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Hi there,
Thanks for all the good advice I've read here the last weeks. Been lurking for a while and am stepping up to the bat now because I am ready to buy something.

I am starting to take piano lessons next thursday, but I have no piano. So i need one!

But as a newbie, how can I know what is good, when I cant play? I am giving myself one year with tutoring, so I know I am going to get a piano. But i cant get going with practice without having one at home. Can you see my predicament?

So what should I do as a total newb in a store?

My friend is taking me into a few music stores monday to try some. He is a string instrument guys and doesn't know too much about the DP. But he gave me two good pieces of sound advice: "Try before you buy, it is important for any instrument. And research so you know what you are going for."

I did. And it seems to boil down to either a Clavinova CLP-320, A Kawai CN-32 or a Roland F-110.
With my interest being in a good key action, is there a model I missed here? There are so many, but these series seemed to be at a decent price and people tend to love them.

These have somewhat similar prices around here. One model, the Kawai CN-32, is even rentable, which means I might very well go for that. the CA models are quite a lot more expensive.
I want these because a nice compromise between price, action and sound quality is needed. I geek out completely reading these boards, it is so fascinating, but I should perhaps becareful not to "overbuy". I am mostly going to practice with headphhones on because I live in an appartment. So Big speakers are not so important.


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Originally Posted by Svendsen
...
But as a newbie, how can I know what is good, when I cant play? I am giving myself one year with tutoring, so I know I am going to get a piano. But i cant get going with practice without having one at home. Can you see my predicament?

So what should I do as a total newb in a store?

My friend is taking me into a few music stores monday to try some. He is a string instrument guys and doesn't know too much about the DP. But he gave me two good pieces of sound advice: "Try before you buy, it is important for any instrument. And research so you know what you are going for."

I did. And it seems to boil down to either a Clavinova CLP-320, A Kawai CN-32 or a Roland F-110.
With my interest being in a good key action, is there a model I missed here?


What to do in the store? Just exactly what you'd do after you buy the piano... Pick up a beginner book from the store's book rack and open to lesson number one and work you why through the pages for 10 minutes. Then move to the next piano and keep working through the book until you made the circuit a few times. Buy the one that you like.

Also find a piece in the back of the beginner book and ask a salesman to play it for you on each piano while you stand back and listen from 5 or 10 feet. Again go around the cycle more then once otherwise you are biased by the last one you heard. Buy the piano with the sound you like best.

If key action is what you want then any other Yamaha, Kawai or Roland that uses the same key actions as those above will work as well. For example in the "Yamaha World" the P155, ydp160, ydp223 or the CLP will have about the same "feel" but the other features will be different. Like wise the action in the CN32 is used in many other Kawai models.

I did not like Roland's "Alpha II" action as well as what's in the other two DPs you listed. But I think Roland's "non alpha" "PHA II" was the best. But maybe to expensive?

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Wanting to purchase a piano, yet being somewhat unfamiliar with the instrument is a rather tricky predicament to be in.

However it's important that you do not rush into buying a piano that you later regret. Therefore, if you have the option of renting - regardless of whether the instrument is a KAWAI, Yamaha, or Roland, I would strongly recommend doing so. If you make reasonably good progress with your playing, I believe you'll soon be able to judge the strengths and weaknesses of the various models, by which time you'll be in a better position to make the purchase.

It may also be worthwhile to consult with your teacher and ask if there are any models that he/she recommends.

Good luck - both with the learning, and choosing!

Cheers,
James
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Thanks, guys.

James, you might be delighted to hear that my teacher recommended the Kawai, because it is possible to rent it with a refund option on purchase after 6 months. No one rents out the other brands to my knowledge. So, that is probably what it ends with. I will fork over less money now, not that I mind, but I'd hate to pay it for a model that I would not end up loving in 6 months - and I can't decide that now.

After half a year I can go out and test the other pianos again and listen as well as feel (with better skill and more experience) what I like the most.

Now that I got you, KAWAI James, do you have any technical explanation of the digital piano sound technology that separates CLP-320 and CN-32? Those two models are the ones I am most inclined to go for I must say. Some here went into details about harmonic resonance watchacallums. I think I know what that is from my own experience with an accoustic piano.

Is that on the CN-32, and is that what you mean about a more expressive sound, you write that a lot, but to me it is a marketing word that lacks the What-does-it-do-for-my-me-then? Can you elaborate on that?

The CLP-320 (EUR 1210,- is priced near the same as CN-32 (EUR 1310,-) in this area, Denmark. I think I have narrowed my choice down to these beforehand, but I will still test the Roland when I have the proper skills to do it.

The store that carries the Kawais seems to show images of other models than the ones I have seen. Check it out here. Doesn't look like the CN-32 I see here on Thomann.de. Can you tell me what is differing here, or are they using wrong images?

To me I think keyfeel is a bit more important than sound because of my need of hearphones. I did have a piano as a child though, however no one ever bothered to pay for any tutelage. Bad parenting! So anyways I have spent many hours with my hands playing whatever few tunes I had been taught by my grandfather on keys of an old Hindsberg upright and at least know how a keyboard feels.



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No piano books at the piano store, Juhl-Sørensen in Copenhagen. But they had a large selection of Kawais and Rolands, being the sole Kawai importer in Denmark, however they stopped dealing Yamahas.

They didn't have any CN-32, CN-42 or CN-22 at home frown But the manager told me a new shipment would be in tuesday next week, and that his current CN-4 had the same key action as the new CN-32, but the sound was not comparable. He asked me to try the CA-51 for this instead. Same samples, he claims.

Also I played on the Roland FP-110 and the HP201, HP207.

I used a set of headphones, and I liked the sound of the CA-51 better than the CN4. I didn't care much for the action felt on the Roland HP-207. I noticed a slight difference in touch due to the material, but it was nothing that I could say was good or bad. Just different.

So, in the end I am going to settle for either a CN-22 or a CN-32. Manager thought that I would be happy for the CN-22, since it is for all intents and purposes identical with the CN-32 regarding key action, piano sampling technology and considering my needs, which is
1) Playing piano with headphones - I don't care much for other voices than piano so NM the difference. He claimed there are no differences on CN-22 and CN-32 in this regard.

2) Being new and not entirely sure what I want or love - yet.



Thanks for your help. Now I just gotta figure out if I want to pay for a CN-22 or a CN-32. About 200€ difference.

Last edited by Svendsen; 01/07/10 12:31 PM.

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Good morning Svendsen,

There are a number of points that I wish to address (some correct, some incorrect). First though, I shall need to ask one of my colleagues responsible for the European market the exact situation with Sorenson.

Please wait a little longer - I shall reply to your queries later this morning.

Kind regards,
James
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Good evening, James.

Well, if you click on Denmark on the map at www.kawai.eu it links directly to Juhl-Sørensen's website, piano.dk smile

I am waiting, I am going there the coming tuesday to check out both the CN-22 and the CN-32 when they receieve them. I will at earliest make a decision by then. The manager told me the CN's had been sold out for 1,5 months O.o. So whatever the situation is, it means they do not presently stock any new CN models at all and haven't for a while.

There isn't much of an alternative in Denmark, I am afraid. Searched everywhere, they are the only retailers I could find near Copenhagen. My only other alternative is the german internet store www.thomann.de.

I am looking forward to seeing your comments on the technical stuff.

Last edited by Svendsen; 01/07/10 06:10 PM.

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Hello Svendsen,

Quote
James, you might be delighted to hear that my teacher recommended the Kawai, because it is possible to rent it with a refund option on purchase after 6 months. No one rents out the other brands to my knowledge. So, that is probably what it ends with. I will fork over less money now, not that I mind, but I'd hate to pay it for a model that I would not end up loving in 6 months - and I can't decide that now.

After half a year I can go out and test the other pianos again and listen as well as feel (with better skill and more experience) what I like the most.

It sounds like you have found a very good piano teacher. wink

Seriously though, I am a firm advocate of 'trying before buying' wherever possible, and renting an instrument for a few months is arguably the best way to do this.

Quote
Now that I got you, KAWAI James, do you have any technical explanation of the digital piano sound technology that separates CLP-320 and CN-32?

I'm afraid my knowledge of Yamaha's sound technology is limited to the information supplied within their marketing literature, thus I'm reluctant to speculate further. However, I do know that the CN32 features 88-key piano sampling, and that the CLP-320 does not - this is perhaps the most significant difference in sound technology between the two instruments.

Quote
Some here went into details about harmonic resonance watchacallums. I think I know what that is from my own experience with an accoustic piano.

Harmonic Imaging. This is the technology used to recreate the sound of a grand piano, and essentially allows KAWAI instruments to have smooth tonal transitions throughout the dynamic range. For example, if you play the same key repeatedly, gradually increasing the pressure, the transition from pianissimo to fortissimo should be smooth, without any sudden or obvious jumps.

Quote
Is that on the CN-32...

Yes, Harmonic Imaging is a standard feature of all KAWAI digital pianos.

Quote
...and is that what you mean about a more expressive sound, you write that a lot, but to me it is a marketing word that lacks the What-does-it-do-for-my-me-then? Can you elaborate on that?


When I write 'more expressive', well... that's exactly what I mean. As mentioned above, Harmonic Imaging has been a standard feature of KAWAI digital pianos for a number of years. The tonal transition has always been smooth, however some individuals suggested that the KAWAI sound lacked expressiveness. Progressive Harmonic Imaging, as used in the CN32 and CN42, attempts to address this point, while Ultra Progressive Harmonic Imaging, as used in the new CA93 and CA63, raises the bar even further.

Does this make the player a better pianist? Probably not.
However, more gifted musicians, especially those with a keen ear, will certainly be able to hear that the sound is more expressive, and edging ever closer towards that of an acoustic piano.

Other manufacturers use terminology such as 'layers' or 'velocity steps' to describe the authenticity of their piano sound, however KAWAI have always preferred to adopt a different stance. It might be useful when comparing specifications to see that model X has 3 'dynamic steps', while model Y has 4, but what does this really mean for the person playing the instrument - are they truly able to tell the difference?

Quote
The store that carries the Kawais seems to show images of other models than the ones I have seen. Check it out here. Doesn't look like the CN-32 I see here on Thomann.de. Can you tell me what is differing here, or are they using wrong images?

I cannot see the CN32 listed on Juhl-Sørensen's website, however a number of the images shown for the instruments that are available are incorrect. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Fortunately, the images shown on Thomann.de are correct, however if you are in any doubt, may I recommend you refer to the information on the KAWAI Europe website, and also download the CN Series brochure.

Quote
the manager told me a new shipment would be in tuesday next week, and that his current CN-4 had the same key action as the new CN-32, but the sound was not comparable.

Yes, this is largely correct. The CN4 and CN32 models both use the AHA IV keyboard action, however it's important to note that there have been a number of revisions made to this action over time. The CN32 uses AHA IV-F, which is the most recent.

The CN4 is actually two generations older than the CN32 (CN4 --> CN41 --> CN42), and utilises the older Harmonic Imaging sound technology. It's not bad, but as you might expect me to say, the CN32 is much better (88-key sampling, Progressive Harmonic Imaging).

Quote
He asked me to try the CA-51 for this instead. Same samples, he claims.

I'm afraid this is not correct. The CA51 does not use the same sound technology. It's better than the CN4, but not as good as the CN32.

Quote
Manager thought that I would be happy for the CN-22, since it is for all intents and purposes identical with the CN-32 regarding key action, piano sampling technology

The keyboard actions are identical yes (AHA IV-F), and both models feature 88-key piano sampling. However, please note that the CN32 (and CN42 for that matter) utilise Progressive Harmonic Imaging to recreate the sound, while the lower specification CN22 utilises just Harmonic Imaging. Again, I do not wish to undermine the manager's advice, however I believe it's important that the differences between the various models are clearly identified.

When you return to the store next week, my recommendation would be to play both the CN22 and CN32 side-by-side (or as closely as possible), close your eyes, and try to listen out for the subtle differences in tone. As ChrisA suggested above, you may also wish to ask the salesperson to play a piece of music on each instrument if you do not feel confident in your own ability.

Quote
I am looking forward to seeing your comments on the technical stuff.

Well, I hope this helps to answer your queries, without too much of a sales pitch.

Please do bare in mind though, that I'm not an engineer. I am interested in the technology used in modern digital pianos, certainly (regardless of whether its KAWAI, Yamaha, Roland, Korg, Casio, etc), however I am far more interested in the musical side of things. We can become all too pre-occupied by the technical specifications (yes, I realise that I'm very nearly contradicting myself...), and completely forget that the piano is a musical instrument for expressing one's creativity and simply having fun.

Good luck with your ongoing search!

Kind regards,
James
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Digital pianos lose their market value rather quickly - after all, they are electronics.

I have a five year old DP that still works and plays as well as the day I bought it, and it has an excellent action, but it's worth a fraction of what it cost.

I don't like the piano sound, so I use a software solution - which means I won't likely ever buy another DP for as long as I live.

Consider a used DP. If you find you don't like it, and have to replace it, you will lose very little (compared to what you would lose if you buy new and don't like it).

But still take the advice of trying it out or having a knowledgeable pianist try it out.

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Thanks both of you. Not to salesy for me smile I am asking about the Kawais because I like them, so I am predisposed myself.

@Glenn, I checked the used market - there are not a lot, and their prices are rather high. Most are stage keyboards, but I dont want those. Very few console dp. I am pretty set on doing the "rent for 6-12 months" and decide then. It will cost the same as a 2nd hand.

As for the techical side of thing, in the end, James, you are right: it is less interesting compared to the musical. Which is why my needs are boiled down to "sounds good and plays nice, won't cost an arm and a leg". But nobody told the marketeers when they made their brochures smile


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Originally Posted by Svendsen
Which is why my needs are boiled down to "sounds good and plays nice, won't cost an arm and a leg". But nobody told the marketeers when they made their brochures


Would you not say that the introduction text in the CN brochure summarises your requirements (good touch, tone, attractive design, affordable price)?

Kind regards,
James
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Hi James,

Yes, I would indeed. The brochure text states things with clarity. But perhaps I was thinking of the engineers behind, and the message you need to convey. Because all the technical stuff that is on the "USP list" is making it look really complicated and hard to decide, not because it isn't stated clearly, but because you end up having Too Much Choice! That is how it has always been in the world of electronics. Line up your latest and greatest features and add nice pictures.

Try buying a stereo or a tv from a brochure. Guys like me will end up in despair or waste far too much time comparing technial spec granularity of each model rather than just go and watch the bloody thing and listen to it.

For me, the brochue it self is not of much use prior to first hand experience. Without guidance from you, other pianoworld.com users, the salesguy and my first hand impression, I wouldn't have been able to use it for much.

They say this, its just nice and simple. But then I get this list of watchacallums, wossnames, thingamabobs and ultra dupers. Crikey! IT makes it harder, not easier laugh

It is, in fact, first useful after when you are able to decipher the meanings of each bulleted item. I have the brochure home now with the price list. 1300 euro for the CN-32. 1100 for CN-22.

Kawai CN-32, I am pretty sure of it right now. I like the design better visually. But tuesday will tell. I shall play both models and listen if I can tell the difference between the two sampling models used.


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Svenson, You'll be happy with the CN-32, my granddaughter has the CL-35, same keyboard AHA IV-F, and the touch is superb, plus, you'll get more from the sound side with CN-32. I'm considering replacing my Roland HP 101 with the CN-22, which will give me slightly more room in my tiny study.
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Good morning Svendsen,

It's interesting to read your comments - I am inclined to agree about the over-complicated way information is presented in product brochures.

When considering the new CA93/CA63 brochure my goal was clarity and simplicity. I recall thumbing through brochures from other manufacturers and feeling simply overwhelmed by all the information. The materials were beautifully made, with attractive design and great photography, however from the moment I opened the page I felt swamped with graphs, charts, acronyms, and superlatives.

I'm sure this kind of technical granularity is fascinating for some individuals - PianoWorld forum members, for example - however, I honestly believe that the majority of people looking to purchase a digital piano simply wish to know that the instrument sounds good, plays well, looks nice, and is built to last.

Undoubtedly, the most important part of buying a digital piano is thorough play-testing at local dealerships. Reading product brochures, visiting websites, and asking questions on internet forums is useful, providing background information, however until the individual sits down at an instrument, plays it with their own hand, and listens with their own ears, it's practically impossible to truly gauge the strengths and weaknesses of each model.

Kind regards,
James
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crusader,

Far be if for me to discourage you from purchasing a CN22 to replace your HP-101, however please double-check the dimensions of the two instruments:

Roland HP-101
Width: 1,388 mm
Depth: 397 mm
Height: 810 mm

KAWAI CN22
Width: 137 cm
Depth: 40 cm
Height: 84 cm

As you can see, the two most important dimensions (width and depth) are very similar. As such, I very much doubt you will actually gain any space.

Kind regards,
James
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Originally Posted by KAWAI James
crusader,

Far be if for me to discourage you from purchasing a CN22 to replace your HP-101, however please double-check the dimensions of the two instruments:

Roland HP-101
Width: 1,388 mm
Depth: 397 mm
Height: 810 mm

KAWAI CN22
Width: 137 cm
Depth: 40 cm
Height: 84 cm

As you can see, the two most important dimensions (width and depth) are very similar. As such I very doubt you will actually gain any space.

Kind regards,
James
x


Oops!!, your right James, the CN-22 looked shallower in the showroom, I still won't rule it out though, I'm reluctant to go for a really compact piano because of leg room issues, if I play my granddaughters CL-35 I have to sit too far from the keys when pedalling, it means I have stretch .
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Oh bugger, there goes my 5% commission...

[joke]

Cheers,
James
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