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Hello all,

First time poster smile. As I am finally looking to buy a piano, I have been reading all of the great advice on digital pianos, acoustics and silent pianos on this forum, and would be grateful for particular advice on choosing a silent piano that won't break the bank! I have played on a Yamaha U3 acoustic for many years and am an amateur player (completed grade 8 many years go), and I would like to be able to play for fun in my spare time.  I am looking particularly now at purchasing a silent piano, as I feel that a digital will date quickly and would prefer an acoustic to play when I don't need to wear headphones (although I did very much like the Kawai CA99). Having a silent option is important as I live in an apartment and want to have the option to properly practice and play at times in the evening or morning. Unfortunately space and budget limitations do not allow for both a digital and an acoustic upright.

I am more looking towards the Kawai models as I prefer the more rounded tone but I am also not adverse to Yamaha if the price and model are right. I am currently looking at the choosing between a second-hand Kawai K18 Anytime piano (2005, made in Japan, sold by a piano shop for 4,800 euro), a new Kawai K15 ATX3L (5,800 euro) and a Yamaha B1 Silent (sold privately for 3,300 euro but this is excluding tuning, delivery costs and there would of course be no accompanying guarantee).
 
I have played all of the instruments above and I am edging towards the K18 as I prefer the sound (as opposed to the K15) as well as the fact that it is slightly taller, although the K15 was very tactile. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that quality wise the K18 would be a better pick than the other two which are at the bottom of the sale in both companies' ranges of digital pianos. I also don't need all of the bells and whistles of the digital element - the main thing for me is to be able to play silently and hear a good-enough sound through the headphones - as I understand this will date and am looking to have this piano for the medium to long term. Of course, if my pockets were limitless, I would be going for a K300 or K500 Aures smile

Grateful for any advice, comments or insights on which option to go for and if the K18 is a fair deal (of course understanding that only I have played it and pricing is subjective and dependent on a range of factors).

Many thanks in advance! :) 

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I have no experience with silent mode pianos. Some here of course advise a separate digital to accoustic. However from what I hear is silent pianos are often used in Europe
I thought that only the K300 and larger are made in Japan.Of course Kawai makes great pianos just like Yamaha.

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Here is something about Kawai pianos sold today in the US and Canada. I do not know if it says much about the silent pianos though.
I would think for a piano with the silent model .The new pianos may have the best technology. Is the B2 new ? Do you like the tone ?. The K18 may have the better tone perhaps?



https://www.pianobuyer.com/brand/kawai/

Last edited by Lady Bird; 03/06/21 08:07 PM. Reason: missing text
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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
I have no experience with silent mode pianos. Some here of course advise a separate digital to accoustic.

That is a good idea if you don't mind playing on a 'digital' action and have the space. To me the big advantage of a (good) silent system is that you have an 'acoustic' action. To have that with a digital you would need a hybrid piano, which is quite expensive.

Originally Posted by Lady Bird
I thought that only the K300 and larger are made in Japan.Of course Kawai makes great pianos just like Yamaha.

Apparently in the past (and perhaps still?) the K300 was made both in Japan and Indonesia, and the US and European market would receive the Japanese ones. But I bought a K300 (silent) in the Netherlands (which is in Europe smile ) last year and it is from Indonesia. Don't know if now all K300 pianos are from Indonesia, but at least Kawai seem to have changed how they distribute these over the different markets.

Although I am not someone who worries very much about the origin per se, I must say that I believe that the current K300/K200/NV-5 Kawai pianos from Indonesia receive insufficient regulation and quality control when they leave the factory. The K300 is a great piano, and I am sure the Japanese and Indonesian ones are built from the same parts and in essence very similar, but there are too many reports here on PW on new pianos K300/K200/NV-5 that after delivery need regulation because of slow or intermittently non-sounding keys. Mine also has a slanted logo (!). This can all be fixed (and is fixed) by the dealer, but I am wondering if it is a good idea to have an independent technician check and if necessary optimize the action. The piano sounds gorgeous and looks otherwise very well-built. The silent system is excellent.

@LeBiscuitier: As to the K18, a consideration may be that the silent system is 16 years old. Even if you don't mind that the sounds are not so good by current standards, I am not sure that system has the same sensor hardware as the K15 ATX3L. I would check this, because you will only enjoy your silent system is the touch is very good and has a similar response to the acoustic system.


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Personally I would advice to stay away from digital sound engines that are more than five or ten or so years old. I used to have a 20 year old engine and man was it uninspiring. If you buy now a silent piano, it makes sense to buy something with a recent digital part. I guess you are however somewhat aware of this as you say you practice on a digital.


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If it has a midi output, the sound can be easily fixed by using something like Pianoteq. In fact many people--I am one of them-- use external sound engines even on modern digital/silent pianos. But I would be worried about the hardware part that you do still need, i.e. sensors and midi generator. Having said that, I might be wrong and perhaps this type of hardware lasts long. Gretel's apparently kept working for 20 years. Perhaps there are people here with experience with older silent systems? I know someone with a Yamaha silent system that is at least 20 years old and it also still works.


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I think you have to go and play some of these pianos, both in acoustic and digital modes and determine which you like and if they are even acceptable compared to that U3 you were used to playing.

Then also compare to a simple no compromises acoustic and see how you feel about things. For your budget you could probably get a K300. For $100 or so you could probably get a compact slab type second hand digital keyboard for silent practice that likely would be better than the silent system in many cheap silent pianos and you wouldn't have to worry about it becoming obsolete or breaking - you could just throw it away and get a much better digital later on when funds allow. If you are *really* short of space there are things like this https://www.pmtonline.co.uk/blackstar-carry-on-folding-piano-88

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Many thanks all for the contributions. I went back and re-tried the K-15, K200, K300 and AT-18, as well as the digital CA99. I realise now that the AT-18 and indeed even the newer silent pianos, dont give the same feeling or sound as a normal acoustic, due to the silencing bar. I am thinking now of going for the Novus NV-5 which should at least provide the real feel of an acoustic with hammer action but the benefits of a digital.

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Also consider buying a regular upright ontop of a CA59, 79. Only 30 years ago most families had 1 tv, nowadays they have 4-6 tvs. It makes perfect sense to own multiple pianos, 1 in every room of the house.

Last edited by EinLudov; 03/27/21 10:38 AM.
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Originally Posted by LeBiscuitier
Many thanks all for the contributions. I went back and re-tried the K-15, K200, K300 and AT-18, as well as the digital CA99. I realise now that the AT-18 and indeed even the newer silent pianos, dont give the same feeling or sound as a normal acoustic, due to the silencing bar. I am thinking now of going for the Novus NV-5 which should at least provide the real feel of an acoustic with hammer action but the benefits of a digital.

Glad that you found an instrument you like! I hear many good things about the Novus NV-5. But to me your reasoning makes no sense. The NV-5 is identical to a K200 or K300, except that it has no acoustic mode. The action is the same. Digitally it is also the same. With the NV-5 you essentially have a K200/300 ATX3 in silent mode, but then with added transducers to play the digital sound over a sound board.

In a silent K200 or K300, the silencing bar cannot be felt, neither in acoustic nor in silent mode. The hammer is stopped by the bar *after* the hammer is released, and there is thus no contact anymore between the key and the stopped hammer. It may be that there are small differences in factory let-off regulation between a regular K200/300 and their silent versions. This should only lead to very subtle differences between silent and non-silent version of these pianos. However, between silent and acoustic modes on the same silent piano, there cannot be any difference in touch, not even a subtle one.

The action and digital sensor mechanism of the NV-5 is identical to that of a silent K200/300 in silent mode. Both the NV-5 and ATX3 versions of the K200/300 measure hammer velocity well before hammer release.

In any case I do not want to suggest that your experience is wrong, you should certainly go what what feels and sounds best, but it may be the case that the differences in touch and sound that you perceived are due to random variation between acoustic pianos/actions.

Last edited by pianogabe; 03/27/21 11:53 AM.

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Originally Posted by EinLudov
Also consider buying a regular upright ontop of a CA59, 79. Only 30 years ago most families had 1 tv, nowadays they have 4-6 tvs. It makes perfect sense to own multiple pianos, 1 in every room of the house.

Hey, have you seen my house? grin ha

I have four rooms with keyboards/piano on them, out of eight total (non counting dining room, bathrooms and kitchen). So I am on the right track! (I wonder why my wife sees it differently eek )


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Originally Posted by LeBiscuitier
Many thanks all for the contributions. I went back and re-tried the K-15, K200, K300 and AT-18, as well as the digital CA99. I realise now that the AT-18 and indeed even the newer silent pianos, dont give the same feeling or sound as a normal acoustic, due to the silencing bar. I am thinking now of going for the Novus NV-5 which should at least provide the real feel of an acoustic with hammer action but the benefits of a digital.
I can't help you with anything about hybrids but if you need further assistance you can ask on the forum specifically devoted to digitals and hybrids. You can also read articles about hybrids in general and reviews of some specific ones in the Piano Buyer:
https://www.pianobuyer.com/hybrid-player-software-pianos/
https://www.pianobuyer.com/brand-profiles/

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I too suggest that if you have a space, have separate acoustic and digital pianos. Digital or silent electric components become obsolete over time. Maintenance and eventual replacement solutions would be simpler with separate instruments.

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Hi.
Direct respond to your questions:
Besides those you had mentioned, do consider U1 SH (Japan), It have Indonesian model (U1 J) which is much cheaper. As you're probably aware that ATX3 which come with a screen. Cool stuff, but im more worried that one day it might have dead LED or laggy.

Regarding using of headphone, some silencer come with MIDI-in, MIDI-out which could attach external speakers.
My ears are sensitive to very bright tone. Quite a lot of people had commented hat Kawai is less bright than Yamaha, especially older models. I had come across some K models which are non less bright than Yamaha model (really not all are bright, this is disputable, but that's not the point here)

For CA99, if you wish to save up a littler, i read that lower tier model do share a lot of similar feature.

Other option:
You can consider getting the piano you want and install the following Silencers by professionals:
- Feurich (yes, they have silence system)
- Genio
- QRS (if top tier, besides silencer, it can record and play and also a player-piano)

Other option:
- Yamaha P series
- Kawai K-800 (one of my favoruite, it has ATX version)

For my experience, I played other's U1 and U30B1. I do not feel the different in actions between normal acoustic or and my U1 SH Silent model.

I wish you all the best in finding your ideal piano.

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Originally Posted by K8KT
I too suggest that if you have a space, have separate acoustic and digital pianos. Digital or silent electric components become obsolete over time. Maintenance and eventual replacement solutions would be simpler with separate instruments.

+1 to this. That has been my approach: Yamaha U3H plus Kawai VPC1. Perfect combo!


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I have read that some people have had concerns that even on 'silent' mode, the instrument was noisy - the keys/action, not the music.

I had a cheap keyboard for a while, and while I played with headphones, you could hear the keypresses in the next room. It was a low end Yamaha, so I don't know that 'action' is the right word, but in any event, make sure that you check that.

There is sound from the music, which can be turned off, but the sound of the keys will remain and evidently it can be significant on some models.


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Originally Posted by MH1963
I have read that some people have had concerns that even on 'silent' mode, the instrument was noisy - the keys/action, not the music.

I had a cheap keyboard for a while, and while I played with headphones, you could hear the keypresses in the next room. It was a low end Yamaha, so I don't know that 'action' is the right word, but in any event, make sure that you check that.

There is sound from the music, which can be turned off, but the sound of the keys will remain and evidently it can be significant on some models.

Greetings. I am using U1 Silent. While using Silent mode with headphone, unless volume is low, then pressing the key sound can be heard. In a very quite environment, someone sitting next to me definitely can hear the pressing of key sound.

The sound can be just sound or noise, it's subjective.

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Originally Posted by K8KT
I too suggest that if you have a space, have separate acoustic and digital pianos. Digital or silent electric components become obsolete over time. Maintenance and eventual replacement solutions would be simpler with separate instruments.

The OP mentioned that he doesn't have space for two pianos, which is why he was looking for a silent piano.

And some people prefer an acoustic action over a digital one (which seems to be the case here).

The silent piano option would be perfect for him if it weren't for the fact that he didn't like the touch and sound of the ones he tried. I believe Kawai and Yamaha are the only pianos with high-quality silent systems, so if he didn't like the Kawai pianos he can still try Yamaha, and if that fails then there is no solution that includes acoustic sound.


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Originally Posted by pianogabe
The OP mentioned that he doesn't have space for two pianos, which is why he was looking for a silent piano.

If he buys an upright and a slab, he can build the slab into a wall fold down like a ironing board. It takes no space at all. This is the best overall solution, because you won't have to compromise on either machine.

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Originally Posted by EinLudov
Originally Posted by pianogabe
The OP mentioned that he doesn't have space for two pianos, which is why he was looking for a silent piano.

If he buys an upright and a slab, he can build the slab into a wall fold down like a ironing board. It takes no space at all. This is the best overall solution, because you won't have to compromise on either machine.
A bare minimum slab digital with a folding stand takes up a lot less space than a furniture shaped digital. It can be stored under the bed if needed. I have a very old Yamaha p120 with an acceptable action.

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