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I am returning to the piano after a 38 year break. I studied from about age 7 to age 19; I was fairly good when I stopped lessons (and playing) upon entering university. I’ve had a few pianos over the years (a Baldwin upright, and a Nordheimer grand - the “Canadian Steinway”), but what with not playing them much and moving across the country twice, I ended up unloading them.

Now I live in a lovely, space-constrained house. Unless I want to put an instrument into the unfinished basement, I’m looking at a digital piano. I’m renting a Yamaha P-255 for the time being, but I want to get something of my own. I’ve been thinking of the P-515 (notwithstanding some of the negative comments I’ve seen on this forum) … I’ve only seen it on Yamaha’s web site, though, since this model is back-ordered in Canada. Today I also went to try out Roland DPs and Yamaha Clavinovas. I didn’t care for the Roland’s sound, at least the sound that comes through it’s speakers. I thought the Yamaha CLP-645 was quite nice, but it’s pricey. (I’d like to try a Kawai, but their dealer network in Canada is very weak; it’s an hour’s drive just to see one, though I will probably go to check them out nonetheless.)

My main question is whether there’s any benefit to going with a “furniture”-style DP (like a Clavinova, or a higher-end Roland or Kawai) vs. the “slab” type portable instrument (e.g. the P-515, and others like it)? I understand the speaker systems are a major differentiator, but are there other reasons to avoid a portable DP in favour of a larger DP? I’m not that concerned with the instrument being portable, or being able fill a large room with sound; but things like the action/touch, and the quality of the piano sound are critical to me. (I'm *not* considering a hybrid piano yet.) Is the extra money spent on a CLP-645 vs. a P-515 (for example - they have similar technology) just getting me a nicer piece of furniture?

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Yeah main difference would be speaker system. Also I don't remember any portable pianos with wooden keyboard. I also like stability normal pianos give, without much shaking and wobling while you play.

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Originally Posted by Nordomus
Yeah main difference would be speaker system. Also I don't remember any portable pianos with wooden keyboard. I also like stability normal pianos give, without much shaking and wobling while you play.


The P-515 does have wooden keys.

Would the matching base (https://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical_instruments/pianos/accessories/l-515/index.html) and 3-pedal unit give a P-515 the stability you speak of, I wonder?

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The difference in price comes with speakers, amplification and furniture. In all of these, the CLP645 is ahead the P515. It should sound better and it looks better. On the other hand the P515 has many more voices (around 500). But maybe this is not important for you. I haven't tested the 645, son I can't compare. But while the P515 is not the ultimate piano, I do like it. Nordomus is right, though, about the stability. By the way, the P515 does have wooden white keys (black keys are plastic)


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There may be *slight* differences in the same key action between a portable and its furniture style equivalent, but certainly not enough to make people tear down and examine such differences in detail. For the most part, I think that same-action differences (such as P515-CLP-645, FP-90/RD-2000-LX/HP series) can mostly be attributed to individual manufacturing variation.

As to wooden keys, to the extent that is important, the Kawai VPC-1 and MP11/MP11SE (as well as some legacy Kawai portables like the MP10 and MP8) have full wooden keys. Yamaha's NWX portables such as the CP4/P-515 have wooden-core white keys, and Roland's PHA-50 portables such as the FP90/RD-2000 have cosmetic wooden strips/shims over a plastic core.


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Originally Posted by ASR
My main question is whether there’s any benefit to going with a “furniture”-style DP (like a Clavinova, or a higher-end Roland or Kawai) vs. the “slab” type portable instrument (e.g. the P-515, and others like it)? I understand the speaker systems are a major differentiator, but are there other reasons to avoid a portable DP in favour of a larger DP? I’m not that concerned with the instrument being portable, or being able fill a large room with sound; but things like the action/touch, and the quality of the piano sound are critical to me. (I'm *not* considering a hybrid piano yet.)

The console-styled DPs are essentially better at providing a "sitting in front of a piano" experience.

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Is the extra money spent on a CLP-645 vs. a P-515 (for example - they have similar technology) just getting me a nicer piece of furniture?

Depends on taste. I consider the transparent slab furniture stand designs being very nice.


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I've had the similar choice a few months ago and chose furniture-style piano (CLP-645) for two reasons: one - number of speakers and their positioning is usually better in furniture digitals, and two, which is actually main reason for me - stability. I dunno, maybe I have heavy hands, but every portable piano was wobbling a bit when I tried them in stores (even with matching furniture stand). Their overall construction felt too light and unstable, while CLP 645 was complete opposite - it weights 60 kgs and I feel like I can dance on it and it won't move an inch.
One other thing to keep in mind is that portable pianos usually don't have built-in key cover, and it's going to be a chore to put on and off cloth key cover every time you wanna play, while all furniture-style pianos have sliding key cover which opens and closes in one second.


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Originally Posted by Darkwasp
One other thing to keep in mind is that portable pianos usually don't have built-in key cover, and it's going to be a chore to put on and off cloth key cover every time you wanna play, while all furniture-style pianos have sliding key cover which opens and closes in one second.

A key cover or lid is only there for optical reasons. Pianos don't need one (neither digital nor acoustic).


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The cover keeps the kids out.
It keeps the cookie crumbs out.
With a lock ... it keeps everyone out. smile

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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
With a lock ... it keeps everyone out. smile

That's exactly what the lid on acoustic pianos is for. A polite way to say: "Please don't play me."

In a private setting you want to keep it open all the time, because ivory keys tend to yellow, if you do not expose them to indirect sunlight enough.


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Ivory keys? On a digital piano?

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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Ivory keys? On a digital piano?

Not on a digital. But APs sometimes have them. And they have the lids as well.


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Originally Posted by ASR
My main question is whether there’s any benefit to going with a “furniture”-style DP e?


The only one is big speakers, and that can be at least matched by external speakers on a slab. My own setup is a slab plus headphones, so my wife can sleep. Get a proper stand for the slab, not the wobbly "X" type ironing board things. Personally I can't imagine wanting a furniture digital when slabs are so much more versatile and portable.


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Hi

'Personally I can't imagine wanting a furniture digital when slabs are so much more versatile and portable.' With respect, that's because you use headphones!

I had a similar dilemma to the OP recently. I wanted to replace my rather dated digital piano but wanted something compact for space reasons. I had more or less narrowed my choice to the Roland DP603, a compact sized console piano and the Roland FP90, a good quality slab piano with good quality speakers built in. Both these share the same key action and sound engine as the premium LX and HP series. Good as the FP90 felt to play and versatile as it is, it really didn't sound as good in my opinion. that's simply because the speaker enclosure in a slab piano is necessarily much smaller. Yes, good headphones or a good speaker system would be the leveller.


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Personally I can't imagine putting up with an ugly slab.
Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Personally I can't imagine wanting a furniture digital when slabs are so much more versatile and portable.
My piano spent four years in one living room, and now six years in the new home. Portability means nothing.

Ok, I take all that back. I can imagine that other people have different use cases.

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Probably not the info you're looking for, but in my experience the furniture style DPs have a tendency to produce much louder thumping sounds when you hit the keys. So if your walls are not thick or isolated enough, having a furniture DP could mean that someone in an adjacent room (or room below) can hear your playing even if you use headphones because the thumping is so loud. This depends on the individual models though so make sure to test it yourself before buying, if this is an issue at all.

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I am looking to upgrade my DP, also. Same as the Op, I am considering a good slab (P-515 or ES8) or a cabinet-style (CLP675 or CA78/98). There are several factors I am taking into consideration.

Sound – I have LSR305 monitors which sound absolutely terrific when listening 6-8 feet in front of them. Lower bass chords are full and rich and sound like a concert grand. But sitting at the keyboard the bass sounds are horrible and my arms aren't long enough to sit 6-8 feet away. I have tried them at ear level, on the floor, directly behind the KB, 3 feet behind the KB, on tile floor, on carpet. Nothing has worked. I recorded several low bass chords and had two friends listen to the recording. They actually jumped when the low notes played! Because of this I use headphones unless playing for someone else. This is the main reason I am looking to upgrade. I posted a question on PW asking for suggestions to cure this but nothing has worked so far.

Stabilty – My P-105 is on a solid stand (not X-type). On a tile floor there is some movement but acceptable. On carpet I need rollers on the bench to keep up with the KB.

Key Cover – I cover my P-105 with a sheet when not playing. Living in SoCal (which is basically reclaimed desert) there is always dust in the air. Besides having to dust it every day or so, getting dust between the keys is probably not good. A key cover is far easier and looks much better than my sheet.

I am visitng a store next week that has all 5 DP’s that I am considering. It is a 2+ hour drive but probably worth it. I already have a “kit” to take along (my LSR305 monitors and 2’ x 6’ sections of carpet and padding to test stability). That may sound crazy, but I don’t want to be sruprised with a shakey DP that sounds horrible.

I will post my findings afterwards. I am by no means an expert, but my two cents might be helpful to the Op.

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Don't know if they ship to Canada, but I got my Kawai MP11SE at Kraft. If I were to do it again, I'd get this bundle, which comes with speakers: https://www.kraftmusic.com/kawai-mp11se-stage-piano-complete-studio-bundle.html

Instead, I got the next bundle down, which comes with the same stand but no speakers. I can say from experience that this stand is very sturdy. It may move a bit more than a furniture piano, but you won't notice it over time, it is very solid.

If you want something to look good in the living room, I'd go with a furniture one. I had considered a Kawai CA98, but the MP11 is cheaper and has the same action. Full wooden keysticks. I didn't notice any difference between the MP11's Grand Feel action and the Grand Feel II action on the CA98. I also own an acoustic grand and an upright piano, and I find the MP11SE's action to be very good, somewhere between my upright and my grand as far as key stiffness. If you don't need the furniture cabinet look, I'd seriously consider the MP11SE, it's a really great slab piano.

I too had a long gap between playing when younger, and picking it up again. I'm loving it now, and only wish I'd restarted years ago. Good luck.


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Hello,I prefer slabs because of not having to assemble or have them delivered- I use an ES8 but use the speakers in conjunction with a Electrovoice ZXA1 powered speaker and get a nice mix.

I also use a P125- for home and road use- both on xstands.


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———
Key Cover – I cover my P-105 with a sheet when not playing. Living in SoCal (which is basically reclaimed desert) there is always dust in the air. Besides having to dust it every day or so, getting dust between the keys is probably not good. A key cover is far easier and looks much better than my sheet.
———

Choice of thousands of gorgeous keyboard covers of any style and taste? Table cloths! I’ve got a classic cotton restaurant-checkered one now, but I may switch to something more stylish for springtime. I feel like I’m starting a magic act every time I whisk it off.


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