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Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: ori0n] #2680879
10/09/17 05:38 PM
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Last edited by zack!; 10/09/17 05:39 PM.
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Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: ori0n] #2680975
10/10/17 01:41 AM
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Originally Posted by ori0n
Originally Posted by danielp11
Hi,

i just found an kawai video that seems to show the pianist sound of the CA98.

https://youtu.be/L5o35GEmpN4



That's a really good video to show off how the menu system works on the touchscreen too, thanks for that. Definitely looks alot better/more intuitive than my CA97. Can't wait to get my CA98!!

Touch screens always make me nervous. I'm afraid that they'll be a smudgy, abraded mess after a couple years, like a grocery store's checkout touchpad.

Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: R111] #2680981
10/10/17 03:07 AM
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Originally Posted by R111

Touch screens always make me nervous. I'm afraid that they'll be a smudgy, abraded mess after a couple years, like a grocery store's checkout touchpad.


I think these pianos connect to an android/iphone app using bluetooth and one can use the phone app to control pretty much all the settings.

Osho


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Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: danielp11] #2680993
10/10/17 06:05 AM
10/10/17 06:05 AM
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Hello folks,

Thank you for the interesting comments so far.

To respond to some of your queries:

Originally Posted by Osho
Awesome - Thanks for sharing the announcement James! Super-excited to try these out in person. Any idea as to when these should be on the floor of the piano dealers in US?


I'm afraid not. May I kindly ask you to contact Kawai America and/or your local Kawai dealer for availability information.

Originally Posted by madshi
) Can you share technical details of the new "piano sound engine"? Is it just an evolutional improvement or is it a rather dramatic change? Any chance for full-length (unlooped) samples?


I'm afraid I cannot share too many technical details, however I spent some time working on the CA78 in order to prepare the owner's manual, and believe the new 'SK-EX Rendering' sound is a considerable improvement. Not just in overall sound quality/realism, but the way the sound responds/connects to the action.

Originally Posted by madshi
2) The press release / announcement seems to say that both models use Onkyo technology, but your list says that only the CA98 features Onkyo speaker drivers. Can you clarify how much of the audio system in the CA78 is Onkyo based?


The CA98 and CA78 share the same main CPU, power amp, and headphone amp boards, so that aspect of the hardware is the same. However, only the CA98 utilises Onkyo speakers and transducers (for the TwinDrive soundboard).

Originally Posted by madshi
3) Have you had a chance to test play the CA78/98 yet? If so, can you comment on your impressions on whether the Onkyo tech makes an audible difference?


As noted above, I used a CA78 in order to prepare the owner's manual, however I used headphones exclusively. My overall impression of the sound (aside from the improved sampling/resonance modelling) was that it was clearer, more 'transparent', and less harsh at louder volumes than previous generation models.

Originally Posted by madshi
4) Not sure if you can comment on this, but is this the same sound engine the Novus will also use? Or will the Novus have something even newer/better?


I'm afraid I cannot comment on this point, however I believe your question may already have been answer in some of the Japanese-language NV10 news coverage.

Originally Posted by madshi
5) Not sure if you can comment on this, but I really like the CS design. Do you have any guestimate of when the CS series might be updated with the new sound engine, Onkyo tech etc?


No, I'm afraid not, sorry.

Originally Posted by JoBert
MIDI recordings in the internal recorder are only possible with the "old" sound mode too. (Or rather, the internal recorder then records the internal Kawai format, that however can be exported as MIDI/SMF on a USB stick). In the new pianist mode, the internal recorder can only record in MP3 format. At least that's how I read the manual...


100% correct. wink
The new SK-EX Rendering (employed by 'Pianist Mode') requires more information than standard MIDI can capture/supply, so the Internal Recorder stores songs as MP3 audio. WAV/MP3 recording is still available when recording directly to USB memory. MIDI is also still transmitted through the MIDI, USB jacks, or Bluetooth MIDI (depending on what is connected).

Originally Posted by josefhofmann
And now a question for Kawai James about the headphone modes.

Does the new SK-EX Rendering piano sound engine (or Pianist Mode) apply to headphones?


Yes, and the SHS (Spatial Headphone Sound) enhancements are also still available. Moreover, the headphone output is improved by Onkyo's Discrete SpectraModule circuit. I tested the CA78 exclusively with headphones so can vouch for the quality of the sound.

Originally Posted by josefhofmann
I personally noticed that the CA97 headphone mode had quite different pedalling characteristics to the speaker mode (after a reset to defaults). Have there been any changes to align the experience between headphones and speakers?


Are you perhaps referring to the volume of the 'Damper Noise' sound heard when pressing the damper pedal? Through headphones, I also found this to be too pronounced on previous models, however the default settings seemed natural on the CA78 I used.

Originally Posted by Osho
The 'new sound' just needs to be heard in person to really make any serious judgement about it. Only so much one can get from the specs.


I agree, however I would changing 'heard' to 'played'. wink As noted, above the sound connection, and sense of expressive smoothness is definitely improved on the new models.

Originally Posted by Osho
Overall, kudos to Kawai for customer orientation! A lot of previous feedback has gone into making this product better - I wish more companies were as attentive to customers as Kawai.


Thank you very much! wink

Originally Posted by karvala
I think CA 67.5 might have been a more appropriate model number.


Fair enough. However, I recall CA65 owners expressing a similar sentiment when the CA67 was announced. If my memory serves me correctly, some of those CA65 owner's subsequently traded in their piano for a new CA67 upon playing the instrument. wink

Originally Posted by JoBert
Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
That, and if the onboard recording is _only_ MP3 (and not WAV), it's losing a bit of quality. I'd expect Kawai to want to show off its new sound, rather than hide it.

I assume that the internal recorder is for MP3 only because WAV would exhaust the internal memory too quickly. If you want WAV recording, you simply need to plug in your own USB stick. Not a problem really, in my opinion.


Correct again. wink

Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Will it record MIDI in Pianist mode?


No, Pianist Mode only allows audio recordings to be made (Internal memory: MP3, USB memory WAV/MP3). However, MIDI information is still transmitted from the MIDI jacks/USB port/Bluetooth MIDI output.

Originally Posted by jackifus
What I see in this thread are people trying to come up with a story behind the product, because that story has yet to be told clearly by Kawai.

For example, it's not immediately clear *why* the pianist mode is organized the way it is (customization), and *why* it is limited the way it is (MIDI). If there were a clear story, people wouldn't resort to cobbling together guesses like it being "half-baked" etc...


That's a fair comment. Here's a slide from the CA98/CA78 product overview presentation prepared for Kawai dealers. I don't believe there's anything too secretive here, but it summarises the two sound engines reasonably well (even if I do say so myself...).

[Linked Image]

Originally Posted by CyberGene
And whereโ€™s James? laugh


[Linked Image]

Originally Posted by USSOWT
Perhaps he is in China now.


Nope, but good call!

Originally Posted by danielp11
i just found an kawai video that seems to show the pianist sound of the CA98.

https://youtu.be/L5o35GEmpN4


I believe that Japanese video is intended more to explain the basic functionality of the touchscreen, rather than demonstrate the instrument's sound. The background music was added afterwards.

Okay, I hope that more or less covers your queries so far.

Kind regards,
James
x


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

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Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: Kawai James] #2680995
10/10/17 06:28 AM
10/10/17 06:28 AM
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Thank you James! smile

Based on your comments I would hazard a guess that the new Piano engine probably has more modeling than the "old" engine. At least that's the best explanation for why the sound would respond/connect better to the action.

(Now if only there were a CS9/12 with the new tech...)

Hmmmmm...

> I'm afraid I cannot comment on this point, however I believe your question may
> already have been answer in some of the Japanese-language NV10 news coverage.

Anybody able to find this news coverage James is talking about?

Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: Kawai James] #2681010
10/10/17 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James


Does the new SK-EX Rendering piano sound engine (or Pianist Mode) apply to headphones?


Yes, and the SHS (Spatial Headphone Sound) enhancements are also still available. Moreover, the headphone output is improved by Onkyo's Discrete SpectraModule circuit. I tested the CA78 exclusively with headphones so can vouch for the quality of the sound.

Originally Posted by josefhofmann
I personally noticed that the CA97 headphone mode had quite different pedalling characteristics to the speaker mode (after a reset to defaults). Have there been any changes to align the experience between headphones and speakers?


Are you perhaps referring to the volume of the 'Damper Noise' sound heard when pressing the damper pedal? Through headphones, I also found this to be too pronounced on previous models, however the default settings seemed natural on the CA78 I used.

x[/quote]

Thanks for the replies James. When I play tested the CA97, I had to use less sustain pedal in headphone mode than when using the speakers, because there seemed to be more reverb. I think I turned down the headphone reverb quite a bit, without turning off SHS. I guess I could still turn down the reverb with SHS on in the new pianist mode?

Last edited by josefhofmann; 10/10/17 08:45 AM.
Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: madshi] #2681017
10/10/17 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by madshi
Thank you James! smile

> I'm afraid I cannot comment on this point, however I believe your question may
> already have been answer in some of the Japanese-language NV10 news coverage.

Anybody able to find this news coverage James is talking about?



Not sure exactly what he was referring to, but there are some references to the Novus, the CA78/98 and also to the new sampling of the SK-EX on these Japanese pages:
http://ascii.jp/elem/000/001/564/1564355/
http://www.e-onkyo.com/news/779/
http://ascii.jp/elem/000/001/507/1507579/


I would say that this product page (https://www.kawai.co.jp/news/20170629-2/) seems to strongly indicate that the Novus and the CA78/98 will share exactly the same new electronics/hardware as well as the new SK-EX samples and sound engine. Only the action and speakers are described differently. Everything else seems to be exactly the same, including the "pianist mode" recording limitations.

Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: Kawai James] #2681023
10/10/17 09:21 AM
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Is it usual for the colours/finishes of the Kawai CA models to change with the market/region? Kawai Global (http://www.kawai-global.com/product/c/digitalpianos/ca-series/)
shows the new CA models in the standard black, rosewood and white options whereas Kawai Japan (https://www.kawai.jp/product/c/digitalpiano/caseries/) shows some other nice options...

Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: Kawai James] #2681031
10/10/17 09:55 AM
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James-

Thanks for the information. I think your slide is well written.

I was wondering if you could give a more precise definition of piano "engine?" In my mind, it's the sound design algorithm as coded into a computer program which receives (MIDI?) input from the keyboard, runs to pull the various samples from memory, computer whichever bits are modelled, and outputs the audio signals to a digital audio converter and MIDI ports. I think of this "engine" as hardwired onto an ASIC or DSP chip.

My read on your slide is that the "pianist mode" utilizes an additional, higher-resolution (more microphones used, potentially longer samples) set of samples, perhaps on a separate, more powerful DSP chip to process it quickly and compute the output sound. I'd gather that the sound connects/responds to the action better because there is less latency and/or more layers of sampling with different timbre/resonance changes utilized in the sample set?

The non-piano sounds utilize the older algorithm/program, as the higher horsepower of the new DSP was not needed (or there wasn't time to redesign them to benefit from it).

Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: CyberGene] #2681041
10/10/17 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
And whereโ€™s James? laugh


And where is Sean O'Shea? We need some video's! smile

Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: Tom Fort] #2681053
10/10/17 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Tom Fort

I was wondering if you could give a more precise definition of piano "engine?" In my mind, it's the sound design algorithm as coded into a computer program which receives (MIDI?) input from the keyboard, runs to pull the various samples from memory, computer whichever bits are modelled, and outputs the audio signals to a digital audio converter and MIDI ports. I think of this "engine" as hardwired onto an ASIC or DSP chip.


I'm suspecting he's using it as vernacular: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_engine

For example, in my job I develop a "game engine" which is all software, and it's typical in the industry to call it that.


๐’€๐’‚๐’Ž๐’‚๐’‰๐’‚ ๐‘จ๐’—๐’‚๐’๐’• ๐‘ฎ๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐‘ต1๐‘ฟ
Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: Chrispy] #2681068
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Sure, that's understood. I'm trying to better understand exactly what compromises a software _piano_ engine, and whether each of those typically gets hard-coded onto its own DSP or ASIC chip.

Are their two separate subsystems of memory/ASIC (one for each engine); basically they kept the old electronics and added in a second system? Or do we have a single bank of bigger memory chips which contain both sets of samples, and a single, better ASIC on which both engines run? The hardware architecture would be interesting to understand.

Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: Kawai James] #2681076
10/10/17 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James

The CA98 and CA78 share the same main CPU, power amp, and headphone amp boards...

As noted above, I used a CA78 in order to prepare the owner's manual, however I used headphones exclusively. My overall impression of the sound (aside from the improved sampling/resonance modelling) was that it was clearer, more 'transparent', and less harsh at louder volumes than previous generation models.


There is a good chance that these new headphone amps are superb.

Over the past few years Onkyo has release several high-end portable headphone amps, DACs and players for the wealthy Asian markets. This gear is popular and well rated. I have listened to several and thought the build quality and sound quality was excellent.

Hopefully this gear found its way into the Kawai pianos. . .

https://www.onkyousa.com/Products/model.php?m=DP-X1A&class=Portable

Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: R111] #2681088
10/10/17 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by R111

Touch screens always make me nervous. I'm afraid that they'll be a smudgy, abraded mess after a couple years, like a grocery store's checkout touchpad.


Well a store's touchpad is getting touched by everyone and treated like rubbish. Presumably this would be more like your personal phone, though even less abused as phones encounter grit etc in pockets, this won't.

Still going to need a wipe to get the finger prints off occasionally, but so do faux, and real, polished ebony surfaces.

Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: Kawai James] #2681114
10/10/17 02:31 PM
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Sound samples on kawai.de

I expected a bit more from the new sound TBH. Maybe it's just how the real SK-EX sounds - overly clean, slightly thin, piercing, metallic. I would've personally loved it if it had more fullness, woody character, thickness. Hopefully that can be changed with the characters/modes but right now this is indeed too thin for my taste frown

P.S. To keep on ranting: how many generations of CA should change before the toy-harpsichord sample is replaced with something better? frown

Last edited by CyberGene; 10/10/17 02:37 PM.

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Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: CyberGene] #2681116
10/10/17 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Sound samples on kawai.de

I expected a bit more from the new sound TBH. Maybe it's just how the real SK-EX sounds - overly clean, slightly thin, piercing, metallic. I would've personally loved it if it had more fullness, woody character, thickness. Hopefully that can be changed with the characters/modes but right now this is indeed too thin for my taste frown


I may be wrong but it would appear the sound sample you linked to is the SK-EX in 'sound mode', not 'pianist mode'. I think they implying the advances in sound engine are in the pianist mode. BTW, I wouldn't use any of your words to describe my impressions of the SK-EX sound on my CS11. I find it warm and even and musical. Recordings online can be deceiving sometimes.


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Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: EssBrace] #2681120
10/10/17 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by EssBrace
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Sound samples on kawai.de

I expected a bit more from the new sound TBH. Maybe it's just how the real SK-EX sounds - overly clean, slightly thin, piercing, metallic. I would've personally loved it if it had more fullness, woody character, thickness. Hopefully that can be changed with the characters/modes but right now this is indeed too thin for my taste frown


I may be wrong but it would appear the sound sample you linked to is the SK-EX in 'sound mode', not 'pianist mode'. I think they implying the advances in sound engine are in the pianist mode. BTW, I wouldn't use any of your words to describe my impressions of the SK-EX sound on my CS11. I find it warm and even and musical. Recordings online can be deceiving sometimes.


Ohh, you are right, this is the (old) sound mode indeed, I confused it and thought that was the new mode... So, the new mode is still not demoed anywhere.

And of course you are right about listening with headphones. Sound through the premium amp and soundboard on the CS11 is probably much fuller. (Maybe it's intentionally thin and clean as a sample, which is then enriched through the soundboard and speakers?)


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Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: Bambers] #2681126
10/10/17 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Bambers

Still going to need a wipe to get the finger prints off occasionally, but so do faux, and real, polished ebony surfaces.

I've seen a good alternative on various products: They'll have hard plastic (not rubber please) buttons around all or some of the screen perimeter. The screen stays pristine, and touch response is better.

Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: Kawai James] #2681177
10/10/17 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James

Yes, and the SHS (Spatial Headphone Sound) enhancements are also still available. Moreover, the headphone output is improved by Onkyo's Discrete SpectraModule circuit. I tested the CA78 exclusively with headphones so can vouch for the quality of the sound.


James,

I would be curious to know what headphones you were using to test CA78. Are there particular ones that are recommended for SpectraModule (particular model or particular impedence)?

Thanks,
Osho


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Re: Kawai announces Concert Artist CA98 and CA78 digital pianos [Re: Osho] #2681210
10/10/17 08:39 PM
10/10/17 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Timpskie
And where is Sean O'Shea? We need some video's! smile


I'm confident that we will see Sean demoing the new models before too long.

Originally Posted by squidbot
Originally Posted by Tom Fort

I was wondering if you could give a more precise definition of piano "engine?" In my mind, it's the sound design algorithm as coded into a computer program which receives (MIDI?) input from the keyboard, runs to pull the various samples from memory, computer whichever bits are modelled, and outputs the audio signals to a digital audio converter and MIDI ports. I think of this "engine" as hardwired onto an ASIC or DSP chip.


I'm suspecting he's using it as vernacular: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_engine

For example, in my job I develop a "game engine" which is all software, and it's typical in the industry to call it that.


Yes, that was my intention.

Originally Posted by EssBrace
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Sound samples on kawai.de

I expected a bit more from the new sound TBH...


I may be wrong but it would appear the sound sample you linked to is the SK-EX in 'sound mode', not 'pianist mode'.


Yes, spot on. I'm pretty sure those demos will sound more or less identical to the MIDI-based CA97/CA67 and CS11/CS8 demos.

Originally Posted by EssBrace
BTW, I wouldn't use any of your words to describe my impressions of the SK-EX sound on my CS11. I find it warm and even and musical. Recordings online can be deceiving sometimes.


Agreed! wink

Originally Posted by R111
I've seen a good alternative on various products: They'll have hard plastic (not rubber please) buttons around all or some of the screen perimeter.


I believe the goal of the touchscreen is to move away from physical buttons.

Originally Posted by Osho
I would be curious to know what headphones you were using to test CA78. Are there particular ones that are recommended for SpectraModule (particular model or particular impedence)?


I was just using a pair of relatively inexpensive Audio Technica phones, and occasionally some Pioneer earbuds. I do not have any personal recommendations for headphones, I'm afraid, however I can perhaps ask the chaps at Onkyo if they have any suggestions for pairing with the Discrete SpectraModule amp. I expect they may be professionally obliged to recommend a pair of Onkyo headphones, though!

Cheers,
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
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