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#2485089 - 11/27/15 02:53 PM High end DP review - decision made
Chris Warren Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 83
Further to my last visit to London a few weeks back and my report on playing the Lx17 / CA97 / CLP585 / N2...I thought I'd give an update based on spending 5 hours today at Bonner Music in Eastbourne. (Many thanks to them for having such a good range in stock and providing a really peaceful trial environment).

I played the CA97, Lx17, Casio GP300, CLP 585 and N1 at length - mainly playing Chopin pieces (e.g. Ballades / Barcarolle) and swapping between the pianos with and without headphones.

The N1 was clearly superior to the others - as it should be given that its around twice the price - so let me first give my impressions of the straight DPs.

CA97 - the best touch of the 4. I liked the wooden keys and the realistic escapement. You can also adjust the minimum touch value which I felt needed raising a bit for realism to mimic legato technique on a grand. Thought the SK option was the best piano sound, and thought the speaker sound was very similar to sound through the headphones. Tones up and down the keyboard were balanced, though I found the bass notes a bit on the muddy side. In terms of overall sound though, I could never get away from the feel that I was listening to a DP, with some distinctly tinny sounding areas in the mid/high treble. For me, the sound is the killer area - it doesn't have to sound just like a grand, but I have to like the sound. I have to confess I didn't.

Lx17 - Touch almost as good as the CA97, but it felt a little too springy at times. Despite resetting to Factory settings, the sustain with sustain pedal was unrealistically long. As I'd noticed before, some notes tend to stand out in the upper registers, and the overall sound was too "digital". I felt it just didn't suit classical music. Cabinet quality and switches etc. all looked really nice, and I'm sure the Bluetooth functionality etc. will be important for some.

GP300 - cabinet quality not as good as the others, and the touch is unrealistically easy for legato playing (notes able to repeat 1mm from the key bed, and seeming a bit disjointed in this context). However, the sound through the headphones is really really good. At times I felt it was better than the N1. The tenor and bass is nicely distinct and the dynamic touch response on the piano means that you can really bring out secondary melodies/notes when needed. (The dynamic range is actually slightly unrealistically wide if anything - you can play incredibly softly (not easy on even the best regulated grands)). Occasionally, with a sharp attack, some of the treble could sound a bit harsh. Through the speakers it's a no-no for me though. It sounded as if Casio have really skimped on the speakers. The result is just not substantial enough. Having said that, time and time again I kept going back to the Casio. With headphones on I really felt I could lose myself in the music and totally forget that I was playing a DP. Sadly the GP500 wasn't in store today, but I suspect the speaker sound is going to be much improved there.

CLP 585 - liked the sound, but hated the touch. Whilst touch isn't my biggest criterion, this was too far off the mark.

N1 - at least twice the price of course, but it felt like coming home moving from the other DPs. I wish the Yamaha had the strong base tones of the Casio, but other than that, but overall, the sound was better. The keys bottom out too hard I feel, and they certainly make more noise than the others. Overall though I felt at ease playing this, and whilst the touch is heavier than the others, paradoxically I felt I could actually play faster with more control. It wasn't as entertaining in a way as playing the Casio, but for serious music practice/playing, it was the best there.

If I had a budget of c.£3,000 I'd go for the GP300/500 every time (the 500 if you're going to be using speakers a lot). Compared to the other DPs it really seemed streets ahead to me. (It took a while for this to register, but after the first round of 10 minutes on each, it really was quite noticeable how much I enjoyed playing the Casio. I think Greg was quite amused how I kept shiftily returning to it).

Ultimately I've decided to get one of the AGs - I want to get one last side by side comparison of the N1 vs. N2 (anyone any thoughts?) - but I suspect that since this is going to be my last piano, the N2 is the favourite.

Almost a requisite caveat now, that it's all down to personal taste... but hope the above is constructive for someone.

Edited by Chris Warren (11/27/15 03:01 PM)

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#2485091 - 11/27/15 03:04 PM Re: High end DP review - decision made [Re: Chris Warren]
Frédéric L Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 10/29/13
Posts: 308
Loc: France
Originally Posted By Chris Warren
If I had a budget of c.£3,000 I'd go for the GP300/500 every time (the 500 if you're going to be using speakers a lot).

The 500 has the same speakers and amplification of the 300 according to :


However... Thanks for the helpful review smile
Yamaha CLP150, Ivory II (American Concert D, Italian, 3 grand pianos, 4 uprights), Truekeys, Pianoteq

#2485092 - 11/27/15 03:07 PM Re: High end DP review - decision made [Re: Chris Warren]
Alexander Borro Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/14
Posts: 513
Loc: UK
Interesting read Warren as for the sound yes I agree on the Ca67/Ca97 having tried them recently, and also agree, it doesn't have to sound like an authentic grand, though it is nice when they do, but if you don't like it you don't like it. I couldn't say I disliked it, but you know what I mean, not exactly what I'd hoped for either.

Unfortunately I found it rather heavy too and not very nimble feeling, and the letoff rather severe for my personal liking when you are not used to that and used to Casio as I am.

The key bed finish looked gorgeous though, it had written all over it, touch me, play me laugh

Sound very positive on the new Casio then, I would like to try the new Rolands and Casio some day for the fun of it. smile
Self taught since June 2014.
Books: Barratt classic piano course book 1,2,3. Humphries Piano handbook, various others.
Casio Celviano AP 450 & various peripherals.

My struggles: https://soundcloud.com/alexander-borro

#2485343 - Yesterday at 11:02 AM Re: High end DP review - decision made [Re: Chris Warren]
McBuster Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/11
Posts: 372
Loc: St Paul Minnesota USA

My take on the CA97. My issues were what I heard from the speakers, not headphones etc.


The 97 is better than the 95, but DP's can vary greatly, one unit to another.

To document two CA95's, here is what the Notes look like from the Speakers/Soundboard as recorded with a stereo audio recorder from within the room.

I tried hard to play each note with the same amplitude. And, I believe I did. The first and last notes are the same amplitude in both samples. Note, the difference. Same Recorder. Same location in the room. Same Firmware version. Same Concert Grand Voice and Effects.

Maybe try 2-3 more CA97's to see if you find one that is pleasing. The Touch on the CA Series is the best out there.
Jon ...

Kawai CA95
Sailor, Consultant, Gourmet, Dreamer

#2485359 - Yesterday at 11:44 AM Re: High end DP review - decision made [Re: Chris Warren]
Hendrik42 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/15
Posts: 389
Loc: Germany
Same room? Sorry, say again, what is different? Just the DP or also the room? How did you ensure that you had the same volume level? And same pressure when playing?

If you have access to two CA97 in the same room, at the same place, I suggest that you play the sames notes via a MIDI file to ensure that you have same pressure/velocity. They you only have to somehow calibrate the volume level to ensure that you only measure difference in speakers.

You are suggesting that the speakers make the difference, no?
Kawai CN35. Daughter wanted a piano, so we got one. Now who'll learn faster? ;-)

#2485719 - 13 minutes 19 seconds ago Re: High end DP review - decision made [Re: Chris Warren]
McBuster Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/11
Posts: 372
Loc: St Paul Minnesota USA

All I wanted to illustrate in the Jpg above, was simple. Two "Identical" CA95's would produce much different sounds on (G4). And, the differences could be heard by myself, my instructor and many others

The previous CA95 was exchanged by Kawai for a brand new one. Hence, the befores and afters. Same room. Same spot. Same volume. Same player. I did some Midi work, but found that made no real difference. Neither did the Volume unless very soft. The same formations were always present. Speakers? Factory. And I did not care, as, I wanted something to sound nice thru the Speakers, not headphones. All this was well documented over an eight month discussion with Kawai.

Btw, if you search the threads on this subject, there were 3-4 others who had similar problems. Some, on the same note (G4 Concert Artist etc) I did. And, imho, the CA97 also has some issues along these lines. Although greatly improved over the CA95.

Kawai makes a great keyboard and I really like the Tactile Feedback the Soundboard offers. When I have a bit more stray money, I will fetch a fast laptop, PianoTeq, a stereo amp and a monoraul amp, and if necessary, replace the midrange speakers as well. Then, Midi out to the laptop and come right from the amps into all the internal speakers/soundboard and bypass the Kawai amps all together. I would have the same tactile feedback and a far better sound than Kawai offers (including Toy Piano - tee hee).

If you spent time going down all the threads I and others posted on my experience, you would find collectively, all the questions you posed were offered then, plus far more.
Jon ...

Kawai CA95
Sailor, Consultant, Gourmet, Dreamer

#2485721 - 11 minutes 37 seconds ago Re: High end DP review - decision made [Re: Chris Warren]
CyberGene Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 886
Loc: Sofia, Bulgaria
Very similar to my experience with Roland LX which I shared in the LX thread. And where I shared how I felt in love with Yamaha AG N3!
Current DP: Kawai ES7
Previous DP-s: Kawai MP6, Kawai CA63, Roland RD-700SX, Roland FP-5, Yamaha P90, Korg SP-200, Casio CDP-100


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