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I've been away from the digital piano world for a few years and wondering what is now considered "state of the art" among portable digital keyboards - stage pianos. I use these digitals for silent practice and sometimes for travel -- times when I cannot practice on my acoustic piano. I'm mostly interested in classical music and I work with a classical piano teacher.

My priority is keyboard touch that resembles what one would encounter on a good acoustic. Sound quality is important, too. I play digitals almost exclusively through headphones, so I don't care very much about speakers.

Currently, my best digital is a Roland RD-700nx. It's a little long in the tooth but still works well. However, it's as heavy as sin, and I hardly ever travel with it for that reason.

For travel I use a Casio PX-350M, a 25-pound board that punches well above its price musically, but which wouldn't cause me to enter deep mourning in the event of a travel disaster.

SO, my questions are:

Is there a high-quality stage piano appreciably better than the Roland RD700nx, regardless of weight or price, that lends itself reasonably well to classical piano practice?

AND:

Is there a lightweight stage piano appreciably better than the Casio PX-350M that works reasonably well for practicing classical music?

Any and all recommendations are appreciated.


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AFAIK currently the best stage piano "regardless" is the MP11SE, around 35kg, with a dated version of the key action found in the CA79/99.

Roland PHA50 (RD2000, FP90x) is also well regarded.

The relatively recent ES920 seems to be the only relatively lightweight slab with a midrange key action, around 17kg, on account on more plasticky build than the ES8. The same RHIII key action is also in the MP7SE.

Among the lightweight, check the usual suspects: ES110/520, FP30X, RD88, P125, D1. PX-S action is worse than PX I'm afraid.

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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Is there a high-quality stage piano appreciably better than the Roland RD700nx, regardless of weight or price, that lends itself reasonably well to classical piano practice?
It's really subjective. Except for maybe a hard bottoming on some, I think the older Roland high-end actions (like your Roland's PHA III and even earlier PHA II) are better than Roland's current actions, which to me all seem kind of sluggish by comparison. But others will probably tell you differently. Outside of Roland, I think the only contenders are Yamaha and Kawai. From Yamaha, look at the P515 and maybe the CP88... most people will probably tell you the P515 is the better of the two, but in a very brief playing, I actually preferred the CP88. The Kawai of choice would probably be the MP11SE, but we're really taking advantage of your "regardless of weight" parameter on that one. All of these actions will probably feel heavier than your Roland, which you may or may not prefer.

Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Is there a lightweight stage piano appreciably better than the Casio PX-350M that works reasonably well for practicing classical music?
Maybe the Kawai ES-520.

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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
I've been away from the digital piano world for a few years and wondering what is now considered "state of the art" among portable digital keyboards - stage pianos. I use these digitals for silent practice and sometimes for travel -- times when I cannot practice on my acoustic piano. I'm mostly interested in classical music and I work with a classical piano teacher.

My priority is keyboard touch that resembles what one would encounter on a good acoustic. Sound quality is important, too. I play digitals almost exclusively through headphones, so I don't care very much about speakers.

Currently, my best digital is a Roland RD-700nx. It's a little long in the tooth but still works well. However, it's as heavy as sin, and I hardly ever travel with it for that reason.

For travel I use a Casio PX-350M, a 25-pound board that punches well above its price musically, but which wouldn't cause me to enter deep mourning in the event of a travel disaster.

SO, my questions are:

Is there a high-quality stage piano appreciably better than the Roland RD700nx, regardless of weight or price, that lends itself reasonably well to classical piano practice?

AND:

Is there a lightweight stage piano appreciably better than the Casio PX-350M that works reasonably well for practicing classical music?

Any and all recommendations are appreciated.

This order in my view is how they stack up, with best at the top:

Kawai MP11SE

Kawai VPC1

Kawai MP7SE/ES8/ES920, Roland RD2000 or FP90/X, Yamaha P515,

Nord Grand

Roland RD800, Yamaha CP4 & CP88, Roland FP60

Roland V Piano, RD700NX, Roland RD88

Korg- Grandstand, - SV1 & 2, - Kronos

Nord Piano 4, Dexibel Vivo S7/9 Pro, Kurzweil Forte, Viscount Physis Piano


Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7SE; Past - Kawai MP7, Yamaha PSR7000
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I have a Kawai mp10 and mp7se (two different homes); the action on the mp10 is definitely more like an acoustic piano than the mp7se, but I'm happy playing either one (although I don't like the onboard sounds on the mp10).

For travel I picked up a Studiologic SL73 last year and it's been great. 25 pounds (+ a 20 pound pelican case), has survived a handful of domestic air travel trips without a problem, and the cost is about 25% of a top stage piano. Action (Fatar) is heavier than then the mp10 (which is heavier than the mp7se) but after playing it a couple of days I get used to it. I wouldn't want it as my full-time keyboard at home, but it's perfect for travel.

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Doug M has it right. In my view (using digitals alongside a grand), the order is:

Kawai MP11 SE
Kawai VPC 1 with a good sound source

I'd rate both of these at the top, with personal preferences coming into play regarding both the action and the setup.

Then Kawai MP7SE/ES8/ES920, Roland RD2000 or FP90/X, Yamaha P515, Nord Grand, again with personal preferences deciding which of these you like best (for me it would be the Nord Grand for its sound library, but YMMV).

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All we hear are the same old hackneyed opinions. The only guys fit to comment would be those familiar with and preferably owning suitable acoustic instruments. Nor does it help that the poster doesn't tell us the acoustic instrument he/she uses.
Even if he did, acoustic actions vary as much as digitals. And plauying them is a different experience anyway.
The guy just needs to get himself to the shops and try stuff out when he can. Only he can know. I don't honestly think we can help him in this.
Shame really. What'll we do now? smile


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Agree with Kawai MP11 SE
Kawai VPC 1 with a good sound source.

Comparison: I play a Yamaha C6 acoustic and these are the closest to that action


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Originally Posted by peterws
All we hear are the same old hackneyed opinions. The only guys fit to comment would be those familiar with and preferably owning suitable acoustic instruments. Nor does it help that the poster doesn't tell us the acoustic instrument he/she uses.
Even if he did, acoustic actions vary as much as digitals. And plauying them is a different experience anyway.
The guy just needs to get himself to the shops and try stuff out when he can. Only he can know. I don't honestly think we can help him in this.
Shame really. What'll we do now? smile

It's in my profile, but I "plauy" a Steinway now; previously played Steingraeber.


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Doug, Maurus, Plinian, and others who have tried to be helpful: Many thanks for taking the time to offer your observations.

I look forward to trying out some of these keyboards. I wish more instrument stores stocked the Kawais -- at least in this area, they're hard to find in a shop!


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Originally Posted by Doug M.
Originally Posted by ClsscLib
I've been away from the digital piano world for a few years and wondering what is now considered "state of the art" among portable digital keyboards - stage pianos. I use these digitals for silent practice and sometimes for travel -- times when I cannot practice on my acoustic piano. I'm mostly interested in classical music and I work with a classical piano teacher.

My priority is keyboard touch that resembles what one would encounter on a good acoustic. Sound quality is important, too. I play digitals almost exclusively through headphones, so I don't care very much about speakers.

Currently, my best digital is a Roland RD-700nx. It's a little long in the tooth but still works well. However, it's as heavy as sin, and I hardly ever travel with it for that reason.

For travel I use a Casio PX-350M, a 25-pound board that punches well above its price musically, but which wouldn't cause me to enter deep mourning in the event of a travel disaster.

SO, my questions are:

Is there a high-quality stage piano appreciably better than the Roland RD700nx, regardless of weight or price, that lends itself reasonably well to classical piano practice?

AND:

Is there a lightweight stage piano appreciably better than the Casio PX-350M that works reasonably well for practicing classical music?

Any and all recommendations are appreciated.

This order in my view is how they stack up, with best at the top:

Kawai MP11SE

Kawai VPC1

Kawai MP7SE/ES8/ES920, Roland RD2000 or FP90/X, Yamaha P515,

Nord Grand

Roland RD800, Yamaha CP4 & CP88, Roland FP60

Roland V Piano, RD700NX, Roland RD88

Korg- Grandstand, - SV1 & 2, - Kronos

Nord Piano 4, Dexibel Vivo S7/9 Pro, Kurzweil Forte, Viscount Physis Piano

I don't consider all of the above to be suitable for classical repertoire. I have not played all of them, but at most half of the instruments listed would be acceptable to me for classical repertoire.


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If you don't mind me asking: which of those models would you say are -not- acceptable to you for classical repertoire, and what metrics/facets of a piano make or break it when it comes to what you find acceptable for classical? What do you think of the Nord Grand, if that is one you've gotten your hands on?

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There are YouTube videos with advanced classical pianists playing some of these digital pianos. It seems they have fun doing this and they are not limited by the piano.
I have seen them on the P-515, Es920, vpc1, Roland etc... . And the most impressive for me (I know these are official marketing) are the video with Casio GP 510/310 or PXS 1000/3000.
Also, while I was looking for a DP, I have seen that a lot of classical teacher (at least the ones who are presents on the net) use Casio GP-310/510. For reason of price and place, I ended up not buying these but the ES920, and we are really happy so far.

Last edited by playplayplay; 06/07/21 02:07 AM.

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I'm hesitant to post the models I found lacking for classical repertoire. Typically a digital piano does not support classical repertoire well when it has one or more of the following limitations.

1. Tonal sustain does not support playing with a singing tone for repertoire for which it is customary.

2. Action does not support "playing on the black keys", ie with hands close to where a fall board would be, as is needed when thumbs are used on the black keys.

3. Sustain pedal does not support the full range of expression.

4. Action repetition is not fast enough, or the action is otherwise sluggish.

5. Control of dynamics is insufficient

6. (Optional) Action is not graded weight.

Among current products that I've either played, or played virtually the same product, I consider the following to be reliable choices for classical repertoire:

MP11SE (top slab DP but is physically heavy)
MP7SE, ES920 (I own an MP7SE)
FP90X (I've played an FP90)
P-515 (action is heavy, but it is popular)
CP88 (with Bosendorfer 290 patch)

I'll leave it unstated which of the others I've not played, and which I found lacking for classical repertoire.


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Originally Posted by playplayplay
There are YouTube videos with advanced classical pianists playing some of these digital pianos. It seems they have fun doing this and they are not limited by the piano.

To be clear, they are at least mostly not limited by the piano for the piece being played in the video. That is not sufficient evidence that they are not limited at all by the piano. And even for the piece being played, they may not be playing with all of the expressive nuances they may prefer.


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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
I'm hesitant to post the models I found lacking for classical repertoire. Typically a digital piano does not support classical repertoire well when it has one or more of the following limitations.

1. Tonal sustain does not support playing with a singing tone for repertoire for which it is customary.

2. Action does not support "playing on the black keys", ie with hands close to where a fall board would be, as is needed when thumbs are used on the black keys.

3. Sustain pedal does not support the full range of expression.

4. Action repetition is not fast enough, or the action is otherwise sluggish.

5. Control of dynamics is insufficient

6. (Optional) Action is not graded weight.

Among current products that I've either played, or played virtually the same product, I consider the following to be reliable choices for classical repertoire:

MP11SE (top slab DP but is physically heavy)
MP7SE, ES920 (I own an MP7SE)
FP90X (I've played an FP90)
P-515 (action is heavy, but it is popular)
CP88 (with Bosendorfer 290 patch)

I'll leave it unstated which of the others I've not played, and which I found lacking for classical repertoire.

This is correct. The MP11SE is the easy pick but is not without drawbacks. I own the MP7SE which is the fun version of the MP11SE - - - lighter for gigging, contains organs, has 4 parts you can layer, and has more sounds. The action is lighter and not as good for playing on the black keys.

If you can opt for a cabinet digital piano rather than a slab, the action options get much better, unlike the prices 😂.


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Since the VPC1 came out, my (night time) set up is a cheaper version of the Nord Grand: Kawai VPC1 with a Nord Electro 5 on top.

During the day, my instrument is a beautiful small Shigeru Kawai SK2. I find it very easy to transfer my practicing (classical music from Bach to Shostakovich, a bit of jazz) between the two setups (mostly using the Bösendorfer Imperial Grand sample in the Nord Piano Library, with a suitable touch curve). Of course there remains much more nuance and artistry in playing the real thing. But for nighttime practicing (and enjoyment) purposes the digital setup works very nicely. Before using this setup I went through quite a number of different Yamaha stage pianos but something was amiss up to and including the CP4.
I also didn't get along well with software instruments, due to the hassle.

The Electro doubles as a very convenient and lightweight out & about instrument for all kinds of music...


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Aside from the Dexibell S9, which has the best action and sounds of any stage piano by far, and is priced accordingly, the Kawai mp11se is a good compromise.

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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
It's in my profile, but I "plauy" a Steinway now; previously played Steingraeber.

I am curious as to why you switched from Steingraeber to Steinway. You were a big Steingraeber enthusiast if I recall

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The ultimate stage piano would be the Kawai MP11SE. Very good piano-like action, built like a tank, but weighs over 70 lbs. (Groan!) It also doesn't have internal speakers.

For a lightweight inexpensive go-anywhere portable piano with good action, I would recommend either the Kawai ES110 or Yamaha P125. Both instruments are very playable, but neither of their actions feel like an acoustic piano. (No piano under $1,000 has a piano-like action) Both also have internal speakers. The Kawai comes with an excellent sustain pedal (with half-pedaling) right out of the box. (The Yamaha's pedal is par for the course in this price range, but the Kawai pedal is clearly superior)

The Yamaha P515 portable has better action than either the Kawai ES110 or Yamaha P125, and it weighs only a few pounds more. (It also has better speakers.)

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