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Originally Posted by Kawai James
Interesting thread, however I wonder how realistic some of these new features are.

Currently, I'm reading "please add lots of new features while also reducing the price".

As for (in-store) marketing, the VPC1 is a difficult product for some dealers to display, as it requires additional hardware to function.

Kind regards,
James
x


Hence why it should include an inbuilt PC of some kind i.e., pre-loaded with a VST like Pianoteq. I agree with the comment that the VPC1 was under-marketed. I've been to a number of very good digital piano stores and not seen one VPC-1 available for testing. You pretty much have to buy it online or on order without testing.

As for cost, I am in favour of a modular approach: provide cheap base unit but offer additional accessories tailor made for Kawai products. That way, the R&D can be spread of a number of product lines e.g., Onkyo amplification options for the ES8, MP11/MP7, VPC1 etc. One of the things digital instrument manufacturers haven't done since the modular HX series electones is create a series of instruments or optional extras that people can save up for and purchase over time.

I do think that the VPC1 has a market as is; however, I think with a bit of thought, it could be extending it's potential demographic and appeal.


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Originally Posted by Kawai James
Interesting thread, however I wonder how realistic some of these new suggestions truly are.

Currently, I'm reading "please add lots of new features while also reducing the price".

Kind regards,
James
x


Only one post up until yours stated that they would like to see the price lowered.

There were others stating that the price would likely increase with the "additions" - and they were "OK" with that. smile

If it was reasonable.


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Originally Posted by Kawai James
Interesting thread, however I wonder how realistic some of these new suggestions truly are.

Currently, I'm reading "please add lots of new features while also reducing the price".

As for (in-store) marketing, the VPC1 is a difficult product for some dealers to display, as it requires additional hardware to function.

Kind regards,
James
x


I'd state my suggestions succinctly as:
1) give it the best action possible in a slab form factor
2) modernize its electronics and make it as future-proof as possible
3) sell it for the same price in the US as in Europe

As for adding a single piano sound-- I think that gets away from the goal of having a Virtual Piano Controller and creates a stage piano.

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My feature request is pretty simple as well, James.

-Make it out of 24k gold.

-Put a real a Renner acoustic grand action in it (none of this Kawai junk).

-Give it a next generation fully modeled piano sound in it. Nothing fancy, we don't need strings or wind instruments, just a completely realistic piano generator that can replicate any acoustic piano sound from 1930 or so on.

- Drop the weight. Not by an unrealistic amount, but we have materials like carbon fiber, carbon nanotubes, etc. Why not use them? A lot of midi controllers are less than 25lb, why not simply make the vpc-2 26-28lb?

- respectfully suggest that Kawai do their research on market. $1800 for a piano controller is out of the range of many potential purchasers. Does Kawai even bother to think that if they price the above vpc-2 at $99.99, they'd get SO MANY new customers? They'd be rich, and you could personally get that sweet, sweet holiday bonus of 30% over target (easily) if it's released within the next 2 weeks! It's so elementary and such a win-win.

Ok, chop chop now. We've just given you such a gold mine off business acumen, for free even!

(And in all seriousness, after seeing these threads I can easily appreciate the patience and scrutiny that experienced UX researchers need to have to tease actionable desires and impactful changes out from the cruft of unrealistic ideas we collectively have across the internet!)




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Originally Posted by Gombessa
My feature request is pretty simple as well, James.

-Make it out of 24k gold.

-Put a real a Renner acoustic grand action in it (none of this Kawai junk).

-Give it a next generation fully modeled piano sound in it. Nothing fancy, we don't need strings or wind instruments, just a completely realistic piano generator that can replicate any acoustic piano sound from 1930 or so on.

- Drop the weight. Not by an unrealistic amount, but we have materials like carbon fiber, carbon nanotubes, etc. Why not use them? A lot of midi controllers are less than 25lb, why not simply make the vpc-2 26-28lb?

- respectfully suggest that Kawai do their research on market. $1800 for a piano controller is out of the range of many potential purchasers. Does Kawai even bother to think that if they price the above vpc-2 at $99.99, they'd get SO MANY new customers? They'd be rich, and you could personally get that sweet, sweet holiday bonus of 30% over target (easily) if it's released within the next 2 weeks! It's so elementary and such a win-win.

Ok, chop chop now. We've just given you such a gold mine off business acumen, for free even!



You want fries with that? smile

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I want a 1-octave version!


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Originally Posted by Gombessa
My feature request is pretty simple as well, James...


Wow, some great suggestions there, thank you very much! wink

Cheers,
James
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The VPC1 is already a near perfect piano for its intended audience. Most ideas kicked around here would make it worse (including the serious ones).

There is only one single respect in which it can be perfected: the action. To be the perfect controller for pianists, it would require GF2 or whatever is the best action at the time. I already own a CS11 but I would buy a VPC2 right now to be a second piano if it had this feature.

And no, GF Compact absolutely does not count and would be a most unwelcome half-measure.

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An option for a nice, integrated stand! (for home use, maybe another for road use)

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Originally Posted by gvfarns
The VPC1 is already a near perfect piano for its intended audience. Most ideas kicked around here would make it worse (including the serious ones).

There is only one single respect in which it can be perfected: the action. To be the perfect controller for pianists, it would require GF2 or whatever is the best action at the time. I already own a CS11 but I would buy a VPC2 right now to be a second piano if it had this feature.

And no, GF Compact absolutely does not count and would be a most unwelcome half-measure.

Pretty much undeniable. I might like feature X, you want feature Y, someone else wants features A-Z. Few of us would object to options (I'd love a dedicated stand) - but improving upon the VPC's place in the piano-sphere by doing the one thing virtually everyone agrees would be an improvement - a no brainer!

Then, you folks at Kawai, teach retailers HOW to display it, and provide incentive and tools to do so.

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For what it's worth, I too would *personally* love to see a VPC1 furniture stand and/or speaker system.

However, wishing for something or having an idea is one thing...the product planning team need to make the numbers add-up before anything can go ahead into production.

Kind regards,
James
x


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Being together (?) with Onkyo now it certainly is a bit easier to create a good external speaker system on a stand for VPC1. Whether Kawai would like to do it is another story.


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There are lots of good ideas here. But I wonder ...

1. How many of these ideas could equally be applied to other pianos, either slabs or consoles. Or both. Answer: Nearly all of them.

2. Some of these ideas already appear in other pianos. So adding them to the VPC makes it more like those others. So why not just buy one of those others?

3. What makes the VPC distinct in the market? Answer: It's lack of a tone generator (and speakers). There are already controllers that fit that mold, but the VPC distinguishes itself with a full 88-key keyboard and a fine quality action.

Item 3 is what makes the VPC unique. So its market will be driven by the portion of players/artists who want a piano (not a controller), and who also don't want/don't need/don't like a built-in sound system.

That translates to "VST piano player". (That's me, for one.)

This brings me back to #2, above. Just buy a slab with the best action possible. If you don't want/need the sounds, turn 'em off and use a VST. (I operate my Clav in that mode. I gave up trying to get good sound from it.)

Now, if a slab with a truly superior action is not available, then I'd like to see the VPC re-imagined as an MP11 slab with the VPC action (let's call it MP12, just for grins), minus the tone generator ... at a price lower than the MP11.

Price and action are the main reasons driving this. Top action wanted. Console not needed. Sounds not needed.
The existing VPC comes close. But right now it costs too much (for me).
But put Kawai's best action in there ... and keep the existing price ... and there's my next piano.

Next item/question: What is Kawai thinking when they see dealers displaying a VPC with no computer attached? It's unplayable! Very disappointing.

Why not offer a VST-in-a-box as a demonstrator kiosk? A standalone auto-booting computer with just one piano sound. With a headphone jack.
Hookups? One power cord and one MIDI (or USB) cable from the piano. So easy even a caveman could do it.

Or maybe Kawai doesn't expect the VPC to sell on the showroom floor, depending instead upon online sales???

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Originally Posted by Kawai James
For what it's worth, I too would *personally* love to see a VPC1 furniture stand and/or speaker system.
Kind regards,
James
x


I find that with Pianoteq at least, not all of the pianos sound so good through the onboard speakers as they do through headphones. So separate speakers and tweakable amplifier would be preferable. And decent line-outs would help for live playing.


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I fully agree with those above who point out that the unique position of the VPC1 in the market is based on the formula "top action + good case + nothing else". Let's add: Its ability to change and to adapt velocity curves. In my experience this makes a huge plus for discerning pianists, and while many VSTs may have a curve editor as well, others may not, or may have cumbersome interfaces, and some of us (like myself) will want to play other hardware instruments from the VPC.

For a next generation VPC, by all means keep this formula. Keep price as low as possible by NOT putting anything beyond a (or rather, the...) top action and a velocity curve editor into a suitable casing. And make the entire thing as durable as possible.


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Originally Posted by Kawai James
For what it's worth, I too would *personally* love to see a VPC1 furniture stand and/or speaker system.

However, wishing for something or having an idea is one thing...the product planning team need to make the numbers add-up before anything can go ahead into production.

Kind regards,
James
x


smile


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Originally Posted by Kawai James
For what it's worth, I too would *personally* love to see a VPC1 furniture stand and/or speaker system.

However, wishing for something or having an idea is one thing...the product planning team need to make the numbers add-up before anything can go ahead into production.

Kind regards,
James
x


PLEASE tell them to make it look like a quality stand with 4 separate legs (like the 2 legs on the NV10, etc.) - and not the !@#$%^& stands like the ones for the ES8/ES110.


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Originally Posted by pwl
Originally Posted by gvfarns
The VPC1 is already a near perfect piano for its intended audience. Most ideas kicked around here would make it worse (including the serious ones).

There is only one single respect in which it can be perfected: the action. To be the perfect controller for pianists, it would require GF2 or whatever is the best action at the time. I already own a CS11 but I would buy a VPC2 right now to be a second piano if it had this feature.

And no, GF Compact absolutely does not count and would be a most unwelcome half-measure.

Pretty much undeniable. I might like feature X, you want feature Y, someone else wants features A-Z. Few of us would object to options (I'd love a dedicated stand) - but improving upon the VPC's place in the piano-sphere by doing the one thing virtually everyone agrees would be an improvement - a no brainer!

Then, you folks at Kawai, teach retailers HOW to display it, and provide incentive and tools to do so.



Here are the VPC1's strong points:

1) Aesthetics are quite nice
2) Action compared to other controllers
3) It's simplicity (no extra nonsense)
4) It's price (not too expensive considering it's niche market and the better action).

Here are the VPC1's drawbacks:

1) It relies upon external computers for sound, which are sometimes unreliable for gigging.
2) It's heavy compared to other controllers you might gig with.
3) Its curved surface is nice to look at but not great for balancing a laptop on.
4) Its one piece in a multiple equipment set-up, and consumers are left with lots of annoying choice when it comes to picking external amplification, computer hardware, stands, etc. All this makes the instrument a much bigger investment in time/effort when considering a purchase.

If Kawai were to generate a live and studio version (light vs heavy) and do something about the sound source instability, then that would open up a new market for them. That is my angle with this: the product as it is creates quite a restricted market which probably is pretty saturated. Maybe this is why Kawai haven't rushed out a VPC2. It's not great for gigging due to weight and sound source stability (so the market is home/studio). It's not easy to design a VST setup (so those who want something like this but not the associated hassle are left to compromise with an out the box Roland FP-90).

Sure, if they replace the action and neaten up the aesthetics some more, then a small number of VPC1 users will upgrade, and a few more will buy fresh. Does that warrant the extra investment? The question for the designer is: how can they increase the demand for the product to make the extra R&D spend worth while?


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Personally, I have the feeling that finding the right balance for the VPC is REALLY hard for Kawai, because its niche is so small/specific.

How much more can it cost to throw an existing ES110/ES8/MP7 mainboard and amp setup into the VPC-1? Considering the designs and manufacturing for these are already completed, probably not much from a straight BOM perspective. The majority of the cost is likely already accounted for in its existing materials, namely the manufacture and assembly of the action, and the case/frame. So if Kawai could slap a sound module in for relatively low incremental cost, why don't they do so? Because then the VPC-1 is no longer just a piano controller, it's more or less a full fledged DP, and has to compete directly with other DPs in the market, including Kawai's own, and they have to then worry about adjusting market segmentation, cannibalization from other products, etc. As it is right now, it stands alone, and its fundamental limitations as a controller means you're not going to find too many MP11 or CA-78 buyers thinking they can save $1000+ to get nearly the same thing.

Tl;dr: I think the likelihood of many upgrades for the VPC-1 has very little to do with how "easy" or "inexpensive" these features are, and a lot more to do whether they fit into Kawai's role for the VPC (or whether Kawai is willing to fundamentally change that role).


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Originally Posted by Doug M.
...those who want something like this but not the associated hassle are left to compromise with an out the box Roland FP-90.


Or a Kawai ES8. wink

James
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