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#1690619 - 06/04/11 08:59 PM Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc.
Jan Oliver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Aachen, Germany
I want to provide my impressions on the V-Piano and its direct competitors from first-hand experience, and give some tips on how to listen for the differences yourself. I am a hobby jazz pianist doing user interface research for a living, so I tend to be particularly hard to please when it comes to ease-of-use.

I needed to replace my old DP that broke down recently. I play in a jazz combo, and my DP was for our band's practice room, and for gigs. My top priority was to get the most realistic piano sound and feel. A few days of online research at pianoworld and elsewhere revealed these candidates:
  • Roland V-Piano
  • Roland RD-700NX
  • Yamaha CP1
  • Nord Stage 2 / Nord Piano
  • Update: Added Kawai MP10 and Roland FP-7F - see page 2


I then spent half a day at a large music store that had all of the above set up and ready to play near each other. Tip: I had primed my ears beforehand by playing on my acoustic piano, carefully listening for the small things that make its sound come alive, and by listening to good piano recordings on CD.

Tip: bring your own headphones, noise-canceling or at least closed if possible. I took my own Bose QC 15 noise-canceling headphones for playing - highly recommended to block out the background cacophony in these stores. The sound was much, much clearer than with the Sennheiser HD 205 headphones provided by the store.

In the end, my findings largely confirmed what has been said elsewhere here in the forums (just search for V-Piano):

The Good

Here's where the V-Piano outperformed the competition from my personal experience is (most important points first).

Touch. The V-Piano has the most realistic, grand-like keyboard feel to it, in part because it simulates escapement (Tip: press a key down very slowly - if you feel a trigger point before you hit the bottom, escapement is simulated, otherwise it's not). The 700NX feels very similar (supposedly featuring the same PHA III keyboard technology), but the V-Piano weighs 84 lbs - much more than any competitor, and I think part of this weight goes to a more elaborate keyboard mechanism and a heavy, piano-like feel of the entire device. The ivory-like touch also greatly enhanced the playing experience for me; it's a bit rougher and feels much more like an old-school grand than the slicker plastic keytops of the competition. Tip: Drag your fingertip across the white keys - if they look matte, with a slight cream color, and feel almost powdery, that's the ivory-like material. Otherwise it will look and feel more like shiny plastic. Check out a real grand for comparison, and see what you like. I like the ivory style because my fingers neither stick when dry nor slide when sweaty.

Sustain. Tip: Turn down the volume, hit a key hard and hold it, then turn the volume all the way up to hear the entire sustain phase. Also try with the damper pedal pressed. The V-Piano kept varying the sound (I knew what to listen for from my acoustic at home); the others (except the 700NX) tended to sound more lifeless and static in the sustain phase. With the damper pedal pressed, the sound became more roomy due to string resonance - but this is something all competitors seemed to offer, although the CP1 created a strange, pulsating background noise in this case.

Realistic Sound. This was the other key criterion for me. I wanted my DP to sound as much like a real one as possible - especially in the difficult sustain phase, but also when played for real, with smoothly changing, natural percussive and harmonic effects as a player moves through different dynamic ranges. Tip: Listen to the demo songs on each DP (pick piano solos only). Which ones allow you "suspension of disbelief" and let you imagine you're listening to a CD of a pianist playing a real piano? To me, this worked best on the V-Piano.

Spielvergnügen ("joy of playing"). Volkswagen used "Fahrvergnügen" in their ads to describe that hard-to-capture feeling of joy when everything's working smoothly, with perfect control. That's a good concept to use here too. As others have described here before, playing the V-Piano I found myself getting lost in it (in the positive sense) - it tickled my creativity, something I hardly got from the other, sample-based pianos. It feels like I could play more expressively, with more control over each note, and since the V-Piano's physical simulation actually means that notes sound much less repetitive than with sampling technology, I guess there's a good explanation here. In short, it's just a joy to play.

Sound Tweakability. It's very easy to adjust basic parameters, and to anyone who knows a bit about how a real piano works, they make immediate sense. Apart from the standard volume and reverb knobs, you can adjust the hardness of the hammer felts and the relative tuning of the strings for each note (from perfect unison via typical tremolo to honky-tonk sound) directly from the home screen while playing. More advanced settings like string resonance with damper pedal down are a menu away, but most settings even there make sense. I was able to quickly create a sound that closely resembled my acoustic Yamaha YUS-5 upright. The very graphical, intuitive software editor for Mac and PC makes tweaking even easier, although an open communications protocol would have been nice so hackers could write more powerful editors. The only thing that's a royal pain in your musical behind is changing preset names on the piano - turn the dial, then click, to select each letter. Reminds me of all those wasted hours as a kid dialing song titles into my first SONY minidisc recorder.

Usability and design. The Roland's user interface is straightforward, the iPod-like clickwheel has nice notches for haptic feedback and works well; I didn't have to look at the manual to find my way around. The most popular sounds are on 4 shortkeys, all others can be selected directly using the clickwheel. Of course, it's also much simpler because it doesn't have to provide control of the large additional sound banks of its competitors. Fewer blinky lights, and high-quality knobs and buttons. The entire outside design oozes quality. In contrast, the CP1 in particular has buttons and knobs whose feel I didn't like - too plasticky and cheap for me, but maybe that's a vintage thing.

The Bad

Here's where I feel the V-Piano falls behind its competitors (again, most important points first):

Price. The V-Piano has the highest price tag among the competition.

Small Sound Selection. This is a piano, not a sound workstation. You don't even get a Rhodes - just some two dozen pianos (including fantasy models with all-silver, all-triple strings that actually sound useful), and these are eminently tweakable, but that's it. The hundreds of built-in General MIDI sounds cannot be played using the keyboard, only from external MIDI sources (a stupid design decision). Every competitor offers more choices here. Workaround: Add a MIDI expander to your setup if you need non-piano sounds. To be honest, I have always found myself using the main piano sounds of my boards almost exclusively, both in practice and performance, so this was not a big deal for me. I just wanted a great digital piano.

Big'n'Heavy. 84 lbs 4 oz, or 38.2 kg is heavier than all the competitors. In a flightcase, 2 people can still move it comfortably, but it's not an easy one-person job. At almost 21" (53 cm), it's also deeper than all the competitors. Tip: Get a flightcase with strong wheels or with a separate rolling board (and a friend) to move the V-Piano.

No Music Stand. Did the Roland engineers think the V-Piano is so inspiring that we don't need to look at musical scores anymore? What were they smoking? Workaround: Get a heavy-duty desktop music stand like the ProLine PL53 ($20) to put on the flat top (but see next point).

Untouchable Surface. Anything will leave a stain on the black, brushed-aluminum flat top of the V-Piano. I mean, not only beer bottles, but also fingers. Even staring at it seems to leave a smudge. Not very practical. Workaround: Get a thin cover sheet from wood (add rubber below), or just a rubber mat, cut to size at your local Home Depot if you care about these things. That top won't remain empty in the heat of your next gig. Of course, the other stage pianos in this competition don't have that empty space at all, but they are also smaller - see above.

Lame Sequencer. I'll admit that I have always used built-in MIDI sequencers just to record my left hand, then play my right hand over it, and the V-Piano's sequencer does that. But more than one track would have been nice. Also, the sequencer interface is buried in the menu - no dedicated Record / Play / Stop buttons.

Expensive, Non-Folding Stand. I like to keep my legroom free of crossbars and such, so I got the KS-V8 Roland recommends. It's beautiful, practical with detachable cable tunnels, top quality and rock-solid which is important to me to avoid the dreaded Wobbly Keyboard when pounding on it. But it's also expensive, and to collapse it, you need to remove 8 bolts with a hex wrench (included). Otherwise it takes up a lot of space (see its manual online). Workaround: You can save money by getting the cheaper KS-G8, which is at least height-adjustable, or just buy a much cheaper, regular collapsible table-like stand - if it doesn't wobble.

The Verdict

At the end of that half-day of testing, I drove home with a V-Piano and stand (note to self: do not try this with a compact car again). Why? Because the V-Piano left its entire competition in the dust when it came to my top priority: the most realistic sound, control and feel.

Of the competition, the 700NX felt closest in these aspects - it has a very similar mechanical keyboard, and Roland has added some V-Piano technology to its sample-based sound synthesis. But it still couldn't quite match the V-Piano when it came to feeling like a real piano. This is probably due to different internal construction, as the V-Piano's 50% higher weight indicates.

The CP1 offers the e-piano sounds that the V-Piano is missing. While I don't like its retro interface with its many, plasticky buttons and knobs, it does offer an ivorite keyboard, and the piano sound was very good for a sampled piano - as you'd expect from Yamaha. But the liveliness, realism and Spielvergnügen weren't quite as good as the V-Piano's.

The Nords have a promising concept, with all their sample banks being updatable with new sounds. But each individual sampled sound will likely still lack that certain liveliness that Physical Modeling seems to be able to provide, especially with respect to sustain and cross effects. And I didn't enjoy playing their escapement-free, plastic keyboard mechanics as much as the Roland PHA III keyboard of the V-Piano and 700NX.

Of course, the V-Piano itself does not really feel or sound exactly like a real grand either. Not even like my YUS-5 upright, which easily beats the V-Piano in terms of sound dynamics, expressiveness, note control, and Spielvergnügen (see below). But the V-Piano got much, much closer to that holy grail than any other DP I've played. And that's what counted for me.

Don't take my word for it. Search for "V-Piano" on the pianoworld forums, and check out other reviews, like this V-Piano - CP1 comparison. Definitely download the V-Piano User's Manual from Roland's V-Piano page to spice up those online rumors with some hard facts. Larry Fine's excellent Piano Buyer book includes online articles on buying a digital piano. And, of course, always get your hands on these pianos yourself before buying.

Oh, and if you've got some extra money and space to spare, check out Roland's latest update to the V-Piano, the V-Piano Grand.

Coming Home

Here are some more impressions of my first two days with the V-Piano at home.

Setting the piano up in the living room for testing was easy with a helping hand, except for the rather low initial WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) when I pushed those gigantic boxes in through our front door. Well, it's going to our band's practice room soon. Really.

Suspense of disbelief. Playing the V-Piano demo songs through my $500 Yamaha A/V receiver and its speakers again made it easy, at least for us, to believe we were listening to an actual CD recording of a real piano. We're not audiophiles, nevertheless I think that's quite an achievement for a DP.

Sounds and plays better than a top hybrid upright. My acoustic piano is actually a 2009 Yamaha upright YUS-5 SG Silent Piano that can also be played as a sampled digital piano at night or for practice (the hammers get stopped before they hit the strings in this mode). The V-Piano still sounds somewhat better than the Yamaha digital - and I actually like the V-Piano keyboard better than the one of the (real!) Yamaha! (The Yamaha is an upright with a fairly heavy action, while the V-Piano simulates a light grand piano action.) Of course, the real, acoustic piano inside the YUS-5 still sounds much better - more dynamic, more alive - than the V-Piano.

Headphone white noise. My V-Piano headphone output generated a fair amount of white noise on my BOSE QC 15 headphones, even with volume turned all the way down. Workaround: I connected the V-Piano's coaxial digital out to my receiver mentioned above and used its headphone output instead, and the noise went away. Maybe a simple headphone amplifier attached to the V-Piano's line outputs would also do the trick. Update: The white noise goes away when you set your BOSE headphones to the LOW level using the tiny slider on their cable connector.

OK, that was a long review post. Comments are most welcome. Do you have a V-Piano? I intend to post more on my experience as I get down to play with my V-Piano, so stay tuned (no pun intended)!

_________________________
Yamaha YUS-5 SG; Roland V-Piano; Kurzweil RG-200; 1884 Bechstein upright

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#1690631 - 06/04/11 09:45 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
Kawai James Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 8851
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Good morning Jan,

Thank you for your detailed review of the V-Piano. It's clear that you are very happy with the V-Piano. Congratulations!

I'm a little curious as to which store you visited, however I understand if you'd rather not reveal the name.

Cheers,
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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#1690654 - 06/04/11 11:00 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3149
Originally Posted By: Jan Oliver
Of the competition, the 700NX felt closest in these aspects - it has a very similar mechanical keyboard, and Roland has added some V-Piano technology to its sample-based sound synthesis. But it still couldn't quite match the V-Piano when it came to feeling like a real piano.

I did not play a 700NX, but I have played a V-Piano and the FP-7F. For some reason, the FP-7F felt more like a real piano to me, possibly because of its internal speakers. I thought it felt better than any of the Yamaha CPs, too. Though I'm not as convinced about the sound. My experiences were brief, though.

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#1690676 - 06/04/11 11:53 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
Dr Popper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/09
Posts: 1717
Loc: Hancock Park LA (not again)
Thanks for the review it just goes to show that no two peoples ears are the same. What one considers Nirvana is another persons Hades.
I personally consider the V-piano's sound to be very thin and synthetic sounding in the mid range and nothing at all like a real AP and I would prefer any of the others you mentioned to it sound wise.
One board you didn't mention is the Kawai MP10 which I think has the best keybed and interface of any DP combined with excellent sounds and dynamics and a best in class user interface it certainly deserves to be considered as well.
_________________________
"I'm still an idiot and I'm still in love" - Blue Sofa - The Plugz 1981 (Tito Larriva)
Disclosure : I am professionally supported by but not beholden to various musical instrument manufactures including Yamaha

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#1690746 - 06/05/11 04:33 AM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Dr Popper]
Dave Ferris Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 1727
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
Originally Posted By: Dr Popper
........ it just goes to show that no two peoples ears are the same. What one considers Nirvana is another persons Hades.


Exactly.

I don't like having to play any DP for Jazz but I'd take either Yamaha (CP1/5) in a NY minute over the VP.

I thought the VP was best suited to more Impressionistic type Classical stuff like Debussy or Ravel; not straight ahead jazz blowing.

That's going to be one heck of a schlep with a "flightcase". I would think that would put it into the 125 lb. range minimum. Casters are great, but what happens when you run into steps ?! cry

Sounds like you are in your early 20s. So hopefully you have similar aged strong "friends" around to help. smile

In any case, good luck with it.........
_________________________
http://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

2005 NY Steinway D, Yamaha CP5, CP4, Nord Piano 2
RCF TT08A & TT22A speakers


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#1690769 - 06/05/11 06:13 AM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Kawai James]
Jan Oliver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Aachen, Germany
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Thank you for your detailed review of the V-Piano. It's clear that you are very happy with the V-Piano. Congratulations!

I'm a little curious as to which store you visited, however I understand if you'd rather not reveal the name.

Hi James,

thanks! No problem - the store I visited was Music Store in Cologne, Germany. They're pretty big, with some 400 digital pianos in stock (and some 1,400 keyboards, according to them).

Cheers,

- Jan
_________________________
Yamaha YUS-5 SG; Roland V-Piano; Kurzweil RG-200; 1884 Bechstein upright

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#1690770 - 06/05/11 06:29 AM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
Kawai James Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 8851
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Thanks Jan!

So was the MP10 not available, or...?

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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#1690772 - 06/05/11 06:36 AM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Kawai James]
Auver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/11
Posts: 194
Loc: Norway
Congrats!

If you're going to use it for gigs, I think you'll notice the heavy weight.
_________________________
My youtube channel for some fun stuff I do:
http://www.youtube.com/user/AuverAskerud?feature=mhum

Yamaha Clavinova CLP-811
Nord Piano 88

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#1690773 - 06/05/11 06:44 AM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: anotherscott]
Jan Oliver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Aachen, Germany
Originally Posted By: anotherscott

I did not play a 700NX, but I have played a V-Piano and the FP-7F. For some reason, the FP-7F felt more like a real piano to me, possibly because of its internal speakers. I thought it felt better than any of the Yamaha CPs, too. Though I'm not as convinced about the sound. My experiences were brief, though.

Hi Scott,

thanks for your comments! I think you're right - built-in speakers deliver the vibrations of the instrument body back to the player, more like what you feel playing an acoustic. It's also great not to have to lug around a PA for small-room gigs. I would have gone for the V-Piano with built-in speakers if that had been an option. I did all my testing via headphones. But I wonder what you would have thought if there had been small monitors standing on the V-Piano's flat top. I'll try that out next week.

Interestingly, the FP-7F is some 3 pounds lighter than the 700NX, even with speakers. What did they leave out?

What may have pulled you towards the FP-7F vs. the CP1 is that the FP-7F has almost the same escapement action keyboard as the 700NX (and at least similar to, if not the same as, the V-Piano). All reviews I've found agree that that action feels very realistic.

Cheers,

- Jan

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#1690776 - 06/05/11 07:05 AM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Dr Popper]
Jan Oliver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Aachen, Germany
Originally Posted By: Dr Popper
Thanks for the review it just goes to show that no two peoples ears are the same. What one considers Nirvana is another persons Hades.
I personally consider the V-piano's sound to be very thin and synthetic sounding in the mid range and nothing at all like a real AP and I would prefer any of the others you mentioned to it sound wise.
One board you didn't mention is the Kawai MP10 which I think has the best keybed and interface of any DP combined with excellent sounds and dynamics and a best in class user interface it certainly deserves to be considered as well.

Hi! I completely agree - it's a very personal thing. That is actually why I included those tips in my OP - to help people feel and listen for these differences themselves and make up their own mind.

For example, I've played lots of acoustic uprights, not so many acoustic grands. While listening to CDs provides an idea of a good grand piano sound, I'm likely biased towards a specific sound and feel through my own playing.

Regarding the sound, I found some of the more mellow presets, like Vintage 2 or Vertical, fill the mid range quite nicely. Yes, none of them sound and play like a real AP, but the V-Piano felt a bit closer to that goal to me than the others I tried.

The MP10 makes a lot of sense to take a look at. It didn't make my shortlist because I thought of it as yet another member of the sampled-piano class, but now that you mentioned it I'll give it a whirl too next time I'm in the store.

Cheers,

- Jan
_________________________
Yamaha YUS-5 SG; Roland V-Piano; Kurzweil RG-200; 1884 Bechstein upright

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#1690782 - 06/05/11 07:37 AM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Dave Ferris]
Jan Oliver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Aachen, Germany
Originally Posted By: Dave Ferris
I don't like having to play any DP for Jazz but I'd take either Yamaha (CP1/5) in a NY minute over the VP.

I thought the VP was best suited to more Impressionistic type Classical stuff like Debussy or Ravel; not straight ahead jazz blowing.

That's going to be one heck of a schlep with a "flightcase". I would think that would put it into the 125 lb. range minimum. Casters are great, but what happens when you run into steps ?! cry

Sounds like you are in your early 20s. So hopefully you have similar aged strong "friends" around to help. smile

In any case, good luck with it.........

Haha, that's a wonderful compliment, thanks! I'm actually in my early 40's, and probably just ridiculously overestimating my physical power in typical male overconfidence. smile Actually, I knew I'm not facing any steps at home, and on a gig I'm totally counting on a helping hand. We moved an original Rhodes the other day, and it was 150-200 lbs. Not fun, but ok for two. And my wife and I can carry the bare V-Piano (no flightcase) quite comfortably. But I will definitely be looking for a lightweight flightcase.

So yes - if I had needed to haul it around several times a week on my own, I'd have picked the 700NX or FP-7F. But I only need to move it every few weeks, and with some help, so I guess I'll just consider this part of my personal fitness program. smile

Regarding the sound, give the demo songs on the V-Piano a whirl if you get a chance. Some jazzy stuff in there, and I think it sounds pretty decent. But that's just me. Or try Roland's online V-Piano videos and sound check if you can't get your hands on one.

- Jan
_________________________
Yamaha YUS-5 SG; Roland V-Piano; Kurzweil RG-200; 1884 Bechstein upright

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#1690788 - 06/05/11 08:05 AM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Kawai James]
Jan Oliver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Aachen, Germany
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Thanks Jan!

So was the MP10 not available, or...?

Hi James,

no, it didn't make my list because I considered it "just another digital sample-based piano" - see my reply to Dr Popper. But I'll check it out now that you guys brought it up. The specs certainly look good - escapement, ivory touch, lots of large sampled sounds. And I like its focus on usability.

Of course, in theory sampling can never accurately reproduce the infinitely many small variations of a string being hit at different velocities, with itself and various combinations of other strings having been hit before, again at different velocities, with various damper pedal levels - it would require an infinite number of samples. But physical modeling also clearly simplifies the real world enormously, and can never claim to truly simulate all the materials involved in sound synthesis down to the molecular level - that's something sampling doesn't have to worry about since it just captures the resulting sound. And all this is just theory - in the end it depends on how well engineering fakes the real thing, and how natural playing feels and sounds to you, personally, as a result.

Cheers,

- Jan

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#1690838 - 06/05/11 09:49 AM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5275
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Jan, I hope you're very happy with your purchase, it certainly sounds that you are. It's been my experience though that a lot of the subtle improvements that one hears through headphones is very often lost when playing live in a trio using amplification.

What are your plans for that keyboard in the future? Do you plan to sell it in three of four years or hold onto until it stops working (as you did with your previous keyboard)?
_________________________
website

mp3\wav files

AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1690841 - 06/05/11 09:55 AM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
Kawai James Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 8851
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Hello Jan,

Just to clarify one point:

Originally Posted By: Jan Oliver
...lots of large sampled sounds...


There are 27 sounds in total - 9 acoustic pianos, 9 electric pianos, and 9 'sub' sounds (strings, pads, etc.) for layering.

Cheers,
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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#1690979 - 06/05/11 03:19 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
pv88 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 2608
Originally Posted By: Jan Oliver
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Thanks Jan!

So was the MP10 not available, or...?

Hi James,

no, it didn't make my list because I considered it "just another digital sample-based piano" - see my reply to Dr Popper. But I'll check it out now that you guys brought it up. The specs certainly look good - escapement, ivory touch, lots of large sampled sounds. And I like its focus on usability.

Of course, in theory sampling can never accurately reproduce the infinitely many small variations of a string being hit at different velocities, with itself and various combinations of other strings having been hit before, again at different velocities, with various damper pedal levels - it would require an infinite number of samples. But physical modeling also clearly simplifies the real world enormously, and can never claim to truly simulate all the materials involved in sound synthesis down to the molecular level - that's something sampling doesn't have to worry about since it just captures the resulting sound. And all this is just theory - in the end it depends on how well engineering fakes the real thing, and how natural playing feels and sounds to you, personally, as a result.

Cheers,

- Jan



Hi Jan,

I liked your detailed and candid review of the V-Piano as I definitely believe that you have made the right choice with buying a modeled instrument.

Since the various parameters that can be changed are nearly limitless it offers the best features for the most discriminating pianist, etc.

Do hope that you enjoy the new piano!

pv88


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#1691034 - 06/05/11 04:59 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
Bogs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/17/10
Posts: 133
While from the theoretical point of view I'm all on the side of the modeled pianos, from the practical side I wasn't impressed at all by the hybrid or totally modeled piano libraries [Pianoteq - haven't heard the Pleyel yet, Blue Grand, etc], but that Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 on the V-Piano Grand really blew me away! Maybe the wind is changing... smile

Congratulation on your purchase and thanks for the great review!
_________________________
old Gaveau upright & Kawai CA63; previously Korg SP250

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#1691122 - 06/05/11 08:28 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
PianoZac Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/10
Posts: 1422
First off congrats on your purchase. The V-Piano is a wonderful instrument. However I think the Nord Piano and Nord Stage 2 were not really given an honest shot. Here's why I think so:

1. The NP88 isn't designed to be an acoustic replacement. It's targeted for gigging musicians hence the compromised action. You can't have an "authentic" feeling piano action inside of an 88 key instrument that weighs 39lbs. There has to be compromises somewhere.
2. The NS2 offers more capability than all of the above in a single platform, plus again, being that it's targeted towards the gigging musician, there must be a compromise in the action to get the weight, which for the NS2 is just 41lbs.

In my opinion Nord has gone after a wholly different market than Roland and Yamaha have with the boards listed above. The layout, feature set, flexibility, weight and overall size and dimensions suggest Nord wants the performance crowd and it seems the boards listed above, whilst all top notch boards are meant for a different purpose. Having owned the RD700NX and RD700GXF, they both still seem too heavy and too long for easy moving for a steady gigging musician. Everything is a set of compromises, unfortunately!

Now, enjoy that new V-Piano!
_________________________
Yamaha AvantGrand N1
Nord Piano 2


"Be who you are and say how you feel. Because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

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#1691243 - 06/06/11 07:16 AM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
bennevis Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4812
Jan,
Your detailed review mirrors exactly my impressions of the V-Piano, which I've had now for over a year. Fortunately, I'm not a gigging pianist, but I just about managed not to give myself a slipped disc when I set up the beast all by myself onto the KS-V8 stand (the delivery van driver did help me carry them - in their boxes - up several flights of stairs though), so I'm stuck with it now for life....just as well I love it, and always look forward to playing it when I get home from work.

Like you, I auditioned all the DPs using my Bose headphones, in my case principally because I would only be playing using headphones at home (I still don't have speakers for my V-Piano). Playing a DP using its speakers often gives a misleading impression of its sound - it can sound much better (like the AvantGrands) or worse (many cheaper DPs) when using the DP's own speakers. However, I don't get any 'white noise' from the V-Piano using its headphone socket, whether through the Bose or the AKG headphones which I use with it now. (My Bose QC2 actually produces a very slight hum when switched on without being connected to anything, I find).

My priority - in fact my only reason to buy a DP - is a grand piano substitute which I can play using headphones, so the lack of any non-piano sounds is for me a plus (less clutter on the console). I expect Roland's thinking also went along the lines of 'how can you tweak the 'string resonance', 'soundboard resonance, the 'hammer hardness', the 'tuning' of each virtual string etc, etc on non-piano sounds anyway?' :by omitting the latter, you solve that particular problem grin. And it came down to this - does the DP 'feel' convincing enough that I can forget I'm not actually playing a real acoustic grand? Only the V-Piano (and of course its big brother the V-Grand) fitted that bill.

But I still can't understand why Roland doesn't fit a music stand on it - surely it can't be in order to preserve its smooth sleek upper surface top (great for piles of music scores which I've put on it)? My cup of tea is on a table beside my chair - I wouldn't dream of sullying the V-Piano's surface with tea stains... grin (I don't drink beer).

And the V-Piano plays and sounds better than most acoustic uprights (certainly in the bass) and even small grands, though acoustics obviously beat it in sheer realism of sound experience overall. I can play any stuff on it that I can on a grand with great action, but which I can't on uprights (because of their compromised action that don't permit quick key repetition).

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#1691340 - 06/06/11 11:46 AM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
bfb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/11
Posts: 539
Loc: Atlanta GA USA
I'm curious what tweaks most v-piano users feel must be done to get more realism.....

I seem to prefer softer hammers and a heavy touch setup, but that just might be that i play more jazz/pop arrangements and the augmented/diminshed chords sound better with softer dynamics. I still don't have a handle on the tuning. i've done wholesale across the board tuning changes - either increasing unison tuning or detuning out, and can't really tell what is best from day to day. i've done some random tweaks note-by note and i guess question is how radical does one get doing that. I also have tried Deep stretch tuning vs standard but don't have a preference... i have found adding "decay" helps some..

and this is why i really wish Roland would promote a user forum and make user tweaks uploadable/downloadable a la Pianoteq.

any thoughts or eureka moments? (should this be another thread?)..
_________________________

Steinway M; Roland V-Piano; Yamaha P250; Roland FP 5
Ivory II Grands, Italian, American D; Galaxy Vintage D; Alicia's Keys; Garritan Steinway; Galaxy Pianos; The Grand 3

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#1691350 - 06/06/11 11:59 AM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: bennevis]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3780
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: bennevis
The V-Piano plays and sounds better than most acoustic uprights (certainly in the bass) and even small grands, though acoustics obviously beat it in sheer realism of sound experience overall.
Huh?
The V piano sounds better than acoustics, but acoustics sound better overall?
That sounds like a contradiction.

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#1691405 - 06/06/11 01:55 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
spanishbuddha Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2320
Loc: UK
I played a v-piano for the first time today in a store. It was hooked up to two Roland amp/speakers.

OK I think I get it. Very nice indeed. But oh the price! Have to pass.

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#1691455 - 06/06/11 03:32 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I'm surprised you left out what is perhaps the most important spec, pizzaz, that intangible, unquantifiable thing that is often the deciding factor in a purchase, particularly with 4 pianos in approximately the same price range and with more or less similar performance.

This is how I'd do it. I like to buy sight-unseen online and the deciding factor is ultimately the intangible quality of pizzaz or image. Price is a good, rough indication of performance, and so right from the start I know there's not going to be a world of difference between the four performance-wise. But image-wise they are miles apart. Immediately, the CP 1 is out of contention. It has absolute zero pizzaz. No looks, no catchy name, no nothing in the pizzaz dept., although it would of course be a very fine piano.

I've actually tried a predecessor of the 700NX, the 700SX. This was superb technically, but lacking in image. It has nothing to distinguish itself in that dept. Even the name is too technical-sounding, "RD" seeming to imply "research and development."

So it would be between the V-Piano and the Nord. The V-Piano has the lead in pizzaz and cachet, but the Nord has that knockout red color, that alone being worth the price of admission. Imagine sitting down every day at a RED piano! Flip a coin.


Edited by Gyro (06/06/11 03:36 PM)

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#1691458 - 06/06/11 03:55 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Gyro]
PianoZac Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/10
Posts: 1422
Originally Posted By: Gyro


So it would be between the V-Piano and the Nord. The V-Piano has the lead in pizzaz and cachet, but the Nord has that knockout red color, that alone being worth the price of admission. Imagine sitting down every day at a RED piano! Flip a coin.


It's a wonderful thing. Aside from sitting down at a quality acoustic grand piano, the only thing better than sitting down everyday a one red piano is sitting down to two red pianos...the NP88 and his little brother, the NE3 61. wink I rather enjoy both of them...everyday.
_________________________
Yamaha AvantGrand N1
Nord Piano 2


"Be who you are and say how you feel. Because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

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#1691518 - 06/06/11 06:09 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Dave Horne]
Jan Oliver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Aachen, Germany
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
Jan, I hope you're very happy with your purchase, it certainly sounds that you are. It's been my experience though that a lot of the subtle improvements that one hears through headphones is very often lost when playing live in a trio using amplification.

What are your plans for that keyboard in the future? Do you plan to sell it in three of four years or hold onto until it stops working (as you did with your previous keyboard)?

Hi Dave,

concerning live sound I'm afraid you're right - I hope once my V-Piano moves into our band's practice room I'll still be able to hear some of those nuances over all that racket. I guess I'll just have to ask for more solos. smile

About reselling: My 1995 Kurzweil RG-200 served me well on stage, but I felt increasingly unhappy with it at home. Having grown up with an acoustic upright I was missing something. So I got my Yamaha YUS-5 SG acoustic upright in 2009, and was so enthralled by the regained expressiveness that I literally played myself a tennis elbow. At our band I was playing a 70's Rhodes they had sitting around. When my Kurzweil partly broke down last month, I wanted a very authentic DP both for the band room and the stage. I only play on stage once every few weeks so weight was not a top concern.

I might sell the V-Piano if a new model got even closer to a real piano. That could happen in a few years - I expect physical modeling, and hybrid sampling/modeling, to really take off over the next few years since physical modeling is bound by computing power, which keeps growing exponentially with Moore's Law. The V-Piano already outperforms my Yamaha's built-in sample-based Silent Piano from just 2 years ago (that one doesn't even have sympathetic string resonance - hold down C3, hit C4, and C3 doesn't resonate). But if I don't hear a clear improvement – and I'm not an audiophile - then I'll keep my V-Piano until it falls apart. Heck, I'm already struggling with the thought of parting with it when it moves from our living room to our band's practice room. smile

Do you use your CP5 for the stage and your AvantGrand for practice at home?

Cheers,

- Jan
_________________________
Yamaha YUS-5 SG; Roland V-Piano; Kurzweil RG-200; 1884 Bechstein upright

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#1691521 - 06/06/11 06:15 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Kawai James]
Jan Oliver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Aachen, Germany
Originally Posted By: Kawai James

Just to clarify one point:

There are 27 sounds in total - 9 acoustic pianos, 9 electric pianos, and 9 'sub' sounds (strings, pads, etc.) for layering.

Interesting - that's less than I expected on the MP10. About the same number as the V-Piano - except there you only get pianos, pianos, pianos. smile I'll be in the store tomorrow and will be trying it out for sure.

- Jan
_________________________
Yamaha YUS-5 SG; Roland V-Piano; Kurzweil RG-200; 1884 Bechstein upright

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#1691543 - 06/06/11 07:08 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: PianoZac]
Jan Oliver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Aachen, Germany
Originally Posted By: ZacharyForbes
First off congrats on your purchase. The V-Piano is a wonderful instrument. However I think the Nord Piano and Nord Stage 2 were not really given an honest shot. Here's why I think so:

1. The NP88 isn't designed to be an acoustic replacement. It's targeted for gigging musicians hence the compromised action. You can't have an "authentic" feeling piano action inside of an 88 key instrument that weighs 39lbs. There has to be compromises somewhere.
2. The NS2 offers more capability than all of the above in a single platform, plus again, being that it's targeted towards the gigging musician, there must be a compromise in the action to get the weight, which for the NS2 is just 41lbs.

In my opinion Nord has gone after a wholly different market than Roland and Yamaha have with the boards listed above. The layout, feature set, flexibility, weight and overall size and dimensions suggest Nord wants the performance crowd and it seems the boards listed above, whilst all top notch boards are meant for a different purpose. Having owned the RD700NX and RD700GXF, they both still seem too heavy and too long for easy moving for a steady gigging musician. Everything is a set of compromises, unfortunately!

Now, enjoy that new V-Piano!

Thanks Zachary!

You're right - I mentioned right upfront that I was after the most realistic sound and touch, to my ears and hands. So I was after an acoustic replacement I guess. Maybe I shouldn't have included the Nords under those circumstances. If I had been after versatility and portability the Nords would have scored high with me. I really like their exchangeable sample libraries approach. And that wooden controller wheel... loved it. Gotta hand it to the Swedes when it comes to cool design!

Cheers,

- Jan
_________________________
Yamaha YUS-5 SG; Roland V-Piano; Kurzweil RG-200; 1884 Bechstein upright

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#1691546 - 06/06/11 07:15 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: bennevis]
Jan Oliver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Aachen, Germany
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Jan,
Your detailed review mirrors exactly my impressions of the V-Piano, which I've had now for over a year. Fortunately, I'm not a gigging pianist, but I just about managed not to give myself a slipped disc when I set up the beast all by myself onto the KS-V8 stand (the delivery van driver did help me carry them - in their boxes - up several flights of stairs though), so I'm stuck with it now for life....just as well I love it, and always look forward to playing it when I get home from work.

Like you, I auditioned all the DPs using my Bose headphones, in my case principally because I would only be playing using headphones at home (I still don't have speakers for my V-Piano). Playing a DP using its speakers often gives a misleading impression of its sound - it can sound much better (like the AvantGrands) or worse (many cheaper DPs) when using the DP's own speakers. However, I don't get any 'white noise' from the V-Piano using its headphone socket, whether through the Bose or the AKG headphones which I use with it now. (My Bose QC2 actually produces a very slight hum when switched on without being connected to anything, I find).

My priority - in fact my only reason to buy a DP - is a grand piano substitute which I can play using headphones, so the lack of any non-piano sounds is for me a plus (less clutter on the console). I expect Roland's thinking also went along the lines of 'how can you tweak the 'string resonance', 'soundboard resonance, the 'hammer hardness', the 'tuning' of each virtual string etc, etc on non-piano sounds anyway?' :by omitting the latter, you solve that particular problem grin. And it came down to this - does the DP 'feel' convincing enough that I can forget I'm not actually playing a real acoustic grand? Only the V-Piano (and of course its big brother the V-Grand) fitted that bill.

But I still can't understand why Roland doesn't fit a music stand on it - surely it can't be in order to preserve its smooth sleek upper surface top (great for piles of music scores which I've put on it)? My cup of tea is on a table beside my chair - I wouldn't dream of sullying the V-Piano's surface with tea stains... grin (I don't drink beer).

And the V-Piano plays and sounds better than most acoustic uprights (certainly in the bass) and even small grands, though acoustics obviously beat it in sheer realism of sound experience overall. I can play any stuff on it that I can on a grand with great action, but which I can't on uprights (because of their compromised action that don't permit quick key repetition).

Hi bennevis,

thanks! I completely agree with your assessment. Even the beer part (I don't drink, just my band mates do). smile

Regarding the white noise when using my Bose QC-15 headphones: I was able to get rid of it by switching their sensitivity to "LOW" using that tiny slider on the cable connector. Just had to crank up the volume a bit. I'll update my OP.

I'd be interested in your Bösendorfer V-Piano sound - is that still available for download somewhere?

Cheers,

- Jan



Edited by Jan Oliver (06/06/11 07:17 PM)
_________________________
Yamaha YUS-5 SG; Roland V-Piano; Kurzweil RG-200; 1884 Bechstein upright

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#1691549 - 06/06/11 07:23 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Jan Oliver]
Kawai James Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 8851
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By: Jan Oliver
About the same number as the V-Piano - except there you only get pianos, pianos, pianos. smile


Does the V-Piano offer different piano 'models', similar to Pianoteq?
It's been a few years since I tried the V-Piano, however I seem to recall that there was just the one model type. Perhaps I am mistaken?

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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#1691553 - 06/06/11 07:33 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Gyro]
Jan Oliver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Aachen, Germany
Originally Posted By: Gyro
This is how I'd do it. I like to buy sight-unseen online and the deciding factor is ultimately the intangible quality of pizzaz or image. Price is a good, rough indication of performance, and so right from the start I know there's not going to be a world of difference between the four performance-wise. But image-wise they are miles apart.
...
The V-Piano has the lead in pizzaz and cachet, but the Nord has that knockout red color, that alone being worth the price of admission. Imagine sitting down every day at a RED piano! Flip a coin.

Love that strategy. I'm getting a red spray can for my V tomorrow. And I'm calling the pizzazz delivery service for an extra serving right now. I think it's 0800-PIZZAZZ.

OK, honestly, I am sure my tiny inner geek contributed just a little to that decision by whispering something along the lines of "buy a V-Piano and own the first serious representative of a new generation of modeling-based digital pianos! Be part of the revolution when it happens!" in my ear.

Now, time for bed here in my time zone. I'll meet the PW Piano Tour 2011 folks (a.k.a. "that busload of crazy American piano geeks touring Europe") in Cologne tomorrow. Can't wait! smile

- Jan
_________________________
Yamaha YUS-5 SG; Roland V-Piano; Kurzweil RG-200; 1884 Bechstein upright

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#1691567 - 06/06/11 07:49 PM Re: Roland V-Piano: Hands-On Review & Comparison to CP1 etc. [Re: Kawai James]
Jan Oliver Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 32
Loc: Aachen, Germany
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Does the V-Piano offer different piano 'models', similar to Pianoteq? It's been a few years since I tried the V-Piano, however I seem to recall that there was just the one model type. Perhaps I am mistaken?

Hi! Yes - the V-Piano offers 28 different presets including the four from its free Evolution software upgrade. These each represent different piano "models", with different physical parameters. For example, #3 ("Vintage Piano 1 Concert") differs from #1 ("Vintage Piano 1 Standard") by being modeled with longer bass strings and a larger sounding board, for a fuller sound supposedly more suitable for solo concerts. Others use strings or soundboards from different materials or heavier hammers, for example. There are also two uprights that sound very different (and quite realistic).

These physical parameters are not available to the user for modeling. Many others are though, like hammer felt hardness, unison tuning, cross-resonance, etc., to further tweak any of the existing presets to your liking. And of course you can de-tune and voice every single note individually by a different amount if you feel like it - something not usually possible with sampling-based DPs.

Cheers,

- Jan
_________________________
Yamaha YUS-5 SG; Roland V-Piano; Kurzweil RG-200; 1884 Bechstein upright

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