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#1266746 - 09/11/09 10:56 PM Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250?
montag Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 29
Loc: Argentina
(Now copying this to the right forum)

I'm new on this forum so first of all, hi there! I'm enjoying this community some time ago, but just reading until now...

I'm about to buy my first digital piano; have to say I've never put a finger on a key, except for the Casio PT-1 I had when I was a child (you know, one key at a time). I want to learn and I need a DP so my neighbours don't hate me (I promise I'll use headphones). After reading many reviews and posts, and given my budget constraints, I have two options: Yamaha P85 and Korg SP250. From what I read, I gathered the pros and cons:

Yamaha P85
- Nice grand piano sound
- Can record your performance (one track)
- 64 notes of poliphony
- No Line Out jack
- Cheapest action from Yamaha (GHS)
- Only one-level sample (AWM)

Korg SP250
- Nice grand piano sound
- Better action (RH3 from Korg)
- Line Out
- Stand and pedal (with half pedal dampering available)
- Noisy action (clicking keys?)
- 60 notes of poliphony
- 19 kg (The Yamaha is 11 kg)

They are in the same price range, so money makes no difference between them. Which one is better?

After much reading, I guess both are good pianos but I just can't decide between them. Anyone knows if the P85 changes its tone depending on how fast are the keys pressed? I know it sounds louder when you press hard, but is there a timbre change as well, as in real acoustic? Someone said in this forum that it has a filtering-based timbre change, wanted to confirm... since it has only one sample. I like classical piano, and want to be able to be 'expressive' with my DP (after hard work and months/years, of course).
About the Korg, are the keys so noisy? I watched some youtube videos in which you can clearly hear the keys while the guy plays...

I went to a local music store and heard both pianos; Yamaha seems to have a brighter sound, but overall I liked both.

Any advice is welcomed! About to buy in a week or two.

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#1266819 - 09/12/09 01:48 AM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: montag]
galaxy4t Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/28/08
Posts: 851
Loc: Lakewood, CA
Montag:
I think the Korg is a better piano than the P85. Unless you want portability, the Korg is a better choice. If you like Yamaha have you considered the P-155 which is a better choice than the Korg although more expensive? If you want portability and have space limitations Casio's new PX-130 might be worth a look also as it has very nice piano sound, expecially considering the price. Be sure and play any piano you are considering and take note of what you like or don't like.


Edited by galaxy4t (09/12/09 01:52 AM)

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#1266852 - 09/12/09 03:08 AM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: galaxy4t]
Manachi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/09
Posts: 90
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Of those two options I'd go with the Korg

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#1266872 - 09/12/09 04:49 AM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: montag]
Geoffk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/08
Posts: 757
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
Originally Posted By: montag
Anyone knows if the P85 changes its tone depending on how fast are the keys pressed? I know it sounds louder when you press hard, but is there a timbre change as well, as in real acoustic? Someone said in this forum that it has a filtering-based timbre change, wanted to confirm... since it has only one sample. I like classical piano, and want to be able to be 'expressive' with my DP (after hard work and months/years, of course).


There may be a small amount of filter-based change, but with a 1-level sample you won't get a realistic timbre change. It just isn't possible. The Korg has a better action, a better piano sample, better "extra sounds" and better spakers. I'd go with it.

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#1266928 - 09/12/09 08:48 AM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: montag]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7133
Loc: torrance, CA
Originally Posted By: montag

I'm about to buy my first digital piano; have to say I've never put a finger on a key, except for the Casio PT-1 I had when I was a child (you know, one key at a time).


That's something you're just going to have to get past. You can either put a finger to a key before you buy or after. Doing it before you buy makes much more sense.

If you're feeling shy and/or embarrassed about sitting down at a board in a shop, don't be, Most advanced players do not audition a board by putting on an impromptu showroom concert. They go through all the keys individually and listen. Just do that. You'll look like a pro. smile To check for variance in timbre to your ears, strike different keys with more or less force and listen to the differences. Listen carefully for any keys that have a thud sound with no sustain. Play keys in the midrange with a lot of force to hear whether the sound becomes flat and metallic. Check out the last couple of octaves at the upper end to see if pitch is replaced by a toneless noise at some point.

Listen through the speakers to check their quality. Listen through headphones to check the quality of the board's sound sample.

If you're absolutely sure you're going to buy a board, buy a decent pair of headphones first and use them to audition the boards. The headphones are important since that's the way you're going to play a good part of the time. It's good to see how the partnership is going to work out. Also, playing with the phones will help you loosen up and get over being self-conscious in the shop.

To check the keyboard noise, just play the different models with the power off. (no phones of course).

The lists of features in your post indicate to me that you're hung up on specs. Specs are misleading. You need to get past that. Don't buy sight unseen, and don't buy without putting your fingers to the keys.

Finally, add a little more expensive model to your comparison to see what a little more money will buy. I'd recommend the P 140. That model has been replaced, so prices are a little soft. Also there are a lot of coupon deals right now since vendors are struggling with the sluggish economy.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1266964 - 09/12/09 10:10 AM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: turandot]
montag Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 29
Loc: Argentina
Thank you all for your inputs!

I will definitely follow turandot' advices, will put my fingers to the keys BEFORE buying the piano. About the P140, unfortunately I'm very limited with my budget and even a small difference may not be affordable for me.
I already have a pretty decent headphones that I can use next time I go to the music store. I agree the specs may be misleading, but since I'm not an expert they seem to be the only reference for me. Also, I'm not sure if even hearing the pianos by myself with headphones I'm able to make the right decision. Anyway I guess if it sounds good to me... is what I should buy. I think I'll focus my tests in the timbre-change (if any) and trying to detect keys that may sound 'fake' or unrealistic. Also, will play some random keys with the power off, good idea smile Though I don't know it they'll let me to spend much time messing around given that I'm not buying the top-line products.

Originally Posted By: Geoffk
The Korg has a better action, a better piano sample, better "extra sounds" and better spakers. I'd go with it.

You mean the Korg SP250 has multi-level samples? I couldn't find an answer to this yet.

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#1266975 - 09/12/09 10:31 AM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: montag]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7133
Loc: torrance, CA
" Also, will play some random keys with the power off, good idea Though I don't know it they'll let me to spend much time messing around given that I'm not buying the top-line products.
"

Well, I don't know how it works in Argentina at your local vendor, but generally speaking, lower-priced lines are far more important to business than top-of-the-line stuff. In most shops in the US (both piano retail and big-box), the thing that annoys staff is some blowhard who thinks he's a great musician and plays his crappy repertoire at loud volumes over and over again on different models. That doesn't seem to be you. grin

Staff also don't like a lot of questions that they can't answer, but that's human nature.

On the key noise, unless you keep your fingernails closely trimmed, play the keys with flat fingers. A lot of the noise is really nails striking the plasticky key surface. And try to play a bunch of notes rapidly if you can. Most of the time the keybed will give you a thumpety-thump. The loudness of the thumpety-thump is what you want to judge.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1267223 - 09/12/09 07:03 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: turandot]
gadapa1 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/01/09
Posts: 5
Loc: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Montaq, no se si te sirve de referencia pero me acabo de comprar el korg lp 350 que es básicamente igual al sp250 pero con mueble y tres pedales. No he tenido tiempo de usarlo mucho (me lo entregaron hace 2 días) pero estoy muy satisfecho con lo que he visto hasta ahora. El sonido de piano es muy bueno (sobre todo con aauriculares, los parlantes son bastante mediocres en los 2 modelos)y la pulsación es buena, tirando a dura (me gusta así). El resto de los sonidos son algunos buenos y otros no tanto. No tiene grabador,no es importante, ni función split. No estoy seguro de que tenga line out (esto sí estaría bueno). Yo toco piano clasico en nivel medio-avanzado y este piano permite bastante expresividad en el sonido, y es verdad el yamaha tiene un sonido más brillante (es cuestión de gustos igual).
Te recomiendo ir a las casas de música y probarlos vos mismo. Yo no tuve ningun problema ni nunca me echaron jaja (hay una en particular que fui 4 veces, no estaba convencido).
Suerte en tu busqueda!

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#1267226 - 09/12/09 07:22 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: turandot]
montag Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 29
Loc: Argentina
Originally Posted By: turandot
the thing that annoys staff is some blowhard who thinks he's a great musician and plays his crappy repertoire at loud volumes over and over again on different models. That doesn't seem to be you. grin


Haha no, definitely that's not me. My 'performance' will consist in pressing one key at a time... pure art. I don't need so many keys to impress my audience smile
I've already watched a lot of videos on the internet, but it's difficult to decide, both pianos sound great (depending on who's playing too).

Originally Posted By: gadapa1
Yo toco piano clasico en nivel medio-avanzado y este piano permite bastante expresividad en el sonido, y es verdad el yamaha tiene un sonido más brillante


Thanks for the info! I'm basically interested in classic piano, so what you say about the good expresiveness of the Korg sounds interesting. What about the tone change (not the volume), does it change much depending on the force you apply? Also, have you noticed much noise in the keys while playing? Sorry I answer in English but it's just so everyone else understands, and you seem to understand too smile

Thanks!

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#1267279 - 09/12/09 09:29 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: montag]
Geoffk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/08
Posts: 757
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
Korg doesn't specify whether the sample is 1-level or more but it certainly *sounds* like a multi-layer sample. According to some other web sites, the sample is multilayered ("multistrike"), as well as being fairly long in length:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/SP250/

Here are some useful user reviews, most of which are very positive:

http://reviews.harmony-central.com/reviews/Keyboard+And+MIDI/product/Korg/SP-250/10/1

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#1267321 - 09/12/09 11:41 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: montag]
Martin C. Doege Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/09
Posts: 448
Loc: Hamburg, Germany
I think the Korg looks a bit plasticky and cheap, like the entry-level Casios. Yamaha build quality is generally much better.

As for the piano samples, I think the filter-based approach of the P-85 works pretty well. Multi-sampling done badly (e.g. the Casio PX-320) can sound much worse than a single sample, due to abrupt timbre transitions.

Whatever you do, make sure to also audition the instruments over headphones--the speakers on the P-85 admittedly are a bit under-powered and make the sound even brighter, don't know about the Korg in that regard...
_________________________
Yamaha P-85; Pianoteq Pleyel

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#1267437 - 09/13/09 10:28 AM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: Martin C. Doege]
gadapa1 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/01/09
Posts: 5
Loc: Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Korg does make a clicking noise when you press the keys. It doesn't bother me at all because you only hear it when you play with very low volume and I play with headphones. I don't know about the tone change but what Geoffk says about the multi layer sample is true.
One thing that I was concerned about was the poliphony, but I found that 60 is good enough for what I play (I had no idea about this as I'd never played a DP before.
Good luck

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#1267477 - 09/13/09 12:23 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: gadapa1]
montag Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 29
Loc: Argentina
Very useful links, Geoffk! Yeah, it looks like the SP250 owners are all happy with it, especially with the Grand Piano sound. I like the darker sound it delivers.

Originally Posted By: gadapa1
The Korg does make a clicking noise when you press the keys

I think it has to do with the mechanics; the better 'piano-like' action you have, the more noisy it is. At least that's what I guess after reading some Clavinova posts where the top-line products from Yamaha got the same noise.

Originally Posted By: gadapa1
I found that 60 is good enough for what I play

Yes, should be enough, especially for me smile I'm not concerned with the limit of 60.

Originally Posted By: Martin G. Doege
As for the piano samples, I think the filter-based approach of the P-85 works pretty well.

Good to know. I also listened to some pieces in mp3, played on the P-85, and it really seems to change when playing loud.

I'm more inclined to the Korg right now, but not 100% decided. I guess I should buy the damn thing and stop comparing! smile And start to learn...

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#1267668 - 09/13/09 06:13 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: montag]
Félix Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/07/09
Posts: 28
My girlfriend has the Korg, it's really nice, especially for the price!
_________________________
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sM12qRBuctc

Working on:
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Rue des cascades
Summer 78

Recently done:
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#1269017 - 09/15/09 10:25 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: Félix]
zephonic Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/31/09
Posts: 2
I had to make the same decision last year and ended up buying the P-85. Although the Korg has better bang for the buck, I think the Yamaha more closely represents an acoustic piano. When I compared the two with headphones, the piano sound of the P85 was more clear, especially when playing thick chords in the midrange.

But I finally went for the Yamaha because I felt that the action made for better practice. It encourages proper technique, whereas the Korg is more forgiving with sloppy playing.

Just my $0.02


Edited by zephonic (09/15/09 10:25 PM)

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#1269621 - 09/16/09 10:13 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: zephonic]
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Montag, IMO the Korg is worth pursuing.

Approximately six years ago there was a rumor that Korg was going bankrupt and that Yamaha had begun supplying actions to Korg. The rumor included the information that Yamaha, which of course was by far the largest manufacturer of digital pianos, was doing this because of anti-trust laws in Japan. (By helping Korg to survive, Yamaha was heading off any accusations of their having a monopoly.)

As far as I know, this rumor was never proven to be true. What I can tell you is that when I went to Korg's site, the description of their action was almost exactly the same - almost word for word - as Yamaha's description of its action.

Currently, Yamaha's best graded hammer action is the GH3. Korg's best action is the RH3. Korg's description says that there are modifications which facilitate fast repetition. That's exactly what Yamaha's GH3 action is supposed to do. The GH3 has a third sensor. You might want to contact Korg's technical support and learn whether the RH3 also has a third sensor. If it does, it could be a Yamaha action.

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#1272874 - 09/22/09 04:55 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: FogVilleLad]
Martin C. Doege Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/09
Posts: 448
Loc: Hamburg, Germany
Originally Posted By: FogVilleLad
Montag, IMO the Korg is worth pursuing.

Approximately six years ago there was a rumor that Korg was going bankrupt and that Yamaha had begun supplying actions to Korg. The rumor included the information that Yamaha, which of course was by far the largest manufacturer of digital pianos, was doing this because of anti-trust laws in Japan. (By helping Korg to survive, Yamaha was heading off any accusations of their having a monopoly.)

As far as I know, this rumor was never proven to be true. What I can tell you is that when I went to Korg's site, the description of their action was almost exactly the same - almost word for word - as Yamaha's description of its action.

Currently, Yamaha's best graded hammer action is the GH3. Korg's best action is the RH3. Korg's description says that there are modifications which facilitate fast repetition. That's exactly what Yamaha's GH3 action is supposed to do. The GH3 has a third sensor. You might want to contact Korg's technical support and learn whether the RH3 also has a third sensor. If it does, it could be a Yamaha action.


I think there might be something to this rumor: I've played around with one of Korg's weighted-key workstations ($2,300 I believe) at GC, and the action certainly felt suspiciously like a Yamaha to me. When you consider how different in touch the Casio and Roland actions are from a Yamaha, it would be a huge coincidence if Korg just happened to come up with an action that feels indistinguishable from a Yammie...
_________________________
Yamaha P-85; Pianoteq Pleyel

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#1274601 - 09/24/09 11:35 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: Martin C. Doege]
montag Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 29
Loc: Argentina
Today I finally got some time and went to the music store to try the pianos. I did everything Turandot said: it was really useful and allowed me to get some conclusions.
The action is definitely better in the Korg. I don't know anything about pianos (yet), but I was able to play a single key from the lowest volume to the highest, and every little change in the force/velocity resulted in a different response. However I had difficulties with the P85 to get the note when playing very soft, and I finally couldn't get more than 3-4 levels of response. It's probably because I'm not used to the keys, but at least the Korg responded better to me.
In general, the feel of the Korg was much better, the keys seem to be more 'solid' and are also heavier than P85, which maybe explains my previous point.

Both pianos change the sound timbre when pressing the same key at different force/velocity, so regardless of using 1 level sample or multilevel sample, both responded well to this. The sound quality is good in both as well, but they are different. While the Korg is much better in bass notes, Yamaha seem to sound more natural at upper range. Again, this is my opinion and I'm not an expert at all, I don't think I really know how is supposed to sound. But overall, both have a great Grand Piano sound that I liked a lot. I didn't want to step away from the pianos, I wanted to stay there until I could play the Moonlight Sonata smile

About the keys noise while playing, I didn't noticed any annoying clicking or ugly sound when I tried with the power off, in any of the two pianos. Just the normal noise I expected to hear.
About the poliphony... no conclusions. It seems difficult to me to reach the 30/60 limit, so I guess it won't be a problem.

In summary, both are good pianos, but I liked the Korg more. The action is better, feels more solid, and I like the piano sound more (though there's not a big difference in sound quality). I could also get more responsiveness from the Korg, so I guess it adapts better to me.

I plan to buy the Korg next week or so; will post my first impressions!

Thanks guys for your advices

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#1274944 - 09/25/09 02:42 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: montag]
Martin C. Doege Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/09
Posts: 448
Loc: Hamburg, Germany
Yes, playing softly on the P-85 is definitely a little difficult on the default settings. Changing the touch sensitivity to "hard" helps a lot I think.

As an aside, I just read yesterday how 18th/19th-century Viennese pianos used to have a touch weight of just about 28 g (as opposed to about 50 g today). It's interesting how the touch weight of pianos seems to have increased over time, particularly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It makes me wonder how an 18th or 19th-century pianist would rate the different Yamaha, Roland, and Casio DP actions in terms of their playability...
_________________________
Yamaha P-85; Pianoteq Pleyel

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#1275027 - 09/25/09 04:39 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: montag]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7133
Loc: torrance, CA
Montag,

Thanks for the report. Did you try thumping notes in the middle key range hard to see if the tone flattened out and became metallic?
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Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1275036 - 09/25/09 04:47 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: turandot]
Johan B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/13/07
Posts: 968
Loc: The Netherlands, Grootegast-Gr...
Depends of your taste of sound........

I played both and prefered always Yamaha........cause of touch and sound....

Prices and specifications are nearly the same...

Succes and best regards,
Johan B


Edited by Johan B (09/25/09 04:52 PM)
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#1275269 - 09/25/09 11:12 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: turandot]
montag Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 29
Loc: Argentina
Originally Posted By: turandot
Montag,

Thanks for the report. Did you try thumping notes in the middle key range hard to see if the tone flattened out and became metallic?


Yes I did, in both pianos. The Korg sounded better when playing soft, when I tried with hard action in the middle-upper range I was not sure what to think. I would say it sounded acceptable, but I had doubts. As said I'm not sure how is supposed to sound, but for sure the bass notes were more convincing. In that range and when thumping hard Yamaha seemed more natural, while in bass notes the Yamaha sounded a bit metallic.

Again, overall I liked how both pianos sound, this is just my opinion based on what I expected to hear more than from any experitse (something that I don't have).

When I receive my piano I will revisit this and will post more details, after having been able to test it with more time and better headphones. I had to use what they gave me.

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#1275278 - 09/25/09 11:24 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: montag]
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7133
Loc: torrance, CA
Thanks Montag,

I can relate to what you're saying in your comments. Nothing is perfect, even in much higher price ranges. Knowing limitations from the outset and deciding which ones will be acceptable for you leads to good decisions.

I look forward to later reports.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#1280621 - 10/04/09 04:14 PM Re: Yamaha P85 or Korg SP250? [Re: turandot]
montag Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 29
Loc: Argentina
I finally bought and already received the Korg SP-250. What can I say? I just LOVE it smile I guess this means I made the right decision.

My first impression is really good, better than expected. You know, with new stuff you always find things that are not like you thought... this is not the case.
The stand is just perfect. Very stable, is like a table, the piano won't fall from there and it doesn't slide or move in any way. The pedal unit that comes with the Korg adjusts in the stand so that you don't move it away when using it. And the pedal itself looks great! Doesn't look cheap, as others I saw. I've been able to realize what they mean saying 'half pedal dampering', it is progressive and the notes sustain more or less time depending on how you press the pedal, it's not an On/Off switch.
The touch is as good as I remember from my visit to the music store. As said, I tried several models and nothing -in my budget- comes close to this. It feels like a 'real' piano, though I know someone will say 'DP touch will never be like the real thing'. It works for me, I feel comfortable with the keys and this makes learning very enjoyable. No clicking keys so far, but I must admit they make some noise. Nothing to worry about, if it's not muted I can't hear the keys.
The Grand Piano 1 sound is awesome, in its 3 settings (banks). I like the default piano for most of the pieces, but I found the Grand Piano 1 / Bank 3, which is the 'mellow' piano, is perfect for slow and quiet pieces... perfect for moonlight sonata, in which BTW I'm already progressing on. I think I first wanted to learn piano because of this piece smile
I briefly tried the reverb and chorus options, which is a 'nice to have' feature, but I don't think I'll use it right now. I want the pure sound without extras.
I've been testing what Turandot asked about the mid-upper range notes. In the bass range, when playing what I call 'fortissimo', tone is very deep and long, when sustaining the sound evolves naturally until it fades out slowly. Outstanding. In the treble range the tone decay is shorter and with less nuances, maybe becomes more 'flat' if is that what turandot refers to. But it's still convincing, at least for me.
I don't know if it's a one level or multi level sample what the Korg uses, but the tone really changes depending on how strong you hit the key. Not only the volume, it also 'sounds' diferent, and I could identify several different timbres. As you can realize, overall I'm very satisfied with the sound quality,the grand piano 1 it's inspiring. It encourages me to 'play' for hours. The quotes are because what currently do is not playing, I just press the keys smile
As for the rest of the sounds... well, haven't spent much time on them. I'd say they sound fine, but definitely Korg put the effort on the piano sounds. I would mention the church organ, which impresesed me, and the combination piano + strings.

Ok, sorry for the long and probably boring report smile but I wanted to give my first impression in case it helps someone who is comparing models.

Thank you all for your good advices and responses! I think my advice for future buyers is: try the pianos by yourself! Is the only way you can get the one you will like more.

P.D. Ok, now I have the piano, what am I supposed to do with all these keys?? smile

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