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I was playing away on it, and I thought it was actually really good. Hammer action keyboard and a realistic piano sound which even today sounds great. The thing is, I don't remember the Clavinova being that good until the CLP-170 came out 8 years ago. So, what happened between making those early AWM Clavinovas that Yamaha had such a drop in quality before pulling the ace card?
I remember Roland kind of went through the same thing. Someone I know has an HP-4500s which is from 1986. It has a pleasing piano sound and a nice touch. It also has a really nice electric piano sound and of course it has a classic design, which, while very 80s is rather nice IMHO. Then, after that, it all went a bit wrong until about 1996 when the HP-330 came out. Roland and Yamaha are quite funny because at times one has been streets ahead of the other but they've never both pulled out an ace at the same time. For instance, I like the Clavinova just now, but the new Roland pianos I could take or leave.
I'm not into digital piano history but I remember at one point, AWM used towards the late 80s started to be replaced with AWM2. I don't know if you noticed but what this did was increase the sampling memory from 12-bit to 16-bit which I think was introduced around the early 90s.
There is a petty dispute among retailers about the use of AWM2 because you will notice that even modern models will only have AWM sampling. One thing to note is that the technology has remained using the higher memory for sound sampling; only the AWM2 name has disappeared. This increase of memory dedicated to sampling voices from acoustic instruments therefore helped take steps towards improving the overall tone and realism of the instrument voices in future models.
Personally, I have always preferred Yamaha for piano voices although Roland went through a phase of introducing brilliant synths, strings and e.piano samples although their acoustic pianos sucked - Yamaha was the other way around. In fact, a MIDI piano tone was comparable with the "suddenness" of the acoustic piano samples - nothing subtle at all about them. While Roland has improved its piano samples, realism of tone and keyboard actions are still lagging behind Yamaha. During the 90s, Rolands RD models could have given a Yamaha stage piano or Clavinova a run for its money (in terms of keyboard action) but certainly not now.
To their disadvantage IMO, Roland musical instruments tend to be priced at a higher level than the other current brands. Besides Nord (and sometimes even Kurzweil), I can't think of any other brand that is priced a highly as Roland for what they are offering in an instrument. Like you, I could take or leave a Roland, although the former is probably a more likely response.
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