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Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. #2198256
12/15/13 10:48 PM
12/15/13 10:48 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 33
Houston
PCMusicGuy Offline OP
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Houston
So I've had my MP4 since about 2007 and have always played through headphones. Even since it was pretty new, I always felt that I've heard some kind of sound distortion when playing certain notes. I recently moved into a house and hooked the piano up to an amp and bookshelf speakers and now I can really hear the problems. It doesn't sound good at all but I'm not sure what can really be done about it.

I have emailed Kawai support so I will see what they have to say but has anyone heard of issues like this before? Anyone in the Houston area want to lend me their ears and make sure I'm not just crazy?

Last edited by PCMusicGuy; 12/15/13 10:52 PM.
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Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2198276
12/15/13 11:42 PM
12/15/13 11:42 PM
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 14,329
Hamamatsu, Japan
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Have you tried resetting all the settings by selecting the option in the SYSTEM menu?
It's possible that one of the settings such as 'Audio Output Mode' may have been changed accidentally, so resetting should restore it the default.

Checking the owner's manual, the MP4 dates back to 2005 (if not before), and I believe uses an older version of the 'Harmonic Imaging' technology, along with older core samples. The sound should still be reasonably good, however as a ~10 year old instrument, it may not hold up terribly well against current generation models.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2198379
12/16/13 08:08 AM
12/16/13 08:08 AM
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Posts: 16,394
Boynton Beach, FL
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Whenever you change speakers, sound systems, or headphones, you will always have to adjust the settings to suit the new environment and amplification. I would really fiddle with that until you are satisfied.

If, for some reason, you still don't like the sound but are happy with the feel, you may want to consider going for a software piano sound instead (VST). There are some good ones out there that won't break the bank (I think TrueKeys American D is $99 until the end of the year). May be worth looking into unless you're ready for an upgrade. DPs have come a long way in 6-8 years.


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Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2198419
12/16/13 09:58 AM
12/16/13 09:58 AM
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 233
Connecticut,USA
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And home stereo systems don't always give the best sound for a digital piano.


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Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: Kawai James] #2198506
12/16/13 12:19 PM
12/16/13 12:19 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 33
Houston
PCMusicGuy Offline OP
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Houston
The distortion is present when resetting back to the default piano sound. I will try a full system reset tonight to see if that makes any difference.

I cannot be satisfied as all headphones, speakers, monitors, and outputs from the piano which I've tried all exhibit the same problem. The best way I can describe what I'm hearing is some kind of mechanical vibration. It's as if you could hear the string board in an old upright piano vibrating or when you play guitar and don't hold the string down hard enough you can hear the fret buzz.

I am aware that home theater speakers don't always work, but for my environment and use they are perfectly adequate. It was equipment I already had lying around so I reused it. (Behringer A500 amp with some Insignia NS-B2111 just in case you want to know)

Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2198510
12/16/13 12:29 PM
12/16/13 12:29 PM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 239
Venezuela
Daniel Richter Offline
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If you could give a recording would be great


Long time piano player, with 7 years experience working in restaurants and doing gigs in random places.

My project: Comparison of Portable Digital Pianos under 1000 US$

Owner of Kawai ES100
Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: Daniel Richter] #2199167
12/17/13 02:33 PM
12/17/13 02:33 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 33
Houston
PCMusicGuy Offline OP
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Houston
Recording

At the above link is a recording of F followed by middle C. You should be able to hear the distortion much more on middle C. This occurs on all samples. Interestingly enough, the distortion seems present on some notes way more than others, and on some, not at all.

Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2199172
12/17/13 02:49 PM
12/17/13 02:49 PM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 239
Venezuela
Daniel Richter Offline
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Sounds like someone is blowing air. Definitely not normal. And sound like that with headphones?

Try disabling all effects like string resonance, reverb, and all effects it have. You would be lucky if that fix it, but is worth trying. My hope on that is that some of those effects are causing the noise. Even so would not be acceptable, but at least you could remove the noise that way.


Long time piano player, with 7 years experience working in restaurants and doing gigs in random places.

My project: Comparison of Portable Digital Pianos under 1000 US$

Owner of Kawai ES100
Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2199301
12/17/13 05:29 PM
12/17/13 05:29 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 33
Houston
PCMusicGuy Offline OP
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Houston
The distortion happens with all instruments (EP, strings, etc.) It is noticeable using the front headphone jack or either of the two 1/4" jacks on the back. I've done a full system reset, turned off all effects and reverb with no success. Definitely an odd one here. Kawai support has been very good about emailing me back. Hopefully this can be fixed, whatever it is.

Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2199335
12/17/13 06:32 PM
12/17/13 06:32 PM
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 14,329
Hamamatsu, Japan
Kawai James Online content
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Originally Posted by PCMusicGuy


Even though it's a microphone (cellphone?) recording, there is clearly some distortion on the 'C' note. I'm afraid I do not know the reason for this, however I'm hopeful that the chaps at Kawai America will be able to resolve the issue.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2199377
12/17/13 08:08 PM
12/17/13 08:08 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
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Australia
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Given that the noise occurs regardless of the voice being used, it could suggest a dirty key contact, or loose/dirty ribbon connector, or a 'dry' solder connection, somewhere?


Rob
Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2199402
12/17/13 09:01 PM
12/17/13 09:01 PM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 2,206
Rocky Mountains
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Sounds to me like the speaker is torn.
Since it happens on everything.
Could be a simple loose ground. Something like that.

It's easy to talk about.
It's another thing to actually find the problem and fix it.

Last edited by rnaple; 12/17/13 09:21 PM.

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Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2199446
12/17/13 10:36 PM
12/17/13 10:36 PM
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 98
Canada
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If it happens on all sounds, headphones and speakers, you've essentially ruled out firmware (ie. corrupted sample set) and speaker. It must be something to do with the connection of that specific key. Very odd.

Strangely, it sounds very much like my old acoustic upright. It used to make buzzy sounds with certain notes if the harmonics happened to resonate with the picture frames on the piano. Maybe it's a bonus feature to improve the authenticity of your keyboard! wink


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Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2199454
12/17/13 11:03 PM
12/17/13 11:03 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 33
Houston
PCMusicGuy Offline OP
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Houston
It is a cellphone recording. It is very interesting as pretty much every C and F across the keys behaves similarly. I am hoping that whatever it is can be diagnosed and fixed. Otherwise, I might be in the market for a replacement or switch to VSTs.

Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2199548
12/18/13 06:39 AM
12/18/13 06:39 AM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 239
Venezuela
Daniel Richter Offline
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Then is the sound generator itself that have something wrong, or maybe with a pre-amp component?

I don't know much about this things, but wish you luck.


Long time piano player, with 7 years experience working in restaurants and doing gigs in random places.

My project: Comparison of Portable Digital Pianos under 1000 US$

Owner of Kawai ES100
Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2199634
12/18/13 10:29 AM
12/18/13 10:29 AM
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 100
Italy
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Paolo70 Offline
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Italy
Hi PCMusicGuy,

Originally Posted by PCMusicGuy
It is a cellphone recording. It is very interesting as pretty much every C and F across the keys behaves similarly. I am hoping that whatever it is can be diagnosed and fixed. Otherwise, I might be in the market for a replacement or switch to VSTs.


If I got that right the tone generation issue is affecting only C and F keys. This most likely rules out analog circuitry and points to digital stuff. One possibility (pure speculation though) is that something is wrong with (the connection of?) a tone generation board.

If you feel like opening your piano's cabinet, you might try to gently remove and reinsert all the board connectors you can see (including the ones between daugther boards and main boards). This can be a lengthy job but it sometimes helps in mystery failures like the one you describe. In case you decide to try this, make sure you disconnect your piano from AC power first, and be careful not to touch anything in the power section anyway (capacitors might still hold their charge for hours after AC power disconnection).

Else, Kawai support sounds the next logical step.

Ciao (and my sympathy),
Paolo

Last edited by Paolo70; 12/18/13 10:41 AM. Reason: Added safety warning

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Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2200462
12/19/13 10:31 PM
12/19/13 10:31 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 33
Houston
PCMusicGuy Offline OP
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Houston
It is not only affecting C and F. I just noticed that it is consistent across the range on those two notes. It certainly is affecting other notes. I have considered taking it apart but want to hold off at the moment. I left a voicemail with Juan of Kawai US support a couple of days ago. I don't expect to hear back quickly due to the holiday season though.

Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2200559
12/20/13 07:23 AM
12/20/13 07:23 AM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,385
Vught, The Netherlands
Dave Horne Offline
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I listened to the recording and it sounds just like my monitor speaker bar when it's turned up too high. I assume what I'm hearing in both instances is amplifier distortion.

For my computer monitor speaker bar I simply lower the volume setting when I hear it.


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Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: Dave Horne] #2205644
12/31/13 11:30 AM
12/31/13 11:30 AM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 33
Houston
PCMusicGuy Offline OP
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Houston
It happens at even the lowest of volumes. I've tried turning down the external amp, turning up the piano volume and vice versa. It makes no difference. I left a message with Kawai US support over a week ago but haven't received a call back yet. I'm assuming I'll get a call back when the holidays are over.

Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2206843
01/02/14 11:16 AM
01/02/14 11:16 AM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 33
Houston
PCMusicGuy Offline OP
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Houston
Great news everyone. My brother in law was over last night and I had him listen to the noise my piano was making. He confirmed that it sounded like some kind of mechanical buzzing. He checked the connections of the equipment and everything looked good though the same problem persisted. Most C notes on the piano would cause the buzzing.

On a whim, we swapped the positions of the bookshelf speakers. Afterwards, the buzzing was occurring on B natural instead of C. This led us to believe it was truly some kind of mechanical vibration we were hearing and the electronics were actually fine.

After doing some digging, I was able to determine the noise being heard was actually being generated by the two set screws inside of some Emotiva banana plugs on the speaker side. Even though I made these interconnects last year and ran them for a desktop stereo with no issues, it would seem that some notes generated by the piano cause them to vibrate.

I am happy to say I have removed the banana plugs from the speaker side and just ran the wire to the posts directly and the horrible buzzing has disappeared. I imagine that the reason I could hear similar buzzing when using headphones is that my brain tricked me in to hearing something since I was convinced I was hearing something unusual. Thanks for all those who offered some advice.

Re: Kawai MP4 sounds really bad. [Re: PCMusicGuy] #2206963
01/02/14 03:10 PM
01/02/14 03:10 PM
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Nice story.

I had a CN33 for a couple of years that annoyed me with a buzzing low note. I suspected a resonance but could never track it down. When it came to selling the CN33 I moved it to another room ready for its replacement, and was amazed the buzzy note was gone.

With the new DP I tracked the buzz down to a wall mounted clock. I think this sort of problem and investigation is standard fare for piano tuners and technicians.


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