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Maybe this is for the piano forum but I stumbled upon a video about the new Kawai ATX-3 silent upright pianos:


At 0:56 there's a label that reads "Microcell-Enhanced Repetition". While this sounds like a mumbo-jumbo, it's a well known fact that the biggest disadvantage of upright actions compared to grand piano actions is the lack of double escapement (repetition lever), and thus on an upright you have to release the key almost fully in order to be able to repeat. There have been some mechanical solutions to this problem and AFAIK only Seiler offer an upright action that allows for near grand piano action repetition experience but they are way too expensive.

So I searched for this microcell thing and found almost nothing! The only mention of this system is on Australian pianoworld regarding K500:
Quote
The recently invented Microcell Enhanced Repetition, gives this model a greater responsive action, and faster repetition.


I have downloaded the latest brochure for Kawai K-series from Kawai-Global website and there's nothing. (I guess it's an older brochure since it also contains information regarding ATX 2 which is older).

James, can you help? What's this system and which K-series pianos do include it? More importantly, which ATX-3 pianos.

For instance I see on Thomann that a K-200 ATX-3 costs about €5000 which is just a €500 more than a Yamaha NU1X, but it has optical sensors on the hammers rather than under the keys and provided it also has better repetition, it would make it a very desirable instrument because it won't have sudden loud note problems because repetition is better and because hammers are measured. (And for those needing speakers, Kawai AURES adds the soundboard transducers in addition to regular ATX-3).

Last edited by CyberGene; 01/04/19 06:07 PM.

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P.S. Seems that it's not only Seiler, but also Sauter, Steingraeber and Söhne (and possibly others) that offer advanced mechanical solution for faster repetition on upright actions.

Last edited by CyberGene; 01/04/19 06:28 PM.

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I have played the Steingraeber & Söhne SMA -- Steingraeber Magnetic Action in an (IIRC) 20 or 30k EUR upright. It was a marvel, just plain amazing how much better the repetition of the action was.

If Kawai is going to release something similar, I will have to re-think getting an acoustic upright, because until now I did not see the point, given that the action is really quite different to a grad piano.

So, James, can you shed some light here? Or do we have to wait for, like, Musikmesse 2019?


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Here is a guy from a piano service shop in the UK on Facebook posting a photo about it (same as in the video above):
https://urlscan.io/screenshots/ea1ccc08-dab8-4b8d-b81a-58574cac02e3.png

I wrote a mail to him to see if he can share anything from what he has seen, but maybe one of you is on Facebook and can see if there are any details there?

Currently I am thinking that it can't be anything at the level of Steingraeber SFM Action (not SMA as I wrote above), because Kawai would make a bigger deal out of it, but I am really interested to know what it is.


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Honestly, I detect sarcasm in that Facebook caption.

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I have played a K500 upright, and would buy one in blink if I could find a way to have an acoustic where I live. Parts of the Millenium 3 action are usually described as being micro-engineered, so perhaps that was the origin of the reference. In the example of an upright the lightness of the action would help with repetition.
Originally Posted by Kawai

Micro-Engineered Design
The Millennium III Action features several core components that are redesigned with lighter mass and structural enhancements to optimize speed, repetition and control. Every exacting detail of the action was analyzed and adapted to .....

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Originally Posted by Hendrik42
but maybe one of you is on Facebook and can see if there are any details there?

No details are there. Two comments but only of admirers.

If they didn't license it from someone else, I'd guess they likely would have filed for a patent on it, if it was incredibly innovative. You can search among Kawai's patent filings.


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Yes, of course the FB post was sarcastic :- ), but what would you think as a piano technician when you'd spot that sticker in an piano? I can relate to that. But it makes no judgement or statement about what it actually is and what the consequences to repetition in an upright are.

I actually checked Kawai patents, but I believe one can only see the granted ones, not the submitted ones? And patents sometimes get granted after a product has been released, so there still could be something in the pipeline...

In any case, the FB post is from 2016, so it that was not a big deal in 2016, then it probably is not a big deal now. I'd still like to know what it is, though :- )


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I seem to recall (a Kawai rep showed this to me two days ago) this is simply the use of a new material in place of felt on the vertical piano hammer rest rail. It’s synthetic and has a bit more elasticity.

This was a running change that had started to be implemented in the recent past, but now it’s becoming standardized on their models.


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That facebook picture is from June/2016, nothing new to see here.


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I missed this post because it is in the digital piano area - this feature is in all Kawai acoustic upright pianos now.

This label refers to the microcellular memory foam material on the hammer rest rail. This material was engineered specifically to reduce hammer bounce to a minimum. This hugely improves the reliability of the action repetition. It does not increase the maximum repetition rate, it has the affect of keeping the hammers from bouncing away from the rest position, so that the jack can play the note without missing the hammer.

The label is actually a representation of the hammer rail setup, with the special foam material shown.


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^ Thanks Don, that’s very interesting! Using memory foam for cushioning is indeed a very original idea for an upright action. Wondering if it really makes a difference though. In theory it’s a cool idea.


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Originally Posted by CyberGene
^ Thanks Don, that’s very interesting! Using memory foam for cushioning is indeed a very original idea for an upright action. Wondering if it really makes a difference though. In theory it’s a cool idea.

I can tell you from personal testing that it definitely works.


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