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 Post subject: Searching a digital around 2000 Euro
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:11 pm 
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Hi, I'm thinking about buying a digital for practicing and also recording for PS. I don't have an instrument where I live, because I'm studying abroad, so far I played on a Steinway B in a church building. But because there is no more chance to play on it, I decided to buy me a digital. My budget is around 2000 Euro.
My problem is above all that I have no store where I compare Yamaha and Kawai. There is a store where you can test Yamahas, but it doesn't have any Kawai. I'm most interested in Kawai CA-18 with wooden keys and the same keyboard with the expensive other models of Kawai in a resonable price. It has no USB socket, but as a Kawai man on their homepage wrote me, I can connect my Zoom H4 with the headphone socket through a cable and record something.
http://www.thomann.de/gb/kawai_ca18_r.htm

Another digital to which I pay attention is Yamaha CLP 370. But this is above 2000 Euro.
http://www.thomann.de/gb/yamaha_clp370_r.htm

Is there anybody who has experiences with these digitals?

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Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:29 pm 
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I myself play the Kawai CA-71 (which is a bit above 2000 I think) for over two years now. Before that I played for many years a (mediocre) acoustic upright piano, and I was very impressed when I played the Kawai the first time. Still after two years I must say that the sound and keyboard are absolutely fabulous. I think it would be difficult finding an upright piano with such a great keyboard.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:22 pm 
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Thanks for the kind reply! Then have you recorded your PS submissions also on that CA71? I'd like to hear the audio quality outside of KAWAI homepage.

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Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:37 pm 
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hyenal wrote:
Then have you recorded your PS submissions also on that CA71?

Yes, BUT some of my earlier recordings do not include the string resonance effects of the instrument (because of some weird bug the internal recording function of the piano does not replay recorded music with resonance effects, so I recently started recording directly from the intrument's line-out; in that case all the effects are present). So best would be to listen to Chopin Op.9/3 and/or the piece from Gulda's 'Play Piano Play'.

If you're interested, I can record an example, where the string/damper resonance effects can be heard distinctly.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:45 pm 
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Thorsten, thank you very much!
I've listened to the two recordings you recommended. Nice playing!
But the sound, even though it is already good (especially at the Gulda piece), seems to say "See? I'm still digital..." :( Ah, buying a digital is for me an inevitable choice. but I'm not sure if I'll be happy with one. The keyboards of CA series are certainly great, I suppose. But the sound...
Quote:
If you're interested, I can record an example, where the string/damper resonance effects can be heard distinctly.

It's very kind of you! :D Actually I'm most interested in the string resonance, because the CA 18 has no such a function according to the KAWAI technician in their forum (It's said to have only the damper resonance. But I don't understand what it is. :roll: Could you explain that, please?) Do you think that it sounds less "digitally" with the string resonance?

BTW how did you come to the CA 71? How long did it take for you to the final decision? How many times did you make Probespiele? What aspects on a digital were indispensable for you? (For me they are just the keyboard and the grand sound.) Is the funtion "Virtual Technician" useful? (It's another function that doesn't exist on CA 18.) CA 71 is actually too expensive to me. At best the CA 51 is thinkable.

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Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 11:00 am 
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Hallo Hye-Jin,
let me first write down some thoughts about the sound quality: when I bought the Kawai, some years have passed since I played on a grand piano the last time, and since the (upright) piano I played at home didn't really have a nice sound, the sound of the Kawai was really surprising in a positive sense. I just listened to the Gulda piece again using the same headphones I use at the Kawai, and it's not really 100 per cent the same, which may be due to the recording equipment (PC/sound card). The sound heard directly from the instrument is a bit fuller and "closer", but you're right of course, it's still a digital and you can hear that. Maybe it is due to my personal background -- starting on a mediocre piano and playing it for many years -- that I still like the sound very much.

So, how did I arrive at the CA71 ? The decision was basically only based on research over the internet. I did a single "Probespiel" on a CA5 (the predecessor of the CA51) and on one or two Yamaha pianos (don't rember which ones) at a local music store. What was most important to me (and what really struck me with the Kawai) was the keyboard. And there's not that much to say about that: it's wooden keys and it feels just great. It immediately reminded me of the grand piano I had played years earlier. Compared with my upright piano the range of possible expressions is just so much greater. But as I said, I don't know how things are on a really good upright piano. The things that were really indispensible for me are the same that you mention: the grand piano sound and the keyboard.

Now to the additional features: I have never really made use of the "Virtual Technician", just played around with it a little bit, but I found that most of the default settings are o.k. for me. If you want to know more details about what you can adjust, you should consider downloading the manual(http://www.kawai.de/service/ca91_71_51.pdf). The change of tuning is nice if you learn about the theory of different tunings, and have the possibility to try them out at your instrument.

I have just recorded two examples showing damper and string resonance. Damper resonance is resonance of all the strings if you hold the right pedal. String resonance occurs if you hold a single or more keys and then strike another key that is one of the first few overtones of the held keys (so that the resonance is strong enough). The string resonance simulation of Kawai also simulates resonance if you strike a key which is a half-tone above or below one of the held keys (so this resonance is not based on the overtone argument and I'm not sure how strong this effect would be on a real grand, maybe you can check that). In the string resonance sound file I just hold down a C major chord (mute, starting at c') and strike several other keys.

So, that's it for now... looking forward to hear about your thoughts on these topics...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 30, 2009 9:58 pm 
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Thank you a lot, Thorsten!!!
At first, excuse me for this delayed reply. I've read your kind reply and heard the sound clips that you made for me several days ago, but could make the "string resonance experiment" ;) on a real grand only just today. But I couldn't find so extremely clear a resonance effect on that instrument as in your sound sample. Maybe you adjusted the effect in the sample very highly to show me the difference between the on and the off state, didn't you? Anyway, my attention is moving gradually from CA 18 to CA 51 or 71, after you let me know about the string resonance :roll:
But as I already wrote, the CA 71 is too expensive for me. So, if I'm allowed to bother you once again, I'd like to ask you: You said that you tried only on CA 5 and bought CA 71. The CA 51 and CA 71 are actually based on the nearly same function. As a CA 71 owner can you say the choice of CA 71 is worth of 350 Euro (the difference between prices)? For example, the max. polyphony 192 and 96 make a difference when you play Chopin? (And what is that polyphony? Sorry... I understand nearly nothing about the technical things.... :oops: )
BTW I've seen your name on the German KAWAI forum. Was it you that discovered the bug that you already mentioned? How great! :D

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Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 9:21 pm 
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Yes, I posted a message about this bug in the Kawai forum, and some time later they posted a software update for the instrument (which I haven't installed on my piano yet, because another forum member said that the string resonance bug is still present). I'm afraid I had the overall impression that the Kawai people (who work for the company) on that forum are either not really helpful or don't respond at all.

Anyway, so, the string resonance was in it's default setting for the test files, so I suppose the guys at Kawai would consider this heavy resonance as normal. The higher polyphony was exactly THE reason why I chose the CA71 over CA51. And even with 192 voices it's not that difficult to create situations where sounds are literally "cut", i.e. where they disappear in an instant because the max. polyphony has been reached. But these situations are VERY unrealistic (hold the right pedal and hit many different bass notes forte and then many higher notes piano). The number 192 just means the instrument can play 192 notes at the same time (but I think you always have to divide that number by 2 because the sounds are all stereo). But to a certain extend the instrument is "clever" enough to know which notes are more important than others (e.g. if you hit a single bass note very loud and then play much higher notes with high speed and pedal, the bass note will not be cut off because it's clear that in this context this note is most clearly audible). I can only remember a single "real life" situation (i.e. in a piece) where the limited polyphony became audible (don't remember what piece that was), so I'm happy with the polyphony. Of course I cannot say if the 96 polyphony of the CA51 would be a problem for me, but I guess that there would be one or two pieces more where I would run into problems. I'm afraid there's no way to adjust the max. polyphony at the instrument, so that I could check that.

I have never done this, but maybe you could think about it theoretically: take a piece with very much pedal and "many notes" and imagine the sound and how many notes must be audible at the crucial points.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 5:44 pm 
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Thorsten, thank to you now I can understand what the max. polyphony means. And at the same time also why the more expensive instruments are bought... :( Anyway many thanks!!!

Quote:
some time later they posted a software update for the instrument (which I haven't installed on my piano yet, because another forum member said that the string resonance bug is still present)

But you said that your later recordings were made on the basis of the string resonance, didn't you? Is it possible without installing the update and without solving the problem thoroughly?? And if -like the other member are saying - the bug still exists, does it mean that instruments with a problem are on sale??

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Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 7:12 pm 
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Yes yes, all the effects are working fine even without the update, but not when you replay music from the internal recorder. Whether you call that a problem depends on how important the internal recording function is for you. I myself would call it a problem, but as I said it can by bypassed by recording directly from the line-out. But it is a somewhat annoying problem, because it is so subtle (you have to listen carefully to some recorded piece to hear the difference to the live playing).

And there's another problem I also mentioned on the Kawai forum: it's the mid pedal and the string resonance (keys held down with the mid pedal do not generate string resonance). This is really what I would call an obvious error/bug, and I know there are some 20th/21st century pieces which make use of this. But probably not many people will recognize these things (who in the world plays contemporary pieces that explicitly require string resonance? ;-))


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 9:32 pm 
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Syntaxerror wrote:
But it is a somewhat annoying problem, because it is so subtle (you have to listen carefully to some recorded piece to hear the difference to the live playing).

Thorsten, I'm afraid that I couldn't understand this. What do you mean by "some recorded piece"? Do you mean that I should try to play a piece in a store and at the same time to record it with the internal recorder, to hear the difference later?

BTW I'm planning to go to a big (hopefully: at least it has Clavinovas of YAMAHA and the CA Series of KAWAI, of course many acoustic pianos, too) store in Sindelfingen on the coming Monday or Tuesday. It takes me more than one and a half hours with the public conveyance (a long distance for me), so probably I had to decide on that day which instrument is suitable for me. Could you give me some tips for a tryout in a store?

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Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 9:25 am 
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hyenal wrote:
What do you mean by "some recorded piece"? Do you mean that I should try to play a piece in a store and at the same time to record it with the internal recorder, to hear the difference later?

Exactly.

hyenal wrote:
Could you give me some tips for a tryout in a store?

Hm, if they have both CA51 and CA71 or higher I would definitely try out the polyphony. If you want to hear how it sounds if you reach the max. polyphony you just have to hold the right pedal, play many loud bass notes, and subsequently even more very high notes, but these as silent as possible. Maybe I'll post another short sound file later to show you what I mean, but I have to leave now...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:33 pm 
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hyenal wrote:
BTW I'm planning to go to a big (hopefully: at least it has Clavinovas of YAMAHA and the CA Series of KAWAI, of course many acoustic pianos, too) store in Sindelfingen on the coming Monday or Tuesday. It takes me more than one and a half hours with the public conveyance (a long distance for me), so probably I had to decide on that day which instrument is suitable for me.


Hye-Jin, I give you best wishes in your piano shopping! I hope you find something that you really like. :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:50 pm 
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Hye-Jin, have you been at the piano store you mentioned? It's just that I'm quite interested in what you think about the Kawai instruments in comparison to other digital pianos (since I myself have never really compared them).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:22 am 
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Thorsten, thanks for asking :) Yes, I've been there on Tuesday afternoon and came home with couple of questions which I'd like to raise to you as a CA71 user. Therefore I was going to write about the testing here. I tested CA 51, 71 and YAMAHA CLP 370. CA 91, 111 were not there, CA 18, either. They had many YAMAHA digitals, but only the CLP370 came into question, because it was the single model among them which costs around 2000 Euro and has wooden keys. The YAMAHA was, however, quickly disqualified because of its weak key-mechanics. The design and the color of its casing is much better than those of KAWAI, but the keys were felt really "digitally". The authentic key feeling on KAWAI instruments was not there. You're right, Thorsten, the keyboard of CA series is quite satisfying. The weight of keys was a bit light for me, but I think through the "Virtual Technician" one could adjust that, right?
I did the polyphony experiment according your advice and could find the difference between CA51 and 71. On the former the sound went off quickly. The YAMAHA model has 126 polyphony, but the difference to CA71 was not so much as expected.
The two more speakers and one more piano sound (Concert Grand 2) were with the polyphony ertainly the points that make me prefer CA71 to 51. Actually I almost decided for CA 71 (in spite of the 400 Euro price difference - I asked the handler about payment in instalments :lol:), but I found something on the by me tested CA 71 which is to me really unacceptable. That was nearly dissonance-like exaggerated side tones, which is heard from pressing a single tone in the treble. That was not that string resonance which occurs in a certain relationship between different tones (That was noticed by me the first time as I played on it the last upper note on bar 28 from Scriabin's second sonata Andante and was confirmed as I played the first note on bar 309 from Chopin's second Scherzo.)
At first I nearly thought this instrument needs tuning! I told the piano technician in the store about that, he said the sampling comes from a large grand, so that is natural. But I cannot agree because the real grands in that store and the grands which I experienced so far don't give such unnatural and exccesive effect in the treble and because on the CA 51 I cannot find such thing (this is the case not only with a headphone but also without). I think the technician is not at home in digital pianos :(
Thorsten, this is my question: Have you ever been noticed such a problem? I attached the scores of those pieces of Scriabin. Wanna to attach also the Chopin, but my PDF score has no bar numbers. Could you give a look into that, try on your piano and tell me whether you hear the problem, too? I wrote on another thread on AR to Alf who has KAWAI MP8 about that problem, and he replied that he thinks the thing could be modified by user on CA71. Do you think so, too? I look the manual briefly, but couldn't find such thing there (maybe because I don't know the thechnical vocabulary there :oops: ).
BTW which color does your CA71 have? They had only rosewood, but I'm also interested in mahoghany.

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Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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