I am now officially sick of average midi keyboards (just moved from Roland RD100 to CME UF8). The UF8 is not what i hoped it to be, it feels even more plastic than the RD100, and there are some pretty serious velocity inconsistancies due to hammer action when playing at certain speeds. (does anyone else notice this?)
I'm looking to spend around 2500-3000$ USD on it and if I have to I'll spend more. I'm more interested in a stage piano with basic sounds (piano / EP / Organ) which i can use for live and also in the studio. Can anyone please tell me with whats good out there these days? I was pretty happy with the Roland feel overall, so I might lean towards Roland - Are there any good roland stage pianos atm?
I'm open to suggestions.. Thanks anyone who can help!
I went through the same process about 6 months ago, and settled on a Roland RD-700SX. The only thing I dislike about it is that it has no traditional mod wheel (uses a combo pitch bend mod thingy), but it had the best action I tried, and it was easy to remap one of the sliders to MOD CC.
It's kind of heavy, but has some very solid sounds, and plays like a dream.
Great! Thanks so much for your replies guys. After the first reply I was already looking at the RD700SX because I've been relatively happy with the older RD100 feel. But now that more of you are saying the same thing. Saving up here I come!
I've been on this quest forever myself. Even with real pianos, the action is a matter of taste, so the following is really just my personal tastes.
I've auditioned pretty much every board I can find, and to me the top contenders are made by Roland and Kawai (if price is no object, I mean).
Kawai MP8: I played one of these at a local piano store, and while the sound was very unpleasant to me, the action felt extremely well built. The keys did not feel "loose" - I definately had the sense that this was a solid, well crafted instrument. The keys are wood, and while I'm not sure how this affects the quality of the key action (or if it even does at all), to me it was an extremely nice touch. I could depress one white key and feel the woodgrain of the adjacent non-depressed key. However, I passed on the Kawai because I felt the action was too slow. The rebound rate of the keys was noticably more sluggish than every other real piano in the store. I could not pull off fast repeating of single notes no matter what technique I used, but moving to any other acoustic grand in the store I was able to do so. I play Bach's two part invention #8 as one of my test pieces, and I could feel the "lazy" rebounds under my fingers. This action is really a great choice, but I'm just pointing out why I didn't choose it.
Roland RD700SX: I auditioned this board on the same day I auditioned the Kawai. Many years ago I owned an RD500 and was unhappy with the slow aciton, so I expected not to like this board. I was very surprised. Like the kawai, it feels extremely well crafted - no loose key feeling - very solid. The keys had that satisfying "firm yet cushioned bottom" (not sure how else to explain that). I had no irritation with slow rebounds or no problem playing repeated single notes as quickly as I am used to. At that time, I decided that surely the RD700SX would be my next stage piano. My only complaint was that the keys did feel sorta light to me - not as substantial as I would have liked (sheesh, we're all so picky!! - lol).
Roland FP7: I recently played this one on a lark (happenned to be in Sam Ash for something else). It was right next to the RD700SX and a Yamaha P70, so I played them all quite a bit. I now have a new best choice - the FP7 had all the positives of the RD700SX key action, but the "substantial key" feeling was more apparent to me on this particular board. Roland's website confirms that the aciton in the FP7 is a new, upgraded version of their progressive hammer action over what is put in the RD700SX.
About Yamaha Boards, I know that many many people like them a lot and they really should be considered as one of the top quality stage-piano brands. For me personally, every Yamaha I've played has had too much "loose key" feeling for my taste. I want to feel as though my board is built like a tank. I'm not saying all Yamaha's are like this, and I have nothing against Yamaha, but just the ones I've played feel this way.
One nice thing about the FP7 is that it's considerably cheaper than the RD700SX ($1595 seems to be the usual price, compared to $2195 for the RD700SX). I don't know if it has the same internal piano sound as the RD700SX (which are far and away the best I've heard for onboard stage piano sounds). I was hearing the FP7 through it's internal speakers which made it hard to compare with the RD700SX sounds. The FP7 internal speakers are actually a minus to me, since it's just one more thing to break, add size/weight, and I won't use them. It also is light on controller functions - just a few program change buttons and no sliders or knobs that I can remember. It's also not as sexy as the RD700SX. Both appear to me to be all-steel, well constructed cases.
Since I only care about the action, I'll probably be buying the cheaper FP7 over the RD700SX.
EricH - Thanks for all your useful knowledge. I can agree with you on the Yamahas, in my experience they haven't impressed me with their action. I may try to have a test play on the FP7 to see if the action does it for me.
If it does, I may consider waiting for the next generation of RD products - Does anyone know roughly when this will be? I'd hate to purchase the RD700SX and have a next generation model released soon after!
I can't believe that they are still selling those to people.
Sound and action are O.K., but why not buy a controller keyboard with the action you like, and then the library you like?
I use an Oberheim MC3000, and 2 x KS88's.
Since I play several other synths and samples from these, the action of the KS88's was not important, but rather the controllers for the CC's, and automation aspects.
But the MC3000 has 48 programmable velocity curves, and uses the same keybed that you will find in the Fatar's of top shelf controllers. The velocity curves, once added to any weighted action keyboard should be tweaked per library used. I.E., Scarbees Fender Rhodes would require a different action to play that electro-mechanical instrument properly. The Scarbee Wurlitzer would be a lighter easier touch as the real instruments bark louder with harder strikes. My virtual grand requires it's own curves, the Uprights, etc.,etc.
I find that each player has his own needs, but we all need a weighted keyboard just so the acoustic pianos can be emulated precisely. Then the other actions stored per preset. Thats what I call a controller. Taking and excepting what Roland, Yamaha, Kawaii, etc. call proper curves with a few choices used globally is such a rip off. Besides, what they consider a " real piano " emulation for 2000 USD is a laugh.
So Oberheim provided templates to start with, 12. But each are tweakable to match the samples necessary.
Since these can be bought for 600-700 USD, that leaves 1400 USD to buy content to play. Besides, all of those ( yawn, yawn ) Rolands, Kawaii, and Yamahas come with the worst sounding strings, brass, etc. Reminds of the days when we couldn't use selections of various horn and string sections, but rather factory " brass ". I suppose that lowest note was an emulation of a tuba, while the highest note was a trumpet?? Unbelievable that they even sell still.