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#2363205 - Yesterday at 05:39 PM Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand
integris Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/15/11
Posts: 10
So here we are almost in 2015. Lots of digital pianos out there.

Let's start by forgetting all of the ones under $500.

I am looking for a digital piano to practice on when the family is sleeping. My 6'3" Pramberger JP-185 is a little loud smile

Don't care what it looks like. I want the best sound and touch for the money and don't need built-in speakers as I will always be using headphones.

I tried most of the Yamis and while the P255 has exceptional sound, the touch is well calibrated but still too light compared to most acoustic pianos. I am used to bashing on my Pramberger keys and having sore arms after playing for an hour or two. smile I have played a lot of other acoustic pianos with even heavier actions.

I can't believe that even in 2015, digital piano actions are still way too light for any serious preparation for acoustic piano play.

Any suggestions come to mind?

Thanks!

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#2363210 - Yesterday at 05:52 PM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: integris]
Vid Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 885
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
What's the high end of your budget?

Yamaha's N series (N1 - N3) have the closest thing to a real grand piano action because is is comprised of a real piano action.

Kawai has a few models (CA95 and MP11) with their 'Grand Feel' action which emulates closely (a matter of opinion of course) a grand piano action.

When faced with the similar choice I went with the Kawai VPC1 (Virtual Piano Controller) but you need to add piano software for the sound engine. I personally prefer Pianoteq for its responsiveness but again this comes down to personal opinion.

Roland also has some models with their own action designs and the V-piano which has a model sound engine instead of sampled. I have not played on any of these so can't provide an opinion one way or another.


Edited by Vid (Yesterday at 06:47 PM)
_________________________
Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

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#2363220 - Yesterday at 06:39 PM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: integris]
Jay Roland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/13
Posts: 374
Loc: White Rock, BC.
I don't know where you are in the world, but please seek out an RD-800 to try.

Turn it on and scroll to Patch #34 "Studio Grand" and just play.

Let us know how you like it.

Jay
_________________________
National Piano Sales Manager for Roland Canada.
www.roland.ca
t: RCMPianoGuy

I'm sure that Jay (along with every other product manager in recorded history) is quite accustomed to hearing different customers assert "X" and "not-X" with equal conviction. - slowtraveler

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#2363221 - Yesterday at 06:42 PM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: integris]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3442
Originally Posted By: integris
I can't believe that even in 2015, digital piano actions are still way too light for any serious preparation for acoustic piano play.

OTOH, many digital actions feel heavier than my Yamaha grand, or one of my students' Bluthner. Seems to me like maybe you're just used to a heavier than average grand...?

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#2363225 - Yesterday at 07:17 PM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: integris]
TonyB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/07
Posts: 464
Loc: Twin Cities
I would echo Jay's recommendation about the RD-800. I don't own one, but I have played it and its action feels somewhat heavier than my V-Grand, so that may be to your liking.

Tony
_________________________
Roland V-Grand
Casio PX-5S
My blog: http://ajourneyintomusic.blogspot.com

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#2363260 - Yesterday at 09:39 PM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: integris]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
If you like a weightier feel, the Kawai Grand Feel pianos (MP11, or CA65/95) are what you want to go with. The VPC1 is also a contender, but you have to be OK with using software pianos, which WILL give you a much better sound than most on-board sounds. However, there is the hassle of hooking it up to a computer/laptop for the sounds. But really, not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but a great way to get something quite comparable to your acoustic.
_________________________
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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#2363270 - Yesterday at 10:55 PM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: integris]
bnolsen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/14
Posts: 183
Loc: Colorado
your candidates are the kawai mp11 and roland rd800.

it may be hard if not impossible to find these boards to play. i've listed what i think are the equivalent cabinet models which should be at a local dealer:

kawai: ca65, ca85 and some of the cs series have the gf action.

roland: hp506 and hp508 (i think)

IMHO the kawai GF is most realistic. you may like the roland action, its worth trying.

you can try the very top end clavinova but IMHO yamaha seriously needs to up their game still for realistic actions.

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#2363296 - Today at 12:45 AM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: integris]
integris Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/15/11
Posts: 10
Wow you guys are great! Thanks a lot for all of the suggestions.

A lot of companies market "grand feel" or "feels like a grand" actions but quite simply, it is just marketing.

My fear is that if you don't have the actual action of an acoustic piano with the hammers hitting electrical sensors instead of strings (why has no company done this yet?) then you will never get the "feel" of an acoustic piano from an electronic piano.

It amazes me that companies can still sell basic electronic pianos at $1500-$2000 with actions that still feel more like a keyboard than a piano.

I talked to my wife about it and she said "just play the grand even if we are sleeping". LOL That's all great as long as I am playing for fun but if I start repeating the same piece hundreds of times over and over, I think she will change her mind pretty fast! smile

Thanks again. Anyone else that wants to contribute their 2 cents, by all means please don't hesitate.

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#2363314 - Today at 02:17 AM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: integris]
Frédéric L Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 10/29/13
Posts: 87
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: integris

My fear is that if you don't have the actual action of an acoustic piano with the hammers hitting electrical sensors instead of strings (why has no company done this yet?)


Yamaha does make "hybrid" pianos which are digital pianos with an action designed from acoustic pianos (NU1, N1, N2, N3), but they are more expensive than usual digital pianos.

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#2363318 - Today at 02:44 AM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: integris]
jtsn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/19/14
Posts: 126
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: integris
My fear is that if you don't have the actual action of an acoustic piano with the hammers hitting electrical sensors instead of strings (why has no company done this yet?)

This had been done long ago, those pianos are called "electric pianos" and they got out of fashion, because they sound nothing like an AP and must be tuned and regulated just like an AP.

Due to the latter even most people interested in EP sounds buy a DP emulating an EP.

Quote:
It amazes me that companies can still sell basic electronic pianos at $1500-$2000 with actions that still feel more like a keyboard than a piano.

DP buyers usually look for an upright piano replacement. Uprights don't feel and play like a grands either. And most people prefer not having sore arms after just one or two hours of practice.
_________________________
Kawai ES100 (broken), Yamaha NP-31 (lent out), Steinberg UR-22, Moddart Pianoteq 5

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#2363331 - Today at 04:04 AM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: integris]
Rolf Benz Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/11/14
Posts: 14
Hi integris,

I know exactly how you feel as I have done exactly this research as you some months ago. I own a Steinway Grand and also use digital pianos mainly due to their variety of sounds (also vintage E-pianos) and MIDI capabilities. Nevertheless I wanted something with the best action which would be as close as possible to my acoustic.

I would recommend the Kawai MP11 on your shortlist. If you prefer a heavy action, this is the one to go. The breakoff-weight is heavier than on my Steinway, the let-off simulation feels a bit different but touch and feel of the action resembles pretty closely what you would expect from a grand piano.

Yet I have to confess that my instrument required some post-buy service (I mentioned that somewhere else on this forum) but nevertheless, I love this great device and really enjoy playing it.

Concerning Roland, I was quite lucky to check some of their slabs recently. I really liked the action of the RD-700NX, it was slightly lighter than the MP11 but felt a bit more "fluid". But when I played it I was not able to directly compare it to the Kawai so please take this statement with a grain of salt.

Compared to the RD-800 the action of the 700NX felt better and more realistic. I can not give a technical justification for that, I just had the intention that the 700NX was closer to an acoustic grand while the 800 felt more like a very good electronic piano. You would have to try this on your own.

If you like something *REALLY* heavy, there would be the Kawai VPC-1. No internal sounds, just a controller. I only played it once but for my taste it really was a bit too heavy. I needed to "work" those keys, so it would resemble the ultimate heavyweight champion on my list.
If the MP11 and the Rolands are still to light for you, give the VPC-1 a try. You might easily plug a laptop with some decent VST sampler into it so soundwise not a big issue. But you might like the action from what I have read in your posts.

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#2363368 - Today at 07:49 AM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: integris]
leafhound Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/15/14
Posts: 43
Loc: Everywhere
grin In this order.

1. Roland - V-Piano (amazing dynamics and expression)
2. Kawai VPC1 - galaxy II (good sound)
3. Yamaha - N3
_________________________
“To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” ~ Chang Tzu

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#2363387 - Today at 08:50 AM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: leafhound]
Kawai James Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9678
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By: leafhound
grin In this order.

1. Roland - V-Piano (amazing dynamics and expression)
2. Kawai VPC1 - galaxy II (good sound)
3. Yamaha - N3


In my opinion:

1. Best action & all-in-one package, but most expensive: Yamaha N3
2. Almost best action, most realistic sound: Kawai VPC1 + software piano (Ivory, VI Labs, Galaxy, Pianoteq)
3. Okay action, best dynamics and expression, but unrealistic sound: Roland V-Piano

Of course, there are a number of alternative options not on this list.

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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#2363393 - Today at 09:06 AM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: integris]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Have you looked into a Silent Piano option on your current acoustic piano? I know nothing of these personally and have heard varying results. Some say it doesn't change the feel at all, others say it does. Just throwing that out there as an option to research. Perhaps you can look in on the Piano Tech Forum on this site to see what the technicians have to say about them.
_________________________
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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#2363422 - Today at 10:21 AM Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: integris]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5528
If you are looking for an acoustic piano replacement and you play classical music, and value the kind of (almost) unlimited tonal and dynamic range that acoustics provide, only the V-Piano & Grand will suffice. Nothing else comes remotely close, especially if you are pushing towards the extremes of expression.

If you just want a keyboard to bang on at night, and want a heavy action, any of the alternatives others have suggested will do.

Classical concert pianists use the AvantGrands for learning new pieces (and the drilling of notes 'into the fingers') and technical stuff that requires a lot of repetitive work, to spare the wear and tear on their acoustics' actions. They don't use them for developing tonal nuances and interpretation - their limited range of expression and dynamics would drive any classical pianist mad. (Of course, if you don't require to play so expressively, all bets are off......)

As for software pianos, my experience is limited to the free Pianoteq samples. They don't 'feel' in the least realistic, and sound totally disconnected to my playing, as if there is an intermediary robot (similar to the fly-by-wire system in modern aircraft) between my fingers and the sound that comes out.
_________________________
"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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#2363437 - 28 minutes 36 seconds ago Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: bennevis]
maurus Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/11
Posts: 865
Originally Posted By: bennevis
As for software pianos, my experience is limited to the free Pianoteq samples. They don't 'feel' in the least realistic, and sound totally disconnected to my playing, as if there is an intermediary robot (similar to the fly-by-wire system in modern aircraft) between my fingers and the sound that comes out.


To me, and disregarding sound issues, this very much sounds like a latency problem, possible coupled to a key velocity curve adaptation problem. And it sounds familiar. I have never managed (so far, and short of buying a dedicated computer) to couple my VPC1 to a software sound with a latency that was short enough for nuanced playing with good tactile feedback and for avoiding a 'disconnected' feel. (Which is why my VPC is coupled to another instrument rather than a software.)

Thus, if as a classical pianist you go the software route, expect to (1) buy a powerful and suitable computer that really is up to the task, and (2) to fiddle around with the setup and its settings for quite some time.

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#2363443 - 18 minutes 45 seconds ago Re: Experienced pianist: digital piano to "replace" grand [Re: maurus]
PianoManChuck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 106
Loc: Los Angeles, California
Originally Posted By: maurus
Originally Posted By: bennevis
As for software pianos, my experience is limited to the free Pianoteq samples. They don't 'feel' in the least realistic, and sound totally disconnected to my playing, as if there is an intermediary robot (similar to the fly-by-wire system in modern aircraft) between my fingers and the sound that comes out.


To me, and disregarding sound issues, this very much sounds like a latency problem, possible coupled to a key velocity curve adaptation problem. And it sounds familiar. I have never managed (so far, and short of buying a dedicated computer) to couple my VPC1 to a software sound with a latency that was short enough for nuanced playing with good tactile feedback and for avoiding a 'disconnected' feel. (Which is why my VPC is coupled to another instrument rather than a software.)

Thus, if as a classical pianist you go the software route, expect to (1) buy a powerful and suitable computer that really is up to the task, and (2) to fiddle around with the setup and its settings for quite some time.

In my experience (take Ravenscroft from VI Labs for example), I get latency if I run it as a standalone program... but if I use it as a VST inside of my DAW then the latency problem disappears!

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