First Digital Piano - NEED ADVICE!

General discussion about digital pianos

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aylesburypianist
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First Digital Piano - NEED ADVICE!

Post by aylesburypianist » 10 Jan 2010, 01:35

Hi all,

Firstly, this forum is great - there is a wealth of information here that cleared up a lot of my initial questions! However, I still need a bit more help :D

I am looking to buy my first digital piano. I used to own a Steck acoustic player piano, but had to get rid of it due to moving into a smaller place. So, I'm trying to buy a digital piano to replace it, and try to keep the neighbours happy at the same time!

I am a beginner, who's never had piano lessons before. I play guitar pretty well and know quite a bit of musical theory, and having tinkered around on the piano before, I feel I'll be able to pick it up fairly quickly, so I want to buy something that will last me as long as possible (not something cheap that I will outgrow within a couple of years). I don't want to buy something "to see if the piano is for me" - I know I will be sticking with it, so I want to buy the best thing possible first-time round. I will eventually want to take grade 8, so something that will last me until then would be the best!

I've heard the Yamaha Clavinova CLP series is the way to go, but can anyone offer any better suggestions? My main priorities are:

Price: £2,000 as an absolute maximum, but ideally around the £1,500 mark (obviously the cheaper the better, but it seems to me that price and quality are highly correlated :D )

Sound: as close to a good-quality acoustic concert grand as possible, both through headphones and the internal speakers

Feel: as above - this is the most important thing for me, as I don't want to reach grade 5 for example, switch to an acoustic piano again and end up struggling because the digital piano I learned on felt too dissimilar to an actual piano. The action needs to be identical to an acoustic piano, if possible.

Features: not really a priority (hence looking at the CLP series rather than the CVP) - I don't want thousands of voices, as I'll only be using the piano ones

Looks: again, not really a priority

I've been looking at the CLP series in more detail, and it seems that you get what you pay for, but I'm trying to decide just how much money the extra features are worth as you progress through the range.

The CLP-330 has the Graded Hammer 3 keyboard, which I think I will need for the best feel. I think this pretty much throws the CLP-320 out of the equation. I'm not sure that synthetic ivory and natural wood (i.e. the CLP-340 upwards) will make much of a difference. Can anyone suggest otherwise?

The CLP-380/CLP-370 are too much money I think, but would it be worth going for the CLP-340 over the CLP-330 to get 4 dynamic levels rather than just 3, stereo sustain samples and key-off samples?

Comparison of the CLP-320, CLP-330, CLP-340, CLP-370 and CLP-380 here: http://uk.yamaha.com/en/products/musica ... are&page=2

Looking at this, the CLP-340 seems to be the best all-rounder to go for, given that the prices of them all are:

CLP-320: £842.25
CLP-330: £1,150.62 (extra £308.37, mainly for Graded Hammer 3 keyboard and aux in/outs)
CLP-340: £1,388.48 (extra £237.86, mainly for synthetic ivory keytops, an extra dynamic level, stereo sustain samples, key-off samples, a split function, LAN connectivity and better speakers, which seems like a fair enough price hike to me!)
CLP-370: £1,585.44 (extra £196.96, mainly for Natural Wood white keys, which I don't think is worth nearly £200 extra)
CLP-380: £2,899.52 (extra £1,314.08, that I won't even try to justify :D )

Any advice as to which digital piano in the CLP range to purchase would be greatly appreciated. Also, if anyone could suggest other pianos in a similar price range that would be suitable (perhaps even better value for money!) I'd welcome their input.

Many thanks in advance,

Tom

JohnB
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Re: First Digital Piano - NEED ADVICE!

Post by JohnB » 10 Jan 2010, 13:58

I'm also thinking of getting a new digital piano during this year and have been doing some "research" on the web.

The digital pianos that seem to have the greatest followings are Yamaha, Kawai and Roland.

When comparing Yamaha and Kawai quite a few people have said that the Kawai CA series has the best keyboard touch (nearest to an acoustic piano) but the Yamaha CLP series has the better sound. Also I've read many people deciding that the CLP340 is a very good choice for them. (Kawai are due to release a new CA series of peoples very early this year which reputedly has improved sound, but they will probably be more expensive than the existing models. I've seen a release date of late January for one of the new models, quoted by a German supplier.)

Personally I feel that the number of dynamic levels is critical. I would definitely not want to go below 4! This depends on the sort of music you want to play and also on how you play. The (old) digital piano I already have has 5 levels (I think) and even with those I feel there is a loss of subtlety and a loss of fine control when playing very quietly (pp to mp). Sometimes the 5th dynamic level can have a different tonal colour to the others - i.e. sounding as though you are thrashing the piano - and it can be a mixed blessing if that is the case.

The best thing to do is go to a showroom that has a wide range of brands and models and try them.

Also, the pianoworld forum has extensive posts about the various brands and models - very useful indeed, though you need to be aware that it is a US based forum. In the end, though, you need to form your own judgement of what suits you.

aylesburypianist
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Re: First Digital Piano - NEED ADVICE!

Post by aylesburypianist » 10 Jan 2010, 23:06

So which digital piano is the best for around the £1,500 mark?

markymark
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Re: First Digital Piano - NEED ADVICE!

Post by markymark » 12 Jan 2010, 19:26

I agree that Kawai have perfected the best action, particularly with their wooden keyboards, some of which use full sized grand piano keys in order to achieve that realistic touch and feel. Having said that the Kawai piano sounds are not quite there and do not have an organic sound. The piano samples are rather synthetic sounding.

Roland and Yamaha are therefore the two main brands to consider because they both have realistic graded hammer actions and have good, realistic and organic piano samples. If you were to go to US forums, I would imagine that they would push Roland as a brand whereas here and among those you try and buy after consulting this forum, Yamaha is by far the more popular brand (see the running vote for "best brand" on this forum - Yamaha leads by a longshot). Personally I do not like the Roland piano samples; they have come a long way but I feel are not as expressive or "sparkling" as the Yamaha samples. Opposers to this view will go to the other extreme and say that Yamaha piano samples are too "bright".

I have always bought Yamaha be it upright pianos, digital or even stage pianos. I had a quite flirt with Kurzweil but it disappointed, specifically the SP3X - not their best model to be fair. Unless the PC3X is better I will strike them off my list also.

Anyway, most people who want a good action and a good quality sound often opt for either the CLP330 or the CLP340, the latter being slightly more popular among those who ask for advice here, try them and then report back. The GH3 keyboard action is worth having but I the NW actions do not come in until the CLP370 and 380 models. If you want "the best", the CLP340 is better but the CLP330 would be a commendable second choice. Try them for yourself and side by side if possible. Depending on how experienced or discerning you are as a musician, you may not notice a huge difference between the two as the dynamic sampling is the only real difference, but in my view, a big difference.

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