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#698282 - 12/13/07 01:53 PM $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
dave18 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 128
Loc: California, USA
Hello All!

Wow, this looks like a great forum here. I hope to be participating more as I start finally creating some music! \:\)

To give a quick background, I just started learning to play keyboard about two years or so ago on a cheap Casio CTK-533. Downsides, it has no touch sensitivity and it doesn't sound very good. Upsides, it was inexpensive, has a MIDI output port, and it shows you exactly where to place your fingers to play the songs in the song bank. That last feature is really nice for a total novice like I was. I eventually got bored and stopped playing. Then about a year ago I picked up an old upright acoustic piano made by Swick Piano Co. at a thrift store. Oh the difference! The feel of the keys... I fell in love! Even though the piano was out of tune (and still is) I was inspired to start learning again and I would play for hours at a time! I haven't taken any formal lessons or anything and still don't really know how to "play". Anyhow, my interest is more in writing music than playing. I would compose a song (or parts of a song, really) on the acoustic and then I hooked up the Casio to my computer that is running Cakewalk Sonar Producer. Because the keys don't have any touch sensitivity, I can't really get my creations into the computer. I need to get them in as MIDI notes (not actual sounds) because my playing is not that great and I need to "clean up" and rearrange what I have played quite a bit. So, that's the background. Phew! \:\)

Now I'm looking for an 88 key keyboard with the following:

* decent hammer action feel
* touch sensitive keys
* MIDI out
* pitch wheel
* sustain pedal

It doesn't have to have a synth and speakers, although I can see some advantages to that. My budget is about $400 (or less). Here is what I've come up with so far, either new or used for about $400 or less:

Yamaha DGX-520
Yamaha YPG-525
M-Audio Keystation Pro 88

The M-Audio does not have a synth, so when comparing it to the Yamahas, I'm really looking at the hammer action. Also, I'm used to the old MIDI connectors, and the Yamahas only have USB connectors. Is that a problem at all? I don't have any other old equipment I would need to hook it up to.

Finally, if anyone knows of other keyboards/synths I should be looking at, I'd love to hear some suggestions.

Sorry for the long account, but I have a pretty specific need here, and I was just hoping for a little advice. Thanks a lot for any help!

dave

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#698283 - 12/13/07 03:28 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Mati Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Lodz, Poland
You may consider also CME UF8 88 key hammer action MIDI controller, which is priced around Keystation Pro. Neither of them, however, were to my liking in terms of piano action compared with hammer actions of Yamaha for example. They were strangely stiff and unresponsible. Both of them would do better than Yamahas speaking of MIDI master keyboard.

And about USB connectors - no problems with them at all, I was using USB-MIDI built in Keystation 61s for more than 2 years w/o problems.


Mati
_________________________
Mateusz Papiernik
My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Maticomp
"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
Kawai CN21 (digital), Henryk Yamayuri Kawai NX-40 (grand)

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#698284 - 12/13/07 03:45 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
Another cheap (less than $400), but weighted, 88-key keyboard is Casio Privia PX110. It lacks the pitch wheel though.

You should do a search on the M-Audio's Keystation - I'm pretty sure I saw a few posts a while ago, about people hating the touch - I may be wrong though.

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#698285 - 12/13/07 03:52 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Mati Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Lodz, Poland
O, yeah! You're right. Privia fits the bill quite good. It's lacking the pitchbend and other MIDI controller features though. But the action is a real masterpiece compared to Keystation ...


Mati
_________________________
Mateusz Papiernik
My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Maticomp
"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
Kawai CN21 (digital), Henryk Yamayuri Kawai NX-40 (grand)

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#698286 - 12/13/07 06:39 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
vladn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/07
Posts: 65
Loc: NJ, USA
If you really need pitch wheel and can live without internal synth take a look at SL990XP - it has a decent action, samash still has them. Otherwise PX110 is your best bet in that price range. M-Audio Keystation action is unnatural in my opinion.

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#698287 - 12/13/07 07:21 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/06
Posts: 2368
Loc: Denver, CO
The Yamaha DGX520 YPG525 are not hammer action. To get hammer action, you would have to be looking at the DGX620 / YPG625.

I play the Privia PX310 and am very happen with the touch. I sometimes run it through TruePianos for better sound.

Rich
_________________________

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#698288 - 12/13/07 10:09 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
jnick Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 91
Loc: NY
 Quote:
Originally posted by DragonPianoPlayer:
The Yamaha DGX520 YPG525 are not hammer action. To get hammer action, you would have to be looking at the DGX620 / YPG625.

I play the Privia PX310 and am very happen with the touch. I sometimes run it through TruePianos for better sound.

Rich [/b]
Exactly. The YPG-525/DGX-520 is TOUCH sensitive, however, there is NO hammer action. To get hammer action you have to step up to the YPG-625/DGX-620.

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#698289 - 12/13/07 11:45 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Agathis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 420
Loc: Southwest
i purchased the cheapie m-audio 88 key controller the other day. it is cheap, ($199) the keys say semi-weighted but that is debatable. i've never dealt with anything other than weighted keys, and it took some getting used to. at first i was quite upset when i hooked it up. but now, it makes those wild jerry lee lewis glissandos really easy! i am adjusting to it. once i earn more $$ from playing out, i will buy my dream keyboard, a yamaha cp300.... the problem with that is, here we go again with tank-like weights for keyboards i have to lug around to gigs... but the sound... \:\)

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#698290 - 12/14/07 12:50 AM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
dave18 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 128
Loc: California, USA
Replies! \:\)

Thanks for the input. Wow, reading these are really helpful. I just got back from a music store that sells lots of keyboards, so I was able to play around with them. What I experienced there matches up a lot with what all of you have written.

Regarding the M-Audio Keystation Pro 88, thanks for the advice to look at that a little more closely. It does sound like people have trouble with the velocity curves. I got to feel one at the music store, but it wasn't hooked up to a synth, so I couldn't tell how responsive it was. The keys felt solid and heavy... almost too heavy. They were nice, but I could see how they don't respond very "naturally".

Probably the best feeling keyboards under $1000 were the Casio Privias. They felt really nice! It's making me rethink the pitch wheel, although my wife said she would be willing to spring for the PX-575R (which has a pitch wheel). I can't recall if it was $599 or $699. Eek. I don't know if I want to spend that much, but the action did feel really nice. I think in the end, especially since I will be using software synths, the action of the keyboard is what's important.

I didn't care too much for the action of the Yamahas in my price range. The keys felt a little too "light". I'm sure I could get used to them, but they didn't feel very realistic.

 Quote:
And about USB connectors - no problems with them at all, I was using USB-MIDI built in Keystation 61s for more than 2 years w/o problems.
Ah, I'm very glad to hear that! \:\)

Regarding pitch wheels... is that something that I can buy separately and hook up to my computer as a separate midi device? The reason I want one is that I plan on recording many different instruments through the keyboard, and the stringed instruments (violin, cello) often make a smooth transition from one note to another... they can pitch bend from note to note. Anyhow, I don't think I can simulate that without the wheel. I should probably start this as another thread somewhere on this board. I'll look around and see what I can find.

Does anyone have any experience with the Casio PX-575R? I think all the Privias have the same key action, don't they? They felt like that in the store. Definitely a nice line of keyboards, especially for the price! \:\)

Thanks again for the advice! I'm one of those "nervous buyers". \:\)

dave

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#698291 - 12/14/07 12:53 AM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
dave18 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 128
Loc: California, USA
Oh, one more thing...

I tried one keyboard by a company I had never heard of before that had hammer action, but was not touch sensitive! What a strange combination! Anyone know what's up with that?!

OK, just had to add that. You always have to be on the lookout. \:\)

dave

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#698292 - 12/14/07 01:02 AM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
 Quote:
Originally posted by dave18:

Regarding pitch wheels... is that something that I can buy separately and hook up to my computer as a separate midi device? [/b]
I was actually looking at something like that (I have a Privia as well), but the only thing that I found was this piece of software:
http://www.sonicspot.com/vmidijoy/vmidijoy.html

I haven't tried it yet - and it looks quite dated (only mentions 98 compatibility, nothing about xp).

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#698293 - 12/14/07 09:57 AM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Agathis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 420
Loc: Southwest
oh yeah, thats what scared me the most about my cheapo m-audio 88 key semi weighted. the velocity curve was awful. thankfully my ancient Oberheim piano module HAS a velocity curve within the module itself, without that, i would have been in terrible shape with the m audio 88 key because you have to pound like crazy to trigger the more forte sample of the thing..

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#698294 - 12/14/07 12:20 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Mati Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Lodz, Poland
Controlling the dynamics with semi-weighted is a nightmare though. I've been using Keystation 61s semi-weighted from M-Audio, which still sits next to me, for over a year (around two years? don't even remember). I can't say I complained a lot - cheap keyboard worth its price. But developing technique was kind of irritating on it for me. I guess 88 key version has the same keybed, as mine 61.
_________________________
Mateusz Papiernik
My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Maticomp
"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
Kawai CN21 (digital), Henryk Yamayuri Kawai NX-40 (grand)

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#698295 - 12/14/07 01:10 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Agathis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 420
Loc: Southwest
definitley would not encourage anyone developing technique to use a non weighted board to start out with. my 88 key m audio is perfect just to grab and take to a gig though, and the rock and roll piano songs i do don't require a very complex touch. think machine gun.. \:\)

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#698296 - 12/14/07 02:05 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
dave18 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 128
Loc: California, USA
 Quote:
he only thing that I found was this piece of software
Hey Eternal, thanks for the link! That is a great idea. FYI, if you Google "MIDI joystick", all kinds of stuff comes up. Here are just a couple of links that look more "updated":
http://www.codevis.com/proj_midi.html
http://trip.m78.com/livesticks-e.html

Well, it's a new day, and I'm really thinking about the Casio PX-110. It actually fits my price range and it feels so good! I think on those rare occasions that I would use a pitch wheel, I can just manipulate the notes in the software since I'll be in my "studio" anyhow. Wow, now I want to get back to that music store and play with the PX-110 some more. \:\)

Thanks again for all the advice. I'll definitely be reporting back! \:\)

dave

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#698297 - 12/14/07 05:33 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1612
Studio Logic weighted controller for $450 trumps the M Audio Yamaha junk.
_________________________
1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

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#698298 - 12/14/07 07:11 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Taibu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/17/07
Posts: 25
Loc: Estonia
You should be able to utilise the pitch bend wheels on your old keyboard by using a midi merge unit.

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#698299 - 12/16/07 05:56 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Agathis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 420
Loc: Southwest
$450??? it better!

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#698300 - 12/16/07 06:28 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Mati Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Lodz, Poland
 Quote:
Originally posted by rintincop:
Studio Logic weighted controller for $450 trumps the M Audio Yamaha junk. [/b]
Fatar trumps the M Audio easily, but is no match for graded hammer actions or Yamaha, for my taste.


M.
_________________________
Mateusz Papiernik
My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Maticomp
"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
Kawai CN21 (digital), Henryk Yamayuri Kawai NX-40 (grand)

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#698301 - 12/16/07 08:15 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Agathis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 420
Loc: Southwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mati:
 Quote:
Originally posted by rintincop:
Studio Logic weighted controller for $450 trumps the M Audio Yamaha junk. [/b]
Fatar trumps the M Audio easily, but is no match for graded hammer actions or Yamaha, for my taste.


M. [/b]
you guys are comparing kias and mercedes...

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#698302 - 12/17/07 11:32 AM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Mati Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Lodz, Poland
Which being which Agathis? :-D I guess M-Audio is the Kia. But what is the Mercedes? :-D After playing Fatar StudioLogic units (from 8xx series though) and auditioning Yamaha keybeds, Yamaha's were obviously better. Has Fatar improved _that_ much to be called a Mercedes?


M.
_________________________
Mateusz Papiernik
My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Maticomp
"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
Kawai CN21 (digital), Henryk Yamayuri Kawai NX-40 (grand)

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#698303 - 12/17/07 11:37 AM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mati:
Which being which Agathis? :-D I guess M-Audio is the Kia. But what is the Mercedes? :-D After playing Fatar StudioLogic units (from 8xx series though) and auditioning Yamaha keybeds, Yamaha's were obviously better. Has Fatar improved _that_ much to be called a Mercedes?


M. [/b]
I think he's referring to the price points.

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#698304 - 12/17/07 02:32 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Mati Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Lodz, Poland
Oh, well. Haven't thought of it. Perhaps you're right \:\)
_________________________
Mateusz Papiernik
My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Maticomp
"One man can make a difference" - Wilton Knight
Kawai CN21 (digital), Henryk Yamayuri Kawai NX-40 (grand)

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#698305 - 12/17/07 07:32 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
dave18 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 128
Loc: California, USA
I haven't been able to try a StudioLogic, so I can't really compare. However, after going back to the music store, I really do like the feel of the Casio Privias in that price range, so I'm going to ditch the whole pitch wheel idea and get a PX-110 instead. That graded hammer action really does feel good! \:\)

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#698306 - 12/19/07 05:30 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
Just thought of something else - not sure if it was mentioned before. You should be able to configure one of your pedals (PX110 supports 3), to sort of act as a pitch wheel.

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#698307 - 12/19/07 06:06 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Taibu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/17/07
Posts: 25
Loc: Estonia
 Quote:
Originally posted by Eternal:
Just thought of something else - not sure if it was mentioned before. You should be able to configure one of your pedals (PX110 supports 3), to sort of act as a pitch wheel. [/b]
I don't believe this is possible. Not on the px-110 at least.

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#698308 - 12/19/07 07:20 PM Re: $400 Hammer Action: Yamaha or M-Audio?
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
 Quote:
Originally posted by Taibu:
I don't believe this is possible. Not on the px-110 at least. [/b]
I didn't mean with PX110 alone. You'd need some PC software to implement it as well. It all depends on whether the pedal is just ON/OFF or an actual pot is included.

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