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Best grand piano sound for keyboard


Ybyb

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Hi guys, I'm starting to play out with a band that has an electric guitar (lot of sound) and drums(ook!). The NYC club pianos suck, I I'm contemplating (God forbid!) to look into a keyboard so I can cut though the cacaphony around me). I'm an utter acoustic jazz snob, can anyone recommend a keyboard that would deliver the most accurate grand piano sound/touch to the cheering crowd? I've heard the Korg Kronos is good, anyone have experience with that?

 

Thanks!

 

Dave Frank

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Dave, you haven't mentioned a budget, but I'd recommend a few things to try before the Kronos:

 

Yamaha CP4

Nord Piano 2

Casio PX5s

 

I have a strong preference for what I use (the CP4), but nothing is more subjective than a pianist's touch moving to the compromises of a digital piano.

 

The Kronos, BTW, is a fine machine (I also own one of those) - it has black-hole depth of programmability, is the perfect machine for any contemporary gig that requires a wide palette of sounds...but would not be my first choice for a piano gig.

 

Tim

 

Edit: Also, if you don't already know this, it behooves me to note there is no other sound more sensitive to good downstream amplification than digital acoustic piano patches. Your amp can make or break it. I'd much prefer a merely adequate AP patch through great amplification than the best AP sound through a crappy amp. So that should factor into your total purchase equation as well.

 

..
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Prepare for the deluge. Short answer - nothing is as good as a real piano, touchwise or soundwise. There are decent digitals. Everybody likes different things.

 

Since I am more of an organ guy, I'll sit back and let the piano fanatics take over.

 

http://www.superloopy.io/images/2007/06/can-of-worms.jpg

Moe

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"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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Kawai MP11.

 

But it is heavy. The case must have wheels. It is heavy but if you are a true snob you should give it a test drive.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Everything Timwat said - :thu:

 

I'll add that buying a Kronos to use only for piano is a bit like buying an airplane hangar to store your lawnmower. :D Unless you're open to exploring the huge universe of synth sounds, in which case it would be a long time before you need anything more than a Kronos. :cool:

><>

Steve

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I'm an utter acoustic jazz snob, can anyone recommend a keyboard that would deliver the most accurate grand piano sound/touch to the cheering crowd?

The best solution for "most accurate grand piano sound/touch" in a portable rig would be to pick the keyboard that has the action you like best (subjective) and then pair it with a laptop to drive your choice of software piano.

 

Best actions in current models are generally considered to be:

Kawai (VPC1 or presumably the new MP11)

Yamaha CP4 (you may also still find a CP1 or CP5 around, which some people preferred)

Roland RD800 or, just behind, RD700NX/FP80

 

If budget or travel weight is an issue, Casio PX-150/PX-350/PX-5S.

 

If you don't want to use a laptop, and want the piano sound built in, the contenders for best piano sounds would be:

Kawai MP10 (which will presumably be bettered by the new MP11)

Yamaha CP4

Roland V-Piano (or as runners-up, the Rolands mentioned above)

Nord Piano 2

Kurzweil Artis

Korg Kronos

 

The Roland piano sounds are probably the most polarizing, some people love them, some people really... don't. Kronos is somewhat polarizing as well.

 

In the self-contained models, f you can deal with the high travel weight, and prefer a heavier than average action, I think Kawai is a very strong choice. For less travel weight and lighter action, I'd lean toward the Nord or Yamaha, personally. I haven't had a chance to play an Artis yet, I like what I've heard, but the action is a weakness.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Dave

You did not mention price range, weight, and whether you were playing bass lines. Bass lines change things a bit. Edit also some incongruity you said jazz snob... and loud guitar. Those do not really mix; what style(s) of music? I take it you are not the leader or booker?

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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This sounds silly, but why don't you send your piano tech over ahead of your jazz gig and have the piano tuned and regulated? No DP is going to approach a decent real piano. Otherwise, I'm a fan of the PX150/350/5s piano sound. All I use out of a dp is piano and rhodes, so I got a PX150 because it does not have all the "band in a box" add ons but still has the same sound as the other PXs.

 

"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
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Uncommonly, there is no contradiction in any of the above excellent advice.

PA system as noted is critical. If you have the dough the Bose L1 or the less pricey models are most worthy of your attention, IF you are not playing bass lines.

One of the top jazz pianists in town, uses the $3000 Bose L1 plus a single Eon G2 10" to perfectly round out the sound. But just the Bose alone, are very good for acoustic piano. Again, as stated above, amplification is critical with ac piano reproductions.

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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For sure the CP4 should doo, give it a few edits (I got some IMO much better a-piano sounds for it), and its Spectral Component Modeling should beat most alternatives, even though there are a few. The, as far as I can project, best sound could well come from the Roland V-Piano )the physical modeling dedicated one, with quite a price-tag): that's the most like a real grand. probably. That;s a weighty (IIRC), expensive, and bif option that may require some practice, but you asked for replacement of a grand, that's hard.

 

I'm no fan of the Kronos piano sound as far as I've hard it from others, at all, even though that's an interesting machine enough. Nord piano doesn't really do it for me (I have a serious Jazz component in my spectrum of interest), but I suppose it is light, and Dave F. appears to like it some.

 

There's Kurzweil, like the not so-expensive PC3 and derivatives, but I think their sound is broken to an extend (I have some great piano patches for it though, if you're interested), and they *can* work in a pro mix, because there are mid-low and mid-averaging component in the sound that can work good. If you're going to use presets, then beware you test them n your sound system for a while to make sure the whining and other strange effects part of the sound don't bother you.

 

For a full an able sound, if you've got the dollars to spend and good transportation, the Roland V-Piano and some QSC KW 153s probably can do quite a good job.

 

I'm convinced a CP4 and some of those new Yamaha powered speakers (at least 10 inch) can do pretty well.

 

T.

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I'm an utter acoustic jazz snob, can anyone recommend a keyboard that would deliver the most accurate grand piano sound/touch to the cheering crowd?

The best solution for "most accurate grand piano sound/touch" in a portable rig would be to pick the keyboard that has the action you like best (subjective) and then pair it with a laptop to drive your choice of software piano.

 

Best actions in current models are generally considered to be:

Kawai (VPC1 or presumably the new MP11)

Yamaha CP4 (you may also still find a CP1 or CP5 around, which some people preferred)

Roland RD800 or, just behind, RD700NX/FP80

 

If budget or travel weight is an issue, Casio PX-150/PX-350/PX-5S.

 

If you don't want to use a laptop, and want the piano sound built in, the contenders for best piano sounds would be:

Kawai MP10 (which will presumably be bettered by the new MP11)

Yamaha CP4

Roland V-Piano (or as runners-up, the Rolands mentioned above)

Nord Piano 2

Kurzweil Artis

Korg Kronos

 

The Roland piano sounds are probably the most polarizing, some people love them, some people really... don't. Kronos is somewhat polarizing as well.

 

In the self-contained models, f you can deal with the high travel weight, and prefer a heavier than average action, I think Kawai is a very strong choice. For less travel weight and lighter action, I'd lean toward the Nord or Yamaha, personally. I haven't had a chance to play an Artis yet, I like what I've heard, but the action is a weakness.

 

Yeah, BIG +1 None of the hardware offerings (imo) come close to those available via VSTi's for really accurate piano. Expensive, certainly...but well worth it.

There is no luck - luck is simply the confluence of circumstance and co-incidence...

 

Time is the final arbiter for all things

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I argue: no software I've heard has spectral component modeling, and can play even one jazz chord without turning little short ofridiculous. Also, no software I know comes nearly as close to PM as V-piano. And NONE of the sw I've seen, heard, used or heard about even knows how to spell pro mixing sub-bands. Sorry.
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Agree with most of what's being said here. Some of the advice given probably won't work so well with an electric band, which is what you're saying you'll be doing. Everything changes once the volume gets going :)

 

I play primarily piano (and some organ etc.) in electric bands: rock, americana, blues, etc. Getting that sound right took some time, so I can share what I've learned the hard/expensive way ...

 

Amplification is Job #1. If you don't like how you sound in the mix, nothing else really matters -- at least to me. Louder isn't better, cleaner is better.

 

I now find myself on a never-ending quest for better amplification. I've gone through about four different setups (including the Bose L1 model II, the QSC K series, the Motion Sound KBR-3D, Rolands, etc. ) and am about to deploy my latest iteration when it arrives on Monday.

 

Look for a review later this week.

 

Don't fall into the trap I did: the piano sounds great on headphones or studio monitors, but then gets utterly lost in an electric mix with guitars, drums, etc. Piano voices that sound unduly harsh alone will wonderfully blend in as part of the ensemble sound. That was an expensive lesson as well.

 

If you're looking for an accurate acoustic piano feel, weight is a factor, trust me. Like many of us, I schlep my own gear, and you find yourself quickly making tradeoffs between an accurate keyboard weighting and having to lift it all by yourself.

 

Case in point: the CP5 I just sold. Keyboard feel was similar to the other Yamaha acoustic pianos I play, so that was great. Threw my back out twice hefting it by myself. The piano voices sounded great solo, but got lost in the mix. So I sold it.

 

I haven't tried the CP4 yet, but it's certainly on my list to go check out. Many good things are being said about that unit. Same for the Casio, but it may not satisfy your need for an accurate weighting and feel.

 

I'd agree with Dave Ferris' observation on the Nord Piano 2 being a lighter unit with great comping sounds, but potentially thin when you're doing lead lines up a few octaves. I have played on one as my main AP board since it came out a while back. The feel is a tad lighter than most real acoustic pianos, but not so much that it throws me off.

 

However, if I stick to some of the more recent samples (and dial in a smoodge of EQ), it sounds pretty darn good to me, and everyone else raves about it. I think it's also a great compromise between keyboard feel, weight, playability, sounds cut through the clutter, etc. Not to mention pretty good EPs and layered samples. I suppose the best thing I can say about it is that I'm not hankering for something else.

 

Plenty of choices these days, so you're lucky you have options, including high quality used gear. But keep in mind, things will sound totally different once you're part of an electric band.

 

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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Also, no software I know comes nearly as close to PM as V-piano.

 

Of course I agree (even though I am no real fan of the Roland sound - though the accuracy is quite amazing), but I don't know if the OP has a spare $7000..(Oz pricing)

There is no luck - luck is simply the confluence of circumstance and co-incidence...

 

Time is the final arbiter for all things

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.......and some of those new Yamaha powered speakers (at least 10 inch) can do pretty well.

T.

 

Minimum 12" for AP , imo

There is no luck - luck is simply the confluence of circumstance and co-incidence...

 

Time is the final arbiter for all things

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I noticed a Bose L1 mentioned..Avoid this for playing AP - it has quite a "honky" mid-range when it comes to AP's which is difficult to eradicate, even with eq'ing. Just my experience with the L1 (model 1 and II) and with both Korg and Yamaha APs. Others probably ( will ;) ) could argue with that, but it is jmo :D

There is no luck - luck is simply the confluence of circumstance and co-incidence...

 

Time is the final arbiter for all things

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Shlepping gear to play clubs in NYC, I don't see how you can do it unless you're a one-trip guy. If you truly want to be self-contained and not kill yourself shlepping, be prepared to compromise on keyboard feel. Your snob days might be over!

 

I had a Yamaha KX88 I brought to all my gigs (even flew to Europe a few times, try that today!). Then I moved to a 3rd floor walkup and I now play a 61-note unweighted action board. The past few years have seen weights of 88-key controllers drop to manageable levels but the lighter ones are not gonna feel like a Steinway and they are still big.

 

The good news is that if you're willing to compromise on feel, you can have a great sounding rig that's not a bear to travel with. As others have noted, the amplification will make or break things. I love my QSC K8s for their small size, light weight, wide coverage and stupendous headroom. I also require stereo, but you might be happy with one speaker. I carry my two K8s, my 61-key controller, laptop bag, accessory case and SKB laptop case and do it all in one trip.

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I loved the feel of the Yamaha CP4 and could imagine that would be an ideal choice if the action is the most important factor but I wasn't that big a fan of the sound to be honest.

 

I would not go the software route personally.

 

I also own a Kronos and the piano on it is fantastic although probably more akin to ECM sound as it has a very produced sound to it.

 

I went for a Nord Stage 2 (same pianos as Nord Piano 2) recently and I think many of the pianos included leave a lot to be desired. However, the new XL pianos (available as download) are fantastic

 

the Yamaha Bright Grand is frightening realistic with a real funky low end when you hit it hard the Fazoli XL sound is great too the sympathetic resonance is superb and adds a heck of a lot to the experience. I feel when I play the Nord Stage pianos that the sound is very close to an acoustic experience, rather than listening to a recorded piano on a record. I think this helps a lot in the live context as I have always had a good experience of listening to bands play piano on the Nord keyboards whenever I have watched.

 

The downside could be the keyboard action but I love it

 

 

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Hi guys, I'm starting to play out with a band that has an electric guitar (lot of sound) and drums(ook!). The NYC club pianos suck, I I'm contemplating (God forbid!) to look into a keyboard so I can cut though the cacaphony around me). I'm an utter acoustic jazz snob, can anyone recommend a keyboard that would deliver the most accurate grand piano sound/touch to the cheering crowd? I've heard the Korg Kronos is good, anyone have experience with that?

 

Thanks!

 

Dave Frank

 

Dave , I'd get one of these Babies if I were you - awesome killer sound - at half the price > http://www.musicplanet.co.nz/acoustic-pianos/digital-pianos/kurzweil-artis-88-note-stage-piano.html

 

The old PC3 sounds great , but now a bit green compared to Kurz's latest and greatest piano :) >

 

Brett

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The good news is that the OP lives in or near NYC, where he should have access to plenty of stores where he can find plenty of instruments to personally audition.

 

A self-described "acoustic jazz snob" is going to make a purchase on the basis of two things - his ears and his fingers.

 

Michael

Montage 8, Logic Pro X, Omnisphere, Diva, Zebra 2, etc.

http://www.youtube.com/keybdwizrd

 

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Hi Dave, for all the keyboards I've owned, piano is still my instrument. When looking for the "best grand piano sound for keyboard", in a portable context... and in case you're open to a software piano using a controller, this is the latest benchmark for a "piano sound" in my estimation. It's so 'late' in fact, it's not even out yet - due out in about 3 days or less. There's a thread on here somewhere about it. Of course, as someone else said, ultimately your ears and hands will be the test.

[video:youtube]

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Prepare for the deluge. Short answer - nothing is as good as a real piano, touchwise or soundwise. There are decent digitals. Everybody likes different things.

 

Since I am more of an organ guy, I'll sit back and let the piano fanatics take over.

 

http://www.superloopy.io/images/2007/06/can-of-worms.jpg

 

 

I beg to differ here.

The last live gig I went to where they tried using an acoustic upright , well ..... you couldn't even hear it , maybe a couple of notes and that was about it.

There are lot's of piggish 'real' pianos out there , and the digital piano makers have really pulled up their socks.

(I think I'll have spagetti for breakfast :) )

 

Brett

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Uncommonly, there is no contradiction in any of the above excellent advice.

PA system as noted is critical. If you have the dough the Bose L1 or the less pricey models are most worthy of your attention,

 

 

Sorry to do this, but here is the first contradiction.

 

I would advise you to avoid the Bose like the plague. IMHO, to call it crap would be over-generous.

 

You definitely need great amplification, but the Bose is not it.

 

 

SSM

Occasionally, do something nice for a total stranger. They'll wonder what the hell is going on!
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boy that's a nice sound, can't imagine anything better than that..how much would that software cost? Plus you need a controller/stand/amp..

 

DF

It's $149 if you preorder. But the software will be out very soon, so the price will then be $199. Of course then to run it live, you need a laptop, controller keyboard and a decent speaker system. Obviously the options could get pricey, but to me, this is the best sample.
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boy that's a nice sound, can't imagine anything better than that..how much would that software cost? Plus you need a controller/stand/amp..

 

DF

 

YbYb, don't discount True Keys or other such ones..the best place I reckon is to visit Purgatory Creek, where they use the same MIDI sequence to play all the software pianos...so you get a really good comparison... http://purgatorycreek.com/documents/25.html

 

Although how long it has been since an update I am not sure?

There is no luck - luck is simply the confluence of circumstance and co-incidence...

 

Time is the final arbiter for all things

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