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Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
#2986876 06/02/20 01:10 AM
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Hi,

I was pretty much ready to take my wife to try a Kawai CA 48/58/79 and buy which ever one seemed best to her (she is the player, I took lessons as a kid).

Then, I saw this video from Shirley Kristen (I just found video searching for "CA58" on youtube).

To summarize, she's only happy with regulation/dynamics in "Upright, Heavy plus" mode. I'm not super excited for "upright" sound in a new digital piano purchase. :-) To make matters worse, she seems to think the pedal adversely affects regulation/feel even in "Upright, Heavy plus" mode.

I'm trying not to over-analyze and be hyper critical (I wanted to quote Kawai James' "This." post from another thread, but couldn't find again), but I am expecting at least "very good" regulation, feel, pedal in a digital piano in this price range. I'm also kind of freaked out that regulation/action seems to vary depending on piano sound selected (apparently much worse on the grand sounds).

I don't know anything about this person other than I think her previous two digital pianos were Yamaha, but she did by an acoustic Knabe upright recently too.

Anyone with a CA58 (or, I presume CA48) care to share their feedback on the above review?

Thanks!

Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #2986878 06/02/20 01:38 AM
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I had a CA-58, and was overall happy with the instrument, except for one thing: I had the same problem as Shirley shows in the video: inconsistent behavior across keys at low velocities, resulting in dead notes when playing very softly. I believe this is due to the escapement simulation. In addition, but this has probably nothing to do with this specific instrument, I developed osteoarthritis at my finger joints (DIP) from playing. This may be due to me have a predisposition for this *and* the way in which the action of a digital piano works. Now I have an acoustic (silent system), and no problems any more.


Yamaha P-115 -> Kawai CA-58 -> Kawai K-300 ATX3
Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #2986956 06/02/20 09:13 AM
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Having viewed that video, I found the entire presentation to be bordering insanity and cannot be happier using my ca48 with the Garritan CFX myself for how much that combo costs.
There is not an issue with inconsistent midi velocities being sent for VST use.

The sound engines are also being upgraded in the 49 and 59 models so those should have better dynamic response with the built in sounds.

Last edited by bobsax; 06/02/20 09:14 AM.
Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #2986996 06/02/20 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by daleq
To summarize, she's only happy with regulation/dynamics in "Upright, Heavy plus" mode. I'm not super excited for "upright" sound in a new digital piano purchase. :-) To make matters worse, she seems to think the pedal adversely affects regulation/feel even in "Upright, Heavy plus" mode.

I've seen her videos. And while I'm sure she's an accomplished teacher and pianist, her perspective in this case is fairly unique and I've not seen her complaints echoed by any other pianists/instructors. Personally I feel they may just be a bit particular/idiosyncratic to her.

Your wife is the pianist, let her try and decide for herself (she may love the CA-58, she may gravitate towards a CA-79, a Yamaha, Casio or Roland).


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50, Kawai MP11 || Kawai NV-10
Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #2987022 06/02/20 01:04 PM
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FWIW (I haven't played a CA58) --

There are a few problems with that video.


. . . She finds a sound/touch combination she likes -- "Upright/
. . . Heavy+" -- but never really says "OK -- that's what he
. . . should use, there aren't problems with it."

. . . She never experiments with the Virtual Technician, which
. . . allows key-by-key corrections to both "touch" and "tone".

. . . She never experiments with the "Minimum Touch"
. . . parameter (mentioned above).

. . . She never demonstrates what the "Grand / Heavy+"
. . . combination sounds like, or whether it has the
. . . uneven "minimum sounding key velocity" problem that
. . . she finds. (I may have missed this -- it's an obvious
. . . thing to try.)

. . . She mis-understands what the "Half-pedal" adjustment
. . . does. (It's in the manual, perfectly clear). (The salesman
. . . doesn't help her -- too bad.)

. . . Because of that, her comments on the pedal response
. . . are worse than useless.

It's _difficult_ to explore the response of a keyboard in the "ppp" range. (I've deleted my foray in to the "MIDI velocity=0" problem). If an action is slightly uneven, at those extremely soft levels, one obvious fix is to raise the "Minimum Touch" --

. . . then, you must play a little harder to get a sound,
. . . but those "ppp" sounds become more reliable,
. . . and more controllable.

And, as you play, you adjust your touch appropriately, to get the sound you want. (That's what I did with my PX-350 and Pianoteq. It doesn't take long, and it improves playability.)

Her general approach is:

. . . "I'm going to find out what's wrong with this DP",

rather than:

. . . "I'm going to find out what's wrong with this DP,
. . . . and see if I can make it better, or adjust my
. . . . playing to compensate for it."

This is caught in some of the Comments (there are over 100).

My suggestion to the OP matches Gombessa's, above:

. . . Let your wife try it, and decide if she likes it.


. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #2987029 06/02/20 01:38 PM
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She doesn't have the technique for playing a digital action. She needs to hit hard, like at home on her real grand piano. That's an unrealistic expectation. "Dead spots" she claims, I think she needs to warm up some more to get used to this digital piano action in order to adjust her technique. It looks to me like her touch is not all the same on that dead spots test. She ghosts some notes because she plays them too slow (light) or shallow, she is not perfectly even, she is human. She is not consistently playing the same depth and velocity. When she shows "even" she plays much harder. I wouldn't take it too seriously.
"bubbles" she calls something, "impossible to get an even chord", really? , I think she is a bit eccentric.


Playing professionally since 1975. Style: Straight-ahead jazz. Gear: Kawai ES110 | Mojo 61 | 1966 Mason & Hamlin piano
Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
RinTin #2987070 06/02/20 03:08 PM
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I just remember I quantified the extent of a "dead spot" on my CA-58. The same physical velocity that lead to midi value 26 on the D3, lead to midi value of 1 (no sound) or no event on the adjacent C3. It was quite noticeable when playing, even for a beginner like me. The cause was a physical resistance difference caused by the let-off simulation at low velocities.


Yamaha P-115 -> Kawai CA-58 -> Kawai K-300 ATX3
Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #2987072 06/02/20 03:10 PM
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I've seen that video several times and please let's first put things a bit on perspective, the author is an acoustic piano teacher and is obviously not doing a complete digital piano review. If we read the video comments, she literally writes:

"... the thrust of my eval circumscribed the student's difficulty creating shape and dynamic gradations on his NEW CA 58 [...] He was far more able to phrase better on my acoustic Baldwin at my studio [...] So I was at the piano store location to see what was causing his difficulties on the digital"

So it looks like she's just nitpicking but it's because she was very very specifically looking for the reasons why her student complained that he performed worse with his brand new digital than with an acoustic. And only that.

And finally, maybe there's a bit of truth in the video, after all.

Last edited by ECBetancor; 06/02/20 03:10 PM.

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Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
pianogabe #2987074 06/02/20 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by pianogabe
The cause was a physical resistance difference caused by the let-off simulation at low velocities.

Yes, that's what I'm also just starting to notice a bit with my CA48


Kawai CA48
Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #2987093 06/02/20 04:02 PM
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Another reason I like the ES100, it doesn’t suffer from dead spots.


Playing professionally since 1975. Style: Straight-ahead jazz. Gear: Kawai ES110 | Mojo 61 | 1966 Mason & Hamlin piano
Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #2987240 06/03/20 01:16 AM
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@pianogabe - "I had the same problem as Shirley shows in the video: inconsistent behavior across keys at low velocities, resulting in dead notes when playing very softly. I believe this is due to the escapement simulation."

Thanks for sharing your experience.


@bobsax - "There is not an issue with inconsistent midi velocities being sent for VST use."

I'm trying hard not to burrow into this depth to just "play the piano"


@Gombessa - "let her try and decide for herself"

You are absolutely correct here.


@Charles Cohen - "She never experiments with the Virtual Technician, which allows key-by-key corrections to both "touch" and "tone"."

I'm figuring I'll be doing well convincing her to play a piano that requires turning it "on" before playing. So, if it doesn't work out of the box, I don't see it working for her. Thanks for seconding the "...decide if she likes it".


@rintincop - "It looks to me like her touch is not all the same on that dead spots test."

I kind of thought that too. I don't think she's *trying* to have bias here, but I can understand if it's happening here.


@pianogabe - "The same physical velocity that lead to midi value 26 on the D3, lead to midi value of 1 (no sound) or no event on the adjacent C3"

Thanks for the additional details of your experience.


@ECBetancor - "And finally, maybe there's a bit of truth in the video, after all."

Yes, I think so too (even given the possibility I mentioned of (non-conscious) bias).


Thanks again to all who responded, I appreciate it.

I'm thinking that for my wife, an acoustic is going to be a better option, not just becuase of this issue, but for the simplicity/purity of "just playing piano".

Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #2987245 06/03/20 01:49 AM
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daleq, I've watched this video a few times, as it typically gets reposted/referenced every 3~4 months or so.

I believe the player is being honest, and most likely has good intentions.

Regardless of the model or brand, I always recommend that customers play-test all of the instruments under consideration for themselves, rather than rely too heavily on reviews, videos, or opinions expressed online.

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 CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #2987248 06/03/20 01:52 AM
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Originally Posted by daleq
Thanks again to all who responded, I appreciate it.

I'm thinking that for my wife, an acoustic is going to be a better option, not just becuase of this issue, but for the simplicity/purity of "just playing piano".

You never thought about leaving the digital switched on? For ever?
Some here never turn theirs off . . . .


"I am not a man. I am a free number"

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Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
Kawai James #2987434 06/03/20 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
daleq, I've watched this video a few times, as it typically gets reposted/referenced every 3~4 months or so.

I believe the player is being honest, and most likely has good intentions.

Regardless of the model or brand, I always recommend that customers play-test all of the instruments under consideration for themselves, rather than rely too heavily on reviews, videos, or opinions expressed online.

Kind regards,
James
x

Actually playtesting is a problem in many parts of the world..

Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #2987479 06/03/20 03:25 PM
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I tested the ppp on all my ES110 and didn't notice the problem.


Playing professionally since 1975. Style: Straight-ahead jazz. Gear: Kawai ES110 | Mojo 61 | 1966 Mason & Hamlin piano
Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #3001986 07/12/20 09:36 PM
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Hi,

I am renting a CA58. Mine doesn't have any dead spots, but I do find it's a bit difficult to consistently play quiet notes. This is in comparison with our previous piano, a Yamaha P140S (GH action).

This appears to be either hardware limitation or intentional design. I don't have any experience with an acoustic, but I imagine it would be similar. If you press the key too slowly, the hammer won't hit the strings.

The heavy+ setting improves things as it forces you to hit the keys harder to get the same velocity (audible output). This puts you more in the range where force/velocity response is steeper and easier to control. Playing around a bit I generally get these values:

light+ hit soft: 17-25, hit hard: 125
normal hit soft: 15-23, hit hard: 110
heavy+ hit soft: 9-14, hit hard: 100

This probably makes Shirley's video a bit more confusing, as she will be forced to play harder when using heavy+.

I think most people would be happy with at least one of the settings. For me it's just a little annoying, but I would still choose the CA58 over just about any other model. For me it's significantly more enjoyable to play than the GH action, and likewise my neighbor's Yamaha with GHS action. My 8 year daughter also enjoys playing it more than the others. She has a light touch and doesn't have a problem with it.

The default minimum touch value is 1 which is most sensitive, therefore changing it won't help in this case. This feature is more common on electronic drum kits to avoid false triggering in a live setting (it basically mutes soft hits).

The CA58 is also one of the few options that supports user temperaments (along with the ES8 and MP series). This is a must have in my opinion. It's sad that 12-TET is so prevalent. I find it bland sounding compared to just about any other temperament.

I'm going to try the CA59 when it's available before deciding whether to keep the CA58. I'd also like to try whatever replaces the ES8, but I'm not sure that's any time soon (though there is a new model to be announced on the 15th).

Also note an acoustic piano isn't necessarily an easier option, once you factor in temperature/humidity sensitivity and getting a tuner. Though it's probably the best option if the features of a digital piano don't interest you.

disclaimer: I'm a terrible piano player, so as usual, best advice is to try one for yourself.

Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #3001994 07/12/20 10:26 PM
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When I first moved from a Yamaha (CP50 with GH action) to a Kawai (MP11 with GF1 action), I also noticed that the Yamaha had a wider dynamic range, especially that the ppp was quieter, even at the same midi velocity. I figured it was just a difference in how the two companies approached DR. The Yamaha seemed more expressive at first because of it, but after going back and forth with acoustic grands, I think the Kawai better approximated the range and response of the acoustics I was playing.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50, Kawai MP11 || Kawai NV-10
Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
MartF #3002049 07/13/20 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Mart2
..I do find it's a bit difficult to consistently play quiet notes.

I have the same action and, IMHO, unfortunately I have to agree with that. In fact it's the only real negative point of GFC action, everything else is good.

I've done extensive testing, several times, and it happens only when playing very soft, like below 16 in MIDI velocity with the "normal" curve.
The chords become inconsistent and playing very softly but with the same touch on all my three fingers, of the three notes, as example I can get a "1" (dead note, no sound) on the first, "7" on the second and "13" on the third one.

When playing two consecutive white keys with the same finger we get the same results. Then I thought that, even with the finger, we could be putting a little bit more pressure on one side than on the other one, so I even tested it by covering two or more white keys with a straight solid object that is pushed slowly form above: same result -> one key is dead, the other other gives sound.

All this inconsistency means that playing real ppp is frustrating.

On the other side, I have to say that when I repeat all these tests at any higher velocities, I get much more consistent results, the difference in MIDI velocities between keys is always less than 5.

TL;DL; Kawai knows about it, as this is precisely one of the stated improvement points in GFIII, now there's a new rubber stopper, compared to GF, GFII, GFC, precisely to help with the pianissimo inconsistencies. You can see it in the action images and it's even clearly stated in the official Kawai CA79/CA99 initial presentation for dealers:

Improved pressure point:

Let-off rubber now with an additional stopper
Optimized hammer & pressure point arrangement

- More stable let-off
- Uniform pianissimo

- More authentic

Last edited by ECBetancor; 07/13/20 05:20 AM.

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Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #3002071 07/13/20 07:37 AM
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IMHO the problem is not in the hardware, but in the software. With a customized touch curve, you can play ppp much better (more consistently) and fff too, and get a much greater and pleasurable dynamic range.

I guess Kawai wanted to make its digital SK-EX sound "BIG" very easily, but the result is that they made very difficult to play it softly and the overall sound feeling is more muddy because you cannot really make a main melody line sparkle over a soft accompaniment part. You can see that this is not an hardware problem because with the EX ConcertGrand piano patch you can play softer (and stronger too) than the SK-EX, without changing the touch curve (that's one of the reasons I often prefer the EX over the SK-EX when I want to get a more clear "separation" between accompaniment and melody line).

The problem is that the option to make the piano create a customized curve from your playing never worked well for me. I had to change the hex values manually in the settings file exported from my DP, to make an accurate velocity curve that really works well for the SK-EX. I don't know why Kawai didn't make an option to edit the curve values directly from the display control panel.

Alternatively you can try to use an heavy touch curve + a bright voicing, or the "dynamic" voicing. But if you use a bright voicing, you'll lose some very low velocities piano timbres, so I don't like this solution. And the "dynamic" voicing is too inconsistent between ppp and fff: it's like you get just ppp (if you play normally) or fff (if you play very strong), with very few variations in the middle, so I don't like this either.

Re: Kawai CA58 - regulation critique
daleq #3002100 07/13/20 09:24 AM
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Well all what you say it's correct and I agree but it's also a hardware issue first. All those software modifications are ways to try to overcome that HW issue which should not happen in the first place. And that's is why Kawai has explicitly stated that it has improved the let-off to play better pianissimo in GFIII compared to all the previous GF actions, by adding a rubber stopper. They wouldn't say that is there's zero issue, and the pianissimo is perfect to start with.

Anyway, in the end none of those software workarounds are truly satisfactory, until we get GFIII and problem solved. By solely tinkering with the curves we wither lose tone or dynamic range in some way. There's a couple of threads around here about it, like this one: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2779256/2.html


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