I have had my Kawai MP10 for about 3 weeks now and am starting to get a feel for it, so I thought I would do a quick review.
First, some background.
I started fooling around on the piano over a year ago, but stalled out. In September 2011 I started proper lessons, and have been going strong since then. I am working on the RCM curriculum, and am in grade 3 right now. I have a background in music, having played cello growing up, and then picking up the guitar later and also playing some electric bass along the way. I have a pretty good ear, could already read music, and I think have a good appreciation for tone and dynamics.
My first keyboard was a Yamaha YPG-535. It is a semi-weighted (which I think really means unweighted) keyboard. It has 88 full size keys, and was fine for early learning, but I found that my ability to control dynamics when I went to play an AP was really limiting.
In terms of other pianos that I play, besides the YPG-535, I take my lessons on a well maintained and fairly new Yamaha C-3 grand. I also get a chance to play my uncle's Heintzmann grand every once in a while, which is an older Canadian piano in very good condition.
As a note, during my DP search I was able to test out (quite extensively) the Roland FP-7F, RD700NX, Yamaha P-155, CP1, CP5, Kawai MP6, CA-93. CA63 and I did walk by tests on a number of other console and stage DPs.
I decided fairly early on that I did like the FP-7F, as it felt good and sounded pretty good. I also liked the P155 for its price, and may have even bit the bullet earlier on it given the price/value ratio, but I really disliked the shiny plastic keys.
After playing the MP10 I realized that it seemed like the most serious, piano like of all of the actions I tried (well, other than CA-69/93). Although the FP-7F felt good, it just seemed lighter and less piano like to me. That being said, I am not that experienced, and I have come to think that the real pianos I play on are actually more responsive/lighter than the MP10, so maybe that was not the best evaluation.
I didn't spend as much time worrying about the sounds. I am mostly interested in the piano, and from listening to the DPs, reading posts on here and reviewing the DPBSD thread, it seemed to me that the DPs I was interested in were in the same ballpark in terms of sound, and all had drawbacks. I suspect that as I get better/more serious I will switch to a computer based system in any event.
I liked the MP10s action, key surface (it seems like the best compromise to me) and also like the way that it looks - understated and classy.
One thing that was frustrating was that after I decided to buy the MP10, I called the piano store where I had tried it out. It is the only Kawai dealer in the area, so I had little choice on that one. I was told it would take about a week to get it in. It ended up taking about 6 weeks, including having me call them back a number of times to chase down information and being told a couple of times that it was expected within a certain number of days/weeks and calling after that amount of time had gone by and finding out that it would be a couple more weeks. To be fair, the salesman that I dealt with left the store during that period, and I got the sense that things were not good with him, so it might just be a bad apple at the store. Also, I realize that MP10s were in short supply all over North America.
Since I have had the MP10 I have really enjoyed playing it. I don't regret my decision. I will address sound, usability and action separately.
In terms of sound, I have been a bit disappointed. I have almost entirely played it with the Concert Grand 1 piano. It doesn't sound great. It sounds fine. I guess that is all any of us can expect from these DPs, but I do wish it sounded more realistic. It still sounds like it is being generated by a computer. As I mentioned above, I didn't expect a lot in this area, but still kind of hoped to be more satisfied. I do find that the EPs are fun, and I would like to explore that aspect a bit more. However, right now it is primarily a piano learning tool.
The usability is pretty good. No big stumbling blocks there. I do find that the LEDs are a bit much - there are a lot of them, and they are fairly bright, even on the low brightness setting. For use just as a piano, it would be nice if they could be disabled. They also flicker a bit on the low setting. Other than that, it is pretty user friendly, though keep in mind that I don't switch between sounds much, so I might not be the best judge.
The action is good. Very good. I like playing it. It is a bit heavier than I thought at first - it has a lot of momentum. Compared to the APs that I use I find that it seems a little bit less nimble and that it takes more effort to play. I think that is fine for me right now in building up my skills. Better to move from harder to easier, I think, than the other way around. The "let-off" feature is a bit less distinct than I expected it to be. I find that it is really subtle, much less so than the real pianos I play. One also cannot play "off the jack" (push slowly to escapement point, then push down fast to have the piano play softly). It is not an issue for me - I am way too much of a beginner to want/need such a feature. However, I do think that the lack of a third sensor does hurt the responsiveness a bit.
Overall, I am happy with my purchase. I live in a condo, and can't have an AP. I need something that I could use with headphones. I also didn't want to step up to an Avantgrand. Well, I couldn't have afforded it anyway. It took enough convincing to get my wife to agree that we should spend the money on the MP10 after only taking lessons for a few months. I think the MP10 is a good compromise for someone that wants a good action at that price point - CA-63/93 are very expensive in Canada for some reason. Well, I think because there are so few Kawai dealers. In Toronto, a city of several million people in the area, there is only one Kawai dealer. I don't get it, because there are several that sell Yamaha/Roland/Korg and other brands.
I have looked around a bit for some tips on MP10 settings, and there isn't much. I have left it pretty much as it was set out of the box, and after playing around a bit with some of the settings don't see any obvious improvements. If anybody has any tips about the settings to improve the piano sounds I would be grateful.