Thursday, July 7, 2011

REVIEW - Williams Symphony Digital Piano - NOT Recommended

UPDATED REVIEW - The Willams regular Symphony vertical upright style piano is DISCONTINUED and the latest and only Symphony model is a mini digital grand from Williams which is now called the Symphony Grand "micro digital piano" and you can learn more about this new 2016 model from my review at the following link: Williams Symphony Grand 2016 Review


The following past review is from the review I did of the previous discontinued Symphony model back from about 4-5 years ago:

I have reviewed many digital pianos from all of the major brands, and I do enjoy playing them. I am a big believer in digital pianos as a great alternative to acoustic pianos and the major digital piano manufacturers such as Kawai, Casio, Yamaha, Roland, & Kurzweil, & Korg have done a very good job in producing some high quality instruments for lower prices.  However the Williams piano is not a major brand because it is not actually a piano manufacturer, nor does this company actually exist outside of the fact that it is a "name" of the Guitar Center company "private label brand" of instruments. The Williams brand is also carried by Guitar Center subsidiaries such as Musicians Friend, Woodwind & Brass and other Guitar Center owned companies. So it stands to reason that the company that benefits the most from this brand is Guitar Center and all of the Williams ads will direct you exclusively to Guitar Center company stores. The pianos are made by an unknown manufacturer(s) in China for Guitar Center and in my opinion should never be considered seriously if you actually want a "real piano experience." I am not saying that pianos produced in China are bad because some are actually very good. It's really about the quality level of that builder, it's materials & parts, as well as the skill of it's factory people. I have reviewed other Williams cabinet models on my blog and they seem to be pretty much all the same as far as piano touch, tone, and electronics.

The Symphony model (left pic) appears to offer at lot for a low price in a decent looking furniture style cabinet. And that's the problem...you just cannot get something for nothing...unless you are not getting what what you think you are and don't know it. The major digital piano companies like Yamaha, Casio, Roland, & Kawai also have these types of full featured furniture cabinet pianos (with drums & chord accompaniments) but not until you get to about $1400 internet price. And they are not offering it to you for higher prices just because they have a better, more popular name. They simply produce a much better product at much higher standards than the Williams models. I have had people say to me, "but I'm just a beginner or don't play at all, so shouldn't this Williams piano be good enough for me?" My answer would be...no. I would not recommend it to anyone in my family nor any of my friends so why would I recommend one to anyone else?

The Williams Symphony is selling on the internet for about $700-$800 which is half the price of its competitors models, and so the question is...how do they do that? The answer is, they do it producing a very poor quality electronic piano (in my opinion) when it comes to piano touch response, piano tone, polyphony memory, proper pedal sustain, and other important aspects of the piano.  When you use cheaper electronics, construction, and parts, you can certainly reduce price, and that's what they have done.

As far as a quality musical instrument goes, you could purchase one of the latest model Yamaha or Casio $200-$300 76-note keyboards that more than outperforms these Williams full size pianos pianos in most ways (except that they are not 88-key weighted) including key touch response, dynamics, instrument sound quality, and many other features. These new low priced keyboards out perform the Williams pianos in many ways because the Williams uses inferior electronics (in my opinion) and puts them into an inexpensive piano cabinet that really should not sell for more than 300-400 because that's all it's worth as far as I'm concerned. And if you really want a good 88-key digital piano for around $800 or so, you would be much better off getting the Yamaha DGX640 or Casio PX330 which use the kind of key touch and electronics that new pianos should have as compared to the Williams. And the music and performance that comes out of it? Here's a quote (below) from a piano teacher who purchased one of these pianos not knowing what she was really getting herself into. She reviewed it on another web site so that others would not make the same mistake she did:

"I am a music teacher who bought this digital piano as a temporary instrument to help me begin my studio.  I wasn't expecting a fabulous piano, but I was surprised how terrible this instrument was.  First the pre-drilled holes weren't aligned for assembly.  The keys and pedals are stiff and insensitive.  The sound quality is very poor.  Finally, about 9 months after we purchased it, it wouldn't even turn on.  Do not be lured in by the cheaper price.  You wll get far less than you paid for."

Also, I am always surprised when I see positive reviews for this piano. I suspect those reviews are written by people who have no idea what a piano is supposed to play and sound like, which is the likely scenario. And many people really don't know, and that's the problem. As a piano instructor for many years, I would not recommend a Williams piano to any student of mine no matter how low their skill level is because the key touch response on this piano can cause bad playing habits.

As a piano goes, the Williams Symphony digital cabinet piano is simply a big disappointment to me. I wanted to like it because the price is low and it was in a cabinet. However, it only has 32-note polyphony memory (should be at least 64, and more like 128 based on today's standards) which drastically reduces it's ability to sound good and play smoothly as compared to many other digital pianos for under $1000, it has a very poor dynamic response for key volume control and smoothness, and the sustain pedal is off/on only with no progressive (1/2 pedaling) sustain which a piano player at any skill level should have since all acoustic pianos have it. But that is not something you would probably be aware of until you actually started to play this piano and spent some time with it, and then it would be too late if you purchased it.

However, if you have low expectations in a digital piano, want some fun rhythms and accompaniments regardless of the tone quality, want a furniture style cabinet that appears to be nice on the outside, and you don't have much money, then this may be the perfect piano for you.  Otherwise, get a low priced piano from the actual piano manufacturers including Yamaha, Roland, Kawai, Korg, or Kurzweil. By the way, Williams is not the only brand that I don't care for because there are a few others including Benjamin Adams, Suzuki, and Adagio. Finally, the Williams Symphony weighs 154 lbs which is too heavy of an instrument for a low priced digital piano, and also heavier cabinet weight does not necessarily equal quality.

Here are the specs for the Williams Symphony piano:

KEYBOARD: 88-note, hammer-action keyboard
MAX. POLYPHONY: 32
VOICES: 138 Voices, (Including ten Asian folk instrument voices), Five quick select voice buttons and 2 banks
VOICE MODE:Layer (dual) voice, Lower (split) voice
VOICE EFFECTS: Reverb, Chorus
SET UP: Power On/Off, Main Volume Control: Min-Max, Accomp Volume Control:
Min-Max
NUMERIC PAD: 12 keys
DISPLAY: 16-Character LCD
REGISTRATION MEMORY: 9
DEMONSTRATION: Ten songs
RECORDING: Four songs, 3 track recording
OVERALL CONTROL: Transpose, Tempo, Touch response: soft, normal, hard, fixed,Voice split point, Accompaniment split point
AUTO BASS CHORD MODE: Single, Fingered, Piano, Off
AUTO-ACCOMPANIMENT STYLE: 100 Auto-accompaniment styles, Five quick select style buttons and 2 banks
ACCOMPANIMENT CONTROL: Synchro start, Start/Stop, Introduction/Ending, Fill-In Variation, Metronome, Auto harmony (four types)
PLAY ALONG SONGS: 50 songs
FUNCTION Reverb level, Chorus level, Touch Sensitivity, Split point for voice, Split point for auto accompaniment, Master Tune, Drum kit selection, Harmony type selection
AUXILIARY JACKS: Headphone x 2, Line Out, Line In, USB Device Port, Power In, MIDI, In/Out/Through
PEDALS: Sustain Pedal, Sustenuto Pedal, Soft Pedal
VOLTAGE: AC 120V
AMPLIFIER: 20W x 2
DIMENSIONS
54.2 x 20 x 33.9 inches
(1377mm x 510mm x 862mm)
WEIGHT: 154.3lbs/70 Kg

Like I say, the Williams has a lot of functions and features on this Symphony model, but quantity does not necessarily equate to quality. Please do your homework before you make a purchase you so that you can get something that will work properly when it comes to playing a piano. As for product reliability, my personal experiences have not been too good with the Williams models I have seen and played. Please note that I do not hate these Williams pianos because they are what they are and for some people they may be OK. But if you are looking to get a good piano playing experience out of them along with long term reliability, then there are other better choices in my opinion, many of which I have reviewed on this blog. To read more about other Williams models and other pianos, please search through my blog review using the search bar for more info.

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 me direct at 602-571-1864
 

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