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So I'm a relatively experienced piano player used to a grand (not a very good one), but I'm going to college at UC Berkeley next year and I have been informed of the lack of proper practice pianos around.

Thus, I am planning on going digital piano shopping. The single thing I want out of this piano is for it to feel as close to a proper piano as possible, 3 pedals (variable pedal actuation? do they have that?), and as realistic touch as possible. This needs to be better than beaten up uprights that you usually find in college dorms to be worth considering... I do understand that digitals can't quite be the same, but I've never found a digital piano that can do that. However, I haven't played that many.

Oh and doesn't take up a lot of space would be good.

Any suggestions? Thanks.
Few questions:
What's your budget?

What do you expect from the sound? Does it have to be grand piano sound? Personally, I think there's a lot of different in good piano sounds there. I found hardly anyone i liked much.

What do you expect from the board?Do you value ivory keyfeel?

There's something for everyone, but the prices vary very very much.
You haven't mentioned your budget, so if money is no object, I recommend the Roland V-Piano, or its recent grand incarnation, the Roland V-Grand. (The V-Piano is basically a slab with no speakers, so it takes up less space than an upright: there's quadraphonic speaker output for your own setup if you want it. I use mine exclusively with headphones). It's the closest digital you'll get to a real acoustic grand, in terms of response to touch, feel, action, dynamics etc. (IMO of course). And the sound is customizable to your specifications, whether your preference is for the ubiquitous Steinway D sound or the more mellow Bluthner or Mason & Hamlin etc.

These two are the only digitals that generate their sound from scratch, i.e. from when you press the key, unlike all other digitals whose sounds are sampled from existing acoustics, and therefore have finite number of permutations. With the Roland Vs, the increase in dynamics and sharpening of tone from ppp to fff is totally seamless, as is the sound decay, and the various resonances that go with it (unlike all other digitals), which give it the realism and playability that pianists from acoustic backgrounds look for.

Have a look at the other threads here on the V-Piano, including one or two from your resident expert... cool
Well, if money's no object, the Yamaha N1 would be the choice since it has a real grand piano action.

[Linked Image]

Yamaha N1
Roland FP-7F?

James
x
Originally Posted by trigalg693
Oh and doesn't take up a lot of space would be good.


Would tend to rule out the N1, HP-307, CA-93 and others...

A Kawai Mp10 or Roland RD-700NX can both be shoved under a dorm bed if need be.
The new Rhodes controller might be worth considering, real wooden piano action and well priced. No built in sounds so you'd have to use it with software. Sounds like a nice controller and should be available soon.

Rhodes RPC1
Originally Posted by trigalg693
The single thing I want out of this piano is for it to feel as close to a proper piano as possible, 3 pedals (variable pedal actuation? do they have that?), and as realistic touch as possible.


The next coming Yamaha CLP 4xx line should have this real feeling...
hi all, i come from hong kong, i have try quite a lot DP in music shop, and i think that v-piano is the best having the feel of a grand, the rd700nx follows, and then the fp-7f, you may try these model out in your local music shop
You need to add that you have tried a lot of ROLAND DPs in your music shop...
Originally Posted by mucci
You need to add that you have tried a lot of ROLAND DPs in your music shop...


oh yes, i've forgot to state the brand that i've tried in the shop

actually i've tried mainly five brand, yamaha, roland , korg, nord and m-audio.

i mainly concentrate on the feel of the key, and i don't like the feel of the key from korg and nord, they are not bad but not as good as those from yamaha and roland , m-audio is really bad, no matter the prokeys88 or oxygen88, kind of a toy...

for yamaha and roland , they are both good , but roland slightly better, rd-700nx's key slightly better than that of CP1, let's simply arrange as follows

v-piano > rd700nx > cp1 > fp-7f > rd-300nx

as i focus on the roland in the final stage, i don't have much comparison on the remaining brands, if any one need some more opinion on the key touch feel on some specific model , you may state here, and i can go to the music shop to tried them out wink
Thanks for the details! Yes, I also like the Rolands keys, but the best keys IMO are from Kawai RM3 (like MP10, CA63, CA93 etc.). They're terrific. Even the lower priced keyboard in the e.g. CN33 is very good. If by any means you can get your fingers on a Kawai, don't hesitate to test it!
Originally Posted by mucci
Thanks for the details! Yes, I also like the Rolands keys, but the best keys IMO are from Kawai RM3 (like MP10, CA63, CA93 etc.). They're terrific. Even the lower priced keyboard in the e.g. CN33 is very good. If by any means you can get your fingers on a Kawai, don't hesitate to test it!


thanks mucci... thumb

but so sad, we don't have kawai DP in Hong Kong...

really sad... frown
Originally Posted by trigalg693
...
Thus, I am planning on going digital piano shopping. The single thing I want out of this piano is for it to feel as close to a proper piano as possible, 3 pedals (variable pedal actuation? do they have that?), and as realistic touch as possible. ...



I think you are making the common mistake that a digital piano should be a perfect replacement for an acoustic piano. If you think that way you will never be happy with the digital piano. The better way is to think of a digital piano as a keyboard instrument that is related to but separate from and acoustic piano. The two kind if instrument share much but are different and do different things. For example you can't use an Acoustic piano for MIDI based music production or editing music scores. The DP is much easier to record. The acoustic is best for liver performance of classical music.

Now what you should look for is a DP that is expressive and has good key action. You should be able to find one if you think about making music and not about simulating an grand piano.

There is also the problem of space. Any DP with three attached pedals is going to move with a cabinet and stand that is almost as large of a footprint as a small upright. If you want it to be small enough to lean against a wall or fit in a case and be stashed in a closet then you need a "stage piano". These are designed for pros who travel to gigs and perform. The DPs that have all three pedals and a large cabinet are sold to people who would use them at home and have a living room and don't intend to move them around much. You can decide which you like. But I'm betting you will decide to take up this "new" instrument called a digital stage piano and learn how to play it.
Originally Posted by johnmok
Originally Posted by mucci
Thanks for the details! Yes, I also like the Rolands keys, but the best keys IMO are from Kawai RM3 (like MP10, CA63, CA93 etc.). They're terrific. Even the lower priced keyboard in the e.g. CN33 is very good. If by any means you can get your fingers on a Kawai, don't hesitate to test it!


thanks mucci... thumb

but so sad, we don't have kawai DP in Hong Kong...

really sad... frown


I second the Kawai for best acoustic-feeling key motion. We just bought a CA63.

Coming from HK to CA for college, have you considered buying a DP in the States once you arrive?
Originally Posted by ChrisA
Any DP with three attached pedals is going to move with a cabinet and stand that is almost as large of a footprint as a small upright.
Agreed, tho stage pianos do take up a fair amount of room, so I'd go with a "home" or console model - pedals built into their cabinets.

The "variable pedal actuation" will be a feature of better DP's. You may see it expressed as "half pedaling."

Touch is the most important characteristic of DP's, because it can't be changed. (The Touch settings are essentially filters which influence how easy it is to access the softest or loudest notes.) If tone becomes an issue, you can connect the DP to a computer on which you've stored a software piano.

No matter which DP you choose, itd be a good idea to include a set of studio quality headphones in your budget. Those 'phones will be indispensible for silent practicing and will also let you experience the full quality of the included sounds.

It can be difficult to separate touch from tone, You might want to "play" DP's with the power off, so that you can concentrate on touch.

Try to audition DP's from Yamaha, Kawai, and Roland.
I'm a fan of the Celvianos from Casio. The 420 or 620. They have the three pedals, half pedaling, ivory touch keys, good sound (especially through headphones or external monitors) and I, personally like the touch. Try them out if you can. Whatever you try, use the same set of headphones to compare the DPs.
Hi guys thanks for the responses!

I do understand a digital piano cannot be a replacement for a real one, but I just want to get something that feels as close to the real thing as possible.

The Roland V-piano is too expensive, but it looks really good thanks for the suggestion. I think a "stage piano" is what I'm looking for, I don't really mind sound as my current piano sounds horrible. I don't really mind key feel either, just the action. It doesn't need speakers since I imagine I'll be using headphones usually. I'd say my budget is under 2000 USD.

EDIT: After looking around more, I realized that I'm asking a lot out of a <2k digital piano... The Kawai MP-6 appears to support half-pedaling but then I see some contradictory information so I don't know. I definitely do not want any sort of USB nonsense or mixing or whatever...

Originally Posted by trigalg693
The Kawai MP-6 appears to support half-pedaling but then I see some contradictory information so I don't know.


The MP6 definitely supports half-pedalling (on the damper pedal), as do all other Kawai instruments. I believe the only exception is the rather old CL25, however this will shortly be replaced by the CL26 which does support this feature.

Kind regards,
James
x
Originally Posted by trigalg693
I think a "stage piano" is what I'm looking for, I don't really mind sound as my current piano sounds horrible.

You'll get the most bang for the buck with a stage piano.

Sound will probably become more important once you have owned the DP for a while. There are many things in the compression methods and/or sound signature that may annoy you once you hear them a lot. Also, key feel seems to be closely tied to the response of the sound engine, so key / sound interaction is something to consider as well.

Originally Posted by trigalg693
I don't really mind key feel either, just the action. It doesn't need speakers since I imagine I'll be using headphones usually. I'd say my budget is under 2000 USD.

I recommend you get some nice (>$100 that aren't Bose) headphones for your practice. Make sure they are comfortable for long-term use. I have a pair of Audio Technica ATH-AD700 I got pretty inexpensively that I actually like more than my AKG K271's for both sound and comfort reasons (though I still use my K271's when I need to reduce loud environmental noise). They're kind of a quirky fit though with no in/out pivot so I wear them with the band tilted towards my forehead. Headphones are another very personal decision.

Originally Posted by trigalg693
EDIT: After looking around more, I realized that I'm asking a lot out of a <2k digital piano... The Kawai MP-6 appears to support half-pedaling but then I see some contradictory information so I don't know. I definitely do not want any sort of USB nonsense or mixing or whatever...

Most DP sound engines support half-pedaling one way or another. I specifically test for this over on the DPBSD thread (where the MP6 has been reviewed BTW, the first post has a linked index to all the reviews). But you need a continuous damper controller pedal and a continuous controller input on the DP to utilize this function when playing it via the keys. Many DPs come with this too and it is usually in the specs / accessories list.

You might want to wait a bit and try the new keys on the RD-300NX or FP-4F when they finally hit stores. The key feel is rather unknown at this point, but lighter overall DP weight and what most consider to be the best Roand SuperNATURAL piano will likely be in both. Otherwise, I'd recommend the RD-700NX which has three SN pianos and good keys, but is rather heavy (55 lbs) and somewhat longer than most DPs. The RD-700NX doesn't have a music rest either, something you should probably consider. The RPU3 optional three pedal unit is quite nice and all three pedals are continuous controllers (three TRS 1/4" plugs - I tested them with a DMM).

This is a personal decision, and you should do as much research up-front and try as many of them as you can before you buy. The best DP for someone else may be the worst DP for you.
It's like choosing a house... or a guitar... as a piano.. you need to fall in lvoe with it :-)

I didn't with most...
does having a TRS connection guarantee a continuous controller?
Originally Posted by trigalg693
I think a "stage piano" is what I'm looking for. It doesn't need speakers since I imagine I'll be using headphones usually. I'd say my budget is under 2000 USD.
If you expect to be using 'phones, I'm guessing that you'll be sharing a room. If that's so, it'd be a good idea to play-test DP's with the power off. That's a good way to assess touch and it'll also tell you how noisy the action is. You might want to start with Kawais. Yamaha's GHE actions can be a little noisy on rebound - at least they were on the two Yamaha stage pianos that I owned.

A simple X-stand will probably not provide the stability that's needed, to focus on playing. If you don't get recommendations for stands in this thread, it'd be worthwhile to start a new one.
Originally Posted by craig son of berg
does having a TRS connection guarantee a continuous controller?

I don't know about guarantee, but TRS probably makes it more likely that it is continuous. Continuous controllers are more expensive than the switch type, so if it is continuous you'll probably know that from the ad and the specs. Manufacturers don't seem to be going out of their way to hide this from us (yet).
Thanks for the suggestions, it's a relief to hear a lot of models have continuous damper control. I have already looked into headphones, no worries there smile This is probably too hopeful, but are there DPs with continuous soft pedal action? That would be REALLY nice lol but I suppose I shouldn't get my hopes up.

I will definitely go to a local store and try out some, I have one pretty close to me that sells Kawai and Roland digitals. The Roland FP-4 and RD-300 look nice, if they're not in stores hopefully they will be by summer so I can try them.
Originally Posted by trigalg693
This is probably too hopeful, but are there DPs with continuous soft pedal action?
Some of Roland's console DP's offer "continuous detection" with both their damper and soft pedals. Roland's RPU-3 is intended for their FP-7F and RD700 series DP's. You might want to ask the shop owner if these DP's will recognize half pedaling and if so, if the RPU-3 has a continuous controller soft pedal.

Sweetwater has the FP-7F for $1999. Your local shop may be willing to price match.

As always, play-test with the power off, to judge action noise.
Do all digital pianos of the same model have the same touch? I noticed you can get these online much cheaper.
No difference between the actions.

Check your local shop for price matching. All you have to do is mention that you saw it on ___________ for _______. A lot depends on the amount of competition in your area. Shops with no competition are less likely to price match. Can't hurt to ask.

Originally Posted by FogVilleLad
No difference between the actions.

Check your local shop for price matching. All you have to do is mention that you saw it on ___________ for _______. A lot depends on the amount of competition in your area. Shops with no competition are less likely to price match. Can't hurt to ask.



I find you can do even better. Guitar center will match the price then give you 10% of the difference. But many times you can get 10% off sticker and beat the on-line price outright. The last thing I bought at GC had a $180 sticker but there was an online 165 price so I printed out the web page and took it in. I got it for 163.50 (I rounded the prices but you get the idea) This is company policy in all of their stores so there is no haggling, they know the drill and even have computers in the store.
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