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DP / Stage Piano Recs - Roland RD-88 or...?
#3024662 09/13/20 12:33 PM
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Hi All - first post after weeks of lurking and researching. Hoping for input on what to buy.

Long post, sorry - tl;dr bullet points of what I'm looking for: quality "realistic" action/feel, good sound, good midi controller (pitch/mod wheels a plus), reasonably portable/gigable, sub $1,500 (could be flexed if really worth it). Looking seriously at the Roland RD-88, but open to suggestions.

This'll be a blind purchase. Pandemic + respiratory history = not keen to go into an indoor space with other people to play around for a few hours. I know best would be to try hands-on, but here we are...

Ok, tons of context: around 2014 I bought a P105 (best I could afford then) and just hated it. It felt like an expensive toy to me - plastic-y, squishy, sluggish. Sold within 6 months.

About a year later, got a free big, beat up upright off craigslist. Veneer tops falling off some keys, charmingly slightly out of tune, a couple dead keys at the very top and just LOVED that thing. Played a couple nice grands and uprights in studios over the few years I had that upright, still loved the upright.

Two years ago, moved to a small apartment and have been piano-less, looking to buy a digital now. Been concentrating on guitar and organ in the meanwhile, but missing piano.

I understand it won't be exactly an acoustic, but I'd like to get as close as I reasonably can. Most important, it needs to feel like an instrument, unlike the P105. I started on a Farfisa, had a Hammond M3 for a few years, and moved to a Hammond SK1. It's digital, but it feels like an instrument when I play organ, not like playing a computer (playing EPs, APs, other sounds, then it feels like I'm playing a computer, so I use it for organ only).

I do enough recording at home that it needs to work well for midi control w/ a DAW. I also don't expect to take it out live, but I've been playing live in bands long enough that it feels weird to buy anything that isn't capable of doing a gig if needed. So I'm leaning toward a stage piano.

I should note that I'm not a classical player. I'm a rock n roll / pop player and while I'm looking to take lessons to improve, I'm aiming for Leon Russell more than Chopin.

With all that, what do you think is the best I can do for under $1,500? The RD-88 has the same action as lower end Rolands, while the Korg D1 has the same action as higher end Korgs. Stepping up to the $2k+ range feels... well, the higher I go from $1k, the more it feels like I'm sinking in a lot of cash on a blind purchase. But is it all low-end action until I step up to something in the next price bracket? If so, what's the lowest price I can go for quality action? I've bought/flipped enough cheap guitar stuff to know that it's worth investing in quality in the long run, but the piano game is an expensive one...

Thanks for any input!

Re: DP / Stage Piano Recs - Roland RD-88 or...?
OldManoftheDesert #3024776 09/13/20 08:24 PM
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As far as stage pianos go, the RD-88 has the same action as mid to higher end Rolands: FP10, FP30 as well as FP60.
Some even prefer its PHA-4 action to the one in Roland’s high end FP90.

Re: DP / Stage Piano Recs - Roland RD-88 or...?
OldManoftheDesert #3024777 09/13/20 08:26 PM
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On a more prosaic note: the RD-88 just went up with $100 this week at most outlets.
Maybe you can still get the old price somewhere.

Re: DP / Stage Piano Recs - Roland RD-88 or...?
OldManoftheDesert #3024801 09/13/20 10:13 PM
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I recently bought the Kawai ES-110 and have been thrilled with the action. It's on the lighter side of weighted actions, so I can fly on it, and it is capable of a wider dynamic range than many others, you can actually play ppp on it, which is to say it'll play anything you throw at it. I have a 'pianistic' experience with it, it reminds me of my favorite playing experiences on good acoustic pianos.

Trouble is, it's an entry level piano. I started a thread here speculating what should be included in an upgraded model, being that the action and weight were fantastic, so all they needed was build on that foundation. They did that and then some.

The new ES520 is a little heavier, at 32 pounds instead of 26, and at $1199 it's a big step up from $699. But as far as i'm concerned it's the piano many of us have always wanted. Something that was semi-affordable, no $2k and up boards, relatively lightweight, no 40+ pound behemoths, a 40 WATT SOUND SYSTEM.

Which means you show up anywhere and you can have a party around your instrument. and is smaller settings you don't even need an amp. Just wish it had a mic in!
-----------------------

OK, back to you. I've been obsessing about the ES520, so consider the above an enthusiastic editorial. But you did ask for low cost and great action- there are many of us on this forum of the same opinion, the ES110 is a pianists piano, that's what it emphasizes, esp being so inexpensive at $699.

The RD-88 however is a better fit than the ES520 as a rock and roll piano, as well as most boards I can think of for your needs, esp given the price point. Full range of B&B sounds, pitch and mod wheels, lightweight, built-in speakers, USB MIDI/Audio?. I really like they have the onboard speakers, they can really come in handy!

Re: DP / Stage Piano Recs - Roland RD-88 or...?
Randyman #3024803 09/13/20 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Randyman
The new ES520 is a little heavier, at 32 pounds instead of 26, and at $1199 it's a big step up from $699. But as far as i'm concerned it's the piano many of us have always wanted. Something that was semi-affordable, no $2k and up boards, relatively lightweight, no 40+ pound behemoths, a 40 WATT SOUND SYSTEM.

Which means you show up anywhere and you can have a party around your instrument. and is smaller settings you don't even need an amp. Just wish it had a mic in!
IIRC, all you wanted on your ES110 was audio in. So now they give you audio in and you want MIC in. Some folks are never satisfied. ;-) Seriously, it does look like a great board.

Re: DP / Stage Piano Recs - Roland RD-88 or...?
Randyman #3024825 09/14/20 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Fleer
As far as stage pianos go, the RD-88 has the same action as mid to higher end Rolands: FP10, FP30 as well as FP60.
Some even prefer its PHA-4 action to the one in Roland’s high end FP90.

I have read some preferring to the PHA-50 action. This thread in particular had me feeling good about it, but have also seen many who think it's a middling action...

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...fii-gfc-nwx-gh-grantouch-avantgrand.html

Originally Posted by Randyman
OK, back to you. I've been obsessing about the ES520, so consider the above an enthusiastic editorial. But you did ask for low cost and great action- there are many of us on this forum of the same opinion, the ES110 is a pianists piano, that's what it emphasizes, esp being so inexpensive at $699.

The RD-88 however is a better fit than the ES520 as a rock and roll piano, as well as most boards I can think of for your needs, esp given the price point. Full range of B&B sounds, pitch and mod wheels, lightweight, built-in speakers, USB MIDI/Audio?. I really like they have the onboard speakers, they can really come in handy!

I missed the ES520, will be considering that/ES110. I'd prefer a stage piano, just because of pitch/mod wheels for midi control, but open to DPs if the action is that much an upgrade. I noticed Kawai is popular here, suppose I've been keeping them out of the running based on the reviews on Sweetwater of keybed issues with the MP7SE. I was considering stretching the budget for that one thinking those people got some one-off problems, but I do worry, this is the kind of purchase I can't make again for quite some time.

That's maybe part of the question - looking for controller/stage piano features, am I missing out on better action in a similar price point (thinking of things like the ES520 or Yamaha P515)? I would say features are secondary, I could always get a cheap controller for non-piano sounds and I've got organ covered. Or is the Roland action perfectly good and I'm spinning myself into analysis paralysis/can't know if I didn't sit down and try myself anyway?

Too many seemingly good options...

Re: DP / Stage Piano Recs - Roland RD-88 or...?
OldManoftheDesert #3026066 09/17/20 04:12 PM
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Kicking this to the top one time just to see if anyone else chimes in (just once, then I'll let the thread die). And thanks for those who've given advice already!

Thinking more on this, I was probably trying to get too much out of one instrument at the price point (I just like having less gear, so want to have fewer boards!). So I'll revise and say the priorities are:

-As good action as I can get sub $1500, close to $1k if possible (big ask, but like I said, for me it's about feeling connected like an instrument and not like I'm playing a cheap toy or a computer).

-Good with a DAW, but maybe doesn't have to be a full controller. Thinking more, it won't have aftertouch, so I'll probably end up w/ something smaller/cheaper w/ aftertouch to handle things like strings.

The more I think about it, the less likely I am to grab a big 88 key for live when I have a 63 key available (even w/ inferior AP sounds).

Given, am I missing out on potentially better keybed in the price range by going w/ a stage piano? I was leaning that way largely because they seem best for midi/controller capabilities/connectivity + good action, but could live without if the action upgrade were enough... FP-30 would save some cash, but lacking in the connectivity and midi controller department, and it seems like there've been internal sound upgrades in the RD-88...

I keep almost ordering the RD-88 and then pausing, rethinking, second guessing, haha. Annoying not being able to try in a store first.

Re: DP / Stage Piano Recs - Roland RD-88 or...?
OldManoftheDesert #3026084 09/17/20 04:44 PM
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In your re-think... Are built-in speakers still a requirement?

Re: DP / Stage Piano Recs - Roland RD-88 or...?
OldManoftheDesert #3026091 09/17/20 05:01 PM
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I'd say no - probably headphones for most piano practice time. Elsewise, I'd be going through the DAW > studio monitors anyhow. Built in speakers would probably get little use.

Re: DP / Stage Piano Recs - Roland RD-88 or...?
OldManoftheDesert #3026131 09/17/20 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by OldManoftheDesert
Given, am I missing out on potentially better keybed in the price range by going w/ a stage piano? I was leaning that way largely because they seem best for midi/controller capabilities/connectivity + good action, but could live without if the action upgrade were enough... FP-30 would save some cash, but lacking in the connectivity and midi controller department, and it seems like there've been internal sound upgrades in the RD-88...

I keep almost ordering the RD-88 and then pausing, rethinking, second guessing, haha. Annoying not being able to try in a store first.

I can tell you the RD-88 is waaaay better in terms of sound and dynamic control than the FP-30. It's the same action theoretically, but in reality the integration makes it work much better on the RD-88. And the sounds are really lovely.

Re: DP / Stage Piano Recs - Roland RD-88 or...?
FPlays #3026152 09/17/20 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by FPlays
I can tell you the RD-88 is waaaay better in terms of sound and dynamic control than the FP-30. It's the same action theoretically, but in reality the integration makes it work much better on the RD-88. And the sounds are really lovely.

Thanks, that's good feedback. There isn't a TON out there on the RD-88, so good to hear some experience with it.

[Linked Image]

Re: DP / Stage Piano Recs - Roland RD-88 or...?
OldManoftheDesert #3026164 09/17/20 09:04 PM
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Have a look at Piano Man Chuck here:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mcDc7P_-vZA#

Re: DP / Stage Piano Recs - Roland RD-88 or...?
OldManoftheDesert #3026201 09/18/20 12:40 AM
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You could get the same action as the RD-88 in the FP-10, but with the RD-88 you get features and sounds that are hard to find in anything cheaper. The PHA-4 action will probably be good enough for rock/pop/ballad piano. It's mostly when playing fast repeated notes or trills when some people have found it lacking. I don't think the key returns to rest as quickly as some other actions. But the pivot length is not bad, better than most entry level digital pianos, it should be good for playing big chords deep into the keys.

If you don't need all of the sounds and features of the RD-88 and if you use a DAW primarily the Korg D1 has a great action. Depending on your preference, I think that or the Kawai ES110 provide the best value action for the price. But the sounds and features can't really compare to the RD-88. I can certainly appreciate trying to get DAW control integrated with your piano. You could go for a MIDI controller, like the Studiologic SL88 Grand, but then you are tied to a device/computer anytime you just want to play your piano.

Last edited by 88snowmonkeys; 09/18/20 12:42 AM.

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