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Hi,

I am an adult beginner, having a Kawai ES7 and have been learning for the past 6 months. The classes I attend have acoustic pianos and I like the feel of the keys and the sound quality.

I was considering upgrading to either Kawai CA97 or Kawai CP2. Would it be too early to change from my current ES7, given the stage of my learning and playing level? Do I continue with ES7 till a reach a certain level of playing ability before I consider a change?

I am new to the forum as well. All suggestions are welcome and highly appreciated.

Regards,
AP

Last edited by APN; 04/23/15 01:36 PM.
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from what i understand you have a VERY capable piano and dont think as a new piano player have grown skill wise out of the ES7 already imho id wait probaly another year before looking at the premium digital pianos, unless your very specifically doing so for the cabinet.

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I truly believe that everyone should own the highest quality piano/keyboard that they can (smartly) afford. Contrary to what some say, learning on a crappy keyboard with crappy action does not somehow magically make you better able to play a Steinway.

Playing on a cheap keyboard does, however, prevent you from learning proper tone and volume control. If you are playing on a $300 casio, you have the ability to play from about mf to f, possibly an ff, though it'll just sound like forte but more painful. So all of your music will sound quite muddy, and lack the nuances that make the piano such a beautiful instrument.

Should you later move to a grand/upright, you will have to re-learn past your bad habbits of smashing your keys without any regard for the sound.

So if you can afford a CA97, buy a CA97. If its living outside your means, then still buy one because they are awesome wink Kidding!

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Well, you certainly are not playing on a "cheap" keyboard and it cannot be termed "crappy" by any stretch of imagination.

The ES7 is a very fine keyboard and provides you with a quality touch and sound with which to perform.

Whatever you purchase next will not necessarily be "better", but may only be different.

However, if you want to buy a CA97 and you can afford it comfortably, buy it. However, be sure to play one extensively before purchasing to be sure it is going to be "better".



Don

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I have played acoustics, including concert grands, for more than half a century. For reasons aired in other threads, I now have an ES7. Whilst I use software pianos rather than the inbuilt Kawai sounds and whilst I know the VPC1's action for instance would give me more control - approaching that of a good grand - the ES7's action is good enough for me to play music from Bach to Rachmaninov and provide a high level of satisfaction.

I do agree that early learning is best done upon the best possible instrument - can you afford/house a new Steinway D, for example? - but the ES7 has a more than capable action. As always, listening is the key. At whatever level we play, if we can listen critically to what we are producing and cultivate that listening, our technical and musical abilities will improve over time. Good listening to oneself is a much harder skill than one would expect, btw. One huge advantage a DP has over an acoustic is the ability to record: using this will highlight any current deficiences in technique and also indicate how a listener might hear your musicality. No replacement for a teacher, but hearing that our phrasing, accents etc, that are quite clear to us when we play somehow don't come over on the recording, for instance, is very illuminating. Similarly, a DP action tends to be less sensitive to small changes in touch: we can easily move from p to f unintentionally. (Largely to do with the shortness of the keys) Hearing a recording really helps us to control our touch and actually equip us, after the appropriate adjustment, to produce very subtle changes of touch on an acoustic.

Make sure your ES7's volume is high: this will force you to develop the skills to play softly. I would say your ES7 will be good enough for a long time to come and if you have some money available, spend it on a computer (if necessary) and a software piano - I use Pianoteq. Implies quite a lot of experimentation with the software, but the sound is much nearer to that of an acoustic and the skill in using the RH pedal much nearer to that needed for an acoustic. The standard DP sound can stand a very heavy right foot which you can't get away with on an acoustic. Software pianos demand a much more subtle RH pedal approach than the inbuilt sounds.

Finally, as you progress and play other, better, instruments, you yourself will realise when your ES7 is insufficient for your further progress. I am at the other end of the spectrum: I know in what ways the ES7 is deficient and how a better action etc would make it easier to play as I know I can, or at least could, but my playing time is now limited, with age/arthritis etc. The ES7 is good enough for me now, but during my development I would have outgrown it. You will recognise that the ES7 is failing to give you what you are trying to achieve, but unless you are a prodigy, it is unlikely to be after 6 months. You already recognise the difference between the acoustics and the ES7 which promises good development of listening and touch skills. A better sound via software pianos rather than new hardware with inbult sounds seems to me a more profitable first "upgrade".

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APN, welcome to the forum.

The posts above offer some sterling advice. I'm inclined to agree that the ES7's quality will serve you very well for a little while yet. My suggestion would be to continue with your lessons and regular practise for another 6 months or so, then reassess the situation. You will be a more skilled player by this time, and in a better position to judge if an upgrade is necessary.

The CA97 and CP2 are excellent instruments, featuring real wooden keys and more expressive piano sounds. Out of the two, I would favour the piano-focused CA97 as it features the latest GFII keyboard action, new SK-EX and SK-5 grand piano sounds, and the unique soundboard speaker system. The CP2 is impressive, however this model is perhaps geared more towards players who wish to play ensemble pieces, with backing accompaniments etc.

I hope this helps - best of luck with your ongoing piano studies.

Kind regards,
James
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Hello Everyone,

Thank you for your responses. Very useful advice indeed from all of you.

It seems there is general consensus that I continue with ES7 for sometime.

I chose the ES7 over Yamaha P255 and Roland FP80, primarily because I liked both the sound and touch of the ES7 over the others. And I am quite happy with my decision based on those criteria and nothing has changed my impression about the ES7 since I have owned it.

Even though my lessons are on acoustics (upright) and I really enjoy those, I still feel the touch of the ES7 are pretty good for me not to crave for anything different immediately. However, the real difference is now in the sound. Although I still like the sound of ES7 better than the other digitals that I compared against before buying, I feel a large gap compared to the acoustics I play on during my lessons. Even at full volume on the ES7, I feel it isn't loud enough and there isn't that richness and warmth. But with headphones on, it is a completely different feel and I do not miss anything in sound quality and loudness. I use a pair of AKG-702 headphones. Hence, I tend to put my headphones on most of the times while practising on my ES7.

I haven't had a chance to listen to a CA97 yet as it isn't available with the local dealer, but I have listened to CA15 and I liked the sound of that. Hence I am inclined to believe that the sound of CA97 would be a lot better, especially with the soundboard.

All said, I agree with the responses from you all that it is prudent and practical to wait till I improve my playing skills, and that ES7 is a more than capable instrument to support me through my learning. Any advice on ways in which I could get richer sound quality even without my headphones on, would be highly valuable. If that isn't possible, I will be willing to live with my playing with headphones for the time being :-).

Regards,
AP

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You could try to connect external speakers to your DP.
High quality speakers are pricey though.

If you already have a good pair of speakers using with computers, you may want to try that first.

I use a pair of pretty cheap 6" speakers with my DP. While it is loud and clear enough for listening, it doesn't have the sparkle like listening through headphone.

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Originally Posted by APN
...The classes I attend have acoustic pianos and I like the feel of the keys and the sound quality...
Why don't you look for a nice 2nd hand upright acoustic instead?

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Hi Johan,

That is one of the options I did consider. However, I would prefer a digital for the same two reasons, most folks prefer :-).

1) The ability to play with headphones whenever needed
2) No need for any tuning and related maintenance

Regards,
AP

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Originally Posted by APN
The ability to play with headphones whenever needed and no need for any tuning and related maintenance
That the same with children :-), but you get so much in return...

Last edited by johan d; 04/24/15 04:14 AM.
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there are silent pianos too -- acoustic mechanics plus headphones. However
they can be more expensive than a simple digital


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I'd say stick with your es7 for now. Wait for at least one more generation, maybe 2, or find an acoustic piano.

Until then occasionally practice on a grand piano if possible until then. If your lessons are on a grand then you're good for quite a while, perhaps try to find another acoustic to practice with.

Just to address a slight pet peeve:

That any piano has wooden keys is pretty much irrelevant and purely much marketing. What you touch is plastic, whether it's a 100k+ steinway or a 50usd midi controller. How the action feels and how it holds up is what matters. Materials inside the piano is mostly an implementation issue. For strength, weight and cost wood is pretty good. Carbon fibre is much better but more expensive. Properly isolating and handling wear is important in any case.

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Originally Posted by siros
You could try to connect external speakers to your DP.
High quality speakers are pricey though.

If you already have a good pair of speakers using with computers, you may want to try that first.

I use a pair of pretty cheap 6" speakers with my DP. While it is loud and clear enough for listening, it doesn't have the sparkle like listening through headphone.


I am not a fan of attaching external speakers to a digital piano unless you absolutely have to. In my experience, the result is not always "better" ... only different.

Searching for the improved sound by throwing money at it can be a frustrating experience. The sound you get through headphones is usually better than anything you can achieve with speakers.

The sound I get through my ES7 internal speakers sounds better to me than the sound I get through my external speakers.


Last edited by dmd; 04/24/15 12:18 PM.

Don

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Don, is the sound better through the ES7 speakers for all your pianos - native to the ES7 and the software pianos? If so, I'm surprised: the native Kawai sounds are good through the ES7 speakers, but I invested in external monitors because I just could not get a decent sound through the ES7 speakers with software pianos. This is via True Keys - all pianos up to but excluding Ravenscroft - and Pianoteq. All these pianos sound much better with the monitors, and also through desktop speakers plus sub-woofer on my "photographic" Mac. The sound through my domestic speakers is in another league, via burning cds of my less awful performances. Room acoustics of course play an enormous part in how speakers sound.

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Sandalholme:

I actually do not even use my external speakers (by themselves) for either native ES7 sounds or software sounds. The sound I get through my ES7 speakers is always more distinct and the sound through my external speakers is more soft or muffled. Sometimes I add the external speakers at a very low volume just for the extra bass but I really do not even notice them in the mix.

At one time I used to fuss around with the EQ on the speakers but have since just left it alone it is what it is. That means I was not able to get a sound that was significantly better with all that "fussing".

So, the bottom line is I am spending more time learning to play and less time tweaking the sound because I am well satisfied with the sound I am getting.

My philosophy now is ... Learn to play better and you will be surprised at how much better your piano sounds ... to you and others.



Don

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We have arrived at the same place in different ways. I too am satisfied with the sound I get and also believe that the more I practice/play, the better the set up sounds.

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Originally Posted by sandalholme
We have arrived at the same place in different ways. I too am satisfied with the sound I get and also believe that the more I practice/play, the better the set up sounds.


Agree completely.


Don

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Originally Posted by bnolsen
Just to address a slight pet peeve:

That any piano has wooden keys is pretty much irrelevant and purely much marketing.


I believe it depends on what we're referring to:

- A plastic key action with additional wooden parts: Yes, the material is irrelevant and largely for appearance/marketing.
- A fully wooden-key action: The material does make a difference. Of course, appearance and marketing are a factor, however the vast majority of those who try a fully wooden-key action believe it feels more realistic (i.e. more like an acoustic piano).

May I ask which type of action you were referring to, and if you have played/compared them both?

Kind regards,
James
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
[quote=bnolsen]
- A fully wooden-key action: The material does make a difference. Of course, appearance and marketing are a factor, however the vast majority of those who try a fully wooden-key action believe it feels more realistic (i.e. more like an acoustic piano).


I personally like the kawai actions. However your competitors, including roland, are close behind and I don't believe they use any wooden parts.

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