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of hours recently and I started to dream about buying a new digital piano (230 was nice at its time, but it is much outdated now, though I revamped it with VST: Garritan CFX).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
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,
- 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...
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
Man, I do overthink stuff...
Kind regards to you all,