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Weighted piano boards at Just Music (Berlin) #2990637
05/22/19 03:45 AM
05/22/19 03:45 AM
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stoo schultz Offline OP
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There's no substitute for comparing two boards side by side. Living in small towns, I haven't done this for ~20 years and have relied on this and other forums and discussion groups, and YouTube demos for my keys purchases.

I'm in Berlin at the moment and just spent two afternoons at Just Music. I've never seen so many keyboard models in one place. All the latest sellers by Yamaha, Roland, Korg, Casio, Nord, Hammond, Dexibell, Vox, Kawai, Moog, and several others. One room just for synths. BUT: no Kurzweil, Crumar, Studiologic, or GSi.

First afternoon I compared the clonewheels, the second afternoon I compared all the weighted pianos. If I can spare a third, I'll look at the synths.

Here are some of my thoughts.

1 -- a lot of this is subjective, but that doesn't mean you can't have very strong opinions within a few minutes, that no number of YouTube viewings will ever change

2 -- still because of the subjectivity it's very hard to compare two boards unless you do so at the same time.

As far as the weighted acoustic piano experience in a digital board goes (ignoring all the other features), for me there's no contest: the high end Yamahas are easily the best, overall feel/sound/response. BUT there was no Kurzweil SP6 there to compare. mad I'm interested in the Kurzweil because of its lighter weight and excellent reviews.

The Yamaha CP4 and CP88 blow away all the low end piano boards easily (Korg, Yamaha, Casio, Kawai). They blow away the Korg SV1 easily. They are noticeably better than the Yamaha CP40, the Korg Grandstage, the Roland RD2000, and the Casio S1000 and S3000. However, though noticeable, the differences are small. In the case of the CP40 the difference is the key weight/mechanism.

The advantage of these Yamahas is that they have a great piano sample, and are highly responsive both at high and low velocities -- very satisfying forte feel and sound, and they have something at low velocity that I did not feel in any of the others, a very nice soft touch incorporated into the key mechanics. I'm a pianist originally (15 yrs classical training on a wonderful Chickering grand) and am never inspired by digital pianos, and this is the only piano board that I lost myself in playing, that made me want to stay and play longer, that I kept coming back to. No idea what the mechanism is, but I sure felt it playing.

The disadvantage in doing a comparison like this is that it really does a good job red pilling the boards you have at home shocked

DISCLAIMER: MY OPINIONS ONLY wave PianoBanana

Last edited by stoo schultz; 05/23/19 12:34 AM.
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Re: Weighted piano boards at Just Music (Berlin) [Re: stoo schultz] #2990649
05/22/19 08:41 AM
05/22/19 08:41 AM
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AnotherScott Offline
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Originally Posted By: stoo schultz
As far as the weighted acoustic piano experience in a digital board goes (ignoring all the other features), for me there's no contest: the high end Yamahas are easily the best, overall feel/sound/response...The Yamaha CP4 and CP73/88 blow away all the low end piano boards easily (Korg, Yamaha, Casio, Kawai). They blow away the Korg SV1 easily. They are noticeably better than the Yamaha CP40, the Korg Grandstage, the Roland RD2000, and the Casio S1000 and S3000. However, though noticeable, the differences are small. In the case of the CP40 the difference is the key weight/mechanism.

For acoustic piano, none of that surprises me, except maybe ranking the CP73 feel as highly as the CP88. I'm assuming the Kawai you played was the ES110? It would have been interesting to compare MP7SE and MP11SE as well (though the latter might have crossed your price threshold). Other than Kurz which you mentioned, I guess the only other no-shows in your eval were Dexibell and Nord.

If you had evaluated EP sounds as well, I suspect at least some of the Korg and Yamaha models might have switched places on your ranking.


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Re: Weighted piano boards at Just Music (Berlin) [Re: AnotherScott] #2990691
05/22/19 03:14 PM
05/22/19 03:14 PM
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stoo schultz Offline OP
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I should fix that -- I assumed the CP73 and CP88 had identical action and AP sound. And yeah, the EPs are an entirely different story.

Overall of all the boards that I tried, I would rate on acoustic piano sound/feel alone:

Top tier: Yamaha CP4/CP88
Second tier: Yamaha CP40, Kawai MP11SE, Kawai MP7SE
Third tier: Kawai ES110, Casio S1000/S3000, Korg Grandstation, Roland RD2000
Fourth tier: most of the other dedicated stage pianos
Fifth tier: Nords, Korg SV1, Dexibell

On those fifth tier boards: the acoustic pianos to me sound horrible, like maybe 80% acoustic piano and 20% some tinny EP layered on top. When I was trying the SV1 I thought there was something wrong with my headphones, but nope, working fine. Of those listed, the Dexibell is probably the best. But none of them would be mistaken for an acoustic piano in a clean recording.

I think the best acoustic piano board (that I tried) under $1000 is the Kawai ES110, I think better than any of the Casios. There's only one piano sound in there though that is really good.

The Kawai SE models have superb piano sounds but not quite as good action as the top Yamahas.

I spent probably around 10 hours total playing dozens of boards, and the sheer quantity of DPs available now is overwhelming.

In terms of what I personally am looking for: something with the CP4 action quality but CP40 weight, so possibly a Kurzweil SP6 ??

One very pleasant surprise was the quality of the Kawai ES110 -- a very cheap and lightweight board that sounds and feels very good and has a midi out. I might buy one as a backup, or as a controller for the EPs in my Gemini.

Last edited by stoo schultz; 05/22/19 03:17 PM.
Re: Weighted piano boards at Just Music (Berlin) [Re: stoo schultz] #2990722
05/22/19 05:11 PM
05/22/19 05:11 PM
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Glendale, Ca.
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Dave Ferris Offline
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On a short play, I would place the Yamaha P-515 as sounding and playing better then both the CP4 and CP88.

I do feel the MP11SE has the best action out of all those but between the sound and overall player connection, I still prefer the above mentioned Yamhas.

I agree with Nord and the SV1 being in last place. A serious pianist's worse nightmare in trying to make any music that requires any technical skill beyond rock triads on those. The Grandstage isn't much of an improvement.

If I were in Berlin, I'd check out the Hamburg Steinways. thu Have fun !

Re: Weighted piano boards at Just Music (Berlin) [Re: stoo schultz] #2990727
05/22/19 05:28 PM
05/22/19 05:28 PM
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16251 Offline
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Originally Posted By: stoo schultz
I should fix that -- I assumed the CP73 and CP88 had identical action and AP sound. And yeah, the EPs are an entirely different story.

Overall of all the boards that I tried, I would rate on acoustic piano sound/feel alone:

Top tier: Yamaha CP4/CP88
Second tier: Yamaha CP40, Kawai MP11SE, Kawai MP7SE
Third tier: Kawai ES110, Casio S1000/S3000, Korg Grandstation, Roland RD2000
Fourth tier: most of the other dedicated stage pianos
Fifth tier: Nords, Korg SV1, Dexibell

On those fifth tier boards: the acoustic pianos to me sound horrible, like maybe 80% acoustic piano and 20% some tinny EP layered on top. When I was trying the SV1 I thought there was something wrong with my headphones, but nope, working fine. Of those listed, the Dexibell is probably the best. But none of them would be mistaken for an acoustic piano in a clean recording.

I think the best acoustic piano board (that I tried) under $1000 is the Kawai ES110, I think better than any of the Casios. There's only one piano sound in there though that is really good.

The Kawai SE models have superb piano sounds but not quite as good action as the top Yamahas.

I spent probably around 10 hours total playing dozens of boards, and the sheer quantity of DPs available now is overwhelming.

In terms of what I personally am looking for: something with the CP4 action quality but CP40 weight, so possibly a Kurzweil SP6 ??

One very pleasant surprise was the quality of the Kawai ES110 -- a very cheap and lightweight board that sounds and feels very good and has a midi out. I might buy one as a backup, or as a controller for the EPs in my Gemini.


Putting the Kawai ES110 above so many other DPs facepalm


AG N2 | PX S3000 | GK MK & MP amps
Re: Weighted piano boards at Just Music (Berlin) [Re: 16251] #2990746
05/22/19 06:58 PM
05/22/19 06:58 PM
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gg22 Offline
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Originally Posted By: 16251


Putting the Kawai ES110 above so many other DPs facepalm


Under $1000 - yes, makes sense.

Re: Weighted piano boards at Just Music (Berlin) [Re: gg22] #2990751
05/22/19 08:04 PM
05/22/19 08:04 PM
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CEB Offline
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There are no absolutes or right answers. Example is the Korg SV-1. It's not my favorite. I'm a Kawai and Yamaha guy personally. But the last thing a lot of keyboardists need are realistic or pristine pianos. The SV-1 is punchy. It makes a great Rock stage piano. The easiest way to get totally lost in the mix is to play some beautiful Ivory pianos. Everything revolves around context. Use what works. Gear is overrated.

Last edited by CEB; 05/22/19 08:07 PM.

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Re: Weighted piano boards at Just Music (Berlin) [Re: stoo schultz] #2990767
05/22/19 09:37 PM
05/22/19 09:37 PM
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Kawai James Offline
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Originally Posted By: stoo schultz
I assumed the CP73 and CP88 had identical action and AP sound.


CP73 and CP88 sounds are identical, however they keyboard actions are very different.

Similarly:

Originally Posted By: stoo schultz
Second tier: ...Kawai MP11SE, Kawai MP7SE


Again, identical piano sounds, but very different keyboard actions.

Are you saying that you could not feel the difference between the keyboard actions of the CP73 and CP88, nor the MP11SE and MP7SE?

Kind regards,
James
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Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Weighted piano boards at Just Music (Berlin) [Re: CEB] #2990784
05/22/19 11:07 PM
05/22/19 11:07 PM
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Dave Ferris Offline
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Originally Posted By: CEB
Gear is overrated.


It sometimes can be, a great player can make "anything" work but why swim upstream ? Music is hard enough as it is. Not to mention, many players like myself are immediately musically compromised the second we have to use any electronic keyboard.

If something impairs or interrupts my inspiration and creative flow , then I'm going to seek out another path with less resistance. That's me though. wink

Originally Posted By: CEB
There are no absolutes or right answers. .... Everything revolves around context. Use what works.


Most definitely . Everyone's context is different. I only speak of mine fwiw. smile

Last edited by Dave Ferris; 05/23/19 12:01 AM. Reason: added thoughts
Re: Weighted piano boards at Just Music (Berlin) [Re: Dave Ferris] #2990800
05/23/19 01:39 AM
05/23/19 01:39 AM
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stoo schultz Offline OP
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Dave Ferris: I couldn't find a P515 in the sea of Yamahas there. Would have loved to try it out, and the Steinways --- maybe next time. My daughter goes to college in Berlin, so there will be more chances if she can endure more distracted musical visits from me :-) Actually she enjoyed the store too, she spent about an hour on the digital drumsets, and another hour playing the one bisernica they had. The acoustic guitars in the guitar room were so wonderful they made me want to start over again on classical guitar.

Kawai James: I did not compare the CP73 with the CP88, because I incorrectly assumed they were the same (my OP is now corrected).

The MP11SE and MP7SE were stacked together, and I spent about 45 minutes comparing the two, actually wearing two sets of headphones, and could not discern any difference in piano sound between the two. The action though was completely different, and for me the MP11 was clearly superior and closer to what I felt with the CP4 and CP88. The piano sound was absolutely gorgeous in both. On the MP you can edit the sound on the fly with four different pots around the display -- I dialed down the brilliance a bit, and the sound was just superb.


CEB: I'm sceptical of the idea that you need a completely different sample to cut through the mix -- I think tweaking EQ on any good sample probably works. Back before DPs rock studios used big grands for the big stars didn't they (like that Bechstein that just sold for $300K)?

16251: I'm sure there are many DPs that are better than that Kawai, but at its weight and price point I couldn't find one. What can I say, Kawai makes a great piano product at either end of the market.


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