Scared of making the wrong choice

Posted by: 011.guilherme

Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 01:43 AM

Hello, everyone!


I'll be buying a digital piano anywhere near the end of July this year, and I have been searching for over a year now! From researches and a few tests I started to realize my priorities, some of which I had never paid much attention before.

I've also come down to these models:
Yamaha CLP330, CLP340; Kawai CN23 and CN33
My cross-checking between those "details" and the models are these:

- Key Action and Feel
Besides the obvious about the wheight, I'm concerned that most pianos only produce tone beond a certain amount of force. If you play too light no sound will come out. My thought is that maybe I could simulate this by adjusting the touch sensitivity to "Heavy" or "Hard" or whatever...

Yamaha's GH3: Is heavier than the Kawai's, though the Ivory feel can only be found on the 340.

Kawai: Is told to be more silent and substantial than the GH3, although it's slightly lighter; I don't really care for the let-off escapement.

- Dynamic Layers
I strive for technique even more than for technique itself!
I've only known for real what dynamic layers do recently, and I've also heard that to develop good expression you need over three dynamic layers.

Yamaha: The CLP 330 features only 3 levels; The 340 features 4. I'm afraid that, despite of the 4-level dynamic layers, the sound might not be too progressive, with "gaps" in loudness or something of the sort.

Kawai: I'm not sure about the number of dynamic layers, but it seems to be great.

- Damper Effect
The acoustic pianos that I play reverberate a lot. Maybe they need adjustment, but my teacher handles it so wonderfully that I doubt it's really a problem - except when I play it.
My point is, because of that it's really easy to notice that raising all the dampers does a lot more than just sustaining the notes.

Yamaha: There is a very specific and obvious button for that function. You ca change the strength of the effect, but I'm not sure if you can save your preference (I would certainly like to save it, and probably set to the strongest level possible).

Kawai: Both models can be adjusted, but the CN23 cannot save your favourite sttings, whilist the CN33 can.

- String Resonance
It's also noticeable that, on an acoustic piano, some notes played together feel different than you would expect, but I'm not sure about the necessity of this feature.

Yamaha: This feature is only provided in the 380 model. The closest thing to it avaliable on the 330 and 340 is the "Sustain Sample". It can also be adjusted and perhaps saved. I'm not really sure exactly what it does, though.

Kawai: String Resonance is only avaliable in the CN33.

- "Extra" Features
The Yamahas come with a songbook and a non-adjustable bench. I love the selection of this book, although I prefer Casio's...;
Perhaps the Kawai comes with a bench.

Well... I thought I had come to a final conclusion several times, but I keep coming back and forth in my opinions. In fact, I'm even getting a little too nervous about it. The chance that I might make a mistake haunts me, so I'm really scared of forgetting about some feature that would be necessary in the near future. I don't want to feel the necessity of an instrument upgrade.
I plan to buy a grand in the future, but I hope I don't need to change because mine is broken or doesn't attend to my essential needs.

Anyway, this is already too lengthy and I'm tired of typing. I was just hoping I could get useful and wise information from the right source and with the right people.

Thank you for your time to read and thanks in advance for those who might reply - and my best regards as well!

Guilherme
Posted by: bluebilly

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 02:01 AM

-
The search for a DP does get rather debilitating, but I settled for the CN33 and haven't regretted it yet.
-
Posted by: Dave Horne

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 06:45 AM

Guilherme, whatever purchase you make will not be for a lifetime, right? Most of those extra features you like are tiny bits of icing designed to make one manufacturer's list longer than another.

Spend more time if necessary in stores and bring along high quality headphones as well as someone who plays for a living.

These purchases are not a for a lifetime, buy something you like and know in advance that in several years there will be even more decisions to be made. Keep asking questions and keep spending time in stores.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 08:39 AM

If you're looking for a DP with long sustain and resonances and that 'reverbs' similar to an acoustic, only one comes anywhere close and it's not on your shortlist (and it's a lot more expensive). You might be better off just trying out all the ones on your list and deciding which of them you can live with the best, rather than trying to find one that sounds and plays like the acoustics you're used to, as you're not planning to use it as your main instrument long-term (if you are, that's another story..).

As for 'adjustable' key weights on DPs, that's only perceived (increased sensitivity gives the impression of lighter key weight, and that can be changed on most DPs). All acoustic pianos will only produce sound if you strike the key hard (fast) enough, but many DPs cannot produce a sound till the key has returned almost fully (which is like most acoustic uprights also) - only top-end DPs will give you good tone control, including being able to repeat a note without the key returning fully. All sampled DPs have 'steps' in their tone & volume production which are more easily heard & perceived with headphones, and you have to decide what the acceptable level is for you (which is also dependent on your current keyboard ability).
Posted by: 011.guilherme

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 09:37 AM

Thank you for the answers!

I forgot to mention that the CN33 is completely not avaliable in my country, hahah!
That is, I'm exchanging e-mails with the official distributor of Kawai around here and I'll only know that for sure when I get a reply from them.

As for the digital being my main instrument for a long time, it actually will - The acoustics I'm "used to" playing on are my teacher's, my friend's and one I'll be performing on by the end of the year.
I'm aware it won't last a lifetime, but it would be extremely frustrating if it got problems within only a couple of years, right?
I'm also aware it cant simulate an acoustic piano perfectly, but I want it at least to be very convincing. (If that wouldn't be too much to ask blush )

I thought I could connect the instrument to Pianoteq on occasion, to get a richer experience, but I don't want to feel like I have to do it everytime in order to produce a decent sound.

I'll have a hard time trying to test everyone I want to, because it's really hard to find them. I'll probably stick with Yamaha, though. The CLP340 seems to attend to what I need. If I can't afford it I'll probably look for the CN23 an then for the CLP330. Of course I'll try to test them before my final decision.
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 09:42 AM

011.guilherme, may I ask in which country are you living currently?

Kind regards,
James
x
Posted by: 011.guilherme

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 10:00 AM

Originally Posted By: Kawai James
011.guilherme, may I ask in which country are you living currently?
x


Yeah, you may. I live in Brazil. grin

I seriously love it here, but buying electronics is like paying for all your sins - with money!
I'm not exaggerating when I say most of the times you pay around 100% more expensive mad
Also, importing could be a lot of trouble, so I took it out of question.
Posted by: PianoZac

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 10:22 AM

Originally Posted By: 011.guilherme


Yeah, you may. I live in Brazil. grin

I seriously love it here, but buying electronics is like paying for all your sins - with money!
I'm not exaggerating when I say most of the times you pay around 100% more expensive mad
Also, importing could be a lot of trouble, so I took it out of question.


Yeah Brazil has got some downright bazaar trade laws. As others have said, just try out everything you can that's on your list, and perhaps even some others, and whatever one is closest to what you want within your budget should work for you.
Posted by: dewster

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 10:45 AM

Originally Posted By: 011.guilherme
- Dynamic Layers
... I'm afraid that, despite of the 4-level dynamic layers, the sound might not be too progressive, with "gaps" in loudness or something of the sort.

It's becoming rather normal for DP manufacturers to "blend" the layers in one way or another so that the layer transitions aren't noticeable. But if there are too few layers, or if the layering isn't done well, then you might notice softly played notes don't sound soft enough, or loudly played notes somehow don't sound loud enough.

Originally Posted By: 011.guilherme
- Damper Effect
The acoustic pianos that I play reverberate a lot. Maybe they need adjustment, but my teacher handles it so wonderfully that I doubt it's really a problem - except when I play it.
My point is, because of that it's really easy to notice that raising all the dampers does a lot more than just sustaining the notes.

Sympathetic resonance is really important for realistically simulating a piano IMO. Yamaha tends to do this poorly, the effect often sounds fake and reverby. Kawai tends to do this pretty well, though the default level is more subtle than a real piano.

Originally Posted By: 011.guilherme
- String Resonance
It's also noticeable that, on an acoustic piano, some notes played together feel different than you would expect, but I'm not sure about the necessity of this feature.

Kawai tends to do this well too.

You left out looping and stretching. If you get a Kawai it probably won't be stretched, Yamaha almost certainly will be. And both will be looped.

If you want something that isn't looped or stretched, has nice velocity response without layer switching, and had good sympathetic and string resonance, I'd say try a Roland with the SuperNATURAL piano engine. Here's a sample of the three SN pianos in the RD-700NX (I believe the third one is in all SN piano instruments):

http://www.mediafire.com/?vctfng8jp4axnhj

If you can't afford Roland SN, or if you find you don't like the feel of the keys or the connection to the sound or whatever, I'd suggest Kawai. But try before you buy with a good pair of headphones.
Posted by: 011.guilherme

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 11:17 AM

I asked about dynamic layering because I once played a cheap Yamaha (YDP-S31) That was just horrible with an obvious and ennourmous gap. Since it seems to use the same sampling ad sound generating technology as the Clavinovas I've got an eye on I got a little worried.

Quote:
Sympathetic resonance is really important for realistically simulating a piano IMO.

IMO too! grin

Quote:
Yamaha tends to do this poorly, the effect often sounds fake and reverby.

I wasn't expecting for that... Is that information subjective or is there a general sense?

Quote:
Kawai tends to do this pretty well, though the default level is more subtle than a real piano.

That's why I'm reluctant to buy the CN23. It seems you can't save your preferences to a default, so you need to adjust it everytime you turn it on.

Quote:
But try before you buy with a good pair of headphones.

Hmm... that will be a little difficult, but try to work it out.


Thank you for your reply!
Posted by: dewster

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 12:20 PM

Originally Posted By: 011.guilherme
I wasn't expecting for that... Is that information subjective or is there a general sense?

My observations from testing this over on the DPBSD thread. That part of the test is rather subjective, though any inquisitive party can download the relevant MP3 files and listen for themselves.
Posted by: dewar

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 06:21 PM

what one person loves another cannot stand. Some people adore rolands supernatural sound. They think it's the best thing since sliced bread. Other people return theirs disappointed about a restocking fee.

Same goes for the Yamaha's. You can't go by what someone tells you it sounds like.

Someone could tell me the sky is a deep blue, I would be of the opinion it was a light blue.
Posted by: dewster

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 07:36 PM

Originally Posted By: dewar
Same goes for the Yamaha's. You can't go by what someone tells you it sounds like.

Well, you kind of can, though you should take any particular opinion with a grain of salt (including my own).

We own a Young Chang grand piano, we owned a Yamaha P120, I ran the Yamaha P155 through it's sympathetic resonance paces down at the local GC, and I've listened to many Yamaha DPs via the DPBSD. Their sympathetic resonance is unfortunately generally pretty poor. Kind of shocking for a company well known for its APs and DPs.
Posted by: 011.guilherme

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/06/11 10:58 PM

I hope I like the Yamaha 340 when I actually test it. It's the best thing I could get with the less unfair price in the country - over the internet, that is.
But seriously, knowing things around here, physical stores are likely the price them even more expensive.
Posted by: 011.guilherme

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 12:12 AM

I've been wondering about Yamaha's GH3 hammer action... It's supposed to mimmick the ability of repeating notes of a fine grand piano. Although, i thought it could make things a little too easy and therefore refrain me from developing necessary technique.
I want to be able to reproduce what I play on the DP on acoustic pianos, and it's hard to tell if I'm going to see a fine grand anytime so soon. blush
Posted by: DebraK

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 10:31 AM

Originally Posted By: 011.guilherme
I hope I like the Yamaha 340 when I actually test it. It's the best thing I could get with the less unfair price in the country - over the internet, that is.
But seriously, knowing things around here, physical stores are likely the price them even more expensive.


I really liked the CLP 340 when I tested it. I think you will like it. It had the best sound of the digitals I've tried, which I understand is attributable to the 4 level samplings and nice speakers. I like the Yamaha sound, so that probably helped too.
Posted by: dewster

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 12:05 PM

Originally Posted By: 011.guilherme
I've been wondering about Yamaha's GH3 hammer action... It's supposed to mimmick the ability of repeating notes of a fine grand piano. Although, i thought it could make things a little too easy and therefore refrain me from developing necessary technique.

IANAP (I am not a pianist) but I think what helps a lot with quick note repetition on DPs is quick partial damping behavior (via the keys rather than the pedal). If the key being replayed is accidentally lifted all the way to the top sensor but is then quickly re-depressed, if the sound only partially damps it then sounds a lot like it wasn't damped at all (which is what you want with quick reps). The third sensor is generally kind of overrated IMO because it is usually placed too near the top sensor, and therefore somewhat difficult to use as intended.
Posted by: 011.guilherme

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 01:14 PM

Originally Posted By: DebraK
I like the Yamaha sound, so that probably helped too.


I liked it too when I played a friend's DGX-"whatever number it was". I tried to identify it browsing the internet later on, but all the models look exactly the same. crazy

I've also seen many videos from the P155 and I absolutely love the sound. I've even looked further into it to check if it was using some virtual piano software, but turns aou it wasn't! smile
Posted by: MacMacMac

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 01:37 PM

Originally Posted By: dewster
The third sensor is generally kind of overrated IMO because it is usually placed too near the top sensor, and therefore somewhat difficult to use as intended.
Don't jump to conclusions based upon mere inspection. The third sensor makes a world of difference. Have you tried the GH and GH3 (or NW) side-by-side?

The difference in the key release distance needed for repetition (when comparing a grand action to an upright) is just a couple of millimeters. That seems quite small. But the total key travel is only about 10 millimeters. So a couple of millimeters is an appreciable fraction of the total stroke.

Likewise for the digital piano mimicry.

I can do fast repetition on a grand, but not on my upright.

Likewise, I can do it on a GH3 keyboard, but not on a GH. The difference is huge.
Posted by: maurus

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 04:07 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Don't jump to conclusions based upon mere inspection. The third sensor makes a world of difference. Have you tried the GH and GH3 (or NW) side-by-side?

...

I can do fast repetition on a grand, but not on my upright.

Likewise, I can do it on a GH3 keyboard, but not on a GH. The difference is huge.


+10 !
Posted by: dewster

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 04:17 PM

Originally Posted By: MacMacMac
Don't jump to conclusions based upon mere inspection. The third sensor makes a world of difference. Have you tried the GH and GH3 (or NW) side-by-side?

Who's jumping to conclusions? I was merely stating a theory of mine that quick partial damping is likely very important to quick note reps. All else being equal, I'll take a three sensor over a two sensor.
Posted by: Sly Cat

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 04:39 PM

Originally Posted By: 011.guilherme
I liked it too when I played a friend's DGX-"whatever number it was". I tried to identify it browsing the internet later on, but all the models look exactly the same. crazy

I've also seen many videos from the P155 and I absolutely love the sound. I've even looked further into it to check if it was using some virtual piano software, but turns aou it wasn't! smile


I also like the Yamaha sampled sounds.

The best DGX you can get at the moment is the 640, which is on my own shortlist for buying later in the month - it might have been that one. Or the 630 which has similar sounds. They have some very nice voices indeed. Check out some videos on YouTube - there are many for the DGX 640.
Posted by: DebraK

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 04:58 PM

Originally Posted By: 011.guilherme
Originally Posted By: DebraK
I like the Yamaha sound, so that probably helped too.


I liked it too when I played a friend's DGX-"whatever number it was". I tried to identify it browsing the internet later on, but all the models look exactly the same. crazy

I've also seen many videos from the P155 and I absolutely love the sound. I've even looked further into it to check if it was using some virtual piano software, but turns aou it wasn't! smile


I've played the P155 and CLP 340. The P155 sounds nice and apparently is the same internally as the 340. However, the built in speakers on P155 had an inferior sound to the 340 and the touch was not as pleasant as the 340. The P155 is a lot less money than the 340 though, so I'm still weighing my choice between the two!
Posted by: DebraK

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 05:00 PM

Also forgot to mention there is of course that the 340 has the nice cabinet if that is important to you.
Posted by: PianoMath

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 07:05 PM

Vai de Kawai.

Clavinova é ruim pra caramba. Nao tem aquele negocio de escape e bla bla bla.

Um outra opçao é o Roland Fp4f
Posted by: Lefty Chev

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 07:30 PM

Originally Posted By: DebraK

I've played the P155 and CLP 340. The P155 sounds nice and apparently is the same internally as the 340. However, the built in speakers on P155 had an inferior sound to the 340 and the touch was not as pleasant as the 340. The P155 is a lot less money than the 340 though, so I'm still weighing my choice between the two!


With the money you save with the P155, you could invest in really good powered speakers that may give you even better sound than the CLP340. That is if having seperate speakers would work for your needs.
Posted by: DebraK

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 09:53 PM

Originally Posted By: Lefty Chev
Originally Posted By: DebraK

I've played the P155 and CLP 340. The P155 sounds nice and apparently is the same internally as the 340. However, the built in speakers on P155 had an inferior sound to the 340 and the touch was not as pleasant as the 340. The P155 is a lot less money than the 340 though, so I'm still weighing my choice between the two!


With the money you save with the P155, you could invest in really good powered speakers that may give you even better sound than the CLP340. That is if having seperate speakers would work for your needs.


Yes, that is a great idea. My husband tells me we have some decent JBL speakers already that are not too big that I could use with the P155. And I don't really care about the cabinet. And the P155 I could transport much easier...
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 10:13 PM

Well, if you're don't require the built-in speakers, how about the CP50?

Cheers,
James
x
Posted by: Lefty Chev

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/08/11 11:12 PM

Originally Posted By: DebraK

Yes, that is a great idea. My husband tells me we have some decent JBL speakers already that are not too big that I could use with the P155. And I don't really care about the cabinet. And the P155 I could transport much easier...


Just remember that you either need speakers that are self powered or an amp to power the speakers.
Posted by: 011.guilherme

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/09/11 12:07 AM

Originally Posted By: DebraK
Also forgot to mention there is of course that the 340 has the nice cabinet if that is important to you.


Yeah, I'm pretty much looking for one with a cabinet.

I've contacted Kawai's official dealer here in Brazil and unfortunately the CN33 is not avaliable at the time. All I could do is order it, but for that I would have to pay 50% when I ordered it and more 50% when I got it. This method is really not affordable to me, so I would have to stick with the CN23 if I were to choose Kawai. I'm considering it over the CLP340 because I've heard it has a more realistic key action.

I was fine with the CLP340, but then I found out the "Damper Resonance" feature was not what I expected. It's hardly any realistic at all, but maybe I still could make do with the "sustain sample".

Back to the Kawai, the thing that's bothering me is that I would have to make my personal adjustments every single time I turned it on, such as Touch Response and Damper Resonance effect strenght. Is there any way to get around that? Besides, it lacks conectivity, which I'm not sure I might use at all, but you never know...

At the end of the day, I'll test them both and make the choice based primarily on Key action and worry about other specs only after that.
Posted by: mivaldes

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/12/11 11:28 AM

I bought the P155 on Amazon.com and found the factory stand at Guitar Center for $23 on clearance! I used it for a month before attaching some cheap powered speakers and it does sound much better, but the built ins are still really good. I bought it more as a way to practice when everyone is asleep. I also just bought a U1 which was delivered yesterday and I love it!
Posted by: mivaldes

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/12/11 11:30 AM

Also, the year you have been looking, I hope you have had another piano to play on. Paralysis by analysis comes to mind here!
Posted by: 011.guilherme

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/12/11 04:26 PM

Originally Posted By: mivaldes
Also, the year you have been looking, I hope you have had another piano to play on. Paralysis by analysis comes to mind here!


Nah, I've never had a piano in my life, but don't worry.
I couldn't have bought one when I started looking for it. I was just being far ahead of time. grin
Posted by: ando

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/12/11 05:12 PM

You can't really go too wrong. Just buy the thing that sounds and feels the best to you. How bad could it be? Maybe you'll upgrade in the future but the main thing is to get your hands on a decent instrument and start playing. You probably have too many opinions in your head now. You is the time to trust your own instincts and make your own choice. Come back and tell us what you bought!
Posted by: 011.guilherme

Re: Scared of making the wrong choice - 06/12/11 07:30 PM

Originally Posted By: ando
Come back and tell us what you bought!


You bet I will! And with the utmost pleasure. But It's still going to take some time frown

When I do I will be more than glad to help people providing information about it.

5 Weeks and 3 days until the big day! Hopefully I can buy it and take it home with me on the very same day - That is, if the box fits in my car.