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Kawai MP8


Dave Horne

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I've read a few threads from the last year re this piano. I believe Marino raved about its action.

 

Two editors from the British Keyboard Player magazine very recently suggested this keyboard above all others to a reader who needed a good touring keyboard for classical work.

 

I haven't played one (AFAIK), but will try and test drive one for myself. (I own a CP300 but it's currently stored in a friend's living room in Germany. He will hand deliver it this month when he visits.)

 

I never seriously considered a Kawai until now. Thoughts?

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Originally posted by soundscape:

It's great, I'd definitely have put it on the candidate list when shopping for the CP300.

 

Originally posted by Dave Horne:

I own a CP300 but it's currently stored in a friend's living room in Germany.

What are you playing 'at home' at the moment?
My every day piano in a Yamaha GranTouch. The action has been slightly modified to have a greater key dip.

 

Most of my jobs are acoustic - I think I now have eight jobs this month, all acoustic. My friend in Germany will send the CP300 to me via UPS or DHL if it get a call where I need an electric piano. If I get no calls he'll bring it over at the end of this month and save me about 75 Euros in shipping costs.

 

I was in a hotel last week and saw a guy play a Kawai MP4. I wasn't thrilled with the acoustic piano sound but overall the keyboard didn't sound bad. When I first walked by it I thought it was a Roland 700 - the shape is roughly the same.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Dave,

 

The action is much better on the MP8 than MP4 IMO. I played both a few months ago. There are so many variables which go into this so I can't say with any degree of certainty that one of them didn't factor in as well. If I was in the market for studio DP or an all in one touring DP, the CP300 and MP8 would be on a very small list for me.

Begin the day with a friendly voice A companion, unobtrusive

- Rush

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I have been really lusting for a Kawai MP8 for most of this year and will probably buy one soon. Now that it's this late in the year, the only thing keeping me from buying one is waiting to see if Kawai releases a newer model at NAMM. I played the MP8 several months ago and totally loved it, not just for the superb action but for it's sounds as well and ease of control. I own a Kawai ES4 which is supposed to have the same sounds as the MP4 and the MP8 has a better piano sound, and the other sounds it has are better too, not to mention it has more than double the polyphony of the ES4/MP4 and far more control over EQ, effects, etc. The MP8 one of those instruments that I couldn't tear myself away from once I started playing it.

 

In comparision, I played a Yamaha CP300 just last month and was turned off by it... and I really wanted to like it because of the built-in speakers that I wish the MP8 had. The CP300 sound seems a bit brittle to me whereas the MP8 is mellower and fuller IMHO. I could see using the CP300 in a group situation but I primarily play solo and for that the MP8 wins out. You should definitely play the MP8 and see if it's your cup of tea compared to the Yamaha. For my money the Kawai MP8 is the best digital piano on the market currently.

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Originally posted by Silver Dragon Sound:

The action is much better on the MP8 than MP4 IMO.

Absolutely. Be sure to play an MP8; the other Kawais don't come close. The closest to the MP8 action is probably the older M9000/9500.

 

Of course, as you can see by reading delirium's post, tastes in piano action are VERY subjective. :D

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Originally posted by delirium:

I played few times in GC MP8 and didn't like it at all. Action is "rubber like", very unconfortable.

Piano sound average, no way even close to CP300 or S90ES. Wouldn't recommend it.

This is what's amazing to me. Like Delirium I absolutely love the S90ES and CP300 in both sound and action but I also love the action and sound of the MP8. If I didn't get such a great deal on the S90ES, I may have very well ended up with a MP8. As Marino said this is why its so important to play one for yourself.

Begin the day with a friendly voice A companion, unobtrusive

- Rush

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The notes of the MP8 integrate more smoothly than on the Yamahas or the Rolands. On Yamahas they sound like independant events to me because the hammer strike is so loud. I get smoother, more flowing lines when playing on the Kawai. The action is quite realistic, more so than all others.

 

I wish delirium would go ahead and change his name to the "S90ES-dude".

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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Originally posted by Silver Dragon Sound:

As Marino said this is why its so important to play one for yourself. [/QB]

thats absolutely right.

Despite of liking or not, if you guys saying that action on MP8 is the same or similar to e.g. CP300 then there is something wrong with my hand - or yours :D

♫♫♫ motif XS6, RD700GX
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I wouldn't define the MP8 action as similar to the CP300: They are definitely different. The problem is, I find it definitely *better* than the CP300, or any Yamaha! More progressive, with a response that's very similar to a grand piano, and a key/sound connection that, though not perfect, is among the best in the electronic keyboard world. Overall, I find the MP8 a notch above all other integrated digital pianos; the piano sounds are also great (although they have that 'Kawai' quality, which you may find of your liking or not), and the 'other' sounds are high-quality too.

It seems Delirium is in the minority here - which doesn't invalidate his point of view, of course. :)

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Marino,

I respect your opinion and I'll again go to SamAsh and re-check MP8, because one thing I liked about it - wood smell :)

I've been looking for some time already for key action as close as possible to acoustic piano, and I agree yamahas is not it (roland is closer for me).

♫♫♫ motif XS6, RD700GX
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Originally posted by marino:

I wouldn't define the MP8 action as similar to the CP300: They are definitely different. The problem is, I find it definitely *better* than the CP300, or any Yamaha! More progressive, with a response that's very similar to a grand piano, and a key/sound connection that, though not perfect, is among the best in the electronic keyboard world. Overall, I find the MP8 a notch above all other integrated digital pianos; the piano sounds are also great (although they have that 'Kawai' quality, which you may find of your liking or not), and the 'other' sounds are high-quality too.

+1

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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A few things surprised me about the MP8, it's roughly the same weight as the CP300 (32 or 33 kg). It's also 7.5 cm wider than the CP300.

 

If I decide to buy the MP8 (or its replacement in the future) it might not fit in the flight case I already have. (When I sold my P250 I kept the flight case for the CP300.)

 

At any rate, I'll try and test drive one. It does seem that Kawai needs to get mentioned more here. It's usually Yamaha and Roland.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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in the latest issue of a german keyboard magazine (www.keyboards.de) the actual crop of stage pianos were

compared by some in Germany rather well known professional jazzpianists and keyboardists.

The MP-8 was the overall winner, but only because of it's action. In terms of sound it was far behind the

Nord Stage and Roland RD-700SX. CP300 was considered as "rather harsh" sounding, suitable for rock but

not for jazz and classic.

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I have an MP9500. The key action is the same but the preset velocity curves in the MP9500 don't give you the full range and you really had to use the user velocity curve analyzer (which is great by the way) to get a proper dynamic response. I believe they have fixed this in the MP8 as well as added a better piano sound. I think there are digital pianos out there that sound as good or maybe even better, but the hammer action on the MP8 is imo way ahead of the pack. Dave, look forward to your review.

Gig keys: Hammond SKpro, Korg Vox Continental, Crumar Mojo 61, Crumar Mojo Pedals

 

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Originally posted by colourisred:

in the latest issue of a german keyboard magazine (www.keyboards.de) the actual crop of stage pianos were

compared by some in Germany rather well known professional jazzpianists and keyboardists.

Just wondering how the GEM Promega came out?
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Originally posted by colourisred:

in the latest issue of a german keyboard magazine (www.keyboards.de) the actual crop of stage pianos were

compared by some in Germany rather well known professional jazzpianists and keyboardists.

The MP-8 was the overall winner, but only because of it's action. In terms of sound it was far behind the

Nord Stage and Roland RD-700SX. CP300 was considered as "rather harsh" sounding, suitable for rock but

not for jazz and classic.

+1

 

I think the Yamahas are more geared for rock. (The hammer strike is so loud that the notes sound detached, lines sound jagged.)

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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Originally posted by Jazz+:

Originally posted by colourisred:

in the latest issue of a german keyboard magazine (www.keyboards.de) the actual crop of stage pianos were

compared by some in Germany rather well known professional jazzpianists and keyboardists.

The MP-8 was the overall winner, but only because of it's action. In terms of sound it was far behind the

Nord Stage and Roland RD-700SX. CP300 was considered as "rather harsh" sounding, suitable for rock but

not for jazz and classic.

+1

 

I think the Yamahas are more geared for rock. (The hammer strike is so loud that the notes sound detached, lines sound jagged.)

Yeah, try playing some Debussy on a Yamaha, "Reflets Dans L'eau" perhaps. It just ain't happenin'. Even if you have Superman hands and can overcome the incredibly sluggish action, the tone quality of the samples kills it anyway. IMO the Yamahas are the bottom of the barrel for digital pianos, with the MP8 on top, and all other somewhere in between. But that's just MY opinion.
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Is there anyone here who can translate the essence of that German article for us?

 

Regarding digital actions - I have never found any weighted action to be heavy or even sluggish (unless the particular patch had a built in slow attack). I have found at least one type of a keyboard made by Fatar that was ... mushy, no definite feeling of hitting bottom.

 

I am curious to try the MP8 but I have to admit even if I love the piano I'm keeping the CP300 for a few years.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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I just came back from a music store that had a MP8. I spent 30+ minutes with it which was long enough to give me a general opinion.

 

I loved the action. I would have preferred even a slightly heavier action but overall it was the best I've played. I think part of what made it feel good, at least for me, was the sharp edges of the black keys - no soft, rounded edges. The piano had a real feel about it.

 

The piano sound was very nice but I'm not going to get rid of my CP300 anytime soon. I noticed a slight buzzyness in the octaves below middle C which you also find in real pianos (and other digital pianos) - whether it would be noticed on a job is another story. (I listened through my own headphones.) It seems that every five notes are sampled (at least in the handful of pianos I listened to).

 

I did come across an anomaly - the G above middle C had a harmonic that would ring longer than the surrounding notes. I noticed that especially on the Mellow Piano. I'm not sure how to recreate that as I didn't hear that all the time. I was annoyed by that. (And I should add that I did a 'system reinstall' as well.)

 

I quickly played through the Rhodes and it was fine for jobs. I thought it might have been slightly less fat than the Rhodes on the P250\CP300 but I didn't A\B the sound with a Yamaha.

 

If someone gave me the piano, I'd use it. I still haven't played anything (from any manufacturer) that absolutely knocks my socks of, but the CP300 (which is still in Germany) is fine for me.

 

I found the shape of the MP8 a tad idiosyncratic. While the CP300 is a thick piano, I still like the fact that there's a large flat surface to place things on. With the MP8 you'll always have to work around its shape.

 

I'll give the MP8 top score for its action and I know many will be satisfied with the piano sounds. The piano sounds are fine and I"m sure I'd be happy with them on a job. It's definitely in the top five stage pianos offered today; it's a matter of personal taste which piano you like. I'm basically conservative when it comes to pianos and the boring look of Yamaha makes me feel at home.

 

Everything I wrote here is from memory - I should have taken notes at the time, but I didn't.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Did you notice that melodic lines played on the MP8 sound more smoothly than on the more percussive Yamaha? The notes connect in a way that sounds less disjointed or detached. The attacks are less drastic, the hammer strikes are not as accented. It feel as if I am the only person who ever notices that.

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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Although you have purchased the CP300 already, it is great that you were able to audition the MP8 in order to get that curiousity of your system. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Did you notice that melodic lines played on the MP8 sound more smoothly than on the more percussive Yamaha?
No. It responded as I expected it to and I can say the same for the CP300 and the RD700.

 

To be perfectly honest when I first sat down I thought that each note was strongly attacked. That feeling went away ... or I just didn't notice it as I kept playing. (Could it be like driving another car where it takes a few attempts with the clutch to get it to feel natural?)

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Originally posted by Jazz+:

Did you notice that melodic lines played on the MP8 sound more smoothly than on the more percussive Yamaha? The notes connect in a way that sounds less disjointed or detached. The attacks are less drastic, the hammer strikes are not as accented. It feel as if I am the only person who ever notices that.

+1

 

I have always noticed this as well, at least when I play them. This is why I do not favor the Yamaha DPs. While I have heard others play the Yamahas and they sound very good, they sound like sh*t when I play them. It must be the interface between my style of playing and the action, velocity curves, etc.

 

Dave, have you ever played the GEM Promega 3? I would be curious as to your take on this beast. It's my personal favorite, although like the MP8, it is shaped like a beached submarine.

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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Dave, have you ever played the GEM Promega 3? I would be curious as to your take on this beast.
I've answered this a while ago. I played a GEM Promega 3 and was so distracted by the mushy action (a particular Fatar model) that I found it difficult to focus on the sound. I'm sure the sound is great, I just hated the action.

 

I also was not thrilled with shape and look of it - a tad too retro for me.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Originally posted by Jazz+:

Did you notice that melodic lines played on the MP8 sound more smoothly than on the more percussive Yamaha? The notes connect in a way that sounds less disjointed or detached. The attacks are less drastic, the hammer strikes are not as accented.

More/less drastic attacks and hammer strikes usually are linked to the samples themselves. Since the Yamaha pianos are associated with a more percussive and bright sound, this is not surprising. One could correct or modify this using different envelope values.

 

Regarding smoother reponse, this usually has more to do with what I refer to as the "keybed system", which includes the way the keyboard works, its switches and the associated electronic parts translating the interface events. Depending on the synth/piano, this "keybed system" will let more or fewer milliseconds between note events and thus create a more legato or staccato overall response. For example, using my Kurzweil MIDIboard on which one can modify this particular response to taste using a dedicated slider, I can test another piano/synth and tell if it's a more legato or staccato type of "keybed system" by comparing its action.

 

In other words, regardless how legato I'm playing, I can make the notes sound staccato on the MIDIboard by moving the slider and vice versa. So if you happen to play on a more staccato "keybed system", your playing will sound that way unless you can have a dedicated parameter for this response. IMHO, it is preferable to have a keyboard which can faithfully render legato. According to what you're saying, that's the case with the Kawai MP8.

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