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#1324987 - 12/14/09 06:36 AM DP for a child - making the right choice
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
Hello,

please help me to make the right decision. I need a DP/SP(portable) for my 7 years old child who studies piano at school. Money are a problem...i hardly could make it up to 1000$ (~700 EUR). As far as I understood good sound and heavy touch are very important for a beginner and should be as closer as possible to an acoustic piano.

My options are of three kinds:

1. cheaper
THOMANN SP-5500
+ cheaper, lots of features,
- doubts about quality of sound and heavy touch
Casio CDP-100
+ cheaper, good touch,
- less features, doubts about the sound

2. expensive for me
KORG SP-250
+ seems that imitates better the acoustic piano(sound and touch)
- less features, problems with speakers ? as read on pianoworld.com

YAMAHA P85
+ better sound, touch(i think...). a good price however
- less features

3. too expensive for me. it worth a bigger effort ?

YAMAHA DGX-630
+ nice features, good touch and sound


Until now my choice would be the THOMANN SP-5500, but I'm so not aware of what a child could lose if he doesn't hear a good sound. As far as I see thomann.de does not provide a sample for "classic" piano for SP-5500. This might be because it is not build to imitate an acoustic piano ? Is THOMANN SP-5500 sound really bad ? Is it's touch heavy enough ? For a beginner child it really matters if he starts playing on THOMANN SP-5500 or on YAMAHA DGX-630 ?
Considering that I can afford only a small amount over the price of a THOMANN SP-5500, it worth to pay for this little difference, or Thomann will do his job good enough ?

What other options should I consider ?

Thank you very much.

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#1324994 - 12/14/09 07:14 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
Martin C. Doege Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/09
Posts: 448
Loc: Hamburg, Germany
I'd definitely stick to established brands like Casio or Yamaha. Saving a few bucks by using some Chinese no-name brand isn't really worth it IMHO.

If you need something portable, then e.g. the Yamaha P-85 or Casio PX-130 would fit the bill. The SP-250 and DGX are also portable in principle, but a lot heavier, so you should think about how frequently you need to carry the instrument around. If you want to set it up in different places all the time, you should obviously pick something very light.

As far as the key action goes, both the SP-250 and P-85 would be good choices. If you have an acoustic to compare to, this might help you decide which one is better for you. Acoustic actions can vary a lot in weight between different models (especially uprights vs grand pianos), so it's always a bit difficult to say which weight is best for a DP. But especially for a child, I'd say the action should not be extremely heavy.

You might also consider whether you want the extra DGX-630 (YPG-635 in the US) features, such as notation and fingering display or built-in rhythms. The SP-250, CDP-100, and P-85 are pretty bare-bones, which on the other hand means fewer distractions. Then again, these features can make things much more fun for a beginner...
_________________________
Yamaha P-85; Pianoteq Pleyel

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#1325063 - 12/14/09 09:47 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
Sean M. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/16/09
Posts: 97
Another vote for the Casio PX-130. It's within your budget, and for the price the key action and piano sound are very good. If you live in a city with a big music store, they've probably got them on display right now and you could stop and try one out.

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#1325074 - 12/14/09 09:59 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Sean M.]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
I'd recommend the Yamaha P-85.

I use one myself and can vouch for it's quality and great bang for the buck.

With the optional stand and pedals, it also looks terrific. Get the black cabinet finish...it looks very classy

Action is not too light, or too heavy. Perfect for a 7 year old.

The Yamaha name commands respect, and if you ever plan to upgrade at a later date, it will be far easier to sell or trade in.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325084 - 12/14/09 10:11 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
Vid_w Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 188
Loc: Slovenia
I'd vote for the SP-250, as I loved the touch and it has quite good piano sounds. Not the best, but still good. It has several different cool sopunds too, especially the organs and e-pianos.
You also get a pedal and a stand included in the package, so you won't have to worry about those.
http://www.youtube.com/user/MusikSchmidt#p/search
Here's a demo. It's in German, but you'll be able to hear the sounds at least.
Also, I still think it has 3 layer sampling. At least it sounds that way in this video.

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#1325095 - 12/14/09 10:37 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Vid_w]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
Thank you!
P-85, Casio PX-130 or SP-250 were the safe choices for me, too. Probably the price and other accessories will make the difference - because the reviews are so confusing sometimes.

So, nobody likes the Thomann sp5500 smile. Is it because none of you experimented it or simply it is not good ? I would like to hear the opinion of an expert that used this piano. It looks good enough over here: http://www.thomann.de/de/thomann_sp5500.htm

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#1325128 - 12/14/09 11:45 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4271
Loc: Northern NJ
The SP-250 has one-layer sampling. It's older technology and I personally think it sounds like crap.

The lowest I'd go is Casio CDP-100, though to not have to upgrade in a couple of years I'd get the Yamaha P-155, which the kid could probably play on until college. In-between choices would be Casio PX-130 and Yamaha P-85.

Get a good set of headphones. AKG K240's are on clearance now for $100, they are incredible.
_________________________
The DPBSD Project!
THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)

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#1325132 - 12/14/09 11:52 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
Originally Posted By: dewster
The SP-250 has one-layer sampling. It's older technology and I personally think it sounds like crap.


I was just heading to SP-250...as I had founded one good offer in my home town (a bit less than the price from thomann.de, which was great).

What exactly is this layer sampling and why it is so important ?

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#1325143 - 12/14/09 12:06 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4271
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: mariu
What exactly is this layer sampling and why it is so important ?


Real pianos sound quite different when a note is played harder or softer. One way to deal with this in a sample-playback based instrument like a DP is to sample (record) the note played softly, then medium, then hard, which is a triple-strike sample. Recording 4 velocity layers gives you a 4 strike sample, and so on. At playback, when a note is played on the DP, one of these recordings is selected to make the sound. If the note is played at a velocity in-between two of the samples, the samples may be added (morphed or blended) in some way (this is generally a good thing).

If only a single velocity is sampled (i.e. a single strike sample set), then DP manufacturers scale the volume of the sample with the velocity of the key played. They also generally employ filters or other means to brighten up notes that are played harder and dull down notes that are played softer.

Hearing the same recorded sample of the same note over and over and over leads to listener fatigue, so I would strongly suggest you buy something with a multi-strike sample.

[edit] In general, single layer samples indicate a sample memory that is too small to sound very realistic.

I should also add that the P-85 is a single layer instrument, but generally gets good reviews here, so go figure.

Casio PX-330 has a 4 layer piano sample and is a good choice too. I believe the PX-130 has an identical piano sample as the PX-330.


Edited by dewster (12/14/09 12:14 PM)
_________________________
The DPBSD Project!
THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)

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#1325159 - 12/14/09 12:18 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
Very good explanations! Thank you very much smile.

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#1325169 - 12/14/09 12:29 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: mariu
What exactly is this layer sampling and why it is so important ?



I should also add that the P-85 is a single layer instrument, but generally gets good reviews here, so go figure.



You're right Chris, it does get more than favorable reviews.

Sometimes people let specifications get in the way of how they hear and perceive a digital piano.

When I tried the Yamaha P-85, I was not told it was a single layer based instrument(nor did I ask), and after trying several other pianos, after which I learned had more than one layer, I walked out the door with the P-85.

Go figure. wink

Just goes to show, that sometimes specs don't tell the whole story.

Never had a problem with ear fatigue either; of course, that's because I use my fingers like most piano players. smirk

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325182 - 12/14/09 12:46 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
BazC Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 711
Loc: Cambridgeshire, UK
Originally Posted By: dewster
The SP-250 has one-layer sampling.


So people keep saying but I've yet to see any evidence. The Korg website suggests it is exactly the same as the LP350 which it says has multi layer sampling. Either way I think it sounds pretty good, in fact for the price I think it sounds very good indeed!

You can listen to some samples here
Purgatory Creek
_________________________

Korg SP200, Pianoteq

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#1325208 - 12/14/09 01:22 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
Martin C. Doege Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/09
Posts: 448
Loc: Hamburg, Germany
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer

Never had a problem with ear fatigue either; of course, that's because I use my fingers like most piano players. smirk




And I think the one-layer sample actually causes less ear fatigue, because due to the filtering, there a many possible brightness steps for the sound, not just three or four.

With sample switching, you suddenly have a note e.g. in a scale that sounds completely different from the rest, just because it's using the high-velocity sample. On the other hand with layer interpolation, you try to interpolate between very different waveforms (e.g. mf and f samples) which leads to slightly odd-sounding results, as on the PX-130/330. Using a single sample layer does give the sound a certain self-consistency...
_________________________
Yamaha P-85; Pianoteq Pleyel

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#1325236 - 12/14/09 02:13 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Martin C. Doege]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
What do you think about YAMAHA DGX-530 ? There is a store near my hometown where I can buy it for 530 EUR (780 $ - suspicious low price !?).
Is it much weaker than a DGX-630 ?
Is it comparable with P85 or Casio PX-130 in matter of sound and touch >?

Personally I like it because it has lots of features like: USB, Yamaha Education Suite version 4, lyrics and score display...my boy will like these too, I'm sure. But, I don't want to sacrifice quality of sound and touch for a little more fun...

Thanks again.

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#1325311 - 12/14/09 03:57 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
Vid_w Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 188
Loc: Slovenia
Does the DGX 530 even have hammer action?

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#1325322 - 12/14/09 04:15 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Vid_w]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
Originally Posted By: Vid_w
Does the DGX 530 even have hammer action?


I guess not. This is from the specs: "Yamaha DGX-530 keyboard - 88x graded soft touch keys with touch response..."

PS: Sorry if i seem to ask stupid questions smile. I am completely new to the piano's world. Moreover, I'm not so good at music, my ears does not help me very much...going to a store to try a piano wouldn't make much difference to me.

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#1325325 - 12/14/09 04:25 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I see nothing wrong with the
Thomann SP 5500. This is
Thomann's in-house brand, and
so they can sell it at a
better price than other brands.
Thomann is the biggest online
retailer of digital pianos in
Europe and they have a reputation
to protect, and so they are not going
to put their name on a bad
digital piano.

I bought my first digital piano in 1989,
and even way back then the digitals
performed like an acoustic piano.
Today, 20 yrs. later, even economy
digitals like the Thomann SP 5500 have
technical specifications far superior
to the best digitals of 1989. So
the SP 5500 will perform like an
acoustic piano.

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#1325339 - 12/14/09 04:38 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: mariu
What do you think about YAMAHA DGX-530 ? .....

Personally I like it because it has lots of features...I don't want to sacrifice quality of sound and touch for a little more fun...


I think the 630 is the same as the 530 except the 630 has weighted keys.

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#1325349 - 12/14/09 04:50 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: ChrisA]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
If you have access to a Yamaha NP-30, the key action is identical to the DGX-530...just fewer keys.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325378 - 12/14/09 05:14 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Martin C. Doege]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: Martin C. Doege

With sample switching, you suddenly have a note e.g. in a scale that sounds completely different from the rest, just because it's using the high-velocity sample. On the other hand with layer interpolation, you try to interpolate between very different waveforms (e.g. mf and f samples) which leads to slightly odd-sounding results, as on the PX-130/330. Using a single sample layer does give the sound a certain self-consistency...


There is another option: Roland does not store velocity based samples. They do sample a real piano but then "de-construct" the sound into components. The components get added back together based on key velocity. So if you strike hard, a Yamaha might play back the "ff" sample but a Roland might add in more of the bright overtone sample and then fade it out over time. And then the v-piano and pianoteq are not sample based at all.

Each method has pros and cons. Each has it's own set of sonic defects.

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#1325407 - 12/14/09 05:42 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
Huygens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 217
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: mariu
Originally Posted By: dewster
The SP-250 has one-layer sampling. It's older technology and I personally think it sounds like crap.


I was just heading to SP-250...as I had founded one good offer in my home town (a bit less than the price from thomann.de, which was great).

What exactly is this layer sampling and why it is so important ?

I got mail answer today from Korg support. They say that both Korg SP250 and Korg LP350 have 2-level sample.
_________________________
P-85 cheap plastic imitation; not because of sound, but weight.

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#1325421 - 12/14/09 05:51 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Huygens]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Lazily copied from another thread...

Strange, ain't it Huygens. I can't hear "multiple levels" of sample in the SP-250. I suppose if I was told there had been, I might have convinced myself there was, but, I didn't hear anything over the single layer sample of the P-85.

Now, either Yamaha is making their single layer sample awfully good, or Korg is making their "two layer samples" awfully mediocre.

I'm inclined to go with the former idea, since I played both and wasn't told the difference till afterwards.

My sense of how a piano should respond from ppp to fff was clearly pointed towards the Yamaha, and that's about as unbiased a view as you're going to get.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325425 - 12/14/09 05:56 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: ChrisA]
Martin C. Doege Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/09
Posts: 448
Loc: Hamburg, Germany
Originally Posted By: ChrisA


There is another option: Roland does not store velocity based samples. They do sample a real piano but then "de-construct" the sound into components. The components get added back together based on key velocity. So if you strike hard, a Yamaha might play back the "ff" sample but a Roland might add in more of the bright overtone sample and then fade it out over time.



True, I suppose you could get a somewhat similar effect if the filter value e.g. on the P-85 were time-dependent, so that the higher harmonics in a high-velocity note fade out. But I don't know if that's the case or if the Yamaha design just picks a filter setting and keeps it fixed for the whole duration of the note.

Too bad Roland doesn't have anything in the P-85/PX-330/SP-250 price range--that kind of competition might cause Casio and Yamaha to finally wake up and innovate! How about a budget version of the SV-1? Gotta love that tube. wink
_________________________
Yamaha P-85; Pianoteq Pleyel

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#1325441 - 12/14/09 06:11 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
Huygens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 217
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
Lazily copied from another thread...

Strange, ain't it Huygens. I can't hear "multiple levels" of sample in the SP-250. I suppose if I was told there had been, I might have convinced myself there was, but, I didn't hear anything over the single layer sample of the P-85.

Now, either Yamaha is making their single layer sample awfully good, or Korg is making their "two layer samples" awfully mediocre.


Did you read my answer (in the other thread)? I think Korg put more emphasis on the keyboard to have something they could use as a ram against the more expensive Yamaha CLPs. The key action of the Korg RH3 keyboard is outperforming the GH3, except for the velocity factor (playing fast notes).

That's probably why the Korg is perceived as having too mellow a sound in some peoples minds. Keyboard quality first, then sound quality came second. At least that's my guess about Korg's technical solution.
_________________________
P-85 cheap plastic imitation; not because of sound, but weight.

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#1325447 - 12/14/09 06:19 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Huygens]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Yes, I read your answer, I just weren't sure you read mine.

The RH3 has a nice feel, but isn't any better quality than the inexpensive P-85, at least to my fingers.

Korg use the same action on all their pianos, and even on the P-588 arranger piano.

Apparently, it is made by Fatar, as Korg no longer uses Yamaha keybeds.

Fatar is good, but Korg has to depend on them for consistent quality, and can't watch over it in house.

I didn't find the Korg "mellow" overall, but I did find the bottom end kind of tubby sounding, and the upper range a bit thin. The mid-range was very nice and robust.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325459 - 12/14/09 06:32 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
Huygens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 217
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
I didn't find the Korg "mellow" overall, but I did find the bottom end kind of tubby sounding, and the upper range a bit thin.

Well, that could be because of the weak speakers. I would say the P-85 has the same problem, possible with a little broader mid-range compared to the Korg SP250. But the poor key action of the P-85 (GHS after all) can't compete with the Korg. And the Korg has three times the amount of voices, for almost the same price.
_________________________
P-85 cheap plastic imitation; not because of sound, but weight.

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#1325466 - 12/14/09 06:35 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
gerardo1000 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 129
This story about single level samples and multiple level samples should be taken with a grain of salt. Personally, I tested a Yamaha YDP 223 console dp (older model, single level sample) and a Yamaha YDP 160 (newer model, three level samples) and although both have the same amp power (20 w) the YDP 223 sounded better than the 160.
I have nothing against newer technologies and improvements as multiple samples, but I think that your ear should be the ultimate judge. I guess (no offense) that some people suggest some DPs only based on specs, and without having really played them.

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#1325492 - 12/14/09 07:07 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: gerardo1000]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Originally Posted By: gerardo1000
This story about single level samples and multiple level samples should be taken with a grain of salt. I think that your ear should be the ultimate judge. I guess (no offense) that some people suggest some DPs only based on specs, and without having really played them.


Yep, that's what I say too, Gerardo. thumb

Same thing with key actions. It's how it feels to your fingers, rather than what the specs say.

I like the GHS action.

I like the action in my CP-300, which is slightly different than the P-85.

My little old Avant Grand is a lovely play.

I can't say one is better than the other, but I can say they are different, and the differences do not bother me in the slightest.

I even like the action in my 20 year old Roland HP-1700.

They all have a personality or character in feel as well as sound. I guess, just like people, there will be some personalities that we don't like. Doesn't make them any less legit.

Guitar players play different actions all the time...most own at least three guitars, and none are usually alike.

I go only by what I feel and hear...I look at the specs later.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325523 - 12/14/09 08:17 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
Thank you very much everyone!
It really was amazing for me to get such many answers in less than a day.

I'll try to keep in mind all that you have said. The next step, i think, is to visit some stores from my city and try some of these DPs. I did visit before, but didn't really tried them. I have to take with me my son's piano teacher, hopefully he will accept. He's kind of old fashion... he only teaches on acoustic pianos, doesn't have a clue about DP's specs, etc. This would be interesting and I'm sure his ears and experience would be of much help.

However, I'm still counting almost all the options. Including the thomann sp-5500, I'm really curious about teacher's impression about it.

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#1325528 - 12/14/09 08:26 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
I'd be a mite careful if your piano teacher is old fashioned, and you're taking him to help you choose an electronic piano.

You might want to get one of the local experienced keyboard players to help you along...one that actually plays a digital piano in a band or on solo gigs.

Most "old fashioned" piano teachers would want you to get an acoustic piano, unless they actually play on a digital themselves, or at least have one in their studio.

It would be like taking a horseback riding enthusiast with you to buy a motorcycle.

I don't mean to butt in, it's just something to consider.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325538 - 12/14/09 08:41 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4271
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: mariu
What do you think about YAMAHA DGX-530 ? There is a store near my hometown where I can buy it for 530 EUR (780 $ - suspicious low price !?).
Is it much weaker than a DGX-630 ?
Is it comparable with P85 or Casio PX-130 in matter of sound and touch >?

Personally I like it because it has lots of features like: USB, Yamaha Education Suite version 4, lyrics and score display...my boy will like these too, I'm sure. But, I don't want to sacrifice quality of sound and touch for a little more fun...

Thanks again.


Trust me, your kid might play with this for a day or two max, but that's it. Very limited pedagogical value. Concentrate on getting the best hammer action and piano sound samples that you can, forget the rest.

A crap action and/or lame sound keyboard will gather dust in the corner, regardless of how many LCD screens, games, or other bells and whistles it has.

No offense. I just want kids (as well as other players) to get the best instrument they can, because the quality of the instrument can be an enormous inspiration or an enormous impediment to playing.

I just came back from demoing DPs at the local Sam Ash, and the only thing I could recommend is the Casio CDP-100 (you will need to trade-up if your kid sticks with it more than a couple of years, but your kid may be uninspired by it), Yamaha P-85 (obvious stretching of samples, rather quick blend to looping, maybe not the best compromise), Yamaha P-155 (multi-strike, generally nice blend to looping, stretching not so evident). The P-155 might last your kid 10 years or so.

If it were my kid and he/she had any talent at all, I'd get him/her the P-155 - anything less is really not worth a major investment. If they quit you can always resell it. Better yet, a real, but decent, piano, but be prepared for the upkeep costs (do keep it up, nothing worse than an untuned, crappy piano).
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#1325541 - 12/14/09 08:47 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
It is true he does not have experience with electronic piano, but he's not against. It was some reticence at the beginning, but we already agreed that is better to buy a DP for my son. Old fashioned...maybe it was to much to say, he is still young, normally has enough time to become a DP fan smile ...and I guess that somewhere over there he is thinking about trying a DP. I believe, in my country, DPs weren't so propagated until a few years ago, that is why he does not have so much knowledge about them.

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#1325544 - 12/14/09 08:51 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
I see what you mean. Thanks!

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#1325560 - 12/14/09 09:07 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
I agree with the above poster to a certain degree.

Having the "extras' on a piano can enhance a learning experience, if the teacher is progressive enough to utilize these features.

Otherwise, the simplest digitals, like the Yamaha P-85, and comparable pianos from Roland or Korg, still allow for exploration, as they have other sounds, like vibes, or electric piano, as well as being able to layer two sounds; the classic piano and strings being one example, the David Foster sound with Grand Piano layered with Electric Piano being another.

Most importantly, it should be weighted firm enough to allow the strengthening of the hands, but not so firm as to be difficult to play, especially if the child is quite young.

I would wholeheartedly recommend a digital piano, for the simple fact that it can be placed in a child's bedroom (their sanctuary...their "space") and can be played in total privacy with earphones. Kids love earphones! Check out all the i-Pods.

The maintenance free nature of the digital piano is another fringe benefit.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325733 - 12/15/09 04:28 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
Huygens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 217
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: dewster
I just came back from demoing DPs at the local Sam Ash, and the only thing I could recommend is the Casio CDP-100 (you will need to trade-up if your kid sticks with it more than a couple of years, but your kid may be uninspired by it),

The US is overstocked with CDP-100, and even if it is a good DP for its price, I would recommend the Casio CDP-200R instead, as it has better sound and somewhat better keyboard.

Originally Posted By: dewster
Yamaha P-85 (obvious stretching of samples, rather quick blend to looping, maybe not the best compromise), Yamaha P-155 (multi-strike, generally nice blend to looping, stretching not so evident). The P-155 might last your kid 10 years or so.

Detecting looping is quite easy, but how on earth do you detect stretching? I listen and listen to my little P-85, but I haven't figured out how to detect stretching. Please help me, as I probably will go and buy a not-so-cheap and used DP next year. I don't want to buy a DP just for detecting after half a year that I can't stand its sound anymore, due to technical shortcomings.

So, how:

1. Do I play on the keyboard to detect stretching?
2. What do I listen for to detect stretching?
3. Is there any special tuning of the DP that might help me detect stretching?

Originally Posted By: dewster
If it were my kid and he/she had any talent at all, I'd get him/her the P-155 - anything less is really not worth a major investment. If they quit you can always resell it. Better yet, a real, but decent, piano, but be prepared for the upkeep costs (do keep it up, nothing worse than an untuned, crappy piano).

I agree on buying a better DP if the person is talented. It will pay in the long run. The Yamaha P-155 might be one choice, Roland HP203 or Casio AP-620 might be other comparable choices. If you like the sound of the Korg LP350, it is also feasible because of its strong keyboard action and lower price. The Casio PX-830 is also a hot candidate, but you have to listen to its sound to decide if you like it.
_________________________
P-85 cheap plastic imitation; not because of sound, but weight.

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#1325875 - 12/15/09 11:33 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Huygens]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4271
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: Huygens
Detecting looping is quite easy, but how on earth do you detect stretching? I listen and listen to my little P-85, but I haven't figured out how to detect stretching. Please help me, as I probably will go and buy a not-so-cheap and used DP next year. I don't want to buy a DP just for detecting after half a year that I can't stand its sound anymore, due to technical shortcomings.


With one finger, play one note at a time, going either up or down the keyboard (C, C#, D, D#, E, F, etc.). Try to play each note with the same velocity. I play and hold each note for roughly a second before moving quickly to the next note.

On the P-85, particularly on the lower end, I hear groups of three consecutive notes that sound pretty much the same, with noticeable timber differences when transitioning between groups. For instance, if one same-sounding group is [C, C#, D] and the next one up is [D#, E, F] a difference in timber will be noticeable between D and D#. I can't remember exactly where the transitions between groups occurs on the P-155, the above is just an example.

This obviously indicates that Yamaha sampled every third note for the P-85. At playback, the P-85 either plays the sample directly, or stretches it up and down one 1/2 step, thus making the sample memory 1/3 of what it would be if they had sampled every and key and put it in memory. This is a very cheap and straightforward form of compression, and I really hate it.

On many toys, DPs with too little sample memory, and synths, (particularly when playing an instrument outside of it's natural range) stretching is super obvious when they stretch the highest / lowest note over an octave or more to fill the 88 keyboard keys. Try the high / low ends of a human vocal patch. The harpsichord sample on the Korg SP250 is fairly stretched IIRC, the entire soundboard goes flatter and flatter on the low end, the pick gets slower and slower - very unnatural sounding.
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THE RD-700NX Thread!
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#1325893 - 12/15/09 12:03 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Clearly this "stretching" issue doesn't seem to matter much to most players, as the P-85 seems to be more than satisfactory to those looking for a reasonably priced portable piano.

It is obviously done well enough that you really have to be backside retentive to be concerned about it.

I know several pros using P-85's...two of them are exceptional jazz pianists, and they love the sound, touch and especially, the portability.

We haven't ever discussed "stretching" except maybe before a gig to loosen up. wink

Snazzy.
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325896 - 12/15/09 12:04 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4271
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
Otherwise, the simplest digitals, like the Yamaha P-85, and comparable pianos from Roland or Korg, still allow for exploration, as they have other sounds, like vibes, or electric piano, as well as being able to layer two sounds; the classic piano and strings being one example, the David Foster sound with Grand Piano layered with Electric Piano being another.


I agree, if the other voices are done well enough they can encourage the student to play a little more. The piano sound needs to be good though, other voices are pretty much in the gravy category.

Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
Most importantly, it should be weighted firm enough to allow the strengthening of the hands, but not so firm as to be difficult to play, especially if the child is quite young.


Yes. Some less expensive keyboards have a stronger "spring back" force that might be particularly difficult for small fingers. To feel and compare this, try pressing a key slowly to minimize the force of the hammer action. I think current Casio DPs have stronger key return springs than Yamaha DPs, which is why I generally recommend Yamahas for younger students.

I read an article in a magazine or journal aimed at music teachers that wondered, with all the people with smaller hands out there playing piano (children, women) piano keyboards are invariably dimensioned for a large male hand. It's a strange industry.

Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
I would wholeheartedly recommend a digital piano, for the simple fact that it can be placed in a child's bedroom (their sanctuary...their "space") and can be played in total privacy with earphones. Kids love earphones! Check out all the i-Pods.


I used to think that children practicing through headphones for was a good idea. This may be an option for teens or older at an intermediate level or above, but not for kids.

For one thing, the parent should know when and for how long the kid is practicing so that they can have some idea of how the kid is progressing, and maybe offer some help to the child or give the teacher feedback. Kids generally don't practice enough, which slows their progression and eventually leads to boredom and discouragement. A Parent shouldn't be shelling out serious bucks for lessons if the kid isn't moving forward at a decent rate. (Another pet rant of mine is that parents will dump truckloads of $ into lessons but then won't buy their kid a decent instrument. And then they wonder why the kid isn't progressing.)

For another thing, it is ridiculously easy to sustain permanent hearing damage over time with earphones or headphones, I'm rather shocked that most parents don't seem to even think about this.
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#1325910 - 12/15/09 12:25 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Most kids will practice if they have genuine interest and are supported by their parent(s). The teacher also must make the course interesting and fun. It's a big responsibility, in my opinion.

I've experienced parents buying instruments that had 61 keys, no touch sensitivity...bargain basement instruments(hardly would call them instruments) and then wonder why the child is discouraged.

I had one kid who was playing on a 49-note mini keyboard; all in the name of, "When he gets better, we'll invest in something more substantial."

What a joke.

The P-85 and similar Casio units can last for several years, and then one can move up to a nicer unit, but the basics have to be met.

Don't get me started on what kids end up having to practice on. mad

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325914 - 12/15/09 12:29 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4271
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
Clearly this "stretching" issue doesn't seem to matter much to most players, as the P-85 seems to be more than satisfactory to those looking for a reasonably priced portable piano.

It is obviously done well enough that you really have to be backside retentive to be concerned about it.


I wasn't even trying to detect stretching when I was demoing the P-85, it kind of jumped out at me.

A successful DP would not constantly shatter my suspension-of-disbelief. Once you hear looping and stretching and too few velocity layers it can nag at you. I really just want to hear the rich sound of a piano, with no obvious compression artifacts. In this day and age it really isn't asking too much IMO.

I wish the cranky "audiophile" set would take on DPs. They get worked into a lather over inaudible lossy compression like MP3. They'd probably all have instant brain aneurysms after listening to any DP for a few seconds.

DP manufacturers might then be forced to improve their products, and all "audiophiles" would be dead - two birds with one stone! :-)

Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
I know several pros using P-85's...two of them are exceptional jazz pianists, and they love the sound, touch and especially, the portability.


For what it is, particularly when compared to other DPs, the P-85 is an OK package. The single velocity layer is particularly well implemented (as these things go). It is indeed very portable, the sample is fair compared to other DPs, the key action is decent. I don't hate it, but I would have difficulty listening to the single layer, quickly looped, stretched samples for any length of time. As a second instrument (perhaps with a real piano at home) I can see how it might really fill a need.
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#1325923 - 12/15/09 12:47 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Well, dewster, I've been pro for about 44 years, and I find the P-85 more than satisfactory for gigging, as well as using it as a lovely weighted MIDI controller. In fact, I bought a pair of them.

Now, mind you, if Yamaha makes a better model, and retains the portability and decent action (and the dedicated MIDI ports), I'll trade up quicker than you can say "Yamaha".

But, for the time being, it more than meets my needs, and would definitely make a terrific piano for a student or even a more experienced player.

I know pros that have been playing for 30 years that seem quite content with their P-85. That's where I first saw one being used...at a jazz club.

So they must have an appeal that goes beyond their stretched samples and single layer sounds.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325932 - 12/15/09 01:05 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4271
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
Most kids will practice if they have genuine interest and are supported by their parent(s). The teacher also must make the course interesting and fun. It's a big responsibility, in my opinion.

I've experienced parents buying instruments that had 61 keys, no touch sensitivity...bargain basement instruments(hardly would call them instruments) and then wonder why the child is discouraged.

I had one kid who was playing on a 49-note mini keyboard; all in the name of, "When he gets better, we'll invest in something more substantial."

What a joke.

The P-85 and similar Casio units can last for several years, and then one can move up to a nicer unit, but the basics have to be met.

Don't get me started on what kids end up having to practice on. mad

Snazzy


Agree wholeheartedly with everything you say.

My wife works tirelessly to individually tailor the lessons to her students.

She has kids that play on 49 key toys & old reed chord organs, who then go on extended vacations with their folks to Cancun and such. Can't get them to buy a decent instrument to save their lives. Go figure.
_________________________
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THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)

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#1326471 - 12/16/09 08:54 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
I just made the order for Yamaha 85. It costs me exactly 605 EUR(880 $), including a stand. Shipping and T.BONE HD 800 speakers come as bonus. I think it is a very good price.
I would have loved to buy Yamaha 155 or Roland RD 300GX...or something similar at their price. Unfortunately I cannot afford it. It would have been more than double.

Thank you very much for your kindness and helpful answers! smile


Edited by mariu (12/16/09 08:57 AM)

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