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mucci Offline OP
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Hi,

I just bought the brand new KAWAI CA-63 and am very happy with it: Key action and touch and sound is very good.

I noticed something with my headphones though that annoys me: When I play a loud chord and then repeat it quiet with damper pedal down, I hear a cracking noise. It sounds a little bit like the cracking noise of an old gramophone record.

After some investigation I can clearly connect the problem to the damper effect. When I set the damper effect to off, the noise is no longer there, and when I set the damper effect to 10 (=maximum) it is noticeably louder.

Can anyone else reproduce this? It is really annoying and clearly noticeable all the time I play something with lots of damper pedal down.

Any advice would be very welcome!


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Is the crackling noise only there when you listen via headphones?

If so I think this is a little strange as I would have thought that the headphone socket took its output from the same 'source' as the main amplification that feeds the speakers, though earlier in the chain.

Is it possible that it's also present through the loudspeakers but the headphones reveal it more because of the greater clarity?

(Of course I'm probably talking nonsense.)

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mucci Offline OP
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Originally Posted by John_B
Is the crackling noise only there when you listen via headphones?

If so I think this is a little strange as I would have thought that the headphone socket took its output from the same 'source' as the main amplification that feeds the speakers, though earlier in the chain.

Is it possible that it's also present through the loudspeakers but the headphones reveal it more because of the greater clarity?

(Of course I'm probably talking nonsense.)


No nonsense at all, since this would also come to my mind at first! smile

I can only hear the noise through the headphones (Beyerdynamic DT770), but it may well be that it's also present through the loudspeakers. Maybe I didn't notice it through the loudspeakers since I would not like to disturb our neighbours and my sleeping daughters, and because there is more detail detectable though headphones. But still it's annoying anyway since I mostly play through my headphones...

Last edited by kawaian; 02/09/10 04:50 AM.

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Call your dealer, report the problem and ask for their help to resolve it.

Kawai is notorious for launching products with problems; do a search on CA91 on this forum for examples.

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Hopefully Kawai James will come across this thread and provide some inputs.

The only thing I can think of is opening the damper up by depressing the sustain/damper pedal allows sympathetic resonance sounds from nearby vibrating strings to be heard. If there's a problem with these sympathetic resonance sampled sounds that causes cracking noise, maybe that's what you're hearing. Crackling noises may also be heard when there's distortion or clipping of the sound when it hits the ceiling. I don't know what that has to do with the sympathetic resonance sounds, but maybe something's screwed up in the processing of these sounds that might have caused distortion/clipping. Another thing is that if sympathetic resonance sounds were not sampled but get artificially produced and/or processed somehow through looping or stretching or whatever, maybe you're just hearing the unpleasant artifacts or byproducts of this creation.

All wild guesses here. The best bet is to find someone with the same model and see if they hear the same thing or not (or try out another same model at the dealer). If the same thing can be heard from another one, then it may be a design flaw and not an issue with your device only.

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mucci Offline OP
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@theJourney and @Volusiano, thanks for the input!

I can hear the same crackling noise on the demo model at the local dealer... It only happens when damper resonance is activated, and is very obvious when setting the resonance level to maximum (10/10). But even at default setting (5/10) it's still very noticeable... Too bad, since the resonance is an important part of realistic sound and joyful playing...


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kawaian,

That probably indicates a design problem, although it is possible that both CA-63s were part of a bad batch.

I suggest you get your dealer to raise the matter forcefully with Kawai. I would guess that Kawai would be eager to rectify the problem as it has the potential to greatly harm sales.

Pity as the CA-63 was on my short list in the event of buying a new DP.

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Originally Posted by John_B
kawaian,

That probably indicates a design problem, although it is possible that both CA-63s were part of a bad batch.

I suggest you get your dealer to raise the matter forcefully with Kawai. I would guess that Kawai would be eager to rectify the problem as it has the potential to greatly harm sales.

Pity as the CA-63 was on my short list in the event of buying a new DP.


+1

I owned a Kawai MP8 for 2 years and I remember similar problems with it.

I appreciate the efforts of Kawai in giving us a wooden keyboard with probably the most realistic dp action at a reasonable price, but they should work more on the bugs that affect the piano sound.

I hope that the problem will be fixed soon by Kawai.

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Doesn't Kawai test its new models ? Is it so difficult to discover problems that customers find the very first day ?

I also planned to buy a ca 63 or 93 but with all the problems already encountered (is there still the minimal amount of sound how slowly you depress a key ?), I'm not sure anymore.

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Okay, tonight I did some more investigation regarding this issue:

It is definitely a problem of the damper resonance, combined with a quite dull mechanism to cut notes / effects, which should not occur on a sound system which claims to have 192 notes polyphony:

You can try for yourself if you have a CA63 or CA93, it's easily reproductible:
Press a lower key very loud with damper pedal down. Then press some higher notes very softly. Exactly after the 10th keypress the damper resonance effect of the loud low key is cut all of a sudden with a noticeable cracking and disappears.

I have no idea why KAWAI cuts the resonance already after the 10. keystroke. That happens all the time in many different music pieces! What about the 192 note polyphony? Where is it? Or is it just a poor design of the cut off algorithm? This should be fixed with a firmware update as soon as possible...

At least I found a temporary workaround that helps a little bit with this without setting the essential damper resonance effect to off: Just switch of the key-off effect. I can't hear a difference whether the key-off effect is on of off, so this is no problem for me. After that you can press 20 keys before the resonance off happens (including the crackling). That way the issue is not that obvious but still there.

Last edited by kawaian; 02/09/10 07:11 PM.

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Could it be, that the harmonic resonance of the strings is produced by playing back and mixing each respective sound sample of every note that resonates?

If it is, that would clearly drive even a 192-note-polyphony to its limits quite quickly. Your observation with deactivating the key-off-samples would fit into that explanation, for you save 10 extra samples while playing your ten keystrokes before the cut-off kicks in.

This is just a wild guess though - i have no clue how the string resonance internally works.

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Well, KawaiJames has been on here saying that the Kawai sound production technique is not comparable with others making the polyphony comparisons across brands not meaningful.

However, it may be possible that from mono to stereo you lose half, then for each effect added you lose half again very quickly leaving you with next to no polyphony.

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I also discovered this issue when trying the CA63 this week. I have to say that the cracking noise was really disturbing. This was also the first time I tried a Kawai digital with interest and my impression is that despite the cracking noise the samplings are not good at all, very similar to the previous models. I can also tell you that I used very good headphones for this assessment. Now I'm not interested in Kawai anymore.

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The keyboard touch is what finally drove me to buy the CA63, this is the best keyboard action I've ever tried (except the real thing of course). The piano sound is a matter of taste, I'm quite pleased with it. But the cracking noise is a no-go! I really hope that KAWAI is going to fix this soon, otherwise I have to bring this beautiful DP back to my dealer. You MIGHT ignore this while playing live, but for a recording this is by no means acceptable.

Last edited by kawaian; 02/10/10 07:56 AM.

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kawaian,

What has your dealer said about this?

Has he taken the matter up with Kawai?

What has Kawai said?

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I have not yet been talking to the dealer since I only recently discovered the issue (I just got the DP on Saturday). I requested a statement on this on the official German KAWAI forum (www.kawai.de), but no answer yet...



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Wow, this thread is fascinating! Sounds like a software bug to me: running out of real-time, a mis-handled interrupt, or an algorithm error (most likely the latter). Smaller manufacturers are more prone to QC issues IMO, which makes me a bit leery of them.

Great sleuthing work kawaian! And I hope they can resolve your & their problem.

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kawaian,

Do talk to your dealer as soon as you have the opportunity to do so. Kawai are much more likely to take notice of a complaint funnelled through a Kawai dealer, who can confirm the fault and (hopefully) push for a resolution.

I wonder whether KAWAIJames has seen this thread and whether he will alert Kawai to the problem (though I would guess they are already aware).

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Originally Posted by John_B

Do talk to your dealer as soon as you have the opportunity to do so.


Thanks John_B, I'll do so for sure!


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kawaian,

Thank you for highlighting this important issue.

My colleagues were informed of the matter immediately after reading your initial report, and have prepared a software update to resolve both the 'crackling' sound and polyphony management issues that you are experiencing.

This software update is currently being tested by KAWAI Europe, and once approved, will be made available via www.kawai.de.

I shall also contact you directly by private message as soon as the software update is publicly available.

Finally, on behalf of everyone at KAWAI, may I apologise for any inconvenience or displeasure that this issue might have caused. We are most grateful for your detailed bug report, and greatly appreciate your continued patience while the software update is being finalised.

Kind regards,
James
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