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Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
#2881647 08/20/19 01:44 PM
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Normally, Kawai digital pianos have the following settings for the velocity curve: heavy+, heavy, normal, light, light+, off, user.
So, I would like to ask anyone who has an acoustic (or has played an acoustic grand) and a Kawai DP, what's curve that you think best approximates the behavior of the acoustic you play/played?

If do you think that no actual curve approximates well an acoustic, how do you think it should be to best approximate it? I read from somewhere that to emulate that behavior, from pppp to mp the curve should be heavier, to make easier for the player to play piano & pianissimo, and from mf to ffff it should be lighter, to allow the player to reach more easily the brighter layers, because it's much easier to make an acoustic grand piano sound bright, compared to a DP with a default linear velocity curve... Is this true?

And, for who played Kawai digital pianos with plastic and wood actions, does it change something about the velocity curve behavior, between these two action types? I mean, a light velocity curve has the same behavior on an RH3 (plastic) action and the GFII (wood) one?

Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
magicpiano #2881675 08/20/19 02:32 PM
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For me the perfect velocity curve is well... normal. I've played on a lot of acoustic grand pianos and normal curve on CA98 at least is very close to good grand piano.

Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
Nordomus #2881802 08/20/19 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Nordomus
For me the perfect velocity curve is well... normal. I've played on a lot of acoustic grand pianos and normal curve on CA98 at least is very close to good grand piano.

So you feel you are able to play without problems pianissimo passages too, with a normal velocity curve, on your CA98? Don't you feel it's more difficult than on a real acoustic?

Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
magicpiano #2881820 08/20/19 08:08 PM
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The best velocity curve for Kawai actions is the same one that's best for any piano ... that being the one that suits your own hands.
How could it be any other way? Really.

Someone else's preferred curve will likely not suit me. Indeed, most of the one's I've seen don't.
But no worries. I can make my own. And so can everyone else.

It's not brain surgery.
It's not rocket science.
Perhaps it's "Brain Salad Surgery"?

Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
magicpiano #2881821 08/20/19 08:13 PM
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This is an interesting question. But the answer is : Default”. Kawai engineers probably know more than the rest of us.


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Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
TomLC #2881879 08/21/19 02:15 AM
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Originally Posted by magicpiano
Originally Posted by Nordomus
For me the perfect velocity curve is well... normal. I've played on a lot of acoustic grand pianos and normal curve on CA98 at least is very close to good grand piano.

So you feel you are able to play without problems pianissimo passages too, with a normal velocity curve, on your CA98? Don't you feel it's more difficult than on a real acoustic?


I don't feel it is more difficult. Of course on good quality concert grand piano it might be a little easier. but on average normal velocity curve is closest of all of them to real grand piano.

Originally Posted by TomLC
This is an interesting question. But the answer is : Default”. Kawai engineers probably know more than the rest of us.

This. Whatever I would think of Kawai and their support I still think they did a good job here.

Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
Nordomus #2881888 08/21/19 03:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Nordomus
Whatever I would think of Kawai and their support...


Huh?

Kawai support (provided by Kawai Japan or a Kawai subsidiary company) is excellent.

Kind regards,
James
x


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Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
magicpiano #2881892 08/21/19 04:00 AM
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Kawai usually make their default touch curve to suit pop piano players IMO. it’s overly sensitive and “jumpy”, meaning you can produce loud notes easily. I guess that’s great for some piano players. However it’s not how a real acoustic piano responds to touch. Moving towards “heavy” touch kind of helps but since the velocity/volume/timbre mapping stays the same, it makes the piano sound dull. I’ve been into that struggle for many years with my Kawai pianos and have complained a lot but nothing has changed judging from CA78. Of course one can always use VST-s which is what I did lately. It’s a pity though since Kawai are also excellent acoustic piano manufacturers but I would assume their digital pianos are mostly being managed by engineering teams with little feedback from their acoustic piano guys.


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Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
Kawai James #2881894 08/21/19 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
Originally Posted by Nordomus
Whatever I would think of Kawai and their support...


Huh?

Kawai support (provided by Kawai Japan or a Kawai subsidiary company) is excellent.

Kind regards,
James
x

I've waited for about 3 months for them to resolve my keyboard problem. I wouldn't call that good support.

Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
magicpiano #2881900 08/21/19 04:37 AM
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Please clarify, who is "them"?

Kind regards,
James
x


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Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
Kawai James #2881906 08/21/19 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
Please clarify, who is "them"?

Kind regards,
James
x

Well Kawai Japan, that's what I heard from retailer.

Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
magicpiano #2881909 08/21/19 05:32 AM
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Okay, please send me a private message with the correspondence that you received from the retailer.

No need to take this thread further off topic.
(Sorry OP)

Kind regards,
James
x


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Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
CyberGene #2881933 08/21/19 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Kawai usually make their default touch curve to suit pop piano players IMO. it’s overly sensitive and “jumpy”, meaning you can produce loud notes easily. I guess that’s great for some piano players. However it’s not how a real acoustic piano responds to touch. Moving towards “heavy” touch kind of helps but since the velocity/volume/timbre mapping stays the same, it makes the piano sound dull. I’ve been into that struggle for many years with my Kawai pianos and have complained a lot but nothing has changed judging from CA78.

Yes, that's exactly my impression. You can produce loud notes very easily, but to get steadily some notes with a very gentle timbre is very difficult. I had to customize the curve with an HEX editor on my PC and then reupload it on the DP to make it more as I like (more convex in the first part, then it slowly becomes linear in the second half), being that the heavy and heavy+ settings, as you said, made the piano more dull sounding.
I have a CN37 with RH3 action so I thought maybe it could be better with more expensive wooden actions, but from what you say it doesn't change too much.

I think the problem with the actual touch settings is that they affect both the volume and the timbre, so it's very difficult to get exactly the result you want. To me, the best thing would be to allow the user to change 2 velocity curves: a velocity curve JUST for the volume and another one JUST for the timbre (velocity layers). Then we could really get precisely the result we want. And if I wanted to play low velocities notes at medium volume (instead of low volume) to get a more intimate/cinematic sound, with 2 velocity curves I could do that too... AFAIK, with current options this is not possible. That's a similar (but more flexible) concept to the dynamics knob that many VST have.
Quote

Of course one can always use VST-s which is what I did lately. It’s a pity though since Kawai are also excellent acoustic piano manufacturers but I would assume their digital pianos are mostly being managed by engineering teams with little feedback from their acoustic piano guys.
Or maybe they noticed they sell more DPs if the user gets a "big" sound more easily, even if this doesn't allow to play steadily at lower velocities? But if this were the case, then the top-models should have a different behavior from the middle-range (or lower) models.

Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
magicpiano #2881941 08/21/19 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by magicpiano
I think the problem with the actual touch settings is that they affect both the volume and the timbre, so it's very difficult to get exactly the result you want. To me, the best thing would be to allow the user to change 2 velocity curves: a velocity curve JUST for the volume and another one JUST for the timbre (velocity layers). Then we could really get precisely the result we want. And if I wanted to play low velocities notes at medium volume (instead of low volume) to get a more intimate/cinematic sound, with 2 velocity curves I could do that too... AFAIK, with current options this is not possible. That's a similar (but more flexible) concept to the dynamics knob that many VST have.

I need to find my thread from a few years ago where I suggested almost exactly the same things!

Last edited by CyberGene; 08/21/19 06:58 AM.

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Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
magicpiano #2881943 08/21/19 07:02 AM
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I think I have discussed that a lot throughout the years but here's one of my threads from around 2015: Let's talk about dynamic range


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Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
CyberGene #2881966 08/21/19 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Kawai usually make their default touch curve to suit pop piano players IMO. it’s overly sensitive and “jumpy”, meaning you can produce loud notes easily. I guess that’s great for some piano players. However it’s not how a real acoustic piano responds to touch. Moving towards “heavy” touch kind of helps but since the velocity/volume/timbre mapping stays the same, it makes the piano sound dull. I’ve been into that struggle for many years with my Kawai pianos and have complained a lot but nothing has changed judging from CA78. Of course one can always use VST-s which is what I did lately. It’s a pity though since Kawai are also excellent acoustic piano manufacturers but I would assume their digital pianos are mostly being managed by engineering teams with little feedback from their acoustic piano guys.


I have a similar problem with my Casio. When I need to record a piece that is more difficult to regulate I set key touch to hard, but that of course means to get a nice clear sound you have hit the key really quite hard, and it is easy to have a key play with a muffled sound otherwise. I tried also changing the brightness setting but I don't like that. I tried grand 2 as well but nothing really improves on the startup defaults of piano grand 1. So really it is just a temporary switch to a hard key touch when I need to for recording purposes.

I am thinking of replacing and one of the models in consideration is the MP11SE. I've finally booked a day off work for Wednesday next week to spend testing out Digital Pianos. Luckily they have one baby grand in the showroom so I can test key action against the grand.

I'm looking forward to trying out all the things. Or at least the ones on my list to try. But I am concerned that my evaluation in the showroom will not be enough, it is a very different thing once you get used to an action and the feel of it when you have the piano home. I don't think you can just rely on your experience when trying out pianos. I won't be purchasing after this visit there will be another before I make up my mind but it still depends on my own experience to evaluate what it will be like once home. So I think taking into consideration things that can be objectively measured like pivot length are important, it is just a pity that manufacturers don't provide that as basic information.

Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
CyberGene #2881973 08/21/19 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
I think I have discussed that a lot throughout the years but here's one of my threads from around 2015: Let's talk about dynamic range

I must admit I don't have a lot of experience adjusting velocity curves on DPs as my pianos (previously FP30 and now N1X) all seem to be able to produce for me velocities between ppp and fff, when called upon. But I had always assumed that with a good velocity editor, even if that were not the case, one could adjust the velocity curve of any digital keyboard so that the final velocity is =1 when one is playing a key at the most delicate ppp velocity (obviously, for keyboards with real keyboard actions, it would have to be the slowest velocities that still sufficiently move the hammers to make a sound at all) and =127 when one is playing a key with the velocity one thinks should produce an fff. Yes? No?

Rather than buy an entirely new keyboard, couldn't one just install some velocity editing software between their keyboard and a VST?


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Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
magicpiano #2881975 08/21/19 08:36 AM
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I actually made a serendipitous discovery on my ex-ES7 that *kind of* helped with that infamous issue with Kawai digital pianos. I'm speaking from memory, so I might not be using the exact setting name.

So, as already said, a more realistic touch response is obtained by switching to "heavy" touch. This would limit the velocity range, which in turn would limit the volume range (desired), however that in turn would limit the timbre variety range (non-desired!).

However there was a menu called something like "tone character" where you could choose between soft 1, soft 2, bright 1, bright 2... and here comes the interesting one "dynamic". It applies a dynamic filter that depends on the velocity. It would darken the tone for lower velocities and brighten it for higher ones. In practice it would work as those filters single-layer digital pianos used 20 years ago laugh But at least it helps in making the timbre a bit more varied. I know it's cr*p but there's not much one can do anyway.

In other words, if we assume for a moment that the Kawai digital piano has 6 velocity layers which are all usable in "normal" touch, switching to heavy you would limit those to say five. And so the timbre varies between ppp and ff, rather than fff. However applying a dynamic filter on top of that limited timbre range, you can artificially extend it.


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Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
magicpiano #2881994 08/21/19 09:25 AM
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I'm pretty sure (because I checked with the spectrogram view in Audacity) that what my DP engine does when you, for example, change the tone to "Brighter 1" is to "move" all the velocity layers to the left, so that with the same MIDI velocity you will get a brighter timbre. Of course it's the opposite with Soft/Mellow settings: all the velocity layers are moved a little to the right to let you get (with the same MIDI velocity of before) a softer timbre.

I will have to check what "Dynamic" does with Audacity.

Re: Best velocity curve for Kawai actions?
magicpiano #2882004 08/21/19 09:41 AM
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I found that my piano's five step touch sensitivity (high, mid-high, mid, mid-low, low) gave the same problems as described. A good change to the velocity produced undesirable limitations on timbre. It was just as CG described in his referenced thread four years ago.

But I've been using virtual pianos exclusively. Most have their own built-in velocity curve, but I prefer an outboard one that feed the host (Kontakt) and applies equally to all my instruments.

So to answer Tyrone's question "couldn't one just install some velocity editing software between their keyboard and a VST?" ...
The answer is yes. I use a freeware with the mundane name "Velocity Curve". It's very easy to make arbitrary adjustments, and it lets you save as many curves as you like.
It requires some simple MIDI plumbing, and for that I use the freeware "loopMIDI".

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