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Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
#2983608 05/25/20 09:47 AM
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Hello All!

Apologies for a longer post (it will be a monster post I am afraid....) - I am in a bit similar situation as in a sibling thread from (conanima), and maybe we can help each other. I already visited a dealer, so I decided to post my impressions. Also my background and aim are a bit different than conanima, so I decided to make a new thread.

Background: I started to play piano 25 years ago ad a kid. At the start I mostly played on upright and grand pianos.

For 15 years I play mostly on Yamaha CLP230 at home. It is my hobby, not a profession. I live in an apartment, so that is why I lean towards DP/hybrid instead of acoustic. Also - the budget limits, which initially I set for me as around 4500$.
I am not a native English speaker - sorry for language mistakes.

Aim: Corona made me play a crazy number of hours recently and I started to dream about buying a new digital piano (230 was nice at its time, but it is much outdated now, though I revamped it with VST: Garritan CFX).
So I want to buy a new piano for the next 10 years or so smile
The piano I will get will probably be the piano I played on almost exclusively, though from time to time I happen to play on randomly met grand or upright piano. So joy on playing on my own instrument is more important from me than exact closeness to a concert grand. Still, I learned piano on concert grand an upright, and I would like to have something close to it.

I am now about 1 month in a decision process. Below I will try to summarize my personal impressions, and throw in a few questions, in the hope to spark a discussion that could help me and others.

Also - I am lurking on this forum for some time. I would like to thank all the people that make an effort to discuss here - I truly appreciate it very much. I learned a lot

------------------

My dealer has quite a good choice of DPs (rare for my location - I live in Poland, not a hot spot to see newest digital pianos I think so I think I was lucky), and I was able to test one next to each other (I mention most prominent ones):

- CLP 685,
- CA99,
- ROLAND 706
- CASIO GP510
- Novus N10,
- Yamaha n1,
- Yamaha n1ux (no n1x though...)
- Very well aged Grantouch GT1
- Yamaha B2 Silent

All of these I think are very ok, so my takes are probably very personal. I tested all instruments with and without headphones (Beyerdynamic DT770)

OVERALL
Biggest take - going and testing was crucial for me. To anyone in a similar situation - do it multiple times, if possible, and spend quality time with every piano.
My first visit - I just wanted to confirm if everything is okay with CA99 I read so much about. I went to the dealer almost sure that I want to buy CA99 and with an opinion, that hybrids are too expensive and silent is not for me... After testing - oh boy.... my mind is chaos right now, and many things that I read on the internet about feel or sound of pianos didn't apply for me.

Also, after years of Clavinova CP230 (it has GHIII action), it took a bit for me to adjust to every new action, but it seems the time spent on it is worth it.

ROLAND 706 - very good DP, but not for me. I found out the action a bit unnatural, simulated let-off a bit too much pronounced. the sound was very ok, still - did not enjoy it much. I tried also 705. I ruled Roland out. They didn't have the 708 one at the shop.

CASIO GP510 - I was never considering Casio until I spotted Graham Fitch advertising GP510. That got my attention. However, I tested it once and somehow I never returned to it. If anyone would like me to test it more (applies also to other instruments) I can test sth out, maybe even record it if the dealer will agree. I thought it had the most artificial sound from all of the DPs.

CA 99 - at the first sit - quite a disappointment, but after spending some time, I rather agree now it may be the best DP in its price range. I had to adjust to action (oh my heavy CLP), I did not like the sound at the beginning (with and without headphones - a few comments on that below), had problems with operating the touchscreen (there is a delay before the touchscreen will power on so I could not turn it on the first time, you need to get used to its lower responsiveness than iPad, placement of buttons is at the beginning a bit misleading etc.). So definitely it needs some getting used to.
After the first visit - I was shattered, "my dream piano is not for me" (so sorry @KawaiJames - but, wait for it... smile )
During a second visit, and much more time spent - I started to appreciate it so much more. I want to go back and ask the dealer to move it into a different spot in the shop, and cross-compare with NV10.

CLP685 - big - and positive surprise. I came with the impression it will be very heavy, and I will not like it. First, sit - I liked it! Probably because my clp230 heaviness is similar (more on the CLP6895 heaviness below). Also the sound was super nice (but I am used to Garritan CFX - so felt good because it was familiar?) As of now I ruled it out - it is still heavy and tough to play very light / pp in case of the slow, gentle song for me.

N1UX - I think it is a great choice if you look for good upright action. N1UX has a great interface, both manual (I prefer buttons instead of touch screen, much more responsive in comparison to eg. CA99 for me) and through smart pianist, good sound, good price. It seems to me a good allrounder. Also - initially price of N1UX was my limit, so within budget, yay!
The only thing now stopping me from buying it is that I want grand piano action, not an upright one. But - at the end of the day, will it be a dealbreaker? N1UX seems to me such a well priced, well-rounded instrument, I started to consider it. New, good samples, good sound with/without headphones, great connectivity, responsive UI, closer in price to DP than to N1X... A lot of advantages.

N1 - after I tried it, and played for 1hr, it was a struggle for me to go back to any DP other than CA99. My dealer has n1 in a price comparable to n1ux, so this is one of the candidates for me. My dealer didn't have n1x on-site to compare unfortunately. I loved action N1, the sound was ok-ish, but all other instruments except GT1 and GP510 had better sound for me (and samples). Pity, that you can't connect SmartPianist even with a USB dongle in N1. Still action is a blast. Now I need to decide if I am ok with buying a dated n1 with the price of N1UX, or should I find a deal on N1X?... Still looking for N1X to test out.

Novus N10 - I definitely need to spend more time with this instrument. The action was very ok, I liked more the n1 action though - but this may change. I liked the sound and speakers - I think for apartment use they should be more than enough. Weirdly - the pedals were super heavy! (I will follow up on it in below)

Grantouch GT1 - sound and samples very outdated, still - I had the most joy playing it. The action was even better than N1 for me (maybe well regulated)? A wonder to me. It was priced similarly to CA99. Tough choice - only 1-year warranty from my dealer, would probably need to always use Virtual Pianos, maybe buy dedicated speaker monitors, connectivity only through midi, etc. I decided it is not worth it Still, that joy of playing... I wonder why?

Silent piano - probably not applicable to me. I have access to upright piano already, and would only play in silent mode. Also in my price range, I would be able to get only Yamaha b2 (dealer would give me a good deal on it)


Specific take on actions
The N1 and GT1 had the best actions as of now for me, and closest to grand action (maybe because I am also used to clp230? not sure it applies). Novus N10 - probably a very good contender too, but need to spend more time with it.

As for CLP685 - it has a heavy action it is known for, but I felt it most when playing very softly, pp. It was a problem for me to get good expression while playing quietly/pp on CLP685. maybe because CLP230 action is terrible for soft playing and I am not used to it? It was easy though for me to play slow and quietly on n1. Disclaimer - down the weight of my CLP230 seems to be now around 80g.

But - surprise! What I really liked about CLP685 is "expression control" in mid to high volume. The action felt very "controllable", and rather light for me then. I was able to play fast passages with more ease than on my CLP230 when playing mf/f, not bashing the keyboard, and achieving nice feel and expression. Yamaha advertises 685 as a DP that gives you the best control and expression in DPs. I would agree with that statement a certain extent - it is good to control, but not the same as you get in a grand piano. Difficult to describe it. I had no finger/hand tightening and tiredness after ~40 min of play - probably because of years of hard action with CLP230...

CA99 - at the beginning it was difficult to adjust. After playing on n1 and coming back to it - much better. It is probably as close as it can be to grand action in its price range. I did expect a wow factor compared to my old Clavinova - it did not happen (though it happened in the case of hybrids). I will say like that: comparing to n1 I felt less control, bit more "springiness". Still, it gave me much more control than my old Clavinova. CLP685 gave me more control - but was worse at "soft playing".

GT1 - I enjoyed action the most. Is it because it is an old instrument out and I was always played on older grand pianos? Maybe the mechanics were regulated to be light? Maybe the felt was worn out, so it was rather hard on edges than soft - and I liked it?


NV10 - I definitely spent the least time with it, so expect me to follow up on it. Probably action as good as N1 (different felling of course), but for now - felt that I have less control. CA99 is much closer to n10 than n1 (well, probably it is obvious it should be like that). One thing I noticed: the pedals were sooo heavy! Much more heavy than on any acoustic in the shop. Maybe a defect?


Specific takes on sound:
Acoustic was really bad at the dealer's place, but few notes I took are:
CA 99 - I needed to fiddle a lot with CA99 settings to make them sound right for me. Very good thing - you can fiddle a lot, like in a good proper Virtual Piano. Bad thing - the sound was not enjoyable for me right outside the box, even on headphones. It is probably personal bias after being used to Clavinova sound, so this will be valid to people that want to jump Yamaha ship - expect to land in a different world of sound.
N1 vs N1UX - I feel the sampling difference between N1 and n1ux or even clp685 quite a bit. It is still a jump up from me from my Clavinova.


Some questions:
1. Does someone know what is different in GT1 in comparison to n1/n1x in terms of action? is the difference I feel only the case of this particular instruments and their regulation of the action?

2. Can you regulate the heaviness of pedal in Novus n10? It was much heavier than in a real grand piano in the one I tested

3. Connecting N1 to Garritan CFX - can you play it through internal N1 speakers with a proper loudness (in my CLP230 the volume is too low if I play it directly out of my laptop). Proper loudness = similar to volume range of internal samples.

4. Warranty of Kawai instruments. I was told by dealer that in Poland I get only 2 years of warranty - is that true (the internet says 5 years - but maybe only for the US) (Dear Kawai James - could you maybe confirm that for me or point out where I can get it confirmed? Iw ould much appreciate it)

5. CA99 soundboard made me feel all of the sound comes from behind the piano, while even in upright you still feel that front of the piano is "singing to you". Even when I placed it 20 cm from the wall. It is probably due to the room acoustic, but I wonder - will this design make this instrument behavior vary much more on room acoustic than other instruments? May it be a defect of top speakers in this model? Has anyone had the same impression anywhere?



Options I am considering now:
- find out most important differences between n1 and n1x. Test the n1x. If I will feel difference a lot - gather money and wait/test the heck out of Novus n10 and n1x in the meantime. If not - go for n1.
- make sure that warranty for Kawai in Poland is 5 years or rule out Kawai unfortunately (unfortunately... I really like what they do)
- bargain for GT1 and tinker with it a bit - make a custom GT1 with PC and VST inside, and find monitors that will look well with it. Take a risk of the hassle of getting spare parts in the future
- go for CA99, swallow the touchscreen, hope that I will get used to this tiny feeling of springiness. Or go for N1UX, swallow the fact that I will be the uprightpianoguy, I don't need to play fist repetitions, right? hm...
- Wait for 785 out of curiosity and just postpone everything. Procrastination is a new trend smile



Man, I do overthink stuff... wink



Kind regards to you all,
Peter

Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983610 05/25/20 09:58 AM
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Very informative post, thanks! Keep us posted.


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Currently: Yamaha N1X, DIY hybrid controller -> Garritan CFX
Previously: NU1X, ES7, MP6, CA63, RD-700SX, CDP-100, FP-5, P90, SP-200
Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
CyberGene #2983613 05/25/20 10:11 AM
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I will for sure!

And personally - thank you for your all contributions. As a programmer myself I looked at Cybrid with awe when I found it out through this forum. Your project is fantastic smile
May I ask you why did you switch from N1UX to N1X and personally how it went for you (I suppose it was due to action)? Were you able to sell your N1ux with a good price?

Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983622 05/25/20 10:24 AM
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There was a slight problem with two keys around middle C consistently producing slightly louder sound than the rest, which I confirmed through MIDI when pressing adjacent keys simultaneously. That couldn’t be fixed through re-calibration although Yamaha sent me instructions. I guess it was a problem of defective grey shutters and/or sensors. Also, the infamous loud note issue was there and close to the limits of my tolerance. Add to that it’s an upright action which requires to release keys fully in order to repeat them and it decided it for me. I was still in the 30-day money back period, so I just returned it to Thomann and replaced it with the N1X. It’s almost twice as expensive although it doesn’t feel twice as good. But it’s definitely better and “fixes” all the cons mentioned above, so I can’t be happier. To me it’s a close to perfect instrument and I can say that even after a year. But people are different as you have already realized smile

Thanks for the nice words regarding Cybrid. I’m in the process of publishing it for fred on GitHub but I need to create a good technical description which is what I currently do with a tediously slow pace due to my laziness...


My YouTube, My Soundcloud
Currently: Yamaha N1X, DIY hybrid controller -> Garritan CFX
Previously: NU1X, ES7, MP6, CA63, RD-700SX, CDP-100, FP-5, P90, SP-200
Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983627 05/25/20 10:31 AM
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Thank you for your reply! I will try to test the n1ux in the shop for the issues - just to have another pair of eyes/hands on them.

As for Cybrid - your project still inspires me to try to go for GT1 and start fiddling with it.... Tempting.

Technical descriptions - I have feeling laziness goes with writing specs in a package for everyone smile

Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983630 05/25/20 10:34 AM
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People have had problems playing external audio through the N1 speakers. There seems to be a noise gate, so the sound cuts off when it drops below a certain level.

I'd buy the N1 and not give the matter a second thought, but my only interest is the action.

Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983634 05/25/20 10:42 AM
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johnstaff, thanks for the reply! I will also look if the noise gate exists in n1x. in case of my CLP230, when I play external audio through it simply just seems to be too quiet, but I will look for a cut-off effect there, out of curiosity

Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983636 05/25/20 10:51 AM
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@podski: To your question about the NV10 pedal ... yes, it can be fixed according to folks here who have one. By either shortening or replacing the spring in the pedal the problem can be solved. Search the NV10 threads for details.

This is very good advice. Time and again we hear of people buying sight-unseen, and regretting it.
Originally Posted by podski
Biggest take - going and testing was crucial for me. To anyone in a similar situation - do it multiple times, if possible, and spend quality time with every piano.

I had a similar experience with the CA99. The showroom acoustics were terrible for this piano. And the dealer's headphones were junk. Gotta remember to bring my own phones!
Originally Posted by podski
At the first sit - quite a disappointment ... I did not like the sound at the beginning (with and without headphones - a few comments on that below).

I very much enjoyed the NV10. I visited the store twice and it was clear that this piano had the best action of any I've laid hands on.
Originally Posted by podski
I definitely need to spend more time with this instrument. The action was very ok, I liked more the n1 action though - but this may change.
But I've never tried an N1 or N1X for comparison with the NV10. Gotta try one of those after the lockdown.

I've ruled out the CLP series because of the heaviness.
Originally Posted by podski
As for CLP685 - it has a heavy action it is known for, but I felt it most when playing very softly, pp.
The price is nice, but the action is not so nice.

Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983640 05/25/20 11:01 AM
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Thank you MacMacMac (for this post and all the many others that are helping me on my prolonged choice story)! I will definitely dig through the NV10 threads for the pedal thing.

I think it is really worth trying the n1x - it was much different from me than nv10, I have to spend so much more time with nv10 (and possibly face the horror of gathering up a budget for it in future smile )

As for CLP685 action - agreed, I have a similar impression. It was just a very interesting thing for me, that it was heavier when playing soft and lighter when playing fast (opposite to grand piano if I am correct). Maybe this is why it does not suit everyone, but some say it provides nice control? I wonder if they will change it in 785

Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983645 05/25/20 11:07 AM
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One thing I forgot to mention... In most DP actions, the keys are attached to a pin about which they pivot, but in the 675, 685, and 695 each key is attached to a kind of flexible "wishbone". When you press the key, this bends to allow the key to move. That could account for the strangeness that many people feel when they play the action.

Last edited by johnstaf; 05/25/20 11:10 AM.
Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983647 05/25/20 11:12 AM
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Very interesting johnstaff! I never heard of it. For me, after my CLP230 the 685 is not so hard to play, and the feel strangely appealed to me. If not for problems with soft playing, and just me wanting to go for sth I feel closer to acoustic grand action, I would consider it.

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johnstaf #2983654 05/25/20 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
People have had problems playing external audio through the N1 speakers. There seems to be a noise gate, so the sound cuts off when it drops below a certain level..

The noise gate can be enabled or disabled on the N1X. However, the N1X supports audio over USB, then no need to worry about the AUX IN noise gate.

I haven’t the opportunity to try a N1, but tried a piano sound on the AUX IN of a N3 and found no noise gate. (It is a simple test when the piano sound is recorded on a smartphone... and can be carried yo the shop without PC).


Yamaha CLP150, Bechstein Digital Grand, Garritan CFX, Ivory II pianos, Galaxy pianos, EWQL Pianos, Native-Instrument The Definitive Piano Collection, Soniccouture Hammersmith, Truekeys, Pianoteq
Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983657 05/25/20 11:35 AM
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Frédéric L - thank you, very helpful! Next time in dealer's shop, I plan to bring my Garritan CFX laptop to show the person that I am in contact there (he wanted to try it) - and plan is to hook it up to n1, n1ux, GranTouch1 and nv10, and cross-test. Not sure if I will be able to record, but will try.

Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983658 05/25/20 11:36 AM
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I like the idea of ‘tinkering’ with the GT1 (dedicated computer running VSTs, etc), but considering the age of this model, you should try to get a lower price; and more importantly, a longer warranty.

This is a very old model, and anything can go wrong at anytime. A one-year warranty just isn’t enough. Try to get at least three years with clearly stated terms (parts and labor included, etc).

One proven difference between the GT1 and the AvantGrand (here we go again): pivot length!
The AvantGrand has longer pivots!

One more point: I’m not sure about pricing where you live, but one thing I’m certain of: dealers are full of it regardless of location. So yes, I’d recommend you visit other dealers because you might be surprised about how much the prices will differ from dealer to dealer.

One rule of thumb is that the MSRP’s are always inflated, so, for example, here in the U.S.A. the N2 has an MSRP of $15,000, yet I once got a quote for $7,500 (taxes, delivery, etc. included). By contrast, another dealer wanted $12,000.

To my delight, the bastard dealer went out of business, but rest assured that at least one sucker paid $12,000 and genuinely felt it was a great deal!

Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983661 05/25/20 11:44 AM
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Pete14 - thank you! Yeah, the warranty thing for GT1 is something that I will try to push for.

GT1 vs AvantGrand - I read about it and forgot about it! Didn't spot it at the dealers probably because my clp230 has still shorter pivot lengths and I go used to play far from the pivot (which I feel affected my style quite a bit).

Wow, 7500 sounds like a great deal. I will keep in mind your tip about high MSRPs definitely!

Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983673 05/25/20 12:24 PM
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I didn't know that the GT1 was still in production. Is it?

Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983675 05/25/20 12:28 PM
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Thanks, podski, please keep us updated on your search!

A few comments:

1. As Mac neediness, yes the NV-10 pedal can be adjusted, exactly as an acoustic piano pedal can be. It is indeed heavy from the factory, and a few of us have replaced the spring with a lower rate, and imo it's a great mod if you play with socks.

2. The GranTouch and the AvantGrand both have "true" acoustic grand actions. The hammer design and optical sensors are a bit different on the GT (I'm not sure if it uses a gradient key sensor that the AGs do). Also the GT has a shorter key pivot length than the AG (the GT is shorter than a typical baby grand but looks in line with a lot of uprights).


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Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
podski #2983677 05/25/20 12:29 PM
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I don't think it is produced. The model I found is a used one, according to the dealer bought from the market, and repaired by their store service. I do worry that maintaining it will become a struggle to find spare parts, which Yamaha may stop to produce at one point. Also, I feel the sensors on n1/n1x or nv10 will be superior to the GT1.

Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
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Hey, I do play with socks laugh

As for the true grand actions - before testing, I thought I could settle for a top digital one (let's say ca99). The more I played - the more I am getting on the hybrid train.

Thank you Gombessa for pointing out the differences between the GT! and AvantGrands!~Much appreciated

Re: Choosing between DP and hybrid-feedback after hands-on
Frédéric L #2983712 05/25/20 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Frédéric L
The noise gate can be enabled or disabled on the N1X. However, the N1X supports audio over USB, then no need to worry about the AUX IN noise gate.

I seem to remember someone saying that it can't be bypassed in the N1, but it could in the N2 and N3. I have no idea if that's true or not about the N1.

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