some thoughts on digital piano

Posted by: jian1zh

some thoughts on digital piano - 01/24/13 08:09 PM

Since I am shopping for a piano, I went ahead and tried Kawai cn 33 at one of their dealership.

I've never played digital piano myself before, however, due to lots of posts on PW praising how closely these digital gizmos mimic real piano, I was like :"why not give them a try?"

But the experience told something otherwise. Digital piano certainly doesn't match the real feelings of a real piano, not sure if it's a bad CN33 I've played or generally that's how they feel. The touch feels completely wrong, not real/solid at all.

I bet the other digial pianos must all feel alike, and I am now back on shopping for an acoustic. I simply don't understand why people claim they have "close to acoustic feeling", of which they certainly lack.
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/24/13 08:14 PM

I agree, nothing will ever beat the feeling of a real acoustic laugh
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/24/13 08:16 PM

for digital pianos u generally want to look at Yamaha and high-end Roland.
The new Yamaha series is simply amazing for their cost.
Posted by: albynism

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/24/13 08:20 PM

Yeah but they have their place, ie. when you live in an apartment and want to practice at 1 am in the morning.
Posted by: jian1zh

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/24/13 08:22 PM

How much better are Yamaha's? The Kawai I've tried certainly doesn't meet my expectation at all, it feels like a digital keyboard.

I am not saying that digital pianos are bad instrument, but the way lots of posts praising them is way over my head.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/24/13 08:32 PM

If you are an experienced pianist and found the Kawai lacking in acoustic-like response to your playing, try the Roland V-Piano or V-Piano Grand. You may well find, as I do, that it gives you a remarkable acoustic-like playability that can make you forget that you are not playing a mechanical instrument.
Posted by: karlosserio

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/24/13 09:02 PM

"Close to acoustic feeling" and other terms are widely used but in my opinion an acoustic piano is... an acoustic piano.
I think you did a good choice going for an acoustic, digitals have their place as a practice instrument when you can't make that much noise (at night).
Several years ago I went through some research and even with top options (vst's and top line controller) the dynamic range and control was NOT satisfying.
Enjoy your acoustic!
Posted by: BDB

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/25/13 12:27 AM

Acoustic and digital are different instruments, with different characteristics and different capabilities. They require similar but different techniques. I have tuned for a number of concerts where the pianist used both instruments. They just are not completely interchangeable.
Posted by: peterws

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/25/13 02:01 AM

D`ya know, some of us prefer `em. I spent an hour yesterday trying to re educate myself to the "character" and feel of an acoustic. . . .

I tried ever so hard . . .I guess it`s what you grow accustomed to.
Posted by: musicpassion

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/25/13 03:42 AM

I agree.

However I'll also agree digitals have their place - but IMHO that place is not instead of a quality acoustic.
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/25/13 04:35 AM

Originally Posted By: peterws
D`ya know, some of us prefer `em. I spent an hour yesterday trying to re educate myself to the "character" and feel of an acoustic. . . .

I tried ever so hard . . .I guess it`s what you grow accustomed to.


That's why I always recommend having one of each. They're different, but not by so much that practice on one hurts your playing on the other. Instead, I think it develops your ability to adapt to different keyboard instruments.

The digital is also great if you have to travel. I take mine to a week long business conference every year.
Posted by: floydthebarber71

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/26/13 03:09 AM

I'm afraid you went shopping for the wrong reasons. Digitals don't replace acoustics, you don't "give them a try" for that sake. So, nothing new here!

I don't think they're even advertised as being a replacement? Are they? Why do people think this?
Posted by: peterws

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/26/13 08:38 AM

Oh, I don`t know. I used to have several acoustics and liked most of `em. Apart from the top end ones I encountered, which were invariably out of tune.

Why should anybody so much as touch an out of tune piano whatever it is, except he has a tightening thingy in his hand?
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/26/13 10:49 AM

Originally Posted By: jian1zh
How much better are Yamaha's? The Kawai I've tried certainly doesn't meet my expectation at all, it feels like a digital keyboard.

I am not saying that digital pianos are bad instrument, but the way lots of posts praising them is way over my head.


jian1zh, when it comes to any piano you have to play it and make up your own mind.

The only hybrid pianos on the market in your price range are all Yamaha and they use either the very slightly modified action of a grand piano or an upright piano. (There's a hybrid, the AlphaPiano, that uses the action from a nine foot concert grand but it's quite expensive.)

I've made my living solely from playing and for me, at least, I have the best of all worlds, a real grand piano action feel, a piano that never goes out of tune, and one that can be played at very quiet levels. Some of us can live with the trade offs and others cannot - it's personal. For me it's not very much of a trade off since for me the piano is simply a tool and not a cherished heirloom to be passed onto the next generation.

Even though I own the N3 I'm giving serious thought of buying a second hybrid, the NU1, simply because I like the feel of the action.

Whatever you buy, be sure to spend several hours on it first. (And for frame of reference, I've owned a new U1D Yamaha upright and a new C3. I traded in my C3 for a GranTouch hybrid about 14 years ago.)
Posted by: bennevis

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/26/13 12:28 PM

Originally Posted By: floydthebarber71
I'm afraid you went shopping for the wrong reasons. Digitals don't replace acoustics, you don't "give them a try" for that sake. So, nothing new here!

I don't think they're even advertised as being a replacement? Are they? Why do people think this?


Actually, some are. To pick a couple of random quotes from the current Clavinova brochure: "The CLP Series was created expressly to achieve a playing sensation you would get when playing a grand piano." "As you play, you will truly feel as though you are playing a grand piano." And then goes on to say how more than 700 music institutions use Clavinova.

Believe it or not, there are even more OTT hyperboles, including a paragraph that comes perilously close to linking the Yamaha CFX concert grand directly with the new Clavinova range. And Yamaha isn't alone in this.....
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/26/13 04:33 PM

... when was the last time anyone heard a fisherman selling rotten fish? smile
Posted by: jian1zh

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/30/13 03:44 AM

I am not saying digital piano doesn't have its place, sure it does, and it does that well.

The problem: lots of posts on this forum had mislead me to believe digital piano can truely replace an acoustic. Why would people overate digital piano is really beyond me.
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/30/13 06:04 AM

Originally Posted By: jian1zh
I am not saying digital piano doesn't have its place, sure it does, and it does that well.

The problem: lots of posts on this forum had mislead me to believe digital piano can truely replace an acoustic. Why would people overate digital piano is really beyond me.


Pianos and digital pianos are tools for some of us. I prefer an acoustic action and am willing to make and accept compromises for the rest thus I own a hybrid The one downside of owning a hybrid when compared to playing an acoustic, the action of an acoustic piano is much easier to access for minor repairs and adjustments.

Regarding digitals, I really enjoy having a perfectly in tune piano every time I sit down. Everything's a trade off ... and your standards are obviously higher than mine.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/30/13 08:36 AM

Originally Posted By: jian1zh
I am not saying digital piano doesn't have its place, sure it does, and it does that well.

The problem: lots of posts on this forum had mislead me to believe digital piano can truely replace an acoustic. Why would people overate digital piano is really beyond me.


Not everyone is as fortunate as you in having a home that can accommodate a grand piano with no neighbor problems. In Europe, homes are much smaller than in North America and many people live in small apartments cheek by jowl with neighbors separated only by thin walls, floors and ceilings - as I do. And for me, my digital is a godsend, having prevaricated for decades waiting for the time (which never came) when I can at last move into somewhere big enough and with no neighbor problems, to buy my own grand (or even upright). Maybe when I retire, I will, and get myself a Bösendorfer Imperial 290.

But until then, my Roland V-Piano will do just fine: it enables me to forget that I'm not playing on a mechanical instrument, so amazing is its simulation of all the little nuances and resonances and responses to touch and articulation that go towards making the playing of a well-tuned and regulated acoustic so pleasurable. I still play occasionally on acoustics - mostly big grands of 7ft and over - when I get the chance, but I no longer want to play on bad (poorly tuned/maintained) acoustics anymore, like I used to before I acquired my digital (when I'd play on anything that resembled a keyboard - unless it uses electricity.....). Yes, the V-Piano has changed my perception of digitals (or at least, one particular digital) but I admit it's expensive. But it's a lot, lot more than a 'tool' to me.... wink . It's my piano, and I spend 3-4 hours a day playing it.

As you haven't played on one before, try it for yourself - use your own headphones if possible - and you might be convinced. Being a modeled digital (one of only two to date), it's almost infinitely customizable in terms of various resonances, tone color, sound quality, tuning, pedaling, 'hammer hardness', key touch sensitivity etc. You need to make a few adjustments to get its sustain up to acoustic grand levels (by increasing its 'decay time', 'string', 'soundboard' and 'cross'-resonances) and maybe brighten its tone (by increasing its 'tone color') if you're used to brighter-sounding pianos. Then play it like you would an acoustic....
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/30/13 10:05 AM

it wont replace a good acoustic piano yet.
3 major differences:
action: your finger is indirectly hitting the string. a possibility for good acoustic piano is almost infinite.
digital normally scales it, a better one is closer to a good acoustic piano.

resonance: digital simply adds the samples together where in acoustic piano the interaction between strings and soundboard produces chords in a differnet way.

energy: speaker vibration vs soundboard vibration

my digital keyboard satisifies me in most ways, i rate it over "bad" acoustic pianos but not close to the "good" ones.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/30/13 11:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Steven Y. A.

resonance: digital simply adds the samples together where in acoustic piano the interaction between strings and soundboard produces chords in a differnet way.



.....which is where modeling comes in (in the V-Piano and V-Piano Grand) - the sound is generated from scratch from the moment the key goes down. The computer models the interaction between various resonances - undamped and damped strings, soundboard and so on, all dependant on what have been played before that note, and is still sounding, and what is presently being played and with what force and manner. And the result is uncannily realistic. Quite unlike that from sampled digitals, which to my ears sound sterile.
Posted by: Mark VC

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/30/13 12:42 PM

I've got both, and use them both. If you have a big grand, it is just rude to be playing it all the time, particularly for those times when some piece needs to be beaten to a bloody pulp. For those times, and for exercise, and for weekday evenings when people have to work in the morning, the digital piano is great! Not only the neighbors are being spared, but the action on your nice grand is being spared. Of course some things can only be learned on the grand. And the neighbors don't complain if I play finished or near-finished pieces on it, on weekend afternoons or when they're not home.

So in my view, the question of whether one can replace the other is not that important. They're both very valuable. And this doesn't even touch the question of recording, or playing on stage.
Posted by: carey

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/30/13 01:13 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis

Not everyone is as fortunate as you in having a home that can accommodate a grand piano with no neighbor problems. In Europe, homes are much smaller than in North America and many people live in small apartments cheek by jowl with neighbors separated only by thin walls, floors and ceilings - as I do. And for me, my digital is a godsend, having prevaricated for decades waiting for the time (which never came) when I can at last move into somewhere big enough and with no neighbor problems, to buy my own grand (or even upright). Maybe when I retire, I will, and get myself a Bösendorfer Imperial 290.


Actually I'm truly pleased to learn that you have found a wonderful digital that meets your current musical needs. Of course, if it's your only option given your current situation, then the extra expense is worth it - particularly if you can swing it without going to the poor house.

Even though we have a 7 foot grand in our living room (which I bought at age 60), my wife is going to retire in a few months (I'm already there) and I need to find a reasonably priced digital that will allow me to practice (silently) during the day without driving the poor woman bonkers. The Korg SP-100 that I bought on Craigslist a couple of years ago just doesn't cut it. I'm sure that someday you'll be able to buy a Bosie - or something close to it. In the meantime, enjoy your Roland !!
Posted by: Dave Ferris

Re: some thoughts on digital piano - 01/30/13 02:16 PM

Just an observation fwiw. Looking at the home page of PW and the viewers per thread, in the past, the Piano forum always had the most numbers hands down.

Over the last year or so I've noticed a shift, often the DP section has more viewers. Lately, practically every time I go to the home page, the DP section always has more traffic. wink A sign of the times I guess. frown

Back on topic--if it weren't for gigs I probably wouldn't own an electronic keyboard. I do know however know how fortunate I am to have to great instrument and a space to play whenever and whatever I want without bothering anyone.

I don't travel that much these days but if I did, and was doing it by car, the DP would be nice to have in the room for practice.