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Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) #2841488
04/22/19 05:13 PM
04/22/19 05:13 PM
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Posts: 121
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RyanThePianist Offline OP
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Hi all,

I'm a classically trained piano teacher looking for a piano to have primarily in my room to do lesson planning and practice at night, but I also wanted the flexibility of carrying the keyboard for the occasional gig. I've done extensive research and have narrowed down my choices to the Kawai ES8 and the Yamaha P515. I'm specifically wondering about the action and feel of the two keyboards rather than the sound which I believe both to be very good. The Kawai has a plastic Responsive Hammer III (RHIII) graded action while Yamaha has a Natural Wood (NWX) wooden action. Unfortunately, all the major music stores I know in my city do not have these pianos on display and only have them available as online purchases; thus, I cannot try out the action first-hand. This is why I come to seek recommendations and experiences here.

I own a Yamaha 6'0" G3 and have played on various other Yamaha and Steinway grand and upright pianos so I know how the action of an acoustic piano feels. I also expect to play anything from beginner music to advanced standard classical repertoire such as Bach WTC, Chopin Etudes, etc.

Please let me know what you think if you own or have played these keyboards. I will list some information below to help.

-----

Kawai ES8: http://kawaius.com/product/es8/

Specs:

- Grade-weighted hammers
- Ivory Touch white key surfaces
- Let-off simulation
- Triple sensor key detection
- Counterweights

Yamaha P515: https://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical_instruments/pianos/p_series/p-515/index.html

Specs:

- NWX (Natural Wood X) keyboard:
- wooden keys (white only)
- synthetic ebony and ivory keytops
- escapement
- Sensitivity: Hard2/Hard1/Medium/Soft1/Soft2/Fixed

Last edited by RyanThePianist; 04/22/19 05:13 PM.

Novice Private Piano Teacher

BA Music, Biology Minor

Yamaha G3, Yamaha P-515
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Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841494
04/22/19 05:25 PM
04/22/19 05:25 PM
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Update 1: I managed to find one store who has the Yamaha P 515 but no store has the Kawai on display. I plan to play the 515 this week. Any type of experience from either piano is worth hearing about still.


Novice Private Piano Teacher

BA Music, Biology Minor

Yamaha G3, Yamaha P-515
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841499
04/22/19 05:47 PM
04/22/19 05:47 PM
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Posts: 351
Aberdeen, UK
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RichieBill Offline
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Hi
For sure, you need to find ES8 somewhere to try them and to compare with P515. ES8 sound and action is completely different. Both are worth to interested.
Which one will you choose? Your experienced ears, hands and your musician taste will tell you the best, because how many users, so many opinions.
Regards


Roland FP-30 | Synthogy Ivory II GP | Production Voices CG | Dexed | Zoom MS-70CDR | Reaper | Neumann KH120 | Mackie Big Knob Passive | DT-990 pro | ATH-M50X
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RichieBill] #2841501
04/22/19 05:50 PM
04/22/19 05:50 PM
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Posts: 121
United States
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RyanThePianist Offline OP
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Thank you Richie. I will try to find other stores.


Novice Private Piano Teacher

BA Music, Biology Minor

Yamaha G3, Yamaha P-515
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841519
04/22/19 07:18 PM
04/22/19 07:18 PM
Joined: Mar 2019
Posts: 59
USA
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JJHLH Offline
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USA
I own the Yamaha P-515 and am very pleased with it. I’m a beginner, but it has become a bit of an addiction over the past month. I can’t speak about the Kawai as I’ve never tried one. Please let us know your impressions when you play the P-515.


Yamaha P-515
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841537
04/22/19 09:35 PM
04/22/19 09:35 PM
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 15,258
Hamamatsu, Japan
Kawai James Offline
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Kawai James  Offline
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Hamamatsu, Japan
Hello Ryan,

May I ask where you are based, please?

I can contact my colleagues in the US to enquire into the nearest Kawai dealer that has the ES8 available to play-test.

Please feel free to send me a private message if you would rather not reveal your location publicly.

Kind regards,
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
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841550
04/22/19 10:33 PM
04/22/19 10:33 PM
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Gombessa Offline
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Unfortunately, I don't think you're going to get a lot of value out of other people's experiences here. They're both high quality digitals, and you're clearly experienced enough to know what feels right to you. As James suggests, I think your top priority should really be to try to find an ES8 to play first hand.

Originally Posted by RyanThePianist
The Kawai has a plastic Responsive Hammer III (RHIII) graded action while Yamaha has a Natural Wood (NWX) wooden action.


I wouldn't overstress this detail. While the Yamaha does have wooden cores in the white keys, the rest of the key mechanism (hinge, keytops, hammer connection point, stop rail contact points, etc.) is all plastic, and nearly identical to their GH/GH3 action. Like the Kawai, it's a folded lever with hammers underneath the keys, so not a "full length wooden keystick" in the same sense as Kawai's Grand Feel or Yamaha's older Natural Keyboard. But none of these details really matters if you're just looking for an action that feels right, as either the NWX or RHIII may.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50, Kawai MP11 || Kawai NV-10
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841558
04/23/19 12:31 AM
04/23/19 12:31 AM
Joined: Mar 2019
Posts: 373
Cheshire, UK
Cheshire Chris Offline
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Cheshire Chris  Offline
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Cheshire, UK
I have a P-515 and really like the keyboard action. As I'm sure you know, it's the same keyboard that's used on the Clavinova CLP-645 cabinet piano.


Chris

Yamaha P-515, Yamaha Reface CP.
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841572
04/23/19 03:28 AM
04/23/19 03:28 AM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 1,350
Cheshire, United Kingdom
Doug M. Offline
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Doug M.  Offline
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Cheshire, United Kingdom
Originally Posted by RyanThePianist
Hi all,

I'm a classically trained piano teacher looking for a piano to have primarily in my room to do lesson planning and practice at night, but I also wanted the flexibility of carrying the keyboard for the occasional gig. I've done extensive research and have narrowed down my choices to the Kawai ES8 and the Yamaha P515. I'm specifically wondering about the action and feel of the two keyboards rather than the sound which I believe both to be very good. The Kawai has a plastic Responsive Hammer III (RHIII) graded action while Yamaha has a Natural Wood (NWX) wooden action. Unfortunately, all the major music stores I know in my city do not have these pianos on display and only have them available as online purchases; thus, I cannot try out the action first-hand. This is why I come to seek recommendations and experiences here.

I own a Yamaha 6'0" G3 and have played on various other Yamaha and Steinway grand and upright pianos so I know how the action of an acoustic piano feels. I also expect to play anything from beginner music to advanced standard classical repertoire such as Bach WTC, Chopin Etudes, etc.

Please let me know what you think if you own or have played these keyboards. I will list some information below to help.

-----

Kawai ES8: http://kawaius.com/product/es8/

Specs:

- Grade-weighted hammers
- Ivory Touch white key surfaces
- Let-off simulation
- Triple sensor key detection
- Counterweights

Yamaha P515: https://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical_instruments/pianos/p_series/p-515/index.html

Specs:

- NWX (Natural Wood X) keyboard:
- wooden keys (white only)
- synthetic ebony and ivory keytops
- escapement
- Sensitivity: Hard2/Hard1/Medium/Soft1/Soft2/Fixed


Hi Ryan,

Both are good actions, it's going to be down to personal preference I'm afraid.
There are other ways of testing the ES8 action (RHIII action): the following Kawai models have the RHIII action: CN25, CN35, CN27, CN37, MP7SE.
Also, when Nord wanted a better action for their Nord Piano 4 replacement, they went with the Kawai RHIII action, so you can try it on the Nord Grand also (if indeed anybody has one of those in store yet).

Kind regards,

Doug


Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7; Past - Yamaha PSR7000
Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
Stand: K&M 18953 Table-style Stage Piano Stand
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841583
04/23/19 05:26 AM
04/23/19 05:26 AM
Joined: Mar 2019
Posts: 21
Bobby Simons Offline
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Bobby Simons  Offline
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When you snooze, you lose: I ended my endless research and went to order a P515 “home bundle plus” - and now the home furniture stand is backordered until late June. They are offering a free X stand until then. Not sure I want another of those, maybe I can get them to make it a Z stand.
Coincidentally, I got to play an ES8 yesterday. Was very impressed with the action and the robust speakers.

Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: Bobby Simons] #2841585
04/23/19 05:47 AM
04/23/19 05:47 AM
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 664
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LarryK Online content
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LarryK  Online Content
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Originally Posted by Bobby Simons
When you snooze, you lose: I ended my endless research and went to order a P515 “home bundle plus” - and now the home furniture stand is backordered until late June. They are offering a free X stand until then. Not sure I want another of those, maybe I can get them to make it a Z stand.
Coincidentally, I got to play an ES8 yesterday. Was very impressed with the action and the robust speakers.


I thought I would have to wait until June for the furniture stand but it showed up about a month after I ordered the P-515. Now, I have to sell my OnStage Z stand after I rearrange my apartment to put the P-515 in its final place.


Yamaha P-515, Pianoteq Standard 6
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841587
04/23/19 06:02 AM
04/23/19 06:02 AM
Joined: Mar 2019
Posts: 42
Moscow suburbs
Darkwasp Online content
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In my humble opinion action in P-515 is better. I've tried Kawai ES8 and Yamaha CLP-645 (it has the same action as P515) in store and went for 645 without any second thoughts. But of course, you may have totally different impression, and it's very much worth it to visit a store that has those models in display, so you can play on all these actions yourself.


Casio PX-160 (Previous), Yamaha CLP-645 (Current), Superlux HD-681
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841596
04/23/19 06:48 AM
04/23/19 06:48 AM
Joined: Aug 2017
Posts: 537
America
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Jitin Offline
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America
I have tried the es8 in a store, and bought the p515 without trying, having owned previous piano yamaha's, but I had tried the clp545/645 which is same action as p515.
The p515 is heavier action by a slight bit, but I also think it will be more reliable in the long run as es8 's RH3 is known to develop issues.

Also, I liked the sound better of cfx (p515), but I also thought the speakers are far better in p515, though I only tried es8 in store and p515 at home. The p515 speakers are VERY impressive to me..


Yamaha P155, Yamaha P515
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841597
04/23/19 06:59 AM
04/23/19 06:59 AM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 3,663
Sofia, Bulgaria
CyberGene Online content
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CyberGene  Online Content
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Sofia, Bulgaria
I've owned a RH1 piano (MP6) and then a RH2 (ES7) and have also tried RH3 (ES8) many times. Mechanically they feel almost the same (with the exception being bass counterweights added to RH3). When I first tried P515, and while still owning the ES7, I found it kind of sluggish and the infamous initial key resistance put me off. However I have switched to Yamaha NU1X (using real upright action) and then N1X (using real grand piano action). Initially I felt these real actions heavy and substantial feeling but ultimately I quickly adapted to that and because of the higher momentum they are easier to control dynamics precisely. When I test a Kawai now it feels way too light. That might be good for a staging piano, for gigging duties, etc. since it won't strain your arms and will allow for "easy" playing but IMO that comes at the expense of expressivity and fine control over dynamics. If one is after solo piano repertoire with ultimate dynamics control needed, a heavier/sluggish action is the way to go IMO.


My YouTube, My Soundcloud
Currently: Yamaha N1X, DIY hybrid controller -> Garritan CFX
Previously: NU1X, ES7, MP6, CA63, RD-700SX, CDP-100, FP-5, P90, SP-200
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: CyberGene] #2841600
04/23/19 07:05 AM
04/23/19 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
I've owned a RH1 piano (MP6) and then a RH2 (ES7) and have also tried RH3 (ES8) many times. Mechanically they feel almost the same (with the exception being bass counterweights added to RH3). When I first tried P515, and while still owning the ES7, I found it kind of sluggish and the infamous initial key resistance put me off. However I have switched to Yamaha NU1X (using real upright action) and then N1X (using real grand piano action). Initially I felt these real actions heavy and substantial feeling but ultimately I quickly adapted to that and because of the higher momentum they are easier to control dynamics precisely. When I test a Kawai now it feels way too light. That might be good for a staging piano, for gigging duties, etc. since it won't strain your arms and will allow for "easy" playing but IMO that comes at the expense of expressivity and fine control over dynamics. If one is after solo piano repertoire with ultimate dynamics control needed, a heavier/sluggish action is the way to go IMO.


Doesn't strain come at the cost that you can't practice as much and if you don't have strain it's the opposite?
So owning the N1X now means that you can put more expression?

Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841604
04/23/19 07:26 AM
04/23/19 07:26 AM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 3,663
Sofia, Bulgaria
CyberGene Online content
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One gets used to strain, it's like getting used to run longer distances without getting tired. However some people have conditions such as carpal tunnel, etc. In that case there's no (easy) way to overcome strain and in such a case it's better to get a lighter action. However in any other case, and of course IMO, a heavier action is better.


My YouTube, My Soundcloud
Currently: Yamaha N1X, DIY hybrid controller -> Garritan CFX
Previously: NU1X, ES7, MP6, CA63, RD-700SX, CDP-100, FP-5, P90, SP-200
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: CyberGene] #2841608
04/23/19 08:11 AM
04/23/19 08:11 AM
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Jitin Offline
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
When I first tried P515, and while still owning the ES7, I found it kind of sluggish and the infamous initial key resistance put me off. .



I noticed this in the GH action of p155 or p255, but I don't feel as such on NWX.


Yamaha P155, Yamaha P515
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: CyberGene] #2841610
04/23/19 08:22 AM
04/23/19 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
One gets used to strain, it's like getting used to run longer distances without getting tired. However some people have conditions such as carpal tunnel, etc. In that case there's no (easy) way to overcome strain and in such a case it's better to get a lighter action. However in any other case, and of course IMO, a heavier action is better.


I'm in the need of 40g *mechanical keyboard* weight, because on the old rubber dome ones, with time they got too heavy.
Since I type all day, it was a necessary step. Now that I'm used to the mechanical one, I touch type. And I can type very fast with only gently hitting the keys.
Because before, I would develope injuries. Only with time comes better technique. I'd rather increase the weightage over time, and not start out heavy.

Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841688
04/23/19 01:12 PM
04/23/19 01:12 PM
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Gorlice, Poland
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Played both actions in the store, own Yamaha with NWX. Kawai is lighter but something like "shallower"? Both actions are quite fast, maybe Kawai a little slower at fall-back movement. Both are good. It's a matter of personal preference. I prefer NWX.


Yamaha P-515, Roland FA-07, Hammond XK-1c
Re: Kawai ES8 vs. Yamaha P515 (Action) [Re: RyanThePianist] #2841811
04/24/19 12:56 AM
04/24/19 12:56 AM
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RyanThePianist Offline OP
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Thank you for all the input thus far. I was able to play a Yamaha P 515 today and my first impressions were mostly good.

The P 515 I played was on the wall, so it was slanted slightly downwards so I couldn't have my hands parallel to the ground. Thus, my first impressions may be skewed a little bit because of this since the weight of my hands weren't going straight down. The piano was still playable, although it wasn't exactly comfortable. The key action and feel had a noticeable difference to the cheaper models. I agree there's an initial weight/resistance when pressing the key which is only slightly a concern to me. Grand piano action does not have this initial resistance. However, after this initial point, I do think the action is medium overall. Also, I feel it's something that I can get used to. When playing fast scales with more white keys, I did notice the keys were a bit sluggish compared to the grand. It was likely a mix of the key not going up fast enough and passing the initial resistance point. I think my expectations may be too high. I do not think this is a deal breaker for me as it still felt great to play on overall.

I will also say that this action is far superior from any cheaper Yamaha piano. The wood gives it a lighter feel, and any plastic key felt like a toy. I also like the synthetic black keys as it prevented my fingers from feeling "sticky". I felt I had better control on these keys.

The CFX sound and Bosendorfer are really great. I played a little bit with the Piano Room which allowed me to change the "sensitivity" of the keys. I think the Soft 1 option really hit the spot.

I could not tell if the keys were graded, as in heavier on the left and and lighter to the right. Perhaps this means they aren't graded. Maybe someone could give me input on this.

Overall, I would purchase this if I didn't find the Kawai ES8 to my liking. This keyboard will simply be for lesson planning, the light practice at night, and possibly online lessons. Most of my practice and lessons are on the grand piano I have. Thanks to Kawai James, he suggested that I play Kawai pianos that have the RHIII action, so I may do this tomorrow and decide then.


Last edited by RyanThePianist; 04/24/19 12:57 AM.

Novice Private Piano Teacher

BA Music, Biology Minor

Yamaha G3, Yamaha P-515
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