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#668822 - 02/25/04 10:18 PM Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Mr. Durden Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 162
Greetings. I'm going to need to invest in a digital piano for the purpose of night-time practicing and gigs and rehearsals where an acoustic is not available.
My present living arrangement is rather tentative; It's highly likely I'll be moving to another state before September 2004. In any case, I have a hard time playing digital pianos with poor quality samples or awkward feeling keys. So my question is this: What manufacturer makes the HIGHEST QUALITY portable digital stage PIANO?
What's important to me (in no particular order):

1. Must be THE MOST accurate simulation of an acoustic piano possible; includes action, sound quality, the feel of the keys, etc. Built-in speakers ARE NOT important-- if I get a quality instrument I will most certainly invest in a high-quality keyboard amplifier or loudspeaker system.

2. MUST be portable. This means that it should be durable and able to be transported in a solid-build flight case.

3. I'd really like for it to be black. My digital piano will never be an acoustic piano, so I don't desire for it to have fake wood veneers or anything of that nature.

Thanks very much your reccomendations/knowledge/suggestions, etc. Take care.

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#668823 - 02/25/04 10:48 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Zymtil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/03
Posts: 433
Loc: CS, Texas
Here's the first three I'd suggest looking at:
Roland RD-700 (with concert grand expansion board)
Yamaha P250
Kawai MP9500

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#668824 - 02/26/04 06:03 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
I'm a big fan of the Roland sound, but don't forget Korg or Kurzweil either.
_________________________
PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#668825 - 02/26/04 11:20 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
jkeene Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/08/03
Posts: 701
Loc: Central Florida
Zymtil, that's a good list, but I have a P250, and I wouldn't particularly call it portable. It weighs seventy pounds before it goes into a flight case, so unless Mr. Durden is built like an ox, he'll need some roadies.

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#668826 - 02/26/04 11:43 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Zymtil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/03
Posts: 433
Loc: CS, Texas
jkeene, they're all like that, my RD-600 weighs in just under 80 pounds when it's in the case. Any good stage piano is going to weigh alot. I think when digi. manufactures say portable, they mean "if you have a dolly" or "are in weight lifting competions".

The P250 has built-in speakers (correct me if I'm wrong) which do add some weight, but the others are still also quite heavy.

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#668827 - 02/27/04 02:44 AM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Mr. Durden Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 162
Thanks a lot for all the info! \:D

I spent quite a while this afternoon reading about the Roland, Yamaha, and Kawai, and I must admit I found reasons to be impressed by all of them. I found the following review of the Kawai from Sound On Sound (a trusted source of info) to be particulary intriguing: Sound on Sound Kawai MP9500 Review Now I have to go hear/play them for myself!

One question came to mind though: Does anyone know if the Kawai has a flight case made to fit it? I saw some mention of such a case on a couple of sites, but no picture was available. I'm looking for a hard case with casters along the lines of the SKB 5817W
According to SKB's site, the 5817W fits the Roland RD-700 but not the Kawai. Yamaha apparently manufacturers a flight case for the P250 as well.

Ah, and another concern: 'Gary Madison,' the third reviewer on the Harmony Central MP9500 user review page was pretty adamant about the Kawai having some defect in the "ROM mapping" of the Concert Grand voice... I have no idea what this means, but if anyone could shed some light on this I'd appreciate it very much. Here's the site: Harmony Central Mp9500 User Review Page [read third entry]

One last question:

Any reccomendations on an amplifier that realistically simulates the volume range of an acoustic grand? It may be some time before I can afford a quality amplifier on top of a $2000 piano, but I guess I'll just use headphones in the meantime! ;\)

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#668828 - 02/27/04 08:43 AM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
A few random thoughts:

No disrespect to Kawai, but it's not an industry leader in this category.

Contact SKB via email in order to select the right case. I have three SKB cases. They're much lighter than their competition. I've had some breakage, but SKB really stands behind their products!!!

80lbs is not uncommon for an 88-key stage piano. Combine that with the SKB and you've got a beast. DEFINITELY get the one with wheels!!!

I don't know the specific problem with the ROM mapping that you spoke of, but it probably shows up as an inconsistency of sound throughout the keyboard. I've felt similarly about some of Kurzweil's sounds. Gorgeous piano sound, but inconsistent throughout the keyboard.
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PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#668829 - 02/27/04 01:25 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Mr. Durden Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 162
 Quote:
Originally posted by SteveY:
A few random thoughts:
No disrespect to Kawai, but it's not an industry leader in this category.[/b]
Um, yes and no; the reviewers at Harmony Central and Sound On Sound would probably contest that-- I'm no expert-- I won't know more until I actually try them out in person but it appears to me that Yamaha and Kawai have an edge in digi piano design because of their experience in manufacturing acoustic pianos. Roland, on the other hand seems to possibly have an edge from a sample-quality perspective. Roland seems to be leading innovation in that area across their whole range of electronic instruments (V-Drums, V-Synth, etc.)

I found the Kawai appealing because of the ubiquitous praise I found from online reviewers with regard to its action and ability to emulate an acoustic grand. IMHO, it also has an edge from an aesthetic perspective.
 Quote:
Originally posted by SteveY:
Contact SKB via email in order to select the right case. I have three SKB cases. They're much lighter than their competition. I've had some breakage, but SKB really stands behind their products!!![/b]
I definitely am a big fan of SKB as well. However, the "fit list" that they have on their website specifically states that they do not manufacturer a case to fit the MP9000, and presumably the MP9500 as well (they appear to be similarly designed)... So if anybody knows of any other case manufacturers that make a flight case to fit the Kawai I'd be interested to hear about it.
SteveY, Zytmil, jkeene: You're absolutely right! There's NO way I'm going to buy an 80+ lb., $2000 instrument without getting a sturdy flight case with wheels! \:D
 Quote:
Originally posted by SteveY:
I don't know the specific problem with the ROM mapping that you spoke of, but it probably shows up as an inconsistency of sound throughout the keyboard. I've felt similarly about some of Kurzweil's sounds. Gorgeous piano sound, but inconsistent throughout the keyboard. [/b]
Were you able to make anything out of the URL I posted above? The third reviewer on that page seemed to suggest that there was an issue with some sort of inconsistency in the right channel's XLR and .25" output within a certain range of keys above middle C? I don't know enough about digital piano engineering to understand exactly what he was referring to...

Last, I wanted to clarify something; My understanding is that Korg and Kurzweil make exceptional synths and workstations but are inferior to Yamaha/Technics/Roland on the digi piano front (according to acoustic piano circles). Technics doesn't appear to make a high-end portable, so, as Zymtil suggested, that narrows the field to the Yamaha, Kawai, and Roland offerings.

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#668830 - 02/27/04 04:34 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
 Quote:
Um, yes and no; the reviewers at Harmony Central and Sound On Sound would probably contest that
They can say anything they want. Just take a look around at what performers are using. You'll be hard to find a whole lot of Kawai keyboards. I've been a professional keyboard player for almost 20 years. I've never once seen a Kawai digital keyboard in a studio and I've never seen a keyboard player use one live that wasn't an endorsee. I'm not much of a fan of harmony central or sound on sound. I find that most of the contributers tend to be out of touch with the real world. They know technology to some degree, but aren't always working musicians. They often gravitate toward obscure companies that pro's wouldn't use. But hey, that's just my take...


 Quote:
it appears to me that Yamaha and Kawai have an edge in digi piano design because of their experience in manufacturing acoustic pianos. Roland, on the other hand seems to possibly have an edge from a sample-quality perspective.
I can see why you might think that, but with no offense intended, I disagree. Creating a great feeling action on a synth has little to do with creating the same on an acoustic. Don't you think companies like Roland have access to great piano techs as well? Kurzweil is now owned by Young Chang. Wouldn't that give them an edge as well? Personally I have a hard time separating sound quality with action. To me the "feel" of the keyboard is married to the "tone". If one is off, they both feel rotten to me. So for me, the Roland is the most expressive. That's not to say that I wouldn't mind having a Kurzweil or a Yamaha. Right now, my favorite factory preset piano sound is on the new Roland Fantom X8.

 Quote:
Last, I wanted to clarify something; My understanding is that Korg and Kurzweil make exceptional synths and workstations but are inferior to Yamaha/Technics/Roland on the digi piano front (according to acoustic piano circles). Technics doesn't appear to make a high-end portable, so, as Zymtil suggested, that narrows the field to the Yamaha, Kawai, and Roland offerings.
Since you're looking at a "stage piano", you're now looking at professional level products that are not sold by piano dealers. Even within companies like Roland or Yamaha, their pro and consumer lines are divided between different dealer networks. In the world of pro keyboards, Technics and Kawai are non-players. Yamaha, Korg, Roland and Kurzweil are going to be your main contenders (although I did enjoy what General Music did with the ProMega 3). The best advice anyone can give is to spend some quality time with each instrument. If you think the Yamaha sounds/feels best -- IT IS THE BEST! Within this short list, reliability is usually not much of an issue (although I have slightly less confidence in Kurzweil -- maybe without reason). I'm not fond of the Yamaha samples. They sound thin and cold to me. Korg samples don't sound very realistic to me. But two of my favorite keyboard players disagree. So in reality, it's fairly subjective once you get past the fringe companies.
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PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#668831 - 02/27/04 04:43 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
One more thing about Technics...
I'd be very hesitant about buying anything Technics unless it's severely discounted. Technics is a sister company of Panasonic. In the past 5 years, Panasonic and their pro audio division, Ramsa, have quit the pro audio business dispite having some pretty amazing (and popular) products. The 3700 DAT recorder is still a staple in recording studios. Their digital mixing console was another highly regarded product (I almost bought one) as were Ramsa speakers.
I guess seeing that Ramsa closed shop, and Panasonic did shortly after, I'd be afraid that Technics is next.
_________________________
PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#668832 - 02/27/04 05:37 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Mr. Durden Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 162
 Quote:
Originally posted by SteveY:
I'm not much of a fan of harmony central or sound on sound. I find that most of the contributers tend to be out of touch with the real world. They know technology to some degree, but aren't always working musicians. They often gravitate toward obscure companies that pro's wouldn't use. But hey, that's just my take... [/b]
I've found Sound on Sound to be about the best pro music periodical I've ever read... The consensus among my peers in the "biz" is that Tape-Op and Sound On Sound can't be beat, but I don't mean/wish to argue-- I lack the experience to have any sort of allegiance to any particular publication or manufacturer... Are there any magazines/web resources that you would reccomend?
 Quote:
Originally posted by SteveY:
Don't you think companies like Roland have access to great piano techs as well? Kurzweil is now owned by Young Chang.[/b]
Good point. I guess my bias against Roland and Korg is somewhat unfounded. I just fear that Roland's popularity has led the company to the sort of price premium that Sony demands in the consumer audio department.
 Quote:
Originally posted by SteveY:
I've been a professional keyboard player for almost 20 years. I've never once seen a Kawai digital keyboard in a studio and I've never seen a keyboard player use one live that wasn't an endorsee. [/b]
Good point. At the same time, among elite professional jazz or classical pianists (endorsees, household names, etc.), I have never seen a performer use anything but an acoustic grand. I don't mean to argue or cause offense, but I'm not particularly interested in what touring rock/pop/r&b performers use; their needs are different than mine. Nonetheless, I have never spent any time in a pro studio recording ... only passing through in a tour group ;\) So I absolutely defer to your experience in that respect.

Zytmil, what's your opinion of Korg and Kurzweil? They were conspicuously absent from your list of reccomendations.
 Quote:
Originally posted by SteveY:
I'm not fond of the Yamaha samples. They sound thin and cold to me. Korg samples don't sound very realistic to me. But two of my favorite keyboard players disagree. So in reality, it's fairly subjective once you get past the fringe companies. [/b]
I couldn't agree with you more about the subjectivity of these things. I've found plenty of resources on the web that laud and extoll the virtues of the Yamaha and the Roland and the Kurzweil and the Kawai, etc., etc. All the pianos we've mentioned appear to be quality instruments-- it's clear to me now that the only way I will ever decide is by spending some quality time with each of them...

Thank you all for reccomendations/advice. This is an area I don't know a lot about; your knowledge and experience is much appreciated.

One more question: Why on earth are the Kurzweils purple?! Does this actually appeal to anyone? I was pretty much set on black initially, but the attractive appearance of the MP9500 opened me to the possibility of silver. But I'm confident black will best withstand the test of time...

SteveY: Any reccomendations as far as amplification is concerned? Again, I'm looking for something that would realistically simulate the range of an acoustic grand. Thank you much.

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#668833 - 02/27/04 06:32 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
 Quote:
Are there any magazines/web resources that you would reccomend?
Tape Op is probably my fav (I'm a subscriber). But you won't find much keyboard stuff there. I find Keyboard magazine (I don't subscribe) to be hit-and-miss with reviews (kind of like sound on sound). I also subscribe to Electronic Musician, Recording, EQ and Mix, but the last 3 don't have a lot of keyboard info.

 Quote:
I just fear that Roland's popularity has led the company to the sort of price premium that Sony demands in the consumer audio department.
Full disclosure: I'm not an employee of Roland, but I've done a fair amount of work for them in the past (including being a clinician at NAMM this past January).

I think your concern is legit. That can happen to any company as they experience success. But I'd be much more concerned about Yamaha -- they're much bigger than Roland.

 Quote:
At the same time, among elite professional jazz or classical pianists (endorsees, household names, etc.), I have never seen a performer use anything but an acoustic grand. I don't mean to argue or cause offense, but I'm not particularly interested in what touring rock/pop/r&b performers use; their needs are different than mine.
Good point. You need to find something that meets YOUR needs -- it might even be a Kawai. My comments were not meant to point you to what this or that performer might use, but to the fact that Kawai is not an industry leader. You might find that they make the best stuff for your needs. I can't comment on what stage pianos classical players prefer (if any). But I do know that Chick Corea plays a Yamaha. Lyle Mays (Pat Metheny) plays a Korg. So does Russ Ferrante (Yellowjackets). Ray Charles plays a Roland. LA session player Greg Mathieson plays a Kurzweil. But truthfully, most of these guys have tone modules from various manufacturers, so it still comes down to personal preference.

 Quote:
Any reccomendations as far as amplification is concerned? Again, I'm looking for something that would realistically simulate the range of an acoustic grand. Thank you much.
Here's the rub: Studio monitors to me sound best -- but they're not very portable. Live, I use stereo amps -- both Roland KC300's (the current model is the KC350). I think they sound pretty good for amplifiers. I run them in stereo so I don't have to push them very hard. That helps create a more natural sound. They're also very versatile in terms of input/output, which is something that I need. In the studio, I love the KRK powered monitors. I have a pair of V8's. If you're looking for something that won't leave your house much, I'd go with powered studio monitors. KRK and Tannoy make good upper-mid-level stuff. Genelec and Adam on the high end. M-Audio and Event on the lower-middle-end. Again, go with your ears. As for amps, I love the Roland. I think the 300 series sounds better than the 500 series (although the 500 is louder/bigger). Plus the 300 is cheaper! There's another guy on the board that likes the Barbetta amps. I find them a bit "ballsy" and harsh (which would be great for certain styles). It would help to know your budget as well as the intended use.

I can't believe how much I've posted today!!! You'd think I had nothing to do!!!
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PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#668834 - 02/27/04 07:18 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Zymtil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/03
Posts: 433
Loc: CS, Texas
 Quote:
Mr. Durden: Zytmil, what's your opinion of Korg and Kurzweil? They were conspicuously absent from your list of reccomendations.[/b]
I just didn't care much for the ones that I tried, and couldn't think of any outstanding Korg or Kurtzweil models. They just never did really stand out for me (except, when I first started looking, and that was before I had played either). It's been a while since I've been out to just play around on various digitals. Next "outing", I might try a couple again.

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#668835 - 02/29/04 02:22 AM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Mr. Durden Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 162
 Quote:
Originally posted by SteveY:
I also subscribe to Electronic Musician, Recording, EQ and Mix...[/b]
What's your opinion of those three? Which is most beginner-friendly? I picked up Tape-Op's free subscription but I find most of it to be WAY over my head! ;\)

 Quote:
...Kawai is not an industry leader.[/b]
I'm in no position to contest that point, but I keep reading a great deal of positive discussion about the MP9500/9000 among professional musicians all over the web. Perhaps this is an exception to the rule? I assume a large reason why Kawai is not as succesful as Yamaha, Roland, Korg, Kurzweil has to do with the fact that they don't manufacture synths-- they only make acoustic and digital pianos. It seems to me that synths dominate the professional keyboard market.

 Quote:
KRK and Tannoy make good upper-mid-level stuff.[/b]
Would "upper-mid-level" include the Tannoy Reveal monitors? I've had my eyes on them for some time...
 Quote:
There's another guy on the board that likes the Barbetta amps. I find them a bit "ballsy" and harsh (which would be great for certain styles). It would help to know your budget as well as the intended use.[/b]
I'm guessing that the "ballsy" Barbettas might be too harsh for classical and jazz piano? They sure look nice! My budget is negotiable. Sadly, I find that due to the enormous expense of manufacturing super high quality audio gear (and the corresponding prohibitively expensive prices), many manufacturers have focussed their efforts on marketing their sub-par "entry-level" budget offerings. In other words, I find that there is almost always a price-point in every major manufacturer's product line below which everything else is crap. So when shopping, I seek to identify which products above that threshold meet my minimum needs at the lowest cost.
As far as my needs go, I'm looking for an amplifier that will accurately simulate an acoustic grand both at home and in small-scale solo gigs without a P.A. I will also likely be using the amp to power my Roland V-Drums. I understand the Barbettas have a good reputation with regard to this particular application. I'm definitely planning to invest in some studio monitors at some point in the near future to use in the DAW setup I am pain-stakingly trying to put togethr with my PC.
 Quote:

I can't believe how much I've posted today!!! You'd think I had nothing to do!!! [/b]
I know that feeling all too well!!! \:D Web forums are unbelievably addictive. But it's better than television! But that's still no excuse... I should be practicing!!!!

SteveY, which Korg/Kurzweils would most accurately simulate the action of an acoustic grand? Are there synths/workstations out there with actions that rival the P250 and the RD700? And last question: Are all the Kurzweils really PURPLE? Purple is a beautiful color, but not when you're purchasing a $2000 instrument! \:D

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#668836 - 02/29/04 05:28 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Zymtil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/03
Posts: 433
Loc: CS, Texas
 Quote:
MR. Durden: Are there synths/workstations out there with actions that rival the P250 and the RD700?[/b]
When I was in the market I thought the Roland XV-88 was very nice and if I had been able to afford it I probably would have gone for it over the RD700. Of course, the XV88 is no longer a current model. I think it was replaced with the fantom S88 or X8 or something. For Yamaha, possibly the S90 which is weighted but not progressively, so probably not.

Update: come to think of it, I don't remember if the XV88 was progressively weighted or not.

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#668837 - 02/29/04 07:40 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Mr. Durden Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 162
 Quote:
Originally posted by Zymtil:
Of course, the XV88 is no longer a current model. I think it was replaced with the fantom S88 or X8 or something. For Yamaha, possibly the S90 which is weighted but not progressively, so probably not.

Update: come to think of it, I don't remember if the XV88 was progressively weighted or not. [/b]
Thanks for the info, Zytmil.
From what I could gather from Korg's website, it appears that the Triton line is available in a progressively-weighted 88 key form? Any idea about the Kurzweils?
What do you use for amplification?

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#668838 - 02/29/04 08:31 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Zymtil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/03
Posts: 433
Loc: CS, Texas
I don't see any on Kurzweils website. At least if they are they don't say anything about "graded/progressive/whatever you want to call it" weighted keyboards. Thats on all of their models (I hope I'm wrong because that seems a little weird to me).
As for amplification, I have a poor setup. I use a single amplifier. It's a Gibson tube amp, I don't know the model number, from the seventies. It's good enough, for me, for now. Until I can afford a real keyboard amp or something better. For now, I'm just using a fairly nice pair of headphones (Sennheiser HD 570). I've only needed to plug in the amp a few dozen time of times, most of which were from my "pre-owning a pair of headphone" days, and once to play two of my cousins (ages 4 and 7) to sleep (they were staying with us for a couple of nights and the little cried herself to sleep the first night, so the second night I got alot of practicing done)

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#668839 - 02/29/04 08:34 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
 Quote:
What's your opinion of those three? Which is most beginner-friendly?
Electronic Musician is user-friendly and regularly includes articles on keyboards. Recording is also user friendly, but rarely concerns itself with keyboards.

 Quote:
I keep reading a great deal of positive discussion about the MP9500/9000 among professional musicians all over the web. Perhaps this is an exception to the rule?
I don't know which professionals you're referring to. I know a couple of guys who have endorsements with Kawai. One triggers Roland patches via MIDI as he's not particularly fond of the Kawai sounds. Other than these two, I don't know any professionals who have actually chosen a Kawai against the competition. That's completely anecdotal, but it seems odd that they don't seem to be visible in my sphere of influence.

 Quote:
I assume a large reason why Kawai is not as succesful as Yamaha, Roland, Korg, Kurzweil has to do with the fact that they don't manufacture synths-- they only make acoustic and digital pianos. It seems to me that synths dominate the professional keyboard market.
It's important to realize that a digital piano IS a synth. There are differences in features and intended use, but the technology is the same -- they're all sample-based technology. And you bring up an important point: Roland, Yamaha, Korg and Kurzweil have extensive experience creating great sounding synths. Each of these companies have sizable R&D departments who are constantly pushing the envelope of music technology. I have know knowledge of this, but I suspect that Kawai subcontracts much if not all of it's digital piano development. While not a bad thing, it's hard to view them as an industry leader in that light.
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PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#668840 - 02/29/04 08:44 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
 Quote:
Would "upper-mid-level" include the Tannoy Reveal monitors?
Yup, that's what I was thinking of. Not sure if my lame "upper-mid" description was helpful or not. But the Reveals are a good value for the money. Personally, I'd consider adding the subwoofer -- they're a little weak on the low end.

 Quote:
I find that there is almost always a price-point in every major manufacturer's product line below which everything else is crap.
I agree completely, but only you can establish where the line is. In other words, it doesn't matter in the end what I think -- it only matters what sounds/plays well to you!


 Quote:
I'm guessing that the "ballsy" Barbettas might be too harsh for classical and jazz piano?
They are for me, but it's completely subjective. I like the Roland KC350. You might like the Barbetta -- especially with your V-drums.

 Quote:
SteveY, which Korg/Kurzweils would most accurately simulate the action of an acoustic grand? Are there synths/workstations out there with actions that rival the P250 and the RD700?
I'm not up to date on the latest Korg/Kurzweil models. Check the web site (and your local store). As for workstations, now you're talking! My favorite piano sound is on the new Roland Fantom X8. It's a workstation. It's newer than the RD700, and currently, the sound is not available on anything other than the new Fantom X line. As for Korg, check out the Triton extreme. The Fantom X8 isn't shipping yet (I'm still waiting for mine!). But as far as I know we'll start seeing them in the next month or two. Not sure about the Korg's availability.

(and yes, the XV88 had the top-of-the-line Roland action)
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#668841 - 02/29/04 09:01 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Zymtil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/03
Posts: 433
Loc: CS, Texas
 Quote:
SteveY: (and yes, the XV88 had the top-of-the-line Roland action)[/b]
Thanks for the clarification, I've been racking my brain (and the Roland website) trying to recall. I remember when I was in the buying stage, trying out various models, and thinking the XV88 was my ultimate goal. Unfortunatly, financial matters did not allow me to attain that goal (and until it does, I can still dream).

Oh, and by the way, SteveY, I think your the most insightful person on this forum (and I think I've read every single post in the "digitals" section).

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#668842 - 03/01/04 08:15 AM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
 Quote:
and by the way, SteveY, I think your the most insightful person on this forum (and I think I've read every single post in the "digitals" section).

Flattery will get you everywhere...
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#668843 - 03/01/04 08:20 AM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
One more thing about action (now that Zymtil's pumped my head up):
It's important to note that even though various models within a manufacturer's line may have the same action, it's entirely possible that they'll feel differently. This is due to implementation issues, as well as production variations. For example, the Roland XV88 and RD700 supposedly have the same action. Yet, because there are different components in each keyboard due to their different feature sets, there may be physical space issues in getting the actions identical. Identical parts, Identical technology, but perhaps slight differences in how they play. It's also common to find two RD700's (for example) that play differently. They might have been built in a different production runs that were months apart. I'm picking on Roland here, but the same is true for every manufacturer. So I guess what I'm saying is that just because it's a digital doesn't mean it's immune to some of the variations that are common among acoustic pianos. These are subtle differences, but they do exist.
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#668844 - 03/02/04 12:57 AM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Mr. Durden Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 162
Update: I finally had the opportunity to play the RD700 for about an hour today. The experience left something to be desired, but this is most likely simply a reality check for me as a digital piano novice-- A digital piano, no matter how expensive or well designed it may be, will never compare to the real thing.
My reactions:
The piano sample sounded EXCELLENT to my ears on the stereo monitors in the store. The board definitely delivers the dynamic sensitivity that Roland so earnestly advertises. The action, however, felt less than impressive. The keys felt too easy to depress, certainly better than the non-progressive, un-weighted plastic tabs on many synths, but not what I'd hoped for. I found that they "bottomed out" too easily-- I could hardly play mezzo forte without producing a distracting "clunk" (the sound of the keys hitting their base). As mentioned above, perhaps I will find all the digital pianos we've discussed to provide the same sort of artificial experience when I get around to playing them simply because the scope of my experience is limited to acoustic instruments. Should that be the case, I'll just have to adjust my expectations. But as mentioned, the sample quality was really fantastic!!!

 Quote:
Originally posted by SteveY:
It's important to realize that a digital piano IS a synth. There are differences in features and intended use, but the technology is the same -- they're all sample-based technology.[/b]
True; I was simply trying to distinguish between the two with regard to the specific needs of a classical or jazz musician. i.e., A musician who wishes to have a digital "piano" doesn't need a digital glockenspiel or any of the many other sounds one might find in synth libraries. Jordan Rudess and pop music producers who use billions of synth sounds in their music probably benefit greatly from enormous sound libraries; Theoretically, I might use synths as a song-writing tool, but I've got tons of software that can do that; I'd never think about recording anything with a synth if I had the opportunity to use an acoustic instrument (piano, horn section, drums, etc.) I invested in a modest V-drum kit only because I needed a silent practice solution for nighttime practicing (and because my acoustic drums are in poor shape!).
I wouldn't mind having decent Rhodes and B3 sounds if they're available because I'm never likely to own the real thing and they'd be fun to mess around with-- it's the piano, however, that's most important to me. The rest is just icing on the cake.
 Quote:
I have know knowledge of this, but I suspect that Kawai subcontracts much if not all of it's digital piano development. While not a bad thing, it's hard to view them as an industry leader in that light. [/b]
This certainly could be. Again, I'm mostly just riding high off the praise that harmony central, zzounds reviewers and Sound on Sound lauded upon the MP9500. I recognize that those anonymous reviewers may not seem to be "professionals" when compared to first-call, major-label session players with endorsements, but their reviews certainly caught my attention. However, this may have more do to with my own naivette than anything else; SteveY, you make a good point; nearly everyone who bothers to post a review about these products either loves them or despises them-- what I need is a digital piano "roundup" that compares the major offerings head to head in both subjective and quantitative benchmarks! \:D

Regarding Korg and Roland workstations:
The Triton Extreme, Triton Studio, and Fantom X88 certainly are gorgeous-looking instruments. Great for attracting the opposite sex, no doubt lol... I'm sure they sound wonderful too. For me, it's a question of whether the caliber of their "feel" matches their many other bells and whistles. They'd have to feel/sound pretty damn excellent for me to find a way to justify spending MORE than two grand! ;\) *shivers at the thought of any more KRAFT mac'n'cheese and LESS heat during the Minnesota winter* lol
I'll certainly try to find a store where I can check them out. The place I was today only had the 61 key Triton Studio, the RD700, and various entry-level boards (P60, etc.)... I'm sure I'll have a lot more to contribute to this discussion once I've had an opportunity to play the Triton, Fantom, P250, and MP9500 in addition to the RD700.
Ah, SteveY, with regard to the Reveal monitors-- I was definitely planning to get some sort of subwoofer to accompany them (I've also heard they are weak in the low end). This raises an interesting concern, however... If I invest in a 2.1 monitor system for upwards of $1000 (not including amp), I'm likely to use it for "hi-fi" purposes AND "work." I use both terms loosely; my current lack of income suggests I'll never be able to afford the luxury of a pair of high-end reference loudspeakers (Tannoy, Axiom, Paradigm), so whichever studio monitors I buy will be the highest quality loudspeakers in my home. I'm no "home theater" buff; I don't own a television-- I simply watch the occasional DVD or TV Card capture on my PC. Would it be reasonable to use the Reveal set for both purposes? I've read the Reveal sub is underwhelming compared to other models... Word on the Ars Technica A/V forum is that SVS is the best sub manufacturer-- but they're offerings aren't designated specifically as studio monitors...
If the Reveal set could, in fact, double (triple) as:
1. Studio Monitors
2. Hi-Fi Loudspeakers
3. Digital Piano Monitors ... I'd be inclined to think that they're the most cost-effective amplification solution. I'll have to hear the KC-350, Sona 41 and Reveal pair first though...
ahh-- one more question:
Reveal Active or Passive? I'd assume save bank and get the passive ones + amp. That way I'll already have the amp in the event that my needs/resources change... I've heard fantastic things about Crown... do people use these to power studio monitors? Or are they more for live sound applications?

SteveY and Zytmil, thanks a lot for making one of my first posts such a great discussion! I'm really enjoying hearing both of your input!

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#668845 - 03/02/04 09:26 AM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
Reveals would be great as hi-fi speakers. Crown amps are used in studios all the time. Not sure what you're using now though so it's hard to compare.

You may know this already, but for the sake of others lurking...
Studio Monitors are designed for recording studios, where "accuracy" is the most important quality.
Hi-Fi speakers are designed to "sound good", which is NOT the same thing as "accuracy". Hi-Fi speakers tend to have a bump or two in their frequency response that flatters the western styles of music many of us love.
While no speaker is perfectly accurate due to a variety of reasons, Studio Monitors are intended to reproduce the source without coloring or changing the sound -- what goes in is what goes out.
The reason I mention this is that sometimes studio monitors don't "sound" as good as hi-fi speakers. This is VERY subjective. So the best bet is to spend some quality time auditioning speakers to a CD (or two or three) that you know very well. Personally I'm so used to hearing studio monitors that I kind of like that flat, uncolored sound. I wouldn't mind having a pair in my house (but I don't yet).
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#668846 - 03/02/04 11:29 PM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Mr. Durden Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 162
Thanks for the info, SteveY.
All this talk of adding to my already enormous investment in musical equipment brings up a question: Do you insure any of your instruments/equipment? Perhaps I should start a new thread topic with regard to this subject... Considering my present assortment of electronics alone, I'd estimate that I've invested in excess of $2000 in equipment... Given that I'm interested in acquiring a digital piano and project studio recording equipment (mics, monitors, amp, pc interface, mixer, significant PC upgrades) in the next several years, that $2000 investment will likely grow to something more around $10,000 (who needs a car anyway! ;\) Is equipment insurance a reasonable thing for me to consider? Flight cases with locks are one thing, but the determined thief can always find a way around such things... Just couldn't imagine having a $2000 digital piano walk off when I'm not looking

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#668847 - 03/03/04 09:02 AM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
I didn't insure anything for a long time -- more of an economic decision than a philosophical one. Most personal insurance companies deem this equipment for "business use" and won't cover it. Commercial insurance for equipment is pretty pricey. I have well over $100k invested at this point, so I had to go ahead and do it.

Interestingly enough, I had my car stolen about 12 years ago. I had a keyboard and a keyboard stand in the car. My insurance refused to cover it, as it was business equipment. Before I could figure out what to do (whether to fight with them or not), the police actually found my car in another state. Of course the keyboard and everything else in it was gone. It was really messed up. After about 4 weeks of body and interior work, I got the car back. It was really weird driving it -- it didn't really feel like mine anymore. After about a week, I was going through a drive-thru window at a fast food place and I instinctively reached into the ash tray for some spare change. There was no change -- instead there were some wadded up pieces of paper (that I had never seen before). I opened them up. They were pawn slips!!! I took them to the police and got my keyboard back. Pretty amazing considering it was almost 2 months later!!!
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#668848 - 03/03/04 10:58 AM Re: Who makes the BEST PORTABLE digital stage piano?
Mr. Durden Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/04
Posts: 162
 Quote:
Originally posted by SteveY:
Most personal insurance companies deem this equipment for "business use" and won't cover it.[/b]
Wow, that sure seems unfair given the amount of money I'm making from my musical pursuits (hint: Per annum, it's LESS than half the cost of the digital piano I'm hoping to purchase!) \:D
I guess I'd think that if you could demonstrate that you weren't using the equipment for commercial purposes, the insurance companies would be willing to accomdate you... wait-- I'm talking about the insurance industry... never mind. ;\)
Well... I'm aspiring to create a handy rackmount system with ALL my essential gear in it-- power conditioner, LCD, PC, external audio interface, amp, keyboard tray, modules etc. Even with something like the "flagship" SKB 16U Shockmount rack case, I'd still be damn scared of keeping $ x thousand dollars worth of gear in one box... but the convenience factor sure would be nice-- a truly portable project studio! Just need cases for the piano, mixer, mics, and hardware and I'd be all set.
So, having said all that, any idea what the cost of equipment insurance might look like? I know that's calculated through an equation with many variables, but as it appears you know more than I about the subject, I'd be curious to know what a ball-park figure might look like...

BTW, I was amazed to read about your auto theft experience! I sure am happy you were able to get your gear (and your car!) back!
A sort of similar story: a Minneapolis jazz drummer I've studied with once had ALL his gear stolen out of his car while he was playing a gig at a TINY club, despite the fact that his car was parked out back AND locked. He said when he arrived at the venue and discovered the house kit was still set up from the previous night's guest artist's performance, he decided to save himself the trouble of unloading all his gear. I'm sure he regretted that! Nonetheless, remarkably enough, about a month later one of his students recognized the kit while shopping at a local music store!
Despite both of your remarkable stories, I'm still mighty scared of losing my electronic gear to damage/theft. Fortunately I'm not too worried about my acoustic drums-- they were an entry-level kit ten or eleven years ago; they certainly haven't aged gracefully since then \:D

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