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#2454821 - Today at 01:23 PM Leaning Towards a Kawai ES8
AZ_Astro Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 600
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
I have been learning piano for 4 years now and have (only recently) began to become unhappy with the regulation of my current digital keyboards. My son and I have three, a Yamaha P-90, Korg SP-250, and a Casio AP-500. We also have an acoustic grand piano, a KG-5C.

It's time for an upgrade and after agonizing over the Yamaha P-255 for awhile, the recent release of the Kawai ES8 has me leaning in that direction.

Stealing from various threads and marketing literature, I made the following comparison of the keyboards I am looking at right now: MP7, MP11, VPC1, ES7, ES8

Prices are approximate only.

Thumbnail Sketches of the MP7, MP11, VPC1, ES7 and ES8:

MP7... The Performer's Stage Piano

With stunning Acoustic Pianos, Vintage Electric Pianos, Classic Tonewheel Organ, Masterful MIDI Controller and Impeccable Feel, the Kawai MP7 is the stage piano for the professional musician that does not accept compromise.

• 40 pianos, Concert Grand, Studio Grand, Pop Piano, Upright Piano, the concert grand sound is reportedly the same as the sample on the MP 11
• 256 Voices including 10 pianos with 4 variants of each
• Harmonic Imaging XL
• RH2 Action with Let-off, Ivory Touch and Triple Sensor Detection
• 256 Note polyphony
• Virtual Technician capability – voicing, resonance, damper, delay, noises
• Reverb: Room, Lounge, Small Hall, Concert Hall, Live Hall, Cathedral
• 100 Drum Patterns
• 46 lbs
• Release: Jan 2015
• $1799

MP11... Professional Stage Piano - No Compromises

For professional musicians who do not accept compromises, the MP11 offers the most authentic action, the most realistic sound, and the most control. The MP11 unquestionably delivers the finest piano experience in a professional stage piano.

• 12 different pianos, classic concert grand, pop piano, jazz piano, upright, mono
• 40 Voices including 12 pianos
• Harmonic Imaging XL
• GF (Grand Feel) wooden-key action with Let-off, Triple Sensors and Ivory-touch surfaces
• 256 Note polyphony
• Virtual Technician – customize virtually every element
• Triple Pedal Assembly included – Damper, Sostenuto and Soft
• Reverb: Room, Lounge, Small Hall, Concert Hall, Live Hall, Cathedral
• 100 Drum Patterns
• 71.5 lbs
• $2799

VPC1 – Virtual piano controller

• No sound generator, no voices, no accompaniment
• RM3II Wooden-kay, graded-hammer action w/counterbalancing with let-off, ivory touch and triple sensor detection
• Plug and play
• Space for laptop or midi device
• Customized touch curves
• 3 pedals
• $1500ish

ES7 – Portable DP, a simple digital piano with great sound and touch

• 32 voices (PIANO1, PIANO2, E.PIANO, ORGAN, HARPSI/MALLETS, STRINGS/CHOIR, BASS)
• Responsive Hammer II (RHII) action with Let-Off, Triple sensors, Ivory Touch key surfaces
• Progressive Harmonic Imaging™ (PHI)
• 256 Note polyphony
• Voicing: Normal, Mellow 1, Mellow 2 , Dynamic, Bright 1, Bright 2
• Styles: 100 rhythms (x 2 variations), 4-part accompaniment, 100 preset chord sequences
• Type: Room, Lounge, Small Hall, Concert Hall, Live Hall, Cathedral
• Speakers, 15Watts x 2.
• Released: Aug 2013
• 49 lbs
• $1799

ES8 – Portable DP, a simple digital piano with great sound and touch

• 34 voices (10 pianos, 10 E-pianos)
• In addition to the EX concert grand sounds, the ES8 also features the new SK-EX and SK-5 sounds previously only available on the larger Concert Artist models.
• 34 voices (PIANO1, PIANO2, E.PIANO, ORGAN, HARPSI/MALLETS, STRINGS/CHOIR, BASS)
• Responsive Hammer III (RHIII) action with Let-Off, Ivory Touch keys, Triple Sensor, and Counterweights
• Harmonic Imaging™ XL (HI-XL), Harmonic Imaging XL on the ES8 is identical to that of the MP7 (and MP11, CA97/CA67/ CA17).
• 256 Note polyphony
• Voicing: Normal, Mellow 1, Mellow 2 , Dynamic, Bright 1, Bright 2, User 1~4
• Virtual Technician function - Touch Curve: Light+, Light, Normal, Heavy, Heavy+, Off (Constant), User 1, User 2
• Styles: 100 rhythms (x 2 variations), 4-part accompaniment, 100 preset chord sequences
• Type: Room, Lounge, Small Hall, Concert Hall, Live Hall, Cathedral
• 10 song, 2 track recorder – approximately 90,000 note memory capacity
• Playback: MP3, WAV, SMF
• Record: MP3, WAV
• Speakers: (8 x 12 cm) x 2
• Output Power: 15 Watts x 2
• Released: Aug 2015
• 49.6 lbs
• $1999

***

Of primary importance to me is the feel of the keys and the sound. I have been unable to express dynamic shading easily with the starter keyboards.

I am not a professional, just an in-home tinkler of the keys. I love the idea of going all the way to the Grand Feel action but I think I would be very happy with the RH3. Price and weight come into play there, I think.

If I'm not mistaken, the samples included with the ES8 (and the RH3 action!) come from the CA25/35 products but utilize HI-XL rendering. The samples include two Shigeru Kawai models and the Kawai EX concert grand! To me, this is a big upgrade from the ES-7 but it all comes down to the sound emitted.

My biggest concern is that I will hate the onboard sampled sounds, even with high quality headphones or the Rokit 8 studio monitors that I have. I have yet to hear a digital piano with onboard sounds that I really like, but I remain hopeful. I recognize that I haven't heard ANY high end digitals in person. At home, I play Ivory II and am sometimes quite satisfied.

I probably need to hear the ES8. Anyway, if anyone has any thoughts on the subject, I'm all fingers and ears!





Edited by AZ_Astro (Today at 01:41 PM)
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2454824 - Today at 01:38 PM Re: Leaning Towards a Kawai ES8 [Re: AZ_Astro]
newbert Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/02/13
Posts: 503
Loc: Upstate New York, USA
You said:

"I .... began to become unhappy with the regulation of my current digital keyboards.", and

" My biggest concern is that I will hate the onboard sampled sounds, even with high quality headphones. I have yet to hear a digital piano with onboard sounds that I really like, but I remain hopeful. I play Ivory II and am sometimes quite satisfied."

It seems that you are looking for a higher-quality action/feel, but don't usually hold on-board sounds in high regard. If that's an accurate assessment, I think that the VPC1 might be the way to go for you. -- Especially since already use a MIDI keyboard to play Ivory II.

I felt the same way about my DGX640. I rarely used the onboard sounds. I eventually used it mainly as a MIDI controller with Pianoteq, but eventually wanted a better action. So, I sold it and went with the VPC1 and have been very happy.

That, and the VPC1 is the lowest price option listed above, as well.

That said, you may find it difficult finding a store with a VPC1 on display to try. That was the case with me, so it took me quite a while to decide to "chance" it and order it online. If you order online from a reliable vendor with a good return policy, you might also want to go that route. It worked out for me.

Good Luck with your decision.
_________________________
Bert


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#2454826 - Today at 01:47 PM Re: Leaning Towards a Kawai ES8 [Re: newbert]
AZ_Astro Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 600
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
Originally Posted By newbert

It seems that you are looking for a higher-quality action/feel, but don't usually hold on-board sounds in high regard. If that's an accurate assessment, I think that the VPC1 might be the way to go for you. -- Especially since already use a MIDI keyboard to play Ivory II.

Good Luck with your decision.



I guess I'm holding out the hope that if I can find a digital keyboard with Great Sounds, then that would be preferable to using the software pianos which have their own idiosyncracies! With software pianos, I can (just) feel the latency and I also do get cracks and pops creeping in periodically.

VPC1 is a strong candidate, and I guess if I listened to an ES8 in person and tested it out, and were unhappy with the emitted sound, I would go the VPC1 route.

With all the feedback that has been given on the Grand Feel action, I don't feel like I need to check that out in person. I'm pretty confident that I will like it a lot.

Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, I'll almost certainly have to order the keyboard on-line.


Edited by AZ_Astro (Today at 01:49 PM)
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2454835 - Today at 02:33 PM Re: Leaning Towards a Kawai ES8 [Re: AZ_Astro]
ElmerJFudd Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 692
The ES8 is the obvious pick here.
Looking at the specs, what's not to like?
In general most on board sounds on any DP are at least serviceable.
But even folks that buy the motherships... MP11... even the Avant Grand still choose to run software pianos anyway.

Play the internal sounds till they bore you, then take a USB cable and check out what software has to offer. Either way, the ES8 is a nice pick.

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#2454842 - Today at 02:48 PM Re: Leaning Towards a Kawai ES8 [Re: AZ_Astro]
Hendrik42 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/15
Posts: 205
Loc: Germany
As it was said above, your focus in on keys/action. Of course you would like a system with great keys and great sounds more.

So I think what you absolutely have to do is to weight the VPC action against the ES8 action & sounds package. Only you can do that and you can only do it in real life.

So if you can not test them both somewhere, I would recommend that you order both from the same shop and return the one you like less.

I guess it will be a hard choice. Nicer action vs needing to boot a second device :-)
_________________________
Kawai CN35. Daughter wanted a piano, so we got one. Now who'll learn faster? ;-)

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#2454850 - Today at 03:11 PM Re: Leaning Towards a Kawai ES8 [Re: AZ_Astro]
dynamobt Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 882
Loc: NH
I watch these discussions with great interest. Eventually, noise will be a factor in our living environment. I will certainly buy a digital piano then. Ease of use will be one of the main factors when I buy. And the ES8 certainly has that. Virtual piano sounds will likely never be an issue for me as I am so technologically challenged I doubt I ever figure them out.

Anyway I watch and learn.
_________________________
1918 Mason & Hamlin BB





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#2454859 - Today at 03:51 PM Re: Leaning Towards a Kawai ES8 [Re: AZ_Astro]
AZ_Astro Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 600
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
After reading up on all of these models and compiling the comparison info, I figured that someone else will want to see the same comparison. Hence I posted the info for everyone.

Interesting comments from all.

ElmerFudd: "What's not to like?" Yes, I am excited about the specs of the ES8.

Hendrik42: "your focus in on keys/action" Yes, and I think RH3 will satisfy me for 3-5 years, by which time digital pianos will be in the next generation.

Dynamobt: "Ease of use." This is also a consideration for me, as is portability and price.

***

Hmmm, I guess I could prioritize my desires:

1) Great keyboard action (uniform, solid, grand piano like)
2) Ability to play quickly (key speed) and expressively (dynamics)
2) Great sound
3) Lower price
4) Ease of use
5) Portability
6) USB/MIDI/computer connectivity
7) Odds and ends, like other sounds and/or accompaniment patterns. These are pretty low priority for me.






Edited by AZ_Astro (Today at 03:53 PM)
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2454869 - Today at 04:45 PM Re: Leaning Towards a Kawai ES8 [Re: AZ_Astro]
peterws Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 4462
Loc: Northern England.
Might i advise. . .Dont accept that any keyboard is The One without trying first, along with a variety of others, utilising some suitable test song or passage. You might be surprised by the outcome. . . having said that, the ES7 and particularly ES8 look like winners in my book. I am considering these for future, the action is good.

Trouble is, Im very happy with my own, and could seriously regret selling it. . . Decisions, decisions!

Have fun!
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes � but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2454884 - Today at 05:59 PM Re: Leaning Towards a Kawai ES8 [Re: AZ_Astro]
Finfan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/15
Posts: 70
Loc: Arizona USA
I thought there was a Kawai dealer in Phoenix. Can't you simply go there and check one out? Actually playing the models you like should answer most of your questions.
_________________________
Yamaha P105

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#2454887 - Today at 06:06 PM Re: Leaning Towards a Kawai ES8 [Re: Finfan]
AZ_Astro Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 600
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
Originally Posted By Finfan
I thought there was a Kawai dealer in Phoenix. Can't you simply go there and check one out? Actually playing the models you like should answer most of your questions.


I was there last week and didn't see any digital pianos there. But I'll call and ask.
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2454896 - Today at 06:18 PM Re: Leaning Towards a Kawai ES8 [Re: AZ_Astro]
spanishbuddha Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2639
Loc: UK
I'm with peterws here, and can't believe people are gushing over the ES8 without having tried it. It may well be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but also may not be the one for you.

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#2454915 - 10 minutes 41 seconds ago Re: Leaning Towards a Kawai ES8 [Re: AZ_Astro]
ElmerJFudd Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 692
Ah, it's not even a stretch to know what the ES8 sounds and feels like. It's all trickle down from Kawai's pricier boards. Incremental update, and a good one. The rest is same as ES7 which was pretty good to begin with.

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