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What about a Kawai VPC-1 "lightweight live controller" ???


analogholic

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Was thinking about many going the Mac/Mainstage route these days. A controller with a GOOD feel and relatively low weight would be awesome.

Question is if there would be a market for one?

I certainly would be interested if they could come out with a version with reduced weight and a good set of faders an buttons suitable for Mainstage.

 

What are your thoughts?

 

Kawai James are you on? :)

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

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Yes, I'm listening. ;)

 

The question is: can Kawai produce a controller that is both light enough and inexpensive enough to compete with the multitude of Fatar-based options on the market?

 

The VPC1 is successful because consumers accept the weight and are prepared to pay for the most realistic action available.

 

However, I believe the majority of folks interested in a controller for live use want something that's very lightweight and inexpensive, and are prepared to tolerate a "does the job" action.

 

Cheers,

James

x

Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.

Nord Electro 3 fan &

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Not necessarily James. I think there are 2 markets here. One is those seeking a controller to use with DAW such as M- Audio and Novation who heavily promote their controllers as having Automap to major DAWs and the second who are looking for a quality controller to use live for AP's, EP's and synth.

 

Right now those who make up the second market are stuck with the options available for the first. If the VR-09 had mappable draw bars etc. it would be a good light weight organ/synth controller and if the PX-5S had 9 faders and supported expression it would make a great 88 note AP EP controller or second board option.

 

Light weight good actions are available, it seems that Roland and Casio are determined to cripple their products so they do not compete in the controller market. Maybe there is a market for mid priced fully featured controllers with the option of weighted AP keybed or organ/synth action.

MainStage 3 | Axiom 61 2nd Gen | Pianoteq | B5 | XK3c | EV ZLX 12P

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Question is how heavy the VPC1 enclosure is relative to its action?

Maybe make a lighter (plastic) one like CP4, PX-5s to shave off some weight?

 

 

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

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The MP7 gets you in the ballpark. It's not as light as most of us would like, but it's a sensible size (nota bene, Roland), has a very good action, accepts expression and other pedals (including half-damper), and is a well-rounded MIDI controller. 9 faders would certainly be better than 4 plus master and input volume, but until something better comes along it will get the job done.

 

Oh, and it's around the same price as a VPC-1.

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Was thinking about many going the Mac/Mainstage route these days. A controller with a GOOD feel and relatively low weight would be awesome.

Question is if there would be a market for one?

I certainly would be interested if they could come out with a version with reduced weight and a good set of faders an buttons suitable for Mainstage.

Casio PX-5S might fit that bill?

Question is how heavy the VPC1 enclosure is relative to its action?

Maybe make a lighter (plastic) one like CP4, PX-5s to shave off some weight?

One problem with plastic enclosures is that initial fabrication costs are quite high, so you need to be confident that you have a use for a sufficient volume of them to bring the cost-per-unit down. This helps explain why you typically only see plastic enclosures from large volume companies (like Yamaha and Casio) and not small volume companies (like Nord and Kurzweil). One further way that costs are kept down is to use the same plastic enclosure over and over again... again, because the key is volume. So you see companies like Casio and Korg using the same plastic enclosures for a variety of different products.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Casio PX-5S might fit that bill?

As pointed out above, the lack of expression pedal input and fewer than optimum faders limit the appeal of the PX-5S as a pure controller. However, I use it as a live controller with a Surface Pro and am very happy with the results.

 

One maverick in this race is the Studiologic Numa, but it's far away from the VPC-1 concept with its rather stodgy Fatar action and clunky MIDI implementation.

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...The VPC1 is successful because consumers accept the weight and are prepared to pay for the most realistic action available.

 

However, I believe the majority of folks interested in a controller for live use want something that's very lightweight and inexpensive, and are prepared to tolerate a "does the job" action.

In producing the VPC1, Kawai segmented the keyboard controller market in a very smart way, and found an excellent target. I think there may also be an opportunity to discover a new target segment for a live-use controller, as well.

 

I would propose that this market segment consists of people who want a portable, well-built, hammer-action controller for use as a bottom board in a 2-board live rig, or to drive VSTs in live performance a la MainStage. By the way, have you noticed the recurrent whinging on KC about the disappearance of the 76-key weighted controller? Since both size and weight affect portability, I would definitely consider this form factor.

 

I think a successful offering would have to come in at 30 lbs or less, and at less than $1,200 US street price, but I do think there's a latent demand here if you can figure out a bold way to segment the live-use market.

 

Cheers,

 

Ben

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Casio PX-5S might fit that bill?

As pointed out above, the lack of expression pedal input and fewer than optimum faders limit the appeal of the PX-5S as a pure controller.

I was specifically targeting that response to the OP... I think the PX5S meets the specs he described. Though yes, there are other controller features one might wish it had.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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You generally get what you pay for.

 

Off the top of my head Kawai is the only people doing anything decent for less than $2000. By in large the controller market sucks.

 

Quality material has mass. There is a critical level of mass you need behind an action for it to have a real quality feel. Not sure how much weight it needs to be but I can feel it when I play lightweight stuff. My FA-06 and the PX-3 I played felt hollow through my hands.

 

Many keyboard players can't handle manual labor and want lightweight stuff. We are getting old. There are few young keyboardist. At my age there is no reason why I should be getting the calls I get. If I was a guitar player this old man's phone would not be ringing.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Who has played this? I have not.

 

http://www.kraftmusic.com/physis-piano-k-4-ex-88-key-midi-controller-with-physis-piano-engine-key-essentials-bundle.html

 

This is a 43 lb real controller with a digital piano engine.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Thanks Scott for the PX-5s suggestion.

Unfortunately the action doesn´t work for me.

I really wanted to like it as there was one demo unit for sale locally for a very good price.

Went in the store with the intention to buy it but.....

 

Already have the PC3X, which I don´t like as well regarding the action (sound is great though).

 

That´s why I thought maybe the VPC1 action could be used in a new live friendly controller.

 

But like I said, don´t know how much the action itself weighs.

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

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At 43 lbs and $2,250 U.S. in its controller-only configuration(!), I think it shows how weird and difficult the controller market is. When you can get a PX-5s for a thousand bucks, or an MP7 for $1,800, where's the comparative advantage for the K4? It does seem to have tons of controller functionality (including aftertouch), but who would put that big a premium on the K4's incremental advantages in that area?

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That´s why I thought maybe the VPC1 action could be used in a new live friendly controller.

 

But like I said, don´t know how much the action itself weighs.

Well, considering that there is practically nothing of substance to it except the action and the case, I doubt it could be made much lighter. As I mentioned, plastic cases may be lighter but are generally not practical for things that don't sell in large volumes. I suppose there would also be the possibility of using lighter metals, but that also tends to be expensive. Regardless, tha ction itself is probably quite hefty. I think CEB is basically right about certain keyboard feels simply requiring a certain amount of physical mass that is going to be impossible to put in a very lightweight device.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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There is a critical level of mass you need behind an action for it to have a real quality feel. Not sure how much weight it needs to be but I can feel it when I play lightweight stuff.

Casio has done an amazing job of building a lightweight action that they deliver in a 24-lb product (though they do have the advantage of a product strategy that lets them sell it in very high volumes).

 

I believe the Fatar TP/100 ends up in products weighing around 25-30 lbs, and the lightweight offerings from Kawai and Roland are in the low 30s.

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At 43 lbs and $2,250 U.S. in its controller-only configuration(!), I think it shows how weird and difficult the controller market is. When you can get a PX-5s for a thousand bucks, or an MP7 for $1,800, where's the comparative advantage for the K4? It does seem to have tons of controller functionality (including aftertouch), but who would put that big a premium on the K4's incremental advantages in that area?

It depends if you need a controller. Those stage pianos will would not control my old rack rig. I needed 6 zones to do some of the stuff I did with my old rack rig. A lot of players had bigger control requirments I ever did. Work stations have done a lot to kill the controller market. 4 rack synths, a sampler, a Roland Vocoder plus a top board or two you need something like the Physis and a programmable MIDI patch bay.

 

MIDI patchbays now there is a really dead market. :D

 

Laptops are a game changer also. I need to get over my love affair with hardware because those days are gone.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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It is a Fatar TP-100LR action, so if you like that then it sounds reasonable candidate. I wouldn't want it but that is me.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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And what about the new Arturia Keylab 88?

Fatar TP100, which I think most people agree is not as good an action as the current Casios or Kawais.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Workstations have done a lot to kill the controller market... Laptops are a game changer also. I need to get over my love affair with hardware because those days are gone.

Right. There are tons of people out there now with synth or waterfall-action workstations and combo keyboards (MOXF6, VR-09, SK1, etc.), correct? And also a steadily increasing number with Mac/MainStage-type live rigs.

 

I'm just talking out my a** of course, but I can't help thinking that 28-lb, hammer-action 76 with a lean set of master keyboard features targeted specifically at live use would be attractive to lots of these people.

 

Anyways, if you're going to bother building a new controller product, I think you have to look at the changes in how people are doing live performance, and see if you can identify a homogeneous group of them big enough to bother shooting at, who aren't well-served by existing solutions.

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I'm just talking out my a** of course, but I can't help thinking that 28-lb, hammer-action 76 with a lean set of master keyboard features targeted specifically at live use would be attractive to lots of these people.

I think that's one reason the PX-5S is as popular as it is, despite lacking an expression pedal input.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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I'm just talking out my a** of course, but I can't help thinking that 28-lb, hammer-action 76 with a lean set of master keyboard features targeted specifically at live use would be attractive to lots of these people.

I think that's one reason the PX-5S is as popular as it is, despite lacking an expression pedal input.

It's certainly the reason I have mine (plus the great EPs that are available for download). Simple things like the ability to assign separate USB and MIDI functions to each stage setting makes it very usable live.

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I think if you can keep it under 40lbs including a hard case, 73/76-key hammer, and at least 9 assignable sliders, expression, and pitch/mod, $1200 or less and you'd have a winner.

 

I'd still like to see something similar to the XK system that breaks into 2 boards for transport, but stacks as a single performance controller - 76-key hammer on bottom, 61-key waterfall on top. 9 drawbars, 16 programmable sliders and buttons (like peavey PC1600), along with the usual patch/bank/pitch/mod/transport controls. System under $2500, expansion options.

 

I'd also like to see a standard developed for communicating a user interface. In the industrial world we have this with field instrumentation communicating over standard digital protocols. The old version was DDL (device descriptor language), the newer version is EDDL (enhanced....). The manufacturer writes the file and publishes it. Anything that communicates with it recognizes the ID and pulls up the appropriate UI from a library of DDL's or EDDL's. So your device looks to the user exactly the way you want it to look to them even on another manufacturer 's software, communicator, control system.

 

So imagine you have a MIDI controller with a touch screen and when you plug in a device (MIDI in and out for 2-way comm), it pulls up the interface that manufacturer wants you to see and you have full MIDI implementation with everything clearly assigned.

 

I know some controllers build in support for known devices - but it's the implementation they decide, not the manufacturer, and it's not automatic for new or unsupported devices.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Orla Jam Key looks neat but 1 piece I believe.

 

http://www.thomann.de/gb/orla_jamkey_black.htm

 

That's the closest I've seen - definitely what I was thinking. Price is right. A little on the heavy side if it doesn't break down. Didn't see details on the lower action.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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