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#1321893 - 12/09/09 03:08 PM A Few Quick Q's- Looking For A Digital Piano/Midi Controller
lurpy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/09/09
Posts: 6
As the title says- basically I'm looking for the best digital piano/midi controller at or under the 2k$ range. I've done a lot of research on it the past couple days and I'm still at a bit of a loss. I'm not sure if I should get a digital piano or a full fledged midi controller. I'd like to use the keyboard to control synths someday so the control is kind of important. Mostly however, I plan to use the keyboard in the live setting (practicing and playing shows).

After much research I've come across the kurzweil sp3x and it looks nice.
pros - good sound and feel from what i've read, as well as after touch
cons - Reviews say that notes from D5 to somewhere around D6 have an unnaturally early decay. I haven't played it so I can't be sure how much of an issue this is.

Has anyone had any experience in using the Kurzweil as a midi controller?

Another option would be the Kawai Mp-5 which looks very nice as well but no aftertouch (which i'm not sure is a big deal or not)

Well thats about it. Any help or further suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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#1321905 - 12/09/09 03:20 PM Re: A Few Quick Q's- Looking For A Digital Piano/Midi Controller [Re: lurpy]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: lurpy

Another option would be the Kawai Mp-5 which looks very nice as well but no aftertouch (which i'm not sure is a big deal or not)


It may or may not be a big deal. Depends on which sounds you will play. There is no aftertouch on a piano

On a real acoustic piano once the key bottoms out you have no more control over the note. You'd typically use the after toutch to control vibrato or pitch bending but this does not apply to piano

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#1321907 - 12/09/09 03:24 PM Re: A Few Quick Q's- Looking For A Digital Piano/Midi Controller [Re: lurpy]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4338
Loc: Northern NJ
I've read some bad things about KAWAI key action wearing out, not sure I'd go with them.

Had a Kurzweil SP76 that had really sticky keys. Gave it to a friend who plays the hell out of it, now several of the keys aren't working. So I'm not sure I'd go with them either.

We have a Studiologic SL-880. New out-of-the-box I noticed the aftertouch was only working on 1/2 of the keyboard. Took it apart and found a disconnected plug, plugged it in and it worked fine. Last year I noticed the metal top was resting on the keys causing terrible clunking and other playing issues. Took it apart and found the screws had cracked the plastic posts, which were crumbling. Found some smaller screws which fixed it, but from that I know it really isn't very durable. Also, my wife developed repetitive motion issues on it several years ago and she has never really recovered. So I'm not sure I'd go with them either.

Why don't you buy a dedicated digital piano for ~$1k, and along with it something that is more like a synth controller (61 unweighted keys w/ aftertouch, joystick/wheels, pads, sliders, knobs, etc)?
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#1321908 - 12/09/09 03:24 PM Re: A Few Quick Q's- Looking For A Digital Piano/Midi Controller [Re: ChrisA]
lurpy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/09/09
Posts: 6
Originally Posted By: ChrisA
Originally Posted By: lurpy

Another option would be the Kawai Mp-5 which looks very nice as well but no aftertouch (which i'm not sure is a big deal or not)


It may or may not be a big deal. Depends on which sounds you will play. There is no aftertouch on a piano

On a real acoustic piano once the key bottoms out you have no more control over the note. You'd typically use the after toutch to control vibrato or pitch bending but this does not apply to piano


Yea it probably isn't that big of a deal but if I ever needed it someday, it would be nice to have. I'd like to have a keyboard that could be my main controller.

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#1321911 - 12/09/09 03:28 PM Re: A Few Quick Q's- Looking For A Digital Piano/Midi Controller [Re: dewster]
lurpy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/09/09
Posts: 6
Originally Posted By: dewster

Why don't you buy a dedicated digital piano for ~$1k, and along with it something that is more like a synth controller (61 unweighted keys w/ aftertouch, joystick/wheels, pads, sliders, knobs, etc)?


What model would you suggest for this? Right now I'm just using a casio privia px-100 so anything will be an improvement but durability and action are definitely a priority for me along with sound.

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#1322007 - 12/09/09 05:31 PM Re: A Few Quick Q's- Looking For A Digital Piano/Midi Controller [Re: lurpy]
lurpy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/09/09
Posts: 6
What about getting a midi controller and a sound module? Am I correct in thinking that the two together would function like a regular keyboard? Is that how it works?

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#1322035 - 12/09/09 06:07 PM Re: A Few Quick Q's- Looking For A Digital Piano/Midi Controller [Re: lurpy]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: lurpy
What about getting a midi controller and a sound module? Am I correct in thinking that the two together would function like a regular keyboard? Is that how it works?


Yes, you have it right but...
You will find you don't save any money that way. A Yamaha Motif sound module costs about $1,800 (Roland's "Fantom" is about the same) and a midi control costs about as much as a mid range DP. Edirol and some others do sell for about $250 but the quality is not there, not at that price.

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#1322042 - 12/09/09 06:20 PM Re: A Few Quick Q's- Looking For A Digital Piano/Midi Controller [Re: lurpy]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: lurpy

...I'm just using a casio privia px-100 so anything will be an improvement but durability and action are definitely a priority


If you are using the PX100, then no "Anything" would not be better. You are going to have to move up at least to the mid range DPs before you see a huge improvement.

You could replace the PX100 with a PX130 but I think that is just an incremental change. You are going to have to spend enough to move away from the entry level DP key actions and sample sets. Unfortunately the price seems to double with each increment of quality.

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#1322088 - 12/09/09 07:34 PM Re: A Few Quick Q's- Looking For A Digital Piano/Midi Controller [Re: ChrisA]
lurpy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/09/09
Posts: 6
So what's my best bet? A Roland rd 300gx maybe?

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#1322112 - 12/09/09 07:59 PM Re: A Few Quick Q's- Looking For A Digital Piano/Midi Controller [Re: lurpy]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: lurpy
So what's my best bet? A Roland rd 300gx maybe?


You are just going to have to go an try the DPs yourself. I did this an found that I'd be happy with Yamaha's "GH" key action. But then went to Roland and found I liked their "PHA II" but not the "PHA Alpha II". I thought that Roland's "Alpha" was about like Yamaha's GHS but the "PHA II with escapement and ivory" was better then "GH" but at double the price. I posted my opinion here and some one replied that he preferred the "Alpha". Someone else thought the GH was to stiff and the GHS was "faster". When you get to this fine level of difference there is nothing to do but try them yourself and keep good notes. and then make a second and third pass trying each again. And only then look at the prices Kawai has some nice keyboards too.

To directly answer you question: I did not like the "PHA Alpha II" keys on the RD300 but very much liked the keys on the RD700GX But did not want to pay for the "700" so I bought a P155.

You are just going to have to try yourself. It will take hours but there is no other way.


Edited by ChrisA (12/09/09 08:28 PM)

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#1322122 - 12/09/09 08:09 PM Re: A Few Quick Q's- Looking For A Digital Piano/Midi Controller [Re: ChrisA]
lurpy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/09/09
Posts: 6
Unfortunately the only music store around here only had some casios in terms of DPs and unweighted yamahas and rolands. It would definetely help to actually be able to play them.

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#1322220 - 12/09/09 09:56 PM Re: A Few Quick Q's- Looking For A Digital Piano/Midi Controller [Re: dewster]
vitog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 129
Loc: People's Republic of Massachus...
Originally Posted By: dewster
I've read some bad things about KAWAI key action wearing out, not sure I'd go with them.

Had a Kurzweil SP76 that had really sticky keys. Gave it to a friend who plays the hell out of it, now several of the keys aren't working. So I'm not sure I'd go with them either.

We have a Studiologic SL-880. New out-of-the-box I noticed the aftertouch was only working on 1/2 of the keyboard. Took it apart and found a disconnected plug, plugged it in and it worked fine. Last year I noticed the metal top was resting on the keys causing terrible clunking and other playing issues. Took it apart and found the screws had cracked the plastic posts, which were crumbling. Found some smaller screws which fixed it, but from that I know it really isn't very durable. Also, my wife developed repetitive motion issues on it several years ago and she has never really recovered. So I'm not sure I'd go with them either.

Why don't you buy a dedicated digital piano for ~$1k, and along with it something that is more like a synth controller (61 unweighted keys w/ aftertouch, joystick/wheels, pads, sliders, knobs, etc)?


How do we go from a disaster stories to suggesting a purchase of yet another DP?

The best advice you have here is one telling you to check it all out by yourself, several times. Feel of the keyboard is too personal to rely on suggestions alone, no matter how much you can trust them. As for keyboard durability? If it feels solid and sound at the trial, go for it. Everything you hear about mechanical problems has one unknown variable, and the actual user. I can't tell you how many have I seen the exact same piece of equipment going dead in just a few months in one hands, and performing as new several years later in other.

I will say that some keyboards of DPs I have tried in recent past would never make it into my house, namely Williams, Suzuki and others likely getting them from same source (I think they ALL came from same source). They all felt loose and wrong when new. As for Kawai deteriorating over time? What time? It must have been a competing sales rep, especially since to this day there is no competition for Kawai keyboard action, but that's for my standards.
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#1322357 - 12/10/09 01:21 AM Re: A Few Quick Q's- Looking For A Digital Piano/Midi Controller [Re: vitog]
cjsm Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 134
Loc: Washington, MO
I have a Kawai MP9500 and a Kawai MP4. The MP9500 has wooden keys, and was replaced by the MP8 and MP8 II. The MP4 has plastic keys, and is a cheaper and much lighter version of the MP9500, and has been replaced by the MP5.

As for reliablity, I've played the MP9500 extensively for several years, and have never had a problem with it. The MP4 I haven't played near as much, but I've never had a problem with it either. And I've never heard of any significant problems with Kawai keyboards, over years of frequenting various rock, pop, and classical musicians forums.

But, back to my point, the Kawai MP series, besides being very good self contained digital keyboards, are very good midi controlers. Before buying the MP9500, I had a Yamaha P80, which is a very poor midi controller, with limited features and hard to program. The Kawai MP series, in contrast, is loaded with features and is easy to program.

It has 4 midi zones, which can be assigned to any key range on the keyboard, any midi channel, and many other functions like octave, damper on/off etc. can be assigned independently to each zone. With four sliders and four knobs to control everything. It also has 4 internal zones, which control the built ins sounds, and they can be used instead of or in combination with the 4 external midi zones.

I also have an Alesis Fusion 8HD. It has 8 zones, all of which can be assigned to midi, or to internal sounds, and which can be programmed independently. However, it is more complicated to setup, and more complicated to control when set up than the MP9500 and the MP4. However, the Fusion does have aftertouch, which I don't use a lot. But the keyboard isn't as good as the Kawais, if your looking for a piano type keyboard. It is probably a better synth keyboard though. As for internal sounds, the Kawia's piano is a lot better, but most of the other sounds on the Fusion are superior to the Kawai, brass, stings, synths, etc., and the Fuison has a lot more of them. The Fusion isn't made anymore, but you could probably pick up a used one for a good price from Ebay.

One other advantage of the Kawai's as midi controlers is it allows you to set up 64 different 'multis' or 'setups'. That is you program you 4 internal and 4 midi zones with any sounds, key range, midi channels, etc, you want, and save them. They can then be recalled and switched between with the touch of a button or two. The Fusion also lets you save zone setups, but it is much more complicated to switch between them, wheras the Kawais, its almost instantaneous by selecting a row and column button. This somewhat cancels out the number of midi zones advantage of the Fusion. So overall, except for the number of midi zones, I prefer the MP9500 and the MP4 as midi controllers. I use the MP9500 to control software samplers and synths. Gigastudio, Kontakt, and Reason. It works great as a midi controller.





Edited by cjsm (12/10/09 01:48 AM)

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