I received my Numa X Piano 88 today (well, I initially ordered a Numa X Piano 73 from Thomann but they kept pushing the delivery date, so I checked another European online store: https://www.muziker.de/en and there was an 88 version in stock).
So, this is a
Long story short: I have mixed feelings and I am rather disappointed.
It has the new Fatar TP/110 action. I was afraid it would be the same as the TP/100LR in my SL73 that I hated. I don't have them side by side to compare and I sold the SL73 a few months ago, so it's mostly an anecdotal comparison but I believe the TP110 is an improvement. It's not a huge improvement but is probably slightly less sluggish. Also, it hard bottoms which is something I like (I hate mushy feeling keyboards such as the Kawai ones). However it's still somehow heavy and tiring to play but maybe less so than Yamaha digital piano actions. Also, it pushes back against your fingers which is a complaint I have with all digital piano actions to a certain degree. Furthermore, when playing pianissimo near the rear end of the keys, I often missed notes because either I failed to move the key at all, or moved it only barely. Now, take in mind I'm coming from a very smooth real grand piano action in the N1X and I'm used to a very fine control over all velocities, but still. For comparison, the BHS action in the Yamaha YC73 I returned some time ago (due to a faulty encoder) didn't exhibit that quality and I was able to play pianissimos towards the rear end of the keys. I adapted quickly to the Numa X but I am not sure I was very comfortable. Ultimately I think it's on par with similar digital piano actions in that price range. Could be better, could be worse.
This is the biggest disappointment. All pianos sound thin and dull. Especially in the pianissimo range there some artificiality that reminds me of a digital grand such as Yamaha CP80. I've accused Pianoteq of that but here it's even worse. AFAIK, the piano engine is developed by ex-GEM engineers (remember GEM RealPiano and ProMega series?) and is using samples that are interpolated through some modeling (?) with damper piano resonance being modeled (there's no string resonance though). In a YouTube video one of the engineers explained how they managed to model some spectral stuff, so that instead of using multiple velocity layers, they instead recreated the timbre change through some clever stuff and other mumbo-jumbo which they claim is still sampling but takes much less space than usual. Whatever it is, I couldn't find a model I liked, there are German and American (Steinways), Japan grand, Italian grand, Upright, etc but all of them are dull. They have some control over the engine, such as "tone" which is expected to alter that spectral content but it either makes the piano even duller at low velocities (when decreased), or very bright and rock-piano like at high-velocities (when increased).
I found that the default touch-response is not very linear. It wouldn't allow for smooth gradation between ppp and mp. There's some gap there, so when trying to play quietly, I was struggling both with the action (short pivot, initial resistance, constant push-back) but also with inability to precisely control the dynamics. At that point I was already underwhelmed and didn't test with other touch settings... 😕 Just for a comparison, the Yamaha YC73 has very good response at default settings and is a very playable piano with all the piano presets responding perfectly and sounding great. With the Numa X Piano I just couldn't find a piano sound that inspired me sonically and from playability point of view.
These are fully modeled pianos. I expected to be disappointed which is why I was pleasantly surprised. I found many usable presets with different types of Rhodes, although without effects the raw tone was still somehow strange and having somehow exaggerated Rhodes features. In comparison, the YC73 Rhodes sounds are probably the best I've played in a keyboard. But again, the ones in the Numa are also very usable and nice sounding and I could live with them. I'm not very keen on real Wurlitzer piano sound and other electric pianos, so I can't say if the modeled counterparts in the Numa are good, there are some Pianets, some hybrid FM pianos (sampled FM attacks and modeled electric piano sound), etc.
The organ sounds were rather good, they are sampled, not modeled but there was a great variety, so I think they are better than those in the average rompler keyboards. The rotary effect is also very nice and usable. There are some synth sounds, some are OK, others not so much. There's no monophonic synth leads with portamento which is a let-down. Furthermore, the filter cut-off knob (appears in the so called Zoom mode) is not usable in the traditional way, i.e. you can't use it while playing because it has a clicky feel, has non-linear filter cut-off curve and is steppy. But there are some good pad sounds, brass sounds, choirs, one nice pipe organ... Strings are kind of OK but I think I've heard better. The harpsichord wasn't very convincing because the release sound was too harsh and artificial.
Features, UI, etc.
The included effects are very nice. And you can assign two effects to each of the four zones + two master effects (reverb and delay). The reverb is very nice and lush, better than average. It's easy to create splits and layers. There's embedded USB audio interface but I haven't tested it. There's 2GB of memory (half of which is with factory sounds) and they promise they will release downloadable sounds in future. There's aftertouch and it is rather good and controllable. On many keyboards that support aftertouch, it's like an on/off switch and you have to press so hard that you will hurt your fingers. Not here. The UI and workflow is very intuitive, better than many other boards. It's still not that immediate as a Nord or the Yamaha CP/YC instruments but comes close. There were a few not well-thought things here and there but I believe they may fix them through a firmware update. The josticks that are used for pitch bend and modulation are OK but I still prefer dedicated wheels. Yamaha CP/YC also use similar sticks but they have more travel and feel slightly more controllable. The piano is 14kg which is good for 88 keys. Very compact and built like a tank with metal panels.
It's a good keyboard which people will love, I'm sure. It has terrific features for its price. The keyboard is fine and the modeled electric piano sounds along with the fantastic effects, compact size, sturdy build and low travel weight, all make for a very good stage piano. However I am disappointed in the acoustic pianos and the touch response with those (but I'm a classical piano aficionado, so maybe I'm biased and spoiled by playing a hybrid...). It's not for me, I packed it already and planning on sending it back.