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Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action

Posted By: Rohit04062

Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/08/18 03:53 PM

Hi, I recently bought a kawai ca78 following the good reviews of grand feel 2 on this site and trying it in the shop. In the shop the action definitely felt closer to a grand piano compared to everything else in its price range, but I wasn't a big fan of the sound.

Unfortunately after playing it some more at home I've ran into some major problems with its action. The minimum force required to produce a sound seems to be extremely inconsistent throughout the keyboard. Where a certain amount of force will produce a sound in one key, it will simply produce silence in another key. This is especially pronounced in most of the C and G white keys as well as a few black keys throughout the keyboard, and they are often silent. The let off or escapement mechanic is also inconsistent, certain keys are harder to press down at the bottom and it's usually these that are silent - notably on most G keys.

As such playing passages below mp in dynamics seems to be impossible due to the risk of silent notes. It's a shame as the piano action does feel closer to a grand piano than all of its competitors in its price range when playing louder.

The sound is also very disappointing, very muffled with the pedal and a very heavy bass (my ancient yamaha p155 had a better sound IMO) as I mentioned but this can probably be fixed with garritan or pianoteq software etc so it is not my main concern.

I am going to give it a bit more time to get used to the action and compare it to a real grand (of course it might be that my playing is too light since I had been practising on a yamaha p155 all these years which had a very light action) but if things don't improve then I'm considering either replacing/getting a technician to look at this model or choose a different brand such as the casio gp400/500 or yamaha clp645, does anybody have any opinion on those? I would like to have an action that resembles a grand as much as it can in this price range - I realise nothing is going to be perfect and they will all have their strengths and weaknesses.
Posted By: Colin Miles

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/08/18 04:30 PM

There is no such thing as one grand piano action, but obviously if you think the GF2 is close then so be it. However, it should be consistent across the keyboard so you need to get back to your dealer and either get it regulated - might make a difference - or replaced with the same or another model, perhaps from Yamaha, Roland or Casio.
Posted By: slobajudge

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/08/18 04:42 PM

Originally Posted by Rohit04062
Hi, I recently bought a kawai ca78 following the good reviews of grand feel 2 on this site and trying it in the shop. In the shop the action definitely felt closer to a grand piano compared to everything else in its price range, but I wasn't a big fan of the sound.

Unfortunately after playing it some more at home I've ran into some major problems with its action. The minimum force required to produce a sound seems to be extremely inconsistent throughout the keyboard. Where a certain amount of force will produce a sound in one key, it will simply produce silence in another key. This is especially pronounced in most of the C and G white keys as well as a few black keys throughout the keyboard, and they are often silent. The let off or escapement mechanic is also inconsistent, certain keys are harder to press down at the bottom and it's usually these that are silent - notably on most G keys.

As such playing passages below mp in dynamics seems to be impossible due to the risk of silent notes. It's a shame as the piano action does feel closer to a grand piano than all of its competitors in its price range when playing louder.

Your experience is very similar to this women and she is very serious piano teacher. I recommend to look at this video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqzgVHv_D7U
Maybe you can find some solution like she find it on Kawai CA58. Some action settings work better than others.
Posted By: shirlkirsten

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/08/18 05:23 PM

Thanks for posting this. I agree with the what is mentioned as I carefully detailed the CA 58 for a student who had issues described. He had purchased the digital well before he had embarked upon lessons so I had no input. In general I recommend a well regulated, and maintained acoustic, though in many cases individuals have no option to acquire one.
Posted By: arc7urus

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/08/18 05:32 PM

Hi! Try using a midi monitor to check the sensors on your keyboard. This thread explains what to do.

http://forum.pianoworld.com//ubbthreads.php/topics/2764595.html
Posted By: shirlkirsten

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/08/18 06:32 PM

The Upright setting and Heavy action + improved smooth transit across the CA 58 keyboard.. but the sound lacked the brighter shimmer of SK grand piano setting. At least dynamics were pliant on the Upright setting as I tested it.. with pedal set at "5"
Posted By: JoBert

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/08/18 07:24 PM

I'm going to suggest the reverse from shirl laugh

If you set the Touch to Heavy, then you limit the max velocity that you can reach at a very low value (around 100 or so, out of max 127). In order for this low velocity to sound loud enough for a proper ff or fff similar to an acoustic, you then need to slide the main volume way up.

That however also increases the volume at the low end, i.e. if you now play softly around 25-30, it still sounds quite loud (maybe mp or so, but not a proper p). So to play a proper p or even pp, you are forced to play even more softly, probably a good bit below 20 maybe even down to 10 or so. However, that is very difficult on the GFII (I had the CA97 myself for more than two years). Playing down to 20 or so is possible but difficult, but below 20 gets very difficult and you get into the range where small inconsistencies in the regulation can easily throw you off and result in silent notes.

So instead, try setting the Touch to Light. That increases the achievable velocities at the top end. Up to 120 (out of 127) is now achievable, if you really dig in.

One nice advantage is, that you get access to another sample layer with these high velocities, i.e. a ff or fff is now not only louder, but also has more bite/grit to it. And of course, at the same master volume setting, 120 for fff is already by itself much louder than 100 for fff (as you get with Heavy Touch). So the fff (with the same master volume) is now actually too loud. So you can now turn down the master volume a bit until the fff at 120 again has the same perceived loudness as previously the fff at 100 had.

And by turning down the master volume of course also affects the lower end. If you now play softly at 25-30, which is easily done, you already get a proper p. And with a bit of concentration you can play event softer at around 20 for a nice pp. And you no longer need to play down to the very edge of the action, like 10-15 or so (which is indeed difficult) just to get that same pp.

So Light Touch with lower master volume has two advantages: A larger possible midi range, giving you a more gritty fff, but at the same time a much easier to achieve pp.
Posted By: Gombessa

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/08/18 09:03 PM

My experience differs from JoBert (I am NOT a fan of Light/Light + on the internal tone generator), but I agree with him here.

On my Kawai DP, it's hard to EVER get above a MIDI velocity of 100. For me, on internal speakers this is no problem at all, since the piano produces a natural and pleasing dynamic range at "normal" Touch Curve. But for VSTs, I want the utmost fidelity, including ppp/fff and so I set the NV-10 to Light+ (which allows full MIDI 2-127 velocity), and adjust the VST velocity curve and dynamic range accordingly to achieve that.

However, whenever I am playing through the DP's native speakers, I set everything back to default (including touch curve).
Posted By: rolex67

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/08/18 09:33 PM

I personally have quite the same issue on my CA67.
Certain keys are not as sensitive as other, regarding pianissimos....
Well.... sometimes, I have no sound ... I accommodate...
I will try the recommendations mentioned above, perhaps it will help!

Sound wise...now..
Since I have pianoteq, I have never used the internal sounds anymore!

They are just awfull compared to a real acoustic !
You just have to play....and feel that electric sounds ( mostly on the medium and bass. Trebles are nice though)

So why I got it ? :-)

Simply because I was certainly biased by the sum of good feedback and reviews here when it was released , and because when I tried it in the shop it seemed to me better than the others, action wise.

Posted By: Colin Miles

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/09/18 09:40 AM

Just to add to my original remarks about getting a replacement, etc. I have recently played a CA78 a couple of times in my local store for some time. Experienced no problems other than the fact that it wouldn't allow me to update the software. But it played fine on standard settings.
Posted By: akc42

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/09/18 10:07 AM

I have a CA67 and following an earlier version of Jobert's advice have set the touch to Light+. I also used the VT on individual notes that were standing out a bit much to lower their volume a short amount. The end result is a very even sound all the way up the keyboard, but rather sensitive. My teacher commented the other day that she found it a bit too sensitive as we were discussing getting an even sound in a Bach Invention - but agreed that it might be better for my technique in the long run for me to learn to control it rather than slide the setting back a little.
Posted By: Rohit04062

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/09/18 10:50 AM

Originally Posted by JoBert
I'm going to suggest the reverse from shirl laugh

If you set the Touch to Heavy, then you limit the max velocity that you can reach at a very low value (around 100 or so, out of max 127). In order for this low velocity to sound loud enough for a proper ff or fff similar to an acoustic, you then need to slide the main volume way up.

So instead, try setting the Touch to Light. That increases the achievable velocities at the top end. Up to 120 (out of 127) is now achievable, if you really dig in.

So Light Touch with lower master volume has two advantages: A larger possible midi range, giving you a more gritty fff, but at the same time a much easier to achieve pp.


I'm already headed in that direction, I initially tried it on heavy+, then heavy, but after I switched to normal I found I was able to play with a much larger dynamic range and more musically. I do worry with lighter settings if it will negatively affect me playing on real pianos.

Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Just to add to my original remarks about getting a replacement, etc. I have recently played a CA78 a couple of times in my local store for some time. Experienced no problems other than the fact that it wouldn't allow me to update the software. But it played fine on standard settings.


Yes I'm firstly going to go to a shop and see if I can get a technician or replacement, if not I might go for a different brand (there are other issues with the action too, it feels quite slow and sluggish at times). Another option I've seen on YouTube is to manually remove the escapement feature to make the keybed more consistent.
Posted By: Colin Miles

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/09/18 11:44 AM

Originally Posted by Rohit04062


I'm already headed in that direction, I initially tried it on heavy+, then heavy, but after I switched to normal I found I was able to play with a much larger dynamic range and more musically. I do worry with lighter settings if it will negatively affect me playing on real pianos.


'Real' pianos vary quite widely in their touch weight. One of the pianos I 'grew up' with was a Steinway grand with a very light touch. Recently played one in the store and my instant reaction to the touch was, 'yes, I remember this'.

To progress you need to experience different pianos. Perhaps mastering the different weights on your CA78 may be a starting point.
Posted By: Proto-Pianist

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/09/18 03:58 PM

I noticed this exact same phenomenon when testing the CA-78 a month ago.

Of course, a very weak/slow strike shouldn't result in a sound (as in a real piano) but here this happened way too much. I made sure that this wasn't caused by the setting for minimum note velocity.

I then got the idea (also suggested above) to check the MIDI output. It turned out that the silent notes all had velocity 1 (or 0, don't remember which) – so this seems to be a hardware problem, and if so, using a VST or changing the velocity curve won't solve it. (I found some minor variability across notes, but for me this wasn't the main problem.)

Interestingly, the store also had a CA-98 which was much better in this respect (although it's supposed to have the same action as CA-78). The store manager simply said that these kinds of "small" differences are to be expected across different samples, and that's that. In particular, in case I'm unlucky with my sample of CA-78, this problem would not be covered by the warranty (I asked). For me this is unfortunately a deal breaker. :-(

I didn't find this problem in other DPs I tried in the store (VPC-1, Roland, Yamaha).
Posted By: Andy R

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/09/18 05:49 PM

Originally Posted by Rohit04062
[quote=JoBert]I'm going to suggest the reverse from shirl laugh

Another option I've seen on YouTube is to manually remove the escapement feature to make the keybed more consistent.


Removing the rubber letoff bumpers from my GF2 action solved the issue for me. Now the action plays like "buttah". I do NOT recommend doing this on an instrument that's still in warranty.

In an acoustic action, the letoff point is where the jack is being flipped up against the hammer butt or knuckle to send the hammer into the string free to rebound unimpeded. The hammer is actually accelerated into the string slightly by this motion. The player feels the letoff resistance in the fingers when playing softly and it actually improves the sense of control for p and pp playing. In the GF2 action, the letoff feel is replicated, but the effect on the hammer traveling to the sensor (string) is the opposite of that in an acoustic action. The letoff bumper actually creates an impediment for the hammer travel that must be overcome. I think this actually reduces the control of p and pp playing. I would rather have no letoff feel than one that reduces control.

I think this is the problem the piano teacher is having with the CA58 in the video posted earlier in the thread. You can see that for some of the "dead spots" she describes, she's stopping her playing of the note before the key is fully down. I bet she's feeling the resistance of the letoff bumper at that point. This is exactly the problem I was having.
Posted By: RonnieD

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/09/18 10:06 PM

I have the same exact issues as the OP with my CA97 grand feel II that I bought a few years ago. WILDLY inconsistent let-off. Almost imperceptible on some keys and extremely noticeable on others to the point where playing softly results in dropped/silent notes. Clicking key noise....present on several keys which is annoying because I can hear it with my headphones on. Muffled/muddled sound.

Kawai has serious QC issues. And don't buy into Kawai James' b.s. that this is shipping related/etc. The CA97 I bought was different from the one I tried in the store, and both had clicky keys/key issues. Some guy a while ago said he bought a Kawai with key issues, returned it, was delivered another one with key issues, returned it, and the third one also had key issues. Ridiculous. Am I being picky? Maybe, but if you want to call something your flagship piano, then this kind of stuff is unacceptable in my opinion. Sooner than later, I hope to get rid of my piano. Never will buy a Kawai again.
Posted By: halherta

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/09/18 11:02 PM

Yes please stop rewarding manufacturers with poor QC by buying their products. At this point there's a consensus that Kawai DPs have the most QC issues. Unless you live close (within 25Km) to a Kawai repair centre and have a decent 5Yr+ warranty, the Kawai DPs just don't make sense, despite the realism of their sound and action.
Posted By: slobajudge

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/09/18 11:39 PM

Originally Posted by Rohit04062
Another option I've seen on YouTube is to manually remove the escapement feature to make the keybed more consistent.

Can you provide that link ? Thanks in advance. Greatly appreciated
Posted By: Rohit04062

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/10/18 05:55 PM

I can't find the video anymore but here is a similar video that talks about adding a ptfe layer
https://youtu.be/KsziolVG34Y
Posted By: Rohit04062

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/10/18 06:04 PM

Originally Posted by Andy R
Originally Posted by Rohit04062
[quote=JoBert]I'm going to suggest the reverse from shirl laugh

Another option I've seen on YouTube is to manually remove the escapement feature to make the keybed more consistent.


Removing the rubber letoff bumpers from my GF2 action solved the issue for me. Now the action plays like "buttah". I do NOT recommend doing this on an instrument that's still in warranty.

In an acoustic action, the letoff point is where the jack is being flipped up against the hammer butt or knuckle to send the hammer into the string free to rebound unimpeded. The hammer is actually accelerated into the string slightly by this motion. The player feels the letoff resistance in the fingers when playing softly and it actually improves the sense of control for p and pp playing. In the GF2 action, the letoff feel is replicated, but the effect on the hammer traveling to the sensor (string) is the opposite of that in an acoustic action. The letoff bumper actually creates an impediment for the hammer travel that must be overcome. I think this actually reduces the control of p and pp playing. I would rather have no letoff feel than one that reduces control.

I think this is the problem the piano teacher is having with the CA58 in the video posted earlier in the thread. You can see that for some of the "dead spots" she describes, she's stopping her playing of the note before the key is fully down. I bet she's feeling the resistance of the letoff bumper at that point. This is exactly the problem I was having.


How did that impact the action and feel of the keyboard in general? Did you lose the escapement? Were there any negative impacts to doing what you did?
Posted By: arc7urus

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/10/18 09:46 PM

Originally Posted by Andy R
...In an acoustic action, the letoff point is where the jack is being flipped up against the hammer butt or knuckle to send the hammer into the string free to rebound unimpeded. The hammer is actually accelerated into the string slightly by this motion. The player feels the letoff resistance in the fingers when playing softly and it actually improves the sense of control for p and pp playing. In the GF2 action, the letoff feel is replicated, but the effect on the hammer traveling to the sensor (string) is the opposite of that in an acoustic action. The letoff bumper actually creates an impediment for the hammer travel that must be overcome. I think this actually reduces the control of p and pp playing. I would rather have no letoff feel than one that reduces control...

I think you are just partially right about the implementation of the let off on the GF2. I agree when you say that the let off on the GF2 is an obstacle to the hammer movement. On an acoustic you can accelerate a key near or at let off point and the action will still throw the hammer. On the GF2, accelerating the key near the let off requires extra force to overcome the rubber notch simulating the let off. So, in this situation, the GF2 is the opposite of an acoustic action.

However, the GF2 also features sensors _before_ the let off point. So, if the key is accelerated in the first part of key travel (before the let off), you can produce the full dynamic range without any interference from the let off notch. Let me put this in approximate numbers measured on a white key on my CA98 with GF2. Full stroke (from resting position to bottom-out) is 12mm. From resting position to the let off point is 8mm and from the let-off to bottom 4mm. This means that it is possible to control and accelerate a key wiithout contact with the let-off notch during the first 2/3 of key travel. If this is an issue or not will mainly depend on technique/playing style. I am not sure if removing the rubber notches would actually allow the hammer to move in a more realistic way.
Posted By: Maartin

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/11/18 03:18 PM

The Kawai CA's seem to default to quite a 'muffled' sound for anything other than FFF, but you can make it as bright as you like by adjusting the virtual technician, tone control and other settings.
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/11/18 03:20 PM

Maartin: Are you saying "muffled through speakers" or "muffled through headphones"? Or both?
Posted By: Tom F Wright

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/11/18 08:37 PM

I am the prowd (!) Owner of a CA98 and like others, have also experienced great difficulty in trying to reproduce ppp soft levels. This is partly down to the let-off mechanism used by Kawai, but do appreciate that it is there to try and mimic the feeling of a grand piano mechanism.

To get round some of these issues, I too have also totally removed the silicon strips used by the let-off mechanism. For me, this has made it a lot better now to play quieter passages, but do remember that the keys will loose that "notchy" feel if you do - and you may not like that. If in doubt, just remove one small strip and see if you like the feel better or not 😎
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/11/18 08:46 PM

Nice job. Some people like letoff, but I consider it a nuisance. It's necessary for an acoustic piano. But it's useless to me.

So ... how many strips must be removed? Is it one bit per key? Or one per octave? Or one for the entire width of the piano?
Posted By: Alexander Borro

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/11/18 09:14 PM

Originally Posted by Tom F Wright
I am the prowd (!) Owner of a CA98 and like others, have also experienced great difficulty in trying to reproduce ppp soft levels. This is partly down to the let-off mechanism used by Kawai, but do appreciate that it is there to try and mimic the feeling of a grand piano mechanism.

To get round some of these issues, I too have also totally removed the silicon strips used by the let-off mechanism. For me, this has made it a lot better now to play quieter passages, but do remember that the keys will loose that "notchy" feel if you do - and you may not like that. If in doubt, just remove one small strip and see if you like the feel better or not 😎


As a matter of interest does it effect the return speed of the key ? I presume it would, the key will jump back up more quickly to the top and not be slowed by the rubber strip. I wonder if it affects the feel of trills and repeated notes.

btw I have no intend on doing this mod. I am happy with mine. the lettof is consistent key to key on mine, and while I can't quite get he softest notes out of it like I could on my cheap Casio AP450. I feel it tallies much more realistically with an acoustic how soft you can go, soft enough. I am satisfied.

I use the default touch with the internal sounds. I feel if it gives the best balance overall for me, I tried light, sure I can get used to it and get a bit more of an ff with bite for the same effort, but that also compromises the timbre of pp, you get a better ff but a worse pp control, In other words for me it is not just about volume and dynamic range in the way Jobert describes as his best solution, but also resolution in timbre you can get. Heavy I just find too compromised for louder playing.

With VSTs I just leave it in on normal also, but max out the VST velocity at about 110 and I am set. As Gombessa notes you can get a bit of extra MIDI resolution, but for me I feel no difference whether I have around 100 steps or 127.
Posted By: Tom F Wright

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/11/18 09:32 PM

Yes basically one stop covers one octave. As I mentioned , it might be a good idea just to pull out one strip and see if you prefer it removed.

(Could post picture of the removal but not sure how to post it here on the forum - seems it has to be uploaded first to a url)
Posted By: Tom F Wright

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/11/18 09:37 PM

Not absolutely sure if there any changes once the strips are removed, but the return speed is very good and yes, trills are no problem 😎
Posted By: Andy R

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/12/18 06:04 PM

Originally Posted by Rohit04062

How did that impact the action and feel of the keyboard in general? Did you lose the escapement? Were there any negative impacts to doing what you did?


Yes, you lose the letoff feel completely. The key travel became completely smooth all the way to the bottom. That is the only thing you lose. There is no physical connection between the rubber letoff bumper and the key sensors. They are unaffected. For me, soft playing and trills are greatly improved.

Removing the bumpers is relatively easy and reversible. The back and top of the cabinet need to be removed, then the line of screws holding down the circuit boards for the sensors. Tilt the circuit boards back and the rubber bumper strips are exposed for removal. There are 7 strips of 12 bumpers and 1 strip of 4. I have stored mine in a ziplock bag for possible replacement if desired. They are covered in grease, so I had to be careful not to get any on other parts of the instrument.

Andy
Posted By: Gombessa

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/12/18 06:20 PM

Originally Posted by Andy R
Originally Posted by Rohit04062

How did that impact the action and feel of the keyboard in general? Did you lose the escapement? Were there any negative impacts to doing what you did?


Yes, you lose the letoff feel completely. The key travel became completely smooth all the way to the bottom. That is the only thing you lose. There is no physical connection between the rubber letoff bumper and the key sensors. They are unaffected. For me, soft playing and trills are greatly improved.

Removing the bumpers is relatively easy and reversible. The back and top of the cabinet need to be removed, then the line of screws holding down the circuit boards for the sensors. Tilt the circuit boards back and the rubber bumper strips are exposed for removal. There are 7 strips of 12 bumpers and 1 strip of 4. I have stored mine in a ziplock bag for possible replacement if desired. They are covered in grease, so I had to be careful not to get any on other parts of the instrument.

Andy


Interestingly, the letoff bumpers are the only part of that action that is greased, and Kawai uses a special, viscous "friction grease" that doesn't seem to be easy to source. So it's wise to try to keep the grease intact and not let it get on anything else.
Posted By: MacMacMac

Re: Kawai ca78 (grand feel 2) problems with action - 11/12/18 07:22 PM

Crisco. It's just Crisco. smile

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