Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!
I need a high quality midi controller, for music production and serious piano playing. The keyboard action also needs to be fast (not slow return), so hammond and synth playing will work decently. I tried to purchase Roland's A-88mkII keyboard, but it has serious QC issues right now, in my experience anyway.
So, I need to find another model, unfortunately there aren't a lot to choose between anymore. Komplete Kontakt and Arturia are not good enough, in terms of keyboard action afaik. So, basically all that is left is to get a decent stage piano, and use it as a midi controller.
Does anyone here have any experience with Roland's RD-88? Any quality issues with keybed, double-triggering of keys etc.? Can this keyboard control independent octave transposing for the different zones (I need it for playing organ tracks in Logic)?
I'm also looking at Yamaha's CP88, though I've read that the keyboard action doesn't have escapement, which makes me a bit hesitant. It's supposed to be good though, from what I've read.
Any advice or comments for the best midi controller option would be appreciated, thanks!
Yamaha CP4 action was widely described as being one of the fastest action you can find in digital pianos, so from the two I would definitely go with CP88 which has very similar action, but graded. The fast response issue is why I moved from Roland action to Yamaha action (P-515). Don't worry about lack of escapement mechanical feel much. In digital piano world the escapement feature is mechanical impression of some resistance in particular place of key throw together with the presence of third sensor. What you really need is that third sensor, and those Yamahas CP4 CP88 have this third sensor. It allows you to retrigger the note without fully releasing the key.
I was shopping for a dp with similar requirements a couple of months ago. After several testing sessions I went with the cp88 purely on the strength of the keybed. The piano sounds are flat out bad to my ears so I use it with garritan cfx but the action is everything I hoped for. It has weight, resistance, feeling of robustness, entirely wood made. As for escapement I don't know but I can tell you the return is very fast, meaningfully faster that my acoustic Yamaha u1. I can play difficult passages much more easily on the cp88. I realize it may be non sensical to spend close to 2ks for sounds I am not using but the action is that good to me. I compared all the Nords, Kawais and casios , nothing comes close. Kawais are good enough for me, Nords truly bad, worst price performance. Admittedly didn't have a chance to try out the rolands. Final note, the studio logic master for less than 1k is also really good IMO. If you only use it as a master keyboard try it out, is good and will save you some bucks. Just my experience, good luck!
White keys have wooden cores (not only sides like some others). Black keys are plastic. All NW (Natural Wood) actions share that design. NW, NW-stage, NW-GH NW-GH3. NWX. I'm not sure if all those variants exist :P Kawai RHIII is quite similar, but lighter and bouncy at key return. Unfortunately I haven't played PHA-50 from Roland. It is higher end action than RD88 action (PHA-IV Standard). PHA-IV Standard action isn't bad, I would say it is on good side. But it is not the king (or queen) of fast repetitions.
I've actually been favoring the CP88, because of both its compact size and nice design. I've noticed that the PHA-4 standard action in A-88mkII (and RD-88) isn't as quick as it could've been, although a very good action overall IMO. I'm gonna go to a local music store and test out the RD-88, just to be sure. Btw. I also use Garritan CFX, it's a great piano sound.
Also, I'm a bit hesitant to buy a brand new model from Roland right now (RD-88 is very similar to A-88mkII), feels like I'm tempting fate at this point (had to return 3 A-88mkII).
Thanks for the advice, I'll let you know how it goes, but I'm pretty sure I'll go for CP88.
Yes you can. You can define up to 4 different zones, possibly overlapping, each with its own midi channel, transpose and many more parameters. Just download the manual, easy to find on the web, and look for advanced zone settings.
I need a high quality midi controller, for...serious piano playing. The keyboard action also needs to be fast (not slow return), so hammond and synth playing will work decently.:)
I guess it depends how fussy you want to be, but if you get something truly strong for "serious piano playing," it is rare for it to be so much as "decent" for Hammond work. A quick return is not sufficient.
That said, the 88-key piano boards I found that have been most amenable to organ have been the Kawai MP7 (not sure about the MP7SE which uses a different action) and the Kurzweil models that use the Fatar TP/40L which would include the Forte (but not Forte SE) and the 88 key models in the PC3 series (PC3X, PC3K8, PC3A8, PC3LE8). Also above average for this are the 88 key versions of Nord Stage series and Nord Piano series, and probably the soundless Studiologic SL88 Grand (which I haven't had a chance to try myself). The old Rolands with the orginal Progressive Hammer Action e.g. FP-2) could be good choices, too (and the later PHA-2 models are probably above average for this as well). People who are very fussy about their piano actions wouldn't call these first rate piano actions, but they are pretty good for piano and better than most piano actions for organ. In general, the ones best for piano are less good for organ and vice versa.
Best would be to get two boards. Even a real Steinway piano, no matter how quick, would make for a poor organ experience, and a genuine Hammond would make for a poor piano experience. Inherently, the things that make things more authentic feeling for one make them worse for the other. To get something even passably decent for organ probably means avoiding anything that is really top notch for piano.
Just for a more complete summary, I'd say that other actions which have a quick feel (though still not so good for organ) include some other older models... Yamaha CP1 and CP5 (which are quicker feeling than the later CP4), and Roland FP7 and FP7F (which are quicker feeling than the current Rolands). Also, some of the early Casio Privias like the PX-x00 and PX-x10 are pretty quick (again, more so than later/current models).
p.s. -- another piano action that probably feels above average for organ would be the one used in (I believe) any of the 88-key Dexibell models. That's also a TP40 variant in the same family as the Kurzweil, Nord, and Studiologic models I mentioned.
Thanks Marklings, I did look at the PDF manual, but it wasn't very specific, I just wanted a 100% confirmation.
Anotherscott, thanks for the detailed descriptions of the different key actions, you sure have tested more than me. Unfortunately the local music store didn't have the CP88 on display any longer, but I tried a P-515 which is supposed to be fairly similar (I think), and its key action felt very quick and responsive. I already have a 5 octave Komplete Kontakt keyboard, that I can use for proper hammond stuff.
Some of those other weighted midi-keyboards with Fatar keybeds tend to be noisy and a bit clunky in my experience (maybe the grand action is improved), so I'd rather take a high quality Yamaha or Roland keyboard action. Clavia keyboards are very expensive, and tend to be a bit quirky, so I'm not sure they are the best option as a midi-controller.
The CP88 definitely seems like the best option AFAIK, in terms of overall price and features. Thanks again!