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#2380037 - 01/30/15 01:27 PM A few questions (sustain pedal, key touch) about imminent DP purchase (probably ES7)
Corvus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/13
Posts: 60
I work out-of-town about 1.5-2 weeks per month, and have finally decided to get a portable DP that I can have in my hotel room when I'm away from home. I've been considering the ES7 and P255. I was hoping the P255 would be the one, since it's 10 lbs lighter and $500 cheaper, but after playing both, I found that I really preferred the two "mellow grand" options on the Kawai. The piano voices on the Yamaha were all brighter than I care for.

The pedal that comes with the ES7 is supposed to be half-pedaling capable. However, I found the resistance it offered to be so negligible compared to real piano sustain pedals, that any pressure application resulted in full depression of the pedal. Is there a way to adjust this? Or is there another half-pedal capable sustain pedal I could buy, which would have a resistance more like a real piano pedal?

Another problem I have with both the ES7 and the P255 is that the volume varies much more with touch pressure than a real piano, so that it feels over-sensitive. I'm currently working on the Kempf transcriptions of Bach's "Ich Ruff zu Dir" and "Siciliano." In both pieces, the player needs to emphasize the melody line in the right hand, while playing passing notes with the same hand at a lower volume. I find it much harder to maintain consistent volumes for the melody and accompaniment lines on these digital pianos than on real pianos. Is there a way to reduce the touch sensitivity, or some other way to compensate for this?

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#2380100 - 01/30/15 04:11 PM Re: A few questions (sustain pedal, key touch) about imminent DP purchase (probably ES7) [Re: Corvus]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3492
Loc: Pennsylvania
There is a lot of variety between pedals (both those associated with acoustic and digital pianos) in terms of how much physical resistance they provide. Usually for me adjusting from one to another hasn't been a serious issue, but I can imagine that it might be for people with more discriminating feet. Luckily, you don't seem to have a problem with where in the pedal travel the actual the half pedal range begins, so if you could stick an additional (or a stronger) spring in the physical pedal mechanism, you could get more resistance. I have had my Kawai pedal open (to grease it...it was sqeaking) and I don't remember it being really complicated in there. Unfortunately I also do not remember exactly what it looked like. I would be interested in what you are able to figure out if you do try it yourself. It seems feasible if you are DIY type of person.

From your description of the concerns with the touch sensitivity of these pianos, it sounds like the tone engines have too much dynamic range for your taste. This makes sense because DP manufacturers really ramp up this parameter in the interest of making the piano responsive. To be fair, very responsive acoustics are this way as well. Don't like it? If there isn't an actual parameter for this, consider setting the touch curve to "hard" and then increasing the volume on your piano. I imagine that the resulting loudness will be similar but you will get less responsiveness. Anyway it's something you can try in the store before buying, unlike physically modifying your pedal.


Edited by gvfarns (01/30/15 04:13 PM)

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#2380129 - 01/30/15 05:31 PM Re: A few questions (sustain pedal, key touch) about imminent DP purchase (probably ES7) [Re: Corvus]
Corvus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/13
Posts: 60
Thanks, I'll look for a touch curve setting on the ES7. I didn't notice anything like that in the controls, but I was mostly just playing through the different voices.

I have played a LOT of grand pianos, in about 10 different stores in three states, over the last three years. Some have had actions that I thought were very responsive/sensitive in a good way (a Grotrian, a Bösendorfer, and several Shigeru Kawais and Faziolis come to mind). However, I found those pianos easier to control, while the sensitivity of the digital pianos makes it harder for me to achieve consistent volume, especially when I need different volumes for two lines played by the same hand.

If I get the ES7, I'll have to see if I could possibly replace the spring with a stiffer one. I have been known to engage in DIY modifications in some situations. However, I'd rather just buy a pedal I was completely happy with!

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#2380251 - Yesterday at 12:03 AM Re: A few questions (sustain pedal, key touch) about imminent DP purchase (probably ES7) [Re: Corvus]
Joe Garfield Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/13
Posts: 172
Loc: Ohio, USA
I had the P155 (I tried the 155 and 255 side-by-side and made that choice), but I now have a Kawai. I tried the ES7 and liked it - it plays nice and I almost got it. To me it felt like a clear step above the Yamaha.

The ES7 has the same 5-setting touch curve as the piano I have. If you put the setting on Heavy it really smooths out the dynamics you are talking about. I personally don't have that problem but my point is that the differences between Light, Medium, and Heavy are well blended and effective.

Don't forget the MP7. It is a dynamite DP for potentially less money than the ES7 and with a newer sound engine. You would need external speakers but in a hotel room you'd be better off with a good set of headphones rather than the on-board ES7 speakers. But I don't mean to try to steer you, you should get what you like playing the most.

You can use almost any half pedal unit. Some are wired opposite but most are compatible or have a select switch. The Kawai pedals are OK (way better than most) but there are some that do feel a lot more realistic. I have one I got for $30 that feels great but it's not 1/2 pedal compatible. Most of the time it doesn't really even matter to me.

I was at first put off by the looks of the MP pianos. I got over it pretty quickly, and despite all the buttons, when you just turn the thing on it plays a beautiful piano tone. I have the MP10 and wanted it only for piano, but truthfully I wouldn't mind having a nice organ tone stuck in there smile

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#2380256 - Yesterday at 12:19 AM Re: A few questions (sustain pedal, key touch) about imminent DP purchase (probably ES7) [Re: Corvus]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1634
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
One way to adjust the "sensitivity" of the tone, to varying touch:

. . . Use a software piano to generate the sound, rather than the
. . . tones built into the DP.

Pianoteq (and probably other software pianos) lets you do two things:

. . . Adjust the relationship between "how hard I hit the key" and "MIDI velocity"
. . . (there's a "velocity calibration" graph for that) , and

. . . Adjust the total dynamic range of the piano's volume (there's a slider for that).

Adjust the dynamic range to 30 dB, and the sound is a bit dull, and definitely compressed. [I think Pianoteq calls this "cinematic"]. Adjust the dynamic range to 60 dB, and the piano becomes unplayable, in my unpracticed hands -- I can't play a scale with constant dynamics.

Somewhere in between, is what you want.

. Charles

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#2380292 - Yesterday at 02:49 AM Re: A few questions (sustain pedal, key touch) about imminent DP purchase (probably ES7) [Re: Corvus]
Corvus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/13
Posts: 60
Thanks for the tip about the touch curve—I looked at the online manual to see how this works, and will try adjusting it when I go back to the dealer's. I'll see if they have an MP7, too.

I would like to try out Pianoteq, but I will have to get a laptop first! For more than two years, I have just been using an iPad when traveling.

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#2380712 - 58 minutes 51 seconds ago Re: A few questions (sustain pedal, key touch) about imminent DP purchase (probably ES7) [Re: Corvus]
Joe Garfield Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/13
Posts: 172
Loc: Ohio, USA
Good luck, I hope you find something you love. Beyond the touch curve, there is also Hammer Delay (on the MP7, not sure about ES7)- while it is a different function it does affect the way you play and therefore has the result of different dynamic response. If you are just trying stuff in the store and don't have all day, I wouldn't worry much about it. But it is another 'lever to pull' to make the response more to your liking. The function is as the name implies, a slight time adjustment between where you perceive the hammer to hit and when the sound is produced. 1 is the stock setting, 2 is the stock setting for the '12 Foot Grand' Setup tone that I like the best, 3 starts to feel like an actual delay or unrealistic, and 0 is the opposite end of that spectrum. I think the range is 0-5, but 1-2 seem to be the most usable and natural feeling.

Note that things like attack, sustain, and decay are all settings that can be changed. As such, each different tone has its own settings, and if you play the Jazz Grand Piano, you might find the dynamic response to be a little smoother or muted. If the sound is not bright enough for that setting, you can change that pretty quickly.

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