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#2108450 - 06/26/13 02:24 PM If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard...
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1423
Caveat: I went to the digital piano forum and I'm utterly confused by way too much information. So I'm hoping I can get some simpler answers here more quickly.

Caveat thus caveat..ed, here's the question. I am in Europe for the summer and obviously did not take my piano with me. I miss it terribly. I found a music school that rents practice rooms, but the piano isn't that great. It'll definitely do for the summer, but...

...we are renting from a gentleman here who, as it turns out, is as his day job a music producer/band manager here. He says that he's not sure of price, but he can definitely rent anything and get it here to the apartment if I think a keyboard would do. I said sure, though I don't know much about them, and he isn't too clear on what models there are, specifically, either. He called his colleague, who said, "just tell me a model!" and then the question was thus bounced back to me.

So...anybody have any suggestions? It would have to be marginally portable (ideally some kind of keyboard and not one of those digital grand pianos that are almost as large and immovable as a regular acoustic piano) but other than that, all I care is that it is as close as possible to a regular acoustic piano action. If it can't be both that and not enormously complicated to obtain, I will just make do with the practice rooms at the music school.

In any event, I'm looking for some kind of input on model that would fit the bill. I'm going to pay for the rental, ultimately, though I'll be paying whatever his price is.

Keep in mind I'm in Europe, though I don't see any difference, really, in piano/music brands here. Yamaha, Roland... It's all here.

Little help?
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suite BWV 814 No. 3
Chopin, Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. post. 66
Tchaikovsky, Mars: Chante de l'alouette Op. 37a No. 3

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#2108483 - 06/26/13 03:12 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5548
If it's any help (but I'm no expert on DPs, I just play them; more specifically, mine grin), I think the Roland SuperNatural ones give you the best combination of playability and tone quality, and responsiveness to your touch, because there's a modelling component to their sound generation. As opposed to the pure sampling of Yamahas, Kawais, Casios etc, where the sound is only electronically modified from pre-recorded samples. Maybe something like the Roland FP7-F?
Or the slab RD-700NX (weight=55 lb), which is the flagship model, and is well-regarded among pianists (as opposed to 'keyboardists'). The RD-300NX is more portable at 38 lb.

Mine is actually the top-range 'slab', the V-Piano, though that is stretching the term, as it's not really portable at 84 lb without the stand. And it needs a hefty stand to support it, preferably Roland's dedicated one. But it is truly unique in its pure modelling sound generation, which gives it a response to touch unrivalled by anything else (except its big brother, the V-Piano Grand). It's the only digital that I can truly forget is an electronic instrument when I play it, using headphones (as it has no integral speakers). But you do pay for such innovation - probably around €4000-€5000 to buy. As for rental, I have to say there're not many of them around....
_________________________
"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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#2108487 - 06/26/13 03:18 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18292
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: TwoSnowflakes
[...]...we are renting from a gentleman here who, as it turns out, is as his day job a music producer/band manager here. He says that he's not sure of price, but he can definitely rent anything and get it here to the apartment if I think a keyboard would do. I said sure, though I don't know much about them, and he isn't too clear on what models there are, specifically, either. He called his colleague, who said, "just tell me a model!" and then the question was thus bounced back to me.

[...]


And if you "just tell [him] a model" and he says : "Oh, sorry, we don't have that one!" and then you tell him another model : "Oh, sorry, we don't have that one either!" would it not be better to find out what "he" has, try them, and pick the one that best suits your needs and budget.

Otherwise, you might be spinning around in every dizzying circles for some time exchanging model numbers for equipment he does not carry.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#2108492 - 06/26/13 03:25 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
the nosy ape Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/10/08
Posts: 723
Loc: Westford, MA
I have a Casio Privia PX-120 and it seems to fit your requirements. It has 88 weighted keys and it is just the keyboard without a cabinet. It also supports partial pedal. The sound is not great but it is adequate for practice. I think the PX-120 has been discontinued, but I am sure there is a newer model taking its spot.

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#2108535 - 06/26/13 04:29 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4841
Loc: Seattle area, WA
If you have not other choice than to play a digital, than do it, but be warned, I went on vacation with my Yamaha P95 and thought my playing sounded pretty good. When I returned home and sat down at my acoustic, I was appalled. It took me a week to repair what I had lost.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#2108591 - 06/26/13 05:53 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1834
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
When I have the choice, I do all my practicing on my home acoustic piano.

I do travel a lot for work, and when I can drive, I throw my Casio PX-350* in the boot for the trip. It has a good weighted action, and I can get some very useful practicing done on it, though it's not as good as playing on a decent acoustic. (However, I find it BETTER than playing on a bad acoustic piano, which I also sometimes do when traveling.) The Casio, at less than 25 pounds, is as portable an 88-key digital as you'll find with a decent, weighted-key action. (*For someone solely interested in piano, the PX-150 has the same action, but slightly less speaker power and fewer non-piano bells and whistles.)

When I need to do silent practicing at home (usually late at night or early in the morning), I use a Roland RD700NX. I agree with Bennevis that it's a nice instrument. The sound engine is better than the much-less-expensive Casio, and the action is better too (though the Casio's action is plenty good). (I'd probably use a Roland V-Piano for that if I could, and set it up following the extensive and wonderful suggestions Bennevis has posted elsewhere here, but I just couldn't justify the V-Piano's cost for something I'd very seldom play.)

There are good boards of generally the same ilk by Yamaha and Kawai, but I haven't played those much and will defer to those who have.

In general, I think playing a decent digital for a few months in your circumstances will be well worth the trouble. It's not like playing a good acoustic, and as Gooddog says, you'll need some time to adjust when you get back to your acoustic, but practicing on a good digital is MUCH better than not playing at all.

Good luck!
_________________________


"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#2108603 - 06/26/13 06:04 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
Kawai MP-10. Try it first, if you can. It's a stage piano (a slab), rather heavy, but the weight comes from the very good piano action. However, it is not like one of those 'miniature grands' that you mentioned not wanting. Of course, nothing replaces or is really like a real grand, as Deborah said. Still, there's a place and time for these devices. For this one, you would need headphones.

If you are staying in one place for the summer, you might even consider renting one of Kawai's home model cabinet-style DPs. http://kawaius.com/ from a local dealer, or though the rental agent you mentioned. I would not want to be toting such a thing around Europe, or across the Atlantic, but it could be a good chance to 'try before you buy.' This kind of model has amp and speakers built-in to the cabinet; no doubt, you would still want headphones at times.
_________________________
Clef


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#2108604 - 06/26/13 06:04 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
patH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/13
Posts: 601
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: TwoSnowflakes
So...anybody have any suggestions? It would have to be marginally portable (ideally some kind of keyboard and not one of those digital grand pianos that are almost as large and immovable as a regular acoustic piano) but other than that, all I care is that it is as close as possible to a regular acoustic piano action.

Well, that's a problem. Usually, in my opinion, you can't have both.
If they are portable keyboards, the keys are usually just weighted, and the action does not feel at all like a piano action. I know it; I have a Casio Privia PX-100. When my old Yamaha Clavinova had a hanging E4 key I practiced more on the Casio. Bad for my technique.

However, one category of pianos I am not really familiar with is stage pianos. Maybe some have a good action? Others on this forum may know.
_________________________
Everything is possible, and nothing is sure.
XXXI

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#2108605 - 06/26/13 06:05 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
Vid Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 888
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
If I HAD to (and I do) I would go with the setup you see in my tagline. That is - Kawai VPC1 + Pianoteq software.

The piano action simulates that of a grand piano and the Pianoteq software models the piano sound. Obviously it does not sound that much like a real piano (acoustic has wood and steel, while electronic is always limited by digital medium and speakers) but it provides a sustain and velocity control that is missing from standard digital pianos.

I would go as far to claim that this setup is better than a mediocre acoustic upright piano. This may ruffle the feathers of the purists out there but I really feel what I have now is a real viable practice instrument. I can voice chords, apply half-pedal/partial pedal affects, the sostenuto pedal works, I can make notes ring with bell like clarity etc. etc. I don't get the fatigue and vague feeling of disappointment I used to get when practicing on my old Clavinova. Its never out of tune and I can apply different kinds of tuning if I wish.

I used to have the experience of having to adjust to an acoustic piano after extensive practice on my old digital but no more. I find the transition from the VPC1 to an acoustic grand now is almost seamless.

That said you will probably have a difficult time getting your hands on one because the demand for this model has exceeded supply. Also I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who is not technically inclined. Your more standard digital has the advantage that you can simply turn it on and go. My setup is pretty much like that but there is a learning curve in getting the software and keyboard all setup properly.
_________________________
Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

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#2108636 - 06/26/13 07:08 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
Allan W. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 376
Loc: Michigan
I second the Kawai MP10 / VPC1. I've been playing my MP10 for less than a year but I'm extremely satisfied with the action. Way better than any upright I've played and comparable to the grands I've tried. It has a slightly heavy but smooth touch but that's good for building up your finger strength smile

I use it with Ivory II American Concert D and the sound is pretty great.

If you're just looking to rent one.. most piano stores don't carry these models since they're considered stage pianos instead of digital pianos.

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#2108641 - 06/26/13 07:17 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5548
Something that I bang on fairly frequently over in the Digital Piano forum is that if you want to play your DP like it's a real piano, you have to treat it like a real piano, i.e. set the volume control at a realistic level, whether with its speakers or your own headphones; and never ever move it from that position.

An acoustic hasn't got a volume control - you control the dynamics entirely with your own hands and fingers, and I think that a lot of the deterioration of keyboard skills that people experience when they temporarily use a DP while away from home is due to playing around with the volume setting (assuming that the digital they're using has adequate action and responsiveness). Setting the level too low enables, nay, encourages the pianist to use too much force, thus losing their fine control of tone and voicing etc. You can also see this fault in young pianists who learnt to play entirely on digitals: when they play on real pianos, all they do is bang away, because they never developed the ability to play softly.

Another problem with almost all digitals is that they encourage over-pedalling, because of their poor sustain and lack of resonances. Unless you are using something like the V-Piano (in which you can customize its level of sustain and various resonances to realistic levels - and even beyond, if you so desire - and still remain realistic without unnatural 'looping' etc), you'll just have to unlearn your pedalling when you get back to your acoustic.

I've learnt several new pieces (including most of Ravel's Gaspard) entirely from scratch on my V-Piano since I bought it three years ago, and have absolutely no problems playing them on acoustic grands afterwards - as I did when I visited Steinway Hall last weekend to play on their A, B and D grands.
_________________________
"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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#2108643 - 06/26/13 07:21 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
What I'd suggest is that you completely forget about pianos and enjoy your summer vacation. A three month absence from the piano is nothing--after twenty years away I could still sit right down and play okay, more or less. Piano is sort of like riding a bike or swimming, once you learn you can always do it.

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#2108665 - 06/26/13 07:48 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: Gyro]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4841
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: Gyro
What I'd suggest is that you completely forget about pianos and enjoy your summer vacation. A three month absence from the piano is nothing--after twenty years away I could still sit right down and play okay, more or less. Piano is sort of like riding a bike or swimming, once you learn you can always do it.
Hey Gyro, good to see you again. Actually that's not bad advice but it would probably break my heart and drive me crazy. I've just got to be making music. Right after college, I had no access to a piano for 3 years so I taught myself to play alto and soprano recorder fairly decently. It was not the best substitute but it was better than nothing.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#2108878 - 06/27/13 04:57 AM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: bennevis]
Luthrin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/08
Posts: 54
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: bennevis
An acoustic hasn't got a volume control - you control the dynamics entirely with your own hands and fingers, and I think that a lot of the deterioration of keyboard skills that people experience when they temporarily use a DP while away from home is due to playing around with the volume setting (assuming that the digital they're using has adequate action and responsiveness). Setting the level too low enables, nay, encourages the pianist to use too much force, thus losing their fine control of tone and voicing etc.


Stephen Hough on practising on a digital:

"It would be a mistake for a young person who plans a
pianistic career to learn on one of these, but for amateurs,
for professional musicians who are not pianists, for concert
pianists who want to work late at night and not disturb
neighbours it is ideal. Actually even without neighbour
issues, to turn down the volume very low and work slowly on
tricky passages or learn the notes of new works I almost
prefer it to a real piano. You are forced to listen in a
different more objective way and it makes your practise
calm and concentrated."


Link

Hough says he now prefers to practise on a digital rather than an upright. He works on an AvantGrand N2 in his New York apartment (although he doesn't spend much time there).

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#2108881 - 06/27/13 05:00 AM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4535
Loc: in the past
I would just not practice. Good to take a break sometimes anyway.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#2108892 - 06/27/13 05:36 AM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1423
Yeah, taking a break is not really the plan of preferred action here. It's also not a vacation, really, so if I'm going to work like I do at home, I'm going to want to get to play, too! Practicing piano has turned into my daily reward for working. The other thing that is derailed by being away is my ballet and I'm taking a break with that. And, arguably, that will lead more immediately to a deterioration in skills due to loss of strength, etc. But piano? Don't wanna.

I passed along the VPC1 and DP10 models to our landlord and let's see what he comes up with.

On the upside, I am in the "opera" area of town, which means I'm surrounded by the symphony hall, the opera hall, the theater... All the street musicians are playing vivaldi and every corner on this maze of cobblestone streets has a luthier or a sheet music store.

Anybody have a similar suggestion in the Roland/Yamaha brands? I ask simply because I see stores carrying Roland and Yamaha all over the place.

The music store above which is the practice room I currently use has a beautiful Bluthner grand sitting in the middle of the store. Unfortunately, it has a sign tent on it that says "don't touch" in eight languages. Then I go upstairs and hit the Pearl River.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suite BWV 814 No. 3
Chopin, Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. post. 66
Tchaikovsky, Mars: Chante de l'alouette Op. 37a No. 3

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#2108906 - 06/27/13 06:26 AM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: Luthrin]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5548
Originally Posted By: Luthrin
..... for concert
pianists who want to work late at night and not disturb
neighbours it is ideal. Actually even without neighbour
issues, to turn down the volume very low and work slowly on
tricky passages or learn the notes of new works I almost
prefer it to a real piano. You are forced to listen in a
different more objective way and it makes your practise
calm and concentrated."[/i]

Link

Hough says he now prefers to practise on a digital rather than an upright. He works on an AvantGrand N2 in his New York apartment (although he doesn't spend much time there).


There are a few other well-known pianists who've been given an AvantGrand (and made promotional videos on Youtube...) who use it for the same purposes - to get the notes into the fingers and for working on technical stuff, especially during unsocial hours. (When you're repeating a tricky passage ad nauseam at very slow tempi, you're better off not hearing loudly the same old notes dulling your eardrums and your senses - you just want to ensure you're playing fluently and evenly). It doesn't matter what volume you set the digital at, when you're just drilling notes into your fingers. It works the same way as Rachmaninoff practising his 3rd concerto - on a dummy keyboard - while on his journey to the USA.

But none of them will claim that they use it in this manner for developing their tonal palette, their interpretative nuances, their phrasing, and everything else that go towards making music. What amateur pianists using DPs are frequently doing is to play their pieces (not just doing finger drills) with the volume control set low, so that the keyboard is easier to control, and they don't disturb others while playing.
_________________________
"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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#2108915 - 06/27/13 06:54 AM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1423
Ok, this is the response I got:

"It's important to know whether you want a keyboard with sounds (synthesizer) or a piano with counterweighted (this could also mean "counterbalanced" in English, not totally sure whether there's a technical meaning I'm missing here) keys. In either case, a good one would be Kurzwel, Roland RD or similar."

OF course, this isn't directly responsive to the "do you have a Kawai VC1 or DP10?" question.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suite BWV 814 No. 3
Chopin, Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. post. 66
Tchaikovsky, Mars: Chante de l'alouette Op. 37a No. 3

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#2108917 - 06/27/13 06:59 AM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1423
There are a few other well-known pianists who've been given an AvantGrand (and made promotional videos on Youtube...) who use it for the same purposes - to get the notes into the fingers and for working on technical stuff, especially during unsocial hours. (When you're repeating a tricky passage ad nauseam at very slow tempi, you're better off not hearing loudly the same old notes dulling your eardrums and your senses - you just want to ensure you're playing fluently and evenly). It doesn't matter what volume you set the digital at, when you're just drilling notes into your fingers. It works the same way as Rachmaninoff practising his 3rd concerto while on his journey to USA - on a dummy keyboard.

Bingo. I want to just get a few pieces under my fingers and then work on them technically with my teacher later. I want to start working on an English Suite, and frankly, it would be a great thing simply to get one of the preludes memorized and fluid. Also, I can just work on jumps and arpeggios and generally work on evenness, accuracy and speed. I'm figuring as long as the keyboard mimics the weight and feel of a Real Piano, and gives me a sound that's in the ballpark accurate (i.e. it's not teaching me to play too lightly or heavily so that I can't adjust quickly back to acoustic) then I've got plenty I can work on with it and I'm probably prefer it to going to the practice room as I'll have access to it at all times, especially when I can't sleep at night because DAMN a major city capital is noisy at night!
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suite BWV 814 No. 3
Chopin, Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. post. 66
Tchaikovsky, Mars: Chante de l'alouette Op. 37a No. 3

Top
#2108918 - 06/27/13 07:02 AM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5548
They are not mutually exclusive.. wink

I presume that they're talking about weighted keys. You definitely want weighted keys, otherwise it's just an electronic keyboard with springs for key return. And the other reference is to a digital with speakers. The VPC1 is just a keyboard controller for software sounds.

I wouldn't go for a Kurzweil, BTW.
_________________________
"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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#2108926 - 06/27/13 07:19 AM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1423
Wait, I need speakers? They don't all have speakers? Do they all have, at least, a way to plug in a good set of headphones? If I can do that, I don't care one bit that I can't make sound in the room. If anything, that's better. Nobody is here to hear me play so might as well just wear headphones all the time.

(ETA: I'm so sorry... I told you I was confused. I'm not a technophobe, I just have never once thought about digital pianos or what parts make up the whole. I do have a MacBook Air with me that could run software if somehow I need to involve a computer in the whole thing in order to run it. Though I don't know if the thunderbolt port is sufficient input for whatever it is the computer would then need to do. I simply want to play a key and hear the sound through headphones. I don't need anything else.)


Edited by TwoSnowflakes (06/27/13 07:22 AM)
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suite BWV 814 No. 3
Chopin, Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. post. 66
Tchaikovsky, Mars: Chante de l'alouette Op. 37a No. 3

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#2108959 - 06/27/13 08:52 AM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5548
Originally Posted By: TwoSnowflakes
Wait, I need speakers? They don't all have speakers? Do they all have, at least, a way to plug in a good set of headphones? If I can do that, I don't care one bit that I can't make sound in the room. If anything, that's better. Nobody is here to hear me play so might as well just wear headphones all the time.



I was in the same position as you three years ago, and had a steep learning curve. grin

Yes, some slabs don't have any speakers, but all have headphone sockets. My V-Piano has no speakers (I use headphones exclusively with it, because I have neighbors to worry about); its big brother V-Piano Grand has a grand piano cabinet with dedicated speakers.

I don't know about the Kawai VPC1, but there is a big long thread in the digital forum about it, if you want to go down that route of software 'pianos'. I believe it's quite complicated to set up, and I don't understand it myself.
_________________________
"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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#2108972 - 06/27/13 09:31 AM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
sandalholme Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 783
Loc: Dorset, UK
If you are happy with just headphones and need a decent action then the Kawai MP6 or MP10 would do, but they are heavy and don't support half-pedalling. The Kawai ES7 does support half-pedalling and is just about portable, also has built in speakers and can be supplied with a stand with 3 functioning pedals. The ES7 action is of a lower spec than the MP6 or MP10.

However, I - for reasons posted elsewhere - have moved from a Kawai RX2 to a Kawai ES7. I played both until the RX2 went. After an adjustment period, measured in days, but days not hours, I am quite happy with the ES7, acknowledge it is not an RX2, have carted it about for public performance, but would hesitate to say it is portable by train for instance. Carrying from a building to a car and from the car to another building is about it. The stand is much less portable but portable X-type stands are available, or, temporarily, any flat surface at a suitable height. Not ideal, but better than your technique melting by the hour ........

A number of people on these forums are very dismissive of digital instruments. I was, until I tried the latest generation. Other makes other than Kawai have similar capabilities. I can only speak of my own experience having tried Kawai, Yamaha and Roland products.

I would advise you to spend a little time trying digital pianos so that you have some idea of what is acceptable. You may be pleasantly surprised and maybe disconcerted to find them more unforgiving of flaws in your technique than acoustics. This has to do with no natural resonance of an acoustic, so things tend to be crystal clear, but, unlike other people, I find my pedalling to be almost the same as with an acoustic, except for sometimes holding an extended note with the pedal because the decay is less than that of an acoustic. But then, I was brought up on pedalless Bach. The ES7 will enable you to take 5 minutes over the Aria from the Goldberg (ie quite slow) without any pedalling and sound perfectly OK.


Oh yes, I am exclusively a classical pianist.

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#2108977 - 06/27/13 09:48 AM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: sandalholme]
Marko in Boston Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/12
Posts: 926
Loc: Boston, Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: sandalholme
The ES7 action is of a lower spec than the MP6 or MP10.


The ES7 has 3 sensor RHII action which is actually a higher spec than the MP6 2 sensor RH action. The MP10 is consider to be better than both using RM3 wooden-key action, yet only 2 sensor.
_________________________
KAWAI ES7 | ROLAND RD-800 | TRAYNOR K4 | YAMAHA STAGEPAS 400i | PRESONUS ERIS 5 & T10 | SHURE SRH1540 | SENNHEISER HD380 | K&M OMEGA

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#2109092 - 06/27/13 01:44 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
Vid Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 888
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
To clarify the VPC1 is strictly a midi-controller which means it doesn't have a sound engine. You need to connect it to a computer running piano (or otherwise) software.

You plug your headphones (or speakers) via the computer's headphone jack. You can also use an external USB interface which also has jacks for sound output. The VPC1 connects to your computer via a usb host connection, or you can use midi cables and connect through an USB interface.

Again, if you don't want to get into installing software and connecting everything then this is not a solution for you. You can't simply plug the VPC in and play.

I will throw in a recommendation for Kawai keyboards in general (the M series as other posters have mentioned). I think they have done a lot in developing a piano like action. IMO it is years ahead of what Yamaha is offering these days.
_________________________
Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

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#2109094 - 06/27/13 01:46 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1539
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Quote:

. . . Anybody have a similar suggestion in the Roland/Yamaha brands? I ask simply because I see stores carrying Roland and Yamaha all over the place. . . .


FWIW (PMFJI) --

The Kawai VPC is _just a keyboard with MIDI output_. It does _not_ produce sounds. You'll need a high-spec computer to go with it, and you'll have to buy software.

It's _not_ a good solution for your (short-term) problem.

If you can, find a Yamah P155 to try out. You won't need a moving truck. If you decide it's "good enough", rent one for the summer.

The Roland FP-7F (already mentioned), and RD-700, and FP-50 and FP-80 would also work nicely. They're higher-end than the P155 -- better sound, better action.

All those are "slab pianos" -- they'll need a stand, or a tabletop. IMHO, stands are better, because you can adjust the height. And you'll need a pedal.

Get headphones, for your sanity (they sound way better than the built-in loudspeakers, and won't disturb neighbors). Expect to spend around $100 (or the equivalent in Euros) for something that's comfortable and has good sound. I use Sennheiser HD280 phones, but there are long threads in the "Digital Pianos" forum debating the choice. A Sony V6 is another possibility. When you go home, carry them with you.

Have fun, and don't get snowed under by the technology --

. Charles

PS -- I'm assuming that you're _not_ a concert-grade pianist, from your list of pieces. If you are, 'bennevis' seems to have sensible ideas.

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#2109108 - 06/27/13 02:06 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...but portable X-type stands are available..."

Ugh. You can do better in a folding stand than the ironing-board X models, which are rickety and whose legs are always getting in the way. A table-type stand is far more stable, and nearly comparable in cost. The big deal with stands is to make sure the legs are adjustable to just the right height--- this is where a lot of them fall down. It is also where putting the piano on the kitchen table fails. If you're seriously practicing, a seat and keyboard that are the wrong height is a good way to ruin yourself.

"...or, temporarily, any flat surface at a suitable height. Not ideal, but better than your technique melting by the hour..."

My technique suffers if I take even a few days off, let alone months. I think you are doing the smart thing, to adapt to an instrument that makes it possible to keep going, even though it may not be 100% ideal. But, many acoustic pianos can say no better for themselves, and we love them anyway.

If you just buy something like an MP-10 outright (which might be cheaper than renting), you could take it home on the plane. You don't absolutely need a flight case; the beer-cooler type is probably ok for one, direct flight as checked baggage. Insured, of course. The stand is under a hundred bucks, so you could just ditch it, or give it away, or sell it and get a new one when you get home. The nice headphones, you would keep--- of course.

The best way to decide what to get, is to try a lot of them and see what suits you. There are things I like about the Roland and Yamaha models, but so far I haven't seen one which was much in the piano action department.
_________________________
Clef


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#2109235 - 06/27/13 06:42 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1423
Ok, thanks, folks! Everything is coming into focus for me now and I think I understand everything so far.

The interesting thing is that I am absolutely a huge computer/technology/programming nut. I am constantly networking things to each other, writing scripts to do things better, or I'm taking gadgets apart simply to put them back together.

I would probably totally dig getting into piano/music software, but I've never once thought that there was an interest overlap there because, well, there are pianos, and there's my love of technology, and I really don't have any need for a digital piano in my regular life, nor does my love of technology trump my love of a good acoustic piano. That is to say, I love to use technology for just about everything but I can't say that pianos are something I feel the need to apply technology to as a general matter. But in this particular situation? I have to say I'm intrigued to solve this problem of no piano this summer technologically, and could even see trying to tackle learning about software and getting a VPC1 up and running. Ha!

But it looks like the easiest thing to do is get the Roland RD (or FP) and make sure it has what it needs on board so all I have to do is plug in headphones. I'm happy to buy some good ones and I have absolutely no need for the sound to be audible in the room.

Apparently I can have a Roland RD (no indication of WHICH RD, just that it is an RD) for 300€ for the 5 weeks. I'm pretty darn sure this is not close to the price of buying it, so as much as I love the suggestion of just buying and bringing it home, I'm guessing there's no way I get close to 300€ for a new one.

Does the RD have enough in it to simply need to plug in headphones and go?

And no, I am no concert-level pianist. I'm low-to-mid-intermediate level now or so, was upper intermediate or possibly very low level advanced before stopping Way Back When, and my concern isn't that I need something worthy of my talent, but actually quite the opposite: that I'm NOT good enough yet to be able to make use of a digital piano which is too far from the touch and feel of a regular acoustic grand. If I had very high-level skills, I would be less prone to have a digital piano interfere with proper technical advancement, know what I mean? Very good pianists, I believe, can probably get quite a bit of use out of a good digital piano once piano skills are already acquired traditionally. But I am of the opinion, at least as I see it from my perspective right now, that one needs an acoustic piano to develop properly initially. Then, if later a digital piano is incorporated for one reason or another, it's simply providing MORE options rather than substituting.

I could be wrong, but that's where I am on that front, and I'm a little afraid I am NOT good enough yet to use a digital for any period of time "safely." If that makes sense.


_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suite BWV 814 No. 3
Chopin, Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. post. 66
Tchaikovsky, Mars: Chante de l'alouette Op. 37a No. 3

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#2109241 - 06/27/13 07:04 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1423
My technique suffers if I take even a few days off, let alone months. I think you are doing the smart thing, to adapt to an instrument that makes it possible to keep going, even though it may not be 100% ideal. But, many acoustic pianos can say no better for themselves, and we love them anyway.

That's the idea. The piano at the music school is fine for general acquisition of what I'm learning right now. The whole resonance and evenness of it is lacking and it has a weird action that seems dull. For example, when I trill, the keys just start bottoming out after a few seconds whereas with my piano at home, I can just keep a bright trill going at any speed and give it shape softly or loudly, and I don't feel like I'm fighting the keyboard. I'm pretty sure it's not me, though of course any trill would sound better by someone more skilled than I am.

So if that's the best acoustic grand I can get access to for practicing, then maybe I just get a really nice digital and benefit from the ability to have it smack dab in front of me in my apartment. I am under no delusions that I'll be able to really put the finishing touches on pieces with it and not have to basically redo the whole endeavor when I'm playing it back home again, but right now I have some large issues that I could spend the time solving, like general accuracy and velocity, for which a digital piano, as long as it is weighted and generally in the ballpark of what a regular grand piano would have, might serve nicely. If this particular acoustic piano isn't, itself, good enough to give me what acoustic pianos generally are better at (overall tone and resonance, plus enjoyment of truly drawing something musical out of it), then why not at least consider a digital. I'm truly of the opinion that there probably ARE digitals, at this point, that are better than some low-level acoustic pianos, which this piano most certainly is. Besides, I have no problem working on scales and arpeggios for hours, so no real loss that I can't truly get to the musicality of certain pieces for 5 weeks, as long as I'm not backtracking in general.

I can certainly use the time to map out and get into my hands several pieces which I can then work on at home with my teacher for the technicality and dynamics. I'm sure she'd love to see me come home with a few pieces memorized and ready for work.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suite BWV 814 No. 3
Chopin, Fantaisie-Impromptu Op. post. 66
Tchaikovsky, Mars: Chante de l'alouette Op. 37a No. 3

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#2109283 - 06/27/13 08:24 PM Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5548
Yes, the Roland RD (any model) will work once you plug it in and power up, and you have your own headphones. As will every other normal digital, whether slab/stage or console.

I think the VPC1 is the first of its kind which has no sound generator, and relies totally on your own computer and the software you've uploaded (or is it downloaded?).

As for keeping your keyboard skills, I think that all the RDs will be fine, as they have realistic key actions - the high-end ones use PHA-III which is among the best around (my V-Piano uses it). I think all RDs have simulated escapement (the 'notch' feel as you slowly press down the key) as well as being graded (the low notes have heavier key weight than the high notes, just like in real pianos). Yamaha Clavinovas don't have the simulated escapement (and therefore, the key travel is totally - and unnaturally - smooth), and this for me is a drawback. The high-end Kawais have it.

As long as you use it sensibly, there's no reason why your technique should deteriorate while you're using the digital. (Mine improved - in all parameters - when I started using mine grin). Your pedaling and control of touch may suffer slightly, depending on which model you end up with, and how you use it. I'm a firm believer in setting the volume control at a realistic level and then never touching it again - unless you're already an established virtuoso and know how to use a digital purely to learn the notes and to get your fingers fluent, while being able to dissociate yourself from the actual sound. Otherwise, the constantly 'moving goalposts' from changing the volume setting will play havoc with your sense of touch and tonal & dynamic control.
_________________________
"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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