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Help choosing an upgrade to my Kawai ES4 #2893362
09/23/19 10:44 AM
09/23/19 10:44 AM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
UK
H
Heading2Boston Offline OP
Junior Member
Heading2Boston  Offline OP
Junior Member
H

Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
UK
Hello all,

I’m hoping you might be able to offer opinions on my next purchase! I currently live in the UK, and about 11 years ago I bought a Kawai ES4. Back in the day I used to gig twice a week (jazz mostly), and this piano has served me well through countless hours of playing at home and on stage.

Fast-forward to now and my life is currently more a typical family life. My day job became a career and family commitments mean that while I play several times a week, I barely ever take my piano out the house. I recently accepted a job in the US (Boston, to be precise), and due to shipping costs I have decided to gift my old ES4 to a family member and I shall treat myself to a new instrument on new shores. If anyone knows the Boston area and can recommend good dealers where I might be able to demo instruments, then let me know! Otherwise I shall use one of the trustworthy online retailers.

Some background on me as a player: I use grand piano and Rhodes sounds 99% of the time. If the ES4 had better Wurli and Clavi sounds, I might have used them more, but I’m certainly not a player that needs a whole pantheon of noises at my disposal. I have a couple of synths, and would like a stage piano that I can also use as a controller if possible. Budget-wise, I would like to keep the cost to $3,000 (not including speakers), but there is some wiggle-room.

I’m currently doing a lot of googling and youtube demos to work out what I want to buy and I’ve narrowed it down to 4 options:

Kawai ES8:
Probably a safe choice as I know that if I liked the ES4, I’ll probably like the ES8. The only reason I’m holding back is that I never fell in love with the Rhodes sound on the ES4, and because my budget has room for me to get a “higher end” model. The built in speakers are handy but not essential.

Kawai MP11SE
:
I have no doubt assuming that this will have the best action on the market, and from the youtube demos I’ve heard, the piano sounds are wonderful to my ears. I suppose my biggest hesitation is that I haven’t totally given up the dream of gigging again, and I worry that this instrument is really too bulky/heavy to toss in the car on a regular basis. Maybe I should accept fate and just buy a home instrument, but I feel that if I spend this much money I would at least like the option of gigging with it. I’d be curious to hear if any MP11SE owners take it out, or if they have a second instrument for this purpose.

Yamaha CP88:
I find the design of this instrument very attractive and I’ve always liked the action on yamahas too. From the samples I’ve listened to, the Rhodes and Wurlitzer sounds are fantastic, better than Kawai. The grand piano sound is very bright and cutting. If I were a regular performer, I would love to have this sound, as you just know it will have no problem cutting through most bands. I used to have some problems with my ES4 and often had to dig through the settings to turn up the brightness. The piano sound does seem a little more cold/sterile than I’m used to, so I’d be curious to hear from solo players if they are satisfied with whether they can get a more intimate warm sound from this instrument. I really want to try the CP88 in a store and spend more time with the Bosendorfer and C7 samples, these might be what I’m hoping to hear.

Nord Grand
:
Ok, this is technically outside my budget, but it looks beautiful (shallow to focus on looks, I know), and as far as I can tell there is a lot of buzz and enthusiasm around Nord’s samples/modelling. One thing I’ve noticed is that many of the youtube demo players seem to be inspired to play their best music on Nord instruments, at least as far as I can tell. Not a lot of reviews out there, but I’d love to know if the action is similar to the Kawai ES8. It looks more chunky than the Yamaha but not as heavy and cumbersome as the MP11se. Does anyone know if the Nord can be used as a controller like the Yamaha or MP11se? Also, if anyone knows of retailers in Boston where I can try out the Nord grand that would be great.

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Re: Help choosing an upgrade to my Kawai ES4 [Re: Heading2Boston] #2893365
09/23/19 11:09 AM
09/23/19 11:09 AM
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 828
Sheffield, UK
K
KevinM Online content
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KevinM  Online Content
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K

Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 828
Sheffield, UK
Having a MP11SE I love it, but I don't think I could ever think of it as a gigging piano.

You will always need another person to help you carry it. I would not even contemplate carrying it by myself.


Mendelssohn Song without Words Op19,2 and 19,6, Jensen Sehnsucht Op8,5. Chopin Nocturne C# Minor. Schumann Hasche Mann from Kinderszenen Op15,3. https://soundcloud.com/sheffieldkevin
DP: Kawai MP11SE. HP: Superlux HD681 EVO
Re: Help choosing an upgrade to my Kawai ES4 [Re: KevinM] #2893366
09/23/19 11:11 AM
09/23/19 11:11 AM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
UK
H
Heading2Boston Offline OP
Junior Member
Heading2Boston  Offline OP
Junior Member
H

Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
UK
That's what I feared Kevin. Not exactly an instrument to toss in the back of the car.

Perhaps I should be greedy and get an MP11SE for home and then think about a more portable 73-key or something should the opportunity to resume gigging arise.

Re: Help choosing an upgrade to my Kawai ES4 [Re: Heading2Boston] #2893438
09/23/19 02:21 PM
09/23/19 02:21 PM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 1,460
Cheshire, United Kingdom
Doug M. Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Doug M.  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 1,460
Cheshire, United Kingdom
Hi Heading2Boston,

I am from near Stockport in the UK and also I lived in Boston for a while, remember it fondly. Don't forget to go to Mikes Pastry's for a cannoli. I don't recall visiting any music stores in Boston as I took my instrument with me.

These are all great instruments. I'd add the MP7SE to the list to try as it is a beast and has a great action (same as Nord Grand) but much more functionality than the MP11 does.

In fact, I would if you can try the following competing models to see which you like the best:

Portables:
Yamaha P515
Kawai ES8
Roland FP90
Casio PX-S3000

Stage
Kawai MP7SE / MP11SE
Yamaha CP88
Roland RD2000
Nord Grand / Nord Piano 4
Korg SV-1

The last on the list (Korg SV-1) has great modelled e pianos.

If you just play piano and e-piano, the portable pianos will be fine.

If action is your most important goal, then IMO: the Kawai MP11 or Kawai VPC1 top out, with the Roland FP90/RD 2000 and ES8/MP7SE/Nord Grand/Yamaha P515 next, then the Yamaha CP88, then the Nord Piano 4/Korg SV-1. Not played the Casio yet, so won't comment.

The Yamaha CP88 is a gigging board, so it's piano sample is missing the string resonance that the P515 has, and the action on the CP88 (NW-GH) isn't quite as good as the NWX action on the P515. In it's favour is that it is like the Nord Stage 3 but cheaper. Yamaha don't yet have much of a piano library so you'll have to wait some years to see if Yamaha actually build one comparable to Nord's. That said, it is a great instrument that fit's a specific niche very well.

Honestly, the Nord Grand is great as a gigging board and has some very nice piano sounds, but all these boards are great. It depends upon what you want from the board. The Nord Piano is also super-light, a factor that might be an issue if you're carrying it up and down stairs a lot between trips. It has the same action as the ES8 and MP7SE Kawai boards.

The RD2000 is probably the best all round board: it's action is superb (second IMO to Kawai's Grand Feel), it's number and quality of sounds great, and the functionality top-spec. However, the issue is whether you'd like the modelled piano sound (which is one of those things you love or don't).

On the all rounder list, the Kawai MP7SE is a functionally great too but at a much better price. I own it's predecessor, which is a fine instrument (MP7). The ES8 is also worth a try (as are all the portables).

The VPC1 is for piano enthusiasts who hook into VST's for piano sound, so not much else but a great keyboard for a cheap price.

Kind regards,

Doug.

Last edited by Doug M.; 09/23/19 02:26 PM.

Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7; Past - Yamaha PSR7000
Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
Stand: K&M 18953 Table-style Stage Piano Stand
Re: Help choosing an upgrade to my Kawai ES4 [Re: Heading2Boston] #2893447
09/23/19 03:00 PM
09/23/19 03:00 PM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 5,070
Richmond, BC, Canada
C
Charles Cohen Offline
5000 Post Club Member
Charles Cohen  Offline
5000 Post Club Member
C

Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 5,070
Richmond, BC, Canada
Quote
. . The RD2000 is probably the best all round board: it's action is superb (second IMO to Kawai's Grand Feel), it's number and quality of sounds great, and the functionality top-spec. However, the issue is whether you'd like the modelled piano sound (which is one of those things you love or don't). . .


I think that the RD2000 includes a bunch of _non-modelled_ (sample-based) SuperNatural piano patches, taken from previous generations of Roland keyboards. If I understand the reviews correctly, you can layer the modelled and sample-based sounds, and not lose any polyphony.

https://www.keyboardmag.com/gear/review-roland-rd2000

The "play before you buy" warning still applies; those sounds have their own characters, with lovers and haters galore.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Help choosing an upgrade to my Kawai ES4 [Re: Heading2Boston] #2893453
09/23/19 03:26 PM
09/23/19 03:26 PM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
UK
H
Heading2Boston Offline OP
Junior Member
Heading2Boston  Offline OP
Junior Member
H

Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
UK
Hi Doug,

Thanks for all the additional suggestions! Lot's to think about - almost bordering on option paralysis.
I will definitely try out the rd-2000. I wasn't super impressed with the piano sounds I heard on youtube but I've since read that they have a lot of patches worth trying.

Action is one of those ones that is hard to know until I try them out. I might find that after playing on a Kawai for 10+ years I just can't get used to anything else.

Ben

Re: Help choosing an upgrade to my Kawai ES4 [Re: Heading2Boston] #2893456
09/23/19 03:38 PM
09/23/19 03:38 PM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 1,460
Cheshire, United Kingdom
Doug M. Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Doug M.  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 1,460
Cheshire, United Kingdom
Originally Posted by Heading2Boston
Hi Doug,

Thanks for all the additional suggestions! Lot's to think about - almost bordering on option paralysis.
I will definitely try out the rd-2000. I wasn't super impressed with the piano sounds I heard on youtube but I've since read that they have a lot of patches worth trying.

Action is one of those ones that is hard to know until I try them out. I might find that after playing on a Kawai for 10+ years I just can't get used to anything else.

Ben


Hi Ben,

That might be so, however, the Kawai ES4 is probably so different to 2019 actions, you might find all of them quite different to your current action.

There are a few Guitar Centres in Boston that have a good selection on their website.

Guitar Centre Boston Stores

Should be able to test a bunch of the competing models there with luck.

Best of Luck in Boston! Have you been before?

Kind regards,

Doug.

Last edited by Doug M.; 09/23/19 03:41 PM.

Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7; Past - Yamaha PSR7000
Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
Stand: K&M 18953 Table-style Stage Piano Stand
Re: Help choosing an upgrade to my Kawai ES4 [Re: Doug M.] #2893461
09/23/19 04:01 PM
09/23/19 04:01 PM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
UK
H
Heading2Boston Offline OP
Junior Member
Heading2Boston  Offline OP
Junior Member
H

Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
UK
Originally Posted by Doug M.


Hi Ben,

That might be so, however, the Kawai ES4 is probably so different to 2019 actions, you might find all of them quite different to your current action.

There are a few Guitar Centres in Boston that have a good selection on their website.

Guitar Centre Boston Stores

Should be able to test a bunch of the competing models there with luck.

Best of Luck in Boston! Have you been before?

Kind regards,

Doug.


Yes, I've been to Boston many times on work trips. Love the city and looking forward to the next chapter of my life there! I work in the pharma industry so there is always a lot going on in Boston, and great job opportunities too.

I'll make my way to a guitar center and try things out. Not sure where I'll be able to try a Nord Grand, but I could always make the trip to NY if need be.

Re: Help choosing an upgrade to my Kawai ES4 [Re: Heading2Boston] #2893462
09/23/19 04:06 PM
09/23/19 04:06 PM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 1,460
Cheshire, United Kingdom
Doug M. Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Doug M.  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 1,460
Cheshire, United Kingdom
Originally Posted by Heading2Boston

Yes, I've been to Boston many times on work trips. Love the city and looking forward to the next chapter of my life there! I work in the pharma industry so there is always a lot going on in Boston, and great job opportunities too.

I'll make my way to a guitar center and try things out. Not sure where I'll be able to try a Nord Grand, but I could always make the trip to NY if need be.


Oh, no way!

I worked at Boston University School of Medicine for a while on Post-doc. Best of luck there!
I would try the Nord Piano before going. Might be one nearby.

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: Help choosing an upgrade to my Kawai ES4 [Re: Heading2Boston] #2893553
09/23/19 10:20 PM
09/23/19 10:20 PM
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 15,599
Hamamatsu, Japan
Kawai James Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Kawai James  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 15,599
Hamamatsu, Japan
Hello Heading2Boston, welcome to the forum.

Great to hear that the ES4 has served you well over all these years.

You've already received some great suggestions from Doug, however just to comment on some parts of your initial post:

Originally Posted by Heading2Boston
If anyone knows the Boston area and can recommend good dealers where I might be able to demo instruments, then let me know! Otherwise I shall use one of the trustworthy online retailers.


Roger's Pianos servers the Boston area, with Londonderry Piano a little further out - both stores sell Kawai instruments, however I would call to check whether or not the models you are interested in are available.

Originally Posted by Heading2Boston
Kawai ES8:
Probably a safe choice as I know that if I liked the ES4, I’ll probably like the ES8. The only reason I’m holding back is that I never fell in love with the Rhodes sound on the ES4, and because my budget has room for me to get a “higher end” model. The built in speakers are handy but not essential.


The ES8's acoustic piano, Rhodes and Wurlitzer sounds are a big step-up compared to that of the ES4.

Originally Posted by Heading2Boston

Kawai MP11SE
:
I have no doubt assuming that this will have the best action on the market, and from the youtube demos I’ve heard, the piano sounds are wonderful to my ears.


It's perhaps worth noting that the ES8 features many of the same piano and EP sounds as that of the MP11SE.

Originally Posted by Heading2Boston
I suppose my biggest hesitation is that I haven’t totally given up the dream of gigging again, and I worry that this instrument is really too bulky/heavy to toss in the car on a regular basis.


Yes, the size/weight can be a factor for some players. In this case, I would recommend the MP7SE, which offers the same sounds and similar functionality within a smaller, lighter package.

Originally Posted by Heading2Boston
I’d love to know if the action is similar to the Kawai ES8.


The mechanism itself is the same, however some specifications of the action have been modified, as requested by Clavia (Nord's manufacturer).

Originally Posted by Heading2Boston
Does anyone know if the Nord can be used as a controller like the Yamaha or MP11se?


Yes, I'm pretty sure it can, however I don't believe the Nord will offer the same level of controller functionality as the MP11SE.

I hope this helps - best of luck with your search, and with your move to Boston.

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: Help choosing an upgrade to my Kawai ES4 [Re: Kawai James] #2893649
09/24/19 10:35 AM
09/24/19 10:35 AM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
UK
H
Heading2Boston Offline OP
Junior Member
Heading2Boston  Offline OP
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H

Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 5
UK
Hi James,
Thanks so much for the tips and for pointing out the Kawai dealer! I shall visit them to check out the Kawai models and try them for myself smile

Re: Help choosing an upgrade to my Kawai ES4 [Re: Heading2Boston] #2893652
09/24/19 10:56 AM
09/24/19 10:56 AM
Joined: Jul 2018
Posts: 131
Portugal
M
MarioPf Offline
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MarioPf  Offline
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Joined: Jul 2018
Posts: 131
Portugal
You can also try to find a Kawai VPC1 paired with a Nord Electro 6D.


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