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#1254762 - 08/23/09 07:46 PM First DP for advanced pianist?
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Hi everyone,

I'm looking into buying my first DP, and hoping for some advice. I have 13 years of classical training (on acoustics), but haven't played in a couple of years and am looking to start practicing again. I'm trying to keep the budget as low as possible (read: college student). I've seen recommendations around the forum for DPs under 1k, but those have been largely aimed at beginners, and I'm not sure how applicable they are to my case, since I'll be mainly working on advanced technique.

What is a realistic price range for me to look at? Out of this instrument I need first a realistic action, good enough to make practice at my level productive, as this will be my primary instrument. Secondary are decent sound through headphones and relative portability (needs to be keyboard + stand, box-type units are out). Bells and whistles like accompaniment tracks are irrelevant.

Of course, I'll try them out in person and base my decision on that, but I'd be grateful if you could point me towards some suitable models, and give me an indication of the prices I'll be looking at.

If it's relevant, I'm in Toronto, Canada.

Many thanks,
J.

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#1254766 - 08/23/09 08:12 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
The_Linux_Crew Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/09
Posts: 53
Sounds like you want something with at least at GH or GHE action. Something that is portable and can be placed on a desk in a dorm room. You want optional pedal inputs and perhaps the option to add a stand later. You don't want a lot of buttons or bells and whistles. Probably something like the Yamaha P-155. Have you though about buying used? It might get you a much better instrument for an entry level price. Try Craigslist.

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#1254779 - 08/23/09 08:34 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: The_Linux_Crew]
MarkL Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/07
Posts: 728
Loc: Chicago Suburban
I'd try Roland, Yamaha, Casio, Kawai at a music store to see which touch you prefer. All major brands are good, each has their own technology for the mechanics of the keys. For $1000 you can just get into the better keyboard actions in each brand. Once you pick a touch that you like, ask a question again for recommendations on a specific model of that brand. I agree with the previous poster that buying used might be a good route. You can get very good deals right now.
_________________________
Yamaha P90

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#1254799 - 08/23/09 09:27 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: MarkL]
Geoffk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/08
Posts: 757
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
Actually, for a new DP, $1000 doesn't give you so many choices. For Yamaha, the P-140 or (possibly) P-155 (but the P-155 is probably $1200 or more). The Casio Privia line, which is ok, but not the best (PX-130, etc.) Korg, the SP-250 or SP-350. And for Roland and Kawai, not much that's new.

Of these, I'd look at the Korg and P-140 first. But with your budget, a recent used DP might be better.

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#1254808 - 08/23/09 09:38 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: MarkL]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Thanks for the advice, guys. Yes, I was looking at the P-155. I will be buying a stand right away, the portability is mainly for ease of transport, by car and plane, which I foresee in the near future. I will also be buying a 3-pedal set if the unit doesn't come with one.

I'm open to buying used. About how much of a price drop should I expect between new and used around the 1k mark?

It sounds from what you've said like each brand's signature touch is roughly consistent even between models with different actions, is this assumption correct?

Edit. 1k is more of a guideline than a limit. I'd like to stay close to that, but if the gains are sufficient, I don't mind spending an extra couple hundred.


Edited by dRummie (08/23/09 09:41 PM)

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#1254810 - 08/23/09 09:42 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: Geoffk]
Kawai James Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 8383
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
dRummie, is your $1k limit USD or CAD?

I am not terribly familiar with the cost of digital piano instruments in Canada, however assuming the prices are comparable with the US, it may be worth searching online to gain an idea of what is available within your budget.

For example:

http://www.sweetwater.com/c506--Stage_Pianos/low2high

As Geoffk notes, the current models from Yamaha, Roland, KAWAI, and Korg are a little outside of your budget. However, if you are prepared to purchase a second hand instrument, I am confident that a good quality model can be purchased for under $1000.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#1254840 - 08/23/09 10:50 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: Kawai James]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Hi James. The 1k is CAD, but like I said, it's more of a guideline. I've tried searching, but all that gives me is model numbers and specs, and I was hoping to get some recommendations here based on personal experience smile I know from buying higher-end headphones that oftentimes a few units stand out in any given price range.

Buying used is looking progressively more attractive. I'm going to try to stop by a music store tomorrow and post back here with a more specific question as MarkL suggested.

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#1254842 - 08/23/09 10:54 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
If you find a decent 3-pedal unit, let me know. I think that will be a challenge.

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#1254868 - 08/23/09 11:55 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
The_Linux_Crew Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/09
Posts: 53
Originally Posted By: pilgrimjoel
If you find a decent 3-pedal unit, let me know. I think that will be a challenge.


Like I said earlier, finding a used unit might be his best bet considering his budget, in which case it won't be such a challenge.

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#1254906 - 08/24/09 02:39 AM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: dRummie
... the portability is mainly for ease of transport, by car and plane, which I foresee in the near future. ...


Don't get your hopes up on economically being able to transport a full sized 88 key digital piano on an airline. You will not be able to carry it on and will be required to check it either in its original shipping box or in an expensive, heavy IATA approved reinforced gig box. You will be charged extra baggage charges for something that is oversized and overweight that depending on the airline will cost several hundred dollars one way, perhaps exceeding your ticket cost.

Depending on the digital piano you choose, buying a case and taking one return flight might cost as much or more as buying digital piano at your destination and leaving it behind when you go.


Edited by theJourney (08/24/09 02:41 AM)

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#1254996 - 08/24/09 09:25 AM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: theJourney]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Journey - I foresee a move by plane in about a year, not regular travel, so worse comes to worst I'll sell it here and by another one there. Another reason to buy used, I guess. Although I'm guessing these things are even more expensive in Europe...

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#1255112 - 08/24/09 12:37 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
The_Linux_Crew Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/09
Posts: 53
Originally Posted By: dRummie
Journey - I foresee a move by plane in about a year, not regular travel, so worse comes to worst I'll sell it here and by another one there. Another reason to buy used, I guess. Although I'm guessing these things are even more expensive in Europe...


Depending on how long you will be in Europe, you might want to consider having it shipped by UPS or someone else. It is probably worth at least checking the shipping price.

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#1255141 - 08/24/09 01:12 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: theJourney]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I had nine yrs. of classical lessons
as a child, on acoustic pianos only.
I quit in high school and didn't
play for 20 yrs.

I'm a serious amateur classical player, and since restarting as an
adult, I've owned 5 pianos:
a top-of-the-line acoustic upright
bought in the early 1980's
for ~$6000 (a similar model today
would be in the ~$20,000 price
range); a Korg C-800 digital
bought in 1989 for $1700; a
Casio AP-24 digital bought
sight-unseen online in 2005 for
$700; a Korg SP-250 digital
bought sight-unseen online in
2006 for $900; and my current
piano, a Williams Overture digital
bought sight-unseen online in
2009 for $600.
So you can see from the above that
with me the trend has been towards
less and less expensive instruments,
even as my playing has gotten
more advanced: ~$20,000(~$6000)
---> $1700 ---> $700 ---> $900
---> $600.

I've worked on the same classical
repertoire on all five pianos,
including the most difficult
pieces like the Chopin op. 14
Concert Rondo. I've found
inexpensive digitals to be
adequate for working on
serious classical repertoire.
All weighted-key digital pianos
have sound taken from a concert
grand and an action patterned
after a concert grand action, and
so even inexpensive ones under
$1000 are okay for playing
even the most difficult classical
repertoire.

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#1255168 - 08/24/09 01:55 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
MarkL Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/07
Posts: 728
Loc: Chicago Suburban
Originally Posted By: dRummie

I'm open to buying used. About how much of a price drop should I expect between new and used around the 1k mark?


It varies a little by brand and model, but as an example I bought my Yamaha P-90 used about 2 years ago for $350 and it probably sold for $1000 when it came out new in 2003. That was cheap because it was local and the guy wouldn't ship. A more reasonable price would be $500-600. I have a friend who has a P-250 for sale for $750, it probably sold for a few thousand when it was new. So I'd say expect anywhere from 30%-60% discount from the street price depending on how old it is.

Quote:

It sounds from what you've said like each brand's signature touch is roughly consistent even between models with different actions, is this assumption correct?

I'd say it a little differently. The things people like and dislike about a brand are somewhat consistent between models with different actions. So a brand noted for a heavier touch will generally be reported to have a heavier touch across all it's models. But you do get something for your money as you step up the model line. For example in the Yamaha line, I can tell the difference between the entry level touch and the next step up.

Quote:

Edit. 1k is more of a guideline than a limit. I'd like to stay close to that, but if the gains are sufficient, I don't mind spending an extra couple hundred.


Note that getting 3 pedal capability on a portable DP could easily cost you all of that couple hundred. It's not just a matter of buying 3 pedals, you have to buy a special device (or two) that allows you to add that capability. It's possible some of the more expensive portables support 3 pedals out of the box, but I'm not aware of any.
_________________________
Yamaha P90

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#1255482 - 08/24/09 09:46 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: MarkL]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
I'll definitely check out the shipping when the time comes. For now, though, it'll have to travel by car, so I'm still leaning towards a board + stand set-up.

So I stopped by a music store today and tried some pianos. Overall I liked the Korg C-720 best, but it's a console and out of my budget. The SP-250 has the same action, which I really liked. However, I found the sounds lacking, and this was especially apparent after trying the 720. I've realized that I underestimated how important good sound is, so now I'm wondering what can be done to improve the sound out of the 250, since Korg doesn't seem to offer a more senior portable model... I also ran into the problem MarkL mentioned with it being able to support only one pedal.

They also had some Kurzweil, which I didn't try, and a Casio Privia that I wasn't immediately impressed by, but whose model number I don't recall. The Roland FP-4 felt much too light. I'll be going back to give all the pianos a more lengthy audition, and also looking for a Yamaha dealer.

So for now I'm wondering what people's opinions are on the Korg, and whether it's worth investing in that plus some upgrades (pedal, sound). Regarding the sound, I'm interested in the computer-based piano emulator I've seen mentioned around the forum, but how much would such a set-up cost?

Thanks for all the advice so far, you've all been a great help.

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#1255531 - 08/24/09 11:06 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
trolls99 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 110
Loc: Germany
If you have a computer there may anothter alternative. You might buy a software piano (200-300$) plus a good master keyboard. That way you will have a great sound and a good keyboard. Problem of course is that you have to turn on the computer to play, that you still need boxes or headphones, and of course pedals. But moneywise this may be the best solution for you.


Edited by trolls99 (08/24/09 11:07 PM)

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#1255822 - 08/25/09 01:10 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
MarkL Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/07
Posts: 728
Loc: Chicago Suburban
Originally Posted By: dRummie
and also looking for a Yamaha dealer.

I'd try to play the CP33. It has two pedal inputs which means you'd only have to buy a simpler midi device to add the 3d pedal, probably only cost about $100 or so.

Quote:

So for now I'm wondering what people's opinions are on the Korg, and whether it's worth investing in that plus some upgrades (pedal, sound). Regarding the sound, I'm interested in the computer-based piano emulator I've seen mentioned around the forum, but how much would such a set-up cost?

Never played a Korg, can't comment. Sound is easy to change, so I wouldn't pay any attention to what the pianos sound like. Software pianos sound much better than any DP in my opinion. If you have a half way decent computer you can probably use it to run a software piano and send the output through your stereo. There are different kinds of software pianos, some require more disk and cpu than others, but all require a sound card with low latency, and obviously a slot to put the card in. The card isn't expensive, google Audiophile 2496 as an example which is under $100. Software pianos vary a good bit in price, I use Truepianos which cost $180, but you can spend a lot more if you want to. The cables to hook it all up will cost another $50 or so.
_________________________
Yamaha P90

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#1255851 - 08/25/09 01:42 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: MarkL]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
I'm very open to the keyboard + software piano option. I'd need to buy the soundcard, but my laptop should be able to handle the software. I'm a little worried about computer noises disrupting my practice sessions, though.

I'll look into both keyboards and standalone DPs when I can get to a store that carries both. Given that the computer portion will cost me $300-400, can a good master keyboard be had for under 1k CAD new, or would I have to go used with this option, too?

Edit. I should mention that I'm not factoring headphones into this, as I already have two pairs that are decent.


Edited by dRummie (08/25/09 01:45 PM)

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#1255864 - 08/25/09 01:57 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
MarkL Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/07
Posts: 728
Loc: Chicago Suburban
Originally Posted By: dRummie
I'm very open to the keyboard + software piano option. I'd need to buy the soundcard, but my laptop should be able to handle the software. I'm a little worried about computer noises disrupting my practice sessions, though.

But laptop won't accept an audio card. There are external cards that will work with laptops, but that's outside my experience. Not sure what you mean by computer noises.

Quote:

I'll look into both keyboards and standalone DPs when I can get to a store that carries both. Given that the computer portion will cost me $300-400, can a good master keyboard be had for under 1k CAD new, or would I have to go used with this option, too?

Not sure everyone uses jargon the same, I think of a master keyboard as a synthesizer, which doesn't have weighted keys and is not suitable for you. You can use pretty much any DP to do most of what you probably want with midi, given that you're a pianist and not a DJ/rock star.

Quote:

Edit. I should mention that I'm not factoring headphones into this, as I already have two pairs that are decent.

Headphones eliminate the need for speakers or stereo system. Headphones also sound way better than any speaker setup you're likely to be able to afford.
_________________________
Yamaha P90

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#1255884 - 08/25/09 02:34 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: MarkL]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
I was thinking of external audio cards for the laptop, since I've seen them mentioned around the forum. I do also have a desktop, but if possible, I'd prefer to use the laptop for portability's sake. By computer noises I meant mainly fans, but also the noise made by accessing the hard drive.

I'm not too sure of the jargon myself. By "keyboard" I guess I meant something where the focus is on action alone, whereas in my mind a "digital piano" is made to have a decent sound system built in. But it's really a moot point, suffice it to say that I'll try anything I can get my hands on smile

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#1255927 - 08/25/09 03:46 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
emenelton Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/09
Posts: 424
I own a Kawai ES6 and have tried the Yamaha P155. Software Pianos are real nice also. IMO, if you have the budget get the P155(or the Kawai).
A complete solution such as the ES6 or the P155 that is professional will give you a lot of room to develop your talent. Both pianos have on board speakers, which are nice to have. And both are ~45lbs.
Computers have more stringent hardware requirements to get them to perform well with software pianos, and to rely on them makes your setup a lot more cumbersome.
While the SP250 is nice, if you feel you need to use a computer to get the sound you want, then I think it is not the right solution for you.
Both the P155 and ES6 are professional slabs. The P155 uses a single Pedal only. The ES6 has a 3 pedal option although I only have the single one now.

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#1256017 - 08/25/09 05:28 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: emenelton]
Kawai James Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 8383
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
emenelton, it is also possible to purchase a dual-pedal unit for the ES6. This would allow you to extend the functionality of the instrument without being required to invest in the stand and three pedal unit.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#1256030 - 08/25/09 05:48 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: Kawai James]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
James,
Is this two separate pedals or two together?
-Joel

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#1256047 - 08/25/09 06:12 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: MarkL]
trolls99 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 110
Loc: Germany
A masterkeyboard is not at all a synthesizer. A list of master keyboards can be found for instance at
http://www.thomann.de/gb/master_keyboards_up_to_88_keys.html.

Fatar and Doepfer are well respected in this area.



Edited by trolls99 (08/25/09 06:13 PM)

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#1256048 - 08/25/09 06:13 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
emenelton Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/09
Posts: 424
I am only trying to encourage the original poster to keep it simple. When I play the ES6 in the basement my wife told me she thought I was playing my acoustic upstairs.
I have a question about the two pedal unit James. Does it do 1/2 pedaling.
pilgrimjoel: it is two pedals in one housing

link to video of the es6 live the audio quality of the recording is unfortunately bad

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pw-XQIxxAgw

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#1256070 - 08/25/09 07:05 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: emenelton]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
And is the 2-pedal unit heavy enough not to slide around?

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#1256100 - 08/25/09 08:07 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
Kawai James Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 8383
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
pilgrimjoel,

The F-20 is a single unit, with two pedals:



It is reasonably heavy and should not slide too badly, however I suspect this ultimately relies on your playing style, and the floor surface on which the pedal is placed.

emenelton, the F-20 supports half-pedalling on the damper pedal.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#1256118 - 08/25/09 08:48 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: Kawai James]
emenelton Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/09
Posts: 424
Thanks, even the Kawai single pedal, because it's base is twice as wide as a normal yamaha or roland, doesn't slide around like those(well hardly). It's a lot more stable on the floor.

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#1256131 - 08/25/09 09:18 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: emenelton]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Originally Posted By: emenelton
I am only trying to encourage the original poster to keep it simple.

A philosophy I wholeheartedly agree with. Unfortunately, it's proving hard to find an "all-in-one" unit in my price range, so rather than compromise on any one aspect, I'm keeping open to more complex alternatives.

It turned out there is a Yamaha gallery nearby, and an interesting thing transpired when I stopped by. First, the GH action didn't feel that great. The GH3 felt significantly better, but I was told it didn't come on any reasonably portable model. However all those options are not ideal since I don't like the sound of Yamaha grands, and by extension, that of their digitals. Now, they also had a Roland somebody had traded in. And that one really surprised me. I did not like the action at first touch - I immediately felt what I've heard mentioned around the forum, that the keys bottom out too hard. But the more I played on it, the more it came to life, and while the keys did not feel any kinder after a few minutes, I did feel compelled to put some effort into getting used to them, that's how musical and responsive the instrument felt! I was even inspired to play the Aria from the Goldberg Variations (one of my test pieces) using the harpsichord track (horrendous, btw), a thing that hadn't even crossed my mind until then, shows just how fun the instrument was. That was the Roland KR5.

Now, looking at the specs, I see it has a "progressive hammer action". If the PHA II of the PF-7 is the newer version, I will definitely want to give that one a try. It seems strange, though, that the PF-4 didn't have a similar effect, even though the quality of the sound (through headphones) could not have been better on the KR5.
I am still concerned about the rather uncomfortable feel of the keys hitting the bottom, but hopefully I'll get a chance to figure out if I can live with it when that first dealer gets the FP-7 back in stock. I've read that the FP-7 has decent sound, so it could turn out to be the all-in-one unit for me.

Edit. But not to narrow my options, if anybody knows of a dealer that carries Kawai in the Toronto area, I'm all ears.


Edited by dRummie (08/25/09 09:19 PM)

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#1256177 - 08/25/09 10:35 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
emenelton Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/09
Posts: 424
dRummie,

If you are considering an FP-7 then you have a budget to get most of the portable(if not all) digital pianos out there. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

When I tested pianos in Milwaukee the dealer had on display:
P155
EP3Kawai
FP-7
V-Piano
The tone of the V-Piano and the FP-7 were surprisingly similar. I didn't like the FP-7 for two reasons.
1. I didn't want Roland's broad tone.
2. I didn't like the action, if felt shallow and not nice.
I felt the P155 had the best action overall but had only the one sound, which was the bright yamaha sound.

What's good about the Yamaha's sound is this. If your playing piano in any sort of combo, the Yamaha will serve you very well.
The EP3, at first sounded similar brightness wise to the Yamaha, but after a while it started to grow on me. It's a little bit like Pianoteq in that if seems like a real instrument. Kawai has 'modeled components'. What's nice about the ES6 is it has a number of distinctly different piano sounds that are quality: dark(bosendorfer), bright(yamaha), rich(kawai).
While it's not perfect, it's action is not as deep as the P155, I've found it to be a digital piano that is enjoyable to both play and to listen to.

Good luck.

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#1256409 - 08/26/09 10:50 AM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: emenelton]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Hi emenelton. My budget is ~1k, but can stretch up a few hundred if necessary. The FP-7 goes for around $2k new, and since I'm considering used instruments as well, I think that my budget can stretch to accommodate one if I decide that this is the one I really want. However, I should say that I'm trying pianos outside my budget, too, just to get a sense of the technology out there. I have never played digital extensively before, so I want to get an indication of what is available at different price levels. I'd like to establish how much I need to pay to get what I want, as well as what I can get for how much I can pay right now.

I tried the P140 at the Yamaha dealer, and didn't like the action on that one. Not to mention the Yamaha sound (this not just on the 140, but the Yamaha grands). As far as I remember, the 155 has the same action, and I expect it will have the same Yamaha sound. I will be playing exclusively solo piano, and almost completely classical, so I'm looking for the combination of action+sound that is most pleasant to my hands and ears.

Of course, I'll be giving all these another visit (or several) before I start excluding any. And still looking for a Kawai dealer.

Thanks for the advice!

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#1256438 - 08/26/09 11:37 AM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7089
Loc: torrance, CA
Quote:
from dRummie
Now, looking at the specs, I see it has a "progressive hammer action". If the PHA II of the PF-7 is the newer version, I will definitely want to give that one a try. It seems strange, though, that the PF-4 didn't have a similar effect, even though the quality of the sound (through headphones) could not have been better on the KR5.
I am still concerned about the rather uncomfortable feel of the keys hitting the bottom, but hopefully I'll get a chance to figure out if I can live with it when that first dealer gets the FP-7 back in stock. I've read that the FP-7 has decent sound, so it could turn out to be the all-in-one unit for me.


On the action question, PHA II and PHA alpha II are different actions. I would not want to claim one is better than the other. You can fly a little faster and lighter on an alpha than you can on the non-alpha. Resistance is greater on a non-alpha. You might say you can dig in more. Which is 'better' is subject to your taste of course. However, in looking at both the FP series and the RD series you will find that the more expensive models: FP7 and RD700GX include the non-alpha and the less expensive models: FP4 and RD300GX include the alpha.

On the comfort level of the Roland PHA II action (which has been beaten to death here on PW), I think your statement is very apt.

"But the more I played on it, the more it came to life, and while the keys did not feel any kinder after a few minutes, I did feel compelled to put some effort into getting used to them, that's how musical and responsive the instrument felt!"

The willingness to adapt to an action that feels foreign depends on what you can get out of it. IMO, what you can get out of the PHA II on an FP7 is considerable if you can vary your touch to suit your expression.

The ability to adapt to the PHA II on the FP7 depends on your technical skills. If you have the necessary finger control to avoid plunging your fingers into the so-called 'hard bottom', you will not have a hard-bottoming sensation.

Some have also noted that the key dip on the FP7 is shallower than many other digitals. This is correct. Again, if you have the finger control to accommodate and adapt and you are rewarded musically by your efforts, it should not be a problem. It took me three visits to a showroom ( a couple of hours of play in total) to decide that the FP7 action worked well for me. IF you have 13 years of classical study, it may take you less time to make up your mind.

BTW, if you are going to continue to audition digitals critically, you will want to have a reference pair of headphones that you carry with you. Either buy or borrow good phones. Do not depend on any that dealers might lend you during your visits.

Quote:
from emenelton
If you are considering an FP-7 then you have a budget to get most of the portable(if not all) digital pianos out there. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

When I tested pianos in Milwaukee the dealer had on display:
P155
EP3Kawai
FP-7
V-Piano
The tone of the V-Piano and the FP-7 were surprisingly similar. I didn't like the FP-7 for two reasons.
1. I didn't want Roland's broad tone.
2. I didn't like the action, if felt shallow and not nice.
I felt the P155 had the best action overall but had only the one sound, which was the bright yamaha sound.

What's good about the Yamaha's sound is this. If your playing piano in any sort of combo, the Yamaha will serve you very well.
The EP3, at first sounded similar brightness wise to the Yamaha, but after a while it started to grow on me. It's a little bit like Pianoteq in that if seems like a real instrument.


First of all, a digital piano is a "real instrument". If you are saying that the Yamaha sounds like a Yamaha acoustic, there's a good reason for that. How similar a digital sounds to an acoustic depends on what acoustic your own frame of reference is. There are many many significant variations in the sound of different acoustics.

Secondly, it would be truly surprising if the V sounded like an FP7 since the approach is totally different. The default position of one may remind you of the other (more than of any Yamaha or Kawai), but the similarity would end with the default.

Thirdly, unless I've misread here, the OP is not interested in playing in a combo and cutting through the other instruments. Granted, a Yamaha excels in that situation, but I think the OP's interest is in getting one instrument that will allow him/her to play solo piano classical repertoire. The "broad tone" of the Roland that you don't like may be better suited to his/her purposes. It's all subjective.

_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1256459 - 08/26/09 12:16 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: turandot]
emenelton Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/09
Posts: 424
turandot

I compared the Kawai modeling to pianoteq. Pianoteq gets praise in the form of, "it's like playing a real instrument". That's because of it being a modeled piano with modeled behaviour, similar to Kawai.
Yamaha's sound seemed like the keys simply switched sounds on and off, and sounds a little static compared to the Kawai, however in trying to keep with the mostly positive tone of the forum I was putting the Yamaha in a good light by extolling it's virtues for combo work - ie: great purity of tone
I didn't say I didn't like Rolands sound, I said I didn't want it.
After playing the V-Piano with headphones, I immediately went to the FP-7 and was surprised at how the sound was the same.
Your views on the action of Roland seemed very good, I was just reporting on my demoing all these keyboards in one setting and my impressions of them. Have you had a chance to sit down at a V-Piano and compare it to the FP-7?

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#1256492 - 08/26/09 12:57 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: turandot]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Originally Posted By: turandot
On the action question, PHA II and PHA alpha II are different actions.

Actually, I'm asking about the difference between the PHA and the PHA II. Unless I've misunderstood something and the PHA isn't actually a different action from both the PHA II and the PHA alpha II.

Originally Posted By: turandot
BTW, if you are going to continue to audition digitals critically, you will want to have a reference pair of headphones that you carry with you. Either buy or borrow good phones. Do not depend on any that dealers might lend you during your visits.

I've been going around with my Grado 225's. Not ideal for piano, but they suit the task well enough.

Thanks for the great discussion, everyone. It's great to have such an informative start into this new venture.

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#1256493 - 08/26/09 12:59 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: emenelton]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7089
Loc: torrance, CA
Emenelton,

Careless reading cause me to miss the EP3 / ES6 references. Sorry for that. But when you refer to Kawai's modeled sound, are you saying that the EP3 and ES6 are modeled pianos...in the sense of Pianoteq and Roland V? I don't believe they are. I believe they are sample-based. Perhaps you're referring to what Kawai callsd Harmonic Imaging or something like that.

I have played a Roland V. It was a while back when the first one arrived locally. I didn't have an FP7 next to it to compare, but I have one at home so the comparison came naturally to me. I brought my own phones with me to demo the V.

No, I don't see much similarity between those two Roland models other than typical dark and warm Roland sound in the default.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1256591 - 08/26/09 03:10 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: turandot]
emenelton Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/09
Posts: 424
From what I understand Kawai's Harmonic Imaging Starts with a single recording per note, converts it to something they call a 3-d image? and then extrapolates the various dynamics, overtones and sympathetic resonance elements from that.
There are sophisticated characteristics that appear as a layer on top of the basic 'note' on the Kawai. When you listen carefully to a note you can hear an overtone element develop and die away, an effect that appears to be uniform across the board.
It gives, IMHO, the Kawai a more lively character than other straight sampled instruments and makes the Kawai seem more like playing a real instrument.

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#1256738 - 08/26/09 06:11 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: emenelton]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7089
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: emenelton
From what I understand Kawai's Harmonic Imaging Starts with a single recording per note, converts it to something they call a 3-d image? and then extrapolates the various dynamics, overtones and sympathetic resonance elements from that.
There are sophisticated characteristics that appear as a layer on top of the basic 'note' on the Kawai. When you listen carefully to a note you can hear an overtone element develop and die away, an effect that appears to be uniform across the board.
It gives, IMHO, the Kawai a more lively character than other straight sampled instruments and makes the Kawai seem more like playing a real instrument.


Thanks for the clarification. What I understand in tech terms ain't much (somewhere between low-tech and no-tech), but I think the description you give of Harmonic Imaging is pretty standard stuff in building on a core sample. Judging from a comparison of Yamaha acoustics and digitals, I'd say they probably do less refining, layering, and tweaking than Roland, but I don't think any of the major makers is presenting you with some sort of raw sample. On the other hand, each presents you with what little insight they wish to share with you on their actual process in their own terms. Hence, Harmonic Imaging is brand-speak.

In a pure modeled piano, there is no core sample, so the difference is pretty clear. When I first played a V, I thought surely that buried somewhere was a sampled piano. Apparently I was wrong. Alden Skinner states in Piano Buyer that it is pure modeling.

In terms of Kawai's digital sound, it is not to my taste, and does not sound to me in any way comparable to an acoustic grand. That's a subjective opinion of course, and in no way better than your different opinion.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1256795 - 08/26/09 07:42 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: turandot]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
But do any of them -- excepting perhaps the V -- really sound comparable to an acoustic grand?

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#1259353 - 08/30/09 11:22 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Originally Posted By: pilgrimjoel
But do any of them -- excepting perhaps the V -- really sound comparable to an acoustic grand?
Great question, one to which I wouldn't mind hearing a few answers myself, not having played many grands in my life.

I tried a few Kawais the other day. There were three with the lower-end action that felt pretty awful (the first plastic action to actually feel clearly plastic of everything I've tried), and one, a CA61, with the higher-end one. The wooden action felt good, but the sound left me with some questions.

It was a very pretty piano sound - very sweet and musical, but even using headphones, it sounded like this great piano was sounding through some digital device, like a faraway speaker. Now, I realize that it is coming through a digital device.. but this seems more evident in the sound of the Kawais than any others. Is this an artifact of their unique modelling method? Should I have played with the sound settings on the piano more? Is the CA61 just not that great?

Also, all the pianos in the showroom were consoles, and I am considering the ES6. As I understand, all the Kawai digitals have the same sound technology. Is the action on the ES6 (AHAIV-F) significantly different from the AHAIV?

I'd be grateful if someone could offer an opinion on whether the sound can be improved through tinkering and if the AHAIV-F action is worth trying despite my not liking the AHAIV. I'd have to call the dealer to try to arrange to audition an ES6, since there wasn't one in the showroom, but if it's very similar to the ones I've already tried, it's not worth the bother.

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#1259429 - 08/31/09 03:40 AM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
Kawai James Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 8383
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Quote:
As I understand, all the Kawai digitals have the same sound technology.


While it is true that all KAWAI digital pianos utilise Harmonic Imaging sound technology, the specifications for the main sound hardware differ across the various product ranges.

Quote:
Should I have played with the sound settings on the piano more?


The CA61 features six different acoustic piano sounds and several options to adjust the tonal character of each voice. Through experimentation, it is possible to configure the instrument somewhat, however the emphasis is typically on offering subtle, rather than dramatic, changes to the sound.

> Is the action on the ES6 (AHAIV-F) significantly different from the AHAIV?

AHA IV-F is KAWAI's most recent plastic key action, and is currently being used in the CN22, CN32, CN42, CL35, ES6, and EP3. The 'F' designation indicates the revision number of the action. Previous generation instruments, such as the CN21, CN31, CN41, CL25, ES4, and EP2, utilise the AHA IV-E action. Mechanically, there is very little to separate the two actions (F / E), however a number of subtle changes were made to the most recent revision that - among other things - improves the weight consistency of the action.

Unfortunately, however, if you were unsatisfied with the action of any of KAWAI's plastic-key instruments (regardless of whether they utilise the 'E' or 'F' revision AHA IV), I believe it is unlikely that you will find the touch of the most recent ES6 to be significantly different, and therefore agreeable.

I hope this information is useful.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#1259554 - 08/31/09 10:49 AM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: Kawai James]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Thank you for the informative reply, James. Subtle changes of the kind you're describing are not what I'd want to see if I tried out the ES6, so I guess I'll keep looking elsewhere. Thanks again.

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#1262499 - 09/04/09 04:36 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
In case anyone is interested in following my saga, here's the latest installment smile

I visited the first dealer again, and spent some quality time with the FP-4. I had brushed past it previously, not being used to light actions, but decided to give it a chance after trying that lovely KR5. The action on the FP-4 felt pretty good, once I got used to the (lack of) weight. It felt quick, responsive, not too plastic-y, and felt better than the higher-end Korg (don't remember the model number). Quick repetition of a note was comfortable, more so than on any other model I've tried. Playing a real grand, though, was night and day. I'm likely comparing both action and sound here, but the level of musical control offered by the FP-4 was nowhere near that of the real grands I tried. (Then again, those seemed like very decent grands, so it's hardly a level comparison.)

After playing the FP-4 for about 40 minutes I decided that if I can find nothing better, I can live with this. Action and sound (through headphones) combined, it offered enough contrast of tone for a satisfactory rendition of the Grieg Piano Sonata, and was fun and musical enough for a switch to Billy Joel's Piano Man. It was the second piano (after the KR5) to take my mind off auditioning and put forth the music, but it nonetheless lacked the magic of the KR5.

I'm sure this difference has to do with the action - if I had to sum it up, I'd guess that I prefer actions with more initial resistance (weight?), but easier subsequent downward travel. It feels like I have more control, as if the key movement translates more naturally to the sound with this kind of action. The KR5 felt this way, whereas the FP-4 seems to require a more uniform application of force. I'm unfamiliar with the intricacies and terminology of piano design, so can't explain it better than this. (It would be great if someone could explain to me what it is I have a preference for, lol.)

I'm waiting for the FP-7 to be in stock again before deciding. I haven't yet played it, but I much prefer its features - in particular, the sensitivity adjustments and lid height are ones I would miss with the FP-4 - so here's hoping its action is something more like the KR5's.

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#1262604 - 09/04/09 08:44 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
Nikalette Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/08
Posts: 1074
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: pilgrimjoel
But do any of them -- excepting perhaps the V -- really sound comparable to an acoustic grand?


It would be nice to be able to try an acoustic grand and a Roland V-piano side by side. At our music story they have many acoustic grands and many Yamaha DPs, but they only had one Roland a KR 575 (I think) which they really wanted to unload. When I tried that one I liked to so much better than the Yamahas for touch and sound.

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#1262649 - 09/04/09 10:01 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7089
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: dRummie
if I had to sum it up, I'd guess that I prefer actions with more initial resistance (weight?), but easier subsequent downward travel. It feels like I have more control, as if the key movement translates more naturally to the sound with this kind of action. The KR5 felt this way, whereas the FP-4 seems to require a more uniform application of force. I'm unfamiliar with the intricacies and terminology of piano design, so can't explain it better than this. (It would be great if someone could explain to me what it is I have a preference for, lol.)

I'm waiting for the FP-7 to be in stock again before deciding. I haven't yet played it, but I much prefer its features - in particular, the sensitivity adjustments and lid height are ones I would miss with the FP-4 - so here's hoping its action is something more like the KR5's.


dRummie.

Some of this you can measure objectively and fairly easily.

If you want to measure the key dip (depth of the key's downward travel, you can simply use a ruler. If you want to measure static weight, (granted static weight is not the whole picture), take a bunch of nickels to the place you're shopping. Tape a stack of 10 together before you go (so you don't spill them all over the floor grin). Put your stack of nickels on the end of a key. It may get the downward travel going. It may not. I doubt it will get the key to bottom, but if it does, then you'll need to remove a couple from the taped stack. What you want to do is add nickels individually to your stack to see how many you need to reach bottom. You'll probably notice that an individual nickel added will bring the key down further but not necessarily to the bottom. Make a note of how many nickels you need to get the downward travel going and how many you need to get the key to bottom. It's important to not push down as you place the stack on the key or add to it. Repeat the test on a couple of other keys in a different keyrange of the piano, check for consistency, and move on to the next piano to compare notes. Don't use pennies. Older pennies and newer pennies have different weights. Pennies are also thin enough to wedge between the keyfronts and the case front if you have a little mishap. The sales staff wouldn't appreciate that.


If you find a piano with keys that will go completely down from rest position to bottoming with one additional nickel, you have found the piano touch that you have described as the one your prefer: "actions with more initial resistance (weight?), but easier subsequent downward travel." Then you will know if what you are saying that you prefer really is what you prefer. I have a hunch it isn't.

In general, the FP4 lets you fly across the keyboard light and easy. The FP7 lets you dig in. I'm a meat and potatoes player, so I like to dig in grin, but I have no problem with the FP4 action.

Repetition should be fairly similar on both.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1262761 - 09/05/09 01:52 AM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: turandot]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Thanks, turandot. That's not quite what I meant, though - I can evaluate those aspects of the action by playing it. Perhaps my description, as you note, wasn't strictly accurate, I'm only trying to describe what I perceive. I meant that some actions give that impression more than others, not that that's necessarily what's happening from the standpoint of forces. I'm not sure how to describe what I like using proper terms or how to link it to actual piano construction, or what significance my preference has - e.g. do ill- or well-regulated actions behave in that way, is it more common to a particular brand, etc. Not really relevant for my decision here, just a point for curiosity.

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#1271577 - 09/20/09 01:18 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
The newest installment:

I finally got my hands on an FP-7. Gotta say, the action felt great. Interestingly, I didn't notice the hard bottoming-out that is so often complained about, whereas I did feel it on the older PHA action.

The action felt quite realistic, heavier than the PHA alpha II (I like this), and had that feel I like so much, that I tried to describe above: the greatest burst of energy being required to set the key into motion, with it continuing to fall almost as if by its own inertia. I was particularly thrilled upon discovering the hammer response setting. The default is 0, but setting it to just 1 or 2 added a whole new realm of realism. I'm surprised I haven't seen this mentioned more, because during my (albeit not exhaustive) encounter today, this was the single option that did the most to make the roland action feel like a real piano. For a minute I thought something had actually changed mechanically in the action. I feel compelled to mention, though, that the lag in the sound it produces is considerable. There are 10 possible levels, plus "off", but I'd have to play it again to be sure I can live with the lag on level 1, never mind 10.

The sound seemed decent, both through headphones and integrated speakers. I didn't have time to figure out and play with all the adjustments, but thanks to this forum I did know to set the lid to the highest setting, which improved the sound greatly.

To try to keep things impartial, some things I did not like:
Action felt sluggish compared to the FP-4. In addition, it was much louder mechanically. With my open phones, I imagine it could be a distraction when playing quietly. The FP-7 also seemed to have less tonal range, but I suspect this was largely due to the much noisier environment in this show room than in the one where I'd auditioned the FP-4. (Someone was playing electric guitar in the next room, and then a young child came in to "audition" a drum set...)The "digital veil" seemed to be present to a greater degree (the sounds felt more like a recording here than on the FP-4), but again, environment and sound settings likely contributed.

Finally, there is the price tag. I've been keeping an eye out for used units for the past few months, and so far nothing.

Anyway, that's my story so far. Conclusion hopefully coming soon!

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#1271616 - 09/20/09 02:47 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Originally Posted By: dRummie

I'm sure this difference has to do with the action - if I had to sum it up, I'd guess that I prefer actions with more initial resistance (weight?), but easier subsequent downward travel. It feels like I have more control, as if the key movement translates more naturally to the sound with this kind of action.
I think that you're accurately describing the feel of an acoustic's action.

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#1280275 - 10/03/09 11:38 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: FogVilleLad]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Originally Posted By: FogVilleLad
I think that you're accurately describing the feel of an acoustic's action.

It's reassuring to read that wink Seriously though, I think you're right. With actions that feel uniform on the way down it feels like nothing is brought into motion. Where's the hammer?

A final update: I've decided to purchase the FP-7. It is quite a ways out of my initial budget, but given that my parents have agreed to help me out, and my favourable experience with the instrument, I've decided the extra amount is worth it.

My decision was made after a second extensive visit. One thing I was particularly looking to confirm was that the "hard-bottom" action wouldn't bother my hands. A couple days after the first visit, I developed a tiredness in my wrists that I thought may be due to the action, as I'd read of a similar case on the forum. Happily, I've experienced no such discomfort after this second visit, so likely there was no connection.

I am still as impressed with the PHA II action as I was at first. I also evaluated again the Hammer Response function, and on the lower settings it doesn't produce excessive lag in the sound. Together the mechanics and the HR produce a feel that far surpasses everything else I've tried. The action is really the main feature swaying me towards the FP-7. The FP-4 is responsive and a lot of fun to play, but I realized that were I to purchase it, I would always miss the more hefty feel of a real piano. Not having easy access to an acoustic, and yet not being cut off enough to forget their feel altogether, I was especially looking for that in my practice instrument, and the FP-7 gets me a lot closer.

So, there it is. Now the final (and rather unwelcome, heh) step of handing over the cash, and then it's practice time laugh

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