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Decision paralysis
#2909989 11/09/19 12:38 PM
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Hi there,

I am heading into decision paralysis and could do with some good advice! I currently have a Challen upright piano which sounds nice, but need to re-home it and replace it with a digital (the only wall it can go against is neighbours wall - we are in a semi, and I could do with the ability to play through headphones as well).

I’m a self taught amateur, but appreciate a good touch and a good sound - and I confess having a real acoustic has spoiled me slightly when it comes to looking at digital options. My daughter is also learning so she has an interest too.

I’ve tried quite a few digital pianos recently, both at a local store and on a trip to Bonners a few weeks ago. My current thinking is as follows:

Roland LX range: I love the feel of the keyboard, both on the LX705 and the LX706/708. It is lovely! The sound itself is good too - I love the way that the notes sustain really well. But the sound from the speakers always sounds like it’a coming from a closed wooden box. I’ve tried playing with the settings in the shop, and while I can change it, I can’t really get. Away from that fundamental problem. It’s always muffled, boxy and a little harsh sounding from middle C upwards for an octave. Such a shame - would be perfect otherwise.

Yamaha: Tried the CLP645, 675, 685 & NU1X. I really like the touch of the 645, almost as nice as the Roland to me, but the speakers are small and it still sounds a bit boxy and bass-heavy (though not as bad to my ears as the Rolands). 675 - keyboard too stiff. 685 - keyboard a bit better, but I prefer the 645 keyboard. NU1X... lovely... out of all of the instruments I felt the most connection between the keyboard and the sound produced. It’s an upright action though, and while I can probably stretch to the cost, I’m not sure I can justify spending that much given my hobbiest status.

Casio GP500/GP300. I really like the keyboard on these, though it was a little noisy I thought. A nice keyboard to play. Sounded okay through the speakers, but the higher notes do decay quickly, even when sustained. I’m wondering whether I could live with that though? And I’m wondering whether the GP310 improves on this - they didn’t have one for me to test. What puts me off; the name (it shouldn’t but, you know...) and that fact that the GP400 was faulty in store makes me question the quality and longevity.

Kawai CA78, CA98 & CS11. I didn’t like the speakers on the CA78 - very bass heavy and boomy to my ears. The CA98 with the soundboard was nice though, as was the CS11. Keyboard action was also good - very similar to the Casio and Roland. The issue - a lot of reports on this forum of quality issues with Kawai. Again, makes me question the quality. Also concerned that the soundboard speaker system might also create issues with the neighbours.

Am I over analysing this? Probably, but it’s a lot of money and I want to be happy with my decision for many years to come!

I’d love to love the Rolands, but I don’t know if the speaker issue can be fixed. Yamaha is a no unless I’m prepared to spend a lot of money. Kawai and Casio are both options I think, but with concerns..

Help?

Many thanks,
Wayne

Re: Decision paralysis
Wayne Rowley #2909993 11/09/19 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Wayne Rowley
NU1X... lovely... out of all of the instruments I felt the most connection between the keyboard and the sound produced.

NU1X. It will make you want to play. as my N1X does for me.


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Re: Decision paralysis
Wayne Rowley #2910002 11/09/19 01:03 PM
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Make a spreadsheet where you give every factor a grade from 0-10 for each piano and give every factor an importance weight from 0-100 in general.

Multiply the weight by the grade for each factor and sum up the results. The piano with the best score wins regardless of feelings.

Suggested factors in no particular order or weighting:
Sound quality
Action
Sound selection
Portability
Price
Anticipated longevity or reliability
Other features
Beauty
Resale value

Maybe others can suggest other factors to add to your scorecard.

Last edited by R111; 11/09/19 01:10 PM.
Re: Decision paralysis
Tyrone Slothrop #2910007 11/09/19 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Wayne Rowley
NU1X... lovely... out of all of the instruments I felt the most connection between the keyboard and the sound produced.

NU1X. It will make you want to play. as my N1X does for me.

Agree. I have an NU1, going 7 years and more. The outlay is looking less than $30 a month as time goes on, and I spend more than that on my tennis hobby.

Re: Decision paralysis
Wayne Rowley #2910016 11/09/19 02:07 PM
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You have a lot of good choices here. You're squarely in the premium/high-end category, and it's hard to make a bad call in this tier, since all the manufacturers are bringing their A-game, their best sound engines and actions.

Since you're already experienced as a player, you should trust your fingers and your ears, I don't think there's anything we can tell you here that should sway you more than your own testing and impressions from playing. The ONLY thing I would recommend is that it's likely Yamaha may have the CLP-7x5 series out in a couple of months, so if you really want to take your time, you could wait to see what that yields (and hopefully test the Casio GP-310/410/510 as well).

Have fun testing, and good luck with the (difficult) decision.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50, Kawai MP11 || Kawai NV-10
Re: Decision paralysis
spanishbuddha #2910017 11/09/19 02:08 PM
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Yes I agree too, in my opinion NU1X is the best piano you mentioned. But, said, MY OPINION! You must try and try and try again, then make your choice. Also, I don't believe choosing a new piano could be a mathematical exercise. We are musicians, any other than musicians. But choosing NU1X you will get a very good instrument, and you and your daughter will be happy players. Good luck.

Re: Decision paralysis
R111 #2910046 11/09/19 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by R111
Make a spreadsheet where you give every factor a grade from 0-10 for each piano and give every factor an importance weight from 0-100 in general.

Multiply the weight by the grade for each factor and sum up the results. The piano with the best score wins regardless of feelings.


This is a great method to use. I have used it many times, but with one difference. After you calculate the grades, see if you are a little disappointed with the highest score. You may find you were hoping a different piano had won. This then tells you which one to buy. All of the models you are looking at will be excellent instruments. You need to choose the one that you have feelings for, that is the one you will be happiest with. This method forces you to see through all the specs and indecision to pick out the one that will truly inspire you. After all, you a choosing a musical instrument to express your feelings, not a computer to play MIDI data.


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Re: Decision paralysis
Wayne Rowley #2910119 11/09/19 06:20 PM
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When dealing with the subjective I think numerical analysis is pointless. Instead ... just play every piano you can get your hands on.

When examining one, forget about the brand. Forget about the model. Just ask yourself how you feel about the piano. Then move on to the next piano.

Trust your feelings. (Is your name Luke?) smile

Re: Decision paralysis
MacMacMac #2910157 11/09/19 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
When dealing with the subjective I think numerical analysis is pointless. Instead ... just play every piano you can get your hands on.

...Just ask yourself how you feel about the piano.


I agree. The spreadsheet method is no use at all when really the piano's sound and feel are both things that our emotions connect to (or don't).

For what it's worth, in OP's situation I would cast another vote for Yamaha NU1X.


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Re: Decision paralysis
Wayne Rowley #2910177 11/09/19 08:26 PM
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You do really need to try out pianos.

Doing proper research during the decision making process I think is essential, you need to know the specifications, the strengths and weaknesses of each piano you try out from a specification point of view.

A piano that feels good to you now, you might grow beyond its limitations quickly. This is where knowing the specifications is important.

As for boominess of various Kawai models, I had a problem with this when testing out both the CA78 and the MP11SE. I was able to adjust settings to reduce the boominess. I ended up choosing the MP11SE and applied those settings. With experience I have now returned the settings that relate to boominess to default. The problem I have fixed by gaining improved control of my left hand, this actually helps when I play an acoustic piano where for many acoustics it is easy to play in a way where the bass overwhelmes the treble.

You should try out the models you are considering seriously more than once and not on the same day.

Re: Decision paralysis
Wayne Rowley #2910186 11/09/19 09:15 PM
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Which specs do think are important?

Re: Decision paralysis
Wayne Rowley #2910191 11/09/19 09:33 PM
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Have you brought along your choice of headphones to test them out with those in the store? Might want to try that too.


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Re: Decision paralysis
Wayne Rowley #2910192 11/09/19 09:34 PM
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Quote
. . . Kawai CA78, CA98 & CS11. I didn’t like the speakers on the CA78 - very bass heavy and boomy to my ears. The CA98 with the soundboard was nice though, as was the CS11. Keyboard action was also good - very similar to the Casio and Roland. The issue - a lot of reports on this forum of quality issues with Kawai. Again, makes me question the quality. Also concerned that the soundboard speaker system might also create issues with the neighbours.


FWIW --

a) the "bass heavy" quality of the CA78 might be controllable with the "Piano Technician". Some equalization (changing the frequency-response curve) might be all you need.

It might also be that your acoustic upright piano has a weak bass, compared to the _grand_ piano that the CA78 is set up to emulate. So that's what you've gotten used to.

b) On the CA98 soundboard against the wall, my first thought was:

. . "Why should it be any different, for the neighbors, than an acoustic upright, played at the same volume,
. . . in the same place in the room?"

You might want to arrange a schedule, so you can play it through the speakers and soundboard _at proper volume_, when you're not using headphones.

I don't know what Kawai recommends, for minimum piano-to-wall distance. There might be a "Piano Technician" adjustment for that, too -- check the manual.

To repeat a previous comment, you're in a price and quality range where there are no _bad_ DP's. And the best (only?) way to find a _best_ DP (for you and whomever else is playing) is to try them out.


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Decision paralysis
Wayne Rowley #2910231 11/10/19 02:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Wayne Rowley

Roland LX range: I love the feel of the keyboard, both on the LX705 and the LX706/708. It is lovely! The sound itself is good too - I love the way that the notes sustain really well. But the sound from the speakers always sounds like it’a coming from a closed wooden box. I’ve tried playing with the settings in the shop, and while I can change it, I can’t really get. Away from that fundamental problem. It’s always muffled, boxy and a little harsh sounding from middle C upwards for an octave. Such a shame - would be perfect otherwise.

Try turning off duplex scaling via the menu - I have found that this can unmuddy the treble.

Last edited by Burkie; 11/10/19 02:01 AM.

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Re: Decision paralysis
Wayne Rowley #2910234 11/10/19 02:57 AM
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When looking and playing in a shop there are a few things I'd like to mention looking over the Yamaha line a couple of years ago.

Certain features are only on loudspeakers, not on phones - if doing that. So aimed at making loud in room get a nicer feel alone.

And like with listening to hifi speakers - the environment makes a big difference.
How does you own home compare to shop - colder, warmer etc.

And if looking at flexibility overall - Kawai was superior to me. It is incredibly flexible in adjusting how you can adjust tunings, stretch tunings and just minor adjustment of a note you might feel should be just a tiny bit softer sounding. Things like that felt very rigid with a Yamaha's I had - last one CLP 535. But might be better in larger models.

Roland is way better than Yamaha overall in this sense too - if this is a consideration.

I looked at CA78, MP11SE but finally decided on the MP7SE. But stage pianos like MP series have no speakers at all so not an option for everybody.

CA78 was a bit weird in not having backup to usb - just some rendering of recordings you did etc. Too much focus on being modern and bluetooth and touch screen and stuff. didn't seems all ready - like made in a rush or something.

For me what I can record in computer is the most important thing - not how it plays in a room. So why I look into those details a lot.


Kawai MP7SE - Hammond XK3c - Synthesizers
Re: Decision paralysis
MacMacMac #2910247 11/10/19 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Which specs do think are important?


For me, an inviting action and an inspiring tone are the most important features. A digital can never fully replicate an acoustic, but should sound ‘alive’ in a sense, if you understand me. The Challen has quite a sweet tone, not too bright and is nice to play.

Other features could be useful, but are less critical. Some Bluetooth functionality would be good for my daughter who enjoys learning songs from YouTube tutorials.

Thanks,
Wayne

Re: Decision paralysis
puremusic #2910248 11/10/19 04:33 AM
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Originally Posted by puremusic
Have you brought along your choice of headphones to test them out with those in the store? Might want to try that too.


No, just the ones in store. I have only tried the Roland and Yamaha models over headphones, and both sounded good to me.

Thanks,
Wayne

Re: Decision paralysis
Charles Cohen #2910249 11/10/19 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen


b) On the CA98 soundboard against the wall, my first thought was:

. . "Why should it be any different, for the neighbors, than an acoustic upright, played at the same volume,
. . . in the same place in the room?"



Good question, and I agree this concern may be a non-issue. My thought was simply that a speaker system will project towards the player (I.e. into the room and away from the wall) while the soundboard will resonate next to the wall, as it does with the acoustic.

Thanks for the suggestions on the setting of the Kawai, I didn’t play with those in the shop at the time.

Wayne

Re: Decision paralysis
Wayne Rowley #2910250 11/10/19 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Wayne Rowley
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Which specs do think are important?


For me, an inviting action and an inspiring tone are the most important features. A digital can never fully replicate an acoustic, but should sound ‘alive’ in a sense, if you understand me.


Exactly.

You won't find this kind of information in any list of specifications. These are considerations that are particular to you. One person's "inviting" action or "inspiring" tone is not necessarily another's. You have used words that only make sense to the emotions. Try some pianos and pick the one that you most like the touch and tone of.

Just so you know, a previous comment related to some apparent lack of tonal adjustability in the Yamaha pianos. This used to be the case but there are many adjustable parameters now using what Yamaha calls the 'Piano Room' facility on their Clavinovas and certain other pianos. Furthermore, using Yamaha's 'Smart Pianist' app you can make note by note adjustments if you need to, on some models.


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Re: Decision paralysis
Wayne Rowley #2910251 11/10/19 04:46 AM
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Thanks for the replies and ideas so far, it is appreciated. I had thought of the spreadsheet method, but I’ve tried this before with other choices and found it to be of mixed usage. A large part of this decision is going to be at the emotional level I think.

The NU1X... yes, it is very nice, and I am considering it, but need to think carefully as it’s £1500 more than what I was hoping to spend. I wonder too whether I would prefer a simulated grand piano action in the long term. But it did feel very nice to play. As I said before out of all the instruments I have tried to date there seemed to be a real connection between the playing and the sound (as you would get on an acoustic). Probably psychological, but some digitals do feel slightly disconnected.

Wayne

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