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#679270 - 01/09/03 02:14 PM Specific Qs to Finalize Buying Decision
Kris_dup1 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/09/03
Posts: 5
Loc: Northwest
Folks,

I read through the illuminating and informative digital piano vs acoustic piano discussions posted here in the last 18 months. I have decided to get started with a digital piano for about $2000. However, I still have a few questions to help finalize my buying decision. Your input will be much appreciated.

Here are my higher priority needs:

1. A platform to learn to play the Piano for myself and my ten year old son. We both logged about 4 months of lessons on an entry level keyboard and are ready to move up.
2. Sound is more important than looks. Since it is apparently easy to add new sounds via an external sound bank, the emphasis is on a good graded hammer keyboard with good basic voices.

Here are the medium priority needs:

3. Easy portability within the home.
4. Availability of software, sound libraries etc to help me, a computer programmer by profession, tinker with MIDI capabilities.

Here are the models I'm focusing on but if you have other candidates in the price/feature range, please let me know.

1. Yamaha PF500
2. Yamaha YDP223
3. Roland KR-177

Here are my questions.

1. The KR-177 has a floppy drive and the dealer showed my how I can insert a floppy that accompany lesson books to help practice at home. This looks quite useful, especially to recall how the piece is supposed to sound. If I want this feature, is the floppy drive the only option? It appears that I could get a CD/floppy to run on my computer and hook it up to the digital piano and use that instead of a builtin floppy drive. The reason being most digital pianos with floppy drives are priced much higher than 2K.

How practical is it to use lesson accompanying music to learn? I would imagine it is not difficult to find software for Roland/Yamaha that runs on a PC. Please let me know if this is a correct assumption.

2. The Roland dealer said Yamaha samples only its own acoustic pianos whereas Roland samples the better sounding Steinways. That may be true, but is that a big difference?

3. The KR-177 and YDP223 both had 20W speakers that were built into the cabinets and they sounded much better than the PF500 which has 30W speakers that are visible on the top of the unit. I'm assuming that the placement of the speakers in the cabinet made a noticeable difference. Or did I just not hear enough of the PF500 i.e. is there no difference in speaker placement?

4. What is the availability and price of decent sound/voice libraries to extend the voices built in. Do both Rolands and Yamahas in general work well with such voice libraries? I'm assuming the libraries are MIDI compatible and a good implementation on the digital piano is needed to bring out the best. This, however, is a lower priority than basic usability and ability to learn.

5. The Roland dealer wants to sell me a used KR-177 (used in a music lesson classroom for about 9 months) for about 2500. That sounds quite expensive for a used KR-177 compared to the 1500 for ydp223 and 2000 for pf500. I saw some discussion about wear and tear on digital pianos and am wondering if that should steer me to a new piano unless the price is right on a used one.

I know this is a boat load of questions but I hope others like me can also learn from the responses.

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#679271 - 01/09/03 08:39 PM Re: Specific Qs to Finalize Buying Decision
JimM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/04/02
Posts: 200
Loc: Northern California
I have a Roland KR (model 1077). Here are some opinions (for what they're worth):

1) You can connect a computer to your keyboard through midi and run a program called a sequencer (lots available, from cheap to costly) to play the midi files that accompany your lesson books. This is more flexible than the built-in sequencer and floppy, but not nearly as convenient. You'd need a midi interface for your computer, and would probably also need a sound card to play through the piano's speaker/amplifier although the computer might have this built in depending on configuration

2) Yamaha does in fact sample its own pianos, Roland samples Steinways and perhaps others (since Roland does not make acoustic pianos.) Yamaha acoustics have a reputation for being very "bright" where Steinways are darker and more mellow. There is no "better sounding" - depends on what you like. My Roland has controls to modify the sample sound (brighter, reverberation, etc.) and the equivalent Yamaha probably does too

3) Can't comment on speaker location, let your ears be the guide. In-cabinet speakers sound best to me since they give the illusion of coming from inside the piano. Other things equal, more power is better than less power since pianos can put out huge transient levels when played fortissimo. (My Roland has 12 speakers and 240 watts!)

4) You can't add internal sounds/voices to most digital pianos - what's built in is what you get, although as noted above there are ways to tweak how they sound. Adding new sounds requires external devices - either hardware or software on your computer. Don't confuse sounds with midi files, which are instructions to the pianos about how to play a song. You can play any midi file on any midi keyboard that has a full General Midi implementation.

5) I believe the KR-177 is no longer a current model and has been replaced by the KR-3. I'd hold out for a very low price. It's a good piano, though

A lower-cost way to get started would be to buy a "stage" piano which is essentially a keyboard and electronics without the cabinet. Some have speakers, some don't, but you can use your home stereo. Most don't have built-in floppies so you'd have to interface a computer for midi playback and recording. Most also have only a subset of General Midi sounds, but as a beginner that may be all you need. The Yamaha P80 has gotten good reviews. Equivalent Roland (last time I looked) was the RD700.

Hope that helps,
jim
_________________________
=========
Jim
Mason and Hamlin BB, Clavinova CVP900

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#679272 - 01/09/03 08:50 PM Re: Specific Qs to Finalize Buying Decision
Kris_dup1 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/09/03
Posts: 5
Loc: Northwest
JimM, thank you for taking the time to provide a detailed and informative response.

I recall reading several folks advising (in previous threads) that the action of the keyboard is more important than the built in voices because one could always add additional voices. I guess I need to explore that a bit more.

Thanks again.

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#679273 - 01/10/03 01:30 AM Re: Specific Qs to Finalize Buying Decision
JimM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/04/02
Posts: 200
Loc: Northern California
Kris, I would agree that action is more important than sounds since you can add "external" sounds via midi. I connected a computer running GigaStudio (sample-player) to my Roland and use its piano library exclusively. There are cheaper and less-complex approaches as well (Roland's soft synth software, for example, or hardware modules).
jim
_________________________
=========
Jim
Mason and Hamlin BB, Clavinova CVP900

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