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Has quality gone down on consumer grade DPs?


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Just out of curiosity, stepped into a Guitar Center and Sam Ash today to see the sampling of Digital Pianos. (Was really hoping to demo a V-Piano for fun, but no luck). What amazed me was that no piano I played under $2,000 or so felt or sounded as good as my 15 year-old Kurzweil PC88. Even more surprising was that even the newer Kurzweil models seemed to have clumsier action and sub-par samples.


They actually had a used PC88MX (same samples as my PC88) that I kept going back to, to compare piano sounds, and nothing I heard or played sounded as realistic.


What gives? Did I just get lucky to get a PC88 when I did, before quality in that price point took a major slide downward?

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I disagree. I don't think quality at that price point has ever been higher. I also don't agree that a $2000 instrument is 'consumer grade'. If the Yamaha CP300 or CP50, Roland RD300GX, various Casios (Casii?), or the Kawai MP6 don't sound 'realistic' to you as your PC88 I think your ears are likely biased toward the instrument you've been playing for 15 years.
Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
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I agree. I used the PC88 for years, made a ton of dough with it but was glad to see it go eventually. On Jazz gigs, I felt like I was wearing a set of handcuffs if the tempo got over half note = 120.


One friend who is a very fine RnB/Jazz player still swears by his PC88MX though. He's not up on the latest and greatest, it works for him so he's OK with it. But I think it's more the fact he's just really used to the sound and feel.


I never minded the sound but more the action. That being said, the new Yamaha CP50/5, Korg SV-1 and Roland stuff are, at least to my ears and hands, light years ahead of that triple strike piano.


2005 NY Steinway D

Yamaha AvantGrand N3X, P-515





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IMO, there's no question that the sound quality of modern DP's is better than the past. Just think about polyphony for a moment. The first DP's were 8 and 16-voice polyphonic (e.g. Korg SG1D, Roland RD1000, Roland RD300s, etc). Even a PC88 is only 32 voices (which can still lead to voice stealing with a damper pedal). The modern standard is pretty much 128 voices.


And with the advent of streaming virtual samplers, the sound quality has *really* jumped. I'm not a performer so portability isn't an issue, but in the studio, ~$300 will buy a very strong multi-gigabyte sample library with key release, pedaling noise, etc. A six-plus velocity layered piano would have been unthinkable years ago in a PCM-based instrument.


I can't vouch for the quality of the actions being better or worse, but there are more wood keys on the market now than ever before. Before now, I can only recall the RD1000 as having real wood keys. Now Yamaha, Roland, etc. all offer wood keys on high-end models.


Just some thoughts...






Working on: The Jupiter Bluff; They Live, We Groove

Main axes: Kawai MP11 and Kurz PC361

DAW Platform: Cubase

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