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Joined: Mar 2016
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I'm looking for a digital piano with some form of direct digital output - it could be USB or SPDIF, etc.

I'm particularly fond of Kawai digital pianos, but none of the devices in their product range appear to have this feature. I'll likely buy a Kawai in the coming months, perhaps a CN39 or a CA79... though before I do, I just thought I'd ask this question.

The reason I'd like this is to connect the piano to my own audio setup, starting with the DAC. This is not to "increase" audio quality or anything like that, I simply like the sound of my personal setup. Using my own (Schiit GUNGNIR multibit) DAC would allow me to enjoy the unique character of the specific DAC and switch the output to any amp of my choosing (tube / solid state) so I can enjoy the differences. It's not about sound quality or me believing that my own DAC is inherently better, I just want the option so I have choices - that's all.

Typically, I would connect the analogue output of a digital piano to the preamp of my choice... but I'd just like to experiment a little with a digital signal as the source.

I am aware that I could, in most cases, just record to USB storage and then play the recording via the DAC - but that's not what I'm looking for. I guess the specific reason why I want a digital output doesn't really matter though, not in the context of asking if anyone is aware of any such devices on the market?

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I've certainly thought about plugging Mimby into my system wink I tried once with my VST but I couldn't get the latency low enough with the driver I had.

It's definitely fun to experience the flavors of different setups. I was switching between Magni and Vali for awhile, now Magni's at work and I've got a Crack and a S.3.X. ready to go for the next round of experimentation. I've tried a few different DACs with my VST and they all add their own color. MB is really something special and I'm sure it would be really enjoyable to play piano through it.

Anyway, back to your original question: I don't know for sure, but I would first look at Roland pianos as they're way more focused on audio presentation and features than the others. Their latest DPs play pretty nice, and as a Kawai owner I'd be happy with one.

Last edited by Joe Garfield; 08/02/21 01:14 PM.
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USB audio is found in some of the latest Yamahas and Rolands and in Korg LP-380U. (But they might omit the "U" and just call it LP-380.)

I think all Dexibells have it too.

But are those compatible with the DAC(?)

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I'm considering buying the Topping D90se, I'm told it has a very robust sound profile. I find it cathartic to sit down and really listen to the various characters in sound that changing devices in the chain can provide. It's kind of a music on its own and its great fun too. I don't have the ear to tell if something is "better" or not, but I can pick up variations and I suppose I have my subjective preferences. How do you find the Magni? I've never heard it before.

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Thank you! That helps a lot, much appreciated.

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I wasn't aware of the USB Audio implementation, I knew that there was USB Midi and that recording to external storage was a possibility - but I had no idea USB Audio was implemented in these products, thank you.

Regarding USB output and a DAC, I think there would need to be a computer in the middle. Priority 1 was getting a digital signal, how to use that signal is secondary. I think it should be possible to connect the DP to a computer then have the computer use the DAC as the output. But latency may be an issue, I suppose.

I'm going to try investigate to see if Kawai has also implemented USB Audio, that would be ideal I think.

It would just be really nice if manufacturers placed optical out (or coax) on their devices, though. I can't be the only one looking for this kind of feature?

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Kawai has no USB audio.

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Magni was my first amp, and I'm at work listening to it right now actually. It's a great amp for what it is - fully discrete with good power, punchy and clear without being too cold, and at a great price point. I don't think I could ever let it go, it's just such a great little cheap amp. It's even better with MB as it warms up and spreads things out a little. But Vali is my favorite of the two. It doesn't have as much power for my K712s as Magni but it still sounds great, and the extra warmth is good for those cans. Vali makes violins sound incredible. So I have Magni pushing one of my HD650 sets.

Crack, Mimby, and HD650 are pretty much out of this world.

I have a Topping D30 and like it. At work I'm using Grace SDAC which is my second favorite. I wasn't in love with Modi.

Last edited by Joe Garfield; 08/02/21 02:58 PM.
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Originally Posted by Ludicael
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Regarding USB output and a DAC, I think there would need to be a computer in the middle. Priority 1 was getting a digital signal, how to use that signal is secondary. ...

If you have a computer there, a better idea may be to connect the DP to it via (USB-)MIDI to a good virtual piano VST (check VSL, Garritan, Pianoteq etc) running on the PC to generate the digital signal. Of course this would bypass the Kawai sound engine, however these days good VSTs rank higher than built-in engines, if you're into sound perfectionism.

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As mentioned above, Kawais do not have USB audio out. With any piano, you could run the stereo outs to an A/D converter and mess with it from there, if you like the Kawai action and sounds. I tend to record my complicated projects as MIDI files, edit those as needed, then have the computer play the MIDI while the piano records a WAV file to USB, then I import that for “final audio.”

I have a MOTU M2 that could record two channels direct to digital, but I haven’t had a project where it’s needed.


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The inbuilt combined USB Audio/midi was one of the deciding factors why I bought a Yamaha P-121. My main intention was to run piano and other apps from iOS and I've got to say it works very well. The inbuilit sounds of the P121/125 are well ...just usable... so its nice to have a really simple setup (one cord which also sends the audio back to the keyboards speakers or headphones) to access loads of other sounds. I am experiencing next to zero latency (I can't perceive any difference to the inbuilt sounds in performance at all).

Last edited by Jonky Ponky; 08/03/21 02:35 AM.
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I agree usb audio in and usb midi is very handy.

But usb audio out with an audio interface is interesting. Is there an an audio interface that can act as a master and directly connect to a keyboard?


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Roland's manual says you have to connect to a computer and download their driver for the audio to work; if you use Windows driver then it only will send MIDI and not audio.

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Thanks!

The P-121 looks like the choice for me, its relatively inexpensive and can be easily stored away so if I buy this device then at least I won't have to give up on getting a Kawai.

I'll see if I can find a used P-121, that'll be even better.

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I don't have any experience with VSL/VST software. I'll investigate that too as a potential avenue, though. I wasn't aware that the quality could compete / exceed a decent DP, but I suppose that makes sense.

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Originally Posted by Joe Garfield
Roland's manual says you have to connect to a computer and download their driver for the audio to work; if you use Windows driver then it only will send MIDI and not audio.

I believe with the new fp-x pianos, that is not necessary.

And I believe Yamaha is the same way.

That is at least my limited hazy mind experience but mostly I just use my iPad.


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Originally Posted by Ludicael
I wasn't aware of the USB Audio implementation, I knew that there was USB Midi and that recording to external storage was a possibility - but I had no idea USB Audio was implemented in these products, thank you.

Even those manufacturers that do support USB Audio & MIDI in some of their newer DPs of the past few years - namely Yamaha & Roland among the biggies - they sometimes do a pp job of clearly indicating so in their sales literature and support documents.... imo Roland is the worst offender in this whereas Yamaha generally clearly states so albeit often with poorly worded language. example: read the sales literature & support documents for the LX7xx Rolands and you may get the idea of being pushed to use BT Audio/MIDI for lack of clear statements informing you that USB Audio/MIDI is / has been supported .... i spent hours yesterday combing Roland literature before finding any relevant mention of audio/midi/usb in the Owners Manual for LX705/706/708 ...... but if the question of - which version of USB is supported? - arises, this may require an inquiry with the Support Dept. of the manufacturer.


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