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What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
#3013381 08/13/20 10:26 AM
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Hi, I'm new here. All my long life I've played acoustic guitar which I always fingerpick. I use the guitar for solo vocal accompaniment for my original folk songs. Due to my arthritis I will need to give up the guitar. I've never played piano, but I could easily teach myself. I'm fully familiar with music theory.
I'm thinking of using keyboards instead. I'm not interested in an actual "piano" as they are too big, too loud and I can't carry a piano around. However, I do desire the "acoustic" element of the piano sound.
What I'm not interested in is digital keyboards with a million different sounds, accompaniments and complex controls. I want one that sounds as "acoustic" as possible when recorded, when listened to live with earphones, and when listened to live when plugged into speakers or an amp. I would also like it to have its own speakers.
Just a nice sounding "acoustic" type tone is the way to go for me. I require nothing else tone wise.
So, it needs to be simple and with few controls, with a nice, top rate acoustic tone, and be able to be plugged in for recording and for playing live.
I want the quality and tone to be extremely good, and the technical complexity to be extremely simple and basic (just set a few dials, plug in, and play). I will be playing only my own original folk songs and not pop or commercial type music. I'm not talking about a beginners instrument ..... it needs to produce a top quality "acoustic" type tone.
Can you recommend a suitable keyboard for me please?
Thanks.

Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013413 08/13/20 11:52 AM
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Nord beats all, by quality and quantity.
If you wanna a the best sounding piano tones.

Now, the whole package....keys, velocity, connection, expression, piano settings.... Nord will probably stay behind others.

Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013416 08/13/20 11:57 AM
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Budget?


Kawai K-500
Casio PX-735 (in retirement)
Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
Otavio #3013421 08/13/20 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Otavio
Nord beats all, by quality and quantity.

There are no Nords that have the built-in speakers he wants.

The short list of each brand's top portable with speakers would be: Kawai ES8, Yamaha P-515, Roland FP-90, Dexibell P7 (with one of the optional free downloadable "platinum" piano sounds), Korg SV-2SP, Casio PX-360 (which I"m listing rather than the PX-560 because in this case the better model does not give you a better piano sound or action, which are the only things that matter here).

Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013467 08/13/20 03:32 PM
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Sounds like you should check out the Yamaha P-515. It's such a popular instrument on here due to it's great piano samples, good value and loud speakers.


Finally bought the P515
Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
anotherscott #3013490 08/13/20 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by anotherscott
. . . Casio PX-360 (which I"m listing rather than the PX-560 because in this case the better model does not give you a better piano sound or action, which are the only things that matter here).

PX-360 has 500+ instruments and 200 rhythms, still complicated. Why not recommend the Casio PX-160, then, which has fewer sounds and features, but same key action and the piano sounds as PX-360 and 560. And, of course, it's cheaper.

Last edited by hes; 08/13/20 04:38 PM.
Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
hes #3013499 08/13/20 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by hes
Why not recommend the Casio PX-160, then, which has fewer sounds and features, but same key action and the piano sounds as PX-360 and 560. And, of course, it's cheaper.
Good point, it could be worth a look too. It has no MIDI jacks, and the speakers are not as good, and it has fewer variations of the piano sound available... but it does have the same main piano sound (through phones, external amplification, or when recording), and same action.

Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013503 08/13/20 05:03 PM
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A MIDI jack is useful with an expander. With a PC, the USB is functionally equivalent.


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: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013512 08/13/20 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by folksingerjim
. . . I've never played piano, but I could easily teach myself. I'm fully familiar with music theory. . . .

FWIW (and possibly off-the-wall) --

Definitions that I'll use, to avoid trouble:

. . . An "acoustic piano" is a wood-and-steel piano.

. . . A "digital piano" (= DP) is an electronic instrument with 88 _weighted-action_ keys,
. . . . and at least one sound that imitates an acoustic piano.

. . . A "keyboard" is an electronic instrument with "synth-action" (spring-loaded) keys. They all
. . . have sounds that imitates an acoustic piano (some better, some worse).

(a) I think you're underestimating what it will take, to learn to play piano (or keyboard), with arthritis.

Your knowledge of theory won't help you, much. If your music demands (for example) an E major scale, in the right hand, theory tells you what notes to play:

. . . actually playing them, in time, with controlled dynamics, is a "hard real-time task",
. . . like riding a bicycle.

If you've been playing finger-picked guitar, you'll have some of the fine-muscle control in the RH that's needed for that. But plucking a string is not the same as striking a key, and you'll have to develop new technique to match the new instrument.

So I suspect it's going to be harder than you think.

(b) If you read the threads here, you'll find that "piano sound" is different from "piano touch". A digital piano may have a "good touch" (= "a touch like an acoustic piano"), and could have a "bad tone" (= "a tone not like an acoustic piano"), or vice versa:

. . . the two things are independent.

Similarly, a keyboard feels completely different from a DP or acoustic piano, and most players here wouldn't like it -- but it could have a really "good tone". (Regular readers: Think about a good VST, controlled by a keyboard. Or a keyboard, MIDI-ed into an Avant Grand.)

Since you have no experience playing acoustic pianos, _and_ you have arthritis in your fingers, it's possible that a keyboard, with tone(s) that match an acoustic piano, might be the best thing for you to use. It might be easier on your hands than a DP (the keys are easier to press down), and (since you're starting from scratch) you could probably get acceptable dynamic control of it.

You can get a keyboard with enough keys (61) to play most pop/ folk material, and with several professionally-acceptable piano tones. I'm thinking about a low-end pro keyboard in the Yamaha Motif family -- an MX61, or a MOXF6. (There are 73-key versions of similar keyboards from other makers. I thought Yamaha made them, but they're not in the current catalog. ???).

They're loaded with knobs and buttons and extra tones -- but you don't have to use any of them. You can just play the first tone that loads, which is an imitation acoustic piano.

(c) Neither the MX61 nor the MOXF6 has built-in loudspeakers. Choosing loudspeakers starts with:

. . . "What's your budget, and
. . . . how much weight can you lift?"

and I don't have any specific suggestions. For practice and learning, headphones or "powered monitors" (e.g. anything from a Roland Cube, on up) are adequate.

The minimum weight for a DP is around 25 pounds, and the P-515 is 48 pounds. The MX61 is about 11 pounds, the MOXF6 is 15.6 pounds.

A P-515 (or one of the other DP's mentioned) is great, but might not be _your_ best bet.


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013530 08/13/20 06:16 PM
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Hi Jim,

Sorry to hear about your arthritis. I've been playing acoustic and electric guitars for 48 years, broke all ten fingers in a bicycle accident 10 years ago and my surgeon told me I'd never play again but I did, just a few months after the surgery. I'm sure arthritis will set in before long though!

I started playing the piano 15 years ago so maybe I'll be able to help you by sharing my experience.

You will not be playing the piano the same way a trained classical pianist plays the piano so your requirements will probably be quite different but I've found that coming from acoustic guitars, where our hands actually feel the strings and soundboard, touch is very important so I always need a very realistic piano action. You talked mostly about acoustic piano sounds and realistic piano sounds go hand in hand with realistic piano feel. I now own 13 keyboards, 3 of which are 88-note digital pianos. I can't play a single piano song using even the best synth action keyboard. In my experience, "modern" piano playing is easier on your fingers than guitar. I was able to do a 3-hour performance on the piano 2 months after my hand surgery but couldn't play the guitar for a few more months.

If you can find a good used PX-160, I'd start with something like that; it's simple, light and inexpensive. Down the road, if you decide to move up or move on, you won't be out much money. I'm playing a Kawai MP11se at home but still use my Casio for gigs.

If you live in Southern California, you're welcome to borrow one of mine until you buy your own. I'm not doing any live shows right now smile

Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
djvu10 #3013590 08/13/20 09:46 PM
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It seems a lot of people are ignoring the
Originally Posted by FolksingerJim
I'm not talking about a beginners instrument ..... it needs to produce a top quality "acoustic" type tone.
part of this...


Finally bought the P515
Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013637 08/14/20 01:30 AM
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Some might call Casio's piano sound top quality. And others can't stand it.

Most digital pianos do sound quite good at least and might be good enough. There are demos on YouTube.

Can't really say anything about the hammer action vs. synth action topic as I don't have any specific hand problems myself. But there are some "digital pianos" with lighter keys such as the Korg B2N.

It isn't a Nord but the sound might be good enough and it's cheap.

Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013639 08/14/20 01:37 AM
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Opinions about piano sounds vary a lot here, so probably there won't be a consensus on the most realistic one.

But I wouldn't argue against Nord.

Dexibell could be something to check out and judge yourself. They have the VIVO S1 too which is more of a keyboard than digital piano if that form factor is what you're after.

Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013640 08/14/20 01:44 AM
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Yamaha P-515
In the market for an acoustic grand.
Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013650 08/14/20 02:44 AM
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Since there’s no budget limitation, I would recommend Yamaha N3X, N1X and Kawai NV10, NV5.


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: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013653 08/14/20 02:55 AM
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From the OP:

Quote
. . . I'm not interested in an actual "piano" as they are too big, too loud and I can't carry a piano around.

So "portability" is a requirement -- let's leave the Avant Grands and CA98's out of the discussion.

Similarly:

Quote
. . . I want the quality and tone to be extremely good, and the technical complexity to be extremely simple and basic (just set a few dials, plug in, and play). . . .

So a VPC-1 controlling a sample-based VST running on a PC, is barred.

Last edited by Charles Cohen; 08/14/20 02:56 AM.

. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013688 08/14/20 06:37 AM
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Not exactly what you are asking, but some popular piano VSTi-s are acoustically better than most (if not all) existing on-board piano sounds. If you are comfortable with computer, you can acquire a simple light-touch hammer action keyboard and some beautifully sounding piano plugin(s).

We can recommend such keyboards and plugins.

Last edited by Andrew_G; 08/14/20 06:39 AM.
Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013690 08/14/20 06:46 AM
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P-515!

Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
FolksingerJim #3013691 08/14/20 06:48 AM
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We should create a poll of P-515 vs ES-8 or whatever it's successor becomes, then see which one is more popular among users here.


Yamaha P-515

"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is never enough for music."
-Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Re: What's the most acoustic sounding digital keyboard?
clothearednincompo #3013752 08/14/20 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
Some might call Casio's piano sound top quality. And others can't stand it.

Most digital pianos do sound quite good at least and might be good enough. There are demos on YouTube..
Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
Opinions about piano sounds vary a lot here, so probably there won't be a consensus on the most realistic one.
Exactly. I hesitated about adding Casio to the rest of my list ("Kawai ES8, Yamaha P-515, Roland FP-90, Dexibell P7 with one of the optional free downloadable 'platinum' piano sounds, Korg SV-2SP") because I think most people wouldn't consider the Casio's piano to be quite in the league of those others, but it IS subjective and so I likewise hesitated to rule them out.

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