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#1805717 - 12/13/11 09:57 PM Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10
reflex65 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/13/11
Posts: 28
Loc: california

I am here looking for frank opinions on a few "finalists" in my DP search, for those who like to give an opinion!

I am a condo owner (acoustic is not an option), seeking either DP or keyboard for my family (surprise for Christmas). Partner is long-time piano player (though not for several years), and our daughter will likely start lessons in a year or two. Decision is whether to get a "packaged" product or just a keyboard and add the amp/stand. Note: I am NOT a piano player (but planning to learn), so I have only listened to these as demonstrated by dealers.

Yamaha CLP-380 PE in box for $4633 cash
Roland HP-307 PE in box for $4571
Kawai CA63 ebony in box for $3100

OR either Kawai MP10 or MP6 (would consider others)

I plan to buy this week -- so Yamaha 4xx not available for consideration, here. Kawai may be purchased sight-unseen!

We like to buy quality items that we will likely keep for awhile. I actually hate the fiberboard cabinets that come with these pianos, and actually like the idea of choosing my own amp/monitors. I am pretty sure my partner would love the look of the console, in contrast.

Any thoughts on the listed items? What would YOU do (pretend the cost is irrelevant)? Thank you for anyone willing to give this a few minutes of their time!!

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#1805731 - 12/13/11 10:33 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
If cost is irrelevant, I think I'd pick up the CA-63. Only significant feature it misses that the MP10 has is letoff simulation, which I personally do not think is very important. I'm a big fan of the Kawai long-key wooden actions, though.

The MP10 has more stuff and looks cool and electronic. It has a lot of buttons and stuff, though. Harder to navigate in a home situation. I think my wife would prefer that CA-63 cabinetry. The Kawai sound is respectable.

The Yamaha is respectable as well. Middle of the road sounds, middle of the road action in my opinion.

The Roland has some great sounds. I've never been a fan of the actions I've tried, though. Some people love them, I'm not one of those.

So yea, if cost is no issue, CA-63. Otherwise MP10. After that, probably the Yamaha.

All great pianos, though. You can't go wrong with this lot.


Edited by gvfarns (12/13/11 10:34 PM)

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#1805735 - 12/13/11 10:41 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
Kawai James Online   content
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 8388
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By: reflex65
Kawai CA63 ebony in box for $3100


Please note that the 'Satin Black' CA63 is not the same as ebony polish.
If you require an ebony polish finish, you may wish to consider the Kawai CS6.

I believe all of the models listed above will be suitable for yourself and your family.

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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#1805737 - 12/13/11 10:46 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
Jamvector Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/09/11
Posts: 21
Loc: Madtown, WI
We played all 3 of these, and ended up with the CA63. It had the best action and feel, the 307 had the best sound sampling quality, but not $2000 better (we paid $2300 for our new, assembled CA63 in rosewood). We really felt the Yamaha was Inferior in both regards (casios we tried were a distant 4th). If this DP was for me alone, I would have bought the Roland FP-7F; action and sound sampling (SN3) same as 307, but close in price to the CA63. In the end, the action and playability beat out the sampling and internal sound - as many here will testify, you can always use PC based sound samples down the road. If I had more money, I would pick the CA93 over the 307, and even more money, the avantgarde N2 (now that Yamaha is well worth testing out if you wish to continue the "pretend the cost is irrelevant" game :-)) If you do further consider the CA63, you should be able to negotiate a much better price than $3100 though..

My son (16 yrs old, 8 yrs of lessons /experience) and I (49 yrs old, 40 yrs of experience playing anything that makes noise), fight over keyboard time. The CA63 is extremely fun and simply a joy to play, we just love it!
_________________________
Between the drums, guitars, and my CA63, I am in desperate need of more hands!

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#1805775 - 12/14/11 12:03 AM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: gvfarns]
reflex65 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/13/11
Posts: 28
Loc: california

Thanks for the input. I don't feel like I am in a position to negotiate CA63 price when they are so difficult to find here in the Bay Area. But, I think that may be the answer! Thanks, again.

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#1805821 - 12/14/11 02:44 AM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
Dr Popper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/09
Posts: 1706
Loc: Hancock Park LA (not again)
CA63 ....easily
_________________________
"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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#1805822 - 12/14/11 02:46 AM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: reflex65

...
We like to buy quality items that we will likely keep for awhile. I actually hate the fiberboard cabinets that come with these pianos, and actually like the idea of choosing my own amp/monitors. I am pretty sure my partner would love the look of the console, in contrast.

Any thoughts on the listed items? What would YOU do (pretend the cost is irrelevant)? Thank you for anyone willing to give this a few minutes of their time!!


I agree about the particle board cabinet. You pay between $1,000 and $2,000 for painted chip board. But it is nice paint and you say you don't need to care about price. But you really can have the same Roland "super natural" piano sound for $1,900 in a FP7-F I like the sound and feature set of the FP7. The key action is first rate, but all are at this level so I assume I'd like an FP7 in the $2,000 stand too. Kawai has good keys but I don't think the sound compares with Roland. With Yamaha their best technology is in their CP1 and CP5 stage pianos

Your problem is that, at this price price point they are all good and none is best. I'd say flip a coin but they are quite a bit different from each other. The Roland and Yamaha key action have very different feel and you just have to see which YOU like.

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#1805837 - 12/14/11 04:29 AM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
CyberGene Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Sofia, Bulgaria
As an owner of CA63, I would recommend MP10. The speakers/amp of CA63 are of low quality and I am using headphones almost exclusively. Besides, there is a pinch of extra piano emulation features on MP10 missing on CA63, and also the Rhodes Piano in MP10 is light years ahead. MP10 is a professional instrument which is equal or better than CA63 in any respect, so it's only down to whether you need cabinet design with speakers. But believe me, you'll be better off with MP10 hooked to quality external amplifier rather than CA63. That said, I am not disappointed in CA63, I love it for its fantastic keyboard and playability but had I have the chance to choose, I would have gone for MP10 (not sure if my grammar in that last statement is correct, sorry for my English, those tenses are always difficult to me).

P.S. Sorry for the offtopic, but I would be glad if native English speakers can help me with the grammar in that last statement, so that I memorize it once for all smile Not that it's the only gap I have in my English laugh


Edited by CyberGene (12/14/11 04:34 AM)
_________________________
http://www.myspace.com/evgenykumanov
Current DP: Kawai ES7
Previous DP-s: Kawai MP6, Kawai CA63, Roland RD-700SX, Roland FP-5, Yamaha P90, Korg SP-200, Casio CDP-100

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#1805845 - 12/14/11 04:49 AM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
sandalholme Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 744
Loc: Dorset, UK
CyberGene: your English is better than many natives, but, to answer your question, "had I have the chance to choose, I would have gone for" should be "had I had the chance to choose, I would have gone for"

Don't ask me to explain the rules!

But for your question I probably wouldn't have noticed the slip.

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#1805856 - 12/14/11 05:38 AM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
CyberGene Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Sofia, Bulgaria
Thank you smile
_________________________
http://www.myspace.com/evgenykumanov
Current DP: Kawai ES7
Previous DP-s: Kawai MP6, Kawai CA63, Roland RD-700SX, Roland FP-5, Yamaha P90, Korg SP-200, Casio CDP-100

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#1806026 - 12/14/11 12:35 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Also it would sound better if you interjected "the" between "for" and "MP10"

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#1806157 - 12/14/11 04:06 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
reflex65 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/13/11
Posts: 28
Loc: california
Thank you, everyone, for your comments.

If it were just me, I am certain an MP10 would already be on order, and I would have fun finding the best stand and amp/speaker combination to make it sing.

However, I think that "pieces" of a piano clustered in the corner of our living room will be a deal-breaker for my partner. Given that, if I want Kawai, I am looking at the CS6, CA63, or the far-less expensive ES6 with a stand.

I will continue to ponder and call my local shops. Again, thanks!

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#1806235 - 12/14/11 06:00 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
Amaruk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/02/11
Posts: 795
Loc: New England, USA
Did you consider the Roland RD-700NX yet? It has the action of the HP307 but with more features and costs way less. I am in your exact situation at the moment...
_________________________
My latest piano cover on YouTube: Yann Tiersen - Mother's Journey

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#1806256 - 12/14/11 06:37 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: Amaruk]
reflex65 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/13/11
Posts: 28
Loc: california
Originally Posted By: Amaruk
Did you consider the Roland RD-700NX yet?


I thought about it. I was turned off by the reports of the ivory touch on the Roland having problems with discoloration over time. I like the design of the key movement on the Kawai better, too.

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#1806275 - 12/14/11 07:16 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Might not dismiss the Rd700NX offhand. It's one of the highest regarded pianos here in the forum. And someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I had thought they fixed the problem with the discoloration.

Though I did try some older Rolands the other day (PHAII, not PHAIII) and I thought the Ivory simulation felt yucky. I'm happy with plastic (or if they could actually give us the synthetic ivory from acoustic pianos, which is better).

Anyway, I would suggest you try it yourself before dismissing it if you can.


Edited by gvfarns (12/14/11 07:23 PM)

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#1806342 - 12/14/11 10:38 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
sbornia Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 9
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: reflex65
I will continue to ponder and call my local shops. Again, thanks!


Sent you a PM.

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#1808470 - 12/19/11 02:09 AM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
reflex65 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/13/11
Posts: 28
Loc: california
UPDATE from author of post

So, it isn't a surprise, anymore -- I revealed to my partner tonight my plan, as I was basically STUCK on what to buy, and didn't want to risk needing to return or exchange an item.

Yesterday, a dear friend (incredible with piano) tested the CA63 and ES6 and actually recommended EITHER as excellent choices (for different reasons). So, I landed on the satin black Kawai CA63 as our best option -- assuming my partner would want a cabinet.

I was right. Black -- either matte or shiny, will do. And, he likes the "name" and reputation of Roland -- feels like it is a safer bet over the long haul. We also like that they are assembled in the US, instead of Indonesia.

I really like the Kawai action. I love the 5/5 warranty. And I like the low-key sales environment (total contrast to Yamaha or Roland). I think Kawai has a much nicer satin finish than Roland, too (for plastic on MDF).

As of now, the choice is either the Kawai CA63 or the Roland HP-307. The current quoted price on the Roland with polished ebony is $4571 -- so I need to work on that, since it is coming in $2000 more than the Kawai -- though $750 of that is for the finish.

So, is the Roland HP-307 worth $1250 MORE than the Kawai CA63?

That certainly wasn't MY impression. Would anyone HERE pay significantly MORE for the HP-307 -- what looks like on average around $1000 based on those who have posted price paid in US$ here on the forums?


Edited by reflex65 (12/19/11 02:21 AM)

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#1808474 - 12/19/11 02:52 AM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Definitely not worth $2000 or 1250 more. CA63 is one of the most desirable pianos there is.

Roland has been a big player in electronic instruments for some time, but its name and reputation are not THAT valuable. Kawai and Yamaha have good reputations of their own, though they were earned largely in the acoustic piano world. They are both known to have good support and reliability. I certainly haven't seen any evidence here that Rolands last longer or are more easily repaired or that their customer service is better than either of the other two brands. So how would the long haul argument be relevant?

You and your friend both tested and liked the CA-63. I think that makes it a safer bet, almost by definition.


Edited by gvfarns (12/19/11 02:54 AM)

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#1808516 - 12/19/11 08:39 AM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2235
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: reflex65
UPDATE from author of post


So, is the Roland HP-307 worth $1250 MORE than the Kawai CA63?



No.

Don't let others persuade you otherwise by saying that the Roland sound is technically superior. That doesn't mean it sounds better or is worth that difference in price.

I may have missed it, but, what does your partner think?

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#1808570 - 12/19/11 11:01 AM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: gvfarns]
reflex65 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/13/11
Posts: 28
Loc: california
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
You and your friend both tested and liked the CA-63. I think that makes it a safer bet, almost by definition.


I failed to note that my pianist friend has been using a Roland 700-something stage piano for a decade and swears by it. She simply didn't meet me at the dealer who sells the Roland, so she couldn't comment on it.

My partner is probably typical: when I mentioned the DP idea, he said "No way we are spending a few thousand dollars on a fake piano." He has NEVER seen a DP in the past 20 years. Once I showed him photos, videos, and some of the technology -- he got more excited about the idea of a DP

He seems to lean towards the Roland (we own some Roland high-fidelity equipment, so it has brand-recognition with him). But, the key action of the Kawai was definitely drawing him in. His last comment before falling to sleep was: "What are the specs? Can we compare them?" I think he sees them as basically "equal" and was fishing for justifications for paying more for the Roland. I assume that the Roland (and Yamaha, for that matter) cost premium is due to the "name" and the (expensive) engine that keeps it going.

Of note, we decided what kind of car to buy and bought it in less than 24 hours just last month (VW Golf TDI -- nice AND practical). Why is buying a DP so much more difficult?

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#1808575 - 12/19/11 11:14 AM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Yeah, unfortunately at times like this specs won't help. It's like comparing two acoustic pianos of the same size from different manufacturers. They will have different sounds and different actions, and the marketing will point out different features, but those features just have different names in the other piano. There's no way to rank them except by personal preference (and price).

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#1808585 - 12/19/11 11:28 AM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
CyberGene Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 702
Loc: Sofia, Bulgaria
The problem is that the available technology is currently ahead of what's offered in the digital piano market. The memory is cheap and you can easily put few GB of sample memory with fast enough CPU to cope with huge data manipulation yet nobody does it (except for Nord Piano to some degree but they have low-grade piano actions). This creates frustration in the users. You know you could easily have a digital piano with gigabyte samples and different sets to choose between, coupled to an excellent keyboard, yet nobody offers it. I am exhausted by that and can't understand why is that happening. Unless I miss some simple point why digital piano manufacturers are technologically handicapped in using large memory and fast CPU-s in a digital piano. But then again, a PC worth 200$ can play GB sample libraries. So, it's matter of integration only. Or it's the market who dictates that.


Edited by CyberGene (12/19/11 11:32 AM)
_________________________
http://www.myspace.com/evgenykumanov
Current DP: Kawai ES7
Previous DP-s: Kawai MP6, Kawai CA63, Roland RD-700SX, Roland FP-5, Yamaha P90, Korg SP-200, Casio CDP-100

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#1808635 - 12/19/11 01:26 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: CyberGene]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3336
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: CyberGene
The problem is that the available technology is currently ahead of what's offered in the digital piano market. The memory is cheap and you can easily put few GB of sample memory with fast enough CPU to cope with huge data manipulation yet nobody does it (except for Nord Piano to some degree but they have low-grade piano actions). This creates frustration in the users. You know you could easily have a digital piano with gigabyte samples and different sets to choose between, coupled to an excellent keyboard, yet nobody offers it. I am exhausted by that and can't understand why is that happening. Unless I miss some simple point why digital piano manufacturers are technologically handicapped in using large memory and fast CPU-s in a digital piano. But then again, a PC worth 200$ can play GB sample libraries. So, it's matter of integration only. Or it's the market who dictates that.


You might be describing a cartel. I'm not one for conspiracy theories but there is something very fishy about the technological state of DPs relative to the technological state of every other computerised device on the planet. I think they all benefit from their backwardness, that's why they are all doing it - whether it's by collusion or emulation, they are all getting something out of this. Cheap hardware, premium prices and marketing: it's a recipe for profiteering. What is surprising is that a smaller player hasn't realised that they could produce a far superior product for the same or less money. Or maybe they have but the big manufacturers have stitched up all the distribution. Still, in time this will bust open and the real potential of DPs will start to be realised. I actually think the action is the single biggest impediment to a new company entering the market. It's easy enough to throw some computer hardware together in a nice box, but developing an action is very challenging. Companies like Fatar are still well behind Roland/Yamaha/Kawai in that respect. There must be quite a bit of R & D involved in producing an effective yet durable action.

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#1808653 - 12/19/11 01:48 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: spanishbuddha]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4271
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: reflex65
UPDATE from author of post

So, is the Roland HP-307 worth $1250 MORE than the Kawai CA63?

I'd say "it depends". All of this boils down to what is important to the primary player of the DP. Though you probably shouldn't let others steer you based on their own personal preferences, there are many technical things to be aware of when choosing. The aesthetic things are also very important, though they often originate more in the mind of the beholder, so you're on your own there.

I think it would be fair to say that many people here prefer the CA63 key action (RM3) over that in the HP-307 (PHAIII). I don't have an opinion because I've never touched a CA63 or any Kawai with the RM3 action inside, though the pictures of it are fairly persuasive. The PHAIII is the same as that in our RD-700NX, and it feels on the light side of DP actions. The grading isn't too noticeable, but it seems grading isn't very prominent on any DP. Not sure about the fake ivory tops giving you trouble, ours seems to be holding up OK, but it doesn't get heavy use.

As far as technical aspects of the tone goes, I'd say listen to the comparisons at this post, where two notes of a fully sampled Yamaha are compared to both the Roland SuperNATURAL and to Kawai UPHI. To my ears, the Roland SN sound is technically closer to a that of a real piano, particularly in the decay portion. The looped Kawai decays in comparison sound dead to me. Here is another post where a chord of C notes on an SN equipped DP is directly compared to one of the best loopers out there, the Yamaha AvantGrand N3.

If you can handle the often dull decay sound of looping and are pretty sure that it will never get on your nerves in the future, then the DP world is your oyster and you should find models out there that should more or less satisfy you sonically. If not, then I'd recommend something with Roland SN, or a DP connected to a PC running fully sampled piano software. Those are pretty much the only things that are currently unlooped.

By the way, the RD-700NX has three distinct SN pianos, two of them fairly usable ("Concert" and "Studio") whereas all other DPs with SN only offer a single SN piano, which is the "Concert" in the NX. And the NX sells for around $2.5k here in the states. It has no internal speakers and no music rest, and would require you to purchase a stand.

Good luck!
_________________________
The DPBSD Project!
THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)

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#1808655 - 12/19/11 01:50 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: ando]
Talaf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/14/11
Posts: 68
And if you think about it the action (and eventual speaker system) is probably the most expensive part of the DP by far. The MP6 retails at 1400€ around here, and I bet the action and casing alone is worth close to 1000€, if you look at "similarly" specced midi controllers.

You also have to take into account the fact that developing for embedded, robust things like DPs is not the same as developing for a computer. I'm not giving them excuses, but I think they're still riding on old developments, and Korg is the first to tend to a "modern" computing approach, embedding Linux and streaming samples from a SSD. Nord have developed something along the lines of this same technology, but I bet it's still not a general purpose microprocessor nor a general purpose OS that's running the stuff. Reliable and fast Flash ROM is also expensive still, as is reliable and fast RAM. You can't compare what is asked of these DPs in terms of latency/robustness to your run of the mill netbook, or even Mac Mini. It's really not the same thing smile Give it some time, they'll get there.

Edit : and the margins on consumer computing equipments are far, far lower than on these low volume manufactured products DPs are, especially the high end ones.


Edited by Talaf (12/19/11 01:52 PM)

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#1808656 - 12/19/11 01:51 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: ando]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: ando
You might be describing a cartel. I'm not one for conspiracy theories but there is something very fishy about the technological state of DPs relative to the technological state of every other computerised device on the planet. I think they all benefit from their backwardness, that's why they are all doing it - whether it's by collusion or emulation, they are all getting something out of this. Cheap hardware, premium prices and marketing: it's a recipe for profiteering. What is surprising is that a smaller player hasn't realised that they could produce a far superior product for the same or less money. Or maybe they have but the big manufacturers have stitched up all the distribution. Still, in time this will bust open and the real potential of DPs will start to be realised. I actually think the action is the single biggest impediment to a new company entering the market. It's easy enough to throw some computer hardware together in a nice box, but developing an action is very challenging. Companies like Fatar are still well behind Roland/Yamaha/Kawai in that respect. There must be quite a bit of R & D involved in producing an effective yet durable action.


I tend to agree. I think DP makers have put some good work into the action, because that's what is the barrier to entry (along with name recognition), but they have cheaped out on the electronics and sounds. I suspect there are a few things that contribute to this:

1. Most buyers of digitals are not super-discriminating. Otherwise they would likely have gotten acoustics instead. So why spend the money and time to make digitals sound great?

2. If digitals really sounded great, they would compete with the bigger ticket items at least Kawai and Yamaha make: acoustic pianos. Roland doesn't make acoustics so it has less incentive to dumb down its sounds. And what do we observe? Roland typically has the best sounds.

3. This is a durable goods oligopoly. So the main competition new digital pianos face is not new companies entering, it's the older pianos (acoustic and digital) that people are satisfied with and don't feel the need to replace. They have to put out new models every once in a while that are enough better that some people will upgrade (just like Microsoft does). If they were to put all the good stuff in now, people wouldn't want to upgrade for a long time--until technology had actually progressed. Instead they artificially slow down the technological progress so they can put out "improved" models year after year.

People won't over pay as much for a DP as they will for an acoustic. The one upside to DP makers is that DP's don't last as long, so they get replaced more frequently than acoustics do. But in order to cash in on this, they have to build in obsolescence.

We as consumers could help the situation somewhat by being more open to new brands, but we aren't. If it's not from one of the major manufacturers, we just don't trust it. That fact prevents new brands from entering.


Edited by gvfarns (12/19/11 01:55 PM)

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#1808667 - 12/19/11 02:15 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: reflex65]
MacMacMac Offline
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Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3669
Loc: North Carolina
1. For new brands, I think there's a different barrier to market entry: the high cost.

Forget the cost of keyboards and circuits. Consider the costs of engineering, distribution, and marketing ... especially marketing. It's not that you might not want to buy a new brand piano. It's that retailers don't have room for a new brand. This is true of all manner of goods.

In general, a retailer can only stock large varieties/brands when the goods move in high volume. The piano market is very low volume. It won't sustain many brands.

2. I agree that people are likely not very discriminating about the tone of digital pianos. I don't have any tally of peoples' preferences. But it's clear that if Y/R/K can successfully sell the same old pianos year after year, there's little reason to change.

3. I doubt that Y/K are concerned that better digital pianos would cut into their acoustic piano sales.

First, digitals aren't even close to competing with acoustics, except on price.

Second, sales of pianos to institutions (where the big money pianos are sold) aren't yet influenced. Concert halls and conservatories aren't champing to switch to digitals. The latter lack quality and prestige. (I surely wouldn't pay to see a concert pianist playing on a digital. And, would any serious student attend a conservatory that had replaced it's Steinways with digital Y's, K's, or R's?)

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#1808682 - 12/19/11 02:34 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: ando]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4271
Loc: Northern NJ
I agree with all that you state ando.

Originally Posted By: ando
What is surprising is that a smaller player hasn't realised that they could produce a far superior product for the same or less money.

I read an article lately on the young woman who was tapped to lead the Yamaha AG design teams, and she said she really had to work at bringing the DP and AP divisions together, which I found somewhat surprising. It was kind of an AG puff piece though, so who knows how much of it was accurate. And why, after all that effort, they decided to loop the AG sound is beyond me. They had an opportunity to create something that might have actually lived up to the sky high levels of hype spewed by the Yamaha hype machine and in that way at least they punted.

If I were assembling a DP engineering team, I think it would be difficult to find the kinds of highly competent cross disciplined designers needed to do these kinds of products really right. The computing and interface hardware wouldn't be too much of a challenge, but getting someone to program it would be another matter. As you say the key action design would likely be very difficult because how many physical designers out there have even thought about this sort of thing? I suppose one could fall back on copying a lot of it, as I imagine even the big players in the industry tend to do, but that only gets you so far.

Then again, this bulk of this stuff isn't exactly rocket science anymore, and there's really no excuse for those with the teams already assembled and up to speed to not give us more for our money, particularly at the high end. A lot of it is probably just old engineers not keeping up with the incredible pace of computing and digital hardware lately. A lot of it is probably just simple indifference. It seems we're long overdue for something to come along and at least somewhat alter the dynamics of this market. Meanwhile we essentially have stasis with the occasional baby step or two.
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#1808697 - 12/19/11 02:45 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: dewster]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: dewster
I read an article lately on the young woman who was tapped to lead the Yamaha AG design teams, and she said she really had to work at bringing the DP and AP divisions together, which I found somewhat surprising. It was kind of an AG puff piece though, so who knows how much of it was accurate. And why, after all that effort, they decided to loop the AG sound is beyond me. They had an opportunity to create something that might have actually lived up to the sky high levels of hype spewed by the Yamaha hype machine and in that way at least they punted.


Do you have a link or reference for this article, dewster? I'd be interested to read it, even if it s a puff piece.

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#1808706 - 12/19/11 02:55 PM Re: Ready to buy: Kawai CA63 vs MP10 [Re: MacMacMac]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
3. I doubt that Y/K are concerned that better digital pianos would cut into their acoustic piano sales.

First, digitals aren't even close to competing with acoustics, except on price.

Second, sales of pianos to institutions (where the big money pianos are sold) aren't yet influenced. Concert halls and conservatories aren't champing to switch to digitals. The latter lack quality and prestige. (I surely wouldn't pay to see a concert pianist playing on a digital. And, would any serious student attend a conservatory that had replaced it's Steinways with digital Y's, K's, or R's?)


Interesting notion. Institutions and conservatories do buy a lot of pianos--although they all seem to be the same model almost. They are expensive, durable, high quality pianos.

I guess my thought has always been that they were still only a moderate to small portion of the overall market. I don't have any inside info, but my perception is that the market for new uprights is crumbling to nothing, particularly the market for lower end uprights (the ones bought for homes and non-musical institutions). Baldwin is now gone, along with so many other earlier brands. When I go to piano stores they have fewer uprights than they used to...replaced with digitals. Essentially every digital bought means that home will not buy an upright.

The part of the market that remains (the uprights you see at piano stores) are the tall, high quality, durable ones that more affluent households (but not super affluent) and institutions buy.

As a side note, I think the situation is changing for institutions as well. Not conservatories, of course, because they are specialists--they and concert halls prefer grands anyway. But for example, much of my experience playing piano comes from the various pianos in churches I have attended as I've moved around. In my last church, the piano the children sing along with was a Kawai ensemble digital. If Yamaha and Kawai made some digitals that were light years better than the one that was already bought, these churches and other institutions (as well as more households) would buy them and then the acoustics would be firewood.

Churches, civic centers, nursing homes, elementary schools, etc. are much less discriminating than universities and there are a lot of them out there. And they don't care as much about prestige.

I guess I agree that digitals haven't displaced acoustics in many of the most important parts of Y/K's range, but it's sort of a matter of time. And if they did a truly great job on their digitals, the transition would happen faster.


Edited by gvfarns (12/19/11 03:07 PM)

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