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#2293873 - 06/23/14 01:04 PM Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations?
Austin D Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/22/14
Posts: 5
Loc: Denver, CO
Hello, everyone! I recently joined the forums and I'd thought I'd make my first post special. And what better first post is there than asking everyone on a particular board for help? :P

I am looking to buy a new keyboard sometime next month and I'd love some advice on what models I should consider. I took piano lessons for about 3 years as a kid and, though I stopped taking lessons for a variety of reasons, my interest in playing music never dwindled (I took guitar lessons for about 6 years through Middle and high school and I continue to play whenever I have free time at college) and, recently, I've been itching to pick up the instrument again. While I wish I could simply use the same board I used while I was in lessons, I don't think I can get much more mileage out of the relatively cheap Casio I was using (wish I still had the power adaptor for it to see how cheap of a keyboard it really was. The cheap looks and flimsy keys speak volumes, though) and I'd love to invest in a higher end model.

Most of what I'm looking in a keyboard is standard for mid-range/high end digital stage pianos (piano-like feel to the keys, strong Piano/EP/Clav patches, some way of emulating a tone-wheel organ, etc.). I know that what constitutes a good feel or sound comes down to personal preference, but at the very least I'd love to have some opinions. Versatility would be a huge plus for me; I love a lot of different genres of music (Classical, Jazz, Rock, some electronic, etc.) and, though I can augment the board with computer software if need be, I'd love to have a decent variety of usable patches available right out of the box. Weight isn't a huge factor for me as long as it isn't incredibly heavy (i.e. I wouldn't mind if the instrument is around 50 lbs.) and the instrument itself isn't incredibly large. I know I haven't said much to narrow down my choices for you guys, but that's part of the problem I'm having with making my decision; outside of the little nuances to feel and sound, there isn't much that I'm looking for that lends itself to one board in particular. Though I can get a pretty good idea of what most of these boards are like from videos and reviews on the web (as well as actually playing them), I want to know what everyone's experiences with these boards are like in case that helps me narrow my options down.

I have saved up a lot of money from tutoring and other jobs I've had to go towards this purchase; as an upper limit, I probably won't spend much more than $2,500 USD on a keyboard unless I see something I'm dying to have that's just outside that price range (I know, it's a dangerous way of thinking with this sort of thing haha). Though I've had the chance to research a few of the keyboards at and below this price point (namely, newer stage pianos like the Yamaha CP4 and Roland RD-800 as well as a few of the cheaper workstations like the MOXF line), I haven't had the chance to extensively test any of these out yet and would like to have a better idea about what models I'm considering before I start driving all over town to try every single board I can afford.

Thanks for all of your help in advance (as well as reading that wall of text I just spat out)! I look forward to hearing what you all have to suggest!

-Austin

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#2293886 - 06/23/14 01:48 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Austin D]
fizikisto Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 551
Loc: Hernando, MS
When you say emulating a tone wheel organ do you simply mean having some good B3 Preset patches? Or do you mean having the ability to manipulate drawbars in real time to shape the sound?

If the former, you'll have a huge number of options, if the latter, your options become more limited. In that case, the RD800 and the Kawai MP7 are probably among the best choices. Another possibility would be the Nord Electro, but it lacks the full complement of 88 keys. You already mentioned that you've looked at the RD800, but I would definitely give the MP7 a look if I were you.

In any case, if you can actually get a chance to play the boards you are considering, that's vastly better than ordering sight unseen. Something can look fantastic on paper, and sound great on youtube, but feel ghastly under your fingers when you get it.

Also, you probably know this, but just in case, many stage pianos such as the ones you mentioned (and the kawai I mentioned) lack their own speakers. So you'll need to either buy your own speakers (monitors) or a set of headphones. Just be aware that this will be an additional expense.

Good luck!
_________________________
Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800

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#2293895 - 06/23/14 02:10 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Austin D]
Charles Cohen Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1389
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Quote:
. . .
In any case, if you can actually get a chance to play the boards you are considering, that's vastly better than ordering sight unseen. Something can look fantastic on paper, and sound great on youtube, but feel ghastly under your fingers when you get it.


+1.

There's a real break -- in price / size / cost -- between "synth-action" keyboards and "weighted" ("hammer action", etc) keyboards. Basically, if you want something that _feels like_ an acoustic piano, you'll need a weighted action, with 88 keys.

"Driving around town" would be time well spent. With 3 years of playing, you'll be able to feel and hear the differences between different actions, and sound generators.

Another question:

. . . Do you need (or want) "workstation" capabilities?

That would include onboard MIDI recording and editing, looping, arpeggiators, and so on.

. Charles

PS -- Casio has an "XW-P1" which (I think) has a decent drawbar-organ sound generator, with either knobs or sliders for drawbars. But it's "synth action", and only 61 keys.

I think the Casio PX5s (a pretty good weighted-action stage piano) has that capability, as well.

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#2293897 - 06/23/14 02:11 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Austin D]
Marko in Boston Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/12
Posts: 902
Loc: Boston, Massachusetts
Hi Austin, Welcome!

I agree with fizikisto to give the Kawai MP7 a look. I love my RD800 and highly recommend it, but MP7 is an exceptional value under $1,800.

If you are looking for a stage piano with onboard speakers, I highly recommend the Kawai ES7. Ive been raving about mine for well over a year.

My advice is similar. Be sure to play the boards you are considering. YES, you should drive all over town and try every single board you can afford. Im not being a wise guy, but that's the only way to get a feel and connection of these boards. So try as many as you can and you will start to close in on what you really like.


EDIT; Charles beat me to it "drive around town"


Edited by Marko in Boston (06/23/14 02:12 PM)
_________________________
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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#2293902 - 06/23/14 02:22 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Austin D]
Austin D Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/22/14
Posts: 5
Loc: Denver, CO
Thanks for the response! I'll definitely look into the Kawai; I've heard good things about the board, but I haven't looked into that model in any great detail

With regards to the organs, the real-time drawbar controls are somewhat important to me; having that level of control over the sound would be really nice. It certainly wouldn't be a deal breaker if they were absent or cumbersome to use (the RD-800's mechanism seemed kinda tricky to use with only 4 faders and a button to control all of the drawbars, but I haven't had access to the board to confirm how cumbersome it really is), but its definitely a factor.

I do plan on trying everything before I buy it. The only reason I haven't is because most of the local, close to home music shops don't have any of the boards I'm interested available either due to small keyboard sections or, in the case of the RD-800, the recall. I know a Guitar Center somewhat close to home has the CP4 in stock and will likely have the RD-800 once Roland rolls out the fixed units (I'll probably make the trip over there once the Roland is back on display. From what I've seen and heard, that board is definitely the front-runner right now), but I want to make sure I know what boards I want to find and try.

And I'm aware about the need for a set of speakers/headphones. I do have a decent pair of headphones that can work even if I need a 1/4" jack for them, but they aren't great headphones (its a pair of Beats I got from my parents--the headphones that look cool without offering a whole lot of sound quality for the price. And I don't think they look that good, either. I guess its better than nothing...), so I'm planning on replacing those once I have a bit more money saved up. While I don't have a pair of speakers designed explicitly for keyboards, I'm sure I could rig something up with the speakers I have in my dorm in case I want others to hear my playing.

Thanks again!

Edit:

With regards to the workstation features, it would definitely be nice to have, but that's definitely a secondary concern. Though I've looked at and tried a few of the entry level workstations, I wasn't particularly impressed with the action on any of them and I don't think all of the recording capabilities they offer is worth the trade off. I want to start recording and composing sometime, but enough software and hardware is out there for recording that its not a must have for me at this time.


Edited by Austin D (06/23/14 02:39 PM)

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#2293914 - 06/23/14 02:56 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Austin D]
fizikisto Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 551
Loc: Hernando, MS
Austin D,
If the drawbar functionality is of real importance to you then the Nord Electro 4 Line might actually be worth a look. They only have 73 keys (I think I'm remembering that correctly), and come in either semi-weighted (more organ like action) or fully weighted (more piano like action). One of the main limitation of the electro line is that it lacks the functionality to create layers/splits. But it has some of the finest piano sounds (in the opinion of many) available, and one of the best organ implementations around with a very intuitive set of nine digital "drawbars." (Note: there is also a 61 key model that has actual physical drawbars). The Electro models a hammond B3 tone wheel organ and 2 solid state (Vox and Farfisa) organs). The pianos and other sounds are sample based.

One of the best advantages of the Electro is that you're not limited to the sounds that come with the instrument. Nord Has a huge library of sounds that you can download for free and put on the electro. If you need a trumpet sound, just download it and install it. If you need a brighter piano than the one that came installed, you have a ton to choose from. Just delete one of the pianos that came installed and install the new one (there is very intuitive mac/pc software to let you do this).

The lack of layering/splitting, or the reduced number of keys may be a deal breaker for you. But if you don't need or want that, then it might be worth investigating.

Bias: I own the Nord stage 2, Nord's flagship keyboard, and I'm a big fan of Nord's products.

also, the nord keyboards have the advantage of being RED! smile For some people that's a big joke, for others it seems an essential feature *Grin*
_________________________
Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800

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#2293925 - 06/23/14 03:16 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: fizikisto]
Austin D Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/22/14
Posts: 5
Loc: Denver, CO
@fizikisto: I'll definitely look into the Electros. The only big issue I'm seeing with that model is that the version with fully weighted keys is about $500 above my price range (and, though I will have a bit more money than my budget allows, the excess was going to go towards buying a case and a nice pair of headphones). Still, though, I like enough about the on-paper features of the keyboard to where it might be worth saving for if I try it and fall in love with it.

Thanks!

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#2293926 - 06/23/14 03:26 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Austin D]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12044
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Here's another plug for the MP7, I think it matches what you're looking for and should be on your short list with the CP4 and RD-800. In the end, though, it will come down to the impression each piano gives you when you play it.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2294030 - 06/23/14 07:37 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Austin D]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9350
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Austin D, I'm obviously more than a little biased, but I agree that the MP7 should definitely by on your list - it ticks all the right boxes, and is less expensive than both the CP4 and RD-800.

If you have not done so already, please take a look at the MP website at www.kawaimp.com.

Cheers,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#2294146 - 06/24/14 01:52 AM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Austin D]
Austin D Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/22/14
Posts: 5
Loc: Denver, CO
How the heck did I miss the MP7 while I was initially researching DPs? The Kawai is becoming more and more tempting the more I look at it. It looks like it checks off everything on my "must haves" list that I can see from just looking at specs and it's a fraction of the cost of some of the other DPs I've been considering. Sure it might not have a billion sounds, but I said it myself--I'm not looking for an instrument that has thousands of sounds so long as the standard piano/EPs/Organ patches are solid (which, from what I've been hearing on their webpage and other videos, they are). The difference in price is a huge plus, too; I could easily use the difference towards recording software and the hardware needed to use the board with it (which, as someone who'd love to start learning how to record, would be amazing to have) or something else to expand what I can do with the board. Of course, I still need to try every model I'm looking at, but this model is definitely getting added to the short list.

Thanks for the suggestion, everyone. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to find the nearest dealer that carries this model.

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#2294182 - 06/24/14 03:45 AM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Austin D]
Musical Dan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/10
Posts: 64
Loc: Sydney, Australia
One more vote for the Kawai MP7. As other have pointed out it seems to tick all the boxes you are after. I have recently purchased a Kawai MP7 and I couldn't be happier. While it is cheaper than the competition from Yamaha and Roland, it's certainly not behind in quality. In my (biased) opinion, it surpasses both the CP4 and the RD800. (If draw-bar organ sounds are important to you, that would probably rule out the CP4 anyway).

Also the money you save on the MP7 you could put toward some monitors, or an un-weighted midi controller with 9 sliders which would pair up well with for organ sounds. I believe (don't quote me for sure) the draw-bars in the MP7 can all be controlled by midi. As I see organ sounds are important to you, the MP7 also features a cool feature, where you can play quickly even on a weighted keyboard (you can put it in a mode where you don't need to press the keys the full way down).

If you like, check out my MP7 Quick Review


Edited by Musical Dan (06/24/14 03:45 AM)
_________________________
Kawai MP7

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#2294190 - 06/24/14 04:29 AM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Musical Dan]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9350
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By: Musical Dan
...an un-weighted midi controller with 9 sliders which would pair up well with for organ sounds. I believe (don't quote me for sure) the draw-bars in the MP7 can all be controlled by midi.


Spot on. wink
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#2294585 - 06/24/14 10:42 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Kawai James]
Musical Dan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/10
Posts: 64
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Originally Posted By: Musical Dan
...an un-weighted midi controller with 9 sliders which would pair up well with for organ sounds. I believe (don't quote me for sure) the draw-bars in the MP7 can all be controlled by midi.


Spot on. wink


Thanks for confirming smile
Do you know if something like an M-Audio Oxygen 61 would pair well with it?
_________________________
Kawai MP7

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#2294632 - 06/25/14 01:25 AM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Musical Dan]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9350
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By: Musical Dan
Do you know if something like an M-Audio Oxygen 61 would pair well with it?


Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be a MIDI OUT terminal on the M-Audio, just USB (and pedal), so it won't be possible to connect it directly to the MP7.

However, something like the Alesis QX49 would do the trick, as it has both MIDI and USB connectors. Essentially anything with faders and a MIDI OUT connector should work, however the more compact units are intended for PC/Mac use and tend to be USB only.

Cheers,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#2294649 - 06/25/14 03:16 AM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Kawai James]
Musical Dan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/10
Posts: 64
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Originally Posted By: Musical Dan
Do you know if something like an M-Audio Oxygen 61 would pair well with it?


Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be a MIDI OUT terminal on the M-Audio, just USB (and pedal), so it won't be possible to connect it directly to the MP7.

However, something like the Alesis QX49 would do the trick, as it has both MIDI and USB connectors. Essentially anything with faders and a MIDI OUT connector should work, however the more compact units are intended for PC/Mac use and tend to be USB only.

Cheers,
James
x


Oh ok, I thought you might have been able to connect it via USB to the USB at the back of the MP7. Unfortunately it looks like the Alesis only has 8 sliders, not 9.
_________________________
Kawai MP7

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#2294842 - 06/25/14 01:42 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Austin D]
fizikisto Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 551
Loc: Hernando, MS
The 61 key M-Audio Axiom might be a useful choice, it has 9 sliders, traditional MIDI in/out ports as well as USB over midi. Possibly worth looking into. smile
_________________________
Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800

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#2294998 - 06/25/14 07:47 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Musical Dan]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9350
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By: Musical Dan
Oh ok, I thought you might have been able to connect it via USB to the USB at the back of the MP7.


No, I'm afraid not - those USB 'B' ports on the M-Audio and Kawai can only be used to connect to a computer.

Originally Posted By: Musical Dan
Unfortunately it looks like the Alesis only has 8 sliders, not 9.


Yes, I noticed that too. It means you'd have to assign the '1' drawbar to something else. ;(

Cheers,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#2295001 - 06/25/14 07:50 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: fizikisto]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9350
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By: fizikisto
The 61 key M-Audio Axiom might be a useful choice, it has 9 sliders, traditional MIDI in/out ports as well as USB over midi.


Good call!

There's also the Axiom 49:



Cheers,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#2295561 - 06/26/14 10:45 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Kawai James]
Musical Dan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/10
Posts: 64
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Originally Posted By: fizikisto
The 61 key M-Audio Axiom might be a useful choice, it has 9 sliders, traditional MIDI in/out ports as well as USB over midi.


Good call!

There's also the Axiom 49:



Cheers,
James
x


Yes the 49 might be better in some ways than the 61, as it has synth-style keys rather than semi-weighted keys. You might not need that many keys anyway, if you are using a rack you could probably play left hand on the MP7 keyboard, and the fast notes with your right hand on the midi controller. I take it you can play both at once?

Another one that looks like it would do the trick is the Nektar Panorama P4 / P6, though I think these might be semi-weighted also.
_________________________
Kawai MP7

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#2295584 - 06/26/14 11:51 PM Re: Purchasing a new Digital Piano--Any Recommendations? [Re: Musical Dan]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9350
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By: Musical Dan
I take it you can play both at once?


Yes, you'd just need to set one of the zones to EXT (External) or BOTH, then assign the relevant MIDI channel.

Cheers,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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