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Kawai MP6 first impressions

Posted By: voxpops

Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/15/11 03:51 AM

My beat-up MP6 arrived today from Music123. It was in a little worse shape than advertised, but I was kind of expecting that. I have to replace five keys, there's no damper pedal, and one of the end cheeks is actually split as well as being banged up. It looks like it must have been dropped from quite a height!

I managed to work out how to get inside the piano, and have removed the broken keys. I've also asked Kawai US for replacement keys and for pricing on end cheeks and damper pedal. Within a couple of weeks I hope to have it fully functioning.

I've only done a very quick test on the sound - grand, Rhodes and Wurli. The grand piano has a nice tone, but I'm a little disappointed that the timbre change from pp to ff is less than expected. I'd stick my neck out and say that there's less timbre variation and dynamic range than in the MP5 (my memory may be playing tricks, but I don't think so). I would bet that the MP10 offers significantly wider variation. When the MP6 first came out I bemoaned the fact that Kawai had put a lesser engine in the MP6; so far I have heard nothing to change that opinion. That said, it does actually sound like an acoustic piano with a fairly bright tone - not bad at all. For me, however, the FP-7F is clearly in the lead for dynamics and timbre variation.

The action plays very nicely. It's not something I feel comfortable pronouncing on after just a few minutes with the piano, so I'll hold off until I've had more time with it. Repeat speed seems acceptable. While the FP and the MP have a different feel, I doubt that either one will be noticeably better than the other in normal use.

The first Rhodes and first Wurli are quite good - not up to either Nord or Kurzweil standards, but usable. I expected the mod wheel to vary the tremolo, but that doesn't seem to be the case, so I'll need to look into how that works.

So first impressions are quite good in terms of sound, but no wow-factor yet. Action is definitely good. I'll try to give a more considered analysis once I've spent some quality time with it.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/15/11 04:01 AM

voxpops, feel free to send me an message if you would like to receive the latest software update and owner's manual (both are currently unavailable publicly).

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/15/11 04:26 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
voxpops, feel free to send me an message if you would like to receive the latest software update and owner's manual (both are currently unavailable publicly).

Cheers,
James
x


PM sent. Thanks, James.
Posted By: pianomike

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/15/11 05:25 PM

VOX POPS, I know you haven,t spent much time with the mp6 but Im wondering how you think the numa piano compares to it .
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/15/11 05:48 PM

Originally Posted by pianomike
VOX POPS, I know you haven,t spent much time with the mp6 but Im wondering how you think the numa piano compares to it .

Oh, gosh, that's a tricky one. My replacement Numa hasn't arrived yet so I can't do a side-by-side test. Basic observations are:
The Kawai is a much more substantial build - and weighs accordingly.
The Kawai has many more sounds built in.
The Kawai's action is much more sophisticated. That can be a blessing and a curse. The old MP5 had a built-in "safety valve". If the piano received a shock, the keys would pop out of their pivot point. With the new action, the keys are locked into the pivot point and so receive a lot of stress on the weakest/thinnest part of the plastic and are subject to breakage. The MP6 responds well but such a nice action deserves a better AP sound engine, IMO.
The Kawai has a more sophisticated MIDI control interface.
The Kawai has a more sophisticated sound processor that uses 88-note sampling, blended velocity layers and resonance. The Numa uses a five-layer stretched sample set with no resonance and no blending.
The Kawai has better organs, but not a particularly good Leslie sim.

Both the Kawai and the Numa have good panel access to essential controls such as reverb and effects.

The Numa has a slightly richer acoustic piano sound.
The Numa has slightly more vibrant Rhodes and Wurli samples.
The Numa action benefits from the automatic velocity-curve "learn" function.

It really is a bit like apples and oranges between these two. One sets out to be one of the lightest stage pianos, and the other tries to be one of the most acoustic-feeling stage pianos. Which is more important to you?
Posted By: PianoZac

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/15/11 06:00 PM

Thanks for the update Vox. I look forward to hearing your review when you have a complete 100% working keyboard. I found the MP6 to offer exceptional bang for buck. The action is a clear step up from the Ivory Feel-G/GH3 in the RD-300NX/CP50, and the sound was quite good to me as well. I love how the MP5/6 have angled interfaces the way the GEM's used to. Considering the quality of the sounds, the action, and the build quality at the price it's sold for, the MP6 is really impressive.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/15/11 06:21 PM

Originally Posted by ZacharyForbes
I look forward to hearing your review when you have a complete 100% working keyboard.

The replacement keys are on their way from Kawai. Unfortunately they don't stock spare end cheeks, so I'll either have to live with the damage or get someone who's into woodworking to restore them.


Originally Posted by ZacharyForbes
I found the MP6 to offer exceptional bang for buck. The action is a clear step up from the Ivory Feel-G/GH3 in the RD-300NX/CP50, and the sound was quite good to me as well. I love how the MP5/6 have angled interfaces the way the GEM's used to. Considering the quality of the sounds, the action, and the build quality at the price it's sold for, the MP6 is really impressive.


Yes, the action is perhaps the best thing about the board, and, given the board's price, adds hugely to the value offered. The angled interface should make for much better live control, particularly in a multi-board rig.

I know I'm very critical of many boards' sound engines, the MP6 included, but that is the one area where a little more R&D would pay off. The old GEMs were nearly there with their modeled Rhodes and partially modeled APs. Roland has caught up with their SN engine, and it really does improve the playing experience. Yamaha has done the same now with their EPs, to generally great acclaim. Kawai needs to stop being stingy with their UPHI, as anything less is sadly not up there with the best. Nord has some great APs and EPs but could benefit from smoothing a few rough edges. And Korg is all over the place, from really wonderful to pretty bad!

Having really done the rounds over the last few months, I would love to take the best bits of all the manufacturers and put them together in a super-board! Maybe another two or three years down the line and we'll really have superb action, sound and portability together in one unit.
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/15/11 08:35 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Having really done the rounds over the last few months, I would love to take the best bits of all the manufacturers and put them together in a super-board! Maybe another two or three years down the line and we'll really have superb action, sound and portability together in one unit.

My bet is in a few years we'll still be sitting here wondering why most DPs are so obviously lame in one way or another, and picking among the best of the worst.

Speaking of DIY, I found this on the web yesterday: http://www.raspberrypi.org/ Buy it for $25, stick in a Flash card, connect a SPI D/A converter, load Linux, and start building your own DP!
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/15/11 08:42 PM

Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by voxpops
Having really done the rounds over the last few months, I would love to take the best bits of all the manufacturers and put them together in a super-board! Maybe another two or three years down the line and we'll really have superb action, sound and portability together in one unit.

My bet is in a few years we'll still be sitting here wondering why most DPs are so obviously lame in one way or another, and picking among the best of the worst.

I'm trying to be optimistic, dewster! Don't depress me too much. wink
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/15/11 09:28 PM

voxpops, thank you for posting your thoughts about the MP6.

Regarding the sound of the instrument, I wonder if - and please don't take this personally - you have allowed your prejudgement of the MP6 to get the better of you? A self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps?

When this product was announced you were quick to criticise the fact that it utilises PHI sound rather than the UPHI of the MP10, and have expressed similar criticisms several times since. I wonder if the brochure specs listed UPHI (while still keeping the current PHI sound) would you feel the same way?

This is perhaps one of the pitfalls of offering a staggered range of sound technologies. It doesn't matter how good PHI actually is (in my opinion it's very good - both technically and aurally), I expect some consumers will often still say to themselves "Oh, but I wish it was UPHI".

The Roland (and to a lesser extent Yamaha) approach is arguably more satisfying to consumers, as they use the same 'SuperNatural' umbrella term across a broad range of instrument classes. From my experience cheaper SN models do not sound as rich as the more expensive instruments. However most consumers do not have the opportunity to play a range of models back-to-back, and therefore will probably never experience such remorse - on paper all the models are 'SuperNatural', so surely they must all sound the same, right? I expect that if the RD-300NX was marketed as having 'SN1' sound, while the RD-700NX was marketed as having 'SN2' sound, we would probably see similar criticisms to yours above: "Why were Roland so stingy? Why did they reserve their best sound technology for the larger, heavier board?" etc.

Anyway, to return to the MP6, while I agree that - for consumers - it would have been nice for this instrument to feature Kawai's top of the range UPHI sound, in reality, it's perhaps not such a good idea. First, it would likely cannibalise sales away from the MP10 and Kawai's other flagship instruments (such as the CA93/CA63), and second, it could potentially distort the rest of Kawai's product range. As many have already highlighted, the MP6 already represents fantastic value for money - if you were to add the top-of-the range sound technology, sure it would completely blow everything else away, but then it could also harm the current CN range.

So you see, there a range of factors that must be taken into consideration when deciding instrument specifications and pricing structures. I'd love my Nord Electro 3 to have more memory, but the guys at Clavia know that this would draw sales away from the Stage 2 - it's exactly the same thing.

Well, I've said my piece, and shall look forward to reading your thoughts.

Cheers.
James
x
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/15/11 09:30 PM

On a separate note:

Originally Posted by voxpops
The Numa action benefits from the automatic velocity-curve "learn" function.


I expect the MP6's 'User Touch Curve' function does much the same thing.

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/15/11 10:14 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
voxpops, thank you for posting your thoughts about the MP6.

Regarding the sound of the instrument, I wonder if - and please don't take this personally - you have allowed your prejudgement of the MP6 to get the better of you? A self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps?

When this product was announced you were quick to criticise the fact that it utilises PHI sound rather than the UPHI of the MP10, and have expressed similar criticisms several times since. I wonder if the brochure specs listed UPHI (while still keeping the current PHI sound) would you feel the same way?

This is arguable one of the pitfalls of offering a staggered range of sound technologies. It doesn't matter how good PHI actually is (in my opinion it's very good - both technically and aurally), I expect consumers will often say to themselves "Oh, I wish it was UPHI".

The Roland (and to a lesser extent Yamaha) approach is arguably more satisfying to consumers, as they use the same 'SuperNatural' umbrella term across a broad range of instrument classes. From my experience cheaper SN models do not sound as rich as the more expensive instruments. However most consumers do not have the opportunity to play a range of models back-to-back, and therefore will probably never experience such remorse - on paper all the models are 'SuperNatural', so surely they must all sound the same, right? I expect that if the RD-300NX was marketed as having 'SN1' sound, while the RD-700NX was marketed as having 'SN2' sound, we would probably see similar criticisms to yours above: "Why were Roland so stingy? Why did reserve their best sound technology for the larger, heavier board?" etc.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Cheers.
James
x


I kind of let myself in for that one, didn't I, James? wink

When I first heard that the MP5 and MP8, which shared the same (very good) sound engine, were to be replaced by tiered models, I admit I was quick to criticize, as I was desperately hoping that we could get a reasonably lightweight board with a top quality sound engine. I saw absolutely no reason then - and I still don't - why those requiring lightweight boards should be thought of as only worthy of lower quality sound sources. I actually find it ludicrous and immensely frustrating!

As time went on, and there were some positive reports on the MP6, I began to weaken. When an inexpensive MP5 came along, I decided to give it a try just to dip my toe in the Kawai water. I was actually really pleasantly surprised - very good piano sound, IMO, with a great dynamic range. Due to its limitations when played in mono (loss of effects, thinning of sound) I didn't keep it(also, at the time, believe it or not, I was trying to slim down my "collection"!). However, I really wondered what I was missing with the MP6.

Fast forward to now, and the opportunity to try an MP6 without investing too much (as I still wasn't at all sure it was for me), and I at last get to compare it with its predecessor, and with my other current and recent DPs - not to mention any preconceived notions I harbored.

However, I'm rarely swayed by either marketing hype or by my own prejudices. If I'm wrong about something, I'll admit it - albeit somewhat grudgingly. But, so far, with the MP6, what I hear is what I write. To me the APs are, in some ways not as good as the MP5, although the EPs are certainly better. I'm not particularly kind to Nord, Studiologic or Roland, unless IMO they deserve it. I gave up with Yamaha because I found them fairly sterile. I admire what Roland has achieved with SN: to me my FP-7F sounds and plays great. I have no idea whether it's SN stage-1, -2 or -3 - that's irrelevant to me (although I'm perfectly well aware of the difference in Roland's D/A converters according to price point). I also like a lot about my FP-4, and that's not even SN stage-0! However, I'm not a Roland fan boy. I have severely criticized Roland's approach to EPs, as well as their decommissioning of effects, and I hated my RD-300SX's action!

So back to the MP6. I am able to play it (almost) alongside the FP-7F. I've already praised its action, which I think is comparable. However, as a first impression, I really don't think the main AP sound is as good - to my ears, of course. I think that's probably why people like Rimmer ended up with the 7F after trying both, and Dave Ferris (I think) said that he lost interest in the MP6 after 10 minutes. It's certainly not due to any preconception - after shelling out the dosh, I actually wanted to be proven wrong! It would fill a hole in my gigging arsenal. This is not to say that the MP6 is bad - far from it! But it is being compared to something fairly universally acknowledged as very good indeed. If the MP6 was really the bees knees in AP sounds, there would be no need for UPHI!

I'm going to be working with the MP6 as I repair it, and I'll have a better understanding of it with time. I prefaced my remarks with the caveat that these were first impressions, but I also didn't approach them either through rose- or mud-tinted spectacles!

As I said at the beginning of this post, I set myself up for this criticism, and so I take no offense at all. However, I try to be honest and as objective as possible when talking about DPs.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/15/11 10:19 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
On a separate note:

Originally Posted by voxpops
The Numa action benefits from the automatic velocity-curve "learn" function.


I expect the MP6's 'User Touch Curve' function does much the same thing.

Cheers,
James
x

That's great - I wasn't sure if the MP6 had something like that or not. But the difference is the Numa needs it!
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 12:52 AM

voxpops, thank you for your post - I greatly appreciate the chance to correspond directly with consumers in this way, especially those who have hands-on experience with a range of instruments.

I believe the FP-7F and MP6 occupy different segments of the market, making direct comparisons difficult. I just had a quick look at the prices of the two products on Music123:

- FP-7F: $1900
- MP6: $1499

So straight away there's disparity in price. Sure, the Roland has built-in speakers, however I doubt these add $400 to the development/parts cost.

I believe a more suitable comparison would be with the RD-300NX, however this board is also $200 more expensive.

Let's say hypothetically that Kawai increased the price of the MP6 by $200-$400, and used the larger R&D budget to add the UPHI sound engine from the MP10, XLR jacks, Line-in mixing/recording etc. Consumers with deeper pockets and bolder demands would likely sing our praises. However, those with less funds (e.g. a maximum budget of $1500), who perhaps are less concerned about the subtle differences between PHI and UPHI, would unfortunately be left out in the cold.

As I noted previously, manufacturers are constantly facing the challenge of balancing price and performance. The MP6 does not sound as good as the MP10 - agreed, it may not sound as good as the FP-7F, however for the money, it's still an excellent board, and - in my opinion - offers the best 'bang for your buck' of any stage piano currently on the market. That was our objective.

A couple of other comments:

Originally Posted by voxpops
Due to its [the MP5's] limitations when played in mono (loss of effects, thinning of sound) I didn't keep it.


Did you try changing the 'Out Mode' system setting from Stereo to 2xMono, or perhaps selecting one of the mono AP patches?

Originally Posted by voxpops
I think that's probably why people like Rimmer ended up with the 7F after trying both, and Dave Ferris (I think) said that he lost interest in the MP6 after 10 minutes...


Well, referencing two forum members' experiences of the MP6 doesn't really say a great deal. You may also recall that another user here, Rhodie73, recently came back to the MP6 after brief stints owning the CP1, RD-700NX, CP50 - clearly, personal opinions are highly subjective.


Anyway, once again, best of luck with your repair project!

Kind regards,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 01:19 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
voxpops, thank you for your post - I greatly appreciate the chance to correspond directly with consumers in this way, especially those who have hands-on experience with a range of instruments.

I believe the FP-7F and MP6 occupy different segments of the market, making direct comparisons difficult. I just had a quick look at the prices of the two products on Music123:

- FP-7F: $1900
- MP6: $1499

So straight away there's disparity in price. Sure, the Roland has built-in speakers, however I doubt these add $400 to the development/parts cost.

I believe a more suitable comparison would be with the RD-300NX, however this board is also $200 more expensive.

I think that's fair comment. The FP-7F has been priced as a more premium product, and isn't strictly a stage piano anyway. I agree that the speakers don't add $400, although some might argue that the other features (harmonizer, accompaniments, rhythms, etc.) could be worth two or three hundred. Roland tends to price high for all its products, although there seems to be room to negotiate with smaller dealers (I was offered the FP-4F for around $1400 at one point).


Originally Posted by Kawai James

Let's say hypothetically that Kawai increased the price of the MP6 by $200-$400, and used the larger R&D budget to add the UPHI sound engine from the MP10, XLR jacks, Line-in mixing/recording etc. Consumers with deeper pockets and bolder demands would likely sing our praises.

Yes, hallelujah! That's what I was hoping for.

Originally Posted by Kawai James

However, those with less funds (e.g. a maximum budget of $1500), who perhaps are less concerned about the subtle differences between PHI and UPHI, would unfortunately be left out in the cold.

Not if Kawai made two models available.

Originally Posted by Kawai James

As I noted previously, manufacturers are constantly facing the challenge of balancing price and performance. The MP6 does not sound as good as the MP10 - agreed, it may not sound as good as the FP-7F, however for the money, it's still an excellent board, and - in my opinion - offers the best 'bang for your buck' of any stage piano currently on the market. That was our objective.

I don't disagree with any of that. I have only said that I was a little disappointed in the timbre variation and dynamic range, but that the basic tone was good. I only had the old MP5 as a reference point and thought that while improvements had been made in some quarters, other things had perhaps been lost. There is a lot more to the MP6 than just its AP sounds. The action is great, the functionality is great. The EPs are pretty good and there's a whole slew of other stuff besides. I'm not knocking it, but pointing out that in one area (that's very important to me) I was hoping for a little more.

Originally Posted by Kawai James

A couple of other comments:

Originally Posted by voxpops
Due to its [the MP5's] limitations when played in mono (loss of effects, thinning of sound) I didn't keep it.


Did you try changing the 'Out Mode' system setting from Stereo to 2xMono, or perhaps selecting one of the mono AP patches?

Yes, with little improvement, and unfortunately that has no effect on the Rhodes tremolo, for example, which gets completely lost in mono (same with the MP6). I've come across this in certain other boards, so it's not unique to the MPs.

Originally Posted by Kawai James

Originally Posted by voxpops
I think that's probably why people like Rimmer ended up with the 7F after trying both, and Dave Ferris (I think) said that he lost interest in the MP6 after 10 minutes...


Well, referencing two forum members' experiences of the MP6 doesn't really say a great deal. You may also recall that another user here, Rhodie73, recently came back to the MP6 after brief stints owning the CP1, RD-700NX, CP50 - clearly, personal opinions are highly subjective.

Again, I'm in agreement. The only point of quoting those instances was to indicate that while there isn't universal approval of SN technology, the advances tend to make people who frequent these forums more critical of what else is out there.


Originally Posted by Kawai James

Anyway, once again, best of luck with your repair project!


Thank you! I'm not the greatest technician in the world, so heart is somewhat in mouth as I attempt this!
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 01:57 AM

I agree, the MP6 competitor is closer to the RD300NX than the FP-7F.

The FP-4F and FP-7F are pianos with speakers and very limited MIDI controller functions.

The MP6 and RD-300NX have no speakers, but have good MIDI controller functions.

Lower priced models I would also put in its general category would include the Yamaha CP33 and Kurzweil SP4-8, but I think the MP6 is a good value at its price as well, it has some very nice features. (Also, though it's a workstation, I think the Yamaha MOX8 also competes from the perspective of being a comparably priced nice sounding piano with good MIDI controller functions.)

That said, some people don't particularly care about MIDI controller features, and/or don't necessarily care about speakers, and are just looking for the best sounding, best feeling piano in their budget, regardless of whether or not they have one or the other of those other features, so you end up competing with different things. Even then, though, not only is the MP6 less expensive that the FP-7F as you point out, it's also less expensive than the FP-4F. (And the higher end MP-10 sells for less than the Nord PIano or the Yamaha CP5, though more than the Roland FP-7F.)

I think Kawai prices and features are certainly competitive... and if whichever of these boards does what someone needs, it just comes down to personal preference about action and sound. (And, alas, weight.)
Posted By: FrankDaddy

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 05:04 AM

Being the owener of a MP6 I agree with anotherscott. It is at a good price/performance point. I do own a couple of vintage instruments, but myback cannot take moving them. the MP6 is light enough to move and is sort of like a Swiss army knife. I mentioned it in my first post back in October. The more I use it the better sounds I get out of it. I would have liked to have gotten the MP10 but i needed a good all around keyboard for light gigging. It works very well for that. Again I am happy with my decision. and my ears may not be as dicriminating as others. But next year I may buy a Mac and place soft pianos and use the MP6 as a Midi controller. I like the keyboard and then I can really tailor what piano sound I want. I can still use it for gigging in small venues and use the soft pianos for recording. SO again that fits my needs. by the way voxpops you are probably the type musician that can make anything sound great. I do enjoy your comments. Good luck on your MP6 project!
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 05:11 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
This is perhaps one of the pitfalls of offering a staggered range of sound technologies. It doesn't matter how good PHI actually is (in my opinion it's very good - both technically and aurally), I expect some consumers will often still say to themselves "Oh, but I wish it was UPHI".

I'm no Roland fan boy (or at least I don't think I am), but to their credit they seem to have devoted a fair amount of resources to designing SN pianos into their products where one expects a premium piano sound - it was a substantial mass update for them.

Originally Posted by Kawai James
The Roland (and to a lesser extent Yamaha) approach is arguably more satisfying to consumers, as they use the same 'SuperNatural' umbrella term across a broad range of instrument classes. From my experience cheaper SN models do not sound as rich as the more expensive instruments. However most consumers do not have the opportunity to play a range of models back-to-back, and therefore will probably never experience such remorse - on paper all the models are 'SuperNatural', so surely they must all sound the same, right? I expect that if the RD-300NX was marketed as having 'SN1' sound, while the RD-700NX was marketed as having 'SN2' sound, we would probably see similar criticisms to yours above: "Why were Roland so stingy? Why did they reserve their best sound technology for the larger, heavier board?" etc.

This is the first I've heard that the less expensive SN pianos sound inferior. I haven't tested any of the lower end SN models, but the RD-700NX, RD-700GXF, FP-7F, and HP307 all seem to have the same SN piano voice and features. Frankly I'd be rather surprised if the FP-4F and/or RD300NX had an inferior sounding SN piano, but I've been similarly surprised in the past by Yamaha.

Please don't take this as a personal attack, but could it be that your preconceived notions regarding price and value are influencing your perceptions? Or could a different percieved sound be attributed to the different key action in these less expensive models?

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Anyway, to return to the MP6, while I agree that - for consumers - it would have been nice for this instrument to feature Kawai's top of the range UPHI sound, in reality, it's perhaps not such a good idea. First, it would likely cannibalise sales away from the MP10 and Kawai's other flagship instruments (such as the CA93/CA63), and second, it could potentially distort the rest of Kawai's product range. As many have already highlighted, the MP6 already represents fantastic value for money - if you were to add the top-of-the range sound technology, sure it would completely blow everything else away, but then it could also harm the current CN range.

I can only imagine the conversations in "high level" DP management meetings: "We can't put the best sound in our new less expensive DP, it might sell like hotcakes and ruin the company!"

Internal competition between a single manufacturer's various product lines will be the death of us. Once Kawai has a new version of HI, PHI, UPHI, or whatever, they, like Roland, should install it as quickly as they can into as many models as they reasonably can. Otherwise we end up stuck at this stupid place we're in now where products "evolve" one step up, two steps back, and that at a glacial pace.

You can't convince me that the difference between PHI & UPHI is more than $5 or $10 of hardware retail, and the software for UPHI is already written so that's virtually free too. Any product that has PHI at this point is either 1) old and legacy, or 2) new and intentionally dumbed down. In this bizarrely retro market, getting caught dumbing anything down should be a felony.

People who complain that government is inefficient need only look to the DP market for an example of the invisible hand being invisible because it just ain't there. Product tiering specialists broke it and now it's at home on permanent disability.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 05:33 AM

Originally Posted by FrankDaddy
Being the owener of a MP6 I agree with anotherscott. It is at a good price/performance point. I do own a couple of vintage instruments, but myback cannot take moving them. the MP6 is light enough to move and is sort of like a Swiss army knife. I mentioned it in my first post back in October. The more I use it the better sounds I get out of it. I would have liked to have gotten the MP10 but i needed a good all around keyboard for light gigging. It works very well for that. Again I am happy with my decision. and my ears may not be as dicriminating as others. But next year I may buy a Mac and place soft pianos and use the MP6 as a Midi controller. I like the keyboard and then I can really tailor what piano sound I want. I can still use it for gigging in small venues and use the soft pianos for recording. SO again that fits my needs. by the way voxpops you are probably the type musician that can make anything sound great. I do enjoy your comments. Good luck on your MP6 project!


Thanks, FrankDaddy, it's scary but interesting pulling a DP apart. The MP6 action looks pretty complex - and expensive to manufacture. I used it this evening on a band rehearsal (just AP sounds as I'm going to do a gig on a Yamaha grand tomorrow); I felt quite comfortable with it, and found the action very tight and even.

I agree that the action coupled with MIDI capabilities makes it an ideal candidate for software pianos. Over the past months I've watched a few youtube videos of a guy using one to record Dream Theater stuff. I think he used Ivory pianos with it.

I haven't had a chance to delve yet, but I did discover the drive for the EPs - which certainly beefs them up a bit. I had also forgotten that the MP5 pianos are still in the MP6 so it's possible to compare the samples side by side. That in itself makes things more intriguing.

I have no idea whether, like you, I'll grow very fond of it over time, but there's a lot to it, and it needs to be given that time.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 05:41 AM

Dewster, I can't help but agree with the thrust of your argument. Personally, I think Roland's strategy is paying off. I'm not privy to the sales figures, but judging by the groundswell, I'd say they are selling a lot of units.

Having said that, there are also lots of Kawai owners on this forum!
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 11:10 AM

James, since I can't sleep, I've been thinking about our discussion. I think the DP world has split into two camps.

Take Nord. You own the Electro 3. You can load the same samples as the NS2, an instrument that costs twice as much. From all your posts it sounds like you really appreciate that aspect. But according to your argument above, Nord is shooting themselves in the foot by allowing "lowly" Electro owners to have the same sounds as their premium purchasers. And yet Nord seems to be doing very nicely. They, plus Casio, Kurzweil, and (to an extent) Roland think that the best way to differentiate products in different price bands is through features.

Kawai and Yamaha, on the other hand, have a tiered sound engine policy, although Yamaha does now offer the Motif sounds in lower end boards.

In a world of advanced VSTs, I think the first camp is the one to be in. DPs are already second tier in the sounds they offer. To dumb it down further is, quite frankly, a little insulting to the purchaser. "You can have an OK sound engine, or a not very good one." I know that's stretching it a bit, but it makes my point. If Nord said, "Sorry, James, you only paid enough to have the NE2 pianos in your NE3 - we're keeping the best for those with deeper pockets," what would your reaction be?
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 02:36 PM

Originally Posted by FrankDaddy
But next year I may buy a Mac and place soft pianos and use the MP6 as a Midi controller. I like the keyboard and then I can really tailor what piano sound I want. I can still use it for gigging in small venues and use the soft pianos for recording.

If someone was talking about my products this way I'd turn red with embarrassment and my hair would catch fire. All mid and high level DPs should be recording quality at this point.

Originally Posted by voxpops
DPs are already second tier in the sounds they offer. To dumb it down further is, quite frankly, a little insulting to the purchaser. "You can have an OK sound engine, or a not very good one." I know that's stretching it a bit, but it makes my point.

If DPs were vehicles, product tiering would work like this:

First they have the engineers design a Yugo.

1. If all you can afford is a Yugo, they sell you a bicycle but charge you for the Yugo.

2. If you have more money they sell you a moped and charge you for a Porsche.

3. If you can afford the best they sell you the Yugo and make you pay for a space shuttle.

4. If you want more you have to buy the parts and build it yourself - which to your surprise you actually can do pretty easily, and do it much better and cheaper than what the vehicle companies are offering.

It's a crazy market.
Posted By: PianoZac

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 02:57 PM

I just went into Corner Music yesterday here in Nashville, probably the best music store in middle Tennessee no doubt, with an excellent selection of keyboards, and played for 2 hours after I got off of work early.

I played the RD-300NX, which was placed right next to the RD-700NX. The RD-300NX's action is actually quite poor. It feels dead, like you have to put too much effort into it. Also the main piano sound was not as good as the Concert Grand default piano inside the RD-700NX.

I then played the CP33 next to the CP50. The CP50 definitely sounds better for sure, but the action on the CP50 felt dead as well. The CP50 interface is also a bit of a mess to get used to.

Corner Music doesn't stock Kawais, but from my memory the MP6 definitely out played both in terms of action, and I remember digging the sound of the APs in the MP6. For $1500, the MP6 is in a league of its own. They could easily raise MSRP another few hundred dollars and the MP6 would still offer good bang for buck value.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 02:57 PM

Originally Posted by dewster
It's a crazy market.


But a successful one.

Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 03:28 PM

Originally Posted by ZacharyForbes
I played the RD-300NX, which was placed right next to the RD-700NX. The RD-300NX's action is actually quite poor. It feels dead, like you have to put too much effort into it. Also the main piano sound was not as good as the Concert Grand default piano inside the RD-700NX.

I already had the RD-300NX in the begging section of the DPBSD main page, and I just added the FP-4F. Maybe we can get to the bottom of this via analysis.
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 03:33 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Nord seems to be doing very nicely. They, plus Casio, Kurzweil, and (to an extent) Roland think that the best way to differentiate products in different price bands is through features.

I think one issue is whether the "better" piano sounds are being restricted as a marketing tactic, or if there genuinely is a manufacturing cost difference, and it sounds like you're not considering that second possibility. I mean, you're saying you'd rather Kawai differentiated with features than sound, but I think maybe you're forgetting that the MP10 is already missing lots of MP6 features! Considering how much more the MP10 costs, and how much less it offers than an MP6 in pretty much every respect except for the piano sound and the action, I have a feeling that it does require more expensive technology to provide that sound. So it's possible that an MP6 with MP10 sound could conceivably be quite a bit more expensive, or alternatively, if you want the MP10 sound in a lower priced model, it might not be able to have the MP6 features that even the MP10 does not have. I think the only thing of major cost-significance you could take out of the MP10 to offer its sound at a lower cost would be the upscale action. I think the only other things it has really are the fancier LCD display and the additional EP amp simulators... other than that, the MP6 is actually much more capable overall. I suspect you can't take that out of an MP10 *and* add in the other MP6 capabilities, and not end up with something still more in an MP10 price range than an MP6 price range.

But if Kawai wanted to address more people's needs, I agree, it would be nice for them to come out with more models (as you suggested your "upgraded sound" MP6 could be an addition to and not a replacement for the current MP6). I just have a feeling--looking at the features and prices of the current models--that that still wouldn't give you what you want at the price you want, unless either the MP10 action is a much bigger part of its cost than its sound is, or unless Kawai is "artificially" pricing the MP10 higher than it needs to. If neither of those is true, then I would not assume that simply "putting in the better piano sound" would result in a model priced only slightly more than the MP6, or that they could put that sound in an MP6-priced unit if they took out other features instead.

For example, let's create an MP6 with the MP10 piano sound, let's call it an MP16. That might be what you want, but what if that model costs just as much as the current MP10, or maybe even more, would it still be the solution you're looking for? Or maybe there could be a lower cost MP10 without any MP6 features--i.e. simply an MP10 with a lower cost (and lighter weight) MP6 keybed--let's call it an MP9.I guess that would be the closest to what you're looking for... their best sound in a model with very few other features, where you pay the bigger premium for more features rather than better sound. But would that be so appealing if it were still hundreds more than an MP6?

Personally, I'd have been interested in a sub-35 pound 73-key (C to C) MP6 with the MP10 piano sound at $2,000. I don't know if that's something they could actually deliver; I also don't know if everyone would agree with me that that would be a good deal at $500 more than the price of an MP6. And I'm still not 100% sure I'd pick it over a Yamaha MOX8... but I well might.

Originally Posted by voxpops
Take Nord. You own the Electro 3. You can load the same samples as the NS2, an instrument that costs twice as much

Actually you can't put the *very* best Nord piano sounds (the "XL" versions with less stretching) into the E3, because (getting back to the actual cost of providing high quality piano sounds) they require more of an expensive kind of memory than those units have; and even the piano sounds you can put into it sound *slightly* inferior because the more sophisticated string resonance capabilities are not enabled... that's a bit of a semantic argument, whether that is a "feature" difference or a "sound quality" difference, as it is a feature that affects piano sound quality.

But then, Nord's whole approach of creating essentially "empty vessels" into which you download the sounds you want is really completely unique anyway. (They do happen to pre-load some sounds into them, but you could erase every one of them if you wanted, if you wanted to use all the memory for some future piano sound they come out with.) They really are marching to the beat of their own drummer there, using a different technological approach than anyone else.


Originally Posted by voxpops
They, plus Casio, Kurzweil, and (to an extent) Roland think that the best way to differentiate products in different price bands is through features.

Really, each brand has its own particular different situation to deal with.

The lowest Casio, the CDP-100, does happen to use a different piano sound, from a previous generation engine. But even putting that aside, in a sense, Casio doesn't even really have price bands, the entire price spread of the portable models that have their new piano sound, from the PX-130 to the top PX3, is only $300. (As an aside, the piano sound in their WK-7500 is inferior to these PX models too.)

Kurzweil is in a peculiar situation as they are using what are probably smaller, older piano samples in their current line than anyone else is. They do a remarkably good job with their pianos under the circumstances, but really, one of the biggest knocks on Kurzweil is that their piano technology has fallen behind the curve. So in their case, they practically *can't* differentiate their models by giving the low priced models weaker piano sounds, because in a sense, there's no further down in quality they can go, and be competitive at all. Especially when you consider that, unlike their higher priced models, their lowest priced models are the ones specifically marketed as stage pianos! I mean, even if they *wanted* to use lower end piano samples in their low cost models, they don't have any, unless maybe they put in stuff from the 1990s. It's not that they're putting fantastic piano samples in low end boards, it's that they lack better piano samples to put in their high end boards! When they finally do come out with new high end piano samples, I would be very surprised to see them make them available in models at the SP4 price point.

Roland is also in a bit of their own circumstance, as their pianos are largely modeled, whereas everyone else is using more raw samples. It allows Roland to generate their sound using less physical memory resources, since much of the sound is being generated through algorithms rather than through additional raw data. So to the extent that they maintain closer to the same sound quality over a wider range of their line, their cost difference between creating their "low cost" sound and their "high cost" sound may not involve as big a spread.

So each brand is kind of in its own boat, to some extent.
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 03:55 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
I expect the MP6's 'User Touch Curve' function does much the same thing.

That's one of the things I find most intriguing about the MP6. I found that the implementation of that in the Numa Nano was very disappointing (the Numa Piano may be different, I don't know)... but just by looking at the manual, if nothing else, Kawai's approach looks better. Whether that's a result of better technology from Kawai or poorly written instructions by Studiologic, I don't know. ;-) But Numa suggests you create different curves for different kinds of playing, and you create them by playing in different styles. Kawai doesn't suggest playing in different styles to create your curves, but rather just to play what feels like a natural progression from soft to loud. That makes so much more sense to me. I certainly can't imagine myself picking different curves all night at a gig, changing keyboard response from song to song depending on the playing style required. And funnily enough, my real grand piano feels great no matter what style I play, with no velocity curve adjustments at all! Really, if you can generate a single soft-to-loud curve that comfortably matches your finger strikes with what you expect to hear, that clearly seems to be the ideal. And at least from the manual, that's what Kawai prompts you to do, I'd love to check it out.

Here's the instructions from the Numa Nano, which I consider almost laughable...

----

A good start is to generate 3 different shapes: • Fast melody with maximum dynamic • Medium speed with “normal” dynamic • Slow melody with a very soft, laid back dynamic Assign this shapes to corresponding songs and you’ll get the perfect results.

----

UGH! Apparently you can't just create a curve that always feels right... and based on my limited time with the Nano, I'd have to say that, at least they're honest about it, if perhaps unwittingly.
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 04:32 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Originally Posted by dewster
It's a crazy market.

But a successful one.

I imagine DP manufacturers are laughing all the way to the bank.
Posted By: macbug

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 05:38 PM

sorry to bud in against all you experts but as someone who recently purchased a mp6 I have to say there are several factors I see that lead to their current market lineup. The Roland fp7f is indeed enormously popular, but at the same time it is much easier to buy as well - most major music stores carry Roland, Yamaha and even Casio, but the Kawai DPs are generally nowhere to be found. Here in Canada for example I was quoted MSRP of 1900 for the MP6, which is actually the same price I could get the fp7f and one of them I could try ahead of the time and the other I could not. From this I think cabinet models make for much more of Kawai's sales, and it's only recently with mp6 and 10 that people started recognizing these stage pianos as a cheaper alternative to more expensive furniture models.

I work with a bunch of professional audio designers and I asked them about Kawai vs Roland and they unanimously recommended Roland, though given my initial budget I was recommended a Kurtzweil SP3 and I didn't buy it because nobody had it in stock - in hindsight a good thing. These guys are not particularly DP experts nor do they keep up with latest DP tech, so they are making their decision purely based on reputation and their experiences long ago. Of course for their professional needs they have no need of furniture models and they care much more about midi capabilities and other sounds, but for this purpose it sounds like the market is crowded enough already - and it would appear to me that the mp6 is reasonably priced to compete against say, the 300nx.

as for myself I was merely looking for the closest thing to AP, and once I reached the conclusion that I could not possibly afford something that has everything, I decided to go with the one that had the best action for my budget. Granted my budget started at 400, but after much research I started to look at the p155, at which point I decided it was well worth the premium to get the mp6 instead. While I do wonder if I should've gotten the mp10 it is almost double the price after tax, so it comes down to do I think the fp7f is
worth the premium - for the price difference I could easily purchase a software piano (which a lot of people swear by) and use the mp6 as a controller. For people who are very serious about the sound I don't see why they wouldn't go ahead and run 10GB sampled libraries save for the convenience factor.

Posted By: msaposs

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 09:48 PM

I bought my MP6 in December. My goal was to get a single board that did:

- great APs, EPs, and organs
- a variety of other decent sounds, e.g. strings, pads, bass
- great touch
- great MIDI controller
- easy to learn and use
- < $2000
- < 50 pounds

I still think the MP6 meets these specs better than any other board currently available. If I were buying right now I'd make the same decision.

That said, I'm still a bit disappointed in the quality of the AP sounds. I haven't had a chance to try an MP10, but I would never buy it because it doesn't meet several of my criteria.

I would gladly have paid a bit more for upgraded AP sounds. You listening, Kawai?
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/16/11 10:20 PM

Originally Posted by macbug
While I do wonder if I should've gotten the mp10 it is almost double the price after tax, so it comes down to do I think the fp7f is worth the premium - for the price difference I could easily purchase a software piano (which a lot of people swear by) and use the mp6 as a controller. For people who are very serious about the sound I don't see why they wouldn't go ahead and run 10GB sampled libraries save for the convenience factor.

Also, there is often is a perceived and disconcerting disconnect between internal DP voices and those produced on a laptop via MIDI. I don't mind paying a premium for a simple, integrated, turnkey solution, but I do expect the sound technology to be at least somewhat on par with other available solutions - it generally isn't, not by a long shot, but here we are paying the premium regardless. This market doesn't seem to respond very quickly or very well to consumer demand.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 12:52 AM

Good morning chaps,

A few comments:

Originally Posted by voxpops
Take Nord. You own the Electro 3. You can load the same samples as the NS2, an instrument that costs twice as much.


Unfortunately this is not true. As anotherscott points out, E3 owners cannot load the 'XL' samples (intended for the more expensive NP88 and NS2), while even the 'Lrg' samples will lack the resonance effects and long release that add realism to the sound.

Originally Posted by voxpops
If Nord said, "Sorry, James, you only paid enough to have the NE2 pianos in your NE3 - we're keeping the best for those with deeper pockets," what would your reaction be?


I'm sorry, I'm not sure I follow you here.
The NE2 is unable to load the NE3 sounds because it doesn't support the Nord Sample Library format - is this what you're referring to?

Originally Posted by ZacharyForbes
I played the RD-300NX, which was placed right next to the RD-700NX. The RD-300NX's action is actually quite poor. It feels dead, like you have to put too much effort into it. Also the main piano sound was not as good as the Concert Grand default piano inside the RD-700NX.


This was my experience also. I visited a Roland dealer with the RD-700NX and RD-300NX stacked one ontop of the other. Both instruments were hooked up to a mixer, which was hooked up to a pair of monitors. I powered both boards on and off, to ensure they the 'default' piano sounds were selected, then played the same passages on each instrument. The RD-700NX was better, both in terms of touch and sound. I went through a few of the other AP and EP presets on each board - the RD-700NX sounded universally better.

anotherscott, I don't have any specific comments about your post, however I believe you make some excellent points.

Originally Posted by dewster
I imagine DP manufacturers are laughing all the way to the bank.


Well, maybe not quite to that extent, but even if they are, so what?
Do you have a problem with companies making profit?

DP manufactures produce instruments, customers buy them.
Manufacturers enjoy making money, customers enjoy making music - what's the problem?

Perhaps if you look upon DPs purely on technological grounds the pace of development may appear relatively sluggish.
However, if you look upon DPs as a means of creative and artistic expression, that bring tremendous enjoyment to millions of people worldwide, the technology emplyed is largely irrelevant.

Originally Posted by macbug
From this I think cabinet models make for much more of Kawai's sales...


Yes, Kawai America's (and therefore Kawai Canada's) sales and distribution system is geared more towards independent acoustic piano dealerships than the larger chain stores. For an acoustic piano dealer, it's much easier to sell a console DP, with a wooden cabinet, built-in pedals, sound system etc., than a stage piano, which requires a good quality stand, an amp/speakers, and a salesperson who understand the capabilities of the instrument and requirements of the customer.

Originally Posted by msaposs
I still think the MP6 meets these specs better than any other board currently available. If I were buying right now I'd make the same decision.

That said, I'm still a bit disappointed in the quality of the AP sounds. I haven't had a chance to try an MP10, but I would never buy it because it doesn't meet several of my criteria.

I would gladly have paid a bit more for upgraded AP sounds. You listening, Kawai?


Well, I'm listening, obviously.

By all accounts you are happy with your MP6, but would gladly pay more for the MP10's piano sounds, provided the rest of the interface and features remained unchanged.

voxpops' request, on other hand, is a little different - he's after a lighter weight version of the MP10, with the MP6's keyboard.

So, Kawai should expand the MP range by two additional models, in order to meet the distinct requirements of two users?

Personally, I'd love to see an MP9 - the hardware and software of the MP10, but with the MP6's keyboard. I even think it could be quite successful. However, for every consumer who would thank us for saving their backs, there would probably be another player bemoaning the lost Zone capabilities, organs (and other sounds), and MIDI functionality.

It's impossible to satisfy the demands of every musician - we're a notoriously fickle bunch. The best Kawai, Yamaha, Roland, Korg, and every other DP manufacturer can do is produce great instruments that fulfil the needs of the majority of players, at an agreeable price.

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 04:16 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
I powered both boards on and off, to ensure they the 'default' piano sounds were selected, then played the same passages on each instrument.

Uh no, a power cycle on the RD-700NX does nothing to the stored settings. You should have done a factory reset on the the individual patch that you selected, or better yet to the entire instrument. Both are very easy to do if you read the manual, or even if you just flail around a bit in the menus.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 04:29 AM

Yes, that's a good point. However this assumes that customers in the store were spending time creating new patches and storing them to memory, rather than actually just playing with the stock sounds.

How often does that happen, would you say?

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 05:24 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James

Originally Posted by voxpops
Take Nord. You own the Electro 3. You can load the same samples as the NS2, an instrument that costs twice as much.


Unfortunately this is not true. As anotherscott points out, E3 owners cannot load the 'XL' samples (intended for the more expensive NP88 and NS2), while even the 'Lrg' samples will lack the resonance effects and long release that add realism to the sound.

Yes, I thought after I posted that what I said was slightly off base, given the limitations of memory capacity and resonance in the NE3. Maybe I should have used the NP and NS2 as examples - they both share pretty much identical piano engines. The extra dough is for the additional features that the NS2 offers - organ, synth etc., not for a better piano sound. In other words you don't get penalized in terms of sound quality for spending less!
Originally Posted by Kawai James

Originally Posted by voxpops
If Nord said, "Sorry, James, you only paid enough to have the NE2 pianos in your NE3 - we're keeping the best for those with deeper pockets," what would your reaction be?


I'm sorry, I'm not sure I follow you here.
The NE2 is unable to load the NE3 sounds because it doesn't support the Nord Sample Library format - is this what you're referring to?

No. I was trying to suggest that if Nord had held back the Electro 3 from being able to load almost the same samples as the NS2, and had offered inferior pianos instead, you, me and others would have been much less enamored with it.

Originally Posted by Kawai James

Originally Posted by msaposs
I still think the MP6 meets these specs better than any other board currently available. If I were buying right now I'd make the same decision.

That said, I'm still a bit disappointed in the quality of the AP sounds. I haven't had a chance to try an MP10, but I would never buy it because it doesn't meet several of my criteria.

I would gladly have paid a bit more for upgraded AP sounds. You listening, Kawai?


Well, I'm listening, obviously.

By all accounts you are happy with your MP6, but would gladly pay more for the MP10's piano sounds, provided the rest of the interface and features remained unchanged.

voxpops' request, on other hand, is a little different - he's after a lighter weight version of the MP10, with the MP6's keyboard.

So, Kawai should expand the MP range by two additional models, in order to meet the distinct requirements of two users?

No. I'd be happy with the first option. I'd have been quite content with an MP6 with UPHI.

The reason I make these points is NOT to denigrate. Right from the start I thought the MP (4/5/6) series offered something very special. A really well-thought-out gigging keyboard, now with a great action as well, and loads of useful features - all at a sensible weight and good price. So why limit it with so-so pianos that are not the best Kawai can do? That is, after all, its major function. The extra cost of having the UPHI samples would surely have been minimal. msaposs says "I'm still a bit disappointed in the quality of the AP sounds." That was almost exactly what my first impression was. I doubt we're the only two. Doesn't Kawai want buyers to say "I just love the APs on my MP6"?

The MP10's extra cost is presumably mainly in that very special action. That is why that piano should command a premium. Go back a couple of years and you had the MP5 and MP8II with the SAME pianos, differentiated mainly by the action. What was wrong with that business model?

I have been rooting for Kawai to break the mold, and really wow their customers. The MP6 is a wonderful gigging tool, but it NEEDS better pianos.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 05:51 AM

voxpops, thank you for your reply - you make some excellent points.

It's true that the MP4 and MP8 shared identical sounds, as did the MP5 and MP8II. I don't think there was necessarily anything wrong with that business model either. However for one reason or another, the folks responsible decided to try a different approach with the MP6 and MP10 - perhaps they felt that the keyboard alone was enough to differentiate the two products?

I'm just wondering though, may I ask if you have played the MP10? If so, do you believe the piano sounds are considerably better than the MP6?
I recall posts from a number of users here who have played the CA63 (UPHI) and CN33 (PHI) back to back, and decided to purchase the CN33, as they didn't believe the piano sound were sufficiently better to justify the additional cost (a similar pricing differential between the MP6 and MP10).

Kind regards,
James
x
Posted By: moleskincrusher

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 06:28 AM

My FP-7F is my only DP (or I should say my only quality DP, since I have a Yamaha NP-30 for gigs on backs of trucks) and I have come to love it and, for awhile anyway, have given up yearning for more. It (or at least its SN AP) is so gratifying to play that after 10 mos as I'm playing it I'm no longer comparing it in my mind unfavorably to a good acoustic.

Like anotherscott, I have found a single Key Touch setting that I like for everything and never change it.

And in my experience the FP-7F is a great gigging piano once you create satisfying registrations, commit the menu-driven button-pressing procedures to muscle memory (somewhat like learning to drive), and find clever ways to cope with the weight when loading in and out.

One could say the FP-7F may be arguably currently supreme at its price point. As the Kawai MP6 may be at its. And I can imagine as the MP10 is at its (not having seen or heard one -- are any in use in northeastern New England?). Pace Zach, Nord fits in there somewhere.

And I'm safe in predicting a gamechanger in 2012 or'13.
Posted By: Talaf

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 06:54 AM

I didn't play them back to back (actually I played the MP6 in one store and the CA 63 in another), but I don't remember the piano quality being that much worse in the MP6. Probably it is, but the difference will be apparent in a very controlled environment after longer uses of both instruments.

I like the sound of the Kawai, although it can be a bit harsh in the high notes. The piano on the CA 63 didn't strike me as too different on that point, so I'm not really going for UPHI in the MP6 (but would gladly take it if given to me ^_^). On the other hand, I would be way more interested in different pianos.

In the current state of technology, you can add layers, you can have longer samples, full decay samples, and the like. There's still obviously a long way to go for true rendition but the basics of reproducing a piano tone are somewhat acquired, I'd say. A nice way to differentiate is through rendition of the tone, and this is the path chosen by the CA-93 with its real wooden soundboard, or the AvantGrands with their speakers and adapted sampling (as far as I know about them).

The second nice way to differentiate is to allow customers to experience the different tones of each APs. On top of having very different characters at your fingertips, there's something exciting about playing pianos you know you could never afford, or even get a chance to play in your lifetime. This is what Nord has done, and imo it's a very good idea!

That said, I don't do gigs so if I want another piano/a better piano I can always hook up a software VST and have at it. On that front alone, I actually doubt you can do better that the MP6 on the Keybed+MIDI controller front for its price. That thing is pretty beast for that smile
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 10:03 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Yes, that's a good point. However this assumes that customers in the store were spending time creating new patches and storing them to memory, rather than actually just playing with the stock sounds.

How often does that happen, would you say?

Dunno, though saving SN piano settings on the RD-700NX is pretty trivial. My point is it's a huge potential variable in your comparison that is easily controlled for.
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 12:53 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
I'd be happy with the first option. I'd have been quite content with an MP6 with UPHI.
...
The extra cost of having the UPHI samples would surely have been minimal.
...
The MP10's extra cost is presumably mainly in that very special action.

If those last two statements are true, then I completely agree with your perspective. An MP6 with UPHI sound would clearly be more desirable at the same price or even a bit more.

The problem is only that those last two statements there are supposition, and I doubt even Kawai James knows how much of the MP10's higher cost is tied to the action vs. how much is tied to the sound. I hope that it was more than just, as you and dewster have implied, a decision based on marketing rather than actual costs. Unfortunately, I don't think there's any way for us to know.
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 01:11 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
I'm just wondering though, may I ask if you have played the MP10? If so, do you believe the piano sounds are considerably better than the MP6?

That wasn't directed toward me, but yes, I do believe they are considerably better. I almost didn't want to like the MP10 sound so much, because of how much I disliked the action. ;-) But simply, the MP6 piano sound did not impress me. It was not bad by any means (certainly better than the Privias), it just didn't make me raise an eyebrow. But I thought the MP10 was something special. The timbres are similar, but by comparison, the MP6 sounds like it has had all the life squeezed out of it. It was kind of like the difference perhaps between playing the same grand with the lid completely closed versus wide open. Now, whether the difference would have been so dramatic in a live gig situation, hearing myself back through a mono floor monitor with a live band instead of listening solo through quality headphones, I don't know.

edit: to clarify, I do expect that I would clearly hear the difference live, I think it's different in ways that would be noticeable, I just don't know if the difference would be *as* apparent. OTOH, I feel quite certain that I would very much notice the difference in my arms and back lifting it. ;-)
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 04:24 PM

Originally Posted by Talaf
The second nice way to differentiate is to allow customers to experience the different tones of each APs. On top of having very different characters at your fingertips, there's something exciting about playing pianos you know you could never afford, or even get a chance to play in your lifetime. This is what Nord has done, and imo it's a very good idea!

I don't think Kawai or Yamaha can escape the gilded cage of also selling acoustic pianos. If Kawai put a Bosendorfer in a DP it would be perceived by management as a plug for another team. Doing so might also precipitate ill-will or even lawsuits between companies.

Also, if they make an inexpensive DP that is 95% there in terms of replacing an acoustic piano they face the very real risk of torpedoing their AP lines. In this light, I don't think it's any coincidence that Roland (SN), Korg (Kronos), and to some degree Nord (NP) are leading in terms of piano sound technology. They may or may not be implementing it well or to everyone's taste, but they are leading pack in terms of raw technology.

I keep waiting for Casio to wake up and blow everyone out of the water. And despite my expressed frustration, I'm really rooting for Kawai because they seem to do so many things so well, and I hope my criticisms are seen in that light.
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 05:23 PM

I think you're right... Kawai would have no interest in putting out pianos with Yamaha samples, Yamaha would have no interest in putting out pianos with Steinway samples (though Yamaha now owns Bosendorfer, so maybe...)

I don't think you're right, though, that they fear coming out with an inexpensive DP that is so good that it hurts their sales of acoustic pianos. For one thing, as you say, Roland, Korg, and Nord would have no such compunctions, and Kawai and Yamaha still have to compete with those brands in the digital marketplace, so to not try to do at least about as good a job as those competitors are doing would ultimately be self-defeating. Also, I think worrying about an inexpensive DP that offers 95% of the sound and feel or an acoustic piano is a bit of a dream, considering how big the gap is today. I don' think the budget technology has gotten nearly good enough for companies to even consider the idea of imposing artificial limits on the capabilities of those boards even if they were so inclined, it's kind of like worrying about McDonald's putting fine steak houses out of business.

Part of it isn't even a matter of the kind of computing power you often talk about, but just physical limitations. That is, it's questionable whether it is even possible to offer fantastic action and a great lifelike amplification system at low cost. Unless that can be addressed as well, you can't create an inexpensive piano that provides 95% of the acoustic piano experience, no matter how much processing power you build into it, and the processing power is the only part that really goes down in cost.

re: "I keep waiting for Casio to wake up and blow everyone out of the water. " I imagine that Casio already makes what they feel are the best inexpensive pianos they can. It is a bit tantalizing, though, to think about what they might be able to do in a higher priced non-budget model if they chose to address that market, since they are so good at squeezing so much value into their pieces. The question is whether there is a market for a $2000 Casio, no matter how good it is. That would be a marketing gamble. That's why Toyota created Lexus, because nobody would buy a $40,000 Toyota. Casio did make some somewhat upscale synths at one point, I don't know whether or not their sales ever met expectations, but I think they did have pretty decent reputations.
Posted By: Scooby Hoo

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 05:39 PM


Originally Posted by voxpops
[quote=FrankDaddy]I had also forgotten that the MP5 pianos are still in the MP6 so it's possible to compare the samples side by side.


I was not aware of this. Can you, KJames, or anyone point out which settings/voices, by name, are the MP5 pianos-HI and which are the MP6-PHI?

This is a great discussion, carried on very respectfully. I chose the MP6, though I have some sympathy for voxpops first impression that the sound falls short of great. I am often surprised at the descriptions of piano tones between the pianos as being vastly different, such as 'the one I chose is WAY better; how could you not hear it?'. I played both UPHI and PHI, and I wasn't blown away by the difference.

One difference that I "felt" or "heard" but did not have any way to measure between the Kawai and Roland SN pianos was that I felt the Roland's wider/rumble bass notes began much lower on the keyboard. If a piano has high notes---midrange notes---rumbling bass notes, it felt as if the Roland samples gave more room to a midrange that dipped lower on the scale, Kawai squeezed more mid-range for the rumbling bass notes, which can work well with Southern music. And, again, this was my subjective opinion.

Posted By: Talaf

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 05:57 PM

Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by Talaf
The second nice way to differentiate is to allow customers to experience the different tones of each APs. On top of having very different characters at your fingertips, there's something exciting about playing pianos you know you could never afford, or even get a chance to play in your lifetime. This is what Nord has done, and imo it's a very good idea!

I don't think Kawai or Yamaha can escape the gilded cage of also selling acoustic pianos. If Kawai put a Bosendorfer in a DP it would be perceived by management as a plug for another team. Doing so might also precipitate ill-will or even lawsuits between companies.

Also, if they make an inexpensive DP that is 95% there in terms of replacing an acoustic piano they face the very real risk of torpedoing their AP lines. In this light, I don't think it's any coincidence that Roland (SN), Korg (Kronos), and to some degree Nord (NP) are leading in terms of piano sound technology. They may or may not be implementing it well or to everyone's taste, but they are leading pack in terms of raw technology.

I keep waiting for Casio to wake up and blow everyone out of the water. And despite my expressed frustration, I'm really rooting for Kawai because they seem to do so many things so well, and I hope my criticisms are seen in that light.


True, true, I didn't think about that. Although you wouldn't have to call them "Yamaha", you could call them by whichever adjective you like, like "Dark", "Warm", "Bright" -- which is what's done already in alot of cases.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 06:17 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
I'm just wondering though, may I ask if you have played the MP10? If so, do you believe the piano sounds are considerably better than the MP6?
I recall posts from a number of users here who have played the CA63 (UPHI) and CN33 (PHI) back to back, and decided to purchase the CN33, as they didn't believe the piano sound were sufficiently better to justify the additional cost (a similar pricing differential between the MP6 and MP10).

Sadly, no, I haven't played it. I have, of course, listened with great interest to youtube recordings, and read purchasers' reports. It may not be the ultimate in piano samples (I can't say), but it's the best that Kawai has to offer - and that's what's important to me. I need the maximum available velocity layers. My style of AP playing employs a lot of dynamics. One of the reasons the NP didn't suit me was its rather truncated dynamic range. The FP-7F has what I need in that respect - which is why I'm keeping it, but, for a number of reasons, it's not suitable for me to gig with.

For the first time since 1984 (and I'm not kidding), I played a gig on a grand piano last night. I was very apprehensive, as I've not had a "real" piano at home for at least as many years. Gosh, the action felt heavy, but my goodness, the dynamics were wonderful. The bass player chose to play his upright, and the guitarist brought his hollow-body. Our vocalist seemed to revel in the sound. People in the audience said it was the best they'd heard us play. For me, it was the most fun gig in a long time. If I could come close to that experience with a digital I'd be happy. I really don't want second best. And with the weight and cost of memory and circuit boards being relatively tiny compared to the building of piano-like actions, what reason, other than marketing games, can there be for a company to put less-than-best sound engines in their portable pianos?

Kawai gets hit with my frustrations, because they come so close to what I need, but miss the mark with the most important bit. I don't want to have to add software pianos because the instrument I bought is hampered by second-tier samples. As I've said before, I'd have paid a premium for the upgraded engine in a package with sensible weight. It's not as if DP technology is so advanced that even the top echelon stage digitals are indistinguishable from a real piano, so to downgrade further is to unwittingly hamper the pro and semi-pro musician in their craft - and it's so totally and absurdly unnecessary.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 06:32 PM

Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by voxpops
I'd be happy with the first option. I'd have been quite content with an MP6 with UPHI.
...
The extra cost of having the UPHI samples would surely have been minimal.
...
The MP10's extra cost is presumably mainly in that very special action.

If those last two statements are true, then I completely agree with your perspective. An MP6 with UPHI sound would clearly be more desirable at the same price or even a bit more.

The problem is only that those last two statements there are supposition, and I doubt even Kawai James knows how much of the MP10's higher cost is tied to the action vs. how much is tied to the sound. I hope that it was more than just, as you and dewster have implied, a decision based on marketing rather than actual costs. Unfortunately, I don't think there's any way for us to know.


I don't think there's much supposition involved. Dave from Kurzweil stated that the action in the SP4-7 was by far the most expensive part of it - and that's a relatively cheap board and action. The wooden action in the top Kawai digitals is going to be far more expensive per unit than any other component. I would bet that the same is true of the MP6's. They already have the software for UPHI available, so the manufacturing cost to put that in must be a very small part of the build. Yes, R&D has to be paid for, but really is UPHI so special that it has to be rationed? SN is being spread around like melted butter.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 06:41 PM

Originally Posted by Scooby Hoo

Originally Posted by voxpops
[quote=FrankDaddy]I had also forgotten that the MP5 pianos are still in the MP6 so it's possible to compare the samples side by side.


I was not aware of this. Can you, KJames, or anyone point out which settings/voices, by name, are the MP5 pianos-HI and which are the MP6-PHI?


I think the MP5's are the second bank of pianos (A,B,C and D). They may not sound identical to the MP5's but they are certainly reminiscent of them. It would be interesting to know if they are exactly as in the MP5 or if they've been further processed/compressed to fit.
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 07:15 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
I don't think there's much supposition involved. Dave from Kurzweil stated that the action in the SP4-7 was by far the most expensive part of it - and that's a relatively cheap board and action.

That's still not enough info to draw real conclusions.

Just because it's the most expensive part of an SP4, that doesn't mean the action is necessarily the most expensive part of something else. For example, what if the Kurzweil ROM is 32 megabytes, and the ROM for the Kawai is 512 megabytes? I doubt those are the right figures, but the point is, part of what makes the action the most expensive part of an SP4 could have to do with how relatively inexpensive the other parts might be, which might not necessarily be as inexpensive in some other design. I don't think you can necessarily even extrapolate "component as a percentage of price" *within* a brand, much less between brands.

Also, the "most expensive" component still can be a small piece of the total. Even if the action is the most expensive piece of the SP4, we don't know if that means it represents $600 of its $1200 retail price, or if it represents $200 of its retail price.

All I'm saying is that we don't really know the relative manufacturing cost difference between the MP6 keyboard and the MP10 keyboard, nor the relative manufacturing cost difference between their sound engines. So it's all speculation.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 07:37 PM

Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by voxpops
I don't think there's much supposition involved. Dave from Kurzweil stated that the action in the SP4-7 was by far the most expensive part of it - and that's a relatively cheap board and action.

That's still not enough info to draw real conclusions.

Just because it's the most expensive part of an SP4, that doesn't mean the action is necessarily the most expensive part of something else. For example, what if the Kurzweil ROM is 32 megabytes, and the ROM for the Kawai is 512 megabytes? I doubt those are the right figures, but the point is, part of what makes the action the most expensive part of an SP4 could have to do with how relatively inexpensive the other parts might be, which might not necessarily be as inexpensive in some other design. I don't think you can necessarily even extrapolate "component as a percentage of price" *within* a brand, much less between brands.

Also, the "most expensive" component still can be a small piece of the total. Even if the action is the most expensive piece of the SP4, we don't know if that means it represents $600 of its $1200 retail price, or if it represents $200 of its retail price.

All I'm saying is that we don't really know the relative manufacturing cost difference between the MP6 keyboard and the MP10 keyboard, nor the relative manufacturing cost difference between their sound engines. So it's all speculation.

I don't often disagree with you, anotherscott, but on this point I disagree entirely. You only have to look at these complex actions to know that they are far and away the most expensive component in the DP. Circuit boards can be churned out by the thousand; cases are machined and assembled, but not with anywhere near the same intricacy as the actions with all their small components and moving parts.

Circuit design, on the other hand, is time-consuming and expensive, but then so is action design.

I will, of course, eat my words if someone from Kawai, Roland or Yamaha comes here and says I've got it wrong.
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 07:57 PM

Originally Posted by anotherscott
Also, I think worrying about an inexpensive DP that offers 95% of the sound and feel or an acoustic piano is a bit of a dream, considering how big the gap is today. I don' think the budget technology has gotten nearly good enough for companies to even consider the idea of imposing artificial limits on the capabilities of those boards even if they were so inclined, it's kind of like worrying about McDonald's putting fine steak houses out of business.

If my wife's students are any indication, DP sales are hammering real piano sales. Make DPs even better (there is much room for improvement) and some may never even seek out a real AP. Lots of people can't afford the purchase price and upkeep of a real piano and/or have living arrangements that preclude ownership.

Originally Posted by anotherscott
The question is whether there is a market for a $2000 Casio, no matter how good it is.

I think Casio could make a killer DP for $1k USD if they:

- Improved the keys, particularly the fulcrum point, and instituted better QC procedures. Not sure how expensive this would be, but they could amortize the NRE over many different models.

- Poped a modern $25 processor board with an SDHC card in there. Total cost with buttons, encoders, and displays maybe $50 retail.

- Designed real speaker enclosures inside the case. Say $10 woofers and $10 tweeters, with the crossover at line level or in software, feeding four class D amps. Total cost $50 to $75 retail.

They could save tons of R&D money by making it an open platform, but I'm pretty sure they could still do the above at or under budget with in-house software development.

The PX-330 is currently selling for $699, dump another $300 into it and I'm sure you could improve the touch at least 2x and the sound at least 10x. If it were done even 1/2 right we'd probably buy one.
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 08:01 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
I will, of course, eat my words if someone from Kawai, Roland or Yamaha comes here and says I've got it wrong.

Just don't hold your breath. DP manufacturers could teach the CIA a thing or two about secrecy. The heck of it is, their secrets are so old everybody knows (or has a very good idea) about how they do everything, we just don't know the specifics of particular implementations (layer count, etc.).
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 08:08 PM

Casio is a company that is very good at illusion. They manage to make a DP with limited internal resources sound almost as good as one costing twice as much. And they make an entire range (Privia) using the same essential components and sounds (the WK series and CDPs are not really in the same category). That must cut their manufacturing and design costs, savings which seem to be passed on to the consumer. I doubt they will ever make an "expensive" model as that undermines their market philosophy.

What is intriguing is that, since they always position themselves just a quarter-step below their competitors in sound quality, when DPs finally catch up with software, the Casio will, to all intents and purposes, be a DP to be reckoned with.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 08:12 PM

Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by voxpops
I will, of course, eat my words if someone from Kawai, Roland or Yamaha comes here and says I've got it wrong.

Just don't hold your breath. DP manufacturers could teach the CIA a thing or two about secrecy.


LOL! You're right there, dewster. They couldn't possibly have anything to hide, could they? wink
Posted By: north

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/17/11 09:15 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
If I could come close to that experience with a digital I'd be happy. I really don't want second best. And with the weight and cost of memory and circuit boards being relatively tiny compared to the building of piano-like actions, what reason, other than marketing games, can there be for a company to put less-than-best sound engines in their portable pianos?

Kawai gets hit with my frustrations, because they come so close to what I need, but miss the mark with the most important bit. I don't want to have to add software pianos because the instrument I bought is hampered by second-tier samples. As I've said before, I'd have paid a premium for the upgraded engine in a package with sensible weight. It's not as if DP technology is so advanced that even the top echelon stage digitals are indistinguishable from a real piano, so to downgrade further is to unwittingly hamper the pro and semi-pro musician in their craft - and it's so totally and absurdly unnecessary.


+1
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/18/11 01:10 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
I don't often disagree with you, anotherscott, but on this point I disagree entirely. You only have to look at these complex actions to know that they are far and away the most expensive component in the DP. Circuit boards can be churned out by the thousand

No problem disagreeing. ;-) I certainly don't know the costs of these things. But the point is, we don't know the cost of Kawai's circuit boards, and I think you can't necessarily assume that they're cheap. I mean, I don't know what makes one circuit board more expensive to manufacture than another. There is presumably some reason why an 4 gb RAM module is more expensive than a 2 gB RAM module even though, visually, they may be the same size and have the same number of components on them. We don't know what processor, memory, or other components are required on Kawai's circuit boards to generate the MP10 sound. I don't see how any of us can know whether it equates to $50 of the retail price or $500 of it. Maybe we would get some idea of the relative cost of the components if one of us knew a friendly Kawai authorized service center who would let us see the relative costs of the various components as replacement parts. (Not that service parts cost is necessarily a completely accurate guide either, but it's something...)
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/18/11 03:06 PM

Originally Posted by anotherscott
Maybe we would get some idea of the relative cost of the components if one of us knew a friendly Kawai authorized service center who would let us see the relative costs of the various components as replacement parts. (Not that service parts cost is necessarily a completely accurate guide either, but it's something...)


It would be interesting if James could ask his colleagues and let us know the percentage of the total manufacturing cost for the action in the MP10 or MP6. I suspect it might be more difficult to get the percentage cost of the electronics, as that involves multiple, less homogeneous components, but you never know. If we're not dealing with actual figures, I can't see that being a trade secret.

James?
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/18/11 03:15 PM

Originally Posted by anotherscott
We don't know what processor, memory, or other components are required on Kawai's circuit boards to generate the MP10 sound. I don't see how any of us can know whether it equates to $50 of the retail price or $500 of it.

Give me a list of the major components, or even just some good photos of the board, and I might be able to come up with a rough cost estimate. Though corporate negotiation of bulk component purchases can bring the prices down to amazingly low levels - for instance, I've seen surface mount resistors go for 0.01 cents each, caps for a penny, and large FPGAs for $65 (IIRC someone lost their job offering that last price).
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/18/11 09:23 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
It would be interesting if James could ask his colleagues and let us know the percentage of the total manufacturing cost for the action in the MP10 or MP6...James?


Sorry VP, but until Yamaha and Roland are also providing the same information, that's never going to happen.

Kind regards,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/18/11 09:36 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Originally Posted by voxpops
It would be interesting if James could ask his colleagues and let us know the percentage of the total manufacturing cost for the action in the MP10 or MP6...James?


Sorry VP, but until Yamaha and Roland are also providing the same information, that's never going to happen.

Kind regards,
James
x

Oh well, never mind - I suspected that would be the case. Am I right in thinking it's a major part of the equation, though? No figures required. wink
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/18/11 09:44 PM

Yes, I expect so.
Posted By: msaposs

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/19/11 03:10 AM

To be clear, I am "happy" with my MP6 in that I think it was the best choice for me out of several imperfect options. Frankly I would be much more of a cheerleader for it if its APs were better. I really don't think they're at the same quality level as the EPs and organs in the MP6. While those sounds could stand some improvements too, their quality is in line with the cost of the MP6. However I say the same for the quality of the MP6's APs.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/19/11 04:24 AM

I think that's a fair assessment, msaposs. I just wish they'd bump the price up a couple of hundred dollars and stick some quality APs in there - the action certainly warrants it.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/19/11 05:24 AM

Thinking about it some more, how about an aftermarket solution for the MP6, for those that would prefer enhanced APs? Roland brought out the SN expansion board for the RD-700GX. Why not a replacement board for the MP6? Those that like the piano as is stick with the factory configuration, others pay for the upgrade.

I know it's never as easy as that, but something to think about.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/19/11 05:31 AM

voxpops, to my knowledge the MP6 does not have an interface to facilitate such an upgrade (unlike the RD-700GX).

Kawai could, in theory, release an updated main board for the MP6, however it would likely be expensive (custom made, so relatively small quantities produced), require a technician to fit, and would probably only appeal to a small percentage of MP6 owners.

Nice idea though.

Kind regards,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/19/11 05:38 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
voxpops, to my knowledge the MP6 does not have an interface to facilitate such an upgrade (unlike the RD-700GX).

Kawai could, in theory, release an updated main board for the MP6, however it would likely be expensive (custom made, so relatively small quantities produced), require a technician to fit, and would probably only appeal to a small percentage of MP6 owners.

Nice idea though.

Kind regards,
James
x

Yes, I was thinking along the lines of a main board swap-out, but realize it probably wouldn't be cost effective. But if you do get your engineers to design a prototype, have them send it to me for real-world testing. wink
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/19/11 01:07 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
voxpops, to my knowledge the MP6 does not have an interface to facilitate such an upgrade (unlike the RD-700GX).

Kawai could, in theory, release an updated main board for the MP6, however it would likely be expensive (custom made, so relatively small quantities produced), require a technician to fit, and would probably only appeal to a small percentage of MP6 owners.

Nice idea though.

Kind regards,
James
x

Better approach: Release a small MIDI sound module with the MP10 piano sounds. Then not only could anyone with an MP6 easily upgrade their piano sound (especially considering what an adept MIDI controller the MP6 is which would allow you to pretty easily integrate it into your MP6 splits and layers just as well as if the sound were built in), but the market for the device would be much larger, as it could be used by any keyboard owner, not just an MP6 owner.

I know, the market for piano modules has presumably largely evaporated, evidenced by the fact that Yamaha (P50-M), Korg (SG-Rack), Kurzweil (Micropiano/ME-1), and others (Roland, GEM, Alesis, Emu) have exited the piano module business. But perhaps a niche that wasn't big enough to support all those players would be big enough to support just one, i.e. a small niche, but at least one you would seem to have all for yourselves. And it would at least be a much bigger niche than just MP6 owners! If you could profitably market it at $499 or thereabouts, I think it would have the potential to be a hit. There are people who do bemoan the loss of available piano modules , this could be a real opportunity.

(If you want to stretch the definition, today's Yamaha XS Rack would qualify as, I think, the only "piano module" currently in production, and it does have a nice piano sound... but it is $1,300 because it is so much more than a piano module. I guess a Receptor is kind of in that category as well. Something at a much lower price point, meant to do essentially nothing but easily provide a high quality piano sound, is MIA.)

I think the biggest concern might be whether sales of MP6+module would cannibalize sales of MP10... that would come down to how much consumer value is really attached to its "better" keyboard, and also to whether its whole design and interface approach as more of a dedicated piano vs. performing master keyboard appeals more to a different buyer. The MP10 could also be differentiated by the additional EP amp simulators, perhaps.

But I think if someone came out with a really high quality small piano module in the $399 to $699 range, there would be a market.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/19/11 01:15 PM

Haven't software pianos made modules largely redundant, though?

James
x
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/19/11 01:33 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Haven't software pianos made modules largely redundant, though?

I think there are tons of people not comfortable gigging with a laptop.

* Complicated setup, especially for non computer-geeks

* Awkward logistics, where do you put it, and how do you mount it, where it is secure, accessible if needed, and doesn't look out of place or interfere with the audience visuals?

* Glitchy reliability, you can't just do another take live, and there have been numerous reports of odd behavior, need for mid-gig reboots, latency issues, etc.

* non roadworthy builds, too susceptible to damage if dropped, connectors that come out too easily, etc.

* a theft temptation

* expensive if you want a good one.

I'm not saying all those issues are insurmountable, there certainly are people who have come up with live laptop solutions that work for them (or a rack mount computer, Receptor, etc.)

But a well-priced plug-and-play module that doesn't require all kinds of configuration and just sounds great in a gig-friendly enclosure would still be very appealing to many people, I think.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/19/11 02:23 PM

A module is certainly a nice idea, particularly if it was designed to fit comfortably in a space on the MP6's control panel. The GEM RP-X is still available (last remaining stocks, I suppose), but at half-rack size, and with a fair depth, it's a little too big. The little Ketron Klavi Pro would fit, but unfortunately just isn't good enough.

Edit: I've removed a comment that sounded to me like trolling. I tend to get a bit fixated on issues I have!
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/19/11 10:01 PM

voxpops, I'm curious as to what you wrote - troll away!

James
x
Posted By: moleskincrusher

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/20/11 02:19 AM

Has anyone tested the Limex Vienna, apparently available for awhile in the US?

<http://limexmusic.vrsound.com/>
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/20/11 03:20 AM

Originally Posted by moleskincrusher
Has anyone tested the Limex Vienna, apparently available for awhile in the US?

<http://limexmusic.vrsound.com/>

No. But earlier today I read a review that was very lukewarm. It suggested that, despite stereo outputs, the pianos only play in mono. The guy was less than enthused with the module. Try Googling Limex Vienna review.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/20/11 03:24 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
voxpops, I'm curious as to what you wrote - troll away!

James
x

You know, I honestly can't remember now. It was something to do with the MP6, but then I thought, "give it a rest, voxpops, you've made your points"!
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/20/11 01:48 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
A module is certainly a nice idea, particularly if it was designed to fit comfortably in a space on the MP6's control panel. The GEM RP-X is still available (last remaining stocks, I suppose), but at half-rack size, and with a fair depth, it's a little too big. The little Ketron Klavi Pro would fit, but unfortunately just isn't good enough.

I likewise prefer that modules be as small as possible for tabletop-style use (perhaps velcro'd to the top of a keyboard)... but I also like them to be designed such that one could still attach rack mount ears to them if desired.
Posted By: PianoZac

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/20/11 02:32 PM

I assume the architecture of Kawai's software inside the MP series stage pianos is very different than Nord's, but could Kawai somehow offer improvements to the APs via software updates, just as Nord/Korg has done with new samples/sample packs and in Nord's case, String Resonance/Long Release (not saying the Kawai needs those last two feature)?

Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/20/11 02:38 PM

Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by voxpops
A module is certainly a nice idea, particularly if it was designed to fit comfortably in a space on the MP6's control panel. The GEM RP-X is still available (last remaining stocks, I suppose), but at half-rack size, and with a fair depth, it's a little too big. The little Ketron Klavi Pro would fit, but unfortunately just isn't good enough.

I likewise prefer that modules be as small as possible for tabletop-style use (perhaps velcro'd to the top of a keyboard)... but I also like them to be designed such that one could still attach rack mount ears to them if desired.

I fully agree with your ideas anotherscott & voxpops. A small module that is easy to operate when sitting on a flat surface would be an ideal laptop replacement, particularly if it had uploadable sample sets.

It's kind of hard to believe it doesn't exist at this point, though I wonder if the rack form factor itself is somewhat to blame. Rackable modules tend to be too wide and deep and not tall enough, with connectors in the back - which usually translates into a large pizza box with a cramped interface that is oriented 90 degrees from your eyes. There are ways around this, but most consume tons of rack space and seem like kudges to me. Fractional width rack boxes are physically smaller, but they still tend to have tiny, poorly oriented UIs and I/O (e.g. JV-1010).

I do wish Nord would do something like this, I'd strongly consider buying it if done right.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/20/11 04:41 PM

Originally Posted by ZacharyForbes
I assume the architecture of Kawai's software inside the MP series stage pianos is very different than Nord's, but could Kawai somehow offer improvements to the APs via software updates, just as Nord/Korg has done with new samples/sample packs and in Nord's case, String Resonance/Long Release (not saying the Kawai needs those last two feature)?


I suppose, if the memory was available, they could. Leaving aside the new EPs, I would gladly dispense with the rest of the ROMpler sounds if it meant I could have improved APs. I was surprised, when updating my original Numa, that the update file was 120MB. If it was just changes to the way the sounds were implemented I doubt that it would have been that large: the result seemed to be a completely new AP sample.

I played the Kawai alongside the Numa for a few minutes yesterday. The Kawai definitely has the makings of a fine AP-substitute. The action is beautiful. The sound is unmistakeably that of a quality acoustic. Where it falls a little short, IMO, is that it won't "whisper" when you just stroke the keys gently, there is some "plinkiness" and harshness in the upper octaves, and it sounds a little over-compressed or lacking in vitality.

I wouldn't know what piano the Numa is sampled from, but despite the lesser keybed/action, the Numa just comes across as less synthetic. It also seems to have a wider dynamic range.

It's interesting that both these DPs are sold at the same price. The Kawai has a stronger, heavier build (although I was surprised to find out that the end-cheeks are plastic of some sort). It has much better secondary sounds, and better, more immediate zone/MIDI control. The action is class-leading. But as it stands, for my uses, I know which one I'd rather gig with. I'm sure that opinion would change if the MP7 were to have substantially more memory available and, therefore, less compressed sounds with more layers.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/20/11 04:50 PM

Originally Posted by dewster
A small module that is easy to operate when sitting on a flat surface would be an ideal laptop replacement, particularly if it had uploadable sample sets.

It's kind of hard to believe it doesn't exist at this point, though I wonder if the rack form factor itself is somewhat to blame. Rackable modules tend to be too wide and deep and not tall enough, with connectors in the back - which usually translates into a large pizza box with a cramped interface that is oriented 90 degrees from your eyes. There are ways around this, but most consume tons of rack space and seem like kudges to me. Fractional width rack boxes are physically smaller, but they still tend to have tiny, poorly oriented UIs and I/O (e.g. JV-1010).

I do wish Nord would do something like this, I'd strongly consider buying it if done right.

I agree: that would be a very tempting proposition. If most manufacturers are going to continue to hard-wire one or two immutable piano samples into their boards, a small module containing updateable samples/models would allow you to choose the action you wanted without having to pay $2k every couple of years for yet another soon-to-be-obsolete chunk of metal and plastic. And of course, there lies the rub: manufacturers need you to keep buying these environmentally unfriendly slabs.
Posted By: PianoZac

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/20/11 05:15 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops



I suppose, if the memory was available, they could. Leaving aside the new EPs, I would gladly dispense with the rest of the ROMpler sounds if it meant I could have improved APs. I was surprised, when updating my original Numa, that the update file was 120MB. If it was just changes to the way the sounds were implemented I doubt that it would have been that large: the result seemed to be a completely new AP sample.

I played the Kawai alongside the Numa for a few minutes yesterday. The Kawai definitely has the makings of a fine AP-substitute. The action is beautiful. The sound is unmistakeably that of a quality acoustic. Where it falls a little short, IMO, is that it won't "whisper" when you just stroke the keys gently, there is some "plinkiness" and harshness in the upper octaves, and it sounds a little over-compressed or lacking in vitality.


Yeah I think I was most impressed with how solid the MP6 felt, and the impressive action. The sounds, coming from my Nord, didn't necessarily stand out, but they did sound good to my ears, and at the price, and unbeatable value as a package.

Originally Posted by voxpops
I wouldn't know what piano the Numa is sampled from, but despite the lesser keybed/action, the Numa just comes across as less synthetic. It also seems to have a wider dynamic range.



That sounds like the Nord, although you do know exactly what piano sample you're playing. The action is inferior to many other boards, even boards half its price, the samples aren't perfect, and yet, it's the most playable, best connecting board, and certainly the most intuitive I've ever owned or played, excluding the N1. Paradoxically, there seems to be something about imperfections that make experiences perfect.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/20/11 11:15 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
The Kawai has a stronger, heavier build (although I was surprised to find out that the end-cheeks are plastic of some sort).


I'm pretty sure they're wood, but will double-check.

What material is the Numa constructed from?

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/20/11 11:22 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Originally Posted by voxpops
The Kawai has a stronger, heavier build (although I was surprised to find out that the end-cheeks are plastic of some sort).


I'm pretty sure they're wood, but will double-check.

What material is the Numa constructed from?

Cheers,
James
x

Maybe I'm wrong about the cheeks, but the consistency seems a little unlike wood.

The Numa is metal base (aluminum, I think) with a plastic feel to the top panel, and plastic cheeks.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 12:54 AM

Correction,

The end cheeks ARE wood. They just managed to do a convincing impression of being plastic!
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 10:02 AM

Probably the lacquered finish?

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 05:45 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Probably the lacquered finish?

Cheers,
James
x

Actually, it was what was under the lacquer that confused me. Seemed very light but quite dense - kind of like plastic mixed with MDF!. The split in the right cheek gave the game away in the end, though. I'd be curious to know what wood it is.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 05:50 PM

One thing I must praise Kawai for is that, like an old car, it seems designed to be worked on. The case is easy to open up and everything's accessible. It would be a cinch to swap a board.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 06:20 PM

With another few days to wait before the final replacement key arrives, and with a damaged finger so I can't actually play much, I've taken to knob-twiddling. This is something I'm not really into as I prefer the sound designers/programmers to do all the twiddling before I buy an instrument, but I have to say there's a lot of potential here for customizing the piano sound. It obviously won't compensate for missing velocity layers, but you can add a smidgen of extra decay time, tame the rather over-bright nature of the concert grand, add a bit more resonance, and so on.

For a modestly priced stage piano, this is quite a lot of control. Maybe if I can dial in enough of the kind of sound I like I'll hang onto it for a while...
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 06:43 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
For a modestly priced stage piano, this is quite a lot of control. Maybe if I can dial in enough of the kind of sound I like I'll hang onto it for a while...

Could you max out the (pedal) sympathetic resonance and give us your impressions of the sound (when holding the pedal down of course)?
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 07:04 PM

Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by voxpops
For a modestly priced stage piano, this is quite a lot of control. Maybe if I can dial in enough of the kind of sound I like I'll hang onto it for a while...

Could you max out the (pedal) sympathetic resonance and give us your impressions of the sound (when holding the pedal down of course)?

Gets less realistic when maxed out. At the default level you get the illusion of individual strings ringing out; at max, it all kind of blurs into one sound. Kind of what you'd expect, really.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 07:49 PM

OK, so far I'm finding that setting the voicing to "mellow 2" and decay to +3 helps a lot in making the sound less brittle. It still gets very bright at higher velocities, but the lower velocities seem more naturally muted.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 09:25 PM

Likewise with the EPs. I can get a more beat-up Rhodes sound by increasing the note-off level, and delay it's timing a little. Increasing the high eq on the drive also helps to make the Rhodes sound less wooly and more defined.

I'm actually beginning to like this board now...
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 09:27 PM

voxpops, have you applied the latest software update I sent you?

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: Scooby Hoo

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 09:27 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Correction,

The end cheeks ARE wood. They just managed to do a convincing impression of being plastic!


I had this same impression when I first received my MP6, that the marketing of wood ends was wrong. I am fairly well-versed in cabinetry, furniture-making and finishing wood, and the ends were so baby-smooth, they fooled me -- perhaps doing a job of finishing so well, they felt synthetic.

If you find some favorite settings, I'd be interested in hearing them.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 09:32 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
voxpops, have you applied the latest software update I sent you?

Cheers,
James
x

Not yet, James. I was going to do it once I'd got the keys fixed and the case screwed down again. I'm still one key short, and so I don't want to connect to the computer until I've put everything back together.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 09:35 PM

I see.

However, you don't need to hook it up to a computer - just copy the update files to a USB flash drive, then plug the USB into the MP6, holding down three buttons while powering on.

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 09:38 PM

Originally Posted by Scooby Hoo
If you find some favorite settings, I'd be interested in hearing them.

So far I've only done preliminary tweaking. However, for me, on the concert grand, I prefer setting it to mellow 2, +3 for decay, and 6 for damper resonance.

I haven't got any proper settings for the Rhodes yet, but I liked it better when I increased the note-off to 10, set note-off delay to 2, and set drive hi-eq to 127.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 09:40 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
I see.

However, you don't need to hook it up to a computer - just copy the update files to a USB flash drive, then plug the USB into the MP6, holding down three buttons while powering on.

Cheers,
James
x

Oh yes, I remember you saying that in your PM. I'll give it a shot and let you know the results.
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 09:51 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
voxpops, have you applied the latest software update I sent you?

Yea, yea, do the software update! What could go possibly wrong? wink
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 09:55 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Gets less realistic when maxed out. At the default level you get the illusion of individual strings ringing out; at max, it all kind of blurs into one sound. Kind of what you'd expect, really.

Thanks! So does it sound like crap (e.g. fake jangly reverb) turned up, or like super resonant strings?
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 10:01 PM

Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by voxpops
Gets less realistic when maxed out. At the default level you get the illusion of individual strings ringing out; at max, it all kind of blurs into one sound. Kind of what you'd expect, really.

Thanks! So does it sound like crap (e.g. fake jangly reverb) turned up, or like super resonant strings?

Sounds rather mushy. Not jangly or super resonant, but ill-defined - and you lose that sense of wobbly decay as the sounds fade.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 10:04 PM

Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by Kawai James
voxpops, have you applied the latest software update I sent you?

Yea, yea, do the software update! What could go possibly wrong? wink

I must admit to feeling a little like Daniel before the lion's den. But knowing that Kawai stands four-square behind their products, I'm confident James will arrange to fly me out a brand new replacement if the update fails. wink
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 10:13 PM

Erm...

Seriously though, the reason I suggest trying the software update is because it tweaks/improves the touch curves for AP and EP.

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 10:24 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Erm...

Seriously though, the reason I suggest trying the software update is because it tweaks/improves the touch curves for AP and EP.

Cheers,
James
x

It certainly does. That, plus the "no sound at MIDI velocity 1" are the most obvious changes. Since the update (which is mega-easy, by the way) erases any personal settings, I've reset the grand piano to Mellow 1 this time, as the new velocity curve helps the control of dynamics. I'd actually like a Mellow 1.5 setting, but I think either mellow 1 or 2 will work for me.

Thanks for the update, James. I'm sure the next one will add a couple more velocity layers, yes? wink
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 10:35 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Thanks for the update, James. I'm sure the next one will add a couple more velocity layers, yes? wink

Good question actually. I wonder how many DPs have their sample sets residing in updatable ROM?
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 10:46 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Sounds rather mushy. Not jangly or super resonant, but ill-defined - and you lose that sense of wobbly decay as the sounds fade.

From your description it seems like it could at least partly be a delay diffusion effect. Thanks!
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 10:48 PM

James, how do you tell the zone faders to act as drawbars in the updated software? I can't seem to find that parameter in the menu.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 10:51 PM

Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by voxpops
Sounds rather mushy. Not jangly or super resonant, but ill-defined - and you lose that sense of wobbly decay as the sounds fade.

From your description it seems like it could at least partly be a delay diffusion effect. Thanks!


You're welcome!

I am subject to a delay diffusion effect when I try to play a solo after a couple of Stellas.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 11:19 PM

Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by voxpops
Thanks for the update, James. I'm sure the next one will add a couple more velocity layers, yes? wink

Good question actually. I wonder how many DPs have their sample sets residing in updatable ROM?


Here you go, Dewster. Let me know when you find the AP sounds!
[Linked Image]
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 11:20 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Thanks for the update, James. I'm sure the next one will add a couple more velocity layers, yes? wink


Yes, although it may result in overloading the CPU, thus causing problems with MP3/WAV playback.

(joke)

James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 11:23 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Originally Posted by voxpops
Thanks for the update, James. I'm sure the next one will add a couple more velocity layers, yes? wink


Yes, although it may result in overloading the CPU, thus causing problems with MP3/WAV playback.


No worries here - I never want to hear my mistakes twice!
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 11:31 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
James, how do you tell the zone faders to act as drawbars in the updated software? I can't seem to find that parameter in the menu.


Time to crack open that owner's manual! (page 37)

Or alternatively, try this. It's a little convoluted, but remember that the faders were primarily intended to adjust the levels of the four zones, not the tonewheel drawbars.

1. Select one of the DRAWBAR sounds from 6-8 for Zone1 (note that 1-5 are PCM and therefore cannot be changed).
2. Press the MENU UP/DOWN buttons until the 'T.Wheel Enter RegistMode' screen is shown.
3. Press the VALUE UP button to enter the tonewheel registration mode.
4. Use the faders to adjust the four drawbars below the cursor, and the MENU buttons to move the cursor left and right.
5. Press the EXIT button when you're finished to return to the previous menu (the faders will return to controlling the Zone levels).

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 11:37 PM

Thanks, James. It sounds like I got hold of the wrong end of the stick. This is not designed to be a live drawbar controller, more for setting drawbar preferences for a setup, yes?

Is there any MIDI control available for drawbars, yet?
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 11:49 PM

Wow, thanks!

It's not the two chips at the upper left marked "ESMT M12L2561616A-6T" - those are 4M x 16 Bit x 4 Banks Synchronous DRAM (64MB total, 166MHz).

It's probably not the two chips marked "Kawai K022-FP" - I think those might be processors of some sort.

The last chip I believe is marked "72030K200FP" - which doesn't turn up anything via Google. It's a QFP, so I don't think that's programmable.

My gut feeling is whatever programmable ROM there is is mounted on the back of this PC board.

Interesting to see this board. Looks like stuff we used to build about a decade ago at my telecom job. TSOPs, QFPs, and slow tiny DRAM.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 11:58 PM

Originally Posted by dewster
Interesting to see this board. Looks like stuff we used to build about a decade ago at my telecom job. TSOPs, QFPs, and slow tiny DRAM.

"Evolution not Revolution"

I doubt whether the internals have changed much from the old MP4, released around 2005.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/21/11 11:59 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Is there any MIDI control available for drawbars, yet?


No, not yet.
However, it's possible that we may see some developments in this area in the future.

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 12:03 AM

Originally Posted by voxpops
"Evolution not Revolution"

This is more like the undead walking among us. wink
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 12:06 AM

Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by voxpops
"Evolution not Revolution"

This is more like the undead walking among us. wink

Yes, but since the price increase from $1,099 to $1,499, the undead now wear Prada...
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 12:10 AM

Originally Posted by voxpops
This is not designed to be a live drawbar controller, more for setting drawbar preferences for a setup, yes?

I think the fact that there are only 4 sliders largely creates that restriction out of the box. Still, assuming all the other functions work normally if you don't go to his Step 5 (that is, nothing else becomes non-functional if you don't exit the tonewheel edit mode, apart from obviously losing the use of those faders for other purposes), I'd imagine you could do some live manipulation there in a pinch, albeit more easily if everything you might want to alter in a song happens to all into a bank of 4 consecutive drawbars, where any others could be left out of the registration, or at some fixed amount. I have to say that I think it's kind of cool they put this functionality in at all. (Though I do cringe a bit when I hear a Leslie effect that doesn't alter the two rotors' acceleration/deceleration independently!)
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 12:17 AM

Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by voxpops
This is not designed to be a live drawbar controller, more for setting drawbar preferences for a setup, yes?

I think the fact that there are only 4 sliders largely creates that restriction out of the box. Still, assuming all the other functions work normally if you don't go to his Step 5 (that is, nothing else becomes non-functional if you don't exit the tonewheel edit mode, apart from obviously losing the use of those faders for other purposes), I'd imagine you could do some live manipulation there in a pinch, albeit more easily if everything you might want to alter in a song happens to all into a bank of 4 consecutive drawbars, where any others could be left out of the registration, or at some fixed amount. I have to say that I think it's kind of cool they put this functionality in at all. (Though I do cringe a bit when I hear a Leslie effect that doesn't alter the two rotors' acceleration/deceleration independently!)


Trouble is, it seems like as soon as you hit any other pre-programmed switch (e.g. to try to control the "Leslie") you exit the drawbar mode, and I think you have to hit that switch again to get the function you want. Then you're out of drawbar mode and have to go through all the menu steps to get back to zone-fader control. It's too clunky for live use.
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 12:21 AM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Trouble is, it seems like as soon as you hit any other pre-programmed switch (e.g. to try to control the "Leslie") you exit the drawbar mode, and I think you have to hit that switch again to get the function you want. Then you're out of drawbar mode and have to go through all the menu steps

Ah. So much for "assuming all the other functions work normally if you don't go to his Step 5" -- it sounds like they don't. Yup, MIDI control of drawbar levels would be the solution.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 12:22 AM

Originally Posted by voxpops
...it seems like as soon as you hit any other pre-programmed switch (e.g. to try to control the "Leslie") you exit the drawbar mode


Hmmm... did you try using a footswitch to control the Leslie?

James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 12:24 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Originally Posted by voxpops
...it seems like as soon as you hit any other pre-programmed switch (e.g. to try to control the "Leslie") you exit the drawbar mode


Hmmm... did you try using a footswitch to control the Leslie?

James
x

No, not yet. You think that would work in the zone-fader drawbar mode?
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 12:34 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Originally Posted by voxpops
...it seems like as soon as you hit any other pre-programmed switch (e.g. to try to control the "Leslie") you exit the drawbar mode


Hmmm... did you try using a footswitch to control the Leslie?

James
x

Good call, James! I programmed the mod-wheel, and that functioned fine in drawbar mode. Now to try to find if percussion/CV can be similarly controlled...
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 12:43 AM

Thinking about it, it would be really helpful to have one switch that could be preset to switch directly into drawbar mode (with zone-fader control). This could be one of the tonewheel sound buttons or the SW button, for example. Then, in live mode, you just hit the one button and you have tonewheel organs with fader control. That's what's needed for this function to have value in a live setting.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 12:51 AM

Yes, I agree, a means to 'jump' to the tonewheel registration page would be useful.

Regarding tonewheel percussion and chorus/vibrato, I don't believe these can be controlled in real time, unfortunately. Please remember that the MP6 isn't marketed as a clonewheel.

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 01:10 AM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Yes, but since the price increase from $1,099 to $1,499, the undead now wear Prada...

Ha ha!

voxpops, I hope you didn't take my comment too much to heart, in retrospect it seems kind of harsh, and I'm certainly not trying to turn you or anyone else off to the MP6.

But it seems to me there are two ways to keep costs down in electronic products:

1. Use older, slower, simpler components on rather large area PCBs that have few layers.

2. Use the very latest, highly integrated, die shrunk, fast, complex components on a small, multi-layer PCB.

For option 1, design and manufacturing techniques are stone age so very well known, easy to do, and inexpensive. Option 2 is more cutting edge, so D&M are a bit murkier (for older engineers) and expensive, but certainly doable. Regardless, NRE is amortized over lots products.

One problem with option 1 is that if it uses computing components (DRAM, Flash, etc.) these small, slow, older components are at high risk for getting phased out by the manufacturer - it can be quite a challenge keeping a processing board as-is through several years of manufacturing without running into an expensive one-time-buyout of some critical old part, or re-spinning it due to not taking a buyout offer.

A second problem is you get a lot less bang-for-the-buck with those older parts, and they are more power hungry.

A third problem is you have a product that is easily perceived by the user as outdated and slow.

I keep waiting for the DP industry to embrace option 2. It seems it would take a refresh of the hardware and software engineering teams though, something I fully expected to have happened by now - even if they were fighting against it - through simple attrition. One can get a lot (and I mean A LOT) more processing for the same or less cost and a lot less power. And we could all have truly awesome sounding DPs.

But here we sit.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 01:30 AM

Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by voxpops
Yes, but since the price increase from $1,099 to $1,499, the undead now wear Prada...

Ha ha!

voxpops, I hope you didn't take my comment too much to heart, in retrospect it seems kind of harsh, and I'm certainly not trying to turn you or anyone else off to the MP6.


Not in the least, dewster. I'm a harsh critic myself! I'm not too worried about the age of the technology if it produces the sound quality I'm after, but the MP6 kind of straddles the past and the present, and has a few flaws as a result. The use of the old chassis (and presumably many components) keeps costs down, as you say, but the new samples would benefit from (again, presumably) larger memory and better processing.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 01:38 AM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Yes, but since the price increase from $1,099 to $1,499


I assume you are comparing the price of an MP5 with that of the MP6, yes?

Okay, please consider the following:

- New RH action with let-off and Ivory Touch
- New PHA acoustic piano and electric piano sounds
- New tonewheel organ simulator
- New amp simulator
- Improved EFX
- USB audio (MP3/WAV/SMF record and playback)
- USB load/save sound/setup data
- Song recorder
- Metronome + 100 drum rhythms (new stereo drum samples)
- Assignable MMC buttons

- Appreciation in value of Japanese yen relative to other currencies.

Kind regards,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 02:16 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Originally Posted by voxpops
Yes, but since the price increase from $1,099 to $1,499


I assume you are comparing the price of an MP5 with that of the MP6, yes?
x

It was a joke, James.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 04:46 PM

One question for James:
Has the MP6 been voiced differently from the equivalent console models?

I'm wondering if the programmers felt the need to give it more of what they perceive as a "rock" voicing. It certainly seems much improved, to my ears, using a mellower voicing.

One observation for Kawai and new MP6 owners:
Although the software allows you to store changes to the parameters within each sound, it will automatically restore the factory default Concert Grand settings at power-on (overriding any changes you previously made to the Concert Grand patch and stored as "Sound") unless you use the power-on memory to remember your Concert Grand changes. In other words, switching the MP6 on is equivalent to activating the "Piano Only" function, which returns you to Concert Grand in its factory state. This does not happen with, say, the Rhodes sound, where changes will be remembered across power-ups once stored in the "Sound". It is an anomaly that, hopefully, could be addressed in the next firmware update.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 10:02 PM

voxpops, I don't believe the voicing has been setup to sound more 'aggressive' than Kawai's console DPs.

Kind regards,
James
x
Posted By: Dave Goodman

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 10:16 PM

This is my first time here. I started playing in my early fifties on a Lowrey Holiday organ. From there, went to a Casio Workstation, Casio PX-575, Casio PX-330 and now Kawai MP6, which brings me here. I've had the MP6 less than a week but I find some of the AP's to be alittle on the bright side. So, I found going to the EQ and turning down the Mid Freq and then turning up the Mid, I got the Concert Grand to sound better to me. Then under Menu to Voicing I changed to Mellow 1. This also helped. I still found when a key was struck hard that bright sound. So now I went to Systems and changed Touch to Heavy. Now I think I can live with it. Because I'm just an amateur, I would like your opinions ( Voxpops and anyone who has a MP6) what more I could try. Saying all of that, I am very pleased MP6, it is a step up from the Casio's. Thanks Guys I read you every day Dave
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/22/11 11:46 PM

voxpops,

As you note, the MP6 allows the 'Power On' sound to be defined by the user - this is similar to the 'User Memory' function on other Kawai (console) DPs.

Originally Posted by voxpops
In other words, switching the MP6 on is equivalent to activating the "Piano Only" function, which returns you to Concert Grand in its factory state.


Yes, if the user does not define their own 'Power On' memory, the factory defaults will always be used.

Originally Posted by voxpops
This does not happen with, say, the Rhodes sound, where changes will be remembered across power-ups once stored in the "Sound".


I believe all sounds share this behaviour. For example, if you select the desired acoustic piano patch, the previously stored 'Sound' settings should be recalled in the same way.

If you wish to have your preferred acoustic piano settings available at start-up, you should store them to the 'Power On' memory.

Originally Posted by voxpops
It is an anomaly...


Unless I am misinterpreting your explanation above, I don't believe it is.

To clarify:

- Changes made to 'Classic EP' and stored to the Sound will be recalled whenever that sound is re-selected.
- Changes made to 'Mellow Grand' and stored to the Sound will be recalled whenever that sound is re-selected.
- The MP6 will automatically recall the 'Power On' memory when the instrument is turned on.
- If the user does not define their own 'Power On' memory, the default (i.e. not the user adjusted) 'Concert Grand' sound will be selected automatically.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/26/11 11:00 PM

For those interested in the guts of the MP6, here's a few pictures that I took just after I'd replaced the broken keys (which can be seen in the lower left corner of the first pic). You can see the metal plate I used to reinforce the split end-cheek in photo-4.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

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[Linked Image]
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 12:08 AM

Just tried the MP6's User Touch Curve. It works very well, and helps me gain much better control over the sound than the standard or "heavy" setting.

This board now plays very nicely indeed. I just wish...

Actually, thinking about it, that action (see side view above) looks to me like it's worth anything from $500 to $1,000 (retail). Replacement keys cost over $15 each, and they are just a simple part of each hammer unit. So I shouldn't be too churlish about the sound engine!
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 01:24 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
voxpops,

As you note, the MP6 allows the 'Power On' sound to be defined by the user - this is similar to the 'User Memory' function on other Kawai (console) DPs.

Originally Posted by voxpops
In other words, switching the MP6 on is equivalent to activating the "Piano Only" function, which returns you to Concert Grand in its factory state.


Yes, if the user does not define their own 'Power On' memory, the factory defaults will always be used.

Originally Posted by voxpops
This does not happen with, say, the Rhodes sound, where changes will be remembered across power-ups once stored in the "Sound".


I believe all sounds share this behaviour. For example, if you select the desired acoustic piano patch, the previously stored 'Sound' settings should be recalled in the same way.

If you wish to have your preferred acoustic piano settings available at start-up, you should store them to the 'Power On' memory.

Originally Posted by voxpops
It is an anomaly...


Unless I am misinterpreting your explanation above, I don't believe it is.

To clarify:

- Changes made to 'Classic EP' and stored to the Sound will be recalled whenever that sound is re-selected.
- Changes made to 'Mellow Grand' and stored to the Sound will be recalled whenever that sound is re-selected.
- The MP6 will automatically recall the 'Power On' memory when the instrument is turned on.
- If the user does not define their own 'Power On' memory, the default (i.e. not the user adjusted) 'Concert Grand' sound will be selected automatically.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
James
x


Thanks for that very clear explanation. I was just expecting the sound I had stored as Concert Grand to be the default sound on start-up, but I realize now that unless it's also stored in "power on" memory, it will not be selected at start-up. At first I thought it had written over my stored sounds, but one just needs to reselect Concert Grand after start-up (unless using "power-on" memory) for the user-settings to be restored.

No, it's obviously not an anomaly that needs correcting, it's just different from some other DPs in that respect.
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 01:46 AM

Thanks for the pix voxpops! Those keys look eerily like the ones in our RD-700NX (will post pix soon). Same hammer actuated angled rubber switches, same type of travel limits at the key tips, same plastic and metal hammers, same foil covered chipboard base. The NX doesn't have that strange flip up near the key pivot point though. I guess these guys can't just blatantly copy each other without infringing on a patent or ten, but the degree of copying is pretty amazing nonetheless.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 02:12 AM

You're welcome, Dewster. Sounds like you took the plunge and opened up the NX!?
Posted By: north

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 10:52 AM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Originally Posted by Kawai James
voxpops,

As you note, the MP6 allows the 'Power On' sound to be defined by the user - this is similar to the 'User Memory' function on other Kawai (console) DPs.

Originally Posted by voxpops
In other words, switching the MP6 on is equivalent to activating the "Piano Only" function, which returns you to Concert Grand in its factory state.


Yes, if the user does not define their own 'Power On' memory, the factory defaults will always be used.

Originally Posted by voxpops
This does not happen with, say, the Rhodes sound, where changes will be remembered across power-ups once stored in the "Sound".


I believe all sounds share this behaviour. For example, if you select the desired acoustic piano patch, the previously stored 'Sound' settings should be recalled in the same way.

If you wish to have your preferred acoustic piano settings available at start-up, you should store them to the 'Power On' memory.

Originally Posted by voxpops
It is an anomaly...


Unless I am misinterpreting your explanation above, I don't believe it is.

To clarify:

- Changes made to 'Classic EP' and stored to the Sound will be recalled whenever that sound is re-selected.
- Changes made to 'Mellow Grand' and stored to the Sound will be recalled whenever that sound is re-selected.
- The MP6 will automatically recall the 'Power On' memory when the instrument is turned on.
- If the user does not define their own 'Power On' memory, the default (i.e. not the user adjusted) 'Concert Grand' sound will be selected automatically.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
James
x


Thanks for that very clear explanation. I was just expecting the sound I had stored as Concert Grand to be the default sound on start-up, but I realize now that unless it's also stored in "power on" memory, it will not be selected at start-up. At first I thought it had written over my stored sounds, but one just needs to reselect Concert Grand after start-up (unless using "power-on" memory) for the user-settings to be restored.

No, it's obviously not an anomaly that needs correcting, it's just different from some other DPs in that respect.


After reading this, I don't quite understand, how the MP6 deals with internal sounds, stored sounds and setups.

So, if you store a user setting to the Concert Grand sound, you can recall it by simply pressing the correct buttons, but on power-up the original concert Grand is selected, whereafter you can select your own Concert Grand by pressing the appropiate button(s) ?

I suppose, that for all other sounds you cannot select between the original stored sound and your own tweakings of the same ?

So if you have adjusted a sound to your likings, and later you would like to hear the default setting again, you will have to reset that sound, which means, that the adjustments made earlier are lost, if they are stored in an internal sound location ?

when I read the user manual I get the impression, that there are 256 Sound Setup's programmed fram the factory, but I don't see a list of those setup's ?

Best regards.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 12:44 PM

Originally Posted by north
Originally Posted by voxpops
Originally Posted by Kawai James
voxpops,

As you note, the MP6 allows the 'Power On' sound to be defined by the user - this is similar to the 'User Memory' function on other Kawai (console) DPs.

Originally Posted by voxpops
In other words, switching the MP6 on is equivalent to activating the "Piano Only" function, which returns you to Concert Grand in its factory state.


Yes, if the user does not define their own 'Power On' memory, the factory defaults will always be used.

Originally Posted by voxpops
This does not happen with, say, the Rhodes sound, where changes will be remembered across power-ups once stored in the "Sound".


I believe all sounds share this behaviour. For example, if you select the desired acoustic piano patch, the previously stored 'Sound' settings should be recalled in the same way.

If you wish to have your preferred acoustic piano settings available at start-up, you should store them to the 'Power On' memory.

Originally Posted by voxpops
It is an anomaly...


Unless I am misinterpreting your explanation above, I don't believe it is.

To clarify:

- Changes made to 'Classic EP' and stored to the Sound will be recalled whenever that sound is re-selected.
- Changes made to 'Mellow Grand' and stored to the Sound will be recalled whenever that sound is re-selected.
- The MP6 will automatically recall the 'Power On' memory when the instrument is turned on.
- If the user does not define their own 'Power On' memory, the default (i.e. not the user adjusted) 'Concert Grand' sound will be selected automatically.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
James
x


Thanks for that very clear explanation. I was just expecting the sound I had stored as Concert Grand to be the default sound on start-up, but I realize now that unless it's also stored in "power on" memory, it will not be selected at start-up. At first I thought it had written over my stored sounds, but one just needs to reselect Concert Grand after start-up (unless using "power-on" memory) for the user-settings to be restored.

No, it's obviously not an anomaly that needs correcting, it's just different from some other DPs in that respect.


After reading this, I don't quite understand, how the MP6 deals with internal sounds, stored sounds and setups.

So, if you store a user setting to the Concert Grand sound, you can recall it by simply pressing the correct buttons, but on power-up the original concert Grand is selected, whereafter you can select your own Concert Grand by pressing the appropiate button(s) ?

I suppose, that for all other sounds you cannot select between the original stored sound and your own tweakings of the same ?

So if you have adjusted a sound to your likings, and later you would like to hear the default setting again, you will have to reset that sound, which means, that the adjustments made earlier are lost, if they are stored in an internal sound location ?

when I read the user manual I get the impression, that there are 256 Sound Setup's programmed fram the factory, but I don't see a list of those setup's ?

Best regards.

I think it's like this, north: the sounds remain as factory default sounds unless you overwrite them with your own settings. If you overwrite them, the original sounds are no longer available to you unless you restore them by resetting to the factory default. However, there is one exception: the factory default Concert Grand sound remains available at all times by pressing the two buttons marked "Piano Only". Your own adjustments to this sound are also stored. When you start the piano, the factory default Concert Grand sound is selected (unless you use "Power On" memory to override the default). Once the piano is on and the factory default Concert Grand sound is in use, if you select Concert Grand again (NOT "Piano Only") using the bank/sound buttons, your own settings will be recalled.

Should you wish to keep both your own settings along with the default settings for other sounds, you have to store your variations as setups.

AFAIK, there are 256 factory sounds stored in the banks. Setups include both multiple sounds drawn from these banks, and MIDI configurations, with (usually) sounds in the lower numbered spaces and MIDI stuff in the higher numbers. I don't think there's a list of these as they are designed to be overwritten with the user's own creations.
Posted By: north

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 01:00 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops



Should you wish to keep both your own settings along with the default settings for other sounds, you have to store your variations as setups.

AFAIK, there are 256 factory sounds stored in the banks. Setups include both multiple sounds drawn from these banks, and MIDI configurations, with (usually) sounds in the lower numbered spaces and MIDI stuff in the higher numbers. I don't think there's a list of these as they are designed to be overwritten with the user's own creations.


You are probably right, voxpops, but on the other hand I think it would be odd, if Kawai just selected some random sounds/drum patterns to the setups.

As far as I recall from reading the manual of the Yamaha CP5 they have a list of all sounds/drum patterns stored in the various zones/layers. Perhaps Kawai did it the same way and just forgot to include the list in the manual ?

Best regards.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 01:09 PM

Maybe James can help with a copy of the factory setups list, north.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 01:28 PM

Chaps, I'll try my best to help, however I'm not entirely sure what you're asking for.

Are you searching for a list of the 256 factory SETUPs?
If so, may I ask for what purpose?

Referring to page 53 of the owner's manual, a single SETUP memory stores the following:

- Sound Selection (for all four zones), Zone On/Off status
- EFX/REVERB settings
- Fader, Control Knob settings
- Function SW setting
- All MENU settings

Multiply this by 256 and you have a sizeable amount of information. Are you suggesting this should be listed in full in the owner's manual?

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 01:51 PM

Come on James, you haven't got any new manuals to write at the moment... or have you??? wink
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 02:02 PM

Well, as you know, I didn't write the MP6 owner's manual...

However, I will be making a start on writing two new owner's manuals very shortly.

James
x
Posted By: Talaf

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 02:04 PM

For each "Bank type" (like Piano, E.Piano and so on) there's only 4 times 4 factory setups containing stuff, the last 4 if I remember correctly are always 4 MIDI Zones, 1 MIDI Master Zone, 2 Midi Split Zone and stuff like that. Those are the ones I overwrite with my own settings when I wish to do so. It readily gives you 128 blank setups at least smile

There's also alot of backup solutions, so you're just really limited to 256 setups at one point in time, which seems ample enough smile
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 02:07 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Well, as you know, I didn't write the MP6 owner's manual...

However, I will be making a start on writing two new owner's manuals very shortly.

James
x

Perfect! Just the right amount of information to get us all in a frenzy of speculation!

My bet is still on a replacement for the ES6. As for the other one... hmmm.
Posted By: north

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 02:08 PM

James, how did Kawai select the sounds/drum patterns, that are stored in the setup's, were they randomly selected, or did someone at Kawai try to select sounds and drum patterns, that would match ?

Best regards.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 02:57 PM

I'm sorry, I don't know.

James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 05:07 PM

Here is a summary of my early impressions after having this board around for a a couple of weeks, with the caveat that I haven't gigged with it.

General layout, UI, etc.: (*****)
Very user-friendly. Basically the same layout as the MP5 with some additions, such as the recorder. Mod/PB wheels sensibly located above lowest keys. Zone controls extremely quick and easy to use. All sounds/setups easily accessed from front panel buttons. Menu structure very intuitive (I have hardly touched the manual). Easy to open the case for servicing.

Action: (****1/2)
Superbly constructed action with an even feel across the board. No odd gaps, and very little side-to-side movement. Let-off gives a realistic escapement feel. Not too light or heavy. Slight stress vulnerability where the thinner plastic of the key's "neck" is held in place at the pivot-point. If this action had a third sensor, it might well be regarded as the best plastic DP action available.

Velocity response: (****)
The normal (default) setting using the early OS meant that, for me, the action was difficult to control. With the new OS and using the user touch curve, the response and control is much improved.

Main piano sound: (***1/2)
Overall, a beautifully clear tone that can sound more like a "real" piano than many others. A little more "sparkly" than Roland's default SN piano. However, the upper octaves can also sound harsh and brittle at higher velocities. There is also a slightly compressed feel to the sound, and the decay can seem rather short.

Classic EP (Rhodes) sound: (****1/2)
This is the one area of the MP6 where my opinion has changed over the course of the last couple of weeks. In some respects, I now think this Rhodes implementation is better than both Nord and some Kurzweils. The ability to tailor the key-off noises and delay makes for a more realistic sound IMO. There is, I think, a wider dynamic range than in the Nord. The basic tone (which can graduate from tine to bark) sounds quite authentic, and the drive allows for a dirtier, overdriven sound when required (although there is much more drive variation available on Nord boards). I find the alternative EP sounds lackluster by comparison with this main one.

60s EP (Wurlitzer): (***)
Not bad at all, but not really serious competition for the Nord Wurli. Seems just a trifle dull or compressed, with less nuanced variation available in the spectrum it covers.

Tonewheel organs: (***)
Nice to have in a stage piano, particularly with effects such as variable key-click. However the basic tone doesn't sound very Hammond-like, and is a bit screechy in the upper (organ register) octave. Leslie sim is rudimentary.

Other sounds: (****)
I don't have much use for non-keyboard sounds, but there are some nice little gems in the sound banks. They've been around for a few years, but the way the brass and woodwind are implemented, for example, can give Kurzweil a run for their money. There are also some nice, "paddy" strings.

I have tried to be as objective as possible with the above, but they are, nonetheless, my very personal (and fallible) opinions. If you have a different take, please do post.
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 05:38 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Just tried the MP6's User Touch Curve. It works very well, and helps me gain much better control over the sound than the standard or "heavy" setting.

Have you played with the similar feature on the Nano Piano? I'm curious how the systems compare in ease and in their ability to really provide an improvement.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 05:44 PM

Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by voxpops
Just tried the MP6's User Touch Curve. It works very well, and helps me gain much better control over the sound than the standard or "heavy" setting.

Have you played with the similar feature on the Nano Piano? I'm curious how the systems compare in ease and in their ability to really provide an improvement.

Yes, I have. They are both extremely easy to use, and if you don't like the result you can just try again. The Kawai gives you two user curve memories, the Numa just the one; but in the Numa you have the option to store any of the touch settings (including the user one) with each individual patch - in the Kawai it appears to be global.

I think the improvement was marginally greater in the Kawai, but for a definitive answer I'd have to play around with them quite a bit more. But, for me, there was definitely an improvement with both systems over the standard curves.
Posted By: YoungH

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 06:35 PM

Originally Posted by Kawai James

However, I will be making a start on writing two new owner's manuals very shortly.

James
x


James, I'm a bit confused. What is the present status of the new firmware update for MP6? Is there a new version of the owner's manual, or will you be working on this new version for MP6 shortly? I hope you will be writing it. If so, I'll look forward to get a copy from you.

Also, my apology to make a little sidetrack announcement on this thread: I just bought my first digital piano, a MP6. As a piano newbie, I feel that I don't deserve a nice piano such as MP6. But learning to play piano is on my bucket list, so I took the liberty to splurge.

By reading the postings on this forum, I've learned a lot about digital piano; but just as importantly, I've come to know many of you well, and now I feel like I have friends from all over the world. And what wonderful friends you all are.

Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and experience. It is through learning from you that I've developed the confidence to make this acquisition. Now it's time to learn how to play it; if only learning to play the piano is as easy as learning to buy one.

A few quick first impressions:

1. There had been concerns about the packaging of MP10. My MP6 arrived very well packaged. The box exterior was in good shape, and there was no visual damage for the content either. I haven't checked out everything yet. MP6 has enough capabilities and complexities that it will take me a while to learn it, and to check it out.

2. There were concerns about key gaps in earlier models of MP10. The keys on my MP6 are evenly spaced.

3. The MP6 is solidly built. It also sounds wonderful, to this newbie's ears anyway.

My only complaint is on the owner's manual. It's obvious that, whoever authored it, knows this piano well, and perhaps too well. It seems that the author had assumed everyone to be just as knowledgeable about digital piano as the author himself. Many terms are left unexplained. To avoid confusion, some of the wordings could be more precise. The absence of a glossary and an index does not help. I hope that whoever will be writing the owner's manual will be more sympathetic to users, experienced and inexperienced alike.
Posted By: Talaf

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 06:55 PM

Voxpop, I may be wrong (James can correct me) but I think the first 5 banks of Drawbar are sampled, whereas the last 3 are the clonewheel engine. I find the engine more pleasing, but I'm really not an organ expert smile You should check out if you like the last 3 better.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 06:59 PM

Originally Posted by Talaf
Voxpop, I may be wrong (James can correct me) but I think the first 5 banks of Drawbar are sampled, whereas the last 3 are the clonewheel engine. I find the engine more pleasing, but I'm really not an organ expert smile You should check out if you like the last 3 better.

Hi Talaf, I was only referring to the last three banks (the tonewheel section), not the first 5 sampled banks.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/27/11 11:28 PM

voxpops, thank you for your honest appraisal of the MP6.

I've always been a little disappointed with the Nord's Wurlitzer, and while I've not played the MP6 recently, I think I may actually prefer its Wurli patch to what's currently in my Electro 3. I should point out that I've never actually played the real thing, however despite much tweaking on my E3, I'm unable to get that warm, early 70's Donny Hathaway sound that I love so much.

Cheers,
James
x

Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/28/11 12:02 AM

YoungH, thank you for your sharing your initial impressions of the MP6 - congrats on your new stage piano!

To answer your queries:

Originally Posted by YoungH
What is the present status of the new firmware update for MP6?


To the best of my knowledge, the MP6 software update is effectively complete, however there are still a few bureaucratic boxes that must be ticked before the update files can be made publicly available. This is perhaps related to the number of fixes/changes made to the software in this update - all of which have to be checked, double-checked, and then officially approved.

Originally Posted by YoungH
Is there a new version of the owner's manual, or will you be working on this new version for MP6 shortly?


I have already completed updating the existing MP6 owner's manual to include information and revised instructions for the new/changed features. However, I'm afraid there are no plans to undertake a full rewrite of the documentation...at least not unless voxpops' much-desired MP7 ever gets off the ground.

I recently completed owner's manuals for two new instruments - one being the KCP80 (predominantly for the East Asian market), the other for a model that has yet to be formally announced. From now, I will turn my attention to two more owner's manuals for new instruments.

Originally Posted by YoungH
By reading the postings on this forum, I've learned a lot about digital piano; but just as importantly, I've come to know many of you well, and now I feel like I have friends from all over the world. And what wonderful friends you all are.


I wholeheartedly agree, and I'm sure many other folks dotted around the globe share exactly the same feeling - that's what makes this place such a great forum.

Originally Posted by YoungH
My only complaint is on the owner's manual. It's obvious that, whoever authored it, knows this piano well, and perhaps too well. It seems that the author had assumed everyone to be just as knowledgeable about digital piano as the author himself.


I believe this is a fair criticism. With the exception of the MP10, the MP documentation has typically been prepared by members of the engineering team, with each successive generation of instruments updating the previous model's documentation.

It could be argued that the target audience of MP owners is perhaps a little more technology-oriented than that of traditional console type DPs, and would therefore appreciate the stripped-down presentation and concise writing style. However, I expect that a large number of other users, such as yourself, would appreciate clearer, more descriptive documentation.

Perhaps if my work schedule opens up later in the year, I can look into rewriting the English language MP6 owner's manual, however please understand that it may be difficult to justify such a project for an instrument that has already shipped and is selling well.

Kind regards,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/28/11 12:16 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
I've always been a little disappointed with the Nord's Wurlitzer, and while I've not played the MP6 recently, I think I may actually prefer its Wurli patch to what's currently in my Electro 3. I should point out that I've never actually played the real thing, however despite much tweaking on my E3, I'm unable to get that warm, early 70's Donny Hathaway sound that I love so much.


Well, I have to confess, I was going on my (shaky) memory of the Nord! But it's funny, isn't it, that the Wurlitzer gets slightly short shrift on many boards, compared with the Rhodes emulation. I don't think I've come across one that doesn't make me wish I still had my EP200A (sold in 1983). There is a warmth and depth to the real thing that just gets lost in translation, and very few boards can recreate the full range of sweet to very nasty that the is the essence of the original.

As for today's patches, it'd be worth trying the Kurzweil Wurlitzer sounds - I think their Austin Wurly is among the best attempts. Also the GEM modeled Wurli is pretty darn good.
Posted By: Kawai James

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/28/11 12:27 AM

Perhaps we should lobby Clavia to release some decent-sized EPs, including a selection of Wurlis and an a proper multi-velocity Pianet! wink

Either that, or wait for Korg's SV-2...

Cheers,
James
x
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/28/11 12:34 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Perhaps we should lobby Clavia to release some decent-sized EPs, including a selection of Wurlis and an a proper multi-velocity Pianet! wink

Either that, or wait for Korg's SV-2...

Cheers,
James
x

Yes, I'm with you on that. I'm actually quite surprised that the Nord Wurli has taken a back seat for so long. I don't think it's really changed since the original Electro. Even their newer Rhodes samples are tiny.

There are a lot of hopes riding on that SV-2. Don't disappoint, Korg!
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/28/11 12:37 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
Perhaps if my work schedule opens later in the year, I can look into rewriting the English language MP6 owner's manual, however please understand that it may be difficult to justify such a project for an instrument that has already shipped and is selling well.

The classic corporate problem:

"It's not selling, so we don't want to put more resources into it."

"It's selling well, so we don't need to put more resources into it."
Posted By: anotherscott

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/28/11 12:39 AM

I like the Wurli patches on the Kurzweil. Not a fan of the Nord's.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/28/11 12:39 AM

Originally Posted by Kawai James
and an a proper multi-velocity Pianet! wink

You know, like Vintage Vibe and the revived Rhodes, I don't think it would be too difficult for an enterprising engineer to come up with a new "Pianet". They were compact and lightweight, and had a unique vibe. Any takers?
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/28/11 12:41 AM

Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by Kawai James
Perhaps if my work schedule opens later in the year, I can look into rewriting the English language MP6 owner's manual, however please understand that it may be difficult to justify such a project for an instrument that has already shipped and is selling well.

The classic corporate problem:

"It's not selling, so we don't want to put more resources into it."

"It's selling well, so we don't need to put more resources into it."


Yes, but James is keen on customer support (in all its forms), so things may change a little at Kawai.
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/28/11 11:29 PM

Originally Posted by voxpops
Here you go, Dewster. Let me know when you find the AP sounds!
[Linked Image]

Going by this link I found on the web today, the sample Flash (or whatever) is probably lurking on the back of the MP6 controller board. Any chance of a shot of that?
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 09/28/11 11:50 PM

Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by voxpops
Here you go, Dewster. Let me know when you find the AP sounds!
[Linked Image]

Going by this link I found on the web today, the sample Flash (or whatever) is probably lurking on the back of the MP6 controller board. Any chance of a shot of that?

Sorry, dewster, it's all put back together and ready for action!
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 03/09/12 08:42 PM

This is going to sound a trifle stupid. Up to now, I've been tweaking voicing parameters and other menu settings on the MP6, trying to dial out the harshness and short upper note decay. All I really ended up doing was making the sound more synthetic - the "mellow" voicing seems to compress the high end rather unnaturally, and adding decay time (anything more than +1) tends to create a synth-like decay pattern. All along, the solution (or at least a measurable proportion of it) lay literally at my fingertips, in the form of the EQ parameters.

I had wrongly assumed that messing with the EQ would simply upset the tonal balance - e.g. muffling the sound. However, by substantially reducing the highs (-5 or a little more) and just boosting the mids a little around 1000hz, it has dramatically improved the sound. The upper mids now sound smoother, with less of the brittle, hard edge; and because the highs are not so accentuated, their quick decay seems less pronounced. The mid boost adds a tad of richness to the overall sound. There is a small tradeoff in that the very top notes are less balanced - more thud, less ring - but that seems a small price to pay for a more playable instrument. And it is a good deal more enjoyable to play like this.

I feel dumb for not having tried this rather obvious solution earlier - especially since it's right there on the control panel. I will have to raise my star-rating to four out of five, now (I'd give it even more if there were a few more velocity layers)!
Posted By: knotty

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 03/09/12 09:13 PM

thanks voxpops for this simple tweak.
Posted By: voxpops

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 03/09/12 10:00 PM

You're welcome, knotty. Let us know if you have any suggestions from your perspective.
Posted By: dewster

Re: Kawai MP6 first impressions - 03/10/12 12:49 AM

Originally Posted by voxpops
I feel dumb for not having tried this rather obvious solution earlier - especially since it's right there on the control panel.

Never underestimate the power of basic filtering.

Ah, if all DP issues could be dealt with via the front panel. It takes more than a filter to fix looping and too few velocity layers.
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