A summary of the latest and greatest digital pianos that have hit retail recently...
In the neverending quest to create the most accurate sounding model, digital piano makers are forever coming up with new sound engines, keyboards and sampling methods to get as close as possible to the perfect acoustic simulation. As MI Pro discovers, the newcomers to the market represent yet another step forward…
The YDP-C71PE (£1,319) is the latest addition to the company’s entry-level Arius range and it features a Graded Hammer (GH) keyboard, three-level Advanced Wave Memory (AWM) Dynamic Stereo Sampling technology and a polished ebony finish.
Ideal for beginners and experienced pianists, the YDP-C71PE also offers a damper pedal with half-damper effect, which gives the user nuanced expressive sound control over the sustained sound. Two instrument sounds can be played simultaneously due to its dual voice capability and a two-track recorder is included as well.
The Arius series starts with the YDP-135 (£728), which features an 88-key Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keyboard, six voices with dual function, digital reverb, one track recording, an integrated library with 50 piano songs and a Dark Rosewood finish.
Yamaha CLP & CVP
Part of the ‘classic’ CLP Clavinova range, the CLP-470 (from £2,379) – winner of the Best Keyboard category at the 2011 MIA Awards – provides Natural Wood white keys with Synthetic Ivory keytops, Yamaha’s Real Grand Expression (RGE) sound engine, 14 voices (each with two variations), a GP Response damper pedal, Linear Graded Hammer action and USB audio recording and playback.
The RGE engine lets the user enjoy the playing response and expressive capability of a concert grand piano and a Smooth Release function enhances sound clarity and clearly enunciates the staccato notes.
The CVP-509 (from £7,301), a member of the ‘versatile’ CVP Clavinova series, is now back in stock following supply issues as a result of the tsunami that hit Japan last year. This model offers Pure CF Sampling, which gives it a superb tonal response, a Tri-Amp System, enabling clear expression of even the most delicate sound nuances and it also includes hundreds of dynamic voices, including Super Articulation 2 and MegaVoice technology, as well as a USB Audio Recorder.
Roland LX-15 & HP-500 Series
This year’s NAMM show saw Roland unveil a series of new pianos derived from their flagship V-Piano Grand technology. As well as SuperNatural Piano engines, the new LX-15 and HP-500 Series models offer Acoustic Projection technology, an innovative, multi-dimensional sound system that intelligently reproduces the natural depth and sound field of an acoustic piano.
Soundboard behaviour modelling emulates the natural characteristics of string vibrations on the soundboard. In addition to modern grand piano sounds, a newly added Early Piano category offers four Forte Piano and two harpsichord variations, allowing the player a better appreciation and understanding of the music of masters such as Beethoven and Chopin. At the top of the range is Roland’s new LX-15 (£4,999), an elegant, upright piano finished in polished ebony.
Available in a variety of finishes, the new HP-500 series comprises three models – the HP-507 (£2,819 or £3,289 for Polished model), HP-505 (£2,115 or £2,819 for Polished model) and the HP-503 (£1,639).
The Privia PX-3 from Casio weighs just 10.8kg – making it highly portable – and it features ivory touch, matt finish keys, which complement the patented Tri-Sensor Hammer Action, giving it added feel and response. High performance master keyboard functionality turns the piano into a MIDI controller with editable DSP effects and tone editor. The four-band equaliser gives it a wide variety of tone settings and it also offers registration memory and an SD card slot.
Crafted using the manufacturer’s Real Experience (RX) technology, each of the 36 sounds from the Korg SV-1 Stage Vintage Piano is a detailed and authentic re-creation. The SV-1 also provides access to the effect pedals, amplifiers, speaker cabinets and studio techniques that gave these sounds their original lustre. The SV-1 is available in 73-key (£1,559) and 88-key (£1,739) variations.
The Korg SP-250 (£699) provides an expanded range of expression and performance with a new stereo piano sound, which is matched to a third-generation RH3 graded action keyboard. The sound of a concert grand piano has been carefully sampled for this model.
The compact Micropiano (£299) features Korg’s 61-key Natural Touch mini-keyboard, designed to provide true playability. The grand piano sound features the same stereo samples as the firm’s flagship digital pianos, generating full-bodied tones.
Unveiled at NAMM, the Nord Piano 2 (£2,249) offers Grand, Upright and Electric Piano sounds from the Nord Piano Library with sympathetic string resonance – much like the original – but the new model is compatible with the Nord Sample Library and lets the user create splits and layers.
The Piano 2 also features a 88-note hammer action keyboard and comes with the Nord Triple Pedal, a dynamic sustain pedal that recreates the mechanical ‘stomp’ and ‘sizzle’ noises that occur when lifting or releasing the dampener on an acoustic grand or upright piano. Hand-built in Stockholm, Sweden, each Piano 2 is subjected to the company’s rigorous quality testing process.
New to the Kurzweil home piano range is the MP-10 (£1,260), which uses the same chips as the PC3 Series keyboards and features 88 onboard sounds taken directly from the PC3. The Kurzweil Triple Strike Grand Piano is included, as well as several high quality electric piano, orchestral and acoustic instrument sounds. It’s available in Satin Rosewood and Ebony Polish finishes.
Based on the current RP-301 model, the new RP-301R (£1,349) is an affordable piano with first-class sounds, touch, and 60 built-in rhythm accompaniments expressively designed for pianists. Each rhythm accompaniment features an Intro, Ending, Variation, and Fill patterns that include a basic rhythm part and melodic accompaniments such as bass, guitar and strings.
A newly developed full-keyboard chord recognition engine will recognise the most sophisticated of chord structures when playing in Pianist mode. Additional rhythms, songs and wav files can be played back via USB. Like all of Roland’s latest models, the RP-301R offers an environment-conscious design with Auto Off function and low power consumption.
The amp specialist’s new digital piano line is designed for players of all levels of ability. The P240PE (Polished Ebony) and P240RW (Rosewood, pictured) models feature 88 full size hammer-action weighted keys with adjustable touch response, which recreates the feel of an acoustic grand. Users can choose from 138 different acoustic and electronic instrument voices, along with various modes and effects, including dual and split voice, reverb and chorus. Both instruments come with a sliding key cover mechanism, as well as a powerful stereo speaker system.
Intermusic brand Bentley has several models in this sector, including the Compact model (£499), which features 88 Hammer Keys with Touch Sensitivity, PCM stereo digital sampling, a backlit LCD display, eight voices and real-time two-track record and playback.
The Bentley Stage Pro (£599) offers PCM sample technology, a graded hammer action keyboard, back lit display, sustain pedal, 16 MIDI channels, 24 user presets, along with reverb and chorus effects.
Next up is the Classic (£599), which comes with Sustain, Soft and Sostenuto pedal controls and eight demo songs and completing Bentley’s digital piano offering is the Concerto (£699), which features 137 voices with PCM, 88 touch sensitive hammer keys, multi-function backlit LCD, 100 auto-accompaniment styles.
The Cadenza from Alesis features 88 hammer-action keys with graded, weighted feel, adjustable touch sensitivity for customised performance and users can choose from eight stereo instruments with the ability to split and combine the sounds.
It also includes an onboard two-track recorder, USB connection, MIDI Input and Output jacks, an auxiliary ¼-inch stereo input and a headphone jack for silent practice. Chorus and Reverb effects are part of the package as well, along with a sustain pedal, metronome, a backlit blue LCD screen, eight demo songs and dedicated Bass and Treble controls.