Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano

Posted by: kolen

Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 01/22/13 03:01 AM

Hi, I am new to digital piano. When I was searching about it I found this forum. So please be patient with my unknowlegable questions.

A bit about myself first. I want to buy a new digital piano mainly for practicing and enjoyment between my wife and me. So I want to have a better key action, realistic sound in headphone (to lower the budget since the one with great speaker must be more expensive, I would guess). My main interest is classical music, piano. So other sounds like harpsichord, organ is a bonus to me, and any other might never be used (eg drums). Since I want it for practing, recording it in midi and wav could be useful too.

And given these basics requirements, I think the cheapest Roland equipped with PHA III and SuperNATUAL sound engine should be enough, is it?
When I click the spec of each digital piano listing in Roland's US website, many of them are quite confusing and I don't see much difference. They don't even specify the differences among product lines (eg between DP, HP, LX) and don't give a price tag. That makes my search really time consuming. So I ask for help here.
One difference I see that might matter, except for the power of the speaker, is the levels of touch. Most of them got 5 and the expensive ones get 100. What's that? How might that improve the realism of the digital piano?

And I also tried the HP 503 in a store. It sounds great. And I thought it was PHA III and I'm impressed. Later found out it is not, and thinking how much better can a PHA III is. The only two things I found imprect about it are: the resonance of the notes after the right pedal is applied is not good; and it is very easy to make the notes too loud.
I saw from the spec that it can adjust the "cabinet resonance". Is this the function to adjust if I want the resonance after applied the right pedal becomes more realistic? And I also see a function adjusting how hard or soft a key is. Will this function help the key response not so dramatically (I mean, I got a very loud sound when I increase the force just a little bit. So it is very easy to play a note too loud. Hence very difficult to control the subtle differences of the notes in terms of dynamic level.

Thanks so much for everyone. Looking forward to learn something from you all.
Posted by: Marco M

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 01/22/13 04:29 AM

HP: (HP-500 series) a furniture _h_ome styled digital piano, featuring the newest Roland digital piano technique (SN sound, PHIII keys)
LX: (LX-15) the _l_uxury version of the HP, featuring a funriture which should imitate the look of a real acoustic upright piano, even enhanced speaker system
DP: the furniture is much reduced, thus the speaker system has had to be reduced as well; comforts users who have little space, need to occasionally move or store the instrument and just need a _d_igital piano without special interest in furniture or mobility
RD: made for being used on the _r_oad, which means for performing on stage in front of audience; made to be mobile and to be flexible to use during a session with other muscicians, maybe playing various styles throughout the evening; having no speaker system, because it is thought to anyway become connmected to a PA (powered amplifier) system, where other band members also connect to in order to reach the audicence loudly;

I wouldn´t recommend to go for a HP-503. The extra price for the 505 is really worth it (505 features the excellent PHIII keys, some more, tiny, but in certain situations interesting to have electronic features are better provided, the speaker system is also much better, but this you will only hear if playing it at least at medium volume); I wouldn´t recommend to go for a 507, then. The extra price for the little add ons are not worth it, in my opinion, expecially if you are not going to frequently play loud (507 has even better speaker system, but you said already that you will not frequently use such). Most likely, according to what I read from your post, you might not be the enthusiast with a lot of money to spend to, to pay much more money for the 'luxury' (more esthetic) furniture of the LX-15.

Compare the specs of the DP 90 series with the specs of the HP series. To me it appears that it is almost the same grading in features, but build into a different furniture.

I personally do not like the HP-300 and HP-700 series to much, missing too many of the superb features in comparison of a HP 505.

Have a look on the Kawai CA 65, and Yamaha CLP 470 as well!

Listen to them!!! Roland has (in my opinion nicely) a classical warm sound, the Yamahas and Kawai a modern very bright sound (in my opinion to sharp). Others here on the forum think just the other way round, about the sound. I would suggest, that you first listen to the sound to fin out which yuo like, and then search within the brand of your (sound) choice for the model which fits your other needs.

There is a lot of discussion here about the key actions. The HP-505, the CLP 470 and the CA-65 all feature excellent keys. Some like more the light keys, otheres more the heavier keys. Really just a matter of taste. If comparing them with 'real' acoustic pianos, all of the keys fit within the range of keys, like you also will find them on the acoustic pianos; if you want to discuss about the 'correct' feeling of the keys of digital pianos, you would first have to discuss the 'correct' feeling of the acoustic as well; but as there are so many different ones, there will never be agreement; trust that the mentioned ones are acceptable (speaking about the mentioned and then even higher classed models, not about lower classed models) and chose the one which YOU prefer!

As sound and keys will be used together, try out the candidate models personally!! I for instance felt the CLP 470 to be the best key action for me (testing key actions without having the sound powered on), but continue to favor the HP-505, because the symbiosis of sound and keys here to me just feel better as the complete end result.
Posted by: gvfarns

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 01/22/13 09:52 AM

The cheapest PHA3 piano would be the FP-7F, I believe. It's pretty popular here.

Do check out the other brands before you make your final choice, though.
Posted by: kolen

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 01/22/13 11:58 AM

Hi. Thanks for a very detailed explanation and suggestion.
Yes I am on low budget, especially I need to buy a harps for my wife too. And you know harps are very expensive.
And since I buy the piano for practicing and enjoyment between my wife and I, speaker quality is of lesser importance. I could put on the headphone all the time. And if I really need to play it loud I would go to a piano room or church.
So I mainly focus on the key action (and PHA III is really good), and the sound engine (supernatural sounds good to me, though I didn't compare it rigorously to the others). I've tried the Kawai RM3 action, which is not as good to my taste. Even the action on HP503 seems to be better.
And I just visited a piano store once again, I tried the FP-7F, DP-90S, HP-505 and 507.
I tried them all through their speaker system and the same headphone provided by them. From the speaker, it's very obvious the HP-50x are much better, and HP-507 is of course the best, but the 505 is good enough.
But since my concern is mainly the sound through the headphone, I tried it, and found it quite interesting, although all of them use supernatural, but it seems to me and my wife that the HP-505 is better than DP-90S, through the headphone. Is it possible? I know we can be subjective since we've listened to the speakers of them and that impression might translate to the headphone unconsciously which is not physical.

Hence my question is, should the FP-7F, DP-90S, HP505, 507 sounds the same provided with the same settings and same headphone?

Another minor question is this, I find that the key of the HP-507 is harder than the HP-505. I am not talking about the touch level but the real hardness of the key. As they all are using the same key action PHA III Ivory feel, should they all be the same? I then asked the shop manager if the 507 is a newer display, and he said yes. So here comes the next question, would the key becomes softer as you use it more and more? If so does it need to be serviced after some time?

And one more minor question, the FP-7F is said to have the PHA III Ivory Feel-S. are there any difference with the PHA III Ivory Feel?

Thanks a lot again!
Posted by: Marco M

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 01/22/13 02:38 PM

As far as I know and made up my mind from what I heard and read here and there:

PHA III Ivory Feel is the "full quality" version. If having the name extended with "-S" it is of lower quality. I somehow have the idea, that the "-S" are a little bit smaller, to better fit to the needs of a portable piano, and subsequently the "-S" acts slightly different (not as good) than the 'full sized' version. There was also a "-G" on the market, even lower quality than the "-S", and you wouldn´t want to go for that one. Don´t know where to rank the PHA-II keys. For sure lower than PHA-III, because they felt to me too whobbly. Not sure if I shoudl rank them the same as "-S", or even below "-S", but for sure better than "-G". As I said, this is what I have in mind, not in written form and not confirmed by any official Roland specialist.

The explenation about the differences which you experienced with the headphones could be, that perhaps they have different quality D/A converters build in, and like this could more lower the price for the DP series?

I once compared keys of two instruments in two different stores, the CLP 430 and the HP 503. In the one store, the keys of the one seemed to better, in the other one it was the other way round. Then I touched another HP 503 in another store, and it was for sure different, than both other 503s which I touched before. All HP 505 and 507 to me felt always the same, and always much better than the 503 keys. Here in the forum I from time to time read also from others some statements, which let me conclude, that there can be some variation from individual instrument to instrument, even in the same model. My general observation is that the keys in the digital pianos are usually the same quality mounted and adjusted, as to be expected from mass production. But you can with any brand have bad luck and just pick one of the few pieces, which somehow show deviant behaviour.

Sorry, to not have more helpful answers for your decision finding.
Before purchasing: put hands on the particular instrument you are going to purchase, that´s for sure the best you can do. All the best!
Posted by: kolen

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 01/26/13 11:12 AM

Thanks for all the information. I have been to the piano shops again and again and get my hands on many of them.
My main focus would be PHA III and price matters. So something like FP-7F, DP-90S, HP-505 would be my choices.
I haven't had chances to check the pianos you mentioned though. I am leaving very soon to another piano shop and will try those models and compare.
Thanks a lot!
Posted by: EO3

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 01/26/13 01:07 PM

I have FP7F and in terms of action it's doing the job just fine. However, in terms of sound while FP7F grand piano is perfectly OK for practice and demo recording, I think Roland RD700NX could be a better choice, but it's more pricey and probably a smarter move could be going with FP7F and adding some software pianos later if feel like it.
Posted by: Marco M

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 01/26/13 04:47 PM

I took from recent posts in another thread the idea, that it is not so easy to find a good speaker system for a good DP. They also cost a lot and have their pros and contras. In the HP-505, there is a speaker sytem build in, which intends to spread the sound more natural to the room, than only 2 monitor speakers could do it. The 4 internal speakers might not sound as clear and brilliant, but they distribute the sound nicely.

Take your time and look through my old posts, where I also state on the drawbacks of the 505. It really has its excellent side, and its low side, and depends on how you personally want to weight things.

I expect that the FP7F and DP90S will have almost the same highs and lows as the 505. The 700NX will have much less lows, but you will have to find a speaker system for it.
Posted by: kolen

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 02/02/13 12:47 AM

Thanks all. I just purchased the DP-90S and I shall receive it next week.
Thanks!
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 02/02/13 01:58 AM

Congrats! That is a fine instrument. I really like their new "Early" Piano additions.
Posted by: kolen

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 02/02/13 04:57 AM

Hi. I am now thinking about the matters after the purchase.
e.g. I want to compose music. So what software should I use? And is a midi connector included with the piano?
And I also heard there's some software simulating different piano sound too. How well would they play with DP-90S? I wonder if all the dynamics, the use of pedals, etc. would be "understood" by those softwares.
Thanks!
Posted by: kolen

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 02/02/13 05:01 PM

Hi. Sorry for so many questions. I am reading the manual now. And I am confused about how I should connect the DP-90S to the computer and compose music.
I see there's a USB to computer port, there's also a MIDI output port. Should I buy a MIDI to USB cable, or can I just connect the computer to the piano purely on USB? Will it work for softwares that accept keyboard source (e.g. Finale, Sibelius, Musescore)?

I am also deciding if I should get Finale Printmusic, Sibelius First, Guitar Pro, or Musescore. I also consider Guitar Pro because I also play classical guitar. So it's like buy one do it all.
To me it seems that Finale/Sibelius is better for piano but can also handle Guitar music, and vice versa for Guitar Pro. Is it true?
Thanks a lot again!
Posted by: Kawai James

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 02/02/13 06:13 PM

An inexpensive USB A-to-B cable should do the job fine.

James
x
Posted by: Tyruke

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 02/02/13 08:08 PM

Originally Posted By: kolen
I am also deciding if I should get Finale Printmusic, Sibelius First, Guitar Pro, or Musescore.


I highly recommend Musescore. I've used it to create a number of lead sheets for our church band and they came out beautifully. I believe future updates plan to include many more things including guitar tablature. Best of all it is free, so there's no risk to try it in that sense.
Posted by: Amaruk

Re: Need help on choosing PHA III digital piano - 02/02/13 10:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Tyruke


I highly recommend Musescore.


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