**A digital piano can't be any good...
As a piano teacher my first instinct is always towards a real piano rather than a digital "imitation". Up to about grade 1 1/2 or 2 I allow my pupils to practice on a digital keyboard providing it is touch sensitive (ie you can make different sounds depending how hard you strike the key) but beyond that a proper strung piano cannot be replaced. However, things have moved speedily in the digital piano world and the Hemmingway DP-201 I recently had to accompany on was a pleasant surprise.
**What is it like?
Described as a compact piano because of its lack of depth this digital still has 6plus octaves on offer with decent width keys. Its is delivered flatpacked like bookshelf which is a little disconcerting, but since all the know how is within the keyboard all you have to do is bolt the frame together.
The lack of depth is initially disconcerting when you are used to a grand or study upright, but since the key size has not been compromised you soon get used to it.
The prime concern for me is the efficacy of the sensitivity of the keys. On a real piano the harder you strike the key, the louder the sound; the lighter the strike the softer the sound. Therefore, as well as learning the notes you need to play, you can control the texture of the sound you make. The Hemmingway is surprisingly proficient with rolling crescendos and extreme contrasts easy to achieve - making it a good beginner instrument. I suppose I must shake off my prejudice here and acknowledge that many are happy with the digital in its own right or (heaven forbid!) prefer it to a real piano and in this case the Hemmingway is a decent instrument.
88 Key´s with Hammeraction,
LCD Display 8 Sounds,
1 velocity step thomann sample,
Polyphonic: 64 voices polyphone,
2 track Sequenzer,
line out - line in,
speakersystem 2x20 Watt,
dimensions in mm: W X D X H 1447 x 475 x 780,
weight 34 kg
There are a massive 64 voices to choose from on this "beast". Many of them are great fun with chorus sounds and a range of metallics. The 2 piano options are well produced when miked up although somewhat tinny in a medium space. The ragtime voice is fun and it is easy to move between voices. The disappointment is the organ voice which is reedy and would be improved by greater natural reverb.
A Fabulous practise technique when first mastering a piece is to play along to a fast or slow metronome. The built in "ticker" here is loud enough to be heard over most of the voices and is easily adjustable. The digital displays are clear and easy to master and this is a definite plus - traditional free standing metronomes costing around the £20 mark and some in excess of £100!
A real bonus of this model is the sustaining pedal attachment. The sustaining pedal stops the note from fading rather like an echo and allows you to run note sequences together in a legato style whilst moving up and down the keyboard. This is a skill in itself and a real asset to a keyboard making it more flexible than some of the more clipped sounding reproductions.
This digital piano is produced in a "natural" or light beige finish. Its style is simple giving it a modern and sleek effect. This makes it ideal for a smaller space and, combined with the headphone facility, makes it suitable for a shared living space. It is not exactly portable as it is screwed together rather than stand balanced but is certainly more flexible than a full sized piano case. The buttons are silver and oval shaped - ergonomically it would be better to have more differentiation, but you soon get used to their position and they do look stylish.
This model is available for between £250 and £300. As digitals go this is a fair price especially for such a sturdy frame.
Once you have made the decision that digital is the way you wish to go this is a flexible, versatile and stylish model. As a piano replacement you could do worse and perhaps it might even be described as preferable to an old piano in need of serious attention. Remember that there is no real replacement for a piano and the name is therefore deceptive. As a digital "keyboard" this is hard to beat.