Apr 17, 2010

REVIEW - Suzuki TSI-1ei Digital Piano - Touch Screen Model - Disappointed :(

UPDATED REVIEW - July 1, 2011 - I played the new Suzuki TSI-1ei digital piano not long ago and was looking forward to being very impressed with it, based on the Suzuki web site's description of this piano which is generally discounted to about $1600 - $1800 internet and store price, depending on where you buy it. Suzuki is a well known name in instruments although it is quite distinct and a separate company from the other Suzuki products and services such music lesson instruction, vehicles, and many other things.  A popular name in other areas does not mean it equates to "good" when it comes to pianos.


Here's what you need to know about the Suzuki TSI-1ei:

1. Authentic piano touch - In my opinion, the Suzuki TSI-1ei does NOT have a good piano touch reproduction. The touch feels very uneven and artificial and the response and decay time when listening to the piano tone is quite weak. Also, the touch volume response on a "normal" velocity curve setting (which is where it defaults to), makes playing the piano physically very hard in getting a natural response from the keys. I have also been told this piano touch is on the entire line of Suzuki pianos including their mini digital baby grand pianos such as the MDG100, S350, MG350, XP35, HG437, and DG401P...which is unfortunate.

2. Reproduction of piano tone - Simply stated...not good, very unnatural and digital sounding.

3. Piano control buttons and/or display screen. This Suzuki model has a built-in music rack color touch screen which I thought looked inviting. Touch screens are a part of new digital technology and iPods, iPads, computers, cash registers, GPS's, and more have touch screens. So the technology is not new and has greatly improved over the years, and is also fun and efficient to use generally speaking. This new Suzuki touch screen does NOT have a good touch screen. Suzuki must be using older, cheaper (or defective?) touch software because the touch functions work very slowly with major delays in moving from one feature to another. Basically the touch screen was useless because it did not respond well or at all sometimes. The coolness factor of the screen wore off quickly when I had to deal with the lack of proper functionality. They should have stuck to hard buttons on the control panel which it does have, but only for certain functions. And if that screen goes bad, I would worry about how long it might be before I could get it replaced? The touch screen has many important functions on it that cannot be accessed from the basic control panel hard buttons.

4. Tones & rhythm styles. Unfortunately the tones and rhythm styles sound like they were taken (in my opinion) from 10-year old keyboard technology that you would find on a very low priced entry level keyboard. Very basic stuff with sound reproduction that was not realistic for many of the tones and drum rhythms. I was quite disappointed. Even the new lower priced Casio & Yamaha keyboards sounded better than this new Suzuki piano.

5. Editing & layering tones. On most digital pianos under $2000 you cannot edit tones to change them in any significant way (like a synthesizer) nor can you normally layer more than 2 sounds together at one time. This is one area where Suzuki beats everyone one else with regard to a furniture style cabinet piano. You can layer up to 4 independent tones together at one time as well as adding an automatic arpeggio tone over that and play them altogether. That was VERY impressive. As far as editing the individual tones, you can do that too and create something entirely different than what you started with. I liked these features, but in my opinion that would only be "frosting on the cake" if the main and important functions worked and sounded right.

6. Unique features: iPod dock & SD card - Those are cool features which lets you "dock" an iPod on the piano and listen to it through the piano sound system or also plug in an SD card with midi files on it for playback or recording your own. But once again, that's only worthwhile if the important parts of the piano behave properly. Also, the 128 general midi instrument tones in this piano are pretty weak in realism so the midi playback quality is just average.

Finally, although the piano had a lot of volume (more than most), the imitation rosewood cabinet was boring and looked like most of the other brands of inexpensive digital cabinet pianos. It does come in a high gloss black which I didn't see but is probably nicer looking AND costs more money.

So based on what I saw and experienced in playing this Suzuki TSI-1ei digital piano, I would not recommend it (or the other models without the touchscreen) if you want a good acceptable piano touch & tone AND a touch screen that actually works smoothly and properly. Maybe the touch screen software in this particular piano has some fixable problems or there are new software upgrades that have come out for it? But I have not seen that yet.

Actually I was quite sad that my experience with this instrument was so negative because the price would have been very reasonable otherwise. I have read a few "positive" customer reviews on some dealer web sites who said they actually liked the piano tone and touch of the TSI as well as the Suzuki digital baby grand (above pic). I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinion, but their expectations must be very low if they actually felt that way. I have seen a few reviews by owners of the TSI piano who said their new TSI's have already had problems with the touch screen going out, etc. (Uh Oh!)

If you want a digital piano that is up to where it should be in quality piano reproduction & touch, stick to Yamaha, Casio, Roland, or Kawai, because generally speaking, you won't be disappointed. And if you want what I consider to be the best bang for the buck under $1500 in a furniture cabinet digital piano, take a look at the Casio AP620 Celviano Piano. It really plays and sounds nice (like a big upright piano) and has some very cool educational features as well. Check out the blog review (below) that I did on this model.

Casio AP620 Piano Review

If you want more info on these and other pianos and LOWER PRICES than internet discounts, please email me at tim@azpianowholesale.com or call direct at 602-571-1864.

3 comments:

  1. nice site! good piano player can normally make ANY digital or acoustic piano sound pretty good

    ReplyDelete
  2. what do you think of the Williams Digital Grand?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Chris,
    I have previously reviewed the Williams digital mini grand at the following blog link:
    http://azpianonews.blogspot.com/2010/07/williams-wgb-digital-grand-piano-review.html

    If you have more questions, you may email me.

    ReplyDelete