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#2117244 - 07/13/13 10:41 PM Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore?
zod Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/11/13
Posts: 3
Some background: I have a (still working!) Technics PX7 that I've had for 25+ years. I mainly play my Yamaha U1 but nevertheless the Technics is still plugged in. I've decided to upgrade the 30-year-old digital piano since it lives in my 2-year-old's room. She likes to bang on it, anyway.

I figure the technology has improved somewhat since 1985. My main gripe with my old keyboard is the action. The keys aren't weighted on it. And I don't want my daughter learning on it.

So, I began researching all of the DP options and started learning more about VSTs and MIDI, etc. My question is simply this: if you plan to use software pianos (I've been comparing the Ivory II American Concert D with the Galaxy Vintage D), does it even matter what keyboard you choose -- other than the key action? The sound of the VSTs in Ivory and Galaxy just seem to be light years beyond the built-in sampling I've heard on the Rolands, Privias, etc., I've been looking at.

So, I'm thinking I should pick a keyboard purely based on price, action, and what inputs it has. Am I missing something in this equation?

Thanks for any advice.

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#2117255 - 07/13/13 11:00 PM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: zod]
Tritium Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/13
Posts: 179
Loc: Western MA, USA
Originally Posted By: zod
Some background: I have a (still working!) Technics PX7 that I've had for 25+ years. I mainly play my Yamaha U1 but nevertheless the Technics is still plugged in. I've decided to upgrade the 30-year-old digital piano since it lives in my 2-year-old's room. She likes to bang on it, anyway.

I figure the technology has improved somewhat since 1985. My main gripe with my old keyboard is the action. The keys aren't weighted on it. And I don't want my daughter learning on it.

So, I began researching all of the DP options and started learning more about VSTs and MIDI, etc. My question is simply this: if you plan to use software pianos (I've been comparing the Ivory II American Concert D with the Galaxy Vintage D), does it even matter what keyboard you choose -- other than the key action? The sound of the VSTs in Ivory and Galaxy just seem to be light years beyond the built-in sampling I've heard on the Rolands, Privias, etc., I've been looking at.

So, I'm thinking I should pick a keyboard purely based on price, action, and what inputs it has. Am I missing something in this equation?

Thanks for any advice.


Hi Zod,

If you a set upon using your new DP with a computer/piano software...you might want to focus upon a DP that is dedicated for this purpose.

The Kawai VPC1 is one such board.

An other alternative is Casio's PX-5S. With the PX-5S, you also have the fallback capability of having built-in, on-board piano/organ/string sounds and effects...which might come in handy if you find yourself in a position where you do not have or cannot use your computer.

Both products have received very impressive reviews.

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#2117257 - 07/13/13 11:05 PM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: zod]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2107
Loc: Rocky Mountains
From my very limited experience. I could swear there is a difference in midi output on more professional type DP's.

My M8000. I could swear it has a better midi output than my CDP-100 did. Yes, both of these are old technology. But gee.... the Kawai...it just has much more precise touch, response, and all.
This is not to say that a new PX-150 might walk all over both of them?
I do have to admit. I plan on upgrading only to a VPC. When I do....

EDIT: It just occured to me. Perhaps my M8000. The reason it puts out a better MIDI is just because of the keyboard. Better switches and key action? I guess that would put it under action in your thinking.


Edited by rnaple (07/14/13 12:17 AM)
_________________________
Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2117261 - 07/13/13 11:14 PM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: zod]
Pete14 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/13
Posts: 287
No, you're not missing anything in your equation: virtual piano + Kawai VPC1 = awesome!
With on-board samples you're also limited to the sample-set that comes with the piano (except for Nord, I suppose); without the possibility of upgrading the sound source; whereas with a controller/software set-up you can always alter/upgrade the part of the equation generating the sound (sampling or physical modeling) without having to buy a whole new keyboard.

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#2117263 - 07/13/13 11:17 PM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: zod]
Charles Cohen Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1535
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Quote:

So, I'm thinking I should pick a keyboard purely based on price, action, and what inputs it has. Am I missing something in this equation?


You understand it perfectly.

The keyboard wil have either a USB connection (with a "virtual MIDI port" to a PC, or a real MIDI interface. If it has a real MIDI interface, you'll need a MIDI-to-USB adapter for the PC.

Try a PX-150 and Yamaha P105 to start with. Prices go up from there.

. Charles

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#2117355 - 07/14/13 03:24 AM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: zod]
de cajon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/13
Posts: 190
Loc: London, UK
Key action, robustness, noise, if you're going to drive instruments other than piano does it have after-touch, is the after-touch channel (common) or note (rare)?

I should mention that I've never bought one, always relying on whatever was around; but I often suspected I should. And I'm still wondering: my DX7 and Neko are short and unweighted but when the C3XSH arrived I was thinking for a brief moment, Oo a full-sized, weighted MIDI keyboard; but it doesn't have after-touch. (At least I assume it doesn't - hmm.)
_________________________
Yamaha C3X SH

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#2117374 - 07/14/13 05:17 AM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: zod]
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3868
Loc: Northern England.
I use Pianoteq for recording only. I prefer to play using the onboard pianos and then transfer over to the software version. Seems to work better that way. . . nice to have the choice!
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes � but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2117379 - 07/14/13 05:44 AM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: zod]
EssBrace Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 2426
Loc: Suffolk, United Kingdom
Originally Posted By: zod
So, I'm thinking I should pick a keyboard purely based on price, action, and what inputs it has. Am I missing something in this equation?


I think you are. Not saying you are wrong but there is a chance you have overlooked the effort sometimes needed to get controller keyboard + sample engine working right. You are going to need a good computer (fast, lots of memory). You are going to have to wait for it to fire up and the programmes to open and if there are settings you like to use you may need to dial those in every time you play.

If you have a young daughter doing this you may need to do this for her every time. There will be clutter and wires trailing everywhere. A pure controller keyboard such as Kawai VPC1 (unquestionably the best available) has no speakers onboard. More clutter. More wires. Or headphones - not ideal for a young pupil because then you are going to need two sets of 'phones for you or a teacher to monitor.

The sense of connection between keys and sounds takes some real work to achieve with software. They simply don't work like the onboard sounds of a digital piano. Certainly not "out of the box" anyway. Even at their best they rarely "connect" like a digital piano's onboard sounds.

Sometimes you just want ten minutes at the keyboard. Is all this hassle really worth it for ten minutes? Turn on and play - instantaneously; that is what you get with a stand-alone digital piano.

Yes, you are quite right in thinking the sample quality is much better with software. But the real question is whether the sample quality on a digital piano is good enough. In may cases in my opinion it is for most purposes. For practice? Yes. For pleasure? Yes. For entertaining yourself and others? Yes. For close, careful scrutiny? Not really. For recording? Not really. But Roland's supernatural sound engine ticks those boxes too, if you like the sound of it.

If I were in your shoes I would buy a nice stand-alone digital piano. Try as many as you can. If, after living with it for a while you want to try software there would be nothing stopping you. Choose action first but think about the onboard sounds and features and definitely consider the onboard sound system and buy something with audio-ins so you can route software sounds back into the thing. But if you buy right you may never really want to bother with software. Digital piano development is slow but the changes since 1985 have been pretty big!

Just my thoughts...

Good luck,

Steve
_________________________
Yamaha CP1

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#2117394 - 07/14/13 07:35 AM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: zod]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3899
Loc: North Carolina
I use only software pianos, and I don't have to wait. And I don't have to change settings.

The computer is turned on most of the time. When it's not, it's in sleep mode. In that case, there just one extra button to press.

And if I ever have to do a cold boot, then there are just two more buttons to push: the shortcut to start up Kontakt, and the Kontakt library button to start the piano.

There's really no choice. The native piano sounds are terrible. I could never go back.

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#2117451 - 07/14/13 10:47 AM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: rnaple]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3694
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: rnaple
From my very limited experience. I could swear there is a difference in midi output on more professional type DP's.


This is quite possible. Many DPs don't support rapid repeats (need triple sensor) or key-off signals. Also many don't support half-pedal. If these things are missing is will limit how your software pianos sound and feel. Obviously the mechanics of the action are also very important. I don't think anybody should cheap out on the controller if they plan to use software pianos.

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#2117470 - 07/14/13 11:57 AM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: zod]
zod Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/11/13
Posts: 3
Thanks a lot for all of the great advice. I was confused at first after seeing all of the debates over which DP sounds better -- using software pianos seems like a no-brainer after hearing the difference, plus the ability to upgrade, etc. So, those debates seem moot to me, for the most part. I do see that more set-up and equipment is necessary (computer, cables, etc.), but it seems worth it.

I'm leaning towards the Privia PX-350 since I like the action, it is newer technology, and it isn't that expensive. The Kawai VPC1 does look tempting, though. But I haven't felt the action on that -- and it is almost triple the price of the Privia.

Anyway, thanks to all.

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#2117472 - 07/14/13 12:04 PM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: zod]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2107
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Originally Posted By: zod
The Kawai VPC1 does look tempting, though. But I haven't felt the action on that -- and it is almost triple the price of the Privia.


There's a reason for that.
_________________________
Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2117479 - 07/14/13 12:20 PM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: rnaple]
zod Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/11/13
Posts: 3
Originally Posted By: rnaple

There's a reason for that.


There usually is. eek Let's say the action on the Privia seems good enough for the $$. I might think differently if this were going to be the only piano in the house, but I already have a Yamaha piano so this will be more for headphone practice, experimentation, etc.

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#2117491 - 07/14/13 12:43 PM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: zod]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3484
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: zod
I'm leaning towards the Privia PX-350 since I like the action, it is newer technology, and it isn't that expensive.


As has been pointed out here, if you will be using a software piano, the thing that matters is the key action. If that's the case I don't see why you would choose the PX-350 over the cheaper PX-150. For someone using a software piano they seem to be functionaly identical.

Actually, I have a hard time seeing why the PX350 comes up so often in this forum since it has a cheaper little brother and more expensive (but better) big brothers. For most piano needs it seems like people either want the cheapest possible with a good action or something nicer than the PX350. Usually the in-between levels of piano get ignored.


Edited by gvfarns (07/14/13 12:44 PM)

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#2117521 - 07/14/13 02:13 PM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: gvfarns]
Vectistim Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/17/10
Posts: 317
Loc: Reading, UK
Originally Posted By: gvfarns

Actually, I have a hard time seeing why the PX350 comes up so often in this forum since it has a cheaper little brother and more expensive (but better) big brothers. For most piano needs it seems like people either want the cheapest possible with a good action or something nicer than the PX350. Usually the in-between levels of piano get ignored.


When mulling over that decision between 130 and 330 I went for 300 because, to me, the better speaker set, and better connectivity (line in/out plus real MIDI as well as the USB) were probably worth it (the extra voices and so on, were rather less important in the decision making process)

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#2117558 - 07/14/13 03:42 PM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: zod]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2107
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Originally Posted By: zod
... I already have a Yamaha piano so this will be more for headphone practice, experimentation, etc.


I didn't notice that. Yamaha Acoustics ain't too shabby. smile
Personally, I'd choose the PX5 if I were going for something extra that I want for ...whatever. The batteries in it allow for much more portability to play around. Play for the elephants at the zoo. That kind of thing.

Yes, you could rig up a battery for it, etc. I've been down that road. Endless fooling around and wasting money.
_________________________
Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2117750 - 07/14/13 09:39 PM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: rnaple]
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1758
Originally Posted By: rnaple
Play for the elephants...

Don`t buy a Nord to play for the bulls eek
_________________________
I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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#2117784 - 07/14/13 10:36 PM Re: Does brand of digital piano even matter anymore? [Re: gvfarns]
Charles Cohen Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1535
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: gvfarns

. . .
As has been pointed out here, if you will be using a software piano, the thing that matters is the key action. If that's the case I don't see why you would choose the PX-350 over the cheaper PX-150. For someone using a software piano they seem to be functionaly identical.

Actually, I have a hard time seeing why the PX350 comes up so often in this forum since it has a cheaper little brother and more expensive (but better) big brothers. . . .


My own reasons for buying the PX-350 rather than PX-150 (the PX5S and PX-850 didn't exist, last Christmas):

I decided that the huge library of additional voices (even if they're only "General MIDI quality"), the real MIDI ports and Line In/Out jacks, the auto-accompaniment feature (both auto-chording and lots of rhythms), and the auto-harmony feature, were worth the $200 price difference.

Also, the PX-350 has several "pure piano" voices that the PX-150 lacks. They're probably based on the same sample set, but have significantly different EQ and "damper resonance" settings.

. Charles

PS -- I can tell you why _I_ did what I did. I can't say that it's the right choice for _you_ (or the OP).

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