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Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
#2967546 04/15/20 10:38 PM
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Hi everyone! I’m trying to decide what is the best piano to get for myself. I’m a classically trained pianist and am now wanting to start composing my own music and playing live - but am unsure what tools I will need for this. I want an instrument that I can grow into, but don’t want to pay for bells and whistles beyond what I will make use of. I already have Cubase Pro and Kontakt and don’t know if having a workstation on top of this would help me or just unnecessarily complicate things.

Here are the current models I’m considering, but am also open to others:

Kawai MP11SE, Yamaha CP88, Korg Kronos, Roland FA 2000, Roland Fantom-8, Dexibell Vivo S7 or S9

My approximate priorities are as follows:

1) How precise and detailed is the action? I want to be able to hone my classical piano techniques. My favorite acoustic piano to play is a Steinway (though I quite like some Kawai’s as well) and I’m looking for an electronic piano that is as close to that as possible, in terms of both sound and action. I like that the action be neither too light nor heavy but somewhere in the middle.

2) How well suited is this for live playing - whether as part of a band or as a DJ? I want a few good basic samples - primarily of realistic, acoustic instruments but also some electronic pianos and effects.The quality of the strings, woodwinds, harps, and folk-type instruments is most important to me. Ideally I would want to be able to upload my own VST instruments and have a decently sized hard disk for that but this is not essential.

3) Is the interface intuitive to navigate and relatively easy to learn? I don’t want to have to spend months reading the manual before I can compose music. Also, how well does this keyboard integrate with a PC?

Thanks for your insights!

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Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ancientalchemy #2967606 04/16/20 06:27 AM
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Action = mp11se

Sound = vst

Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ancientalchemy #2967617 04/16/20 07:11 AM
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Korg Kronos 8 is the perfect board, in my opinion. However, as a piano purist you might nog appreciate the RH3 keybed (dual sensor, no escapement), plus it has aftertouch, something that isn't geared toward pianists and which may also make the keybed feel less realistic.

So, the most realistic action in a digital piano ? The Kawai MP11SE. I know, I have one. But it's technically a stage piano, so no arpeggiators, no gazillion sounds, etc. The Roland RD2000 also has a really good keybed with triple sensor, escapement and wooden keys, anything a pianist would want (although the keys on the RD2000 are hybrid wood/plastic, whereas the MP11SE has full wooden keys).

The Roland might be more up your alley, it has over a thousand sounds, physical sliders that can be used as drawbars, and all you could need. Not the workstation part, though, but you can get that in the Fantom 8. It's mucho expensive, though. Better than the Kronos ? Not the workstation part, I think, but the Fantom does have the better keybed, and it's brand new (Kronos has been out for ages).

Yamaha CP88 : very cool board, and also a hybrid wood/plastic keybed,and triple sensor, really nice to play, but it lacks escapement (if that's important to you). It's more akin to the MP11SE, not a huge number of sounds, but very good bread and butter sounds and also the 'hands on' approach.

Don't know much about the Dexibells, only that they have Fatar keybeds, TP/100 or TP/40. I'm not a fan. At all.

I would say you have three choices : the MP11SE, the RD2000 and the Fantom 8.
But... the Kawai MP11SE is very heavy. There is NO way you will be able to carry that by yourself to a gig (it's around 70 pounds). So that leaves either the RD2000 and the Fantom 8.
I can't comment on the workstation part, don't know much about that. If you need the workstation part, then get the Fantom 8. If Cubase and your other software and tools are enough for you, save yourself a big amount of cash and get the RD2000.

Something tells me the RD2000 might be just the thing for you : wonderful keybed, lots of functionality, great connectivity and everything you could want.

Last edited by ChrisGoesPiano; 04/16/20 07:12 AM.

A long time ago, in a musical galaxy far, far away...
Eminent-Solina B412, Yamaha DX21, Yamaha V50, Yamaha U1

21st century...
Kawai MP11SE, Kawai CA58
Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ChrisGoesPiano #2967623 04/16/20 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by ChrisGoesPiano
I would say you have three choices : the MP11SE, the RD2000 and the Fantom 8.
But... the Kawai MP11SE is very heavy. There is NO way you will be able to carry that by yourself to a gig (it's around 70 pounds). So that leaves either the RD2000 and the Fantom 8.
I can't comment on the workstation part, don't know much about that. If you need the workstation part, then get the Fantom 8. If Cubase and your other software and tools are enough for you, save yourself a big amount of cash and get the RD2000.

Something tells me the RD2000 might be just the thing for you : wonderful keybed, lots of functionality, great connectivity and everything you could want.

I would agree here. Roland's action seems to be the perfect compromise between size and feel. Longer pivot length than any other plastic folded action, and excellent playability and sounds.

Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ancientalchemy #2967628 04/16/20 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by ancientalchemy
Hi everyone! I’m trying to decide what is the best piano to get for myself. I’m a classically trained pianist and am now wanting to start composing my own music and playing live - but am unsure what tools I will need for this. I want an instrument that I can grow into, but don’t want to pay for bells and whistles beyond what I will make use of. I already have Cubase Pro and Kontakt and don’t know if having a workstation on top of this would help me or just unnecessarily complicate things.

Here are the current models I’m considering, but am also open to others:

Kawai MP11SE, Yamaha CP88, Korg Kronos, Roland FA 2000, Roland Fantom-8, Dexibell Vivo S7 or S9

My approximate priorities are as follows:

1) How precise and detailed is the action? I want to be able to hone my classical piano techniques. My favorite acoustic piano to play is a Steinway (though I quite like some Kawai’s as well) and I’m looking for an electronic piano that is as close to that as possible, in terms of both sound and action. I like that the action be neither too light nor heavy but somewhere in the middle.

2) How well suited is this for live playing - whether as part of a band or as a DJ? I want a few good basic samples - primarily of realistic, acoustic instruments but also some electronic pianos and effects.The quality of the strings, woodwinds, harps, and folk-type instruments is most important to me. Ideally I would want to be able to upload my own VST instruments and have a decently sized hard disk for that but this is not essential.

3) Is the interface intuitive to navigate and relatively easy to learn? I don’t want to have to spend months reading the manual before I can compose music. Also, how well does this keyboard integrate with a PC?

Thanks for your insights!


Fantom 8 is the stand-out board there for your needs.
MP11SE has the best action but not that much better than the PHA50 on the Fantom 8. All aspects of music production will be better on the Kronos and Fantom boards compared with all other boards mentioned.


Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7SE; Past - Kawai MP7, Yamaha PSR7000
Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
Stand: K&M 18953 Table-style Stage Piano Stand
Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
Doug M. #2967632 04/16/20 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug M.
Fantom 8 is the stand-out board there for your needs.
MP11SE has the best action but not that much better than the PHA50 on the Fantom 8. All aspects of music production will be better on the Kronos and Fantom boards compared with all other boards mentioned.

Agreed, but the Fantom 8 weighs 60 pounds, also quite heavy, not ideal for gigging. Unless money's no object and TS can get an extra RD88 to take to gigs : a step down keybed-wise from the RD2000 and Fantom 8 but I believe sounds made on the Fantom are interchangeable with the RD88. Or have I got that wrong ?

That could be the ultimate music production/gigging setup : a Fantom 8 to let your creativity rip and a RD-88 to show off said creativity on stage. If one has the budget, of course...

Last edited by ChrisGoesPiano; 04/16/20 08:03 AM.

A long time ago, in a musical galaxy far, far away...
Eminent-Solina B412, Yamaha DX21, Yamaha V50, Yamaha U1

21st century...
Kawai MP11SE, Kawai CA58
Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ChrisGoesPiano #2967639 04/16/20 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by ChrisGoesPiano
Originally Posted by Doug M.
Fantom 8 is the stand-out board there for your needs.
MP11SE has the best action but not that much better than the PHA50 on the Fantom 8. All aspects of music production will be better on the Kronos and Fantom boards compared with all other boards mentioned.

Agreed, but the Fantom 8 weighs 60 pounds, also quite heavy, not ideal for gigging. Unless money's no object and TS can get an extra RD88 to take to gigs : a step down keybed-wise from the RD2000 and Fantom 8 but I believe sounds made on the Fantom are interchangeable with the RD88. Or have I got that wrong ?

That could be the ultimate music production/gigging setup : a Fantom 8 to let your creativity rip and a RD-88 to show off said creativity on stage. If one has the budget, of course...

Well, the Fantom 8 is 3kg (7lbs) heavier than the Kronos 2 (88 note) so they are both a bit on the heavier side. Workstations tend to be that bit heavier if they are all-in-one's.


Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7SE; Past - Kawai MP7, Yamaha PSR7000
Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
Stand: K&M 18953 Table-style Stage Piano Stand
Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ancientalchemy #2967665 04/16/20 09:40 AM
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Nord Grand.
Use to use, excelente keys, best piano samples period(beside computers,of course), new samples from time to time.
Beaufitul samples from another instruments

Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ancientalchemy #2967671 04/16/20 09:57 AM
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I don't think many pro composers in LA have controllers with the classical piano graded hammer actions for VI work. So ideally you have two different slabs (one for classical music work and one for VI work).

One slab is a more practical compromise but an extremely good classical actions might not be ideal for VI work. You really need to visit a store and try them once the global lockdown ends.

The Yamaha Montage 88 has a great action but is uber-expensive and heavy. It is really a studio pro workstation.

Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ancientalchemy #2967759 04/16/20 03:16 PM
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I fel into a different set-up, and am glad I did. I own a Kronos 73, and like that action for everything except piano - although, if you don't mind scaled back expressivity, it serves okay. Probably Live, it is fine. However, for practicing - and getting some more colour - I bought a second hand FP90 and it is a great synergy with the Korg. I found one for at least half of what an RD2000 would cost, and frankly, given I rented an RD2000 for 4 months with a band project I was previously in - I prefer it to the RD2000 in musical terms.

Don't ask me why? It is supposed to be the same action and same piano engines, but the RD2000 had me reaching for Pianoteq. I really could not get into the sound direct from the keyboard. Not so with the FP90. This might not compute with what others might think.. but if you can do 2 keyboards, I wouldn't hesitate an FP90/Kronos Combo. I don't reach for software now. Particularly, the Upright on the FP90 is quite musical.

Last edited by GWILLY; 04/16/20 03:18 PM.
Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ancientalchemy #2967783 04/16/20 05:01 PM
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Help us understand in detail what you want to do both in live playing and composing.

What kind of music? What kind of band? What kind of venues. For how many people?

Also, what are your computer skills?

There are so many great music tools available today, and a lot of knowledge is right here, if you Ask smartly.

Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ancientalchemy #2967805 04/16/20 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by ancientalchemy
My approximate priorities are as follows:

1) How precise and detailed is the action? I want to be able to hone my classical piano techniques. My favorite acoustic piano to play is a Steinway (though I quite like some Kawai’s as well) and I’m looking for an electronic piano that is as close to that as possible, in terms of both sound and action. I like that the action be neither too light nor heavy but somewhere in the middle.

--> I mainly practice classical solo repertoire as well on a daily basis. I also have an AP and for me the Kronos is the best companion for DP sounds and its near limitless possibilities for music recording, sampling, etc.

Originally Posted by ancientalchemy
2) How well suited is this for live playing - whether as part of a band or as a DJ? I want a few good basic samples - primarily of realistic, acoustic instruments but also some electronic pianos and effects.The quality of the strings, woodwinds, harps, and folk-type instruments is most important to me. Ideally I would want to be able to upload my own VST instruments and have a decently sized hard disk for that but this is not essential.

--> Many pros choose the Kronos to play live. You can also sample and integrate additional instruments/sounds as you wish on the internal SSD. I equipped mine with an additional 250 Gb SSD, which is way enough for my needs right now.

Originally Posted by ancientalchemy
3) Is the interface intuitive to navigate and relatively easy to learn? I don’t want to have to spend months reading the manual before I can compose music. Also, how well does this keyboard integrate with a PC?

--> The Kronos interface might not be the easiest to learn, but the main strength of this machine is its near limitless programmability. By comparison, on almost all DPs you are stuck with a few dozens sounds and parameters. If you don't like something, you have few possibilities to adjust sounds as you wish.

In any case, do not buy a new musical instrument without trying it first. Only you can decide what is best for you. I went with the Kronos because out of the top machines for all brands, it ended up the best compromise for me between excellent piano sounds, action feel, musical feedback between touch and sound production, and again to keep me busy for another 15 years adding/sampling/designing my own sounds.

Below are some videos I made with the Kronos.

Classical piano : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieRwcS_mlJI
A few custom sounds : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5xF3yl5V3o

Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
PianoMan51 #2968074 04/17/20 03:02 PM
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I want to make neoclassical, darkwave and folk music - solo and with up to a few other people. I'm looking for a keyboard with a variety of good acoustic sounds primarily. As far as the kinds of venues, I'm not sure, I haven't gotten there yet.

My computer skills are decent but not really specialized - I don't know anything about writing code or the like.

Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ancientalchemy #2968077 04/17/20 03:07 PM
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At this point I haven't found a keyboard where I both really like the action and the sounds, so I'm thinking that I might just get a keyboard with good action and supplement the sample library by using it with software like Pianoteq. Are there keyboards better suited to this than others?

Also -

I've read a few comments about how the action in the Krome isn't very good, can anyone here provide more details?
Is it possible to turn off the aftertouch in the Korg Krome or Roland Fantom?
Are there keyboards other than the Krome that are notable for having a lot of disk space to upload additional libraries?

Last edited by ancientalchemy; 04/17/20 03:08 PM.
Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ancientalchemy #2968114 04/17/20 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by ancientalchemy
. . .
Is it possible to turn off the aftertouch in the Korg Krome or Roland Fantom?
. . .

Most likely, there are some voices (tones? patches? whatever they're called) that are sensitive to aftertouch, and others that aren't:

. . . For example, the piano voices should all be _insensitive_ to aftertouch.

So you don't have to worry about those.

For the voices that _are_ sensitive to aftertouch, there is likely to be a user-adjustable parameter that sets _just how sensitive_ they are:

. . . Set that to zero.

If you're lucky, somewhere in "global settings", there will be an "Aftertouch On/Off" setting that does what you originally asked about:

. . . it's time to crack open the User Manuals, unless somebody knows more than I do.


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq
Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ancientalchemy #2968157 04/17/20 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by ancientalchemy
I've read a few comments about how the action in the Krome isn't very good, can anyone here provide more details?
Is it possible to turn off the aftertouch in the Korg Krome or Roland Fantom?
Are there keyboards other than the Krome that are notable for having a lot of disk space to upload additional libraries?

The Krome 88 has a much lighter action compared to the RH3 used in the Kronos 88-key version. Anyone can think differently of any action or musical instrument. You can rely on specs alone, other people opinions or hearsay. Or you can test it yourself and decide what you think.

All the new Kronos-2 come with a standard 60 Gb SSD and room for a secondary SATA drive.

Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ancientalchemy #2968171 04/17/20 08:41 PM
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Meant to say Kronos here, the similarity of the names sometimes confuses me crazy

Originally Posted by ancientalchemy
I've read a few comments about how the action in the Krome isn't very good, can anyone here provide more details?
Is it possible to turn off the aftertouch in the Korg Krome or Roland Fantom?
Are there keyboards other than the Krome that are notable for having a lot of disk space to upload additional libraries?

Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
ancientalchemy #2968349 04/18/20 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by ancientalchemy
Ideally I would want to be able to upload my own VST instruments and have a decently sized hard disk for that but this is not essential.
You cannot uploads VSTs per se into any keyboard. You either attach a computer to the keyboard, or to some extent, with some keyboards, you can resample your VST sounds into them, but don't expect an identical result.
Originally Posted by ancientalchemy
At this point I haven't found a keyboard where I both really like the action and the sounds, so I'm thinking that I might just get a keyboard with good action and supplement the sample library by using it with software like Pianoteq. Are there keyboards better suited to this than others?
Yes, some are better at having facilities to mix-and-match internal and external sounds (without requiring that the combinations themselves be managed from your computer) or for calling up external sounds from the keyboard's own patch recall buttons/screens.

For the playing live aspect, do you have a weight limit of how heavy a board you're willing to carry around? In general, the best feeling actions tend to be in the heavier boards. Also keep in mind travel weight will also need to include the weight of your protective case.

Re: Digital piano vs workstation; most realistic sound/action
anotherscott #2968582 04/18/20 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by anotherscott
For the playing live aspect, do you have a weight limit of how heavy a board you're willing to carry around? In general, the best feeling actions tend to be in the heavier boards. Also keep in mind travel weight will also need to include the weight of your protective case.

I don't have a weight limit. I'm pretty strong and figure I can get a case with wheels if necessary.

At this point I'm considering getting a Kawai along with a lighter synth, so that I can take the synth to gigs and use the Kawai at home.

Though I'm wondering how smoothly the interface would work between a Kawai MP11SE and another piano, if I wanted to use the Kawai as a controller to command of the sounds of another keyboard with more functions and a larger library. Does anyone have experience hooking this model up to say, a Korg or Nord? I've read about people using the VPC1 as a controller but not as much about the MP11...can the parameters be tweaked enough to do this well?


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