Digital Pianos and temperaments

General discussion about digital pianos

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aooeeu
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Digital Pianos and temperaments

Post by aooeeu » 22 Feb 2008, 15:33

Hi guys,

Just joined the forum to ask you all for your expertise!

My GF is looking to buy her first piano and was looking at the Yahama YDP-131 which she tried in a shop. We then wondered if something like the DGX-620 would be more versatile with the learning suite etc, although she'd like to have the pedals and prefers the more traditional look.

To put a real spanner in the works however - I'm experimenting with fretless guitars/basses and am going to try a Thidell Formula 1 neck for starters. It would therefore be nice to have a piano that can go beyond equal temperament.

From the yamaha site it isn't entirely clear which models support different temperaments, but it would seem to be the £1K+ models only?

Are there any digital pianos in the sub-£500 price bracket that offer different temperaments or allow you to manually enter tuning information for each note?

Many thanks,

Martin.

markymark
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Post by markymark » 24 Feb 2008, 22:59

I certainly can't think of a keyboard below 500GBP that allows you to adjust individual note tuning. Many of them will allow you to adjust the overall pitch levels but not to individual keys so that you can adjust the temperament.

The DGX-620 is more versatile but you are including other rhythms and features like that on this model. The YDP tends to be more traditional in style; it was designed to be first and foremostly a piano and not a keyboard.

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Post by aooeeu » 06 Mar 2008, 14:17

Thanks, I tried quite a few Yamahas in our local music shop this week. Didn't have the YDP-131 or CLP-220 unfortunately but had most of the others.

After looking at those though and contemplating M-Audio also (some dodgy reviews about consistency between keys), I found good reviews of the Korg SP-250 and reckon this would be better than the DGX-620 (more polyphony, better speakers, half-pedaling, maybe better feel & construction).

The 250 also supports a few temperaments (Kirnberger, Werkmeister) and it seems to sound quite good from the demos.

Not sure the misses will like the look of it but we'll hopefully try one out along with the others this weekend. I like the fact that the 250 would be quite portable to move close to my PC when required. Been playing with truepianos and notice Akoustik Piano supports a lot of temperaments.

Final option is eBay whereby older models such as the 860 and 930 are going for similar money to a new SP-250 or YDP-131. Does anyone know how these models compare? Are newer models noticeably better (feel? sound?) or not much different from those five years ago?

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Post by markymark » 07 Mar 2008, 00:03

I have to agree with you about the DGX-620 - I think that Yamaha tried to let it straddle too many kinds of keyboard to really develop the instrument. Having said that, the hammer action keyboard is very good.

The SP series in Korg show Korg's real progress to develop a decent piano sound which they never really had. Think back to the M1 days, the piano samples where shallow and rather tinny. The samples you have been listening to show a typical example of the quality you can expect from modern keyboards.

Over the last ten years, all keyboard manufactuers have tried to cater more effectively for the musicians who want the feel of a piano and also the realism in sound quality. Big strides have been taken by all manufacturers and Korg is one of those who are maybe not always given the credit they deserve in this area. They were always celebrated for their synths as you may know. Progress in MIDI and the inclusion of USB interface is also becoming commonplace in modern digital keyboards/pianos.

When compared with the YDP-131, the SP-250 is more adventurous is will be more portable than the YDP. If I'm not mistaken, the SP-250 has more sound options although it doesn't allow you to layer sounds which is a shame but then again, neither does the YDP! Personally, the difference in keyboard response will be the deciding factor for you. You mentioned portablity and obviously the Korg will have that aspect of the things covered already. Have you tried the SP-250 yet?

aooeeu
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Post by aooeeu » 10 Mar 2008, 17:47

We went shopping on Saturday and visited four shops in the Denmark Street area.

A nice man in Rose Morris demonstrated a few for us and pointed out that the basic piano sound in the Korg SP-250 isn't great. Looks like a really sturdy stage piano, will layer two sounds I think and the other sounds were very good. Not exactly pretty though and we would have probably chosen the P-70 since the basic piano sound seemed better. The Kawai ES4 stood out in that shop as really nice but even on the internet, bottom price is £800.

So.. a kebab each later (!) and back to Chappell of Bond Street..

DGX-620 as expected - nice enough but we probably wouldn't use the teaching aids or most of the sounds.

The YDP-131 was also ok and the one we were intending to get on our second trip to the shop. But.. once we'd had a bash on the CLP models the lower build quality and 'GHS' action stood out. It's fine but I think we'd always be thinking about trading it for a CLP, even with our mediocre playing ability.

Interestingly the difference in feel between all of them was more evident to us with the sounds switched off. I guess that will change once we actually learn how to play!

Finally then, we plumped for the P-140S on 'manager special' at £599. I think it has the same action as the CLP-220 and sounded better than the P-70. There's enough sounds/features to play with too without anything feeling like a pointless add-on.The speakers are only 6W but it seems plenty for general practice and there's a proper line-out anyhow. What I didn't realise until reading the manual is it also has seven temperaments. Yay :-)

I'm not completely sold on the look of the thing (maybe black would be better) but that's minor as it seems very good for the money.

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Post by markymark » 10 Mar 2008, 19:15

The P140 is a decent instrument but to be honest, I'm not surprised that you went for a Yamaha stage piano in the end. As I've said so many times on this forum, Yamaha certainly don't leave much for improvement as far as piano sound quality is concerned - I really ought to approach Yamaha for an endorsement fee :wink: . Korg always were more geared towards producing synths and some tone modulators for guitars so I guess they still have some improving to do in the old piano smaples then, although the SP250 is definitely better than their earlier offerings.

Still, I think you've made a good choice, and probably a better choice, if a quality piano sound is your main selection criterion. The CLP is like to forbidden fruit of instruments and probably shouldn't be encountered unless you either intend to spend the money on them or else have great will-power to resist. You are quite right about the keyboard action; the better one appearing at 230/240 level and the 270 having the best with wooden keys for authentic touch.

Personally I prefer the P140 to the DGX-620 so great choice! Enjoy!

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