Yesterday, after quite some time, I got the opportunity to visit my favourite music store in town with my own noise cancelling headphones. I had the whole afternoon to test all kinds of DPs.
First thing I discovered: They reorganized the whole DP section, so at first I couldnâ€™t find the DPs I wanted to test play. The Yamaha section is of course the most prominent section and had the biggest selection of DPs. But since there was actually nothing new I completely ignored this sectionâ€¦ as I did with the second biggest section, the Casio part! I have absolutely no intent to go into this direction after having played several Casio models a year ago, although I must admit that the price tags of these models are really competitive.
So I finally found the location of both Kawai (the third biggest section) and Roland. To my surprise there were only few Roland models available, less than Kawai. That was different a year ago.
First thing I did: I played the HP-307
. Last time I played the HP-307 I was not overly impressed, but due to all the very positive reviews of many well known and reputable pianoworld users (including dewster and theJourney) I felt I should give it another try.
Especially the repetition speed
was something I wanted to check: And indeed this is one of the big advantages of the HD-307: Compared to my own CA63 it is easier to get fast repetition. It was difficult for me to tell if you canâ€™t really get faster repetition, but itâ€™s definitely easier because of the shorter release distance (I would estimate 50% compared to about 70% of the CA63). The other advantage is, that HP-307 acts exactly as a grand in this respect, the sound will not be stopped because you donâ€™t fully release the key, it still sounds when you hit it a second time. But this is not such a big issue with the CA63 as you might expect, because even when the sound of the CA63 key begins to stop it takes its time and does not immediately stop, so after repressing the key the former key sound is still there. But still: If you need high repetition speed with the same behavior as a grand then in fact this is indeed a big plus for the HP-307
Besides of that I wanted to revisit the SN sound of the Roland. I really tried hard to really like the sound. But for me itâ€™s a mixed bag: Pressing single notes (with or without damper pedal) produces very nice sounding long and nicely resonating decays. The dynamics is also very nice. The problem starts in my eyes when you play a music piece. I donâ€™t know how to describe it: Sometimes I think it sounds a little dull, but then there are resonances to hear, so maybe a little overprocessed as many suggest here on the forum might be the right description. If the sound signature of the Roland would be more in the Kawai direction this would be surely my favorite DP, butâ€¦
The keyboard action is in my eyes quite good, significantly different than the RM3 actions Iâ€™m used to, but also very good. I got used to it quickly. Maybe itâ€™s because of the sound signature, but I preferred to play with the â€œvery hardâ€ action setting. That way I could get more dynamics out of the sound, otherwise the dynamic was quite limited because of quickly achieving too high sound volumes. But Iâ€™m sure that one could get much better settings, but I guess this takes its time.
Regarding the SN piano settings: Yes, there are lots of settings, even more than the CA63. I tried them all, and itâ€™s partly identical to CA63, partly different. At the end, I think both are on par regarding tweakability of the sound.
I also tried the Roland V-Piano
again. And I must say, I really like the sound and playability of this beast, maybe even better than the HP-307! I also recognized the a little bit thin mids, but thatâ€™s much better bearable than the overall processed sound feeling (in my ears) of the HP-307.
Next model was the CA63
Yes, I love the keyboard feeling and the sound signature! Wonderful. I also tried the CA93, regarding keyboard action I honestly could almost detect no difference (the letoff was barely noticeable). I didnâ€™t play it through loudspeakers since there were too many people in the showroom playing and testing, in this environment I was sure not to detect any differences in sound compared to the CA63.
Other DPs I tried (for a quite short period):Kawai CA13
: Very nice, feels exactly like the CA63, couldnâ€™t detect any difference in sound quality.Kawai CN43
: This one is a very good product: The keyboard itself is surprisingly good (not as good as the RM3 but very close), sound is almost like the CA63. Same applies for the CN33
which I also tested shortly. They felt and sounded actually identical, I donâ€™t know that the difference is, maybe additional feature set in the CN43.Yamaha CLP340
: I couldnâ€™t believe that 1,5 years ago I almost bought this one instead of the CA63 I discovered laterâ€¦ Too bright in my ears, and the keyboard is okay, but itâ€™s no comparison to the RM3. I will revisit Yamaha once they release their new CLP400 lineup.Kawai MP10
: Very playable with the same RM3 action as the CA93. I couldnâ€™t detect any of the issues that were reported here lately. The piano sound seems the same as the CA63/93, but there are some additional effects added which adds to the realism of the piano, and the sound is much more tweakable than the piano sound on my CA63. Also incorporated is a great and easy to use EQ. I would slightly prefer the sound of the MP10 over the sound of the CA63.
Then I made an experiment: I tried the only noname DP in the store, is was called â€œClassic Cantabile DP-60
â€. Boy, this was an awful experience!! I switched the unit on: There was a loud hissing noise clearly audible with my headphones. Then the keyboard: Extremely wobbly. There was no chance to get a stable volume sound out of this beast, the sound was first too quiet, and then there were some very loud pieces shooting out of the songâ€¦ Completely unusable. The sound quality is not worth mentioningâ€¦ As a comparison I played a Kawai CL25
which had the same price tag (about 650 Euro). This was night and day. Well, the CL25 is by no means comparable to a 2000 Euro DP from either Yamaha, Roland or Kawai, but compared to the Cantabile it was just a high-end DP.
My last one I tested was a silent grand: The Kawai GE 20 AT2
. This one really impressed me. It has the same real grand piano action as the Yamaha N3 (which was also there but I didnâ€™t try it because of lack of time), but it is a real acoustic grand which a lovely expressive sound! It was great to play this one. Then I tried the silent function. Didnâ€™t know how to do this, so I asked a sales rep, and itâ€™s very easy: Just pull a trigger under the piano action and move the otherwise hidden digital display so that you can enter the DP you want to hear by headphones. Wonderful sound, with using a real and very playable action. I would really love to have such an instrument at home! The only drawback is that it costs 11.500 Euroâ€¦My conclusion
: Its worthwhile to visit a music store from time to time to check whatâ€™s there. But it also became obvious that unlike the computer world the DP world doesnâ€™t change quickly. There is not much progression since the last 1 to 1,5 years regarding sound and keyboards.
But maybe the next SN models will be improved regarding sound signature so that the really great SN technology also meets my sound taste!