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Kawai ES920 Disappointment
#3068609 01/13/21 03:08 AM
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I'm a long time lurker of these forums, but I've finally made an account for some advice.

My only experience with digital pianos has been my P115, which I've had for 6 years. I decided to finally take the plunge on a "high end" digital piano. Seeing so much praise for the ES8, I jumped on the ES920 as its successor with the same action.

Now it's here, I've been playing it, and all I can't help but be disappointed.

I guess maybe my expectations were too high. I thought I'd be blown away, or at least that it would be better than my $500 P115 in every way.

I have the following gripes:

First, the keys bounce like an Olympic diving board upon release, particularly when grabbing quick bass notes. As a result; key action is significantly louder than my p115, and quite distracting when using the speakers on low volume.

The velocity in its default state is....weird. Maybe I just need to get used to it, but at the moment I can play more dynamically with my P115. The ES920 is quiet only when playing pianissimo, but quickly reaches a state of near maximum loudness with what I would consider to be mezzo-forte playing.

The piano tone is beautiful, but the balance sounds incredibly boxy. On my P115 I can play more keys with pedal before having a muddy mess in the midrange. I know there is an onboard EQ, but I had hoped it would be calibrated to the ideal settings by default.

Finally, the user interface is frustrating as heck. I use metronome daily, and I don't want a tonal bell; just the click. I also like the metronome volume turned down. Unfortunately, every time you turn off the piano it deletes these settings. The only way to get it to retain this setting after turning it off is to using a "registration entry," which only applies to 1 piano sound. If you change sounds, it resets the time signature and metronome volume.

Despite all that, the quality and tone of the individual notes are the best I've ever heard. The action FEELS a lot smoother than my P115. Furthermore, the sound libraries are phenomenal. In contrast to the P115 where the only good sound was the grand; all the sounds in the ES920 are solid. I definitely hear the potential in the sound itself, so maybe its just a matter of adjusting EQ and velocity settings, and programming a registration entry for every damn sound.

I would love some suggestions for settings as far as Velocity, EQ, what piano sounds to use, etc.

It frustrates me that I can play more expressively with my old slab. Has anyone else felt this way when changing keyboards? Maybe its just part of switching from what I'm used to.

Thanks

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Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Spence G #3068611 01/13/21 03:30 AM
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Hello Spence G, welcome to the forum.

It may take a little time to adjust to the action and sound of the ES920.

Please use the "Startup Setting" function to set you preferred metronome time signature and volume.

https://www.kawai-global.com/data/manuals/es920_es520/ES920_EN_R101.pdf#page=82

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
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Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Spence G #3068616 01/13/21 03:45 AM
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Coming from a DGX point of view, I can understand here some of the problems you face.
If you played an acoustic, you'd quickly learn to un-play your previous digital. It is a hard transition unless you're used to the difference. The muddy mess is what the loud pedal gives, and on an acoustic, or a modern digital, the resonances and other stuff are such that you learn to use that pedal less enthusiastically.
Turn the resonances off, and you'll see the difference. I max mine up; (I use a P515) since I quite like the overall effect, but it's different from your old 115 which was and still is good for the price, and very playable.
Give it a little time, but if the keyboard is that noisy, well, maybe best take it back and reconsider.


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Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Kawai James #3068618 01/13/21 03:47 AM
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Thanks for the quick response. I read through the manual and have begun to play with the Velocity/EQ settings. I have the view of "they probably know better than I do" for these types of things, so I expected the factory settings to be the best. I'm surprised the factory settings don't seem like a happy medium. This will take some getting used to.

Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Spence G #3068623 01/13/21 03:54 AM
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With regard to creating a "mess" of the sound on the ES920: that could be due to string and damper resonances. These are much longer on the ES920, and much more in line with an acoustic. The ES920 (probably) also has partial pedaling, and the P115 maybe didn't.

If you combine all that and you have, what is called "dirty pedaling", the ES920 will resonate much more than the P115, which messes up the sound. "Dirty pedaling" is not completely lifting the pedal; on cheaper/older piano's, that is not a problem, if the pedal is an on/off switch. As long as it is not fully depressed, the pedal is off, but on the ES920, it (probably) can be "partially on", and it will render partial resonances.

Try to play a piece and then pay special attention that you actually completely release the pedal when you switch chords.

In another thread I mentioned that the dealer lowers the resonances or even turns the resonances off by default, for piano's on the floor, because there are many people who never played an acoustic, and are coming from older or cheaper digitals. They get thrown off completely by the resonances and think the piano sounds bad and behaves weird. Some of them apparently can't be convinced that it is supposed to be like that, or the dealer wouldn't turn the resonances down/off.

Last edited by Falsch; 01/13/21 03:59 AM.

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Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
peterws #3068630 01/13/21 04:15 AM
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Thanks for the tip about the resonances. I didn't know there was a setting specifically for that, but I'll play with it.
I've played an upright acoustic quite a bit. It's not mine, but my teacher's, so I've played it in all of my lessons since I started. I swear even on the acoustic I'm able to pedal more clearly than on the ES920 with its current settings, but I could be wrong. Obviously I've only had the ES920 for a few days.

Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Spence G #3068633 01/13/21 04:21 AM
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Spence G, perhaps you can ask your teacher to try the ES920 and he/she can give you their feedback (compared to the P115).

By the way, were you able to store the metronome setting?
Do you have any other frustrations with the UI?

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Spence G #3068641 01/13/21 04:45 AM
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Have you tested the Yamaha P515? It's a very solid offering by Yamaha and if you're used to the Yamaha sound and touch, it might have been the better upgrade from P115. If you can test a P515 and return the ES920, you may want to consider it as an option, rather than having to get used to a sound and touch you don't like.


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Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
CyberGene #3068644 01/13/21 04:49 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Have you tested the Yamaha P515? It's a very solid offering by Yamaha and if you're used to the Yamaha sound and touch, it might have been the better upgrade from P115. If you can test a P515 and return the ES920, you may want to consider it as an option, rather than having to get used to a sound and touch you don't like.

+1 for trying out P515.

Osho


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Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Osho #3068657 01/13/21 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Osho
Originally Posted by CyberGene
Have you tested the Yamaha P515? It's a very solid offering by Yamaha and if you're used to the Yamaha sound and touch, it might have been the better upgrade from P115. If you can test a P515 and return the ES920, you may want to consider it as an option, rather than having to get used to a sound and touch you don't like.

+1 for trying out P515.

Osho

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Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Spence G #3068662 01/13/21 06:54 AM
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Reading your story gives me the impression that the es920 behaves more like an acoustic piano, and you have to get used to it, coming from the p115 which probably is too forgiving.

Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Spence G #3068668 01/13/21 07:47 AM
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Even if is a different case, I found a similar problem when first using the VSL Vienna Imperial... It sounded muddy when using the pedal. It is probably a good simulation of the real thing, while old and/or cheap DPs are programmed so the player sounds fine even with improper (usually abusive) use of the pedal. Customer satisfaction at its best!

So I think you will end adapting nicely to the Kawai. Give it some time, or at least until your return possibility allows.


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Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Spence G #3068678 01/13/21 08:51 AM
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Hi Spence,

I am a long time Kawai user and have owned ES7, ES8, and MP11SE.

What I would suggest you do is start getting to know the options that are available to you via the MENU.

Specifically MENU 1-12 Factory Reset is your friend. It allows you to put everything back the way it was when you opened the box.

Then select one option that (after reading about it in the manual) you think might make a difference you would value. Go to that section and set it to the most extreme values (high and low) and listen. Try to gain an understanding of what that option does for you (maybe nothing). Then, put it back to the default value and try another one.

When you have done this with a number of the options, you will begin to get some idea of which ones you think might give you the sound and feel you are more happy with.

Periodically visit MENU 1-12 Factory Reset and start over.

When you think you have a sound and feel you are happy with .... then, MENU 1-11 allows you to FIX that as your startup configuration.

That is the process.

I know, you would think it would come ready to play .... but it is what it is. This process will get you to a point where you enjoy playing your ES920.

Here are some specific menu sections that I find useful ....

1-1 Tone Control - I Set Brilliance to -5

1-3 Speaker Vol. - I set it to LOW

2-1 Touch Curve - I set it to HEAVY1

2-2 Voicing - I set it to Dynamic

These settings are the only ones I have adjusted at the moment and they have allowed me to gain control of the volume issue I was having. So, sometimes it doesn't take much.

Good Luck


Don

Casio PX-S1000, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq, FocusRite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface, Focal Professional CMS 40 monitors
Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Falsch #3068680 01/13/21 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Falsch
With regard to creating a "mess" of the sound on the ES920: that could be due to string and damper resonances. These are much longer on the ES920, and much more in line with an acoustic. The ES920 (probably) also has partial pedaling, and the P115 maybe didn't.

If you combine all that and you have, what is called "dirty pedaling", the ES920 will resonate much more than the P115, which messes up the sound. "Dirty pedaling" is not completely lifting the pedal; on cheaper/older piano's, that is not a problem, if the pedal is an on/off switch. As long as it is not fully depressed, the pedal is off, but on the ES920, it (probably) can be "partially on", and it will render partial resonances.

Try to play a piece and then pay special attention that you actually completely release the pedal when you switch chords.

In another thread I mentioned that the dealer lowers the resonances or even turns the resonances off by default, for piano's on the floor, because there are many people who never played an acoustic, and are coming from older or cheaper digitals. They get thrown off completely by the resonances and think the piano sounds bad and behaves weird. Some of them apparently can't be convinced that it is supposed to be like that, or the dealer wouldn't turn the resonances down/off.

the pedal information is very accurate, i had noticed the same thing when i switched from p155 to p515, lifting the pedal , as you should, is important in the higher end models


Yamaha P155, Yamaha P515
Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Spence G #3068747 01/13/21 12:35 PM
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+1 for P-515. The keys are heavier and not bouncy at all. Kawai is known for having lighter action and I can see even on videos that the keys are quite bouncy at return (more bouncy than average). P-515 can be a bit stiff and a bit challenging to play pianissimo, particularly in first 1-3 months of playing the new one. But when you get used to the action and learn to play with the weight of the whole arm, it is just good and comfortable.

You can also try Roland FP-90 (or the new FP-90X when it is available).


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Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Spence G #3068783 01/13/21 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Spence G
I'm a long time lurker of these forums, but I've finally made an account for some advice.

My only experience with digital pianos has been my P115, which I've had for 6 years. I decided to finally take the plunge on a "high end" digital piano. Seeing so much praise for the ES8, I jumped on the ES920 as its successor with the same action.

Now it's here, I've been playing it, and all I can't help but be disappointed.

I guess maybe my expectations were too high. I thought I'd be blown away, or at least that it would be better than my $500 P115 in every way.

I have the following gripes:

First, the keys bounce like an Olympic diving board upon release, particularly when grabbing quick bass notes. As a result; key action is significantly louder than my p115, and quite distracting when using the speakers on low volume.

The velocity in its default state is....weird. Maybe I just need to get used to it, but at the moment I can play more dynamically with my P115. The ES920 is quiet only when playing pianissimo, but quickly reaches a state of near maximum loudness with what I would consider to be mezzo-forte playing.

The piano tone is beautiful, but the balance sounds incredibly boxy. On my P115 I can play more keys with pedal before having a muddy mess in the midrange. I know there is an onboard EQ, but I had hoped it would be calibrated to the ideal settings by default.

Finally, the user interface is frustrating as heck. I use metronome daily, and I don't want a tonal bell; just the click. I also like the metronome volume turned down. Unfortunately, every time you turn off the piano it deletes these settings. The only way to get it to retain this setting after turning it off is to using a "registration entry," which only applies to 1 piano sound. If you change sounds, it resets the time signature and metronome volume.

Despite all that, the quality and tone of the individual notes are the best I've ever heard. The action FEELS a lot smoother than my P115. Furthermore, the sound libraries are phenomenal. In contrast to the P115 where the only good sound was the grand; all the sounds in the ES920 are solid. I definitely hear the potential in the sound itself, so maybe its just a matter of adjusting EQ and velocity settings, and programming a registration entry for every damn sound.

I would love some suggestions for settings as far as Velocity, EQ, what piano sounds to use, etc.

It frustrates me that I can play more expressively with my old slab. Has anyone else felt this way when changing keyboards? Maybe its just part of switching from what I'm used to.

Thanks

You just need to adapt to your new piano. If you wanted a good UI, you brought the wrong type of slab, and maybe the MP7SE would have suited your needs better. Also, consider other headphones to improve your experience. You might want to Google the Abbey piano man post, as she too found it a lot different to the Yamaha

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2299778/2.html

Last edited by Doug M.; 01/13/21 02:54 PM.

Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7SE; Past - Kawai MP7, Yamaha PSR7000
Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
Stand: K&M 18953 Table-style Stage Piano Stand
Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Spence G #3068862 01/13/21 06:27 PM
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I suspect your disappointment comes from expecting the ES920 to be an upgrade from the P515? It's not.

Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
MacMacMac #3068867 01/13/21 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I suspect your disappointment comes from expecting the ES920 to be an upgrade from the P515? It's not.

OP had a P115.

Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
OU812 #3068870 01/13/21 06:49 PM
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Oops! smile
Originally Posted by OU812
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I suspect your disappointment comes from expecting the ES920 to be an upgrade from the P515? It's not.
OP had a P115.

Re: Kawai ES920 Disappointment
Kawai James #3068934 01/13/21 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
Spence G, perhaps you can ask your teacher to try the ES920 and he/she can give you their feedback (compared to the P115).

By the way, were you able to store the metronome setting?
Do you have any other frustrations with the UI?

Kind regards,
James
x

Thanks, I was able to get the metronome figured out. That's a good idea regarding asking my teacher's opinion. I'll ask his opinion on the pedal resonance and "muddiness" compared to acoustic as well. He's very old fashioned, so I doubt he can help me with settings unfortunately.

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