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#2010393 - 01/07/13 03:41 AM Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland
Dustin Spray Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/13
Posts: 51
Loc: Central Illinois
Hello all.

I am looking to get back into playing the piano after about a 12 year hiatus. With that being said, I am in need of a piano and thinking for my lifestyle a digital piano might be great for me. I started looking at them this weekend, but my head in spinning in a whirlwind. I guess I didnt realize that there were this many digital pianos to choose from. So I was looking for some input on what to look for. I want a quality instrument that will be able to suite my needs for a while so that I dont outgrow the instrument too quickly. I was thinking in the $2500-$3500 price range. I have always been a fan of Yamaha and looked at the Clavinova CLP 440 and the CLP 470, I thought they were very nice instruments. I also played on a Roland HP503 and though it sounded VERY good and had a great feel and touch and felt more responsive than the Yamaha's. However I felt that the action appeared to be quite noisy. I havent got a chance to look at Kawai's yet, that will be next weekend. So does anyone have any input on brands and models, what to look for and what to stay away from? Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

-Dustin

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#2010416 - 01/07/13 05:45 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 453
Loc: Europe
I would first decide if you prefer more the Roland, or more the Yamaha and Kawai sound.

If you would prefer the Yamaha or Kawai sound, which is much brighter than the mellow Roland sound, then compare the 440 and 470 key actions, and try to find a location where you could compare with a Kawai CA 65 and CA 95. I think, this are your 4 candidates then.

If you would prefer Roland sound, check if you feel fine with the HP-505 key action (which is much better than the one of the 503). If this fits your demands, then that´s it. I wouldn´t recommend the 503. Besides the not as high quality key action of the 503 in comparison to the HP 505/507 and LX-15, there are some tiny but sometimes helpful features missing (if I remember correctly regarding the MIDI implementation, the configuration possibilities to play with two headphones, or the possibilites how to use the recorder; better check yourself for details by downloading the 503/505 manual and carefully read through them completely for finding the differences)! If you have the money, check if the 507 (or even LX-15) speaker system fits your needs better. If the speaker system of the 505 is enough for you, then stay with it and better invest money left in an iPad to connect to the HP-505.
If you also want to play other sounds than piano (like church organ or e-organ), then be aware that they are not at all intelligently grouped in the sound banks in the mentioned Roland digital pianos (in my opinion). Yamaha is doing a much better job in providing accessability of these! If you would like to stay with Roland, and would need better accessability to other sounds and to configuration parameters, think about getting a Roland stage piano (300 NX or 700 NX) and buying necessary speakers separately, than thinking about one of the Roland console with integrated speakers. You again would have to check the key actions of 300/700NX to comfort you, though.

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#2010655 - 01/07/13 03:14 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
Dustin Spray Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/13
Posts: 51
Loc: Central Illinois
Do you think there is any difference in quality between the three brands? They are all made in Indonisia if am correct right?

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#2010660 - 01/07/13 03:26 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
helloworld1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/12
Posts: 82
Yamaha's are usually made from Japan. Kawai's are from Indonesia.

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#2010677 - 01/07/13 04:11 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: helloworld1]
CarloPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 169
Yamaha, Kawai and Roland are the three top digital piano brands in the world. Any of them is synonym of high quality.

Which one choose? I'm sorry but I'm going to say nothing new: depends on your needs and your taste. Every make has it's pros and cons.

- Roland Supernatural sound engine is very expressive although the tone is no for the taste of everyone (mellow and, in opinion of some people including me, muffled). Their actions are responsive and playable but maybe a bit swallow and light. This can be a defect or a virtue, depends on your point of view. And the action is very noisy, it's probably the noisier one in the market.

- Kawai new actions are heavy enough and in the opinion of many people are quite realistic. I own a HP-305 bought a year ago but if I've had to buy a digital piano today, I'd probably choose a CA-65 with GF wooden action. But that's only an opinion.

- Yamaha is Yamaha. They have a strong pedigree. But while their quality is legendary (and well deserved), they still use more or less the same digital actions they used 10 years ago (slight variants of the GH actions, derived also from 1987's AE action). But today Yamaha is very strong on their pricey but excellent hybrid pianos with real acoustic actions. But while I personally would not recommend to buy a Clavinova, it's only an opinion, there's still many fans of Clavinova (although I think they are a minority on this forum but there's many people in the world smile ).

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#2010965 - 01/08/13 03:02 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: CarloPiano]
Dustin Spray Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/13
Posts: 51
Loc: Central Illinois
Originally Posted By: CarloPiano

But while I personally would not recommend to buy a Clavinova, it's only an opinion, there's still many fans of Clavinova (although I think they are a minority on this forum but there's many people in the world smile ).


If you dont mind me asking why not? Why do people on this forum shy away from the Clavinovas?

I ruled out Roland, I felt that the action was too noisy and the sound was rather muffled.

Im going to look at Kawai's this weekend. Im interested in looking at the CA65 as I believe the CA95 is quite a bit more than the CA65.....

With that being said I think im narrowed down so far to the Yamaha CLP470 or the Kawai CA65. Any others I should look into?

Thanks!

-Dustin

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#2010975 - 01/08/13 03:47 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
Hookxs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/02/13
Posts: 247
Loc: Czech Republic
Possibly because people like new things and, as was pointed out, Yamaha update their technology at somewhat slower rate than model numbers. Or perhaps because particular people on this forum people aren't fond of their action or sound, which is very subjective so don't let others persuade you that you should like this and try for yourself, Yamahas may very well suit you.
IMHO Yamaha DPs (to be fair I tested only the current CLP line) is what I would describe as average - not many strong points but not many weak points, which is very important. Rolands for example (again, in my subjective opinion) are extremely unbalanced, you love them for one aspect and hate for another, sort of from one extreme to another. I have read people say "if you buy a Roland, you will no be disappointed" but you may very well be, if you happen to dislike a feature which you and the same time regard as important. This is imho less likely with Yamahas, they won't blow you away but they will no disappoint you.

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#2010977 - 01/08/13 03:52 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
Dustin Spray Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/13
Posts: 51
Loc: Central Illinois
Thanks! I guess Im not looking for all the bells and whistles as much as I am a good quality instrument with good touch and sound. Most of the sound is going to be with headphones though.......

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#2010981 - 01/08/13 04:06 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 453
Loc: Europe
As the key action of both (CLP470 and CA65) are excellent, and your hands can adapt quickly, don´t forget to take your time to check for the following when visiting the store:

How does the sound react on dynamic playing? How are the volume changes, how are the changes in timbre upon changed speed pressing down the keys?

Play at low volume setting of the speaker system. This is what you will do a lot of time at home when practicing and not wanting to run in trouble with your neighbors. Does the piano sounds and dynamically reacts fine also at low volumes? I saw that the CLP has a "loudness" button to improve the sound for playing at low volumes. I am not sure about the Kawais featuring this. The Rolands do not.

Access the e-piano, church organ sounds, and the e-organ sounds. It maybe that on your journey you might become interested in once enjoying also theses sounds. So, they should be easily accessable, and of course sound nice at well.

Set the speed of the metronome. Play a little bit. Record yourself and listen to yourself. Without finally saving your recorded song, return to practice. This is what you will do a lot of time with a digital piano. It is one of a digital piano´s not so often mentioned but very powerful strength, helping you to practice very efficiently. So, the metronome and recorder functionality should be accessable in a comfortable way. I am mentioning this, because on my HP-505, the metronome speed for practicing and recording is not synchronized, and each time changing between recording and practicing the speed has to be newly adjusted because the recorded speed always jumps to a certain default value but does not use the the last speed which the pianist has had in use. This is very annoying on my Roland digital piano! Only if saving the performance to the long time memory the metronome speeds of the practicing and recorder modes become synchronized. But as you usually won´t save your last practicing run but will just listen once or twice to it you will actually not activate this synchronization and are forced to adjust metronome speeds again and again. The Roland support answered to me that this wouldn´t be a bug, but that it technically would have to be like this. Well, to me it matters what I as the pianist have done last, and with which I want to continue, and I personally don´t want to be forced to adapt to what programmers failed to implement to become a practical helpful feature. On my Roland it is a feature, but not pragmatic to take advantage of in a comfortable way.

[EDIT: adding the following: ]
Because Hooks just commented on it: I love my HP-505 because of its primary piano sound and its dynamic behaviour, especially the changes in timbre. I therefore would not like to change it for anything else on the market at the moment. But some features (accessability of other sounds, and metronome implementation) are very frustrating to use.


Edited by Marco M (01/08/13 04:18 AM)
Edit Reason: including answer on stetment of Hooks
_________________________
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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#2010985 - 01/08/13 04:14 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
Hookxs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/02/13
Posts: 247
Loc: Czech Republic
I can vouch that CA65 metronome and/or recording usage is quick and easy to use and I can confirm that the same on Roland HPs is horrible. Don't remember about CLPs though, the only thing I remeber is that I "recorded" several mp3s (or wavs) directly to flash drive when playtesting at the store and when I came home, the flash drive was empty. Previously I did the same with Kawai and it was intuitive and worked. I admit that I hadn't read the user manuals prior to going to the stores, but it shows that Kawai operation is more intuitive. Once you learn it, it may be easy on Yamaha too (unlike Roland), I don't know.

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#2011010 - 01/08/13 05:53 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
CarloPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 169
Originally Posted By: Dustin Spray
If you dont mind me asking why not? Why do people on this forum shy away from the Clavinovas?


Sure! I can only speak for myself but in my opinion Clavinova has become comfortable with their dominant position into the market while the competence invested a lot more on investigation, development and innovation. I think that all the Yamaha's budget on investigation is being invested on their hybrids.

The final result is that Clavinova's action is a variant of a 1987 one! When I tried the last Clavinovas, including the CLP-470 and 480 which aren't cheap, they felt rather nice but I experienced some problems while playing very complex pieces such as Chopin etudes or impressionist pieces. There were slipped even more notes than while playing on acoustic pianos or on Roland's PHA II/III (who doesn't slip a few notes while playing those monsters?). I also didn't feel comfortable playing it, I think GH and variants, including their last Linear Graded Hammers, are a bit tiring, and that's not a good thing. But the most annoying thing is the unnatural response felt.

Quote:
I ruled out Roland, I felt that the action was too noisy and the sound was rather muffled.


That's a pity because Supernatural is very expressive and listening from a certain distance (not from the player perspective) is amazingly realistic. In my opinion, listening from that distance, it its the most realistic piano tone out of the three. But the action is very noisy and it's highly noted when played at a not too loud volume, and the sound is muffled when staying close.

Quote:
Im going to look at Kawai's this weekend. Im interested in looking at the CA65 as I believe the CA95 is quite a bit more than the CA65.....


Yes, the CA95 is more expensive as you get a soundboard and maybe better speakers (not sure about this).

Quote:
With that being said I think im narrowed down so far to the Yamaha CLP470 or the Kawai CA65. Any others I should look into?


If you didn't like Roland, I think these are your best options. I would choose Kawai but it's a matter of taste. I don't think other brands such as Kurzeill, Korg and Casio match the big three on your price range. On lower levels Casio is a nice alternative but not at this.

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#2011020 - 01/08/13 06:48 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3835
Loc: North Carolina
Regarding the relatively level of discussion of Yamaha vs. Kawai, here's a my impression of the history on this board ...

It used to be that Yamaha was the most-discussed line of products. Perhaps that's because they're widely available. Their low-end units are in every music store. And their high-end can be found here in at least three piano dealers here in south Florida.

Not so for Kawai. They're hard to find in the US, and (it seems) even harder to find elsewhere. When I was shopping for a piano four years ago I simply could not find a Kawai. Discredit Kawai for that. So I bought a Yamaha.

It's just in the last year or two that Kawai discussions have taken hold. Perhaps the Kawai distribution network has improved a bit? (Not much here, though. There's just one dealer in my county. But that's better than before.)

But I think it has more to do with the improvements that Kawai has made.

Yamaha sells pianos today that have the same action as those sold more than ten years ago. Still plastic only, and no wood keys (except for the "wood-look" shims on their high-end models.)

And the sound engine has changed little, if at all. (Real Grand Expression vs. the older Advanced Wave Memory seems to be a big name change, with little or no real change.)

Meanwhile Kawai has moved to wooden keys even on their mid-priced products. And they've improved the sound a great deal, it seems.

I presume that this has led to the growing interest in Kawai.

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#2011531 - 01/09/13 02:21 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: MacMacMac]
Dustin Spray Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/13
Posts: 51
Loc: Central Illinois
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac

Yamaha sells pianos today that have the same action as those sold more than ten years ago. Still plastic only, and no wood keys (except for the "wood-look" shims on their high-end models.)

Meanwhile Kawai has moved to wooden keys even on their mid-priced products. And they've improved the sound a great deal, it seems.

I presume that this has led to the growing interest in Kawai.


Can you elaborate on this a tad? The Yamaha CLP 470 claims to have "88 uniquely weighted wooden keys"? Along with "Linear Graded Hammers" Is this not true? I dont believe the Yamaha has the "Let off" touch feature either.


Edited by Dustin Spray (01/09/13 02:22 AM)

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#2011535 - 01/09/13 02:39 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: MacMacMac]
Kona_V-Piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 283
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Yamaha sells pianos today that have the same action as those sold more than ten years ago. Still plastic only, and no wood keys (except for the "wood-look" shims on their high-end models.)


You are so wrong. My Yamaha CLP-990 was made in 2001 and had real spruce wooden keys and grand piano action as well as all 88 keys sampled with 5 layers each. There are real wooden hammers hitting contacts, and it feels a lot better while playing it still all these years later than any plastic keys from later CLP models.
_________________________
Roland V-Piano, Yamaha CLP990, Yamaha S90

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#2011547 - 01/09/13 03:50 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3701
Loc: Northern England.
I went round the piano shop yesterday (I`d ordered sheet music) and tried all the latest stuff. None of the digitals or acoustics grabbed me like they did in the past. They were everything the Acoustic Exponents claim; colourless, odourless, puerile. I wouldn`t part wi my cash.

There was this Digiano Grand which looked and sounded great, for £2k but the action was crap . . . couldn`t play quiet bits on it.
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2013727 - 01/12/13 11:59 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
Dustin Spray Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/13
Posts: 51
Loc: Central Illinois
Finally made it to the music store today to check out the Kawai CA65. All I can say is WOW! I really had my heart set on Yamaha, probably mainly because of the name. But the CA65 had a wonderful touch and sound and way more features than the CLP470 had to offer. It was so much like a piano I couldnt even hardly tell it was electronic. Plus is comes in satin black where the CLP470 does not. I think I may go purchase one next weekend. I just hope the quality is good and it holds up well. I did notice the "A" natural below middle "C" stuck twice during my hour session on playing. Im not sure how normal this is......

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#2013744 - 01/13/13 12:52 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
pv88 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 2635
Originally Posted By: Dustin Spray
I did notice the "A" natural below middle "C" stuck twice during my hour session on playing. Im not sure how normal this is......


@Dustin,

A sticking note is never "normal" so be sure to buy a brand new digital and not a demo model from the store. You will always get a lower price on a used and worn instrument, although it is best advised not to buy one.

Did you have a chance to point out this problem to the sales person?

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#2013758 - 01/13/13 02:03 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: pv88]
Dustin Spray Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/13
Posts: 51
Loc: Central Illinois
No i didnt point it out to the salesman. I agree though, I am going to buy a brand new one in the box. Not a worn demo model. I wonder if anyone else has encountered this. I though maybe it needed to be broken in. LOL! The key stuck twice, and I dont think I did anything to cause it to stick like snag it with my sleeve or something?.......

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#2013774 - 01/13/13 04:20 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
floydthebarber71 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/07/12
Posts: 178
Loc: South Africa
You aren't the first! I also tried very hard to convince myself of the Yamaha actions, but I walked home with a Kawai because of the touch.

I'm not too experienced with this stuff, but you aren't supposed to have sticky keys at any point. Maybe someone splashed some cooldrink on the demo model :P
_________________________
Zaahir

Self-taught renegade - Kawai CL-36

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#2013823 - 01/13/13 08:37 AM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
Clayman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/13
Posts: 300
Loc: Prague, Czech Rep.
Interesting opinions on the Yamahas... I'm also hunting for a new DP and after countless evenings of research and aural tests I have narrowed down the options to the CLP 470 and the CA-95. Most stores that sell Yamaha DP's really seem to push those for some reason -- I engaged in a chat with an assistant in one of the stores about a week ago and asked him why they also don't stock any Kawai models. He seemed a little surprised by that question but he said that basically no one ever wants those. confused Figures...

At any rate, I was able to sit down at the CLP 470 in that store some months ago and really liked what I heard (and saw) and the key action also seemed fine (but since I've never played a piano before I can't really play judge here). I was actually firmly decided to get the CLP 470 once I save up enough money...

...but that was before I heard the new CA-95 on YouTube (there's a link to a promotional video floating around here). I fell in love with its sound and liked the looks of that beauty as well. It costs somewhat more than the 470 but it's still within the limit. What's worse, however, is that none of the stores around here stocks it -- they only supply these on request. I was able to toy a bit with Kawai CS3 to at least get a taste of the Let-off feature (kinda weird if you ask me smile ) but I reckon the CS3 is a different league. I might try to ask them if they could get one unit overhere for a tryout because at the moment, the CA-95 really seems miles ahead of any CLP in terms of technology and features.


Edited by Clayman (01/13/13 08:42 AM)
_________________________
-- Zbynek N.

Learning to play the piano since 06/2013 on a Kawai CA-95.

Music is what feelings sound like. ~ Author Unknown

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#2013990 - 01/13/13 04:12 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Clayman]
chickenlump Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/13/12
Posts: 54
Loc: Canada
I just bought the CA95 myself.
I didn't mind the 470, but the CA95 key action feels more authentic to me. I've grown up with playing a lot of yamaha, but the CLP series that I tried feels quite a bit different. The Roland keys just felt really fake to me, I just couldn't get over it.

CA95 was close enough that I can really immerse myself without feeling like I'm playing digital.

I got the 95 over the 65 - the soundboard made a surprisingly big difference in completing the AP experience. I personally thought it was worth the extra money.

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#2013991 - 01/13/13 04:23 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
Man of La Mancha Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/13/12
Posts: 2
It is usually said that those three brands are the Big Three in digital pianos. However, in the Piano World, these three do not seem to be the same and this thread is a "proof." Kawai seems to be the most preferred and recommended brand, followed by Yamaha. Roland, once a venerable brand in the digital instrument world, seems to be falling behind these two brands while it is being pushed from the behind by Casio. This a general impression that I have gotten after reading various threads here. Of course, when we come down to specific models, any comparison will get complicated.

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#2014019 - 01/13/13 05:32 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 453
Loc: Europe
Maybe ROLAND users do not come back so frequently to the forum´s DP board, because they are no more searching but only playing? The key action and the main piano sound, and how they are connected are just excellent for many people!

Well, the ROLAND piano sound is imitating the warm old european sound, which is preferably to be heard in classic and romantic music, but does not compare as well to the modern bright sound like used in Jazz/Blues/Country/Rock or Movie Track playing. It can´t strike through as good in band playing or in any other environment with background noise! It is more for playing solo.
Also, as we are hearing daily the brighter piano sounds on Radio or TV, nowadays even in Video Games, the brighter sound might because of this popularity be preffered by more people, nowadays.

Finally, everybody searching for more instrument than only a (digital) piano might be disappointed about the extras of the ROLDANDs. At least I am, especially about the 'other' sounds which are not the main piano sound, and I am also dissappointed about the metronome implementation.
Furthermore, it is not possible to deactivate (or decrease volume of) the hammer noise which is added (too loud) to the sound, and that it is not possible to chose if dampers for the highest 1 1/2 octave are applied or not. ...Yes, I know, there are different opinions here in the forum, how far the DP should imitate as close as possible an acoustic piano, or develope as well by its new electronic possibilities.

Anyway, I wouldn´t want to change from ROLAND to one of the bright sound pianos. For me playing mainly romantic piano solo style music, it is just the right choice!

So, let me assume that ROLAND users are more dedicated to classical and romantic music, also do not ask for the 'bells and whistles' as much, and once they found their instrument don´t worry much anymore about what´s new on the market. Thus their presence is lower on the DP board than it is in a buyers and players statistics?
_________________________
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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#2014034 - 01/13/13 06:28 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3835
Loc: North Carolina
RE: Man of La Mancha's rank ordering as Kawai --> Yamaha --> Roland --> Casio ...

That does seem to be the trend in the postings here. In the end, though, there's no substitute for trying pianos and then deciding for yourself. Your own rank ordering is the only one that really matters.

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#2014041 - 01/13/13 06:40 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Man of La Mancha]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3483
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: Man of La Mancha
It is usually said that those three brands are the Big Three in digital pianos. However, in the Piano World, these three do not seem to be the same and this thread is a "proof." Kawai seems to be the most preferred and recommended brand, followed by Yamaha. Roland, once a venerable brand in the digital instrument world, seems to be falling behind these two brands while it is being pushed from the behind by Casio. This a general impression that I have gotten after reading various threads here. Of course, when we come down to specific models, any comparison will get complicated.


Well...from what I can tell, the most preferred and recommended brand changes here faster than new models come out, which means it isn't always based on which brand has the best available pianos.

The opinion of just a few people on this forum can influence one's perception of the whole industry quite easily. And since the composition of the forum (or at least, the group of people actively posting) changes over time, you get fluctuations in forum consensus.

Just a few months ago I had the sense that the forum was leaning heavily Roland, perhaps with Kawai as a runner up. Kawai has come out with some pretty neat models recently, which earns lots of mojo, but the landscape isn't so totally changed that Roland is a distant third.

I'm pretty sure in numbers of digital pianos sold (overall, not just to forum members), Yamaha dominates Roland and Kawai--even people who don't play know what a clavinova is. And I suspect (based on availability) that Roland dominates Kawai by this measure. Casio probably sells a ton of pianos, but a large proportion of them are the unweighted keyboards you can pick up at walmart and the like, so I'm not sure if we count them. I don't expect that situation to change any time real soon--the DP market just isn't very fast moving.

I like pianos from all the brands, and appreciate their differences. In terms of recomendations, well, I can tell you my flavors of the month if you want... smile


Edited by gvfarns (01/13/13 06:44 PM)

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#2014042 - 01/13/13 06:42 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Man of La Mancha]
voxpops Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3083
Loc: Oregon
Originally Posted By: Man of La Mancha
Roland, once a venerable brand in the digital instrument world, seems to be falling behind these two brands...


Based on what? They have great APs and a great action. Not everyone will like what they produce, but that's different. To me, if at all, it's the other brands that are playing catch-up to Roland's SuperNATURAL. Roland stuff is usually well-built and reliable. The biggest criticism I have seen leveled at them is that they are less innovative in other areas than they used to be. That is something that both Yamaha and Kawai could also be accused of.

My own personal criticism of Roland recently is that they tend to ration their non-AP "extras" to the point of it almost being not worth including them in their DPs. Their EPs are frequently a joke. However, Kawai ration their best AP samples, and Yamaha seem to just tinker around with what they've been doing for the past twenty years.

I don't think ranking makes any real sense.
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#2014045 - 01/13/13 06:52 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3483
Loc: Pennsylvania
I think you are right, voxpops. In my opinion:

* Yamaha has very much stagnated (which may mean they are just happy where they are) in action and sound. I exclude hybrids from this, because that was a great innovation.

* Roland made a great innovation with the SuperNatural, but that has been around a number of years now and I haven't seen it changed. I also haven't seen any innovation on the action side. I not yet played an Ivory-G piano, yet, though. So maybe my impression is wrong.

* Kawai seems to be the only one coming up with new actions regularly. I think it's kind of the niche they have chosen--authentic touch. All the Kawai pianos I've heard sound the same to me, so my personal feeling is that their sound engine has changed only the same way Yamaha's has: very incrementally or in some cases not at all.

Of course, in each case we are talking about changes (innovations) they have made. That's not the best measure for recommendations because it omits their starting point (Yamaha started out in a great place as basically the company that made digital pianos a household concept). It also omits their pricing (Yamaha does great again for the most part).

One note: Both Yamaha and Kawai mostly feature their own acoustic piano sounds in their digitals. In fact, they seem to make piano after piano with a "different" tone engine that draw from the same sampling session. This being the case, when a model sound just like the one it replaces, we shouldn't be surprised.


Edited by gvfarns (01/13/13 07:27 PM)

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#2014055 - 01/13/13 07:13 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5273
Is there such a thing as brand loyalty in DPs? After all, unlike say, SLR cameras, you're not buying into a system. I don't know about computers - do you get locked similarly into a system when buying one?

I don't presume to know much about DPs (- I just treat them as acoustic pianos that need to be switched on grin) but from an occasional reading of the posts here in the DP forum (skipping all the technical threads which pass me by....), the consensus seems to be that if you want good non-piano sounds, you wouldn't go for Roland; if you want the most lifelike playing experience, Roland's SN DPs are your best bet; Yamaha seems to rely on its reputation too much rather than innovation, but remains by far the best seller; Kawai is too difficult to get hold of for many people, but seems to be the best bet if you want decent AP as well as EP and other sounds, as well as better key action than Yamaha.

Of course, all the above generalizations exclude the niche DPs like the Yamaha AGs and NU1, and Roland V-Piano/Grand.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2014057 - 01/13/13 07:15 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
NoviceJazzer Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/07/13
Posts: 14
I have a question concerning the Yamaha-Kawai-Roland discussion. I've been listening to tons of product demos and have found that all three companies have good sounding keyboards, but is there a way to determine which has the most reliability/less repairs needed.

I'm disabled and can't drive, so I really want to get one that I can set up and not worry about, and not need to load in any software patches.

Thanks in advance,
Kevin

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#2014063 - 01/13/13 07:33 PM Re: Yamaha vs Kawai vs Roland [Re: Dustin Spray]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3483
Loc: Pennsylvania
We almost never have discussions about reliability by brand. For the most part, digital pianos are completely hassle free. If there are issues, they don't seem to be pervasive across any particular brand.

Basically, they are all pretty reliable and when there are issues, all the major companies are pretty good at resolving them with minimal trouble for you.

Basically, they conform to the Japanese stereotype.


Edited by gvfarns (01/13/13 07:35 PM)

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