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#664399 - 08/27/07 03:00 AM Kawai MP5 Review & Soft Pedal
Jamble Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/07
Posts: 33
Loc: Boston, Mass., USA
Hi,

***Note: Soft pedal now seems to be working OK. See thread below.***

General comments/review below.

First, however, I'd be interested in the impression of other MP owners with respect to the soft pedal.

Specifically, from what I can tell, the implementation is fairly weak. I purchased an M-Audio SP2 pedal (a very so-so pedal, but functional as a soft pedal) and have it plugged into the foot-switch jack; soft pedal assigned to it.

Basically, the soft piano sound does not engage consistently. And, when it does, it sounds really weak----like it turns the volume down a slight notch, but the sound is not like a true soft-pedal sound. (Same issue with the sostenuto.)

The pedal unit does work, as I've experimented assigning other commands to it.

The other thing I noticed, the key off samples are inaudible. I turned it up to maximum in the mix, but still could not hear anything. To compare, I played through Steinberg's The Grand 2, which also has key off samples, and they are very audible.

My MP5 is otherwise in perfect condition. I am wondering whether this is a problem requiring a firmware update?

With the exception of these two issues, I find the MP5 to be an all around great piece of equipment. Now that I've settled down a bit and have a house, I set up a project studio at home, which is where the MP5 resides. As a MIDI controller and digital piano, I find it to be the best on the market at present, at the price level.

It's a very new model, and there are few reviews as yet on the internet, so I thought I'd write a few words about it.

Basically, it has the same samples and electronic innards are the forthcoming MP8II. Its MIDI functioning is seamless, although note: it's compatible with GM but does not have a full GM sound bank. To many, including me, this doesn't matter. On board sounds range from usable to excellent.

As a piano, the feel of the keys are quite good. It's different from the previous MP4, in some subtle ways, but I would have to have them side-by-side to really compare. The action is lighter than most grand pianos, but not overly so. And, the key action I find definitely lends itself to expressive playing. I preferred it to the Yamaha CP series DPs I tried. I liked the feel of Roland's 700DX keys equally to the MP5, but the Roland costs US$1000 more for features I don't need. The only step up in terms of keyboard action, to me, was the MP8/soon MP8II with wooden keys, and I might have bought it were I not already in the market for an acoustic piano.

My principal instrument is guitar---jazz, although I studied classical piano formally for many years. I point that out to put my comments into context. A professional pianist may feel differently towards the MP5 than I do. That said, I felt the MP5 handled well as I played through various pieces, including Beethoven's Piano Sonata Opus 2 number 3, Liszt's Liebestraum 3, and various Chopin waltzes.

The piano sounds are quite good, and I've come to prefer Concert Grand 1--the default one. That said, I've only had the keyboard for two weeks, and I've still a lot of aspects to explore. It seems as though the MP5 can be tweaked and edited infinitely. The realism of the piano sound is very high. Depending on the piece, I could be fooled. I do notice, however, that in musical passages with a lot of notes, sometimes the sounds don't "collide" in quite the same way as they would on an acoustic piano. To be fair, this could probably be corrected with some settings changes---particularly EQ. I don't think it's an issue with the piano samples themselves.

The unit itself is well built and sturdy. The keys are solid and perfectly functioning. Besides the keys, the only thing different from the MP8II, I believe, are the outs. The MP5 has unbalanced outs, which in a project studio is not a big problem. I've connected it to my primary monitors via my rig, for the time being; and I need to decide on a pair of dedicated monitors soon. Choices abound.

In any case---do have a play with this DP, if you get the chance. It's great! Thumbs up!

J

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#664400 - 08/27/07 04:04 PM Re: Kawai MP5 Review & Soft Pedal
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I also had lessons as a child through
high school, and I've been playing for more
than 30 yrs., and I've never used anything
but the rt. pedal. There are not
that many classical pieces that call for
the soft pedal, and I've noticed that
different editions of the same piece might
have the soft pedal or not have it. I've
never really had a piece in my repertoire
that had the una corda. I was struggling
with the Mephisto Waltz briefly, which
has it in some editions, but I don't see
much difference between the una corda
section played with it and without it.

I once saw a big-name concert pianist
using all 3 pedals continuously in a concert,
in a piece that obviously called for only
the rt. pedal. This might have been for
showmanship only, because what was coming
out of the instrument did not sound
unusual.

I once saw an acoustic grand piano with
a digital player system attached, and
I was surprised to see continuous lt.
pedal use in some popular standard that
one would not usually associate with
una corda. I could see how the soft
pedal added interesting and subtle
effects (a good player might be
able to do approximately the same
thing with only the rt. pedal, by
adjusting his touch accordingly). But
this was a computer program
doing the playing; I don't think any human
pianist could practically duplicate
such intricate soft pedal use.

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#664401 - 08/28/07 12:55 AM Re: Kawai MP5 Review & Soft Pedal
Jamble Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/07
Posts: 33
Loc: Boston, Mass., USA
This is quite true, I think, especially with classical music pre-Chopin.

Although I do find una corda sounds different than just playing softly, and in the past I would also use it cut some of the natural reverberation of the piano, depending on the room and piece of music.

I'm firmly just a hobbyist these days when it comes to piano playing, really. But, I'm curious now about the editions you mention with and without soft pedal markings. As I recall, the function of the soft pedal varies between grands and uprights. I'm not exactly sure of the mechanics off the top of my head, but the sound and feel of keys is different. The action becomes much lighter on an upright when the soft pedal is engaged. I wonder whether this has anything to do with the markings being omitted (or added)?

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#664402 - 08/28/07 01:02 AM Re: Kawai MP5 Review & Soft Pedal
Dengus Squatburg Jr Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/01/07
Posts: 16
Loc: Australia
You should be able to hear the key off effect, although it is quite subtle. It's most prominent in the low registers. Try turning off all other effects and reverb and then compare a single note with the key-off effect at 0 and then at 10. Once you recognise the effect, it's unmistakeable.

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#664403 - 08/28/07 01:13 AM Re: Kawai MP5 Review & Soft Pedal
Jamble Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/07
Posts: 33
Loc: Boston, Mass., USA
Dengus, thanks. I'll try it. And, I'm glad it's subtle, as it should be.

By the way, I got the soft pedal working earlier today, via the footswitch jack. The secret was disabling the expression pedal. Not logical to me, but as long as it works...!

Cheers

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