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#1994964 - 12/05/12 10:29 AM Kawai vs. higher end, how to decide?
New NewB Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/05/12
Posts: 18
Hi. I saw some recent posts regarding the Kawai CE220 and some higher end models such as the Yamaha CLP4xx and Roland HP5xx.

Our kids are beginners and my wife and I used to be quite good but haven't played in many, many years. I used to play a lot as a relaxing hobby after stressful days, but we don't have a piano. We want a quality digital piano, but not sure if the higher end things will make a difference for us.

That said, we want our children to have a relatively effortless transition from the digital piano to a real piano wherever they play one (lessons, friends, school, etc.).

I'd appreciate any thoughts you might have. Our limit is $3000 USD "out the door", but less would be ideal. I've played the Yamaha CLPs and a Roland HP. I haven't played the Kawai but have read great things and heard it on youtube. Is the difference in sound and action really worth $1000 or more?

How do you know or anticipate what you need? I don't want us to outgrow the piano, but don't want to get more than we need. Thanks.

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#1994972 - 12/05/12 10:40 AM Re: Kawai vs. higher end, how to decide? [Re: New NewB]
JFP Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/10
Posts: 1336
Loc: The Netherlands
Hi New NewB, welcome to the forum and hopefully you'll join us with some note about your coming DP too. For now I suggest you use the search function on this forum a lot and look for hits on current models like:

Some examples:
Yamaha CLP430, CLP470 CLP480 ,
Roland HP 307, HP 507, HP 505, FP7F,
Casio PX-350, PX-850, AP-650 ,
Kawai CA65, ES7 , CN34

So much has already been written and compared with respect to these models that there is a wide source of information already available. Considering you're a beginner and budget has to stay within limits, a mid range piano of one of these brands will do. None is really bad - but they are all different, so it's usually up to personal preference what you like most.

Happy hunting ! J

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#1994982 - 12/05/12 10:59 AM Re: Kawai vs. higher end, how to decide? [Re: New NewB]
Kos Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/11
Posts: 77
Originally Posted By: New NewB

That said, we want our children to have a relatively effortless transition from the digital piano to a real piano wherever they play one (lessons, friends, school, etc.)

As it has been mentioned recently - the main problem with transition from DP to acoustic is pedaling. So you'll have to somewhat lower your expectation on an "effortless" part. But with enough access to a real piano, I don't think this will be much of an issue.

Originally Posted By: New NewB
Our limit is $3000 USD "out the door", but less would be ideal. I've played the Yamaha CLPs and a Roland HP. I haven't played the Kawai but have read great things and heard it on youtube. Is the difference in sound and action really worth $1000 or more?

Sound - not so much, besides it's very easily fixable with external software libraries once you've outgrown it.
As for the action - I think it is worth to spend a little extra. If you are comfortable with $3k budget - your best bet would be Kawai CA65.
Yamaha's GH3 action on their CLP models is pretty decent too. As an owner or one I can't really say anything negative about it, but Kawai still felt much nicer when I tested them back to back in the store.
_________________________
"There is nothing to piano playing besides producing the appropriate velocities on the appropriate keys at the appropriate time" (c) qvfarns

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#1994987 - 12/05/12 11:16 AM Re: Kawai vs. higher end, how to decide? [Re: New NewB]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 453
Loc: Europe
Well, the sounds of the CLP and HP are so different colored, that I would first ask you back, which one you like more? Then I would remind you, that the bright sound of the CLP better cuts through if playing in a band, and might most likely appear more alive for modern music, while the mellow HP sound might be better suited for classic music played solo.

If the sound decision towards Roland or Yamaha is done, you could check which action comforts you and your budget best and compare the HP-503 and 505, and the CLP 440 and 470.

If you think, that you are also going to make a lot of use of the other tones, which are not piano but organ, acordeon, etc..., then also listen to them carefully. I am not so happy with this part of my HP-505, although I am overhelmed by its pure piano qualities.

Finally, if somebody will frequently practice with headphones, while aside somebody wants to relax, wacth TV, read a book, then keep in mind that the keyboard mounted to a cabinet furniture style digital piano of Roland makes the loudest mechanical noise in comparison to Yamaha and Kawai cabinet mounts.

I can´t speak about the Kawai instruments. So far my impression is, that they are much more similar to the Yamahas, than to the Rolands.
_________________________
learning Piano on my Roland HP-505
before playing Drums in adults bluesband on handpicked set; before crashing E-Guitar in kids garage band; raised on home entertainment Organ and Keyboard models Eminent Solina P240, Farfisa Maharani 259R, Technics KN800, and on Mouth Organ, Recorder and Accordion

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#1995057 - 12/05/12 01:56 PM Re: Kawai vs. higher end, how to decide? [Re: New NewB]
New NewB Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/05/12
Posts: 18
As for sound, I liked the Roland. I realize now I don't think I played an HP. I played a pf7f, which I understand is the same as the HP (the 307). It's my understanding there hasn't been significant improvement from the 3xx series to the 5xx series in regards to these areas.

I've read a lot on this forum about the HP series and it seems there's a lot to like, and much less to not like.

Kos: why do you say my best bet would be the CA65? Aside from the quieter keyboard, is there really a significant difference between the 65 and the HP505? Also, I read about an issue with the CA65 having buzzing sounds or something.

Overall, I'd like to think that at this level of piano, it's hard to buy the wrong product. There's something "wrong" which each one, but all are going to be good.

Thanks.

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#1995064 - 12/05/12 02:15 PM Re: Kawai vs. higher end, how to decide? [Re: New NewB]
Kos Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/11
Posts: 77
Originally Posted By: New NewB

Kos: why do you say my best bet would be the CA65?

Its action mostly, it's probably the closest you can get to a real thing in a digital.
But those things are really subjective and can vary from person to person. If you like Roland's sound and feel, and it is within your budget - then go for it.
_________________________
"There is nothing to piano playing besides producing the appropriate velocities on the appropriate keys at the appropriate time" (c) qvfarns

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#1995068 - 12/05/12 02:18 PM Re: Kawai vs. higher end, how to decide? [Re: New NewB]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3483
Loc: Pennsylvania
The HP505 and CA65 are highish end pianos from different manufacturers--they both have the best action and sounds available from their makers. There's no consensus on which of them are better because the differences between the two brands in terms of action and sound are pretty noticeable but neither has an unambiguous advantage overall. There are approximately as many Roland fans among forum members as Kawai and in this case each would recommend their respective brand. As a result, getting any one member's opinion on which is better doesn't add much information.

What I'd suggest you do is determine which of the two pianos appeals to you more. For many people it's difficult to get to a physical store to test both, but that's the best way to do it. You have already tested the basic action and sound generator you will get from the Roland. Now for the Kawai. If you can't test it, try and get a feel for the qualitative differences the distinguish it by soliciting specific information about strengths/weakness from members.

Overall the Kawai sound is a bit brighter and I find it more dry (it was recorded in an anechoic chamber). The Kawai is sampled from a Kawai acoustic while the Roland is sampled from a Steinway and they preserve the character of these instruments in the samples. The Roland adds to this some synthesis in the SuperNatural pianos which I personally do not care for but most members appear to really like. It's hard to describe the difference in the actions. The Kawai action is possibly quieter, but it's not night and day. The pitch at impact is lower. More of a thud than a thunk. And the Kawai wood actions hit a spongy material that feels slightly softer than the Roland in my experience (actually the hammer hits a sponge at the same time as the key hits wood with a very thin soft thing on top of it). The Roland action, to me, feels a little empty in the mid region of the stroke, which I interpret has having a lower dynamic weight. There are those on the forum who feel that Roland's action more easily allows quick repetitions, although there's been some disagreement on that subject lately as well. This is compounded by the relative newness of the GF action in the CA65. I own a wood-action Kawai, but have yet to see an actual GF action piano in real life.

So there's a bunch of subjective information (sort of the best I can offer). Still just one datapoint, but it's more informative than a single data point on something like which would be better.

BTW I also would tend not to worry about the buzzing thing with the Kawai. Sounds more like an isolated case than a systematic problem to me.


Edited by gvfarns (12/05/12 02:23 PM)

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#1995108 - 12/05/12 04:04 PM Re: Kawai vs. higher end, how to decide? [Re: gvfarns]
Dragon777 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/29/12
Posts: 27
When you try those DPs at the store, I would strongly suggest that you try to play really silent on them, like pp or ppp. I tried a lot of them lately while shopping for one my self and my experience was that most models do not allow you to play pp or below, at all (though the action may feel great). But if you want to learn subtle piano technique, that would be required.

Just my 2 cents.

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#1995128 - 12/05/12 04:48 PM Re: Kawai vs. higher end, how to decide? [Re: New NewB]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3483
Loc: Pennsylvania
Huh. Someone in another thread (or was it you?) was also just saying this same thing. It's funny because I kind of have the opposite impression: digitals sometimes allow you to play ppp when an acoustic piano either would not sound or would produce a louder sound than is desired. I guess it depends on the regulation and quality of the acoustic. Digitals have to purposely disable sounds on very low velocities (or just the lowest velocity) in order to imitate the difficulty of playing super-quietly on an acoustic.

The piano's not a real quiet instrument. The other day I accompanied an 11-year-old who was singing unmiced and it was all I could do (on an acoustic grand) to play quietly enough to have some dynamics without overpowering her. I am pretty sure if I calibrated my digital to be the same volume as the acoustic is, I could have done better.


Edited by gvfarns (12/05/12 04:50 PM)

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#1995321 - 12/06/12 06:40 AM Re: Kawai vs. higher end, how to decide? [Re: gvfarns]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 453
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: gvfarns
The HP505 and CA65 are highish end pianos from different manufacturers--they both have the best action and sounds available from their makers. There's no consensus on which of them are better because the differences between the two brands in terms of action and sound are pretty noticeable but neither has an unambiguous advantage overall. ...What I'd suggest you do is determine which of the two pianos appeals to you more. For many people it's difficult to get to a physical store to test both, but that's the best way to do it.


Perfectly said.

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#1995355 - 12/06/12 08:46 AM Re: Kawai vs. higher end, how to decide? [Re: Marco M]
Dragon777 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/29/12
Posts: 27
Hi gvfarns,

I guess this problem of not being able to play at very low volume may only apply to DP actions with let-off (or similar) features that try to simulate the pressure point of an acoustic instrument. My unweighted synthesizer-action lets me play unnaturally quiet, but it feels nothing like a real piano (of course). Those actions which had this pressure point simulation, I tried at the store, mostly suffered from an inability to play at low volume. Not sure about the ones without this feature.

I don´t care about how quiet the instrument can get (on digitals you can always adjust the volume), but about how much dynamic range is available. The stretch between highest and lowest volume possible is quite wide on an acoustic instrument and most digitals in my test were not able to reproduce that. If you adjust the volume of the loudest notes to the volume of the loudest notes on an acoustic, the acoustic is able to play at lower volume, compared to the acoustic. If you adjust the lowest volume notes to each other, the digital will not be as loud as the acoustic when pushing it.

Best
D


Edited by Dragon777 (12/06/12 08:52 AM)

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#1995358 - 12/06/12 08:54 AM Re: Kawai vs. higher end, how to decide? [Re: Dragon777]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3835
Loc: North Carolina
That's exactly the problem!
Originally Posted By: Dragon777
The stretch between highest and lowest volume possible is quite wide on an acoustic instrument and most digitals in my test were not able to reproduce that.
I can't speak about ALL digital pianos, but that's always been my experience on those that I've tried.

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