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Posted By: mwf Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/06/20 06:29 PM
I have budget for either, and have narrowed my choices down to either the NG or CA99 after long and studied thought, months I've spent thinking and I've pretty much had enough lol.

I've played on both several times... I like them both in different ways.

I am thinking most forum members will steer me towards the kawai for obvious reasons, it has the better keyboard action and built in speaker system/soundboard. However i dont feel the sampling is the best and it sounds very average recorded when you listen back, YouTube videos etc.. Playing the piano live is a great experience though.

The NG sampling i feel is superior and has a better choice of pianos and looks cool in red. It also sounds better than anything ive heard (even vsts) recorded. Live playing probably not on par with the kawai though due to poorer speakers (I would use nord piano monitors and have tried them already in shop). I think the action is nice enough and very fast and responsive, certainly doea not compete with the ca99 though.

I would prefer the portability of the nord also and not having to have a one piece cabinet piano in my house. I also like to do a lot of recording so the quality is important to me in that respect. However i do like the thought of having a top wooden action... Its just an impossible decision.

Do i go with the better action/touch or, in my opinion, the better quality pianos on offer and portability? Not completely happy with the ca99 sound wise, absolutely love the touch though, i do play garritan cfx vst through my current yamaha cp4... Do i need a second portable piano.. Should I get a cabinet piano... Its never ending mind, slowly driving me crazy.
Posted By: Jitin Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/06/20 06:35 PM
I would say get the ca99, I think for a home piano having the internal speakers in a cabinet would be better, Nord sounds great I’m sure , but I’m not so sure I would want to play it with monitors at home. Also, the samples of kawai our top notch similar to other competitors, albeit not the best, AND you get amazing action.
Posted By: Otavio Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/06/20 07:12 PM
NG!

Best sounding piano samples in digital pianos.
Nice action.
A very nice sound collection besides pianos.
Mellotron samples are delightful.
Had a Stage 2.
Lovely sounds
Posted By: Joe Garfield Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/06/20 11:20 PM
For me, and for at-home use, the cabinet and action we’re both very important. I got the Kawai CS11 because I feel like I’m playing an elegant instrument that feels great. But I use MIDI and play through a computer.

If I was playing “out” I’d probably get a Nord.
Posted By: djvu10 Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/07/20 02:29 AM
Buy the CA99 and add a Nord sound module later on if you still feel the need to??? smile
Posted By: Otavio Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/07/20 03:25 AM


Nord piano library on Kontakt

Sounds nice.
Posted By: dhts Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/07/20 07:23 AM
Originally Posted by djvu10
Buy the CA99 and add a Nord sound module later on if you still feel the need to??? smile

As above but replace CA99 with MP11SE. It gives you a top Kawai action and logistically you can more easily sit a second keyboard on top.

I wanted to love the Nord Grand but played it twice in stores and could never get over the action. Re the Kawai sound, I did have some reservations on purchase but am now very happy with it. I don't know if that's just time needed to adjust to what you're familiar with.

I'd add if you want to be able to easily tweak sounds on the fly I don't think a cabinet piano is ideal. So focus on how you want to use the instrument.
Posted By: CyberGene Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/07/20 08:32 AM
Originally Posted by dhts
As above but replace CA99 with MP11SE. It gives you a top Kawai action

MP11SE has GF1 action. The current top Kawai action is GF3, the one in CA99. GF3 is "considerably improved" compared to GF2 in the words of Kawai James himself. Let alone compared to GF1.
Posted By: dhts Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/07/20 09:08 AM
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Originally Posted by dhts
As above but replace CA99 with MP11SE. It gives you a top Kawai action

MP11SE has GF1 action. The current top Kawai action is GF3, the one in CA99. GF3 is "considerably improved" compared to GF2 in the words of Kawai James himself. Let alone compared to GF1.

I think that's why I said "a top" rather than "the top". I'd suggest the differences between the GF generations are relatively minor compared to the differences between the long wooden action of the GF1 versus the folded plastic action of the Nord Grand. Or he could wait for the MP12...
Posted By: pianistje Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/07/20 09:22 AM
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Originally Posted by dhts
As above but replace CA99 with MP11SE. It gives you a top Kawai action

MP11SE has GF1 action. The current top Kawai action is GF3, the one in CA99. GF3 is "considerably improved" compared to GF2 in the words of Kawai James himself. Let alone compared to GF1.
Kawai James is a great person , but i never understand this ongoing marketing gibberish.
Of course each rendering is a bit different, but ‘considerably improved’ ???. Their team of experts did try to make the best placebo piano action from day 1 with the Kawai MP9000 and hardly left something on the table at the time...with the idea in the back of their minds that they can ‘considerably improve’ upon their first mediocre attempt from a future marketing perspective. Yes sensor amount and detection improved and therefor the overal feel.
But there are at least 10 rounds of ‘considerably improved’ actions between the Kawai MP9000 and the CA99 according to the Kawai marketing.

I go to a lot of piano shops and they use the same PR talk. The most expensive grands have the best actions and the best everything the sales persons claim. While from a certain price point every piano builder uses top materials....the best of the best actions etc... only certain brands can charge almost twice the price for their grand. I have no problem at all with paying for a certain name....i have a problem with the assumption that brands a cut below the big names supposedly don’t use equal materials or simply are lacking somewhere.
Some time ago i played on a used Yamaha S6 and it was a bargin compared to the new Bechsteins in the showroom. But i liked it more and there was nothing...nothing at all ‘superior’ in the Bechsteins apart from personal taste.
Posted By: MacMacMac Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/07/20 10:10 AM
So, to summarize your post, pianistje ... You ignore hype. You ignore specs. You ignore marketing drivel.

You rely solely on your own judgement.

Perfect!
Posted By: maurus Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/07/20 10:26 AM
Hi mwf,

here is my own judgement (with a nod to MacMacMac wink ). First some background: I have owned both wooden Kawai actions and various Yamahas and Nords, and I still own Kawai actions (in my grand, no contest to all the digitals, and in a VPC1) and a trusted Nord Electro.

In terms of owner satisfaction in the digital domain nothing competes with the Nords, for me. As long as they are played from a good action, and in a good audio chain (minimum: high quality phones) the quality of their sound library is just amazing and I dare say the only collection of sampled sounds I have not been tired of after a fairly short while. The direct user interface of the Nords is equally amazing (provided one wants to have an interface for changing sounds or effects at all), and they are built to last. Added bonus, as you say: You can carry them around.

Now the Kawai CA99 surely is an amazing instrument, too, and its action is superior to the Kawai action in the Nord Grand. So there is clearly a trade-off between action quality and sound quality, or should I say: Action satisfaction and sound satisfaction. Only you can decide where you feel best.

Again, and just for me: The variety and quality of the sounds, coupled with the immediacy of the user interface, won me over to the Nords.
Posted By: pianistje Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/07/20 10:45 AM
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
So, to summarize your post, pianistje ... You ignore hype. You ignore specs. You ignore marketing drivel.

You rely solely on your own judgement.

Perfect!
Wow your post is much better focussed on the essence....why couldn’t i think of that. Ahhhh i like to post irrelevant filling at times...
grin
Posted By: ando Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/07/20 11:22 AM
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
So, to summarize your post, pianistje ... You ignore hype. You ignore specs. You ignore marketing drivel.

You rely solely on your own judgement.

Perfect!
Pretty much. It's all noise. 5 minutes alone with the piano tells you what you need to know.
Posted By: Otavio Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/07/20 04:24 PM
Originally Posted by maurus
In terms of owner satisfaction in the digital domain nothing competes with the Nords, for me. As long as they are played from a good action, and in a good audio chain (minimum: high quality phones) the quality of their sound library is just amazing and I dare say the only collection of sampled sounds I have not been tired of after a fairly short while. The direct user interface of the Nords is equally amazing (provided one wants to have an interface for changing sounds or effects at all), and they are built to last. Added bonus, as you say: You can carry them around.

Now the Kawai CA99 surely is an amazing instrument, too, and its action is superior to the Kawai action in the Nord Grand. So there is clearly a trade-off between action quality and sound quality, or should I say: Action satisfaction and sound satisfaction. Only you can decide where you feel best.

Again, and just for me: The variety and quality of the sounds, coupled with the immediacy of the user interface, won me over to the Nords.

Exactly !
Posted By: Kawai James Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 02:28 AM
Hello mwf,

Originally Posted by mwf
I would prefer the portability of the nord also and not having to have a one piece cabinet piano in my house.

In that case, go for the Nord Grand, and pair it up with something like a VPC1 or MP11/MP11SE.

...but then, if you're only going to use the Nord Grand as a sound generator, I believe you can probably pick up a second hand Nord Piano 3/4 with more or less the same functionality.

...or you can go for the CA99, and also grab a second hand Nord Electro! wink

Kind regards,
James
x
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 02:48 AM
MP11SE + laptop + virtual piano.
Posted By: Dave Ferris Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 04:47 AM
I haven't played the CA99 but for me there's a lot to be said by just hitting the *on* switch and start playing, with no phones, no computer. Like Joe Garfield said, I like the player/instrument connection of a self-contained unit for home playing.

I liked the Nord Grand on a short first play in a noisy NAMM environment. A huge step up from the Fatar on their Nord pianos for certain. I'm not sold on the Nord monitors, mainly from an aesthetic pov. The way they are mounted look just wonky to me. I'd opt for better quality studio monitors on traditional monitor stands with more separation. Plus throw in that WAY overpriced red stand and you're getting up there price wise.

I do see the NG as an instrument that in 2-3 years might be out dated and replaced by the latest and greatest. I guess you could say that about the Kawai too though, except if it does play well and sound good, with a nice cabinet, it seems more long term then the Nord.

Hard call. I guess it depends how enthralled you are with the Nord piano sounds....and the Nord vibe or aesthetic. Personally for me, either one of these are a pretty hefty investment and you're getting not far off from Avant Grand N1X territory. I'd save my dough and get something like that - or the Kawai hybrid- and have something that realistically you would keep for a solid ten years , maybe longer.

If you want portable, my CP4 still serves me well...and I don't use VSTs. Or get the P-515 or a comparable DP in that price range. Just my thoughts fwiw.
Posted By: Dave Ferris Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 06:09 AM
Just to add another few thoughts- I'm coming at this totally from a pianist perspective emulating a practice piano for Jazz and Classical. That's why for me, the AG or hybrid is my preferred choice.

If you want to play with the mellotron, strings, rhodes, wurli and other sounds from Nord library, experiment layering sounds or multi-track recording -- that's a whole other thing. Yes definitely go with the Nord.

I can see Nord coming out with a refined and more elegant home version of the Nord Grand in the future. It would feature a good integrated sounding speaker system with an attractive cabinet. I'm guessing it would be in the 5-6K price range. It would be a pretty radical departure for them but given how embedded their products are now with gigging musicians, with more people staying home and making music by themselves, I do see a market there, given how popular the brand is with younger generations, and how willing they seem to pony up the dough. Personally it would be too much red for me. laugh
Posted By: aphexdisklavier Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 10:30 AM
I would never buy an expensive DP because of its sounds. They are outdated in a couple of years anyway. Thats why I bought the VPC1. On the other hand the VPC and the MP11 are much too heavy (in weight) to be a real giggling DP. You always need 2 persons to carry it. Why not buying a MP7 (if you like the action on the NG) +soundmodules or ipad? There is no DP that is perfect for every situation. For the home I would only choose the DP with the best action.
Posted By: Doug M. Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 12:15 PM
Originally Posted by mwf
I have budget for either, and have narrowed my choices down to either the NG or CA99 after long and studied thought, months I've spent thinking and I've pretty much had enough lol.

I've played on both several times... I like them both in different ways.

I am thinking most forum members will steer me towards the kawai for obvious reasons, it has the better keyboard action and built in speaker system/soundboard. However i dont feel the sampling is the best and it sounds very average recorded when you listen back, YouTube videos etc.. Playing the piano live is a great experience though.

The NG sampling i feel is superior and has a better choice of pianos and looks cool in red. It also sounds better than anything ive heard (even vsts) recorded. Live playing probably not on par with the kawai though due to poorer speakers (I would use nord piano monitors and have tried them already in shop). I think the action is nice enough and very fast and responsive, certainly doea not compete with the ca99 though.

I would prefer the portability of the nord also and not having to have a one piece cabinet piano in my house. I also like to do a lot of recording so the quality is important to me in that respect. However i do like the thought of having a top wooden action... Its just an impossible decision.

Do i go with the better action/touch or, in my opinion, the better quality pianos on offer and portability? Not completely happy with the ca99 sound wise, absolutely love the touch though, i do play garritan cfx vst through my current yamaha cp4... Do i need a second portable piano.. Should I get a cabinet piano... Its never ending mind, slowly driving me crazy.

I think the Nord Grand sampling is not as good as the CFX sample I played on the CLP685. I'd put the Nord at second place.
Regardless...
The problem with the Nord is not the sample tone quality and not the action; rather, the problem is that it doesn't have realistic dynamic response. That's the reason I think that you feel happier playing the CA99---it feels more like playing a real piano.
Posted By: Otavio Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 12:34 PM
Originally Posted by aphexdisklavier
I would never buy an expensive DP because of its sounds. They are outdated in a couple of years anyway. Thats why I bought the VPC1. On the other hand the VPC and the MP11 are much too heavy (in weight) to be a real giggling DP. You always need 2 persons to carry it. Why not buying a MP7 (if you like the action on the NG) +soundmodules or ipad? There is no DP that is perfect for every situation. For the home I would only choose the DP with the best action.

One thing has to be said about the longevity of Nord sounds.
The Nord Grand, like other nord products, will be able to hold up very well over the years.
They continue to release new samples compatible with several previous products in the line.
In this regard, Nord will always be at the forefront of any digital piano company.
Posted By: CyberGene Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 12:51 PM
Originally Posted by Doug M.
The problem with the Nord is not the sample tone quality and not the action; rather, the problem is that it doesn't have realistic dynamic response. That's the reason I think that you feel happier playing the CA99---it feels more like playing a real piano.
I agree and feel the same way about Nords. On demos and in recording the sampling is very nice and approaching VST quality, however when you start playing it's a very underwhelming experience that falls short of the regular digital pianos, even cheap ones. I haven't played a Nord Grand, maybe it depends on the action and its touch curve or something.
Posted By: Otavio Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 01:12 PM
It´s a feature that many users ask Nord for all those years.
A deeper control on the touch sensitivity/velocity curve.

I never played a Nord Grand but many reviewers say that it´s the best, by far, Nord product for piano playing experience.
With this major improvement over Nord Stage/Electro, or even, Nord Piano, I imagine that they could, somehow, approximate a lot more the connection between sounds and touch.
Posted By: clothearednincompo Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 01:30 PM
Originally Posted by Some people
I would never buy an expensive DP because of its sounds. They are outdated in a couple of years anyway. The Nord Grand, like other nord products, will be able to hold up very well over the years. [...] They continue to release new samples compatible with several previous products in the line.

Not really trying to make a point, but just thinking out loud:

- Are acoustic pianos going to sound different in a few years?
- Are massive improvements in microphones and recording technology going to happen in a few years?

A Nord device from 2020 will likely be able to load samples recorded in 2025, but it still has the elecronics from 2020, so will anything really change?

Is Nord (Clavia) currently not doing sampling properly? Do the Nord sounds not sound like real acoustic pianos?

Will they learn to sample properly in the next few years?

If not and the acoustic pianos stay the same, then nothing will really change for owners of a 2020 Nord product.
Posted By: aphexdisklavier Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 02:03 PM
Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
Originally Posted by Some people
I would never buy an expensive DP because of its sounds. They are outdated in a couple of years anyway. The Nord Grand, like other nord products, will be able to hold up very well over the years. [...] They continue to release new samples compatible with several previous products in the line.

Not really trying to make a point, but just thinking out loud:

- Are acoustic pianos going to sound different in a few years?
- Are massive improvements in microphones and recording technology going to happen in a few years?

A Nord device from 2020 will likely be able to load samples recorded in 2025, but it still has the elecronics from 2020, so will anything really change?

Is Nord (Clavia) currently not doing sampling properly? Do the Nord sounds not sound like real acoustic pianos?

Will they learn to sample properly in the next few years?

If not and the acoustic pianos stay the same, then nothing will really change for owners of a 2020 Nord product.

Just short:

You can not compare DP with acoustic pianos. Acoustics can sound very different from time to time (its a living machine:)) You can change setups (hammers, strings) that gives completely different acoustics. Also your playing style is very important to the produced sound. DPs or VSTs etc sound exactly the same now and in 10 years. So if you are happy with the sound its perfect. In my experience I get tired of every sound library after a while. You want something new and fresh. Because its a digital information not a real produced sound (with millions of components).
Posted By: mwf Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 02:33 PM
I REALLY appreciate the messages everyone, very helpful, invaluable really.

Just to address one comment about dynamic velocity, ive played on both like i said and actually i waa astounded by the NG velocity curve and dynamics, the sense of connection with the keyboard and how you wanted the resulting sound output was probably the best i have ever experienced on a dp, its kind of more playable than many acoustics ive played. The dynamics were amazing, it had so much room to play with, this threw me back actually.

The kawai was also dynamic, perhaps a little too dynamic and the volume didn't really crank up on the speakers until i really digged in, shows how loud the piano can get.

I'm leaning towards NG more and more as it happens, i think i need to go back to the shop and try them both again, i was hoping for the new yamaha clp 700 range to be released so i could also try them at the same time, ive played the clp 685 and although i liked the sampling and sound, the action had too much downweight friction for it to be enjoyable to play.

Thanks again
Posted By: Otavio Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 03:40 PM
As I expected.


I hope Nord had learned a bit more about connecting sounds and keys (for piano playing) to apply this knowledge(and technology) to the next generation of Nord Pianos / Stage / Electro.
...and also that this partnership with Kawai continues
Posted By: JerryY Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 04:48 PM
Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
Originally Posted by Some people
I would never buy an expensive DP because of its sounds. They are outdated in a couple of years anyway. The Nord Grand, like other nord products, will be able to hold up very well over the years. [...] They continue to release new samples compatible with several previous products in the line.

Not really trying to make a point, but just thinking out loud:

- Are acoustic pianos going to sound different in a few years?
- Are massive improvements in microphones and recording technology going to happen in a few years?

A Nord device from 2020 will likely be able to load samples recorded in 2025, but it still has the elecronics from 2020, so will anything really change?

Is Nord (Clavia) currently not doing sampling properly? Do the Nord sounds not sound like real acoustic pianos?

Will they learn to sample properly in the next few years?

If not and the acoustic pianos stay the same, then nothing will really change for owners of a 2020 Nord product.

I'm certainly a newbie in the piano world, but based on my knowledge in the audio and tech industry, it could continue to make significant improvements on the DP sound, mainly because the sound from a DP doesn't only depend on the acoustic sample sound and recording, but also the storage limit and processing power. It's reasonable to assume audible difference between a 1GB and a 10GB sample database, and the same case if processing power increases by 10 times. I'm not surprised if the so called Hi-Res hype may get into the DP world some day.

Also, don't get me started on the modelling sound engines many companies are working on. It may not be good enough now, but it's also getting better.
Posted By: Dave Ferris Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 04:48 PM
Originally Posted by Doug M.
I think the Nord Grand sampling is not as good as the CFX sample I played on the CLP685. I'd put the Nord at second place..

Someone else on the Keyboard Corner forum made the same observation. He owns both the NG and P-515. Plus he owns a Kawai RX-7, in addition to some Fulcrum Acoustic speakers, the high end Sonosax SX-R4+ recorder, an array of VSTs and other boutique gear. So I don't take his comments lightly. He goes into great detail if you click on * in a different thread are here*.

Originally Posted by Nathanael_I
My thoughts in a different thread are here.

I own a P515, which is on my composing desk as the main keyboard. The Nord Grand (and its Kawai action) is my preference, but is in the live rig. It is not as good a form-factor for my desk. I do, strangely, also like the built in speakers. Sometimes, when some other sound is up in the DAW, I just raise the fader on the speakers, and I can play piano quickly.

The only thing I haven't mentioned elsewhere in other threads is that the edges of the P515 keys are sharper than the Kawai or my RX-7 acoustic grand. The Nord Grand are rounded over and smooth like butter. The P515 are "crisp". I don't prefer that. The P515 is heavily damped, and much quieter than the Nord Grand, but this makes the action feel heavier and sluggish. Both are capable of expressive, nuanced playing. I do prefer the Nord Grand. I do not like Fatar actions if that is helpful to know my biases. I can be happy on either the Kawai or Yamaha actions. I prefer to play other samples with either than what is inside. The P515 sample is better than any of the Nord samples. The sampling has real pianissimo samples. The Nord piano library pianos start at mp and don't have pp or p samples. This may or may not matter. Playing the Synchron Steinway with the surround speakers on and everything at acoustic volume level is quite satisfying. Not selling the RX-7. But its the samples and amplification that keep the slab pianos from much greater success. The raw keyboard mechanisms on these triple sensor keyboards are quite good.
Posted By: Otavio Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 05:02 PM
"The Nord piano library pianos start at mp and don't have pp or p samples"
This is true.
Or, at least, it how i felt with Stage 2.
Posted By: Dave Ferris Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 05:09 PM
And even more from Nathanael right after he purchased the NG. A long read but good.

Originally Posted by Nathanael_I
Well, my Nord Grand arrived last week while I was overseas on business. So, I had a bit of a present waiting for me on my return! I got it out and have spent a few hours with it. My initial impressions follow. I purchased it to be the lower tier of a live rig. The flat top is specifically useful to me. The fact that I can load in my own synth samples is specifically useful. That it has a Kawai action and not Fatar was very important to me. The lower tier is about AC piano for me, so aftertouch and other things just didn't matter. The fact that it came with a triple pedal and triple sensor were both factors. If it is to be a piano, then be one! I do use the sostenuto pedal on my RX-7, so why not have it on the Nord? This is for a laptop rig, so all the splits and layers will be done in Gig Performer. So, I was not put off by the minimal MIDI implementation Nord seems to think is useful.

I purchased it without playing it. But, I have owned Yamaha P-series before, and played most of the boards on the market, including the Kawai MP7 and MP11. I have long appreciated both Yamaha and Kawai actions (and the Roland RD-2000). So I wasn't too concerned about feel. If it matched MP7, I'd be happy. I do not care for the Fatar weighted actions and avoid them for piano action. I do like the Fatar 8/S premium synth action, however (its on the Solaris, Quantum, etc). I played the CP88 recently, and found that in the CP88, the only sounds I really liked were the AP's - and not being able to change the other sounds was a limitation. The action on the CP88 was fine.

The weight others have mentioned is no bother to me. It is lightweight compared to something like a Kronos 88. I had no trouble maneuvering it. I do wish Nord had already released a new soft bag for it. I will wait for their bag, as I don't really want a 30lb case for it.

Presentation/Quality. The instrument is pleasingly solid and well built. On my custom Gibraltar stand, it is rock solid. It is as stable as my Kawai RX-7 - nothing moves except the keys. I didn't expect to think "this is nice" with an electronic instrument, but it is elegant for what it is. My 8 year old daughter said, "It looks good". So there you have it.

Keys/Action/Feel. It feels great. It is almost indistinguishable from my RX-7. The Nord Grand feels just a smidge lighter - I bet it would weigh off about the same, but there is just more friction in wood parts. Most importantly, it can play softly. So many inexpensive keyboards just can't play softly, and even light playing generates MIDI 50-60's. It's like throwing half the dynamic range away! This can play softly under control, and like anything else generate "127s" without strain. The keys themselves feel great. Whatever "ivory touch" they have is quite nice. The action is "fast" and is not in the way for runs and flourishes. There's plenty of room for anyone to prefer something different, but honestly, if you can't play expressively on this, it isn't the instrument's fault. The MP11SE or Kawai CA-98 might be nicer, but they are in different categories and not suitable for this portable purpose. I'll play a Yamaha P515 on Wed or Thursday this week and be able to compare, but I expect both to be fully adequate for my purpose. The Nord Grand is a better form factor than the P515 for my purposes.

Acoustic Piano Sounds. The new White Grand is a good sample for live playing. It is definitely a very close miked sound. I'd prefer a bit more space and maybe a tiny bit less brightness from close miking, but this is also what makes it a good sample for live playing. It will sound great in a mix. I was playing through my Fulcrum PA at about the same volume as my acoustic piano. My wife came downstairs and asked if I'd been playing the Nord yet. When I responded that's pretty much all I've been playing, she said, "From upstairs I couldn't tell the difference". There's decent variety in the Nord Piano library. None are "state-of-the-art". But if I need that, I can put the Ravenscroft or VSL Synchron Steinway on the laptop. The Synchron Steinway defines state of the art. The uprights have interesting and useful character.

I have a Kawai RX-7 a few feet from the Nord Grand. The sound character of the White Grand is definitely familiar. The big difference to recording my piano is that the Nord Grand is hyper clean. The "string resonance" is much less than what occurs on a real grand, or even a state-of-the-art large piano library like Vienna Synchron Steinway. So, this provides a "clarity" of sorts. This is probably better for live use in a band anyway. For pure solo piano, it's probably 25% of what my RX-7 does. Part of this is likely also tuning related. The Nord sample is, of course, completely perfectly tuned. My RX-y is tuned regularly , but is probably not as "in tune" at any given time as the Nord sampling session - perhaps right after it is tuned. So a bit of thickness from tuning and a real soundboard are the two differences that I hear. I've spent a lot of time recording and miking up my piano, so these were obvious to me, but might be a lot less so to someone else if you don't have experience sampling and recording pianos.

The other immediate difference to my RX-7 is the sample length. For normal live playing purposes the Nord Grand is fine. But if you take the G above middle C, my RX-7 will ring out for about 25 seconds with or without the sustain pedal. The Nord Grand is gone after 3 seconds or so played without sustain, and 6-7 sec with the sustain pedal. This is where a piano sample of a few hundred MB is just necessarily limited. In practical playing it is adequate, but it does show how they can fit so many pianos into 2GB- they aren't really very long samples. I suppose it helps with polyphony as well - if the note is done, the oscillator is free again.

The Nord "soft, mid, bright" control makes a definite difference. The soft is not quite a felted piano, but it takes off both attack and high end. The "bright" adds high and removes low. The "mid" puts in a mid bump. I'm not sure where I'd use it, but it puts a fairly narrow 1-2 octave boost around middle C. I can see using the "soft" as an effect.

E-piano sounds. Adequate, but not exceptional. My go to is the "Canterbury Rhodes" sample put out by Sonic Couture, and it is on my laptop. So the Nord e-pianos are fine for "take only one board" purposes. And that's all I'd ask them to be. If I was only playing e-piano and it was the core of my sound, I would personally have other samples in mind. But these are quite usable.

All other sounds. Uninteresting to me (except the basses - which are useful). I will probably remove almost all. My plan is to sample a few things from my OB-6 and Solaris and put my own default synth pads in place. The included synths are pretty close to "bad, flat ROMpler sounds", in my opinion. When playing with "one board", I'd prefer to load in my own. When playing with full rig, I'll use the OB-6 or other devices. I don't plan to play horns or orchestral parts on this keyboard, so the weakness here is not very important to me, but may be to you. I'm used to hearing professional orchestral sample libraries that are 100's of GB in size. No keyboard sounds are going to sound "good" to me at this point, so it isn't a decision making point for me.

UI. The overall Nord UI is easy and fast. No manual required, and it just works. They really do get the most important things immediately accessible. I don't understand having a synth section without a filter knob, but other than that, the desired things are easy to get to. The rear panel is simplicity itself. This is an instrument for playing, not tweaking or deep customization. It really is a piano, and for a piano it has a lot of features. But for a synth/rompler, it is devoid of many things. Horses for courses....

FX. Convenient. Not as good as a Blue Sky reverb, or an Eventide H9 pedal. But convenient and adequate. If I get picky, I have other things that are much better. But for emergency "one board" use? perfectly adequate.

So, I am happy with it. It will serve me very well for many years as a portable piano, and weighed controller in a laptop rig. The action is as good as I've played (its been a while since I played the MP-11...), and certainly won't stop me from doing anything I can do on my RX-7 at home. When playing the White Grand, the touch-to-sound is wonderful. The instrument is very responsive and dynamically interesting. This is an instrument that you quickly explore and then it is all about playing. this one isn't for tweaking and getting lost for hours making sounds. It is for playing. And playing piano at that.

Originally Posted by Nathanael_I
As I continue to learn the instrument, I am very pleased with the action. The action is better than the Nord Piano Library samples can demonstrate. Using a MIDI monitor, it is quite possible to play MIDI values in the teens consistently and evenly. Playing my RX7 this softly has significant timbre implications. The tone softens as well as diminishing in volume. On the RX-7, pp is a distinctly different timbre than p. The Nord samples pretty much start at an mp timbre and go up. The lower timbral layers are just not in the sample, and the brightness is accentuated by the very close mic positions used. To get softer, the sostenuto pedal brings it down, and one can use the EQ to soften it more, but it still isn't quite the same as having sample data. The Nord samples seem optimized for modern genre's where the softest layers really aren't needed. The piano gets very bright and loud in the upper layers and it is clearly optimized with more detail in the upper end than the lower end of the velocity range. This is likely the right choice, but it does again point out where they've saved sample space by under-sampling the instrument.

So, I turned off the Nord piano section, and loaded up Keyscape and the Yamaha C7 sample it features. I turned off all the effects and EQ so it was just the raw sample and a little reverb. Now the lower layers were all present, and the timbral variations one expects from low velocity playing were all present. I switched over to Pianoteq, and the same thing - soft playing had all the color shifts expected. It's MIDI monitor confirmed that I was playing under 25 consistently, and able to make accents in the 30 range easily. Now, I don't practice to make a MIDI monitor behave - but having control at lower velocities is what you get out of a big grand AND an excellent digital piano action. Control at lower velocities is what I find missing on budget weighted actions. This is of no concern for banging out rock and roll, but for more acoustic work, there is a lot of nuance and expression down there.

So, that's why I say that the action is better than the Nord Piano library - the instrument is more expressive than its own samples can demonstrate. Changing to other grand piano samples on the Nord can also shift the timbre, but there's no one sample that covers the tonal range of my RX-7. The big software pianos fill this in, however. So in the context of a laptop rig, this Nord Grand is a wonderful controller keyboard for large libraries.

Interestingly, the Yamaha P-515 sample doesn't have this limitation - it has samples for the lower layers and gets softer as expected. It doesn't have as good an action feel in an absolute sense, but it is a more complete instrument where internal sounds are concerned. That CFX sample is definitely better than anything in the Nord library.

I haven't loaded the VSL Synchron Steinway onto my laptop, but I may connect the Nord Grand up to the composing rig just to play that sample. I suspect it is a delightful experience. That sample is amazingly realistic and expressive. (It is also massive).
Posted By: CyberGene Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 07:11 PM
Quite an expensive MIDI controller.
Posted By: mwf Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 08:45 PM
Very useful information thanks, this guy with the NG clearly knows his stuff. However the size of the sample doesnt mean its 'better' period. More memory does not mean its more musical and enjoyable to play/interact with.

To say the p515 sample is 'better' than any nord samples is a bold statement too, personally i listen to for example the velvet grand or white grands on the nord and to my ears they are more unique and richer than any yamaha sample ive heard.

https://youtu.be/_kW-s7xboRI

I've not heard anything as rich and impressive from yamaha samples as this white grand demo for example. Its not perfect in the midrange and some notes come off poorly and digitized (0:26 onwards) but if you listen to parts like the 1:43 section its unusually authentic, also the starting chords are very impressive.

I am sure all that memory put into vsts makes the fidelity higher and the quality of the sample overall, but it doesn't make it more musical or playable.
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 09:29 PM
Richness of timbre is not everyone's primary evaluation criterion for a DP piano sound. I care more about control of dynamic level, control of voicing, and having a sufficiently even tonal sustain to play in a cantabile style. These are the the aspects of the piano sound that will enable or limit good support of classical repertoire. The action responsiveness, which is actually even more subjective than tonal evaluation, is the other important feature for me.
Posted By: mwf Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 09:37 PM
I dont mean richness of timbre, I mean overall richness of the sample/sound, depth/richness, lots of things I feel are important not just richness of timbre.
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/08/20 10:24 PM
My response is the same, just replace "timbre" with sound/sample/whatever. How well the DP supports a range of different interpretive styles is what I care about.
Posted By: pianistje Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 06/09/20 07:33 AM
Originally Posted by mwf
I dont mean richness of timbre, I mean overall richness of the sample/sound, depth/richness, lots of things I feel are important not just richness of timbre.
I am feeling the same as you do as what you wrote in your other comments.I have had a Nord stage and electro’s over the years and in a band context i never felt better playing piano parts that actually sounded like an organic piano up front.
Probably something ingrained in my brain ( like some posters here have with pianoteq) but i hate Yamaha stage piano sounds with a vengeance. The only one i ever had was a P120. When i re entered a band i considered a CP5 (mehhh.. not at all to my liking) and bought two Nords instead. And people posting their clips how cool the CP sounds only confirms how i dislike that polished crystal ‘perfect‘ Yamaha sound.
Mind you i did a lot of private dinners as a pianist and had to buy a Yamaha Tyros 2 for a live ballroom interval with more than piano. It’s the same approach....all those sounds were thin and processed like crazy....glad i stopped doing that.


What people wright about the limited dynamics of Nord is true....the keybed of the stage was mediocre too...but the silver grand i used at that time made up for it.
Posted By: entonio Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 03/30/21 10:56 PM
Aesthetics matter. To me there is no consumer product as beautiful as the Nord Grand with the Wood Stand. I'd love it if they could license GF3 and add speakers - spec-wise, it would be something along the lines of the CA79. (The monitors look cool, but I'd rather have speakers in the furniture.)
Posted By: octa Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 03/31/21 04:22 AM
I recently bought a Nord Grand and a VPC1, intending to send one back. Well the return deadline came & went & I still have em both. Initially, I was blown away by the Nord Grand’s pianistic connectivity & surreal dynamics. (Played it several days straight for 10+ hours) But the VPC1 brought me back to earth & I play it + Garritan 90% of time now. The Nord Grand is for sale though I’m still on the fence about that. If I were only going to be playing Nord Grand I’d likely be quite happy but switching between the Yamaha grand at work/church & VPC1 is a bit easier than switching between NG & Yamaha grand. And overall my fingers feel more efficient & in tune after a week of practice on VPC1 compared to NG. (Switched em out last week again to be sure). The last couple of days I’ve been midi’ing into Nord stage 3 compact with VPC1 & this has been enjoyable & preferable to Nord Grand experience also. This may end up being my occasional live rig depending on musical style being performed. Anyways, my $.02 — not giving up on Nord Grand yet but..
Posted By: magicpiano Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 10:53 AM
Originally Posted by Otavio
"The Nord piano library pianos start at mp and don't have pp or p samples"
This is true.
Or, at least, it how i felt with Stage 2.
I believe that's what happens with most internal digital piano engines with 3-4 velocity layers. The layers are almost all concentrated towards the second part of the curve, with something like that (it's just a very raw approximation to get the idea):

Code
       LAYERS:                1       2    3  4
                  +-----------|-+-----|----|--|
MIDI VELOCITY:    0             64            127

Below the velocity mapping of the first layer you get just a lowering of the volume + low-pass filtering of the lowest velocity layer. But on some DPs it looks like there is just the lowering of the volume (for example, I hear many say this happens on the Yamaha P125 main piano sound). If you consider the Kawai ES110 main piano sound, you can feel the sound changes (not just in volume) when you play softer (low-pass filter in action!).

Maybe Nord piano engines don't filter below the lowest velocity layer? Usually this is not a problem in a mix, but in solo piano playing/recording it can be very noticeable, especially for the classical music player.
Posted By: mmathew Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 11:51 AM
I am curious to know what the OP finally bought and 'comparison' between the models originally stated (CA99 / NG)
Posted By: magicpiano Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 01:46 PM
Originally Posted by mmathew
I am curious to know what the OP finally bought and 'comparison' between the models originally stated (CA99 / NG)
He bought a CA99 in August 2020.
Posted By: mmathew Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 02:04 PM
Thx magic :-) and sorry for the bother!
Posted By: EssBrace Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 02:12 PM
Originally Posted by magicpiano
Originally Posted by mmathew
I am curious to know what the OP finally bought and 'comparison' between the models originally stated (CA99 / NG)
He bought a CA99 in August 2020.

It wasn't exactly a happy ending though!
Posted By: Jitin Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 02:15 PM
Originally Posted by EssBrace
Originally Posted by magicpiano
Originally Posted by mmathew
I am curious to know what the OP finally bought and 'comparison' between the models originally stated (CA99 / NG)
He bought a CA99 in August 2020.

It wasn't exactly a happy ending though!

From what i understand, the OP had tons of issues with the CA99, and then decided on a clp785 which he didn't like, but now OP is thinking of Kawai NV10, but has concerns about it's quality issues also.

Digital pianos like all gadgetry, all have their quirks, pick your poison (for the lack of a better word), and nothing is perfect.
Posted By: entonio Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 02:59 PM
Reading these forums one gets the impression that owning a digital piano is a stressful experience, with reality never corresponding to expectations, problems plaguing everything, and orange juice getting instantly sour when hearing the piano. It can't be like that, now, can it? I understand a Korg SP-280 isn't a Fazioli F278, but that doesn't mean one suffers by playing it, or what?
Posted By: Meap6 Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 03:04 PM
Originally Posted by entonio
Reading these forums one gets the impression that owning a digital piano is a stressful experience, with reality never corresponding to expectations, problems plaguing everything, and orange juice getting instantly sour when hearing the piano. It can't be like that, now, can it? I understand a Korg SP-280 isn't a Fazioli F278, but that doesn't mean one suffers by playing it, or what?


That's the issue with forums: people often only write to get help when something goes wrong (or are at least much more vocal)...
Don't forget the silent majority !
Posted By: magicpiano Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 03:30 PM
He talked about a key heavier to press than the others and then some squeaky keys. He get the heavier key fixed but, if I'm not wrong, they never fixed the squeaky keys and I never understood why. But I don't know all the story, and the pandemic at its peak made all more difficult...
Probably he was just unlucky...
Posted By: mwf Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 05:10 PM
Yes i currently have ca99, but it has squeeky keys which keep changing location on the piano worryingly... One minute they are on different keys, the next they dissappear altogether and start somewhere else lol. However i can still play it ok and kawai are coming next week to look at it, hopefully they can't find the reason and i can get a full refund. However I've actually grown to enjoy the ca99 very much, so much that I'm not in any rush to get a hybrid. Nord grand is very good good with headphones, but finding the right speakers for it I wouldn't want to try tbh, a nightmare. It's a very noisy keyboard action also and like i said before, it has a limited dynamic range, it's overpriced and just not particularly enjoyable to play on, the ca99 is a more pleasant experience, much better action and speakers are decent, and it's more dynamic. It's a better piano.

I would strongly recommend against those nord piano monitors also, they are complete garbage, massively overpriced awful sounding speakers. I took my NG back because i was so disgusted by the speakers.
Posted By: mwf Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 05:15 PM
Originally Posted by entonio
Reading these forums one gets the impression that owning a digital piano is a stressful experience, with reality never corresponding to expectations, problems plaguing everything, and orange juice getting instantly sour when hearing the piano. It can't be like that, now, can it? I understand a Korg SP-280 isn't a Fazioli F278, but that doesn't mean one suffers by playing it, or what?

It really isn't a stressful experience, in over 20 years I've only ever had a few issues with my digital pianos, I have a yamaha cp4 and it's so reliable it's quite astonishingly well built and a great piano.... Had it about 8 years or more amd only issue I've had is one key went funny which i got fixed for about £30 or. Something. It's been heavily used in that time also, for gigs and home practice.
Posted By: magicpiano Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 05:24 PM
@mwf: I think yours is an issue easily fixable with proper lubrication in some parts of the keys. Let us know how the story ends...
Posted By: mwf Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 06:36 PM
Originally Posted by magicpiano
@mwf: I think yours is an issue easily fixable with proper lubrication in some parts of the keys. Let us know how the story ends...

Yeah I'll keep you posted, thanks.
Posted By: Falsch Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 07:31 PM
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Quite an expensive MIDI controller.

So what? There are people who use an N1X or an NV-10 as a midi-controller only ("because all built-in samples and speakers are always crap") and that's more expensive still.

But, if you're going for the action only, the MP7SE has the same one I believe. That would be about a third of the price of the Nord.
Posted By: mwf Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 08:09 PM
For me personally, action is more important than sound/built in samples. But this has been only recently i discovered this. I am only interested in the nv10 because of its action, which from my experience towers above everything else unless you're spending £20,000 or more on a good grand. It's literally the nicest thing I've played on in my life... So I'd sure use it only as a midi controller, absolutely worth it to me.
Posted By: Sweelinck Re: Nord Grand or Kawai CA99 - 04/08/21 09:01 PM
Originally Posted by mwf
I have budget for either, and have narrowed my choices down to either the NG or CA99 after long and studied thought, months I've spent thinking and I've pretty much had enough lol.

I've played on both several times... I like them both in different ways.

I am thinking most forum members will steer me towards the kawai for obvious reasons, it has the better keyboard action and built in speaker system/soundboard. However i dont feel the sampling is the best and it sounds very average recorded when you listen back, YouTube videos etc.. Playing the piano live is a great experience though.

The NG sampling i feel is superior and has a better choice of pianos and looks cool in red. It also sounds better than anything ive heard (even vsts) recorded. Live playing probably not on par with the kawai though due to poorer speakers (I would use nord piano monitors and have tried them already in shop). I think the action is nice enough and very fast and responsive, certainly doea not compete with the ca99 though.

I would prefer the portability of the nord also and not having to have a one piece cabinet piano in my house. I also like to do a lot of recording so the quality is important to me in that respect. However i do like the thought of having a top wooden action... Its just an impossible decision.

Do i go with the better action/touch or, in my opinion, the better quality pianos on offer and portability? Not completely happy with the ca99 sound wise, absolutely love the touch though, i do play garritan cfx vst through my current yamaha cp4... Do i need a second portable piano.. Should I get a cabinet piano... Its never ending mind, slowly driving me crazy.

I don't see what a Nord Grand gives you that a CP4 plus VST would not other than a single package for portability, but if the alternative is a CA99 then portability does not seem to be a concern.

It appears that the changes to the RHIII action for the NG were to make it a bit better for organs and synths at the expense of being a better piano action. Since you already have a CP4 maybe get a Nord Electro 6D and you get Nord piano sounds over midi from your CP4, an organ action for organ and synth sounds, and a very portable instrument, etc.
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