Both new piano models are essentially the same piano in terms of key action, piano sound, and most other functions and actually I do recommend them if you like a nice PSO (Piano Shaped Object), because essentially that's what they are. They seem like they would both be good because they look attractive in their furniture style cabinets and they even sound like pianos...but both of them have something very important missing in them which I believe is critical when it comes to playing piano. That "something" is their inability to have any real normal control over the volume and tonal dynamics when playing the keys. In other words, it's really difficult to achieve any kind of real expressive dynamic range...and it's especially difficult to play softly when pressing the keys normally, and that's not something a student or player should have to contend with. The "cheap key action" as I call it makes it nearly impossible to play piano normally and have smooth, normal transitional volume and tonal control when you press the keys easy, medium, or hard, or anywhere in between. There is a function to change the "velocity touch curve" on the piano but this feature does little to overcome the lack of control. The control over the piano sound when pressing on the keys is not even as good as low priced $200 Yamaha & Casio keyboards I have played. Yes, the keys are weighted although they are noticeably lighter than a real piano action, but the dynamics (expression) and volume control when playing the keys is so weak that it can definitely cause a beginner player to learn bad playing habits (because they need to compensate in their playing technique so much) and a more advanced player will find they cannot control piano sound dynamics very well and that tonality (mellow to bright as the keys are played harder) is also very limited.
|Overture 2 control display screen|
The actual stereo piano sound on the Williams pianos is said to be taken from a famous acoustic grand piano. Even though this may be the case, it does not necessarily translate well to the digital piano sound chip in these pianos. The piano sound in the bass section is actually quite good and when I talk about the piano sound, I am not talking about the dynamics or control...just the original piano sample itself. As you go up the keyboard, the piano sound becomes less resonate and more "plunky" and sounds much less like a piano. So it does a good job in the bottom bass notes but as you go up into the middle of the keyboard and on up to the top...it's just OK. But what is interesting is the sound of the piano is inconsistent going from one note to the next. In other words, when you play a note on one key it may be bright and sharp and then the next note may be dull and mellow. This is not how good acoustic or digital pianos sound. The characteristics or sound of the note should be fairly consistent up and down the keyboard where all notes are either more mellow or more bright unless you edit the piano sound in the editing functions and increase or reduce brightness of the entire piano sound. Some people like their piano sound more mellow and some like piano sound brighter and more distinct...it just depends what your ears like to hear. But to have the sound character change from one note to the next (depending on the notes played) is not what you find (or want) in a quality digital or acoustic piano. There are piano sound inconsistencies in all pianos because nothing organ coming from a natural organic acoustic piano is perfect. But to have such noticeable poor note (piano sound) transitions from one note to the next in the Williams pianos is not something any progressing piano student would want to have and certainly no piano player would enjoy having. If you don't play piano and know little about sound then you may not notice these things and I would expect that. But as you progress or have a chance to play a better piano, you will likely notice these deficiencies on the Williams pianos.
So it's not what you see on these pianos that counts...it's what you hear and feel that should really count...and that's where the new Rhapsody 2 and Overture 2 definitely take a fall in my opinion. Another thing I don't like is the fact that the key actions are noisy. When you play the keys on these pianos and you put any kind of effort into your playing, when the keys go all the way down to the bottom key-bed they make a loud knocking noise. This is not the first time I have seen and heard this issue come up in digital pianos before, but unfortunately this loud knocking sound is very annoying and distracting, especially if you're wearing headphones because anyone else in the room or the house will hear this knocking noise every time a key goes down...and that could be hundreds of times in one song. It's like there is no felt or dampening material under the keys and this is typical of cheap Chinese key actions. It's not that they are built in China which is the problem, but it's the lack of quality material and workmanship that seems to be the issue here and it really shows in this noise key action. Try it for yourself...if you can find one of these pianos to play in a local Guitar Center, play the keys with a normal medium finger pressure and make sure the piano volume is lower and not full blast, or off volume (to simulate headphones plugged in), and you will hear this distracting knocking sound. It is true that all digital piano key actions make some movement noise either going down or going up or both, but it tends to be minimal. But when it's this loud then it's beyond normal and will probably get worse as time goes on and I would never recommend this piano just for that reason alone.
OK, now that I have talked about some of the poor quality functionality of these pianos, I want to talk about the good things, and there are some. Besides their low price and good looks, both these pianos have an amazing amount of features and a useful intuitive user interface and control panel that I do like. The backlit LCD screen tells you what function or feature you are using and you can go into the editing and function menu and change a feature by pressing a button and then turning the silver backlit knob to get what you want. It couldn't be too much easier than that...unless you had a color touch screen like a couple of the models that Casio has. So as for being able to easily use the features on these pianos, you definitely can do that. The Rhapsody 2 has ten instrument sounds besides its two acoustic piano sounds (total 12), whereas the Overture 2 has 17 instrument sounds besides its one acoustic piano sound (total 18). All of the non-acoustic piano instrument sounds are actually very good and sound pretty realistic for this price range and I enjoyed playing them. Since instrument sounds such as organs, strings, choirs, electric pianos, harpsichords, etc don't need a good piano key action to sound and play good, then both of these Williams piano key actions do a nice job of of allowing those sounds to be played and heard. However, the key action is still noisy when the keys hit bottom but it's not as critical compared to needing a good key action for the acoustic piano sound. Ultimately since most people will be buying these instruments to mostly play piano on, as good as the other instruments do sound, in my opinion most people tend not to use them very much...but it's good to know those sounds are there if you want them.
Some of the other useful things these pianos offer are...an adjustable digital metronome with tempo control, split instrument sounds, layer instrument sounds, 2 track (one song) MIDI recording, adjustable EQ, reverb & chorus effects, volume balance adjustments, modulation effects, key transpose, and many other editing functions. The Overture 2 has a few interesting and useful features that the Rhapsody 2 does not have including a function known as Song Tutor. Inside the Overture 2 are 50 piano songs which include classical pieces (most of the music is traditional classical), rock & blues progressions, and etudes. The Song Tutor will allow you to play these built-in songs at any speed you want and then you can play along with them. You can adjust tempo speed with the built-in tempo function so that you can slow down the song while you're trying to learn it. There are two control panel buttons on the Song Tutor feature for these songs for listening to the right hand and left hand parts together or separately. This allows you to hear one part while you are playing the other part as you are learning the piece. Some of the music is more difficult and some easier. The Williams web site has free downloadable sheet music for all 50 of these built-in songs so that you can read the music while playing along with the songs...which is a very good idea, assuming you can read music. All 50 songs are with the piano sound only and no instrumental accompaniment but they are fun to play along with, although other digital pianos have built-in songs for play-along. But in this low price range this feature is a good one.
Another song playing function is called General MIDI song play. The Overture has a USB flashdrive input slot allowing you to download an unlimited amount of full music arrangements from the internet in the General MIDI format so that you can save those songs to a USB flashdrive, put it in the Overture USB input slot in the front panel, and then play the songs from the internal menu in the display screen. There are no full size furniture cabinet digital pianos in this price range that I know of that can play General MIDI song files from a USB flashdrive and I am a big supporter of using this format to learn to play music and help with lessons. However, unfortunately the built-in tempo control that works for the Song Tutor feature does not work with the General MIDI song play feature. This is unfortunate because when you are trying to learn to play a lesson song or just playing a favorite song you have not played before, slowing down the song can be very important and the Overture 2 cannot do this. Oh well...you can't have everything I guess, but if the Song Tutor feature has adjustable tempo, why not the more important General MIDI song-play feature? The Overture also has the popular duet function that nearly all new digital pianos have these days. This feature allows you to digitally split the 88 note keyboard into two identical 44 note keyboards with both keyboards playing in the same octave where the bass notes become just like the treble notes. This allows for two people to play the same song at the same time in the same octave for educational purposes. This feature is not the same as the sound split feature which puts a different instrument sound in the bass section and another instrument in the treble section such as bass on the left hand and organ on the right, etc.
|Overture 2 with closed key cover|
You cannot judge a book by its cover and regardless of what the Williams advertising hype might lead you to believe, "under the hood" of these two pianos is a very inadequate noisy piano keyboard with poor control over piano sound dynamics including volume and tonal control, regardless of how you might try to play it. I played them many times and was very disappointed each time. Williams (Guitar Center brand) had to save money somehow to keep the prices so low on these pianos and the only way to do that is to compromise on the most expensive part of any piano...the key action including the key contacts and key sensors under each key. It's like buying a car...you generally cannot see the transmission which is a very important part of that vehicle. But if that transmission is a bad one (runs rough, noisy, shifts bad, etc), regardless of all of the other cool technology and good looks that vehicle may have, are you willing to put up with a bad running transmission for as long as you own that vehicle so that you can have the other stuff? These are things you cannot see and cannot touch so you don't know what that's going to be like until you sit down and really try it out, and I can tell first hand that unfortunately it is not good on the Rhapsody 2 and Overture 2. You certainly can still play piano music and might even like what you hear on these new Williams models at first...but what you feel and hear is nothing like a real piano. So at the end of the day it's your money and if you want to take a chance and buy either of these two new models because you think they look so good and the price is so low that you cannot pass it up, then go ahead and buy it. But I don't personally recommend it especially because for just a bit more money you could get a much better piano in another brand. I wish I could say that I recommend the new low price Williams pianos because on paper and from all their advertising promotional hype, they appear to be very good pianos especially at their low prices...but you just can't believe everything you read...especially from the makers of the pianos, because after all...they are trying to sell it to you...so what do you expect them to say?!:). Do your homework and research and then contact me for solid digital piano shopping advice.
If you want more info on new digital pianos and LOWER PRICES than internet and store discounts, please email me at email@example.com or call direct at 602-571-1864.