Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why?

Posted by: thercman

Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/18/12 03:49 AM

If you had $3000 to spend on a stage piano; which make/model would you choose and why?
Posted by: CyberGene

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/18/12 04:43 AM

I'll get either Yamaha CP5 or Kawai MP6 (and spend the rest of the money on alcohol :D)
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/18/12 07:25 AM

I'd wait and see what turns up at NAMM in January. But right now I'd compare Roland RD-700NX with Yamaha CP5, Kawai MP10 and Nord Piano 2.

For key action I'd go Kawai, Yamaha, Roland, Nord in that order (The first three are all very good).

For sounds I'd go Nord, Yamaha, Kawai, Roland* in that order.

*I haven't played the Studio Grand on the Roland. If I liked that and it didn't do the annoying things that all the other Roland Supernatural pianos do I might choose the Roland first.
Posted by: Dr Popper

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/18/12 07:38 AM

Roland RD-700NX .... Best DP currently made if you weigh up the sound and action. Nothing else comes close.
Posted by: CarloPiano

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/18/12 07:38 AM

For rock bands and such (that's the main purpose of a stage piano, AFAIK, although nothing stops one from using them at home) Korg SV-1 is definitely an option to have in account. The vintage pianos emulations (such as CP-70, e-pianos and such) are simply amazing. The options other posters told are also superb. Which one decide? It's not easy!

Nord's DX-7 EP emulation is so amazing, and its drawbar organs... But Roland's supernatural piano, if you like the tone, is super expressive, and the EP's are fine, although it's CP80 emulation, as far as I recall, just sucks. Yamaha has that superb high quality finish, pseudo-wooden keys, and that bright tone. That's so difficult, so personal...
Posted by: Rhodie73

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/18/12 08:55 AM

Very difficult to decide because we all have different needs from a stage piano. However I would side with Dr. Popper in saying the Roland RD700NX is probably the best, pound for pound on the market right now. However, the Kawai MP6 has a great bang for buck as well. It will most likely be updated to at least ES7 specs for AP's and EP's by next year. I confirmed this with a Kawai rep after an hour long conversation. The MP6 will most likely be updated at NAMM 2014. However, the new CP series are what I'm interested in. I'm thinking that Yamaha may update them. I have no confirmation for this of course, but hopefully the deficiencies in the AP sounds like static looping decays and no sympathetic resonance may finally be resolved. Hopefully Yamaha really digs in and pulls all the stops with their SCM technology.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/18/12 09:42 AM

Originally Posted By: thercman
If you had $3000 to spend on a stage piano; which make/model would you choose and why?

If you like a heavier action, I'd look at Kawai MP-10, Korg SV-1, Yamaha CP-50 or CP-300. If you prefer a lighter action, Yamaha CP5, Nord Piano 2, Roland FP-7F or RD-700NX.

(I haven't played the newer Kawai ES7 or Korg Krome to judge their actions, so they are left out of this comparison, but may be worth looking at.)

Among those heavier action models, Kawai probably has the best feel, but weighs a ton. CP300 also weighs a ton and is sonically behind Yamaha's state of the art these days, but it gives you an option with built in speakers. CP50 has the widest variety of sounds and features, but is less intuitive to get around than the others. SV1 has the nicest interface, but probably has the weakest sounding piano.

In the lighter action models, Nord has the best interface, widest range of different piano sounds, and lightest carrying weight, though most people feel that its action lags the others in this category. RD-700NX has the most features. FP-7F is kind of a scaled-down RD-700NX with built in speakers. CP5 is similar to the CP50 mentioned above, except with the lighter action and additional piano sounds.


Posted by: voxpops

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/18/12 01:27 PM

Leaving NAMM 2013 aside, if quality action is important and my priority was AP sounds, I'd definitely choose the RD-700NX. If EPs headed the list, I'd go for the CP5. The only reason I don't own either is because of weight.

The FP-7F frustrates the heck out of me. It has that wonderful playability that comes with SN acoustic pianos coupled with the PHAIII action. But, for me, its EPs are awful, you can't access the tonewheel organs from another board, and the FX are fixed. And again, it's too heavy, although less cumbersome than the RD. It stays at home 95% of the time.

As for Nord, I owned the NP 88 for a while, but found the action sub-par, the dynamic range too limited, the timbre variation insufficient and the EPs in need of refreshing. Other than that, it's a great board! I'm not being sarcastic here; it really is wonderful being able to download and install your own preferred samples, have all the important controls laid out in front of you, and keep the weight down to 40lbs. But it's quite a compromise.

Kawai's offerings sound and feel quite different from the others. I haven't played the MP10 (although I would like to), but the weight is a non-starter for me. The MP6 has reduced size/quality AP samples (and IMO it shows), but for the most part they have a nice clarity, lacking just a little of the sound/action integration of the Roland SN pianos. On the plus side, the action is very good (would be near-perfect with the ES7's third sensor), the Classic EP rivals Nord's, the layout/interface is intuitive, the size and weight are within sensible bounds (although the board is quite tall), and the price/performance ratio is excellent.

Beyond Roland, Kawai, Yamaha and Nord, are the oddball offerings from Korg and Studiologic, and the excellent value of the Casio PX-350. As far as Korg is concerned, the SV-1 is a flawed but intriguing alternative. It lacks the quality of action that Roland and Kawai offer, and it would not be my first choice for APs, but its EPs are up there with the best, and may be the closest you get in a digital emulation to the sense of playing the real thing. The Krome, with its Kronos-derived APs, and EPs sampled from the Kronos engine, has a lot to offer. I had the 73-key version for a few weeks. The action on the 61/73 is dreadful, and by all accounts the weighted 88 has not drawn accolades either. The APs are very good, although the improvement is perhaps not as great as you'd expect for the sample sizes involved. The EPs are also generally very good - organs so-so. Nice and light, but I couldn't attest to the build quality. It could be a real contender, but doesn't quite have the vibe of its sibling (cue SV-2?).

Let's hope NAMM brings some pleasant surprises.
Posted by: Dave Ferris

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/18/12 04:47 PM

Depends on your musical context and if you are moving the thing around.

If portability is not an issue, my order of preference is:

CP5, Nord Piano 2, Roland 700NX, and CP50.

If portability is a consideration and depending on what *kind* of live context you are using it in..my order would be:

Nord Piano 2, CP50, CP5 and Roland 700NX.

Not a fan of Kawai stage pianos at this time. Due to the recent (in the last 2-3 years) poor build quality and un-reliability, I can't recommend anything by Korg. It's unfortunate because for guys playing in bands, especially pop/rock/funk r&b, they (Kronos, Krome, SV1) might be the best thing sonically happening right now if *all sounds*, not just AP, are taken into consideration.

I owned the CP5 for just under 2 years and currently use the Nord Piano 2 . I play all styles (to work) but mainly consider myself a jazz pianist fwiw.

edit-after further thought I'm changing my order ...I'll have the salad instead of the fries grin

Seriously, there's a quirkiness in the Roland AP sample that bothers me. It would bother me less if I weren't playing jazz on it though.
Posted by: maurus

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/18/12 06:38 PM

I'm with EssBrace and Dave Ferris here. CP5 is a nice compromise, soundwise it is limited to the Yamaha AP sound, and its user interface is a bit problematic, but still it is a well-rounded instrument. If portability is an issue, and for sounds alone, the Nord Piano wins for me, and it has a very easy-to-use interface. Its problem though is a light action that personally I find limiting. If action (but not portability) is crucial, I'd go with EssBrace's recommendation of the Kawai MP10, but then again the sounds are somewhat special and not to everyones taste. The Roland SN acoustic pianos on the FP7 bug me for totally overdone timbre variation with dynamics (but just as Steve I've not tried the Studio Grand on the RD700NX yet).

I guess in the end my own choice would be between the CP 5 and the Nord Piano 2...
Posted by: Dave Ferris

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/18/12 07:59 PM

Originally Posted By: maurus
I guess in the end my own choice would be between the CP 5 and the Nord Piano 2...


That's the way I call it as well fwiw.
Posted by: thercman

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 02:36 AM

Wow, thanks for the great in-depth responses guys! It is actually helping me in the decision making process. So here is where I am at with this so far.

I had an opportunity to play on the Kawai ES7 for a while yesterday. Personally I love the action of the keys. I also tinkered with their "better" key pad on another model and I didn't like it. It had a longer key travel and didn't seem to respond very quickly. Also it seemed that ES7 key bed was more representative of there actual AP's. But I am just a newb so what do I know. The piano sounded good but I was not impressed with the other sounds really and how few there are. SInce I have a couple synths, I am looking for something with better sounds overall for a more versatile instrument.

Just as a quick side note: It was mentioned in other posts and I noticed it right away. The DPs seem to be skimping on sounds etc. While they have nicer keys and actions generally speaking I was hoping for the ultimate in AP sound quality at that price point. My $50 Addictive Keys Grand Piano software seems to be rivaling them a bit.... What's the deal? Which leads me to my next point.

Sounds, I am trying to listen as hard as I can to every DP I can through my studio monitors to compare most of the models listed here. CP5, RD700NX, Nord 2, Kawai MP10/ES7...

So I haven't been able to play the RD700NX but I have been able to play the FP-7F which has the same key bed and actually started piano lessons today using it. I also like the keys on this as well but compared to the Kawai ES7 I like the Kawai's action better. I need to do more listening and comparing of sounds though.

Nord 2: So I have been listening to this a lot. I must say that I love the sounds it produces. I also like the fact that I can edit and add sounds which is a huge plus for me. There is not one for me to try locally but Guitar Center has the Stage 2 and if the key beds are the same I was really, really, really, unimpressed on how much noise they made. It's like they are clapping at you and can get annoyingly loud the harder they are played. If the new Piano 2 is the same that could be a deal breaker for me especially at that price point. I don't expect to pay $3k on something and have to take it apart day 1 to mod the thing....

Since I am still just learning, weighted/realistic keys etc seem to be ideal to have. As for portability, I probably won't need it anytime soon. With that said I would like to be able to move it I so choose when the time comes without needing roadies. :-) Sorry if I am not typing coherently. Getting sleepy. Since I really like the Nord sounds I am going to head to GC to mess with the stage 2. If I can't get past the keys that narrows my choices. Leaning towards the RD700NX...

Oh, forgot Yamaha. Need to so some more listening to them as there are none to try locally. Also, those models are 5 years old. o.0 Hopefully January will bring out some new worthy contenders...
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 07:22 AM

Originally Posted By: thercman
Oh, forgot Yamaha. Need to so some more listening to them as there are none to try locally. Also, those models are 5 years old. o.0 Hopefully January will bring out some new worthy contenders...


I thought the CP1,5 and 50 were formally introduced at NAMM, January 2010.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 10:07 AM

Originally Posted By: thercman
My $50 Addictive Keys Grand Piano software seems to be rivaling them a bit.... What's the deal?

The $50 does not include everything else you need to make it a nice working instrument: electronics (for Addictive, a decently powered computer), and a good feeling 88-key action. Add the cost of those things, which are essentially already built into the keyboards you're looking at, and the price difference won't look quite so extreme!
Posted by: thercman

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 12:51 PM

Originally Posted By: EssBrace
Originally Posted By: thercman
Oh, forgot Yamaha. Need to so some more listening to them as there are none to try locally. Also, those models are 5 years old. o.0 Hopefully January will bring out some new worthy contenders...


I thought the CP1,5 and 50 were formally introduced at NAMM, January 2010.


My bad, it was Dec 2009. blush
Posted by: thercman

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 01:19 PM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Originally Posted By: thercman
My $50 Addictive Keys Grand Piano software seems to be rivaling them a bit.... What's the deal?

The $50 does not include everything else you need to make it a nice working instrument: electronics (for Addictive, a decently powered computer), and a good feeling 88-key action. Add the cost of those things, which are essentially already built into the keyboards you're looking at, and the price difference won't look quite so extreme!


Yeah I suppose... But I look at workstations like the Krome, it has a plethora of great sounds and a touch screen to boot for $1500. Of course it doesn't have the nice key bed. So hypothetically speaking lets add another $500 to the price and a nice key bed. At that price point and with all those features it would trump all the current DP imo. So I guess where I am going with this, is why don't the manufactures up the features a bit more? It seems they could take some samples from other lines and toss them in with minimum cost and effort. That would eliminate the conversations I have been reading like, "this piano has great AP sounds but the rest is just okay at best." So at that point you are pretty much buying a piano only. So what do you guys think? Am I way off base here? Maybe I am asking for to much. Great AP and EP sounds with a nice key bed. It just seems to be a huge compromise one way or the other.... At this point I'm leaning towards a lesser key board in favor of better/more sounds...
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 02:26 PM

Originally Posted By: thercman
But I look at workstations like the Krome, it has a plethora of great sounds and a touch screen to boot for $1500. Of course it doesn't have the nice key bed. So hypothetically speaking lets add another $500 to the price and a nice key bed. At that price point and with all those features it would trump all the current DP imo.

Krome is the newest "DP" from anyone. The newest tends to lead the pack in some way or another. It's only been out for a few months. Someone is always first at some capability at some price point. I would not be surprised to see some piano competition for it soon, perhaps announced at January's NAMM. (Though not everyone agrees that the Krome pianos are the best sounding in a DP, despite their large sample size.)

If you're enticed by the Krome but just don't like the action, you can get the cheaper 61-key Krome, MIDI it up to whatever 88-key action you like, and have the extra benefit of a 61-key unweighted action at your disposal as well.

BTW, getting back to your Addictive piano scenario... if you want to add their Rhodes, that's another $79... Sometimes the more you're willing to buy a la carte, the cheaper one piece can be, but then you add up all the pieces...

Originally Posted By: thercman
why don't the manufactures up the features a bit more? It seems they could take some samples from other lines and toss them in with minimum cost and effort.

This forum is filled with armchair engineers who "know" how much effort and expense is required for all kinds of things. Welcome. ;-)
Posted by: Kos

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 02:31 PM

Originally Posted By: thercman

So at that point you are pretty much buying a piano only. So what do you guys think? Am I way off base here?

Nope, that's pretty much my philosophy too. For me, the majority of DPs out there are really just very expensive MIDI controllers. If you want good sound - buy a software piano, or a Kronos X. There's not many other options really.
Of course, not a lot of people share this point of view, in fact, we are probably a minority. Which probably explains why most of DP manufacturers don't really bother that much with increasing the quality of the products. People are still going to buy them no matter what, so why waste money on research and development, if you can you just rehash a 10 year old technology, put it in a new cabinet, slap a new name on it and just watch the income flow.
Posted by: thercman

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 02:43 PM

My piano instructor and others have been really stressing the importance of weighted keys etc in order to learn control. I see their points as very valid. Which has brought me to the DP realm as opposed to the workstation. So this has caused me to eliminate them from my want list. I guess I am a bit lost at this juncture. I am not trying to armchair engineer (although I have designed and built a great variety of things so I have a good idea of the costs behind them). I guess I am trying to justify the loss of the other features for the keyboard and in my mind its not quite equivalent. Besides we typically pay a 50% mark up (depending on the item) so $79 for the Rhodes is a $40 profit for them...

So with said and moving back to the topic at hand. The Nord 2 for those of you who play/own it. How do you feel about the keyboard overall? Does it provide you with enough feel and response?
Posted by: fizikisto

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 03:10 PM

Thercman,
I have a nord stage 2 HA88, which has a very similar action to the nord piano 2 (the NP2 lacks the aftertouch control strip, so the actions are slightly different but very very close to each other). I think it's a very playable keyboard. The action is weighted but not graded. I wondered if that would bother me, but in reality it doesn't seem to matter (since I never notice it). So I'm thinking that's maybe more marketing hype than anything else (or maybe a distinction that would matter to people much more skilled than I). It's a bit lighter than my yamaha p250's action (and lighter than the korg's I've played around with in music shops), but comparable to some older roland RD700 and casio privia models that I've had a chance to tinker with.

It's very comfortable. I actually played my yamaha for the first time in several weeks the other night, mainly been using my nord, and I was amazed at how heavy the action felt in comparison. I actually prefer the nord's action, I had a hand injury (work related, not piano related) a couple of years ago that put me off playing about 8 months (frustrating as H E double hockey sticks) so in part that's why I prefer the lighter action I think, easier going on my hands. As I get older, I find I appreciate comfort. 5 years ago I probably would have preferred the yamaha's heavier action.



The main downside to the nord keyboard's keybed is that it's noisy. It's really loud. Some people find that distracting/annoying. I honestly don't notice when I'm playing, but If you think you can put on some headphones and practice without disturbing your spouse/roomate, well they better be in a different room or the thump thump thump of the keys is going to drive them crazy. smile
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 03:11 PM

Originally Posted By: thercman
My piano instructor and others have been really stressing the importance of weighted keys etc in order to learn control. I see their points as very valid. Which has brought me to the DP realm as opposed to the workstation.

You can certainly get a workstation with weighted keys. Some 88 key workstations arguably have better feeling piano-style keybeds than some DPs do. In other cases, they're basically the same. The Korg SP250, SV-1, and Kronos 73/88 all have basically the same keybed. So I wouldn't rule out a workstation, if that's what you want, based on it not being called a DP.

Originally Posted By: thercman
we typically pay a 50% mark up (depending on the item) so $79 for the Rhodes is a $40 profit for them...

Without getting into how "typical" 50% markup is (or how many channels may need to mark something up along the way from manufacturing to retail; or that a 50% markup on something to reach a $79 sell price actually yields a $26 profit rather than $40)... more fundamentally, your basic underlying premise doesn't apply to software, which has relatively high upfront development costs and virtually no production costs.
Posted by: thercman

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 03:45 PM

Thanks guys.... Going to head down to Guitar Center in a bit. They have a Yamaha MOTIF XF8 on the floor and I had just briefly messed with it before and thought the keys had a nice feel but I wasn't really looking for that at the time so I just dismissed it. I will spend some time with it today though. :-) Of course the Nord stage 2 will get looked at more intensively as well. Mostly to get an idea for the keys and sounds since it is way above my budget. But it should give me a good idea if their piano is something I want. Maybe I can overlook the loud keys. Or just open the thing up and put some dampening material inside... I have seen that people have been doing just that and it dramatically reduces the noise...
Posted by: Dr Popper

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 06:01 PM

Originally Posted By: thercman
But I look at workstations like the Krome, it has a plethora of great sounds and a touch screen to boot for $1500. Of course it doesn't have the nice key bed. So hypothetically speaking lets add another $500 to the price and a nice key bed. At that price point and with all those features it would trump all the current DP imo.


No it wouldn't, The Krome's AP's can't compare with the Roland SN sound. And Korg wouldn't know a good action if they fell over it.
Posted by: Gatsbee13

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 06:40 PM

Im not sure if its been mentioned, but I would wait until after NAMM.. there might be a successor to the kawai mp10 (which is a pretty darn good stage piano under 3k)
Posted by: thercman

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 09:39 PM

Originally Posted By: Dr Popper
Originally Posted By: thercman
But I look at workstations like the Krome, it has a plethora of great sounds and a touch screen to boot for $1500. Of course it doesn't have the nice key bed. So hypothetically speaking lets add another $500 to the price and a nice key bed. At that price point and with all those features it would trump all the current DP imo.


No it wouldn't, The Krome's AP's can't compare with the Roland SN sound. And Korg wouldn't know a good action if they fell over it.


You made me, LOL..... Good to know.

Yes Ill wait till after January to buy. When new products are announced at the show when do they usually release them? Is it typically later in the year?
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 10:03 PM

It varies, sometimes the instruments start shipping a few weeks later, on other occasions it take 6 months or so for new models to in stores.

James
x
Posted by: thercman

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 10:19 PM

Thanks James!

I loved the keyboard on the ES7 btw. I just wish it had more sounds. If the rumors are true about an updated version of the MP6 (maybe NAMM) that will be on the top of my purchase list for sure...
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/19/12 10:55 PM

thercman, I'm glad to hear you appreciated the ES7's keyboard action. This model features 32 selectable sounds - granted this isn't going to rival the hundreds typically available on a workstation, but I believe it's acceptable for the category of instrument.

As for an updated MP6, I'm afraid I cannot comment on instruments that have yet to be announced formally.

Cheers,
James
x
Posted by: JFP

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 03:51 AM

@Roady73

"I confirmed this with a Kawai rep after an hour long conversation. The MP6 will most likely be updated at NAMM 2014. "

I guess you mean 2013 ? Or is it really going to take an other year ?
Posted by: Rhodie73

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 08:57 AM

Originally Posted By: JFP
@Roady73

"I confirmed this with a Kawai rep after an hour long conversation. The MP6 will most likely be updated at NAMM 2014. "

I guess you mean 2013 ? Or is it really going to take an other year ?


I'm not trying to step on James's toes because he clearly has more info on this topic, but from what the Kawai rep that I spoke to told me, NAMM 2014 would be more likely for an MP6 update. He did say that anything can happen during the year if Kawai feels that it is needed to speed up plans for an MP6 update due to competitors, but NAMM 2013 will not see an MP6 update.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 11:38 AM

That stinks. I've more-or-less learned to lower my expectations for NAMM, though. Your dream piano always comes out later than you expect (or never).
Posted by: thercman

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 12:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Rhodie73
Originally Posted By: JFP
@Roady73

"I confirmed this with a Kawai rep after an hour long conversation. The MP6 will most likely be updated at NAMM 2014. "

I guess you mean 2013 ? Or is it really going to take an other year ?


I'm not trying to step on James's toes because he clearly has more info on this topic, but from what the Kawai rep that I spoke to told me, NAMM 2014 would be more likely for an MP6 update. He did say that anything can happen during the year if Kawai feels that it is needed to speed up plans for an MP6 update due to competitors, but NAMM 2013 will not see an MP6 update.


frown

I was going to put the MP6 as my #1 purchase based on a model update at NAMM. If it doesn't happen I am looking at the RD700NX as my second choice and the MP10 3rd.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 12:47 PM

I do find it strange that, particularly Yamaha and Kawai, are slow to bring a totally killer (yet practical) stage board to the party. Both companies can draw on their experience with acoustics; both can produce a very good action - excellent in the case of Kawai; technology is readily available. Instead, Korg has leaped ahead in the technical specs area, while being hamstrung by lesser actions and questionable build quality, and Roland has stolen a three-year march on the others with their hybrid SN engine that links so well with their PHAIII action, despite lacking a little of their competitors' clarity of sound.

Now Korg has proved that it's possible to make full use of TODAY'S technology, what is holding the others back? Thanks partly to Dewster's hard work, the Yamaha CPs were shown to be stretched, looped and static, and players have been put off by their convoluted interface and lack of attention to weight/bulk - which is a real problem as keyboardists struggle to access and set up in small, restricted venues. And as for Kawai, as I've said a hundred times before, they seem content to foist sample-engines on us stage players that are well past their prime.

Either Yamaha or Kawai, by bringing their technology up to VST standards, and marrying it with their excellent actions in a lightweight board, could pretty much clean up in the stage market. I wonder if Yamaha thought that their name, coupled with Spectral Component Modeling gobbledygook, was enough to sway prospective purchasers. But reading around the forums, so many people have either been put off by the interface or weight, or have (like Dave Ferris) reluctantly switched from the CP5 to other brands because of the impracticality, not to mention the dumbing-down of the lighter CP50 model. And Kawai's MP6, which I praise for its more sensible approach to weight, interface and surprisingly good Rhodes emulation, does not have quite enough in the AP department to attract many serious stage players into the Kawai camp, AFAIK.

Nearly every time I watch a music show on TV, I see red... or Roland. In American Idol the band leader had (IIRC) a Roland RD-700NX. And in the X-Factor mentor sessions, I spied a Nord Stage 2. I know those are only two examples, but they point up a failure on the part of the other manufacturers to get (and keep) their products in the hands of top players.

I should stress that I'm only talking about stage products here. I know that Yamaha and Kawai have some stunning home/studio models, according to reports from users. But I feel that I have to keep flying the flag for beleaguered mobile players until the manufacturers treat our needs seriously. Heck, I've even decided to use my aging FP-4 for this coming weekend's shows as, TBH, what it lacks in the latest refinements, it more than makes up for in weight (33lbs), and playability.
Posted by: thercman

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 01:13 PM

voxpops,

What about carrying a Roland A-88 (or similar) to a gig with a MAcBook Pro and all the VST's you can cram in it? Is it not easy enough to switch sounds on the fly with a set up like that? i.e.. lack of instant access buttons etc? Maybe add in a Maschine or other small board to have access to sounds? Not saying this is a cheaper option but it would provide unlimited access to any VST you could imagine. Whereas any stage piano is limited to what's already stored in it. I know on other forums many are going this route for home studios due to the shear versatility. I am newb remember so please take this with a grain of salt. :-)
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 01:19 PM

Originally Posted By: thercman
voxpops,

What about carrying a Roland A-88 (or similar) to a gig with a MAcBook Pro and all the VST's you can cram in it? Is it not easy enough to switch sounds on the fly with a set up like that? i.e.. lack of instant access buttons etc? Maybe add in a Maschine or other small board to have access to sounds? Not saying this is a cheaper option but it would provide unlimited access to any VST you could imagine. Whereas any stage piano is limited to what's already stored in it. I know on other forums many are going this route for home studios due to the shear versatility. I am newb remember so please take this with a grain of salt. :-)

It's something I'm actively considering. I would probably use my existing MP6 or Numa piano, both of which have on-panel control of MIDI functions, and which also contain backup sounds.

Up to now, I've only gone down the on-stage VST route with VB3 and a netbook. That worked fine, but mainly because I didn't have to make changes on the PC - I could control everything from the board - and the resources needed were limited. I have been reluctant to do the same with piano VSTs, as the hardware requirements are so much greater. Also, I would need something larger than a netbook, and so siting becomes an issue (as well as security). I'm thinking about a convertible tablet running on an i5.

Multiple sounds becomes a bit of an issue, but for the most part I could stick with APs and EPs on the PC, and for the odd occasions when I need something else, I could use on-board or module sounds.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 01:24 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
Now Korg has proved that it's possible to make full use of TODAY'S technology, what is holding the others back?

If you're talking about the Krome, it's only been three months. ;-)

But all these companies products are based on decisions made along the way. In hindsight, Korg was very forward thinking in developing the Oasys as a Linux based platform back when it wasn't necessarily a cost effective choice, and the Oasys gave them a jump on developing the Kronos, as they already had a foundation that would transfer nicely to newer, cheaper, more powerful commodity components. I think it's interesting that even the Oasys couldn't stream samples, and it took them a year after the Kronos came out before you could stream any samples but their own optimized ones. Here they are immersed in an environment that supports it, and it still wasn't a slam dunk. I think that part of it is that people expect their computers to occasionally misbehave. If you load various streaming samples into your laptop, you know that you may have to tweak settings, you know that there may be delays in switching sounds, you know that there will occasionally be some audible glitch or excessive latency or a freeze up or whatever, but as computer users, you get used to accepting that something will only work right "most" of the time. When you buy a musical instrument, you expect it to work right pretty much 100% of the time.

Anyway, obviously, the competition has seen what Korg has done. Yamaha is probably best positioned to make similar moves, as their Motif became linux-based at its core at some point, I think with the XS. Roland is going an entirely different way, emphasizing modeling over humongous sets of raw data, so I don't see a huge streaming piano sample in their future (and actually, Yamaha has taken some steps in that direction as well, with SCM). As for the smaller players--Kawai, Nord, Kurzweil--it will be interesting to see what they do. They presumably don't have the resources of the big guys, but OTOH, sometimes a smaller company (or division) can be more nimble.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 01:35 PM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Originally Posted By: voxpops
Now Korg has proved that it's possible to make full use of TODAY'S technology, what is holding the others back?

If you're talking about the Krome, it's only been three months.

Whatever happened to good old industrial espionage? wink

I agree with you Scott, but I just think that turning this ship around is taking a heck of a long time. The writing's been on the wall ever since the main VST libraries got into gear, and was etched in stone when Kronos was launched. Yes, we do need our gear to work 100% of the time, and that's why I've been reluctant to go the VST route, but embedded technology is a heck of a lot more reliable, I understand.
Posted by: thercman

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 01:44 PM

So what do you guys think about modeling vs sampling? From what I understand with sampling you can here a note loop while sustaining but not with modeling. Also from what I can tell by listening (untrained ear btw) sampling seems to be more lively whereas modeling a little flatter... Not sure if I explained that right.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 01:56 PM

Originally Posted By: thercman
So what do you guys think about modeling vs sampling? From what I understand with sampling you can here a note loop while sustaining but not with modeling. Also from what I can tell by listening (untrained ear btw) sampling seems to be more lively whereas modeling a little flatter... Not sure if I explained that right.


That's only if it is looped. Some of the above posters are hoping DP's can start doing like VST's and having great big 30 second (or whatever) samples that have no looping and sound just like the acoustic from which they were sampled. Frankly that's what I was expecting in the AvantGrands, and it would be awesome.

Sampled vs modeled sound is just a bit outside the scope of this thread since the only modeled hardware piano is the V and it costs far more than $3k, but suffice it to say that both have their advantages in VST's. For most people including myself sampled sounds are still more authentic. Hardware digitals may go the route of software VST's (with great big samples) or pure modeling (like PianoTeq and the V piano) or a hybrid of the two approaches (most hardware pianos have at least some modeling element but Roland's supernatural appears to have the most by far and is the poster child for hybrid approaches).
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 02:04 PM

Originally Posted By: thercman
From what I understand with sampling you can here a note loop while sustaining but not with modeling.

Modeling = no loop

Sampling = no loop if sampled for the full length of the note, otherwise looped, sometimes more audible than others

For some people, audible loops are a death knell. To me, there are worse sins. There are DPs I prefer to the Kronos, even though they are looped and the Kronos is not. None of the available DPs/workstations are perfect, but different people are more attuned to different shortcomings.
Posted by: Grazzy

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 06:16 PM

anotherscott wrote:
,,You can certainly get a workstation with weighted keys. Some 88 key workstations arguably have better feeling piano-style keybeds than some DPs do. In other cases, they're basically the same. The Korg SP250, SV-1, and Kronos 73/88 all have basically the same keybed. So I wouldn't rule out a workstation, if that's what you want, based on it not being called a DP."
so guys, what do yo think about Yamaha MOX-8 in that reason?
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/20/12 07:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Grazzy
so guys, what do yo think about Yamaha MOX-8 in that reason?

The MOX8 has the same quality action as the P-95 and P-105. Although those are their low end models, if that DP action is suitable for you, then you can get that action with workstation features in the MOX8.
Posted by: PianoZac

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/22/12 08:59 AM

Coming from someone who has owned many DPs from the CP300 to the RD-700GXF/NX, to the Nord Piano and now Nord Piano 2, I would say hands down the NP2 is in a class of its own for a gigging musician doing mostly acoustic piano work. The AP sounds are top notch, offer genuine variety, and connect well with the action. The action, while certainly is the least likable part of the NP2, it's no slouch. It works. Part of the price premium on the Nords is the FAR LOWER production volumes, handmade build quality, and design of the software/hardware implementation. It's expensive to have the type of RAM that allows such quick (relatively) downloading and deleting of samples.

Witt that said, I would go with the Kawai MP10, ES7, or RD-700NX/FP-7F if you're wanting a good action and still some portability. They offer good sound, good actions, and are all easily under the $3K mark. Plus all are portable, albeit the MP10 is a handful.
Posted by: EssBrace

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/22/12 10:22 AM

Originally Posted By: PianoZac
Plus all are portable, albeit the MP10 is a handful.


Yes. I think it's right on the absolute limit of what an averagely strong person could deal with. I move mine about, but only from one room to another and it is a real struggle. Stairs would be a no-no. Maybe with a wheeled case it would be easier in general but just getting it into and out of the case would risk injury if you weren't pretty careful. The RD is easier without a doubt but due to the position of the stupid pitch-bend/mod control it is too long. FP-7F is subjectively only maybe a kilo or two lighter because of its amp/speakers. ES7 is probably a tad lighter again, getting more reasonable but they are all beasts to handle on your own. The Nord is very much easier and I suppose the lighter and less realistic action is the price you pay for portability.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/22/12 10:37 AM

I had to go down narrow stairs to a gig last night. I was going to take the FP-4 but ended up using the MP6 because I wanted the better Rhodes sounds. It was a struggle, even using a wheeled case. That piano weighs just over 47lbs. The RD at 55lbs would have been painful, and the MP10 at 70lbs would have been downright dangerous, IMO.

And of course, it's not just the raw weight of the piano. Accessories and the case itself add measurably to the overall mass that has to be manhandled. Then, when you've made more trips to bring a second keyboard, 50lbs of amp/speaker, a heavy cable bag, stand and stool, it's all a bit much for a 59-year-old. Rinse and repeat tonight! Ah well, it's better than idling away one's life in bars and clubs... wait a minute... confused
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/22/12 11:52 AM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
I had to go down narrow stairs to a gig last night. I was going to take the FP-4 but ended up using the MP6 because I wanted the better Rhodes sounds. It was a struggle, even using a wheeled case.
...
Then, when you've made more trips to bring a second keyboard...

I guess your second board didn't have a sufficient Rhodes sound to drive from the FP4 either? (The FP4 does have a nice capability of allowing you to create registrations that call up specified sounds on an attached external MIDI device.) Short of going to a computer, assuming you don't want to do that, maybe you can find a rack piece with a Rhodes sound you like, to allow the lighter FP4 to be used in these situations.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/22/12 12:42 PM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Originally Posted By: voxpops
I had to go down narrow stairs to a gig last night. I was going to take the FP-4 but ended up using the MP6 because I wanted the better Rhodes sounds. It was a struggle, even using a wheeled case.
...
Then, when you've made more trips to bring a second keyboard...

I guess your second board didn't have a sufficient Rhodes sound to drive from the FP4 either? (The FP4 does have a nice capability of allowing you to create registrations that call up specified sounds on an attached external MIDI device.) Short of going to a computer, assuming you don't want to do that, maybe you can find a rack piece with a Rhodes sound you like, to allow the lighter FP4 to be used in these situations.


Well, I would have taken the Nord Electro as my second board if I'd used the FP-4. As it was, I took the Casio XW-P1 with a netbook and VB3 as my second tier. Our guitarist is off with a busted leg at the moment, and I wanted the Kawai's fuller Rhodes sound (better and more expressive than the NE2's, IMO), and the greasier B3 sound to make up for the big hole in the band's sound. I would not have dreamed of using the Casio's onboard EPs, as they suck - YMMV.

I really appreciate the FP-4's ability to set up specific registrations that can include individual MIDI setups. For a very short time I used a Ketron module with it, and have thought about repurchasing the GEM RP-X. But for the most part, it has become my "jazz" board. When I have to do duo or trio jazz gigs, it works very well, with the right degree of crispness to the AP sound, and a very fast, well-connected action.
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/22/12 01:20 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
I took the Casio XW-P1 with a netbook and VB3 as my second tier.

If you've got a netbook set up in the rig anyway, I would think you could find a really nice EP for that that could run along with VB3.

Originally Posted By: voxpops
I wanted the Kawai's fuller Rhodes sound (better and more expressive than the NE2's, IMO)

I'm not a big fan of the Nord EPs, so that's not surprising. I've heard good things about the Kawai (well, I guess at least from you!), I haven't had a chance to check it out myself. But my motivation would only be academic, as I would never gig with anything that heavy.

Originally Posted By: voxpops
and the greasier B3 sound to make up for the big hole in the band's sound.

Which B3 sound? (The MP6 and the XW-P1 both have tonewheel modes...)

Originally Posted By: voxpops
I would not have dreamed of using the Casio's onboard EPs, as they suck - YMMV.

I agree.
Posted by: thercman

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/22/12 01:26 PM

Well I am still pondering all my options at this point and waiting to see what NAMM may or may not bring. I have been listening a lot to the Nord Piano 2 demos online. Luisdent has some great videos! (nicely done btw) While I'm not impressed by the key action or the price, I am starting to see that the additional features more than make up for the initial cost. For example the huge "free" online library with a nice computer interface. And they are always adding new stuff. IMO this sets them apart (far above) the other manufactures in sheer versatility. The ability to change what is loaded on the piano and not having to be tied to a computer may just win me over to the Nord camp. At this point my mind changes with wind. Part of the learning curve I suppose...
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/22/12 01:52 PM

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Originally Posted By: voxpops
I took the Casio XW-P1 with a netbook and VB3 as my second tier.

If you've got a netbook set up in the rig anyway, I would think you could find a really nice EP for that that could run along with VB3.

I've actually got Mr Ray 73 MKII in the netbook, although I'm not totally convinced by it, yet. I have run both VB3 and Mr Ray at home using Cantabile Lite, but it's pushing the limit of the Netbook's capability. I don't want to be living on the edge during a gig. I will have a go at Lounge Lizard, though, to find out how that fares.

Quote:
Originally Posted By: voxpops
and the greasier B3 sound to make up for the big hole in the band's sound.

Which B3 sound? (The MP6 and the XW-P1 both have tonewheel modes...)

VB3! The XW's organ is thin and sterile, and the "Leslie" is poor. The Kawai's is passable in a pinch, but I wouldn't run it from it's own keyboard, and without full drawbar control it's not much use to me.
Posted by: voxpops

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/22/12 01:55 PM

Originally Posted By: thercman
Well I am still pondering all my options at this point and waiting to see what NAMM may or may not bring. I have been listening a lot to the Nord Piano 2 demos online. Luisdent has some great videos! (nicely done btw) While I'm not impressed by the key action or the price, I am starting to see that the additional features more than make up for the initial cost. For example the huge "free" online library with a nice computer interface. And they are always adding new stuff. IMO this sets them apart (far above) the other manufactures in sheer versatility. The ability to change what is loaded on the piano and not having to be tied to a computer may just win me over to the Nord camp. At this point my mind changes with wind. Part of the learning curve I suppose...

The Nord is probably the best compromise at the moment, if you need a light(ish)weight board. But, as you say, it's best to wait to see what NAMM brings (if anything).
Posted by: anotherscott

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 12/22/12 01:59 PM

Originally Posted By: voxpops
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Which B3 sound? (The MP6 and the XW-P1 both have tonewheel modes...)

VB3!

Duh. <sound of hand slapping forehead>
Posted by: adak

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 01/01/13 08:44 PM

what does the EP in casio's onboard EP stand for?
Posted by: spanishbuddha

Re: Which stage piano for less than $3K, and why? - 01/02/13 04:16 AM

Originally Posted By: adak
what does the EP in casio's onboard EP stand for?

Electric piano.