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#2642630 - 05/12/17 11:15 AM Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years  
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Hi everyone, here's my current VPC1 setup. You can see my original thread here. I picked the VPC1 initially because I live in a pretty small apartment and figured I could set it up in the same area as the TV. I've had the piano for almost three years now and think it's a great substitute for a "real" piano. I'm a big fan of the action on the keyboard. I think it's pretty much the closest you can get to a real grand piano at the price range. I also like the variety of having so many different piano samples to use and being able to customize the sound and key velocity exactly as needed. The piano is very easy to keep clean and the uncluttered design will always look fresh.

[Linked Image]

1) My elastic keyboard cover has started to sag now after being stretched so many times so it's time for a new one. This time I'll get something that's not elastic.

2) The piano pedals started squeaking a couple of months in, but that was 100% fixed with a quick spray of silicone-based WD-40. I've had no other problems at all with the hardware.

Here are the peripherals that I've picked up over the last 3 years and some notes on them.

[Linked Image]

1) I replaced the desktop computer I was originally using with this tiny NUC. It's actually faster and I can easily hide it. I prefer having a desktop since I don't move the piano around, but for those who need a more portable solution a laptop might work better.

2) The studio monitors I got still work great, though I had to turn the sub-woofer down after a noise complaint from one of my neighbors. I had some issues with higher than expected background noise/static from the speakers at first, but that was fixed by upgrading my DAC.

3) I upgraded from my cheap Behringer DAC to a Schiit Modi. While they sound pretty much the same while music is playing, with the Modi there is less background noise/static coming from my speakers when nothing is playing. I would definitely recommend spending a little more on the DAC if listening to the speakers from are as close of a distance as in my setup. I am pretty sensitive to noise, so the passive buzz was driving me crazy.

Recently I also picked up a Asgard 2 amp, which I run both my speakers and headphones through. I feel like the background noise level of my speakers dropped even more, though I'm not sure that's even possible since the signal going from the DAC to the speakers should be passing through amp untouched.

4) Using the TV for sheet music was a bad idea and caused a lot of eye strain. I got a 9.7" iPad Air 2 and used that for a while but eventually upgraded to a 12.9" iPad Pro. I thought the 9.7" was fine, but the size difference feels way bigger than the 3 inches suggest. I wholeheartedly recommend the 12.9" for sheet music. I also considered the Surface Pro/Surface Book, but most sheet music is closer to 4:3 than 3:2, so I stuck with Apple.
[Linked Image]

5) I got the Pageflip Firefly wireless pedal to flip through sheet music on the iPad without using my hands. I imagine it would be very useful for performing, but I don't actually use it that much since I just play for fun.

6) I decided to pick up some headphones so I could play at night without disturbing my neighbors. I ended up getting the Sennheiser HD 650. The first time I listened to them I was so amazed. I couldn't believe that a $300 pair of reference headphones produced higher fidelity audio than my $800 studio monitor setup. The noise floor on the headphones is also much lower than on the speakers. Nothing comes out of the headphone drivers aside from what's being played. I find myself using the headphones sometimes even when I could be using the speakers.

Overall it took me a long time to get all the software and sound working right, but I'm very happy with my setup now. Feel free to ask me any questions about digital pianos peripherals, I've spent way too much time researching and testing this stuff over the last three years.

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#2642646 - 05/12/17 11:32 AM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: newbies]  
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TheodorN Online content
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Cool setup. I also have a TV, Sony 46 inches, in front of my PX-5S, the only difference they both sit on a table.

One question. Did you get better sound when going through the audio interfaces, compared to using only the onboard sound card of the computer? I'm considering getting a Focusrite 2i4, and some say it'll improve the sound from the piano, or the computer, and not only when playing VSTs, but everything played on a computer, movies, music, or games.


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#2642647 - 05/12/17 11:32 AM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: newbies]  
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Wow, this looks great! I recall the original post and wondered about using the TV for music being a problem.

Have you done any room treatment to help with the audio fidelity from the monitors? I've heard that can have a huge effect on the sound, and your comment about the headphones made me wonder if that might help a bit (although I know very little and need to treat my room as well).

You mention noise to the neighbors, and there's a recent thread on using some sound barrier material between the stand and the floor to reduce the thumping that can transmit even if you are wearing headphones:

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...wn-noisy-keyboard-thump.html#Post2635027


private piano/voice teacher FT

[Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
#2642749 - 05/12/17 04:20 PM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: TheodorN]  
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Originally Posted by TheodorN
Cool setup. I also have a TV, Sony 46 inches, in front of my PX-5S, the only difference they both sit on a table.

One question. Did you get better sound when going through the audio interfaces, compared to using only the onboard sound card of the computer? I'm considering getting a Focusrite 2i4, and some say it'll improve the sound from the piano, or the computer, and not only when playing VSTs, but everything played on a computer, movies, music, or games.


Well I've never used the built in sound since I only have analog inputs on my studio monitor so I wouldn't be able to compare. If you don't have any issues with latency or sound right now then I don't know how much of a difference it would make.

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#2642751 - 05/12/17 04:26 PM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Wow, this looks great! I recall the original post and wondered about using the TV for music being a problem.

Have you done any room treatment to help with the audio fidelity from the monitors? I've heard that can have a huge effect on the sound, and your comment about the headphones made me wonder if that might help a bit (although I know very little and need to treat my room as well).

You mention noise to the neighbors, and there's a recent thread on using some sound barrier material between the stand and the floor to reduce the thumping that can transmit even if you are wearing headphones:

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...wn-noisy-keyboard-thump.html#Post2635027



I have thick concrete under my flooring, so I don't need dampening for my downstairs neighbor. It's the neighbors on either side that can feel the vibrations from my sub-woofer, but not an issue anymore after I turned it down.

Regarding sound treatment I have also heard good things, and I plan to have an audio room after I get a bigger place. There's not much I can do in my current place though, since the room the piano is in has floor to ceiling windows on two sides.

#2642959 - 05/13/17 09:03 AM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: newbies]  
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Interesting, thanks for sharing.

#2642982 - 05/13/17 10:30 AM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: newbies]  
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I use Pianoteq with my Lenovo Thinkpad x201T which has a 12" reversable screen. It has a Cardbus (pci express) slot in which I put an Echo Indigo IO sound card
http://www.stereophile.com/computeraudio/1104echo/#h8q5MG7GpLzPe4Fv.97

My keyboard is a Yamaha Tyros 5 which interfaces with the laptop using a Roland UM-ONE midi to usb cable.

The Echo sound card output sends the Pianoteq stereo output to my Behringer mixer which outputs to a 100W Alesis reference amp feeding a JBL Control One SB-5 subwoofer and a pair of JBL Control 5 passive speakers.

I post this reply in detail to say that with my system there is absolutely no interference or hum noise.

One thing to check is that you do not have flourescent lighting in the room or lighting dimmers. Both can radiate noise that unbalanced cables will pick up.

I would have bought a VPC-1 but I already have a very expensive acoustic piano.

You made a good choice for your new display.

Ian

Last edited by Beemer; 05/13/17 10:32 AM.

I'm all keyed up
2016 Blüthner Model A
#2643200 - 05/14/17 04:34 AM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: Beemer]  
Joined: Jan 2015
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Excellent setup Newbies - I'm really jealous of the ipad pro 12", the perfect solution for sheet music on the VPC 1 IMHO. I noticed my iPad Air 2 is magnetic and sticks to the sheet music holder of the VPC 1 like glue. Does the Pro do the same?

I'm trying to get a VPC 1 up and running with very limited knowledge/budget. I'm using a pair of Mackie 8" monitors and a Lenovo x200t. Running through the Lenovo headphone jack direct to the speakers is a disaster - headphones give much better results but I really want to hear the samples through the Mackie's, so an interface is essential.

Ian, I was very happy to see your post - trying to find any x200 series express slot information on the web is difficult! This is exactly what I am looking at doing - but running the VPC 1 from the Lenovo to the monitors. I have Ivory stored on an ssd within the thinkpad but looking at the option of using a caddy and the ultrabase to add a second hdd as the Ivory software is around 49GB. Perhaps Pianoteq could save me the hassle - I just want to hear a quality sample at the moment, controlled by the VPC 1 - I have no need for recording, mixing, monitoring or anything else at this time. The Echo Indigo seems difficult to find on the web, I wonder if the Audioquest Dragonfly USB stick would work in a similar way, but I presume the express card slot would give better results than USB.

I'm desperate for any external sound for now. I have the apple lightning camera connection kit and an iPad Air 2 with GarageBand, but the VPC 1 refuses to play. I can get rid of the dreaded 'Device uses too much power' message with a passive USB hub, but nothing from the VPC 1. I believe the only chance is a powered hub.

Thanks for sharing Newbies, I'm going to research the NUC and Schiit Modi next.

A Kawai VPC 2 with built in SSD and top notch speakers is way too much to expect I suppose!

Rob.

#2643446 - 05/14/17 09:25 PM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: newbies]  
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Kawai James Online content
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Very nice setup newbies, thank you for your post and detailed explanation of each component.

Cheers,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
#2646062 - Yesterday at 03:20 PM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: newbies]  
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So VPC....3 to 4 years and still going strong. Way to go !

As a former VPC-1 owner , I am playing with the thought of buying one once more for an additional "piano-only and nothing else for distraction" setup . But considering the VPC1 has been out for a while I wonder if it is wise to pull the trigger now are keep my powder dry for an upgraded version ...if ever. Same dillema as always.

Wishlist ;
1] GF of similar keybed (heck - it's not really portable now either anyway, so a bit bigger doesn't matter)
2] flat top surface !
3] nice matching keystand , like Kawai offers for ES8 etc - that would finish the looks and feel.
4] far fetch - but what if any company would throw this in: build in audio interface. Connect your laptop / tablet or desktop with one cable to the VPC and you're setup ! No additional tricks and wires. Stage machines like Kronos , RD2000 have audio I/O over the same cable as the MIDI connection and it makes setup so much more simple and sleek. Audio I/O shouldn't cost a zillion to include in 2017 now does it. Even some cheap-ass keyboards and synths offer this...

Cheerio, J

#2646069 - Yesterday at 03:34 PM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: newbies]  
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JFP Offline
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I ...and to comment my self :

5] build-in sound engine and...
6] now we are at it; build in speaker system !
7] and to finish up ...complete cabinet instead of keystand (3)

and let's rename it while we're at it too then , something like ...uh....CA-98 or alike ;-)

In other words , perhaps the current VPC is already in the sweet spot and no real changes are actually needed. Perhaps a small price cut, since the R&D costs have probably been earned back by now and ramped up production may have lowered the off-factory price a bit. Whatever , Kawai will stay tight lipped anyway - rumours would only harm current sales and stocked units.

#2646122 - Yesterday at 06:23 PM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: newbies]  
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The feature price ratio is always a tricky element for a developer like Kawai.
They could sell a PC in it, but we turn over PCs pretty fast and operating systems even faster.
On the other hand, the market for VPC-1 is people that already have a PC and or software pianos. They could put an audio interface in it but maybe people like to choose they're own and make decisions about the amount they want to spend on an interface and what quality and io options are adequate for them. Also should it be USB? Which type? Thunderbolt? They would then also have to maintain driver support.

#2646167 - Yesterday at 08:34 PM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: JFP]  
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Hi JFP, long time no see! wink

Nice wish list.
I'll pass it along. wink

Cheers,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
#2646169 - Yesterday at 08:38 PM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: ElmerJFudd]  
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Elmer, I think you're spot on.

The beauty of the VPC1 is its simplicity.
Not even a pitch bend wheel! wink

We could probably create a successor with a built-in PC and audio interface, but as you say, most VPC1 customers have invested in this equipment already - would they be willing to spend money again?

I like the custom stand idea though.
Some of the user-made stands are terrific, but not everyone has the time/skill to work with wood, so a pre-made solution is definitely worth considering.

Cheers,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
#2646182 - Yesterday at 09:12 PM Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: newbies]  
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An optional stand that matches the aesthetics is great idea.

#2646229 - 14 minutes ago Re: Kawai VPC1 - Setup and Thoughts After 3 Years [Re: ElmerJFudd]  
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It should be easy to adapt any stand. All the keyboard does is sit on top . . . .The Roland fp50 or 80 stand doesn't come with pedals, so that would be easy.


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