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Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
#1965962 09/28/12 08:09 PM
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Hi, this is your typical insecure buyer's post. I'm deciding between the ES7 and the now-aging MP6. Please note that I can't test the MP6, but rave reviews have seduced me enough to consider buying it online.

- I play the holy trinity of classical, jazz and rock. Thus, I'm also interested in EP's and Organs, though this is secondary to a beautiful AP sound. Still, I am seduced by MP6's ability to emulate drawbar functions, and the sheer amount of organ and EP sounds. I have no idea if among these only 4 or 5 would count as actually outstanding, or if the killer quality of the 4 organ sounds I find in the ES7 would actually outweigh the MP6. What are the organ functions in the ES7?

- Anyways, what I'm looking is primarily a piano replacement with sounds to inspire and good action for developing technique and expression. I'm not sure what difference a third key sensor (ES7) makes in responsiveness, and if this could be analogous to comparing the ES7 to a Grand, and a MP6 (two sensors) to an upright (I've been told that uprights are actually better for developing technique).
Is this third sensor really a significant improvement on the older MP6's action? Does this relate to keybed responsiveness, i.e. quick repetition of notes?

- Is the ES7 tone generator technology superior, and more capable of nuance and expression than the MP6's? Also, on-board speakers are a definite plus to me: do you consider the ES7 speakers decent enough to compete with an average speaker setup for the MP6?

- And one last thing: I understand that the F-20's left pedal can be programmed within the MP6 to function either as 'soft' or Sostenuto. Is this possible also with the ES7?

Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Radion Romanovich #1965967 09/28/12 08:44 PM
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I own an ES6. It's very nice and I like the way it sounds and plays with the on board speakers. I would vote with out a doubt for the ES7.


Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Radion Romanovich #1965974 09/28/12 09:27 PM
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Hello Radion, welcome to the forum.

Am I correct in thinking that you have already play-tested the ES7?

To answer your queries:

1. The ES7's organ functions are relatively basic compared with the MP6, however thanks to the ES7's more powerful tone generator, the rotary effect and Leslie amp/speaker modelling are superior.

2. I believe the 3-sensor RHII action used in the ES7 is a significant improvement over the 2-sensor RH action used in the MP6, with the primary benefit being greater responsiveness.

3. The main differences to the ES7's tone generator relate to the more powerful effects processor, allowing for higher quality modelled effects, reverb, and amp simulation. Note that the core piano sounds are still the 'PHI' standard (i.e. same as MP6), however I believe the improved D-A converter and higher quality effects etc. should make for a more realistic sound.

4. The ES7's speakers have received very favourable comments from distributors, dealers, and now customers. Despite being a portable instrument, the sound quality is excellent. That being said, I expect larger, dedicated monitor speakers would produce a superior sound.

5. When the F-20 pedal unit is used with the ES7, the left pedal is used as a soft pedal (or toggle the slow/fast speed when the rotary effect is selected) and the right pedal is used as the damper pedal. It is not currently possible to reassign the pedal functions, meaning that sostenuto is only available when the F-301 triple pedal accessory is used.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Kawai James #1965982 09/28/12 10:11 PM
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Thanks emenelton, and Kawai James, you have neatly picked apart my questions. And yes, I have play-tested the ES7 and I instantly fell in love with it's sound and feel, though I have to admit that the shallow travel of keys (shallower than ES6) puts me off somewhat, in regards to readjusting in front of a real piano.

5 more questions:
- Is my analogy of keyboard actions (3-sensor, 2-sensor) and piano types (grand, upright) too off-kilter?

- The MP6 approaches rudimentary synth capabilities, which I like. Are all of the 256 preset sounds of the same quality, or am I right to suspect that for each collection, only 4-8 would stand out in quality, fidelity and taste?

- Could you please care to elaborate on the simpler organ functions of the ES7, especially in contrast to the more sophisticated MP6 (advantages, disadvantages)? I would like to know the degree of (Hammond B3 type?) realism of the drawbar function on the MP6, which I assume can be controlled in real-time.

- One important advantage of the MP6 is price, and not needing to buy a dedicated 3-pedal apparatus AND a dedicated stand to support those pedals. With monitor speakers this difference might even out somewhat though. Could you please provide a quick example of a good quality speaker setup for the MP6, so I can form a proper idea?

- Can I manage firmware upgrades in the ES7 as in the MP6?

Thanks a lot!

Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Radion Romanovich #1966116 09/29/12 08:35 AM
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Hi Radion,

Knowing both boards I would say :

1) For plenty of good organs and organ simulations and control: MP6
2) For masterkeyboard functionality: MP6
3) For EP sounds and direct control of those sounds (including Wah control if you like) : MP6
4) For additional bread and butter sounds : MP6, but they are not state of the art, to say the least. Strings and drum are all-right. Rest is...the rest.

A) For best keybed : ES7 - but the RH on the MP6 is NOT a bad keybed. It's just a bit slow on very fast repetitions and a a tad heavier. If you like it a bit heavier; that could also be an advantage of the old RH
B) Build-in speakers ; do you need them ? If so : only on the ES7 ,including Audio input.
C) arranger; only on ES7 - but do you need it ? Not my reason for buying one.

In Short: make a list of what you find most important on the instrument and see which one of those piano's fits your need. You'll always have to make trade-offs anyway.

Best description:

ES7 - best portable PIANO of the two , with best keybed. My only reason for switching, since an MP6 with RHII seems long way off. Easy setup ; just swtich on and play on the internal speakers.

MP6 - best masterkeyboard controller of the two, with lots of programmable controls, pedals and settings. Keybed is still very good (!), for pure classical AP I prefer the RHII.

I get the feeling you like EP's and organs a lot. I would say the MP6 is much better suited to fill that need; but keep in consideration the other pro's and cons.


Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Radion Romanovich #1966154 09/29/12 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Radion Romanovich
- Is my analogy of keyboard actions (3-sensor, 2-sensor) and piano types (grand, upright) too off-kilter?


The 3rd sensor does improve responsiveness, however some upright pianos feature very responsive keyboard actions.

Originally Posted by Radion Romanovich
- The MP6 approaches rudimentary synth capabilities, which I like. Are all of the 256 preset sounds of the same quality, or am I right to suspect that for each collection, only 4-8 would stand out in quality, fidelity and taste?


I believe the acoustic and electric pianos are the best quality sounds on the MP6. The other sounds vary in quality, although the majority of sounds are very usable, especially when used in layers with effects etc.

Originally Posted by Radion Romanovich
- Could you please care to elaborate on the simpler organ functions of the ES7, especially in contrast to the more sophisticated MP6 (advantages, disadvantages)? I would like to know the degree of (Hammond B3 type?) realism of the drawbar function on the MP6, which I assume can be controlled in real-time.


The original MP6 software only allowed a single drawbar to be adjusted at the same time using the panel buttons. However a software update has added the ability to control 4 sets of drawbars using the 4 zone faders. The real-time control obviously isn't as intuitive as a real Hammond, but it's a considerable improvement on the MP6's original control system.

Regarding the MP6's additional organ features, in addition to the PCM and tonewheel organ sounds, it is also possible to adjust parameters for tonewheel key click and percussion.

Originally Posted by Radion Romanovich
Could you please provide a quick example of a good quality speaker setup for the MP6, so I can form a proper idea?


There are a number of speaker/monitor threads in this forum, with posters who are far more knowledgeable about the subject than I.

Originally Posted by Radion Romanovich
- Can I manage firmware upgrades in the ES7 as in the MP6?


All Kawai DPs with 'USB to Host' functionality allow the firmware to be updated. Firmware files can be downloaded from the link below:

http://www.kawai.co.jp/worldwide/support/updates.html

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Kawai James #1966166 09/29/12 10:57 AM
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Many thanks JFP and Kawai James for your very exhaustive answers. I think this is enough information for a proper assessment of both products; I will read the ES7 manual regarding organ functions so I can take the final decision. Both DP's are superb either way.

Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Radion Romanovich #1973210 10/14/12 02:40 PM
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Hi,

I ended up testing the ES7 and MP6 next to each other. I had to use a regular Panasonic headphone, which is obviously inferior to Sennheiser et al, but it serves the purpose well enough:

– Piano sounds are superior on the ES7. It is not lightyears ahead, but the difference is noticeable enough in richness of tone, where MP6 in comparison sounds duller and less of a pleasure to play. This translates more or less to all the other common sounds.

– Action is perhaps not as different. It was easier to connect to the ES7 action, which is more apt to expressiveness, but I couldn't pinpoint precisely the reason for this. Perhaps this is where the third sensor comes in, but I still don't understand the benefits; it sounds to me like just one more technical fad. Please do enlighten me.

I've read complaints on the MP6 not allowing for rapid repetition of single notes. Playing trills I could not make a difference between the two; I may not have a rapid enough technique, but this sounds more like an excuse. I propose that piano playing starts with the mind, then the hands, then the instrument; and not the other way around. Sure enough, you could adjust your technique for the MP6, or is there really an insurmountable physical threshold for this thing?

– Sound banks: I think that ES7 has the best sounds for its limited palette, but the MP6 still has a lot more to offer in terms of EP's and organs. Its EP's
sound more authentic than organs (except for a lovely reed organ), and extended tweakability is definitely a plus as long as it doesn't sound synthetic. There is some cheese too, but that is to be expected from such a large collection.

I am left almost where I started. It is true that things such as tremolo and Leslie sound better on the ES7, but if it could just have included a little more functions for organ and EP (and omitting those cheesy strings and choir) it would have been perfect!

Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Radion Romanovich #1974776 10/17/12 06:21 PM
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Can somebody kindly explain why the price on the ES7 in the US is so much more than Europe?

In the US, it sells for $2,000, while in Europe it sells for an equivalent of around $1,815 (with currency
conversion). Not to mention, in Europe a VAT (sales tax) of 20% is already included in the price.






Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Radion Romanovich #1974787 10/17/12 06:31 PM
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An empty suit somewhere decides what to sell digital pianos for. There is not a healthy enough competition to get anything like price parity across markets.

Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Emil M #1974792 10/17/12 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Emil M
Can somebody kindly explain why the price on the ES7 in the US is so much more than Europe?

In the US, it sells for $2,000, while in Europe it sells for an equivalent of around $1,815 (with currency
conversion). Not to mention, in Europe a VAT (sales tax) of 20% is already included in the price.


Kawai America charges more. There's nothing more to it.

Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Emil M #1974827 10/17/12 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Emil M
Can somebody kindly explain why the price on the ES7 in the US is so much more than Europe?

In the US, it sells for $2,000, while in Europe it sells for an equivalent of around $1,815 (with currency
conversion). Not to mention, in Europe a VAT (sales tax) of 20% is already included in the price.


There are a number of factors that can influence the price of the same product in different markets. This is true of Kawai, Yamaha, and Roland, but also true of Apple, Samsung, Sony, and many other manufacturers.

In this particular case, the ES7 price listed on the KawaiUS.com is perhaps a little higher than can be found at American dealers' stores. While in contrast, the prices listed on Thomann.de (assuming this is your source) tend to be a little cheaper than in European dealers' stores.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Radion Romanovich #1974920 10/17/12 11:01 PM
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The going price at all retailers in the US for the MP6 is $1,499.00, and for the ES7 it's $1,999.

In the US, sales tax is only applicable when delivered from the same state as the shipping address.

In Europe, the price on the ES7 is 1399 Euro (with 20% VAT).

Now, what's interesting is the price in Europe on the Kawai MP6 is about the same as the ES7.

http://www.preissuchmaschine.de/in-Musikinstrument/E-Piano/Kawai-ES-7-IW.html

http://www.preissuchmaschine.de/in-Musikinstrument/E-Piano/Kawai-MP6.html

And looks like most of the European dealers prices are about the same.

Last edited by Emil M; 10/17/12 11:28 PM.
Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Radion Romanovich #1974921 10/17/12 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by myself
It is not currently possible to reassign the pedal functions, meaning that sostenuto is only available when the F-301 triple pedal accessory is used.


This requested functionality has been added with the v1.13 software update.

Please refer to the following post for more information:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1974904/

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Radion Romanovich #1975095 10/18/12 09:41 AM
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Hi,

I'm sure the ES7 is an excellent instrument , really
but as owner of the MP6, I want to point out a very important aspect.

In MP6 is possible to intervene in the sound that you want to get, significantly.

By the simple EQ, DSP, CUTOFF, then with 4 sound zones (layered, split and Key velocity switch) and many other parameters, I can assure you that you can get sonority very-very interesting.

Here's an simple example using only one Zone

you set Electric Piano 1, then set EFX type as "Pedal Wah".
if the Amp Simulator is turned off, you press the ASSIGN button (the display shows the MIDI parameter names: PAN - STN - VBR - VBD), you change the STN in ChD chorus and set value about 25.
(I use this trick to keep a very light Chorus about 7 ... 8 or zero, and have the Control Knob always available for the amount of Chorus)

now you can already see how it changed the sound of Electric Piano simply by changing only two parameters.
Repet, if the ASSIGN button is ON (LED on), you can use the Control Knob to increase or decrease the Chorus in real time (this is not bad !!)

there remains the possibility of using many other parameters on this Zone and other three Zone,available to be set as desired.

and do not neglect the EQ.

best regards

Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Radion Romanovich #1975112 10/18/12 10:45 AM
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The MP6 is pretty much the definitive stage DP: simple to operate, very controllable, good action, well constructed, not too heavy. If it had upgradeable sounds (especially APs) and DSP it would be almost perfect.

I'm sure the three-sensor RHII would make it even better, but the original RH action is still good. Repetition can be impeded slightly due to the action response time, but in "normal" use it's not a problem. (To the poster above who suggested that this observation is an excuse for poor technique, I would say that this is a minor limitation that has been commented on by a number of observers; it was one of the first things I noticed when comparing the action to the three-sensor FP-7F.)

I would not trade mine for an ES7. RHII, better processing and effects, built-in speakers are all welcome features, but until Kawai delivers a replacement with their current best AP and EP samples (or a competitor ups the game), I would prefer to keep the better user interface and controllability of the MP6. Obviously, it's much tougher if you're trying to decide between them for a new purchase.


"you don't need to have been a rabbit in order to become a veterinarian"

mabraman, 2015
Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Emil M #1975139 10/18/12 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Emil M
Can somebody kindly explain why the price on the ES7 in the US is so much more than Europe?

In the US, it sells for $2,000, while in Europe it sells for an equivalent of around $1,815 (with currency
conversion). Not to mention, in Europe a VAT (sales tax) of 20% is already included in the price.


Good old-fashioned American corporate greed....


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Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Radion Romanovich #1975145 10/18/12 12:04 PM
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LOL try living in Canada! Everything here is priced higher than then States, under the guise of "we are remote."


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Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
Radion Romanovich #1975157 10/18/12 12:22 PM
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@Voxpops

I did indeed trade for an ES7 and am still not sure whether I am happy with it or not. Due to the ongoing 'audio thingies'; not the RH II or sounds which are basically fine for what I need. Some audio 'thingies' keep me from having 100% fun with the board and my initial idea of adding sounds with SW instruments through audio-in.

If these things are solved one way or another the ES7 is definitely a keeper ! If not, then I'm not so sure and have a little regret dumping my MP6 for way too little money...

I would say keep your MP6 - at least till the ES7 has been around a bit longer and perhaps seen some revision. For potential ES7 buyers: test the specific unit you want to buy in the shop, before taking it home. Both at high speaker volume and over headphones with a clean audio source as input. Try fff chords incorporating 'a' and 'e' keys together and see if something resonates (sum and difference tones are added). Of course with all Virtual Technician stuff turned off, otherwise it may play tricks. Small checklist:

1) Audio-in should be really crips and clean over headphones,
2) banging on close a/e keys together should not introduce added harmonic resonances - sometimes causing distorted ringing in the right speaker as well - and
3) the speakers should not make a digital HF noise at half volume setting (fading away when going up or down with the slider).

Cheers, J



Last edited by JFP; 10/18/12 12:23 PM.
Re: Kawai ES7 vs. MP6
JFP #1975176 10/18/12 01:09 PM
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These two boards are directed to different users: the MP6 is an integral stage piano with master controller functions, and the ES7 is more of a studio/practice piano with (good) additional sounds.

If you're interested in AP emulation the ES7 is definitely better. The MP6 tweaking options are no use here and too much of that will probably result in a more artificial sound. I'm told that the ES7 uses the same basic piano sounds as the MP6, but subjectively the ES7 feels more alive, supposedly as a result of its improved keybed, which feels very responsive, and more advanced DSP processing. The MP6 did not impress me as a piano emulator.

For everything else, of course the MP6 is superior. This as far as extended playability goes, if not sound-wise (I still find the EP's from the ES7 a bit better, and more expressive). I would listen to JFP's advice if you decide to go the ES7 route.

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