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weighted keyboards


marino

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I had some time to spend this afternoon, so I went to the music store and and played a number of the weighted keyboards they had in the showroom. As a service, here are my impressions. No comparison of *sounds*: I decided to spend the time I had by playing many instruments, and comparing keyboard response. Remember, it's a pianist's point of view. :)

 

To me, the king of weighted keyboards is still the Kawai MP8. Certainly among the instruments which were there. It's *really* close to a grand piano response. Gorgeous!

There was a MP4 nearby, and I must say it's not the same. Good weighting, but little to do with its big brother.

 

Yamaha CP33 and P140. Surprise: They definitely *don't* have the same action. CP33 is good, but P140 seems to have a bit more resistance and consistency. I prefer it (though I'd use the CP33 with no problem). It might have been the particular instruments I've played? I just don't know.

 

Yamaha MO. Bigger surprise: Excellent! One of the best around. It feels more 'digital piano' than 'workstation' too me - maybe similar to the S90ES. Even more surprisingly, a Motif 8ES was also there, and its keyboard felt less resistant than the MO to me, although maybe a bit deeper.

I think this instrument is going to compete directly with the Kurzweil PC1se. It's only marginally heavier (46 lbs.) and bigger (they put the wheels on top, thank God), and with this keyboard, it's very tempting. A 76-key version with aftertouch, please?! :freak::rolleyes:

 

Yamaha P70. Not bad - a definite improvement over the P60, a step toward the 'pro' keyboards. To me, it feels similar to the Roland RD300SX.

 

Speaking of which... RD300SX and RD700SX. The 300 has not my favorite action. Playable, but not for serious piano work in my opinion. The 700 feels much better to my fingers, with the right amount of resistance - but I still prefer the Yamaha keyboards (P140, CP33, MO) to it.

 

Casio CDP100. What can I say - I like it. Still inferior to the best Yamahas maybe, but its response suits my hands like a glove. I could figure playing it live, maybe just as a controller, and flying on fast passages.

 

Korg Oasys 88. Not bad, quite deep but not a lot of resistance. I guess it was designed to allow synth-style playing in addition to 'pianistic' playing. To me, it feels *very* similar to the Motif 8ES.

 

That's it. A GEM ProMega2 was also there, but I had to run. Next time.

 

As always - "in my opinion". :D

Hope it will be useful to someone. :)

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Originally posted by Bobsk8:

Are we talking just "weighted keyboards" or hammer action keyboards? Two totally different animals...

:confused::confused:

I find it difficult to understand your question; to me, it was clear that I posted my impressions about 'piano-style' keyboards, that is, how close they get to the response of a good grand piano. I couldn't care less if they do it with hammers or some other mean. I guess the majority of the instruments I played were hammer action; I certainly didn't open them to check - and, as I said, I didn't care. I just cared about how they felt to me, and passed on my subjective point of view about each.

 

Digging a bit deeper, the whole "hammer action" thing is a total misnomer. There are no 'real' hammers in a digital piano, simply because there are no strings to hit. Manufacturers just discovered a while ago that in order to emulate a piano action decently, simply putting weights or springs under the keys to make them harder to push doesn't work. So they started using a system of couterbalancing levers, in which the key lever hits an emulation of a section of a piano's hammer mechanism. I believe one of the first digitals to use such a system was the Yamaha P80, but I may be wrong. One of the problems here is that a grand piano key lever is very long, but in a digital piano, you can obviously use only a short one. Trying to recreate the response of a long lever with a short one is a delicate problem of combining mass, resistance and balance, and I think every manufacturer implemented it in a slightly different way. Anyway, with a short key lever, you'll never have the same control over dynamic response that you have on a grand. The fact that the Kawai MP8 is so similar to an acoustic piano in its response is largerly due to its very long key levers.

 

That said, I still don't get the usefulness of your question in a topic dedicated to share my playing impressions on some instruments. I just took advantage of having them gathered in one place, available for direct comparison, and wanted to offer my comments as a service.

 

I *still* hope that someone will find it of some usefulness...

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Originally posted by Bridog6996:

I don't think you would have been impressed with the Promega. I sure wasn't. I've played just about every digital piano around, and I would definitely agree that, from a pianist's view, the MP8 has the superior action.

Well, I played the ProMega 3 in concert and at one of the music schools I teach in, and I don't dislike the action; maybe a bit light - I wouldn't practice my technique on it. But I find the key/sound connection and the dynamic control quite good.

However, the one at the shop was the ProMega 2. I only played one briefly a while ago, and I think I found its action quite a bit cheaper than the 3.

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I don't agree with common opinion on this forum about Kawai MP8 that is supposed to be so close to accustic grand.

Only because keys are made from wood (only inner part, plastic is still out side, not ivory) doesn't make it the best. For me is too springy or rubber feel like. Definitelly not the feel I got from my accustic grand piano. Much closer is RD700SX.

♫♫♫ motif XS6, RD700GX
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Originally posted by marino:

Originally posted by Bobsk8:

Are we talking just "weighted keyboards" or hammer action keyboards? Two totally different animals...

:confused::confused:

I find it difficult to understand your question;

He's talking about the way keyboards are marketed. The manufacturers call most synth action keyboards 'weighted action' keyboards.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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Originally posted by delirium:

I don't agree with common opinion on this forum about Kawai MP8 that is supposed to be so close to accustic grand.

Only because keys are made from wood (only inner part, plastic is still out side, not ivory) doesn't make it the best. For me is too springy or rubber feel like. Definitelly not the feel I got from my accustic grand piano. Much closer is RD700SX.

I agree with you. I played one while I was in New York City this past weekend and was pretty unimpressed with it. The salesman was saying" and the keys are made out of real wood". I told him, " that's wonderful, I still don't like the way the action feels".
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Originally posted by kanker, apparently:

Originally posted by marino:

Originally posted by Bobsk8:

Are we talking just "weighted keyboards" or hammer action keyboards? Two totally different animals...

:confused::confused:

I find it difficult to understand your question;

He's talking about the way keyboards are marketed. The manufacturers call most synth action keyboards 'weighted action' keyboards.
That's correct, and I see many people use both terms like they mean the same thing, which they don't.
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Originally posted by kanker, apparently:

Originally posted by delirium:

(only inner part, plastic is still out side, not ivory) doesn't make it the best.

Do people still make keys out of ivory?!?
from somewhere on the Internet:

 

"Ivory is of two types--hard and soft. The hard ivory came from India. Soft ivory, which was used for making ivory piano keys, came from Africa. The softest and best quality of ivory tusks was imported to the United States where Pratt, Read and Co. of Ivoryton was the largest buyer and manufacturer.

 

In 1884, three quarters of the Ivory exported from Zanzibar was sent to Deep River and Essex where it was primarily used for the manufacturing of keyboards. It has been estimated that 30,000 elephants were killed between 1905 and 1912 to supply these factories. A 70-pound tusk would supply ivory for about 45 keyboards. Since about 1958, plastics have been used for piano keys."

 

Busch.

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Originally posted by Bobsk8:

That's correct, and I see many people use both terms like they mean the same thing, which they don't.

My opinion is that the manufacturers really need to be a little more straightforward about that. Calling synth actions keyboards 'weighted' is confusing and misleading, especially to the average guy on the street who has played piano or would like to and is looking to buy a keyboard. Is there such a thing as weightless action?
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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Originally posted by kanker, apparently:

Originally posted by Bobsk8:

That's correct, and I see many people use both terms like they mean the same thing, which they don't.

My opinion is that the manufacturers really need to be a little more straightforward about that. Calling synth actions keyboards 'weighted' is confusing and misleading, especially to the average guy on the street who has played piano or would like to and is looking to buy a keyboard. Is there such a thing as weightless action?
Any of the synth's that use springs only for resistance and key return, are weightless.
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I played many acoustic grand pianos and upright pianos in my life and each action was a little different. Especially grands were lighter in touch then upright.

 

So no wander that digital keyboards are different too in regards to action. I think the important thing is the keys should have "natural" hammer like action, but don't bounce or resist too much,

plus they should not cause any fatigue to the hand. So one can prefer lighter action, and someone else heavier as long there is "hammer" feel. (meaning resistance in the begining and then loose swing) In addition to that we can have also "graded hammer action" which is the really like acoustic keys feel. (meaning lower hammers are heavier, since they have to hit thicker string)

 

E.g. I'd even prefer RD300SX over Kawai MP8,

because although loose it has very relaxing hammer action (but not graded). On Kawai my hand was tired after half an hour of playing in GC. I had a feeling my fingers cannot reach the bottom of the keybed because of the rubber resistance. Getting the best sound from keys like that would be very hard, because you don't feel the actual "hammer strike on the string".

♫♫♫ motif XS6, RD700GX
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Hi Marino,

 

Thanks for this piece. I'm a little too far away from civilization to try out the instruments so it was much appreciated.

 

I wondered if you've ever tried the Promega 3. I'm trying to decide between the Promega and the MP8 right now. So any input you have would be appreciated.

 

Thanks,

 

Bob

 

 

Originally posted by marino:

I had some time to spend this afternoon, so I went to the music store and and played a number of the weighted keyboards they had in the showroom. As a service, here are my impressions. No comparison of *sounds*: I decided to spend the time I had by playing many instruments, and comparing keyboard response. Remember, it's a pianist's point of view. :)

 

To me, the king of weighted keyboards is still the Kawai MP8. Certainly among the instruments which were there. It's *really* close to a grand piano response. Gorgeous!

There was a MP4 nearby, and I must say it's not the same. Good weighting, but little to do with its big brother.

 

Yamaha CP33 and P140. Surprise: They definitely *don't* have the same action. CP33 is good, but P140 seems to have a bit more resistance and consistency. I prefer it (though I'd use the CP33 with no problem). It might have been the particular instruments I've played? I just don't know.

 

Yamaha MO. Bigger surprise: Excellent! One of the best around. It feels more 'digital piano' than 'workstation' too me - maybe similar to the S90ES. Even more surprisingly, a Motif 8ES was also there, and its keyboard felt less resistant than the MO to me, although maybe a bit deeper.

I think this instrument is going to compete directly with the Kurzweil PC1se. It's only marginally heavier (46 lbs.) and bigger (they put the wheels on top, thank God), and with this keyboard, it's very tempting. A 76-key version with aftertouch, please?! :freak::rolleyes:

 

Yamaha P70. Not bad - a definite improvement over the P60, a step toward the 'pro' keyboards. To me, it feels similar to the Roland RD300SX.

 

Speaking of which... RD300SX and RD700SX. The 300 has not my favorite action. Playable, but not for serious piano work in my opinion. The 700 feels much better to my fingers, with the right amount of resistance - but I still prefer the Yamaha keyboards (P140, CP33, MO) to it.

 

Casio CDP100. What can I say - I like it. Still inferior to the best Yamahas maybe, but its response suits my hands like a glove. I could figure playing it live, maybe just as a controller, and flying on fast passages.

 

Korg Oasys 88. Not bad, quite deep but not a lot of resistance. I guess it was designed to allow synth-style playing in addition to 'pianistic' playing. To me, it feels *very* similar to the Motif 8ES.

 

That's it. A GEM ProMega2 was also there, but I had to run. Next time.

 

As always - "in my opinion". :D

Hope it will be useful to someone. :)

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Which brand of real piano has your favorite action? It's my feeling that this is a big factor on the preferred action of a digital keyboard. I prefer pianos with a lighter, quicker action which is probably why I prefer the RD700SX to the Yamahas that I tried. The P120 felt like a piano to me, but not like a piano I really enjoy playing. I did not like the S90 but that may be as much about the response of sound as the keys.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.

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