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i know this is subjective, but please read and maybe you can still help...

i happen to be 4 hours from home this weekend and was able to stop at a local guitar center. not the highest end selection of DPs, but i got to try a few out and wanted to post my impressions and ask for advice.

first I'll say i have 35 years of piano experience. I've played many types and brands of piano. so I'm very familiar with acoustic piano feel.


many years ago i played a roland rd700nx (PHA III Ivory Feel Keyboard with Escapement) and although it was not recent, I keenly remember at the time being very impressed by the feel of the keys and action. the pha50 doesn't bring back that feeling. not sure if they had issues with the Ivory material or something and changed it? or is my memory just bad?

so now for the advice...

this is a personal preference and it's ok if you disagree, but the only believable DP I've ever heard is the nord piano. I've played and listened to many, heard recordings and demos of the best of every brand. and not a single one impresses me with realism of sound except nord. that's why i own a nord. but i hate the action. not the worst ever, but definitely doesn't allow the best performances of complex music or emotional touch. so i actually found out about the nord grand with kawai actin and bought it. (haven't got it yet) but that got me thinking. the price is crazy, although possibly worth it if the action is great. and i value the ability to just turn it on and play pretty highly.

however, I'm tech savvy and have a capable MacBook pro. so i'm not completely against the idea of using a VST. there are maybe 1 or 2 i think sound good enough. so would it be more cost effective and possibly get me a better action if i get a different keyboard and use a VST? I'll see how the nord grand feels, but i obviously can't compare it to much higher end stuff. so i would need recommendations based on my impressions and what someone who might be familiar with these models might be able to recommend.

price is the main reason I'm hesitant to keep the nord. everyone said the newer nord actions were the same and superior to mine by a good amount. i disagree. they're incrementally better at best.

so if the nord grand is mind blowing, great. but if not, it's expensive and sounds the same. so any help with comparing my impressions with other high end DPs would be great. to finalize this my needs are as follows.

- usb midi
- great action
- not too big (just no big console thing or full size body that mimics a piano shape)
- preferably good enough to play stand alone (will record with VST or nord)

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here are my brief impressions of what was available...

yamaha p125
squishy but good overall
keys ok. plastic slight matte finish
**GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) weighted action**

roland rp102
excellent overall, like a tight upright. sort of like keys click or bounce into notes a little though
fairly good ivory feel
probably best overall?
**PHA-4 Standard Keyboard: with Escapement and Ivory Feel**

nord stage 3
lighter than nord piano 1 (which i own) but a bit more linear in throw?
can't tell if it's better or not without side by side but I think it is less thick and squishy than np1
all plastic feel
**some weighted fatar action?**

roland rd2000
same as rp102 but a bit squishier? hard to tell as keyboard was up high, but felt slightly heavier but not really better
**PHA-50 Keyboard: Wood and Plastic Hybrid Structure, with Escapement and Ebony/Ivory Feel**

yamaha yc88
fake plastic feel but textured
similar to rp102 but more linear throw and less hammery feel
very good though
**natural wood keys and graded action**

yamaha dgx670
similar to yc88 but slightly better texture feel
**GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) weighted action**

yamaha p45
good
plasticky but good weight and decent action
nothing special but nothing bad
**GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) weighted action**

casio cdp s100/s350
overly textured is fake feeling
action feels sloppy but decent in throw and weight
maybe on light side, but response isn't consistent
**Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II**

yamaha ydp184
very good weight and feel, plasticky with texture although not amazing
no real hammer feel but still good control
**GH3**

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Hello luisdent,

There will be many others far more qualified than i to make numerous recommendations for you. In the mean time of these wee hours, given your 35 years experience you no doubt know what you like ....the trick will be to find what you like.

As for your requirements,

1) usb midi is nearly universally available on all modern dps, plus or minus a fairly new model with literature and or advertising to the contrary that may be simply an error.

2) great action is of course somewhat elusive given the subjective nature of “great”. You should probably consider Kawai VPC-1 among the candidates to try - it gets consistently good user reviews for its action, however, this is a stage/slab-style controller - it has no sound engine and needs to play through a vst or a midi device that has a sound engine.

3) a somewhat recent trend in console DPs - models built around a miniature baby grand style cabinet - seems to be of the too-big size which you do not want. Traditional DP consoles are built around the size & shape of a traditional upright piano but generally weigh 200 pounds give or take. If these are also too big for your preference then this leaves you with picking a slab-style portable DP, many which have an optional accessory comprised of some wood pieces and pedal board to provide a very thin / small looking console for home use.

4) if stand-alone operation is a must, this eliminates VPC-1 as a candidate.

Over the recent years, there have been others here who have said the same as you , paraphrasing, “nord sounds really good but the action sucks”.

Best of luck to you.

Last edited by drewr; 06/20/21 02:04 AM.

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This says it all ...
Originally Posted by luisdent
I was able to stop at a local Guitar Center. Not the highest end selection of DPs ...
At Guitar Center I've never found a suitable piano. They specialize in the low-end and ultra-low end.


Originally Posted by luisdent
I'm tech savvy and have a capable MacBook pro. So i'm not completely against the idea of using a VST.
Have you tried the Kawai VPC? It's a slab keyboard, controller only. It must be tied to a computer for use with virtual instruments.
It's not too expensive and it might just meet your needs.
(But you won't find it at Guitar Center!)

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thanks. I'm not opposed to a small form factor upright. but i have a small living room. and i will be using studio monitor speakers and sometimes recording equipment, so space is at a minimum. and moving it may be something i do now and then. perhaps up stairs.

Last edited by luisdent; 06/20/21 02:06 AM.
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If you can tolerate the weight (not "heavy touch", but "heavy to carry"), try out a Kawai VPC1 or MP11Se. They're both "slab format" (no built-in amps or speakers, no cabinet).

You'll need a VST (and computer) to try the VPC1, the MP11 comes with built-in sound generator. You might start with Pianoteq (has a free and complete demo, with a few silent keys), or read the threads here for other suggestions.

FWIW, the only DP's on your list I take seriously (for what you want to do) are the Nord and the RD2000. Most of the rest are "beginner DP's", which is what you'd find on the floor, in most Guitar Centers.

See if you can find a Roland FP90x (or FP90, its predecessor) to try out. It's got a PHA50 action. Make sure it's horizontal, and not tilted -- a tilt throws off the maker's carefully-engineered weighting and balancing.

"MIDI over USB" doesn't have many (any?) advantages over "5-pin DIN MIDI", as far as I know. MIDI-to-USB adapters are reasonably priced, even from DP makers (Roland makes one, and I think so does Yamaha).


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VPC 1. Nord on top.
(Do you need half pedaling? Then Nord Grand.)


Shigeru Kawai SK-2, etc.
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I find it interesting that you seem to find the (old) phaIII action somewhat acceptable. if this is the case, you may want to shop either for an older Roland model or ...... ? Just ask Mac, between Yamaha and Roland, these 2 brands come out with seemingly new named actions on a yearly basis, with multiple variations within each name and it becomes a maze trying to keep up what name/variation is the same or different from a previous vintage.


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i have a few good VST pianos. I'm hoping the action in the nord grand is good enough. I'm not gonna lie, i think so far the roland actions have been the best I've tried. but as you said, most are entry level at the store.

and i should have said "good" usb midi. I'm very familiar with all things audio (i don't mean that in a snobby way). I'm an audio engineer actually. many cheap DPs have poor usb midi implementation. but that's another discussion. for my needs in this case, basic usb midi is fine as long as all 127 values are properly output and accurately mapped to the key action...

Last edited by luisdent; 06/20/21 02:22 AM.
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keep in mind i tried it years ago and was comparing my old roland ep9 (yuck,). it is very possible now i wouldn't feel that way. but the strongest part of my memory tells me the key texture was much better still. but that could be wrong too.

Last edited by luisdent; 06/20/21 02:30 AM.
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i have not tried the vpc1 but it had shown up in many reviews and sounds promising. I'm curious how it compares to the nord grand action? if it's similar maybe I'll like the nord grand?

Last edited by luisdent; 06/20/21 02:30 AM.
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I keep hearing good things about the studiologic 88 grand

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Online chat might lead you to try one or more keyboards.

But no chat can tell you how they compare. To find out ... you have to try them for yourself.
Originally Posted by luisdent
i have not tried the vpc1 but it had shown up in many reviews and sounds promising. I'm curious how it compares to the nord grand action? if it's similar maybe I'll like the nord grand?

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I haven’t tried and compare VPC1 and Nord Grand. But the first one has a non folded action (RM3) and the second a folded action (Responsive Action or something like - Nord doesn’t tell a lot about their action excepted it comes from Kawai).

Then a difference of feeling wouldn’t surprise me.

(A RHIII keyboard at the Nord price seems me excessive… but Nord is not known to have little prices.).

Last edited by Frédéric L; 06/20/21 04:53 AM.

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easier said than done. :-) if i could do that I wouldn't be posting this question.;-) hehe. as the post indicated, the closest music store was 4 hours away and had limited high end keyboards... i only bought the nord because it allowed returns, but I have to drive 3 hours if i need to return it. but it seemed worth the risk. and I'm trying to figure it all out before that deadline...

the nord arrived and I should be able to try it tonight. i can post my impressions and see what happens...

Last edited by luisdent; 06/20/21 12:18 PM.
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Originally Posted by Frédéric L
I haven’t tried and compare VPC1 and Nord Grand. But the first one has a non folded action (RM3) and the second a folded action (Responsive Action or something like - Nord doesn’t tell a lot about their action excepted .....

.... true, but sometimes old PW posts do a la been-there-before. To wit:

- http://forum.pianoworld.com/Forum_Search_Results.html?q=Nord%20actions

- http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...ons-which-fatar-in-what-other-slabs.html

Last edited by drewr; 06/20/21 12:41 PM.

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Kawai VPC1 + Nord Electro 6 61 stacked. Midi the VPC1 into the Nord. Play pianos and EP's with the Kawai action, organs with the Nord action.

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Originally Posted by luisdent
i have a few good VST pianos. I'm hoping the action in the nord grand is good enough. I'm not gonna lie, i think so far the roland actions have been the best I've tried. but as you said, most are entry level at the store.
The Nord Grand has the RHIII action found in the ES920 or MP7SE, but with some modifications requested by Clavia. Clavia and Kawai are not publicizing the changes, but some PW posts suggest that weights were removed to make it a balanced weight rather than graded weight action, and that letoff/escapement simulation was eliminated. If you will use VSTs, the Kawai MP7SE or ES920 are much cheaper than a Nord Grand if you like the RHIII action. At that point, you might as well add the Yamaha P-515 and Roland FP90X to your short list.

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my concern iwth controlling the nord is I've read multiple posts about it not playing the same via midi and not being ideal. if that isn't true i can just keep my nord and get a controller. but keep in kind this will be in my living room and my wife may not be keen on a keyboard rack setup vs a single reasonable looking keybaord with speakers.

i do really like the nord sound, and having it immediately accessible without a laptop is possibly going to make me play more as there is no delay in setup. I'm hoping the grand works out I'm going to try it in about 4 hours!!! the vcp1 is by far the most attractive option otherwise followed by a roland...

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If you are open to using VST software, then the Kawai VPC1 piano controller is a great idea for you.

Certainly best value for money and a better action than the RHIII action in the Nord Grand and Kawai Es920 / MP7SE.


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