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#2040184 - 02/27/13 02:04 PM Kawai or Casio to use with iPad and Macbook Pro
Ian Lash Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/27/13
Posts: 6
Loc: United Kingdom
I am thinking of buy a DP for my daughter who has recently started to learn to play, and I would like to learn myself. I am looking at DP's around the £1000 mark, which I guess is around $1500. My wife wants something "that looks like a piano". I have a width limitation for where it is to go of 1400mm (55.1").

I want something that will keep her interested (and possibly her younger sister), so I think it would be good if we could easily hook up an iPad or MacBook Pro (we have both) , so she can use GarageBand etc for extra sounds/voices and to aid with learning. If we were to do this then I think we would not need so many "voices" on the DP (again, a lot of voices will help to keep her interested). Therefore, I have looked at the Casio AP-650M, but if I use GarageBand, would that mean I could just buy the AP-450 because the main difference between the two models seems to be the number of voices?

I also like the look, feel and sound of the Kawai CN34, but again if I hook up to the Macbook, could I get away with the CN24? The price difference is quite large. How easy is it to connect the Kawais to an iPad or MacBook? As easy as the Casio?

I've also considered Yamaha (for the money, not as good reviews and also the CLP430 is too wide), and Roland (again, for the money, not as good reviews). Happy to reconsider them though.

I know someone will say it's a piano, so you only want a piano sound, but I want the option of more.

Many thanks in advance.
Ian

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#2040232 - 02/27/13 03:06 PM Re: Kawai or Casio to use with iPad and Macbook Pro [Re: Ian Lash]
JFP Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/10
Posts: 1336
Loc: The Netherlands
For the Casio and CN series you mentioned it's mostly a matter of the amount of sounds onboard AND the speaker system. The amplifier and speakers are much weaker and unsatisfyable (English ?) when you go down the line in model number and price. The keys on these models are the same and the basic grand piano preset(s) as well.

So :
- how important is a good sound coming from the piano sound system, or are you going to use it on headphones only ?
- how important are (extra) onboard sounds , if you are going to use a laptop with software anyway ?

As an alternative you might consider a controller (like the Kawai VPC) with a set of good speakers if you're intending to use software synths as primary sound source. But for a young child, I think simply switching on the DP and learning to play the piano with a basic good piano sound is more important then fiddling around with computers and iPads. IMHO that would be too distracting ; if (?) there is the intention to really learn to play the instrument well.

I think the AP-650 and CN34 are both good choices to start with if you want her to learn to play AND still have some extra sounds to toy with.

Connecting laptops / iPads is done through USB. For the iPad you might need a USB interface connector. Then the devices are controlled by MIDI over the USB connection so you can play your software piano's and synths.

The audio of the device is still coming from the device itself. So if you want to hear it through the piano, your piano must have an Audio-IN (both have that) AND you must use a groundloop isolator to avoid HUM. Also the audio you send through the piano speakers may not sound as expected , because it is not compensated for the acoustic response of the DP , like the internal sounds of the DP (those have a correcting EQ between the sound engine and speaker system). That's one advantage of a setup with your own speakers ; you get what you put in , be it the DP output or output from Laptop/ iPad.

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#2040242 - 02/27/13 03:24 PM Re: Kawai or Casio to use with iPad and Macbook Pro [Re: JFP]
Ian Lash Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/27/13
Posts: 6
Loc: United Kingdom
Thanks very much JFP, that's very useful. My eldest daughter is 12, so happy to mess about with computers. But for my younger daughter (8), just turning the DP on is what she needs, as you say.

I have read a lot and seen on YouTube how compatible Casios are with iPads etc (using the camera connector kit), but I haven't seen the same from Kawai, but I presume as it has MIDI over USB it must be just the same?

I would be happy with just a controller (I have read good reviews of the Kawai VPC) but my wife insists it must look like a piece of furniture, rather than a gadget. So, external speakers and an amp are not an option unfortunately. I haven't told her yet that the Casio only comes in black!

I understand what you are saying about the piano's sound system, and will bear that in mind when deciding.

Ian

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#2040275 - 02/27/13 04:15 PM Re: Kawai or Casio to use with iPad and Macbook Pro [Re: Ian Lash]
JFP Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/10
Posts: 1336
Loc: The Netherlands
Also beware that the cheaper AP-450 and CN24 have no audio input.

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#2040277 - 02/27/13 04:16 PM Re: Kawai or Casio to use with iPad and Macbook Pro [Re: Ian Lash]
EJT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/30/13
Posts: 28
Loc: South Bend, Indiana
The Kawai CN24 doesn't have USB-to-Host, though it has midi in/out. If you are concerned about having external speakers around, note that the CN34 has line in jacks so you could run the sound from a garageband piano (or any instrument) from the computer back to the CN34 and hear that sound from the internal keyboard speakers. The CN24 does not have those jacks. You can still connect the CN24 to a computer as it has the midi in/out (and cables exist that convert from midi into USB). From your initial statement, I'm not sure you could get away with the CN24 to Garageband if you wanted to use different sounds/voices AND not have external speakers.

My personal view was that I really wanted line in jacks on the keyboard for playing with virtual pianos (I've loved garageband for years). I bought a Casio PX350 (though I ultimately returned it). I was content with the touch (I thought it was nice and better than my old Yamaha P120) but really hated the internal speakers when playing piano sounds from garageband back into the keyboard. The sound problem I had is clearly a personal opinion though. It can come with a nice wooden stand, too (and three pedals). It has like 8W speakers, so they aren't terribly powerful. With headphones, though, it has a very nice sound.

I really liked the CN34 when I had a chance to play it, even more so than the CE220. But the CN34 does seem outside of your price zone you've set.

The real fun (for me) of garageband is playing along with the actual recordings and messing around recording my playing with the real sound (you can import songs from iTunes as tracks in garageband). The kids may well love recording (with or without accompaniment) and your thought of garageband is a good one.

I would suggest looking at the Casio Privias (and at least the PX350 does come in white). My opinion was that they had nice touch and nice internal sound (through headphones and with their piano sounds through the speakers). I just couldn't get the hookup just right between the mac and the keyboard when feeding virtual sounds back to the PX350. You might do better. I had a price that was under $1000US for the PX350, stand/pedals. So it fits well into your range. And my wife was impressed by the wooden stand Casio makes for it.

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#2040318 - 02/27/13 05:30 PM Re: Kawai or Casio to use with iPad and Macbook Pro [Re: Ian Lash]
Ian Lash Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/27/13
Posts: 6
Loc: United Kingdom
Thanks EJT and JFP. I hadn't thought about the Line In, which is obviously very important for how I want it setup. This makes the choice easier. The CN34 is about £1200, and I'm happy to pay that. I've had a play with one, and liked the feel and the build quality. I'm sure my wife would like it in Rosewood too.

The CN34 has 20W and the Casio 650 30W speakers, and they both sound good to me in the shops. Might be different at home though.

Thanks everyone, you've been really helpful.
_________________________
Kawai CN34

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#2040513 - 02/28/13 02:19 AM Re: Kawai or Casio to use with iPad and Macbook Pro [Re: Ian Lash]
SGM-IR Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/23/13
Posts: 7
Loc: Dublin, Ireland
Ian, I migrated from a Yamaha keyboard (E423) to a Kawai CN34 two weeks ago, deciding on the Kawai for all of the reasons that you list, including the possibility of linking to an iPad, and after extensive trials with other instruments in the same price range. I am thrilled with the purchase; it is fulfilling all of my requirements and expectations, and a non-playing SWMBO is happy with its size and appearance. It came from Thomann in a large box, was easily assembled in 30 minutes, and an adjustable bench (separate box) plus a cheap set of headphones were included in the set. I don't think that you will regret the extra sum that you plan to invest.

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#2040527 - 02/28/13 03:14 AM Re: Kawai or Casio to use with iPad and Macbook Pro [Re: Ian Lash]
JFP Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/10
Posts: 1336
Loc: The Netherlands
@EJT , could it be you really hated the sound of external instruments through the line-in, because it is not corrected by an EQ for the characteristics of the Casio Amp/speaker system ? This is what I meant in my first reply above. The internal sounds on a DP goes through and EQ between sound engine and speakers to make sure they sound right on a system that is far from linear. The audio input is send straight through the speakers without correcting EQ. Same on Kawai and many others. To get the sound right you either have to have an end stage EQ in software that compensates the unevenness of the speaker system, or use a hardware EQ in between the computer output and line-in of the DP.

This EQ is not needed between sound engine and headphone output, which is supposed to be linear.

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#2040645 - 02/28/13 09:03 AM Re: Kawai or Casio to use with iPad and Macbook Pro [Re: Ian Lash]
EJT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/30/13
Posts: 28
Loc: South Bend, Indiana
@JFP: certainly! Your explanation (now that I've re-read it) describes one of the problems---or maybe the problem---I had a hum at any volume when I connected the Mac to the Keyboard's line-in jacks and distortion at any useful volume. I assumed it was a cheapo cable from Guitar Center. The hum, coupled with the distortion at reasonable volumes, convinced me that the speakers in the PX350 were substandard for my purposes. In your experience, is it true that I'd need a ground loop isolator for any connection between the audio out of the Mac and the line-in of a keyboard?

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#2040797 - 02/28/13 01:57 PM Re: Kawai or Casio to use with iPad and Macbook Pro [Re: EJT]
JFP Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/10
Posts: 1336
Loc: The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: EJT
@JFP: certainly! Your explanation (now that I've re-read it) describes one of the problems---or maybe the problem---I had a hum at any volume when I connected the Mac to the Keyboard's line-in jacks and distortion at any useful volume. I assumed it was a cheapo cable from Guitar Center. The hum, coupled with the distortion at reasonable volumes, convinced me that the speakers in the PX350 were substandard for my purposes. In your experience, is it true that I'd need a ground loop isolator for any connection between the audio out of the Mac and the line-in of a keyboard?


Hum and a non-corrected (not properly EQ-ed) sound are two different problems.
1) The absence of a correcting EQ for the audio IN , when you play over the speakers makes it sound weird / flat / thin (ugly ;-)
2) When you connect a USB cable for MIDI control to your Mac (or other PC) AND connect the build-in audio output of the Mac to your DP line-IN , then you have a HUM in 99% of the cases. Using a ground-loop isolator will fix that. It has nothing to do with the speaker quality of your particular DP.

Hope this helps, although you seem to have sold your PX already. But it's valid for most DP's with audio-IN.

Note: If you use a dedicated audio interface instead of build-in audio output of your PC , you may not need a ground-loop isolator. The interface will decouple the signal.

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