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Hi everybody!

Looking for the closest grand piano feel but also a very good master (controller) keyboard, I think Kawai MP11SE is my best choice. But I’d like to be sure in both aspects: I have still a lot to learn about DAWs – especially Reaper – and plugins, and I could not yet try this model nor some of its competitors in Buenos Aires, Argentina (at best, they are there but very expensive: indeed, I think I shall buy on internet to some shop in Europe or USA). In addition, it’s tiring to search, to read and to listen to so many reviews and discussions. I got some significant info in this forum, but it’s so big that even here is not easy to find answers to personal questions. So, I decided to write this post and I’ll greatly appreciate any comparison to other models such as Yamaha PC88 or Roland RD-2000, perhaps Kurzweil Forte SE 88 or Korg Grandstage 88. I mean, always with the MP11SE as a point of reference, please, and telling me “lighter than…” or “heavier than…”, for instance, instead of simply “light” or “heavy”, in order to better neutralize valid but subjective preferences. The same for splits, layers, velocity curves, let-off, EQ bands, assignable bends or knobs, etc.

On my needs and my purposes, let say that I’m not a professional pianist, but I play mostly in romantic style (rather than rock or jazz style); so interested in the most expressive touch, including the widest dynamic range (from soft pp to strong ff), excellent continuous vibrato for strings, and so on. Not interested in live performances, also not in a lot of pads, built-in tones, rhythms and automatic accompaniments, but rather in assembling a home studio for composing, arranging, recording and mixing my own songs, as well as my piano and orchestral music, using perhaps a few tones from the DP (especially pianos) and its sound engine together with samples and plugins in my laptop. Of course, many things, such as sympathetic resonances, depends on the tones or VSTs one uses, and since in Reaper I could edit any parameter after recording, perhaps I don’t need so much control from the kb. However, I’d like to get enough assignable controls for recording not only piano but strings or winds articulations. Then I wonder how does it works this integration between MP11SE, Reaper and good VSTs. ¿May I get all the richness of the kb piano touch and sounds into my Reaper projects? ¿May I use a VST like any of Berlin Strings, for instance, to record a violin part with the right hand, may be controlling its vibrato at once, thanks to aftertouch, while the left hand (using pitch wheel, faders, knobs) and my feet (continuous pedaling) controls attack, modulation, glissando, etc., in an acceptably intuitive way (instead of those numerical values and curves one must edit, listen to but re-edit many times in the DAW)?

I know, there’s no personal custom-made DP, so you should normally choose between some compromises (even aware that you are letting fall some expectations) and paying for many features you’ll probably never use. I’m inclined to go for the second term, because every week one may discover that this or that tool is great. In addition, I’d not like to be limited very soon, because I’ll not have enough money for another DP in 5 or even more years. However, perhaps you show me that some other DP at a similar price is best for my personal needs, or that I could get all what I want and much more with a relatively cheaper DP.

Thanks in advance and kind regards!

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Instead of an all-in-one unit, should I consider a DP such as Yamaha P-515 plus a little but good MIDI controller? This way, could I get enough integration of both to Reaper and VSTs for my needs and purposes (explained above), as well as a satisfactory playability? Would this solution be somehow equivalent or even better than a MP11SE for up to a similar total price? Which excellent DP touch and feel, and which controller could you recommend for this integration?

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There are no great controllers with 88 keys. The best option is to have a dedicated 88 keys DP just for the action (sound and practice) and get midi controllers with or without keys.

P-515 and MP11SE have different kinds of actions. P515 has a folded action design, and MP11SE design benefits a simple straight levering hammer action closer to a grand piano.

Satisfactory portability??? A home studio is not supposed to move anywhere.

If you're looking for a gigging keyboard, you should look for portable keyboards. MP11SE IMHO is not portable at all. I have yet to see a decent piano action that weights light. At the time of posting this reply, it doesn't exist anywhere on our planet earth.

So you have to be honest with yourself and know that first of all there is no all-in-one solution. Second, you want something portable or you want a good action.


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Web says the MP11SE weighs 74 lbs. I figure by the time it's in a hard case, it is over 100. A dolly queen for sure if you wanted to gig with it. Not to say my bass rig was was any lighter than that, when I was still performing, but I will confess to plotting the death of my vocalist on more than one occasion when during teardown, he would make a bit too much of a show of unplugging his mic, putting it in a bag, and staggering off stage like it was heavy.


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Abdol and nofearengineer, thanks for your replies!

As I wrote before (I admit it’s a long post), I’m not interested in live performances, so not in a gigging kb, but in a home studio one. No problem with 74 lbs, I will not play with anyone’s column lol!

Definitely, I's like one of the best piano key action as possible. But I also need to work on Reaper… If “There are no great controllers with 88 keys” (Abdol), do you mean that the MP11SE will not be enough for what I described I intend to do? ¿Could you give an example, please? ¿What should I consider to add?

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Beware that you may lose warranty coverage if you purchase your piano from another country. I have not personal experience with this, but am merely repeating what I have heard respected members of this forum write. It is possible that Kawai will not provide warranty service to you in Argentina if your piano was purchased in Europe or USA. Check on this before making a purchase.


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Originally Posted by Velzares
Definitely, I's like one of the best piano key action as possible. But I also need to work on Reaper… If “There are no great controllers with 88 keys” (Abdol), do you mean that the MP11SE will not be enough for what I described I intend to do? ¿Could you give an example, please? ¿What should I consider to add?

Hah! I actually miss-read part of your reply. I read "portability" instead of "probably".

Anyhow... pretty much yes. I can give you what I'd do iff I have the money and I want to get a decent piano action. I definitely don't like the waiting time, audio interface, and any complex gear setup when it comes to playing. So I'm not a VST guy, and if I ever play one, I always make sure that I have a damn good-sounding DP.

That means, I'd buy MP11SE and if any more is left, I'd get a small 25 or 49 keys midi-controller or even just a USB controller. Korg has really nice midi controllers:

Korg's midi controllers

Keep in mind that older versions of MP11SE develop some sticky key issues after years of play. Kawai has resolved these issues in the later releases. Nothing that you can't fix yourself, but good to know.

To give you a better idea, Kawai's best slab is like Subaru WRX STI and Yamaha's best slab is like a Toyota Corolla (Yamaha doesn't manufacture any keyboard that matches the specs of MP11SE). Subarus are known for gasket issues and Toyotas work indefinitely. Your call...

***PS: Playing fast parts like Organ licks or drum and percussions patterns on hammer action keys are inconvenient (in my opinion)... so a semi-weighted keys instrument is alwas a great addition to your studio. I wouldn't rushing it though as you have a lot of optinos when it comes to semi-weighted keys!

Last edited by Abdol; 10/08/21 01:27 PM.

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Just a couple of random points…

The Kawai MP11 does NOT have aftertouch. It is rare for a keyboard trying to emulate a real piano.

For a Master Controller feeding into a computer host that runs VSTs, “ splits, layers, velocity curves, let-off, EQ bands, assignable bends or knobs” are all properly done in the host software. You don’t need a keyboard that has these traditional master board features. They were required in setups where the sounds are coming from hardware modules rather than software inside a host. Implement these features inside your host software.

For a keyboard (s) running VSTs you do need those real-time physical controllers that are essential for playing the VST live. This is different for each VST. Consider…

* A piano VST needs 2 or 3 pedals for playing (sustain, sostenuto, una corda). Everything else can be setup with a mouse before playing. Given your romantic playing style, you probably want the keyboard closest to a real grand action that you can afford. I have an older MP-11 in my studio for this purpose. My personal taste is that I rarely use the DP piano sounds except for exercises.

A Hammond B3 VST needs a volume pedal, a Leslie switch, 9 draw bars and a handful of chorus and percussion switches for playing. If you are a real B3 player you want a waterfall keyboard that feels closest to a real B3. This is probably a ‘don’t care’ for you.

An analog synth VST needs lots of knobs, buttons, sliders for live playing, but again this is probably a ‘don’t care’.

* Orchestral VSTs are usually programmed out of the box to respond to sustain pedal, note velocity, pitch bend wheel, and Mod wheel. The Mod wheel might be used for vibrato or different articulations. But you should be able to program your patches to respond to aftertouch, say for vibrato. Most every keyboard has sustain pedal, note velocity, pitch bend and mod wheel, and these will all work okay with VSTs. But, don’t get a keyboard that has the mod wheel and pitch bend in one controller. You want a separate mod wheel that stays where you leave it. You also want a MIDI volume pedal for real-time balancing of orchestral parts. And keyboards with aftertouch don’t always work well in practice (read reviews). Now we get to a sticky point. The keyboard that feels most like a grand piano will not have channel aftertouch and will be sluggish for playing non-piano parts.

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Excellent information! That's why if I get an MP11SE, it will only be for its action. I wish I could get it without all of the other bells and whistles (that will be largely pointless), but it is what it is.


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Originally Posted by Ralphiano
Beware that you may lose warranty coverage if you purchase your piano from another country. I have not personal experience with this, but am merely repeating what I have heard respected members of this forum write. It is possible that Kawai will not provide warranty service to you in Argentina if your piano was purchased in Europe or USA. Check on this before making a purchase.

Yes, it’s a quite important question, just waiting for deciding whether MP11SE or not, before finding out about guarantee and service with sellers (and about secured delivery...). In Argentine there is apparently only one official distributor of Kawai, and he doesn’t sell this model… Moreover, as a general rule, sellers in Argentina state that one has (just) “6 months manufacturer’s guarantee”. And no service, as far as I know. I’d say they’re only importers, and everything is twice expensive or even more than in USA or Europe. So, it seems I lose anyway… You know, the world is really unequal. At least, I’ve not fallen in the worst part (I guess you could hardly find more than ten kbs in any of several African countries...).

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Abdol, many thanks for your info, I’ll check it out. I’ve already learned a bit on that sticky key issue, in the hope it’s already fixed. About playing organs or drums, I own a very old Roland A-30, a semi-weighted MIDI controller, but with just a pitch wheel. Perhaps I should think of a new one…

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Do you need a sound engine builtin to the keyboard or just a midi controller? If the latter, I would prefer a Kawai VPC1 + Akai MPK261 (for non-piano sounds) to an MP11SE, and you'll even save about $500.

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PianoMan51, such a very nice “couple” of info and advices!

On your remark regarding the aftertouch: are you speaking of the MP11 or the MP11SE as well? To be sure, it’s not a piano feature, but I thought it’s there as a master kb feature.

On pedals, the MP11SE includes a GFP-3 triple pedal with optical sensors, and I think that’s great for what you say, isn’t?

I have no idea of what a B3 is… I’ll check it out. And for what you explain so patiently about using VSTs, I understand most of the details, but I should re-read attentively to profit from all that. Many thanks!!

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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Do you need a sound engine builtin to the keyboard or just a midi controller? If the latter, I would prefer a Kawai VPC1 + Akai MPK261 (for non-piano sounds) to an MP11SE, and you'll even save about $500.

This may well be a good answer to what I asked in my second post here, as an alternative. But don’t you think Yamaha P-515 has a better piano key action over Kawai VCP1? Anyway, I still think Kawai MP11SE has the best key action (for me), even whether I may be a bit confused about its features as a controller...

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Key action is personal and subjective. Some/many people like the P-515. I find its action to be unusable. You have to try them.

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Originally Posted by Velzares
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Do you need a sound engine builtin to the keyboard or just a midi controller? If the latter, I would prefer a Kawai VPC1 + Akai MPK261 (for non-piano sounds) to an MP11SE, and you'll even save about $500.

This may well be a good answer to what I asked in my second post here, as an alternative. But don’t you think Yamaha P-515 has a better piano key action over Kawai VCP1? Anyway, I still think Kawai MP11SE has the best key action (for me), even whether I may be a bit confused about its features as a controller...
Online manuals are your friend. Many manuals will have a MIDI implementation chart at the end. This will show you exactly which features are implemented (like channel aftertouch).

Eventually, if you buy a product you will dive into the manual. So why not start before you buy it? So when you receive the product there won’t be any surprises.

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You're right, indeed I've just got the MP11SE manual to get more info. Before, I had replied to your first post (I forgot to do it as a reply, sorry, I don't know if you read it). Thanks again!

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Regarding the MIDI controller features, you can define the keys on your keyboard to perform specific actions in your DAW.

Having buttons on the control surface of your keyboard is just a matter of convenience.

What do you want to do? Do you need play/pause buttons? Sliders and knobs? What are your expectations?

If you're looking for knobs and buttons, MP11SE and VPC1 are not an option.


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A VPC1 would be exclusively for playing a piano. A dedicated controller like an Akai MPK261 would be used for everything else-- organs, synthesizers, DAW control etc. Any DP with hammer weight action that one likes could be used in lieu of a VPC1, although I think alot of VST pianos have default settings/profiles for the VPC1. I'm sure some DP's are well supported as well that way.

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Hi Abdol,

I think I’d not need a lot of knobs, sliders and pads. Many parameters are already assigned by default, or they can be programmed in the host, as PianoMan51 has explained. Moreover, one can edit everything in Reaper. Many features depend on different VSTs, of course. But I just want some real-time control while playing/recording, such as vibrato, tremolo, etc., for each note, as far as my left hand and my feet can do that, so preferring to develop physical skills for getting the “exact” expression I’d like in that real-time, instead of editing so many curves and numbers. That’s why I think that thanks to continuous pedaling on three pedals, using also a pitch wheel, a mod wheel and at most a few assignable bends and pads should be enough for me.

I know that the key action of MP11SE is not good for several instruments, but since my priority is piano feel, I still think it’s one of my best option (should try others as well), even whether I’ll consider to add a controller, paradoxically not looking for more control but a lighter key action. How to integrate two kbs…, that’s another chapter! And I have a lot to learn about operating the whole gear of a home studio, including the excellent Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 I already own, for recording singing and acoustic guitar...

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