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Midi keyboard/digital piano solution for classical play
Old 9th May 2012
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Midi keyboard/digital piano solution for classical play

Hello there!

Lately I've been meaning to get back to playing piano. I've been a pretty serious classical piano student in the past, but got kind of sidetracked in electronic music and a simple, ancient, midi keyboard has always just suited me fine.

I do want to get back to playing some classical stuff again, though, and obviously a 49-key, non-weighted midi-fossile is not gonna be of much help.

Unfortunately I do not have the space for a real piano; on top of that, knowing the people in my apartment-building, I think my body will go missing just a few days after introducing one to the hallway's sound-palette.

I've been researching digital piano's on the budget-side, and despite my noobness, I do feel safe to conclude none of them stack up to the VSTi's out there. I like the way most digital piano's look though - sturdy (stands with attached sustain pedals, and sheet-music-holders attached, etc), and a bit more 'traditional' (I realize this might smell like snobbery, but there seems to be something offputting about rehearsing piano on a stage-keyboard on a wobbly x-stand), and they all seem to have midi so I can just use my VSTs.

Because I'll mostly likely be using VSTs, a midi keyboard is also an option.

Most importantly I'm looking for the keyboard with the best piano-feel. I know every piano is different, I've played lots of them and I'm aware there isn't a general thing like "piano-like"; and yeah, nothing will ever feel like the real thing, I know, so I won't let my hopes get up too high. But still..

I've heard good things about the Fatar SL-880 or the newer type.
Is there anything else that I should keep an eye on, bearing in mind that I'm looking to do some more or less advanced classical play? I keep on mentioning that because I think different styles require different kinds of keyboards. I don't need any knobs or faders on it basically, neither do I need the euphoric general-midi rhumba-rhythm sections that digital piano's often seem equipped with and that probably just drive up the price.

Budgetwise I'm hoping to find a good solution around $1000 but I have a feeling it could even be cheaper since I already have all the sounds I need.

Would anyone be able to help out? Would I do good in getting a relatively cheap digital piano, midi it up, and get the whole experience, or would a midi keyboard with piano-action be a wiser choice?

Thanks a lot to anyone who can give me some inspiration!
Old 9th May 2012
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
maxhype's Avatar
To this point I've found every digital piano in the world to be a compromise of some sort. The question is which compromises you can live with.

For piano action I've found nothing better (for me) than the high end Kawai stage pianos. I currently use an MP8 MKII. I have it on an X-stand and it's anything but wobbly! It's rock solid, however not the physical structure of a real piano. I don't like the sound in any existing digital piano on the market so I don't even use that as a criteria. However for real classical playing action I personally wouldn't be satisfied with anything under $2000 from what I've tested.

For the $1000 and under range I would get into a good music store with a nice selection of yamaha, kawai and roland digital pianos and see if there is something you are fully happy with action-wise - where you can see yourself playing for hours and enjoying the experience. From there you can think about sounds, remembering it's less of an organic process to have to boot a computer and load a VSTi. A digital piano with built-in speakers will give you the most immediate experience (the MP8 MKII does not have speakers but I have a dedicated pair). And of course the headphone jack is quite useable.

Good luck!
Old 9th May 2012
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Thanks, that was helpful! Indeed I believe it's about 'choosing your compromise'.
I certainly will spend some time at a music store trying out some piano's.

It would be nice to find a (midi) keyboard, without all the advanced (and expensive) functionality of the MPx series, but with the piano-action and wooden keys..
Old 9th May 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 

In the lower budget range, believe it or not, I've found the Casio Digital Pianos to have great feeling keyboards. Definitely check them out.
Old 9th May 2012
  #5
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uncle duncan's Avatar
 

I haven't been checking lately, but a few years ago the Yamaha pianos had the heaviest action. Roland action was faster, but a little lighter. Flame wars would start over which was better for "serious" playing, the sluggishness of the Yamaha or the quickness of the Roland. I'm not sure where Kawai fits in the picture. I do know that when I tried a Casio Privia, the action was decent, but not great.

When you're trying out keyboards, play a chromatic scale and see if the black keys play louder than the white keys. That happens a lot on cheap keyboards. Play some fast runs and see if the sluggishness of the action impairs your style. Years ago I bought a Yamaha P120(?) which felt great in the store. I took it to a gig, but halfway through the first set the sluggish action caught up with me. The rest of the night was torture. I took it back the next day and got a Roland.

The problem with VI's is latency. You hit the key, but you have to wait for the sound. Running in stand-alone mode helps that scenario, but when you're tracking through a DAW, it can be a problem. The solution is to record the midi out of your keyboard while you're playing at zero latency and then dial up a nice VI for the mix.
Old 9th May 2012
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
Spec's Avatar
[QUOTE=maxhype;7860172].

For piano action I've found nothing better (for me) than the high end Kawai stage pianos. I currently use an MP8 MKII. I have it on an X-stand and it's anything but wobbly! It's rock solid, however not the physical structure of a real piano. I don't like the sound in any existing digital piano on the market so I don't even use that as a criteria. However for real classical playing action I personally wouldn't be satisfied with anything under $2000 from what I've tested.
QUOTE]

yes the top end kawai v.nice for action. sadly i think that you will struggle to find a realistic action in a new digital piano for under $1000.

my tip: (i) look out for a new but superceded kawaii MP5 MKII. could well pick one up for about $1000 as it has been replaced by the MP6 that said, and as a MP5MKII owner myself, the key action is nowhere near as good as the kawai MP8 MKII the other poster spoke about. (ii) maybe look around for MP8 MKII second hand like the MP5 it has also been superceded and that may well drive down prices.

spek
Old 10th May 2012
  #7
Here for the gear
 
Pianist.O.Legend's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stalponydroom View Post
Hello there!

Lately I've been meaning to get back to playing piano. I've been a pretty serious classical piano student in the past, but got kind of sidetracked in electronic music and a simple, ancient, midi keyboard has always just suited me fine.

I do want to get back to playing some classical stuff again, though, and obviously a 49-key, non-weighted midi-fossile is not gonna be of much help.

Unfortunately I do not have the space for a real piano; on top of that, knowing the people in my apartment-building, I think my body will go missing just a few days after introducing one to the hallway's sound-palette.

I've been researching digital piano's on the budget-side, and despite my noobness, I do feel safe to conclude none of them stack up to the VSTi's out there. I like the way most digital piano's look though - sturdy (stands with attached sustain pedals, and sheet-music-holders attached, etc), and a bit more 'traditional' (I realize this might smell like snobbery, but there seems to be something offputting about rehearsing piano on a stage-keyboard on a wobbly x-stand), and they all seem to have midi so I can just use my VSTs.

Because I'll mostly likely be using VSTs, a midi keyboard is also an option.

Most importantly I'm looking for the keyboard with the best piano-feel. I know every piano is different, I've played lots of them and I'm aware there isn't a general thing like "piano-like"; and yeah, nothing will ever feel like the real thing, I know, so I won't let my hopes get up too high. But still..

I've heard good things about the Fatar SL-880 or the newer type.
Is there anything else that I should keep an eye on, bearing in mind that I'm looking to do some more or less advanced classical play? I keep on mentioning that because I think different styles require different kinds of keyboards. I don't need any knobs or faders on it basically, neither do I need the euphoric general-midi rhumba-rhythm sections that digital piano's often seem equipped with and that probably just drive up the price.

Budgetwise I'm hoping to find a good solution around $1000 but I have a feeling it could even be cheaper since I already have all the sounds I need.

Would anyone be able to help out? Would I do good in getting a relatively cheap digital piano, midi it up, and get the whole experience, or would a midi keyboard with piano-action be a wiser choice?

Thanks a lot to anyone who can give me some inspiration!
Well Hello! I am new to the Forum.I understand your problem.I would suggest you to go for an Electronic Piano, if not a Digital Piano, which is a little bit expensive than so don't wait for it.But its just an opinion.You have evaluate your need.
Old 10th May 2012
  #8
Lives for gear
 

I was trained on classical piano.

I haven't found a MIDI controller better than the Kurzweil MIDIBoard. They haven't been made since the 1990s. If you're looking for a used one, you want a MB with v3 firmware and one with the "made in japan" badge that has the Hammond-Suzuki keybed.

The new controllers made today don't even come close to the MB.
Old 11th May 2012
  #9
Gear Head
 

I am also a classically trained pianist who recently moved to the digital world. If you're looking to spend less than $1000, I hate to break it to you but it will feel like a cheap piano. Plus, the serious pianist will probably pound the keys harder than they are built for and they will eventually break. We have all seen them; the keys that don't pop up anymore. The cheap ones can be surprisingly fragile.

As you have noticed, some posters have recommended stage pianos. I also have a stage piano on an x-stand, the Yamaha CP-33 (note it doesn't come with speakers). For about 5 years I have logged probably 1000 hours and it still plays like it was brand new. And it is very sturdy, not the least bit wobbly. The only problem you will have is finding an X-stand that is the proper height, most are just a few inches too tall. But the stage pianos are built to take a beating.

I understand what you're trying to accomplish having done it myself. The digital sound from a digital keyboard is often crummy. Wonderful libraries exist like EWQL. So the main thing you need is true piano action. If you splurge and buy something like EWQL then you would be doing it a disservice playing some sub-$1000 keyboard. It doesn't mean you have to spend $3000. I would say within the $1500 range or less you can find something with properly weighted keys that you like.
Old 11th May 2012
  #10
Here for the gear
 
Pianist.O.Legend's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sameself View Post
I am also a classically trained pianist who recently moved to the digital world. If you're looking to spend less than $1000, I hate to break it to you but it will feel like a cheap piano. Plus, the serious pianist will probably pound the keys harder than they are built for and they will eventually break. We have all seen them; the keys that don't pop up anymore. The cheap ones can be surprisingly fragile.

As you have noticed, some posters have recommended stage pianos. I also have a stage piano on an x-stand, the Yamaha CP-33 (note it doesn't come with speakers). For about 5 years I have logged probably 1000 hours and it still plays like it was brand new. And it is very sturdy, not the least bit wobbly. The only problem you will have is finding an X-stand that is the proper height, most are just a few inches too tall. But the stage pianos are built to take a beating.

I understand what you're trying to accomplish having done it myself. The digital sound from a digital keyboard is often crummy. Wonderful libraries exist like EWQL. So the main thing you need is true piano action. If you splurge and buy something like EWQL then you would be doing it a disservice playing some sub-$1000 keyboard. It doesn't mean you have to spend $3000. I would say within the $1500 range or less you can find something with properly weighted keys that you like.
I agree with Sameself.I have Steinway 1098.The upright at home.But I have a Digital Piano too.For Recording Purposes.And besides, I also went & Sampled Roland new Digital Piano so that you can use it any time you want.I don't think you can get a good Digital Piano below $1000.If you are, 1.It might be a Discounted Price and/or 2.Its not a good one to choose.See, listen when you play & then Choose the Right one.
Old 11th May 2012
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sameself View Post
The only problem you will have is finding an X-stand
I *HATE* the X-stands. They tip too easy and fall apart in the middle of playing.
Old 11th May 2012
  #12
I use a Casio Previa (cheap!) as a controller and Modartt Pianoteq 4

Sounds great and everyone loves the feel. The Previa has crap on-board sounds but the weighted keys feels nice, a heavy Steinway grand feel. Pianoteq is simply awesome.
Old 21st May 2012
  #13
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Real MC View Post
I *HATE* the X-stands. They tip too easy and fall apart in the middle of playing.
If you have an X-stand for playing while standing or gigging then I can understand how stability/durability can be an issue. Depends on the stand and the keyboard. However, in a studio, presumably you are sitting while playing and not constantly taking it down and setting it up thus causing wear and tear on the stand. My X-stand is set to as low as it will go. And it is not the least bit unstable. Granted it is not as stable as putting it on a desk, but at that point the keys are just way too high for a properly trained pianist. Others may not know any better. As it is my X-stand is probably about 1-1/2" too high, but "proper" height is somewhat debatable.

At the same time, my CP-33 is a hefty slab in its own right, and not easily moved from tickling the ivory. The problem is I am just not interested in blowing $100+ for a "proper" stand for what would be a marginal improvement in stability and height. And as the OP indicates, he is budget conscious.

What do you suggest? Your opinion has already been duly noted and would benefit greatly from your experience I am sure.
Old 21st May 2012
  #14
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Real MC View Post
I *HATE* the X-stands. They tip too easy and fall apart in the middle of playing.
Get you a Quik Lock, Double X Stand and you wont have that problem, best X stand made IMO. I have 2 of them, they rock
http://www.quiklok.com/catalog/?p=pr...2&sName=QL-642 Their Z Stand is VERY sturdy as well and wont move on you


As far as a good piano feeling controller in the 1,000 price range, the Yamaha CP33/P120 or check out the P95 for $550 would be great. Fatars are too lose IMO
Old 21st May 2012
  #15
Gear Nut
 

One more vote for the CP33 - it's old, but after trying out loads of digital pianos I went with this baby, mainly for size, weight and the keybed feels quite good.

As mentioned above, no speakers, and I pair mine with AKG 240s. The samples on it could be better - and I'm looking to pair it up with a nice sample/modelled piano vsti down the road.

Using the QuikLok double braced X stand too. I don't gig, only at home. At the lowest height, I think it is well solid for my purposes.
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