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Originally Posted by slipperykeys


Can you guess who I think should win?


Casio? grin

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Originally Posted by slipperykeys
Your criteria seem designed to produce only Kawai pianos... Furthermore, your criteria do ONLY apply to you.


That's why the very first thing I wrote was "IMHO..." = "in my humble opinion"

My whole point of writing was to draw attention to the fact manufacturers are failing to produce the kind of "do everything brilliantly" stage pianos which professionals (like me and many others) want.
Illustrated by the fact my 13 year old Kawai MP8 still ticks ALL the necessary boxes, whereas nothing that's come out in 2019 does. (or 2018, or 2017, or 2016...etc.)
That one Kawai model - not all Kawai's - just that one, is the only winner by my two criteria: Solid wooden keys, and hundreds of sounds.

Yes, my humble opinion is I always prefer solid wooden keys, not hollow plastic ones.
Maybe one day I'll change my mind - the day that Steinway & Sons start building their concert grand pianos with hollow plastic keys - but until that day comes, solid wood remains the best choice, in my opinion (and Steinway's opinion).

As far as portable stage pianos / slab pianos, Kawai aren't the only company who have historically put solid wood keys into slab keyboards - both Roland and Yamaha both have done in the past. Kawai are the only ones still doing it to this day (for slab pianos.) Obviously with domestic home digital pianos, every brand can sell solid wooden keys, but they're in a different product category. Don't care about domestic uprights. We're only talking Stage Pianos (slabs) for taking somewhere in your car in a flightcase to gig on regular basis.

I am not biased towards Kawai.
At least (like Yamaha and Bluthner who also make digitals) Kawai are a real piano manufacturer, but other than that, I'd buy whatever product is the best for me. I'd gladly purchase (if it existed) a superior Roland or Yamaha or Bluthner or Dexibell or Physis or GEM or Technics or Kurzweil or Korg or even Casio! but sadly, they all make absolutely nothing that ticks all the boxes I want, and even Kawai (who had designed an almost perfect MP8 stage piano in 2005) today haven't got anything for sale that I would buy.
I don't wanna be forced to choose between wooden keys with a few built-in presets, OR plastic keys with hundreds of built-in presets. Why can't we have wooden keys with hundreds of built-in presets?! I want the whole lot in one perfect "do everything brilliantly" instrument.

Surely I'm not alone in wanting this...
That's why I talk about theatres and cruise-ships, because (as professionals who've worked on them know) they'll often use a small core band - for budget - rather than a full size orchestra, they seldom have real brass and string players, and the musical group director will just look over at the poor schmuck pianist / keyboardist and expect them to magic up some brass and string sounds from their keyboard, plus what ever else they demand. (Oboe, flute, sax, accordion, clav, Hammond B3, pipe organ, harp, etc.) and they better have all those sounds if they want to keep their job for long. (How come they never look at the guitarist and expect him to have a MIDI pickup and play the flute solo via MIDI from a GM expander module? Why not?! Guitarists are all perfectly capable (technically and musically) of playing such lead lines! Oh, that's right, they can barely read sheet music! Oh dear.) Even Kawai's current flagship instrument MP11SE which only has 40 built-in presets and no brass sounds is not much help for those cruise / theatre / band gigs, even if it has the nicest Grand Feel wooden action and some quality piano samples. Yes, sadly one would be better off for those jobs with a Roland RD2000 and suffer the plastic keys during all the piano parts.

Bottom line: the aging Kawai MP8 still does such a great job and ticks all the boxes so well, I wish there was something - even in 2019 - that could better it.
It's shocks me that people are worrying about what's best new release in 2019, when manufacturers still seem unable to eclipse something that came out in 2005. I'm very disappointed with the inferior junk that's on the market these days. I hope this trend changes soon.

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Originally Posted by propianist
Bottom line: the aging Kawai MP8 still does such a great job and ticks all the boxes so well, I wish there was something - even in 2019 - that could better it.


I assume you had this MP8 for 9-10+ years now..? If so, is there anything wrong with it at all? No key clicks...sudden loud sounds etc etc etc....

If AOK wow, and you gig with it and still going strong...that's quite something. I wonder if the MP11SE can stand that test of time...assume anyone can carry it around (pro roadies are the obvious exception) smile

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Originally Posted by propianist

By the same safety logic, one should always take a backup 2nd instrument to every gig - wherever it is (land or sea) - and most guitarist and bassists I know do take at least two guitars, but drummers and piano players rarely bring a spare drumkit (maybe sticks and skins) or piano.


The difference is that if an instrument fails on land, you lose the rest of the night at worst. You may even be able to make some calls and get someone to fly in a replacement. (I've done that.)

At sea, you're potentially going to lose several days.


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Originally Posted by propianist
By the same safety logic, one should always take a backup 2nd instrument to every gig - wherever it is (land or sea)

Correct. If the band is being paid, and would not be able to complete the gig if your board went down, you should have a second board, either as part of your rig, or at least in the car. It could be a cheap synth (or a little controller to plug into your iphone)... just something so you could somehow get through the gig. You owe it to the rest of the band and to the people who hired you. It doesn't matter how reliable your main board is. It can get dropped. Someone can drop something onto it. Someone could spill something into it. A drunk could come careening into your rig knocking the whole thing over. While there's no 100% protection against every possibility, a second board makes it almost impossible you'd ever be in a situation where you couldn't continue to play something to get by. If it's a super casual thing and no big deal if you have to cut out early, or if it's right near your home and you can be back with another board after the break, fine. Other than that, a pro should be prepared. And to me, if you're going to take a second board with you anyway, it becomes less important that your main board cover 100% of everything you want.

And yes, as John says, all this applies even more if you're playing a cruise gig, with no access to service/replacement until you're back at port.

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Originally Posted by propianist


Yes, my humble opinion is I always prefer solid wooden keys, not hollow plastic ones.
Maybe one day I'll change my mind - the day that Steinway & Sons start building their concert grand pianos with hollow plastic keys - but until that day comes, solid wood remains the best choice, in my opinion (and Steinway's opinion).

.


Plainly you have a right to your preference and if you prefer wood that is up to you.


Originally Posted by propianist

I am not biased towards Kawai.
At least (like Yamaha and Bluthner who also make digitals) Kawai are a real piano manufacturer,



It doesn't bother me if a manufacturer makes acoustics or not. I know what I want a piano to feel and sound like.

Providing I have that, the fact they don't make acoustic pianos has no more validity than the fact they may make motor-cycles.


Originally Posted by propianist

Surely I'm not alone in wanting this...


It's virtually certain that you are not, but are there enough to make it financialy viable? Have Kawai learned that there are not? After all whatever is under the (often claimed fake ivory) plastic coating on the key is really of no importance, it's the feel of the surface and the action that matters, not what is made of.

To make the point there are still plenty of musicians, gigging or not who rate other manufacturers keyboards as having better feel than Kawai.
Wooden keys on a digital piano simply isn't a deal maker or breaker for most. As such to have it as a top factor is a little misleading IMHO.

Indeed, the whole nature of your post is that there are no pianos worth buying now, which somewhat contradicts the desire of this thread to find the best Stage Piano of 2019, but I do take the point you are making, that in your opinion there is nothing better than your Kawai, (and apparently perhaps Steinway agree)!

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Originally Posted by slipperykeys
After all whatever is under the (often claimed fake ivory) plastic coating on the key is really of no importance, it's the feel of the surface and the action that matters, not what is made of.

Disagree, there are more human senses than just touch.


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It doesn't matter if you have plastic keys, weighted or semi-weighted, modeled or sampled. It really doesn't. What matters is:
Does this instrument inspire me to play?
Do listeners that I play for enjoy the music I am creating with it?

If those two are a yes, than anything else is secondary. I have a friend that plays an old Yamaha board an MO8, it is 13 years old. I don't like the keys on it and I think the piano sound is a bit dated. But that is me playing it. When he plays it he plays his ass off and he doesn't see ANY reason to get a new board other than a backup for the MO8. The guy has phenomenal skills. So who am I to argue?

For HIM that piano is the best.


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How that music used to make me smile....
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
The best stage piano in 2019 is ... the one you like best. (It doesn't matter what anyone else likes.)

The best stage piano in 2018 was ... the one you liked best a year ago.
The best stage piano in 2017 was ... the one you liked best two years ago.
The best stage piano in 2016 was ... the one you liked best three years ago.

So ... what really is the point of a BEST thing OF year thread ?

Seems pretty obvious to me. The point is so that people can REPORT ON what they liked BEST in each of those three years! Doh... wink


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My opinion is action, action and action. Coupled with weight if you are traveling and build quality.
Sounds can be replaced using VSTi or a module.
Action is there for the duration and not much one can do about it so choose the action that feels best to you and worry less about the stock sounds.
That being said: Roland RD-2000 for me. It's a workhorse.

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I think that long wooden keys offer the best and most realistic action on digital pianos. Having said that, long wooden key actions tend to weigh significantly more than plastic actions. The Kawai GF-I/II wooden actions are some of the most realistic actions that you can get on the market. I'd also put Yamaha's GrandTouch (with counter weights) (CLP-685) and Roland's Hybrid Grand Keyboard actions (LX-706/8) up there with Kawai's GF I/II, although some would argue that they're just longer plastic/wooden hybrid key actions and not truly all wooden actions.

A stage piano is by definition designed to be used on stage and in gigs. This means that it needs to be relatively lightweight, have a built-in power supply and possess a solid build quality. More often that not, this means that the action will have to be compromised to meet this 'lightweight' spec. A good plastic action or plastic/wood hybrid action such as Yamaha's NW-GH or Roland's PHA-50 offer an acceptable weight/action compromise for a stage piano. So for me, if I were in the market for a stage piano I'd consider a Yamaha CP88 or a Roland RD2000. Of those two, I'd probably end up with an RD-2000 due to it packing better tone generation tech and more sounds.

Despite the amazing tone generation tech found in Dexibell, Nord & Kurzweil stage pianos, I wouldn't consider them (IMHO) because I'm not a fan of Fatar actions, even though many here like them. They're just not for me. I also do not like Korg's RH3 action

I love Kawai's wooden actions and as such I'd consider the MP11SE as a studio/home piano, but at 75lbs, I'd definitely not want to move it or gig with it. The MP11SE also has some very nice sounds but not as much variety as the RD-2000.

I also (IMHO) prefer Yamaha's NW-GH and Roland's PHA-50 actions over Kawai's RHIII action found in the MP7SE and the ES8, even though the RHIII action is still very good.

Last edited by halherta; 02/06/19 09:39 PM.


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I don't care what the action is made of. I do care about having an action that feels and responds like an acoustic grand. To me the Roland PHA-50, found in the Roland FP90 and RD2000, is the most realistic action available in a stage piano.

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Originally Posted by JazzBow
My opinion is action, action and action. Coupled with weight if you are traveling and build quality.
Sounds can be replaced using VSTi or a module.

Is that a little bit dangerous streaming files from a pc or a hard drive through pc? I Mean can it stucks while you play or have latency?. Did a simple midi keyboard like akai mpk will be ok for that ? why someone goes for a stage piano and playing with vst s?


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Originally Posted by anpan23

Is that a little bit dangerous streaming files from a pc or a hard drive through pc? I Mean can it stucks while you play or have latency?. Did a simple midi keyboard like akai mpk will be ok for that ? why someone goes for a stage piano and playing with vst s?


Sure, it can do either of those things. Your pc or the VST can crash or behave erratically, and it will almost always have higher latency than the built in sounds, but whether you care depends on the situation.

I had several stage pianos not for gigging, but for home use, with a VST, and a crashed pc means one thing--you just reboot it. It's happened to me before, but I've also had PC uptimes of 45+ days without issue, which is longer than I leave my DP on, by far.

And latency is an issue you determine and resolve with your setup before you go on the road. Between the dp and the PC, you get your latency to an acceptable level and there's not much else to do after that. If it's acceptable, great! If not, you don't even start to use that setup. You typically don't get hit with "surprise latency".

I'm sure our gigging artists here have a lot to say about the address complexity of a PC in the audio setup and what it means if you have a crash while playing live, but for us home-stage piano players, there's no real difference.


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Gigging with any electronic equipment is always a risk. Heck, the firmware in the keyboard can freeze up too. I've had that happen at various times over the years. As for latency, RME interface. Problem solved. In fact in a live situation their is more latency due to the location of stage monitors than coming from a decent interface like RME, MOTU etc. The key item is to have a back up plan and practicing how to use it if something should go wrong. For me it means being able to quickly switch to the built in keyboard sounds should I encounter a problem. Oddly the most dangerous or risky thing about gigging using a computer is the potential loss, damage or theft of the hardware dongle.

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Soundwise the Korg Grand Stage is the best I've heard. Too bad they didn't upgrade their claviature.

Last edited by tinybox; 02/07/19 12:30 PM.
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First thanks Sweetwater for this comparison.

Nord seems the more heavily promoted, although it wasn't my favourite.

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Sorry, the above comment has been posted on the wrong thread. it should have been the thread about the Sweeetwater test files.

Again, apologies for that.

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Originally Posted by johnstaf
I don't care what the action is made of. I do care about having an action that feels and responds like an acoustic grand. To me the Roland PHA-50, found in the Roland FP90 and RD2000, is the most realistic action available in a stage piano.


I did compare the action of the Roland FP90 and the RD2000. Strange enough, the RD2000 felt better. What could be the reason behind this?

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I had similar feeling, but assuming they are mechanically identical, it must be difference in sound engine implementation.


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