put me off slightly.

On balance the FP90 was my clear winner and with console stand and pedals would just about come within budget. However, one possible concern I had was that it has wooden keys whereas the FP60 has plastic keys. I appreciate that any acoustic piano or organ will have wooden keys, and that they are something of a luxury in digital keyboards and understandably are found at higher price points. But thinking in terms of reliability should I expect a wooden keyboard to be as robust as an entirely plastic keyboard given that churches can have quite considerable swings in temperature and humidity at times when they are not in use and heating is off, especially in winter? Or would a wooden keyboard be no more likely to cause problems such as sticking notes than a plastic keyboard?

Many thanks for any advice and suggestions including other pianos and other considerations that I may not have considered.

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Re: Suitable digital piano keyboard for a church? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2779939 11/10/18 08:36 PM
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anotherscott Offline
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Originally Posted by Jack Knuckle
The only keyboard that meets all the above criteria including XLR outputs whilst remaining within budget appears to be the Yamaha CP4... it seems like it's meant to be played on a stand with the pianist standing up - most of our church pianists prefer to sit to play.

That just depends on the stand that you get, no?

XLRs are kind of uncommon on moderately priced boards. The only other one that comes to mind is the Korg SV1, but it doesn't really do splits. If you give up on the XLRs, other boards to look at could be Kawai SP7-SE, Dexibell S7, Kurzweil SP6, Roland Juno DS88, all of which are pretty simple for straight piano use, and also pretty easy for splits with easy front panel volume adjustments. I listed them roughly in the order I'd rank their desirabiliy based on piano sound and action, but that's somewhat subjective.

Re: Suitable digital piano keyboard for a church? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2779942 11/10/18 09:16 PM
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anotherscott Offline
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Too late to edit... the Kawai model was supposed to say MP7-SE.

Re: Suitable digital piano keyboard for a church? [Re: anotherscott] #2780165 11/11/18 04:54 PM
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Jasper E. Offline
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There are some moderately priced boards offering 2x balanced jack outputs. I guess balanced jack to balanced XLR is not a big magic...


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Re: Suitable digital piano keyboard for a church? [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2780255 11/11/18 11:11 PM
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pwl Offline
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Originally Posted by Jack Knuckle
However, one possible concern I had was that it has wooden keys whereas the FP60 has plastic keys. I appreciate that any acoustic piano or organ will have wooden keys, and that they are something of a luxury in digital keyboards and understandably are found at higher price points. But thinking in terms of reliability should I expect a wooden keyboard to be as robust as an entirely plastic keyboard given that churches can have quite considerable swings in temperature and humidity at times when they are not in use and heating is off, especially in winter? Or would a wooden keyboard be no more likely to cause problems such as sticking notes than a plastic keyboard?

The FP-90 keys are mainly plastic, with wood strips glued to the sides. No reason to be concerned about temp/humidity issues, imo.

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