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Need A Good Digital Piano...

I have a plethora of keyboards and am constantly disappointed with acoustic piano sounds. The closest thing I’ve got right now is a Korg Triton Studio, and well, the acoustic piano sound is beyond hideous. Does anyone know where I might go to get some good advice on a weighted keyboard with the most realistic acoustic piano sound available? I currently have neither.

So far, I’ve looked in to:

Yamaha CP300 (heard great things about the action, I don’t really need the speakers, not sure about the piano sound)

Yamaha S90ES (only looked at this one because I figured it was in a similar class as the CP300, at least in the action, and includes the Motif sound set (big bonus), still not sure about the piano sound)

Clavia Nord Stage 88 (from the demos I’ve heard the piano is incredibly realistic, unsure about the action, and the only downfall I’ve seen so far is that it runs about $1,000 more that the Yamaha stage pianos)

Any advice or direction would be greatly appreciated!


BobRogers Sat, 10/28/2006 - 08:42
This is something that you really need to try and decide for yourself. Both action and acoustic piano sounds seem to be very personal decisions. I like the Yamaha stage pianos. I played a Yamaha acoustic upright for year and the digital piano action (even in my old P80) is similar. The P90 doesn't have speakers and has very good samples. On the other hand, the speakers can come in handy as personal monitors in some lower volume situations, and the models like the 300 have different samples that you might like better. I love my Nord electro 77, but I'd be careful with the stage. Some people love the acoustic piano samples, some hate them. If you are shopping, you have to try the Kurzweils. Not my cup of tea, but they have rabid fans.

SYNTHME Sat, 10/28/2006 - 11:49
Thank you so much for the words of advice.

I just found out that the Clavia Stage series only boasts a polyphony of 40 to 60 voices. For a stage piano costing over $3,000, I would certainly expect more than that. I feel a stage piano should have, at a minimum, 128, and still waiting for the days when they will come loaded with 256. I think I will pass on this one for now.

Being a synth fanatic, the S90ES is looking really nice, especially considering all the extra functionality, USB connectivity, and expandability (they already have a PLG150-AP virtual piano expansion board for an added acoustic piano sample and adding 64 notes of polyphony). Not to mention, I would much rather have a versatile instrument to haul to the gig, rather than something I’d just be using for the piano sound (CP300).

Guess I will need to try them out and see which one feels the best.

DIGIT, I couldn’t agree with you more. Part of my intention in getting a stage piano was to also use it as a controller in the studio for VST/AU instruments. I try to avoid using the piano sounds in any of my keyboards for recording, as they sound, to me, quite unrealistic. I have been using the Piano samples in Reason 3.0, and was pretty impressed.

Does anyone have any suggestions for some of the better VST/AU piano sounds or samples?

Thanks again!

Pro Audio Guest Sat, 10/28/2006 - 12:55
Well, if you plan on using the keyboard as a controller then, I'd suggest you get a controller without on-boards sounds and use the savings for a great VST virtual piano.

As for VST/AU instruments my favs are:

East West/PMI Bosendorfer 290 (used to be Post's Grandioso for GIGA).

The older Steinway D sample for GIGA STUDIO I have is pretty good for Jazz/Pop. I think it is now repackaged by another company as a stand alone but, can't remember the name of the company though :(

Also, look at Native Intruments's Akoustik Piano and Synthogy's Ivory, both of which have had great reviews (I have never heard/used them).

MadMax Mon, 10/30/2006 - 01:28

OK, I'm a bit late to the party, but if you're still looking for a weighted action that does sound like a real piano, I've been pretty happy with my Alesis QS8.

It can server as a controller, but I would think the weighted action might be a bit of a drawback... then again, I'm just a drummer... so what do I know, right?

Good luck!

JoeH Mon, 10/30/2006 - 09:29
Madmax, you know PLENTY. 8-)

My vote is with you on the Alesis Keyboard. I have a QS 8.1, and bought it mainly for the 'real' piano action. Love it! Years ago, I needed it for a client who was very fussy and wanted something as close as possible to the feel of a real piano keyboard, and we tried LOTS of them before picking the Alesis. It was the clear winner in terms of action/feel.

As for its piano "Sound" (just so-so) - I'm sure there's lots of better sounds out there, but for a MIDI controller, its as true a real, weighted piano action as you'll find out there.

I used to play wet-noodle synths and organs all the time, slipping and sliding around with little effort. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) But its a good argument towards sounding like a REAL pianist if you're playing a real piano-style, weighted keyboard. It helps shape your overall sound and approach. (Classical folks already know this) Mating it with a good MIDI patch rounds it all out.

These days, I'm told the soft synths are the best sounding (seems to make sense.) If you can get one of these on Ebay or Craig's list, you're halfway there......