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Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
mwf #2988977 06/08/20 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by mwf
I have budget for either, and have narrowed my choices down to either the NG or CA99 after long and studied thought, months I've spent thinking and I've pretty much had enough lol.

I've played on both several times... I like them both in different ways.

I am thinking most forum members will steer me towards the kawai for obvious reasons, it has the better keyboard action and built in speaker system/soundboard. However i dont feel the sampling is the best and it sounds very average recorded when you listen back, YouTube videos etc.. Playing the piano live is a great experience though.

The NG sampling i feel is superior and has a better choice of pianos and looks cool in red. It also sounds better than anything ive heard (even vsts) recorded. Live playing probably not on par with the kawai though due to poorer speakers (I would use nord piano monitors and have tried them already in shop). I think the action is nice enough and very fast and responsive, certainly doea not compete with the ca99 though.

I would prefer the portability of the nord also and not having to have a one piece cabinet piano in my house. I also like to do a lot of recording so the quality is important to me in that respect. However i do like the thought of having a top wooden action... Its just an impossible decision.

Do i go with the better action/touch or, in my opinion, the better quality pianos on offer and portability? Not completely happy with the ca99 sound wise, absolutely love the touch though, i do play garritan cfx vst through my current yamaha cp4... Do i need a second portable piano.. Should I get a cabinet piano... Its never ending mind, slowly driving me crazy.

I think the Nord Grand sampling is not as good as the CFX sample I played on the CLP685. I'd put the Nord at second place.
Regardless...
The problem with the Nord is not the sample tone quality and not the action; rather, the problem is that it doesn't have realistic dynamic response. That's the reason I think that you feel happier playing the CA99---it feels more like playing a real piano.


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: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
aphexdisklavier #2988984 06/08/20 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by aphexdisklavier
I would never buy an expensive DP because of its sounds. They are outdated in a couple of years anyway. Thats why I bought the VPC1. On the other hand the VPC and the MP11 are much too heavy (in weight) to be a real giggling DP. You always need 2 persons to carry it. Why not buying a MP7 (if you like the action on the NG) +soundmodules or ipad? There is no DP that is perfect for every situation. For the home I would only choose the DP with the best action.

One thing has to be said about the longevity of Nord sounds.
The Nord Grand, like other nord products, will be able to hold up very well over the years.
They continue to release new samples compatible with several previous products in the line.
In this regard, Nord will always be at the forefront of any digital piano company.

Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
Doug M. #2988988 06/08/20 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug M.
The problem with the Nord is not the sample tone quality and not the action; rather, the problem is that it doesn't have realistic dynamic response. That's the reason I think that you feel happier playing the CA99---it feels more like playing a real piano.
I agree and feel the same way about Nords. On demos and in recording the sampling is very nice and approaching VST quality, however when you start playing it's a very underwhelming experience that falls short of the regular digital pianos, even cheap ones. I haven't played a Nord Grand, maybe it depends on the action and its touch curve or something.


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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: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
mwf #2988992 06/08/20 09:12 AM
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It´s a feature that many users ask Nord for all those years.
A deeper control on the touch sensitivity/velocity curve.

I never played a Nord Grand but many reviewers say that it´s the best, by far, Nord product for piano playing experience.
With this major improvement over Nord Stage/Electro, or even, Nord Piano, I imagine that they could, somehow, approximate a lot more the connection between sounds and touch.

Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
Otavio #2988995 06/08/20 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Some people
I would never buy an expensive DP because of its sounds. They are outdated in a couple of years anyway. The Nord Grand, like other nord products, will be able to hold up very well over the years. [...] They continue to release new samples compatible with several previous products in the line.

Not really trying to make a point, but just thinking out loud:

- Are acoustic pianos going to sound different in a few years?
- Are massive improvements in microphones and recording technology going to happen in a few years?

A Nord device from 2020 will likely be able to load samples recorded in 2025, but it still has the elecronics from 2020, so will anything really change?

Is Nord (Clavia) currently not doing sampling properly? Do the Nord sounds not sound like real acoustic pianos?

Will they learn to sample properly in the next few years?

If not and the acoustic pianos stay the same, then nothing will really change for owners of a 2020 Nord product.

Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
clothearednincompo #2989002 06/08/20 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
Originally Posted by Some people
I would never buy an expensive DP because of its sounds. They are outdated in a couple of years anyway. The Nord Grand, like other nord products, will be able to hold up very well over the years. [...] They continue to release new samples compatible with several previous products in the line.

Not really trying to make a point, but just thinking out loud:

- Are acoustic pianos going to sound different in a few years?
- Are massive improvements in microphones and recording technology going to happen in a few years?

A Nord device from 2020 will likely be able to load samples recorded in 2025, but it still has the elecronics from 2020, so will anything really change?

Is Nord (Clavia) currently not doing sampling properly? Do the Nord sounds not sound like real acoustic pianos?

Will they learn to sample properly in the next few years?

If not and the acoustic pianos stay the same, then nothing will really change for owners of a 2020 Nord product.

Just short:

You can not compare DP with acoustic pianos. Acoustics can sound very different from time to time (its a living machine:)) You can change setups (hammers, strings) that gives completely different acoustics. Also your playing style is very important to the produced sound. DPs or VSTs etc sound exactly the same now and in 10 years. So if you are happy with the sound its perfect. In my experience I get tired of every sound library after a while. You want something new and fresh. Because its a digital information not a real produced sound (with millions of components).

Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
mwf #2989009 06/08/20 10:33 AM
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I REALLY appreciate the messages everyone, very helpful, invaluable really.

Just to address one comment about dynamic velocity, ive played on both like i said and actually i waa astounded by the NG velocity curve and dynamics, the sense of connection with the keyboard and how you wanted the resulting sound output was probably the best i have ever experienced on a dp, its kind of more playable than many acoustics ive played. The dynamics were amazing, it had so much room to play with, this threw me back actually.

The kawai was also dynamic, perhaps a little too dynamic and the volume didn't really crank up on the speakers until i really digged in, shows how loud the piano can get.

I'm leaning towards NG more and more as it happens, i think i need to go back to the shop and try them both again, i was hoping for the new yamaha clp 700 range to be released so i could also try them at the same time, ive played the clp 685 and although i liked the sampling and sound, the action had too much downweight friction for it to be enjoyable to play.

Thanks again

Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
mwf #2989037 06/08/20 11:40 AM
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As I expected.


I hope Nord had learned a bit more about connecting sounds and keys (for piano playing) to apply this knowledge(and technology) to the next generation of Nord Pianos / Stage / Electro.
...and also that this partnership with Kawai continues

Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
clothearednincompo #2989061 06/08/20 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
Originally Posted by Some people
I would never buy an expensive DP because of its sounds. They are outdated in a couple of years anyway. The Nord Grand, like other nord products, will be able to hold up very well over the years. [...] They continue to release new samples compatible with several previous products in the line.

Not really trying to make a point, but just thinking out loud:

- Are acoustic pianos going to sound different in a few years?
- Are massive improvements in microphones and recording technology going to happen in a few years?

A Nord device from 2020 will likely be able to load samples recorded in 2025, but it still has the elecronics from 2020, so will anything really change?

Is Nord (Clavia) currently not doing sampling properly? Do the Nord sounds not sound like real acoustic pianos?

Will they learn to sample properly in the next few years?

If not and the acoustic pianos stay the same, then nothing will really change for owners of a 2020 Nord product.

I'm certainly a newbie in the piano world, but based on my knowledge in the audio and tech industry, it could continue to make significant improvements on the DP sound, mainly because the sound from a DP doesn't only depend on the acoustic sample sound and recording, but also the storage limit and processing power. It's reasonable to assume audible difference between a 1GB and a 10GB sample database, and the same case if processing power increases by 10 times. I'm not surprised if the so called Hi-Res hype may get into the DP world some day.

Also, don't get me started on the modelling sound engines many companies are working on. It may not be good enough now, but it's also getting better.

Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
Doug M. #2989062 06/08/20 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug M.
I think the Nord Grand sampling is not as good as the CFX sample I played on the CLP685. I'd put the Nord at second place..

Someone else on the Keyboard Corner forum made the same observation. He owns both the NG and P-515. Plus he owns a Kawai RX-7, in addition to some Fulcrum Acoustic speakers, the high end Sonosax SX-R4+ recorder, an array of VSTs and other boutique gear. So I don't take his comments lightly. He goes into great detail if you click on * in a different thread are here*.

Originally Posted by Nathanael_I
My thoughts in a different thread are here.

I own a P515, which is on my composing desk as the main keyboard. The Nord Grand (and its Kawai action) is my preference, but is in the live rig. It is not as good a form-factor for my desk. I do, strangely, also like the built in speakers. Sometimes, when some other sound is up in the DAW, I just raise the fader on the speakers, and I can play piano quickly.

The only thing I haven't mentioned elsewhere in other threads is that the edges of the P515 keys are sharper than the Kawai or my RX-7 acoustic grand. The Nord Grand are rounded over and smooth like butter. The P515 are "crisp". I don't prefer that. The P515 is heavily damped, and much quieter than the Nord Grand, but this makes the action feel heavier and sluggish. Both are capable of expressive, nuanced playing. I do prefer the Nord Grand. I do not like Fatar actions if that is helpful to know my biases. I can be happy on either the Kawai or Yamaha actions. I prefer to play other samples with either than what is inside. The P515 sample is better than any of the Nord samples. The sampling has real pianissimo samples. The Nord piano library pianos start at mp and don't have pp or p samples. This may or may not matter. Playing the Synchron Steinway with the surround speakers on and everything at acoustic volume level is quite satisfying. Not selling the RX-7. But its the samples and amplification that keep the slab pianos from much greater success. The raw keyboard mechanisms on these triple sensor keyboards are quite good.


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Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
mwf #2989066 06/08/20 01:02 PM
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"The Nord piano library pianos start at mp and don't have pp or p samples"
This is true.
Or, at least, it how i felt with Stage 2.

Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
mwf #2989068 06/08/20 01:09 PM
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And even more from Nathanael right after he purchased the NG. A long read but good.

Originally Posted by Nathanael_I
Well, my Nord Grand arrived last week while I was overseas on business. So, I had a bit of a present waiting for me on my return! I got it out and have spent a few hours with it. My initial impressions follow. I purchased it to be the lower tier of a live rig. The flat top is specifically useful to me. The fact that I can load in my own synth samples is specifically useful. That it has a Kawai action and not Fatar was very important to me. The lower tier is about AC piano for me, so aftertouch and other things just didn't matter. The fact that it came with a triple pedal and triple sensor were both factors. If it is to be a piano, then be one! I do use the sostenuto pedal on my RX-7, so why not have it on the Nord? This is for a laptop rig, so all the splits and layers will be done in Gig Performer. So, I was not put off by the minimal MIDI implementation Nord seems to think is useful.

I purchased it without playing it. But, I have owned Yamaha P-series before, and played most of the boards on the market, including the Kawai MP7 and MP11. I have long appreciated both Yamaha and Kawai actions (and the Roland RD-2000). So I wasn't too concerned about feel. If it matched MP7, I'd be happy. I do not care for the Fatar weighted actions and avoid them for piano action. I do like the Fatar 8/S premium synth action, however (its on the Solaris, Quantum, etc). I played the CP88 recently, and found that in the CP88, the only sounds I really liked were the AP's - and not being able to change the other sounds was a limitation. The action on the CP88 was fine.

The weight others have mentioned is no bother to me. It is lightweight compared to something like a Kronos 88. I had no trouble maneuvering it. I do wish Nord had already released a new soft bag for it. I will wait for their bag, as I don't really want a 30lb case for it.

Presentation/Quality. The instrument is pleasingly solid and well built. On my custom Gibraltar stand, it is rock solid. It is as stable as my Kawai RX-7 - nothing moves except the keys. I didn't expect to think "this is nice" with an electronic instrument, but it is elegant for what it is. My 8 year old daughter said, "It looks good". So there you have it.

Keys/Action/Feel. It feels great. It is almost indistinguishable from my RX-7. The Nord Grand feels just a smidge lighter - I bet it would weigh off about the same, but there is just more friction in wood parts. Most importantly, it can play softly. So many inexpensive keyboards just can't play softly, and even light playing generates MIDI 50-60's. It's like throwing half the dynamic range away! This can play softly under control, and like anything else generate "127s" without strain. The keys themselves feel great. Whatever "ivory touch" they have is quite nice. The action is "fast" and is not in the way for runs and flourishes. There's plenty of room for anyone to prefer something different, but honestly, if you can't play expressively on this, it isn't the instrument's fault. The MP11SE or Kawai CA-98 might be nicer, but they are in different categories and not suitable for this portable purpose. I'll play a Yamaha P515 on Wed or Thursday this week and be able to compare, but I expect both to be fully adequate for my purpose. The Nord Grand is a better form factor than the P515 for my purposes.

Acoustic Piano Sounds. The new White Grand is a good sample for live playing. It is definitely a very close miked sound. I'd prefer a bit more space and maybe a tiny bit less brightness from close miking, but this is also what makes it a good sample for live playing. It will sound great in a mix. I was playing through my Fulcrum PA at about the same volume as my acoustic piano. My wife came downstairs and asked if I'd been playing the Nord yet. When I responded that's pretty much all I've been playing, she said, "From upstairs I couldn't tell the difference". There's decent variety in the Nord Piano library. None are "state-of-the-art". But if I need that, I can put the Ravenscroft or VSL Synchron Steinway on the laptop. The Synchron Steinway defines state of the art. The uprights have interesting and useful character.

I have a Kawai RX-7 a few feet from the Nord Grand. The sound character of the White Grand is definitely familiar. The big difference to recording my piano is that the Nord Grand is hyper clean. The "string resonance" is much less than what occurs on a real grand, or even a state-of-the-art large piano library like Vienna Synchron Steinway. So, this provides a "clarity" of sorts. This is probably better for live use in a band anyway. For pure solo piano, it's probably 25% of what my RX-7 does. Part of this is likely also tuning related. The Nord sample is, of course, completely perfectly tuned. My RX-y is tuned regularly , but is probably not as "in tune" at any given time as the Nord sampling session - perhaps right after it is tuned. So a bit of thickness from tuning and a real soundboard are the two differences that I hear. I've spent a lot of time recording and miking up my piano, so these were obvious to me, but might be a lot less so to someone else if you don't have experience sampling and recording pianos.

The other immediate difference to my RX-7 is the sample length. For normal live playing purposes the Nord Grand is fine. But if you take the G above middle C, my RX-7 will ring out for about 25 seconds with or without the sustain pedal. The Nord Grand is gone after 3 seconds or so played without sustain, and 6-7 sec with the sustain pedal. This is where a piano sample of a few hundred MB is just necessarily limited. In practical playing it is adequate, but it does show how they can fit so many pianos into 2GB- they aren't really very long samples. I suppose it helps with polyphony as well - if the note is done, the oscillator is free again.

The Nord "soft, mid, bright" control makes a definite difference. The soft is not quite a felted piano, but it takes off both attack and high end. The "bright" adds high and removes low. The "mid" puts in a mid bump. I'm not sure where I'd use it, but it puts a fairly narrow 1-2 octave boost around middle C. I can see using the "soft" as an effect.

E-piano sounds. Adequate, but not exceptional. My go to is the "Canterbury Rhodes" sample put out by Sonic Couture, and it is on my laptop. So the Nord e-pianos are fine for "take only one board" purposes. And that's all I'd ask them to be. If I was only playing e-piano and it was the core of my sound, I would personally have other samples in mind. But these are quite usable.

All other sounds. Uninteresting to me (except the basses - which are useful). I will probably remove almost all. My plan is to sample a few things from my OB-6 and Solaris and put my own default synth pads in place. The included synths are pretty close to "bad, flat ROMpler sounds", in my opinion. When playing with "one board", I'd prefer to load in my own. When playing with full rig, I'll use the OB-6 or other devices. I don't plan to play horns or orchestral parts on this keyboard, so the weakness here is not very important to me, but may be to you. I'm used to hearing professional orchestral sample libraries that are 100's of GB in size. No keyboard sounds are going to sound "good" to me at this point, so it isn't a decision making point for me.

UI. The overall Nord UI is easy and fast. No manual required, and it just works. They really do get the most important things immediately accessible. I don't understand having a synth section without a filter knob, but other than that, the desired things are easy to get to. The rear panel is simplicity itself. This is an instrument for playing, not tweaking or deep customization. It really is a piano, and for a piano it has a lot of features. But for a synth/rompler, it is devoid of many things. Horses for courses....

FX. Convenient. Not as good as a Blue Sky reverb, or an Eventide H9 pedal. But convenient and adequate. If I get picky, I have other things that are much better. But for emergency "one board" use? perfectly adequate.

So, I am happy with it. It will serve me very well for many years as a portable piano, and weighed controller in a laptop rig. The action is as good as I've played (its been a while since I played the MP-11...), and certainly won't stop me from doing anything I can do on my RX-7 at home. When playing the White Grand, the touch-to-sound is wonderful. The instrument is very responsive and dynamically interesting. This is an instrument that you quickly explore and then it is all about playing. this one isn't for tweaking and getting lost for hours making sounds. It is for playing. And playing piano at that.

Originally Posted by Nathanael_I
As I continue to learn the instrument, I am very pleased with the action. The action is better than the Nord Piano Library samples can demonstrate. Using a MIDI monitor, it is quite possible to play MIDI values in the teens consistently and evenly. Playing my RX7 this softly has significant timbre implications. The tone softens as well as diminishing in volume. On the RX-7, pp is a distinctly different timbre than p. The Nord samples pretty much start at an mp timbre and go up. The lower timbral layers are just not in the sample, and the brightness is accentuated by the very close mic positions used. To get softer, the sostenuto pedal brings it down, and one can use the EQ to soften it more, but it still isn't quite the same as having sample data. The Nord samples seem optimized for modern genre's where the softest layers really aren't needed. The piano gets very bright and loud in the upper layers and it is clearly optimized with more detail in the upper end than the lower end of the velocity range. This is likely the right choice, but it does again point out where they've saved sample space by under-sampling the instrument.

So, I turned off the Nord piano section, and loaded up Keyscape and the Yamaha C7 sample it features. I turned off all the effects and EQ so it was just the raw sample and a little reverb. Now the lower layers were all present, and the timbral variations one expects from low velocity playing were all present. I switched over to Pianoteq, and the same thing - soft playing had all the color shifts expected. It's MIDI monitor confirmed that I was playing under 25 consistently, and able to make accents in the 30 range easily. Now, I don't practice to make a MIDI monitor behave - but having control at lower velocities is what you get out of a big grand AND an excellent digital piano action. Control at lower velocities is what I find missing on budget weighted actions. This is of no concern for banging out rock and roll, but for more acoustic work, there is a lot of nuance and expression down there.

So, that's why I say that the action is better than the Nord Piano library - the instrument is more expressive than its own samples can demonstrate. Changing to other grand piano samples on the Nord can also shift the timbre, but there's no one sample that covers the tonal range of my RX-7. The big software pianos fill this in, however. So in the context of a laptop rig, this Nord Grand is a wonderful controller keyboard for large libraries.

Interestingly, the Yamaha P-515 sample doesn't have this limitation - it has samples for the lower layers and gets softer as expected. It doesn't have as good an action feel in an absolute sense, but it is a more complete instrument where internal sounds are concerned. That CFX sample is definitely better than anything in the Nord library.

I haven't loaded the VSL Synchron Steinway onto my laptop, but I may connect the Nord Grand up to the composing rig just to play that sample. I suspect it is a delightful experience. That sample is amazingly realistic and expressive. (It is also massive).


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Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
mwf #2989102 06/08/20 03:11 PM
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Quite an expensive MIDI controller.


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Previously: NU1X, ES7, MP6, CA63, RD-700SX, CDP-100, FP-5, P90, SP-200
Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
mwf #2989133 06/08/20 04:45 PM
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Very useful information thanks, this guy with the NG clearly knows his stuff. However the size of the sample doesnt mean its 'better' period. More memory does not mean its more musical and enjoyable to play/interact with.

To say the p515 sample is 'better' than any nord samples is a bold statement too, personally i listen to for example the velvet grand or white grands on the nord and to my ears they are more unique and richer than any yamaha sample ive heard.

https://youtu.be/_kW-s7xboRI

I've not heard anything as rich and impressive from yamaha samples as this white grand demo for example. Its not perfect in the midrange and some notes come off poorly and digitized (0:26 onwards) but if you listen to parts like the 1:43 section its unusually authentic, also the starting chords are very impressive.

I am sure all that memory put into vsts makes the fidelity higher and the quality of the sample overall, but it doesn't make it more musical or playable.

Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
mwf #2989147 06/08/20 05:29 PM
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Richness of timbre is not everyone's primary evaluation criterion for a DP piano sound. I care more about control of dynamic level, control of voicing, and having a sufficiently even tonal sustain to play in a cantabile style. These are the the aspects of the piano sound that will enable or limit good support of classical repertoire. The action responsiveness, which is actually even more subjective than tonal evaluation, is the other important feature for me.


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Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
Sweelinck #2989155 06/08/20 05:37 PM
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I dont mean richness of timbre, I mean overall richness of the sample/sound, depth/richness, lots of things I feel are important not just richness of timbre.

Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
mwf #2989167 06/08/20 06:24 PM
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My response is the same, just replace "timbre" with sound/sample/whatever. How well the DP supports a range of different interpretive styles is what I care about.


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Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99
mwf #2989269 06/09/20 03:33 AM
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Originally Posted by mwf
I dont mean richness of timbre, I mean overall richness of the sample/sound, depth/richness, lots of things I feel are important not just richness of timbre.
I am feeling the same as you do as what you wrote in your other comments.I have had a Nord stage and electro’s over the years and in a band context i never felt better playing piano parts that actually sounded like an organic piano up front.
Probably something ingrained in my brain ( like some posters here have with pianoteq) but i hate Yamaha stage piano sounds with a vengeance. The only one i ever had was a P120. When i re entered a band i considered a CP5 (mehhh.. not at all to my liking) and bought two Nords instead. And people posting their clips how cool the CP sounds only confirms how i dislike that polished crystal ‘perfect‘ Yamaha sound.
Mind you i did a lot of private dinners as a pianist and had to buy a Yamaha Tyros 2 for a live ballroom interval with more than piano. It’s the same approach....all those sounds were thin and processed like crazy....glad i stopped doing that.


What people wright about the limited dynamics of Nord is true....the keybed of the stage was mediocre too...but the silver grand i used at that time made up for it.

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