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It seems that most posters on Piano World like Kawai and Roland digital pianos, but not Yamaha digital pianos, except for the P155 and the AvantGrand.

Why is this?

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DP's have three main factors ....
The sound
The key action
and
the technology

There is no doubt Yamaha pianos compete quite well on the first two ..but they use older stretched and looped technology which although you can't actually hear it in most circumstances can affect the pianos ability to play advanced pieces.

I think pianos come down to the first two mainly and the first one particularly.

Yamaha DP's only use samples from Yamaha AP's therefore if your a Steinway fan the tonality of a Yamaha DP isn't gonig to sit well with you. The same applies to Kawai.
Roland sample Steinway's before applying their supernatural technology so they do have a different tonality and sometimes this isn't a good thing as particularly in rock/pop music as the darker European tone of a Steinway can have trouble cutting through a mix of other instruments.

So while its true that generally the Roland PHA III action and Supernatural piano is considered technically the best available now (with many people also considering the Kawai MP10 action even better) that doesn't mean much and it might not be the best for you.


"I'm still an idiot and I'm still in love" - Blue Sofa - The Plugz 1981 (Tito Larriva)
Disclosure : I am professionally associated with Arturia but my sentiments are my own only.
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I will add my two cents. I am not an expert, but have done a fair amount of homework on DP's. At 64, and fifty years of abstinence, I will purchase mine tomorrow.

A digital piano has four factors that one must consider.

- Keyboard touch and feel
- The Sound "Engine"
- Amplification and Speaker system
- Physical appearance

Reading a DP Brochure one will usually come across the phrase "Just like a Grand/Acoustic Piano". And price matters not. They all say that. Using a GP as the basis, one can have a baseline as to how to select a DP for their use. After all, a real piano is what most DP's replace. And a GP is a real piano. Right?

I like to think of a keyboard's actions in two groups. Those that fold "The Works" under the keytops and those that place "The Works" at the other end (like a GP). The Yamaha "Natural Wood Keyboard" is an example of a Folded action. The Kawai "RM3" action is an example of the latter. Most keyboards have a Graded, Weighted action of some degree.

There is The Feel. Most of the upper end DP's offer an "Ivory-Like" touch and feel that absobs sweat and oils. And there is "Plastic" for the others.

All the DP's offer some grand kind of Sound Engine. "SuperNatural", "Real Grand Expression", "Ultra Progressive Harmonic Imaging" are examples of the current thinking. And beyond this, some DP mfgr's offer ways and means to fine tune the shape of the sound to your individual taste. Kawai calls this their "Virtual Technician".

Once we have a signal, there is the system of producing the actual sound. Amplifiers, wattage, and speakers are the devices we use today to vibrate the air. The latest breakthrough is adding a Soundboard "just like a real acoustic piano". Or, instead of one amplifier to do the ranges from bass to treble, three might be dedicated, each to the low, mid or high range. This subject should not be glanced over as, the amplification system is what physically produces the sound we hear and adds a fair amount of cost to the DP. Mechanics and electronics.

There is color? Its physical appearance? Does it look like an upright or GP? Some offer key covers that slide down partially and hide the electronics panel. Others place the panel on the left and right ends of the keyboard. Some may emulate a GP with lid and rim.

So when we ask "Is "A" better than "B"?" that is a difficult question to answer and is the base fuel for Forums like PW.

My suggestion is this. Go to the Dealers in your area. Look at DP's. Touch them. Play them. Even if you can only play "Chopsticks". Determine for yourself which suits your needs the best.

For me, there were two basic factors.

Beyond the actual mechanical construction of the "keyboard" it was the feel and weight of the action. After all, when it is said and done, this is what you will be left with when you set down and play the thing. How does it feel?

The second, was the actual system to produce the sound coupled with what it sounds like. Does it have the basic pieces to physically produce a great sound? And, does it?

And, I really like a keyboard and cabinet appearance that does not have the buttons and lights across the top.

After alot of trips, having a professional player sample actions and feel and sound with me. After Roland and Kawai and Yamaha, I am getting a Kawai CA63 to start with. If in time, that works out, then I will fetch a CA93 based on the sound.

Hope this is helpful ...

Jon ...


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Jon, you're awesome!

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Originally Posted by Dr Popper
DP's have three main factors ....
The sound
The key action
and
the technology

There is no doubt Yamaha pianos compete quite well on the first two ..but they use older stretched and looped technology which although you can't actually hear it in most circumstances can affect the pianos ability to play advanced pieces.

I think pianos come down to the first two mainly and the first one particularly.

Yamaha DP's only use samples from Yamaha AP's therefore if your a Steinway fan the tonality of a Yamaha DP isn't gonig to sit well with you. The same applies to Kawai.
Roland sample Steinway's before applying their supernatural technology so they do have a different tonality and sometimes this isn't a good thing as particularly in rock/pop music as the darker European tone of a Steinway can have trouble cutting through a mix of other instruments.

So while its true that generally the Roland PHA III action and Supernatural piano is considered technically the best available now (with many people also considering the Kawai MP10 action even better) that doesn't mean much and it might not be the best for you.
wow I have been around boards for a while and I have never heard such a straight to the point answer realy well written and organized thought

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I don't think the evidence supports your (i.e., the original poster's) conclusion that people on the boards only like the 155 and AG. In fact, Yamaha is by far the largest digital piano maker in the world (I'm not counting non-weighted junk) and even among members of this forum it is the most commonly purchased piano brand.

However, it doesn't get as much forum chatter as its market share would suggest. That's because it's kind of boring. As Dr Popper mentioned, they haven't made a lot of innovations lately (outside the AG line). They are good and have been for a long time, but for example they haven't changed the GH/GH3 action that is in most of their pianos for years and years. And with each new generation their sounds are good, but not noticeably better or different than the previous generation's.

The P155 gets chatter only because so many people come to the forum asking what's the best piano for $1000. That's the P155 in many cases. But it's not a very special instrument. It's not an innovation, and when it is finally replaced it will be replaced by something almost identical if tends continue.

Kawai and Roland have gone through several iterations of their action and sounds, and the differences have been more obvious in the same amount of time. Notice I'm not saying Kawai and Roland are better, only that they have changed more in the last few years. I bought a Yamaha in 2001 and it was suprizingly similar to the models being sold now. That's true of its feel and in some ways it's even true of the sound.

Another reason Yamaha gets comparatively little chatter: they are not the best at something. Kawai gets a lot of chatter about their actions because they try to be the very best at that. Roland gets a lot of chatter about its sounds. Yamaha has good sounds and action and always has, but that doesn't generate a lot of discussion because it's not new, interesting, or unique.

Last edited by gvfarns; 02/10/12 04:53 PM.
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Originally Posted by gvfarns
In fact, Yamaha is by far the largest digital piano maker in the world (I'm not counting non-weighted junk) and even among members of this forum it is the most commonly purchased piano brand.


Really? Most commonly purchased by forum members? What do you base this claim on?

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I know it sounds odd. But Dewster recently did a count (see the prices paid thread) and Yamaha almost had the same number of entries as Roland and Kawai combined...!


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Yamaha without a doubt is the largest, most popular digital piano manufacturer - indeed, they are the largest musical instrument manufacturer.

Consumers purchase Yamaha digital pianos primarily because they are excellent instruments, with realistic sound, touch, and good features. However, the visibility of their brand and strength of their marketing is undoubtedly a contributory factor. Yamaha DPs are readily available throughout the world, and are often the first name consumers think of when wishing to buy a digital piano (e.g.: "I'd like to buy an electric piano, I think the name is 'Clavinova'...?").

But to answer the poster's original question: "Are Kawai and Roland DPs better than Yamaha DPs?", I would have to say, no - all three manufacturers produce excellent quality with a variety of distinctive characteristics.

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Yamaha DPs are likely to be more popular than Kawai/Roland due to their ability to produce a quality product for the lower end of the market. For example, you can purchase a P155 cheaper than any Kawai or Roland. Their distribution is also second-to-none. Roland and Kawai tend to focus on the next market tier - purchasers with slightly deeper pockets/aspirations.

As far as which brand is better, that is essentially a meaningless question as it depends on what you're looking for. The only thing I would say here is that, in a sector that seems to have been starved of resources for innovation in the last few years, Roland is marginally less guilty than others in the marketing sleight of hand that masks recycled technology beneath a new paint job.


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Yamaha is big for a number of reasons but their size and financial ability to support their dealers with large amounts of essentially free floor stock (Kawai and Roland cannot afford to do this) mean that often in many areas Yamaha is the only readily available brand. If I has a dealer I know I'd rather take 6 Clavinova's I didn't have to pay for until actually sold then buy one CA-63 or RP507 etc that might take a few months to sell.


"I'm still an idiot and I'm still in love" - Blue Sofa - The Plugz 1981 (Tito Larriva)
Disclosure : I am professionally associated with Arturia but my sentiments are my own only.

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