I am very glad to know that someone else besides me is interested in microtuning on the MP7/MP11 keyboards!
I had an MP11 (lost in a catastrophic wildfire -- now I'm waiting for the MP12). When I first received my MP11 the microtuning implementation was weak. In a long process, working with Alan Palmer of Kawai who was the communication link with Kawai Japan, we made many improvements and the current implementation is, as far as I know, the best on any stage piano.
However, I was not able to get everything I asked for, and the things you are requesting are among those things that didn't get implemented. You are absolutely correct -- a truly functional microtuning implementation should allow at least
a tuning range of +/- 100 cents for each key (preferably more, as I propose below), and there should be at least
5 user tunings (not 2) that can be stored. (This always puzzled me because the other parameters on the same page all have 5 user slots, but the microtuning only 2, for no apparent good reason!) I am hoping that at least these enhancements will be included in the next generation of Kawai stage pianos -- the "MP12" (if that's what it will be called) and the next generation of the MP7 (whatever that will be called -- they already used MP8).
The fact that you can get the pitch you need on the adjacent key is not much consolation. What if you need that key for another pitch? Then you're stuck with the inadequate tuning range of +/- 50 cents. And even if you don't need the adjacent key for another note, it might create an awkward key pattern to get the scale you need.All manufacturers of electronic keyboards of any kind should listen to this:
There is not a single good reason why you should not be able to tune any key to any
pitch! In the age of electronic keyboards, this is easy to implement and it is only stodgy antiquated thinking that prevents this from being the case. Before the fire I did have one instrument that did allow this flexibility: the Korg OASYS PCI. It had the best microtuning implementation ever: unlimited number of full range scales (all 128 MIDI notes), and each key could play any pitch
(to one cent resolution). This was easily accomplished by simply assigning two
tuning parameters to each key: coarse tuning (any key could play any note) and fine tuning (+/- 100 cents per key). This solves any
microtuning issue elegantly and easily.
Unfortunately keyboard manufacturers, while having made great strides in the tones
that can be produced by electronic keyboards, are still stuck in the 18th century when it comes to keyboard layout. Again, it's simple. The user should be able to play any
pitch from any
key! Why not? It's easy to implement and while most players aren't going to use it (that's a given), why not give those who will
use it what they really need? Especially when it's so easy to do so.
If Kawai (or any other manufacturer) will do this, they will sell enough more instruments to cover the very small cost of providing this implementation, and more, and therefore make a profit by doing so. And at the same time pleasing a small but definitely existing category of users.