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#2213023 - 01/11/14 06:16 PM Product Advice Requested: Digital Piano Ensembles
g5cx4rd7 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 2
Greetings, All--

I hope this is the right place for this type of inquiry. My wife and I have begun shopping for a digital piano ensemble, and are feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the options and huge spread in pricing--just like buying an acoustic! I've spent a few days reading a lot of the threads here, and you guys have great insights and opinions, so I thought you may be able to give us some advice.

I grew up in a musical household, with a heavy emphasis on piano. For as long as I can remember, my mother or grandmother would play our Yamaha piano as we as kids would fall asleep. A musical bedtime story if you will. Growing up, I only took about 3 years worth of formal lessons, but have always sought opportunities to jump on a piano somewhere to "mess around." In addition to an acoustic piano, my grandmother had a digital piano ensemble as well that I spent hours on--layering track recordings and experimenting with the hundreds of voice and rhythm combinations.

But, since graduating from college about 10 years ago, my access to a piano has become increasingly more limited. I miss it a lot, and now that my wife and I have some discretionary income and a baby on the way, I'd like to have an instrument available to us here at home.

Due to my ability to lose myself on my grandmother's ensemble, I'm fairly confident I would want the same plethora of available voice and recording options on anything we buy. To make this easy, let me just prioritize the features that I feel are important to us:

1st priorities:
- Piano sound
- Realistic key feel
- Quality and realism of simulated hammer action

2nd priorities:
- Ability to compose and record multiple track layers
- Extensive voice library and ability to layer voices

Other priorities:
- Some basic accompaniments, mainly for rhythm
- Ability to save tracks to USB
- Includes or can support 3 pedals for control
- Volume of sound, as I love playing with the dynamic range between pp and ff available to me.

We don't have a set budget for this, but also don't want to spend more than is appropriate and necessary. We are not limited on space, so cabinet size isn't an issue--other than how dramatically it may impact the cost.

Lastly, I feel like I should share my bias. Since I grew up on Yamahas, I am drawn to that brand and the piano sound they provide. So that's where we started our search, but several review sites seemed to point us toward the Casio PX-780 or AP-650 as having better feel, more features and lower cost. My first reaction, admittedly, was "Casio!?" smile However, I want to remain open-minded and definitely want the best quality sound, touch, and features for the money, regardless of brand name.

Those two models are in the $1000-2000 range. We've also looked at the Yamaha CVP-601 at about $4000, and there's a private seller locally here who has a used CVP-309GP for $5500 obo. I love it's baby grand cabinet and it has a ridiculous amount of voices and features. But maybe that's overkill?

I guess that's why I'm here. Just because we could spend that kind of money on an instrument doesn't mean that it is really neccessary to do so. Maybe it makes more sense to stay under $2000 until we get a better feel for what we like and don't like?

I know much of what I am asking is subjective, but I've really appreciated the commentary and opinions you have had in other threads, and would value any insights you can lend to held us narrow the field and orient us in the right direction. We'll be taking the "dealer tour" to play some of these ourselves, but to our ear, many of these will sound very similar. Those of you with more experience on these products will be able to better coach us as to which products will be best in the long run.

Hope that's enough to go on. Really appreciate your expertise and assistance.

Have a great day!


Edited by g5cx4rd7 (01/11/14 06:18 PM)

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#2213164 - 01/11/14 11:53 PM Re: Product Advice Requested: Digital Piano Ensembles [Re: g5cx4rd7]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1535
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
The Casio PX-350 satisfies your requirements, so does the PX-780 (with a cabinet, and larger amps and speakers). There's a full "General MIDI" set of voices (and some others).

. . . Yes, they're "real instruments", not toys.

There's a 17-track MIDI recorder built in, and a YouTube video (by PianoManChuck) that demonstrates how to use it.

IMHO, the PX-350 built-in speakers don't do justice to the sounds and keyboard mechanism. I suggest bringing a good pair of your own headphones when you do try-outs. With your budget, you could get a really nice set of outboard speakers.

[Many people (most people?) have gone away from multi-track MIDI recorders in the piano, and are using various PC-based programs -- "digital audio workstations" (= DAW). Some of those are either free, or cheap. But this is a matter of personal taste.]

. Charles

PS -- I own a PX-350.

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#2213194 - 01/12/14 01:41 AM Re: Product Advice Requested: Digital Piano Ensembles [Re: g5cx4rd7]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3866
Loc: Northern England.
Download the manuals for any such instruments. You may find all the recording features etc there, but - how convenient are they to operate? I looked at them all including earlier CLP models such as the CLP 270. Finally settled on the DGX650 which is very easy to record (audio as well as midi) but the playing action is the downside. I can live with that. Also saved a fortune and kept my sanity . .
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes � but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

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#2213248 - 01/12/14 06:26 AM Re: Product Advice Requested: Digital Piano Ensembles [Re: g5cx4rd7]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3899
Loc: North Carolina
You can find this sort of information online and in the user manuals:
- Ability to compose and record multiple track layers
- Extensive voice library and ability to layer voices
- Some basic accompaniments, mainly for rhythm
- Ability to save tracks to USB
- Includes or can support 3 pedals for control

(Anyway, most any of the ensemble pianos from Yamaha, Kawai, and Roland can do these things.)

This sort of information can only be gleaned by playing the piano yourself:
- Piano sound
- Realistic key feel
- Quality and realism of simulated hammer action
- Volume of sound, as I love playing with the dynamic range between pp and ff available to me.

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#2213282 - 01/12/14 08:57 AM Re: Product Advice Requested: Digital Piano Ensembles [Re: MacMacMac]
g5cx4rd7 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 2
Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
(Anyway, most any of the ensemble pianos from Yamaha, Kawai, and Roland can do these things.)


Understood, that's why we're here. There are dozens of instruments to choose from, ranging in price from $1,000 - $12,000+. We were hoping folk here could make model suggestions and help us narrow down our search.

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
This sort of information can only be gleaned by playing the piano yourself:
- Piano sound
- Realistic key feel
- Quality and realism of simulated hammer action
- Volume of sound, as I love playing with the dynamic range between pp and ff available to me.



Agreed. We'll be trying these out, but again, would like to narrow things down a bit to exclude models that aren't a good fit for us from a feature standpoint.

Thanks for all the responses thus far!

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#2213371 - 01/12/14 12:50 PM Re: Product Advice Requested: Digital Piano Ensembles [Re: g5cx4rd7]
lolatu Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/13
Posts: 559
Loc: UK
Roland doesn't really do ensemble pianos any more. Instead, they just do pianos, and you can buy a BK7m backing module for all your extra sounds, accompaniments and drums etc. However it isn't a sequencer. Roland doesn't seem to make hardware sequencers any more, because everyone uses a computer, but if you want one you could pick a cheap one up on eBay. A dedicated external box is going to be more useable than the built-in buttons on a piano.
_________________________
Kawai CA95 / Pianoteq Stage / Sony MDR-7506 / Steinberg UR22
In the loft: Roland FP3 / Tannoy Reveal Active / K&M 18810

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