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Topic: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

So my Ensoniq TS-12 I use with PT is getting a bit long in the tooth (it has weighted keys but the action isn't great and a bit squeaky), and I figured now's a good time to get a second-hand weighted keyboard for PT to replace it.

I first figured a cheap used Casio Privia is all I need for PT control - but after more research and demoing, I now think the Kawai digitals are great - both for their action (I really didn't dig the fake ivory plastic pattern stuff on th latest Privias, or their feel generally though it's OK), but also the latest Kawais have a pretty nice sound that would be nice to just 'switch on', when you can't be bothered to boot up your PC.  They seem to be sample/modelled hybrids (initial attack is sampled, ringout is modelled), and so have a few model-type parameters like resonance, pedal noise etc.

For a sound producing one, the ES100/ES110 looked interesting, until I played the ES8, which has a higher fidelity version of the same samples (based on longer attack samples, and it really sounds richer), as well as a better action, with counterweights in the keys.  It's a lot more expensive, but saving for a used ES8 seemed good - until I read about their all-wooden actions eg. on their older MP8 (MK1 and 2?).  Those are affordable used, but their sounds aren't great, but then it could be a pure PT controller all about the realistic touch.

So, very good but plasticky ES8 action (and good sounds + lightweight), or (apparently) all-out near-perfect touch with a wooden action Kawai like the MP8?

Anyone have any experience with both/either?  Purely for touch realism, are the wooden Kawai's better than the ES8?  How much?  And do they have more maintenance issues than their plastic counterparts?

Last edited by ReBased (03-06-2017 21:17)

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

Kawai mp8 is too old to put money on it. If you want to use with Pianoteq and other virtual software  then why not Kawai VPC1 midi controller, about the same price more or less as Kawai es8 but with much better wooden key action and piano looks (no internal sounds though).

Last edited by slobajudge (04-06-2017 06:59)

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

Cost is the issue, a used MP8 is pretty affordable.  So if the touch is really good, I'd be happy to use it just as a MIDI controller for PT.

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

ReBased wrote:

Cost is the issue, a used MP8 is pretty affordable.  So if the touch is really good, I'd be happy to use it just as a MIDI controller for PT.

The key action in Kawai mp8 (awa pro) is one generation older then in Kawai VPC1 and similar products (RM3 grand ) but its still better than plastic keys on modern stage pianos in low (middle) cost price range at least. Because it is old I hope they will give you a fair price. Check out condition and specially every key and sound in it. Connect midi also.

Last edited by slobajudge (04-06-2017 14:00)

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

slobajudge wrote:
ReBased wrote:

Cost is the issue, a used MP8 is pretty affordable.  So if the touch is really good, I'd be happy to use it just as a MIDI controller for PT.

The key action in Kawai mp8 (awa pro) is one generation older then on Kawai VPC1 and similar products (RM3 grand ) but its still better than plastic keys on modern stage pianos in low (middle) cost price range at least. Because it is old I hope they will give you a fair price. Check out condition and specially every key and sound in it. Connect midi also.

That's good advice, thanks.  What keyboard do you use?

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

Kawai VPC1

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

I own the MP8. It's not bad when it comes to electric keyboards -- it was the best available portable digital piano back when it first came out. The action is very sluggish, the lowest keys require too little force to max out (hitting the loudest possible dynamic too easily), the thudding sound of the action is quite loud, and there's no triple sensor in the action. However, I've played a fair number of more recent keyboards, by various brands, and I'm holding out for a possible VPC2 before I upgrade. I just don't feel like the action improvements have been that much better in portable keyboards. I haven't tried the MP11, that might be an exception, although I don't need the internal sounds it has, so not willing to pay the premium.

If you get a good price on the MP8, it should be worth it to you.

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

(sorry for the delay, I've been away).

Thanks for the comments guys.  Nathan, it's interesting to hear your criticism of the MP8 action as most comments I've Googled online have been positive.  I still haven't jumped, I gave the Privia PX-160 a try while I was away and it felt better to me this time, I like the little hammer bounce you get that eg. the Yamahas I tried don't have.  And even the fake ivory touch felt good this time.

Does anyone know how the MP8 action compares to the ES8?  The ES doesn't have wooden keys, but I was impressed by their counterweighted feel, also when compared to the cheaper ES110 (no counterweights).

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

I'm not sure if I've tried that specific action (in the ES8), but I've definitely tried something similar at least. My guess is it would be quite a bit lighter, beyond that who knows?

My MP8 has served me well, but I greatly prefer my Steinway! I'm extremely picky when it comes to piano action -- I've always judged keyboard action to good grand piano action.

If you're playing really technically demanding music, you can do it on the MP8, but you have to work much harder than on a fine grand piano. If you're playing more intermediate level music, and you don't mind a medium/heavy action (it's not extreme by any means, as some say), then the MP8 should be fine. I would compare the MP8's action to a Yamaha or Kawai upright piano... I just don't like upright action.

Pianoteq's velocity meter taught me that the MP8 really needs to be set at the "heaviest" touch sensitivity. This gives you a bit more range of key force, which you especially need in the bass. Though there's still not enough velocity range on the MP8 as it maxes out too soon. But again, you likely won't notice this unless you're playing very dynamic, bass heavy music.

Like I said, it was probably the best portable keyboard action available when it came out, hence the huge number of positive reviews. Progress has been made since, but not amazing progress (at least in most portable keyboards -- again, the MP11 MIGHT be an exception, but I haven't tried it).

Good luck.

Last edited by NathanShirley (14-06-2017 03:36)

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

NathanShirley wrote:

Progress has been made since, but not amazing progress (at least in most portable keyboards --

You might revise this assessment if you have the opportunity to try a Lachnit keyboard. Like you, I also play mostly a real grand piano, and have > 50 years of classical and jazz training and playing experience. The Lachnit (plus Pianoteq) is the only current portable keyboard I've tried that compares for action, feel and expressive control, in my opinion.

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

TimN wrote:
NathanShirley wrote:

Progress has been made since, but not amazing progress (at least in most portable keyboards --

You might revise this assessment if you have the opportunity to try a Lachnit keyboard. Like you, I also play mostly a real grand piano, and have > 50 years of classical and jazz training and playing experience. The Lachnit (plus Pianoteq) is the only current portable keyboard I've tried that compares for action, feel and expressive control, in my opinion.

You compare these two keyboards?(Lachnit vs vpc1?..)How do they differ in sensations?

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

scherbakov.al wrote:
TimN wrote:
NathanShirley wrote:

Progress has been made since, but not amazing progress (at least in most portable keyboards --

You might revise this assessment if you have the opportunity to try a Lachnit keyboard. Like you, I also play mostly a real grand piano, and have > 50 years of classical and jazz training and playing experience. The Lachnit (plus Pianoteq) is the only current portable keyboard I've tried that compares for action, feel and expressive control, in my opinion.

You compare these two keyboards?(Lachnit vs vpc1?..)How do they differ in sensations?

This is maybe getting off track from the original question in the thread, but I don't think the VPC1 is meant to be portable. It certainly feels good to play, but the Lachnit is on another level, in my opinion. The light sensor system seems more realistic and responsive to me than the 2- or 3-point sensors in most other keyboards, and the ability to adjust velocity curve characteristics on-the-fly with a knob at the keyboard (rather than remapping on the computer) is a feature that has to be used to be fully appreciated. It means that you can tailor your (Pianoteq) sound by ear as you play, to bias it to brighter or more mellow timbre at a given overall volume, without changing dynamic range. To me, this means I can adjust my piano sound to respond to my touch as I expect for a real piano in any room or venue, without being psychologically influenced by the overall volume level. I'm not sure whether I'm explaining this well, but I certainly wish it were easier for more people to try out the Lachnit...I think it would change your idea of what Pianoteq can do, and how much pianistic control you can have from a MIDI keyboard.

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

TimN, Yes, I have to try it myself. thank you for your opinion.

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

Because I heard lots of good things about Lachnit, I ask my friend who often travel to Vienna to go there and try that DP. For the record my friend is highly educated (in Vienna) and classically trained professional musician and play lots of instruments including piano, so his opinion is very very valid. So he was there and said to me that Lachnit is excellent instrument but not for classical piano training because action is too light for anything serious almost like semi weight synth. He ask them why the action is not better because price is high and they said to him that if they want to put better action Lachnit will be cost at least 1k more. It is already too much money for Lachnit so this DP is not an option for me.

Last edited by slobajudge (14-06-2017 19:16)

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

TimN wrote:
NathanShirley wrote:

Progress has been made since, but not amazing progress (at least in most portable keyboards --

You might revise this assessment if you have the opportunity to try a Lachnit keyboard. Like you, I also play mostly a real grand piano, and have > 50 years of classical and jazz training and playing experience. The Lachnit (plus Pianoteq) is the only current portable keyboard I've tried that compares for action, feel and expressive control, in my opinion.

It's refreshing TimN that you've actually found a great semi-portable keyboard! I have to admit though that I am thinking along the lines of NathanShirley's post ("wait until the VPC2 comes out"). Price of Lachnit seems prohibitive for most players, and from the little I've read, Lachnit does not seem to be widely available for testing or easily serviced in many locales.

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

slobajudge wrote:

Because I heard lots of good things about Lachnit, I ask my friend who often travel to Vienna to go there and try that DP. For the record my friend is highly educated (in Vienna) and classically trained professional musician and play lots of instruments including piano, so his opinion is very very valid. So he was there and said to me that Lachnit is excellent instrument but not for classical piano training because action is too light for anything serious almost like semi weight synth. He ask them why the action is not better because price is high and they said to him that if they want to put better action Lachnit will be cost at least 1k more. It is already too much money for Lachnit so this DP is not an option for me.

Just missed this post slobajudge ... if Lachnit admits the action could be better, that's telling. Way out of my price range for a digital keyboard.

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

Of course the Lachnit can be improved...it is quite compact and portable compared to a full-sized acoustic piano action, so it includes design compromises, as described on their website. One needs to judge any keyboard action for oneself, of course, ....Like your friend, many of us here are classically trained and have critical and valid opinions about instruments. I personally find it hard to understand why one would compare Lachnit to a semi-weighted synthesizer action. Does your friend approve of any portable keyboard action for "serious" playing?

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

TimN wrote:
NathanShirley wrote:

Progress has been made since, but not amazing progress (at least in most portable keyboards --

You might revise this assessment if you have the opportunity to try a Lachnit keyboard.

True, I haven't tried the Lachnit and would love the opportunity. Unfortunately I don't know of anyone in my region that has one... or in the US for that matter. I especially like that they have an extended key version available.

Personally I don't mind the weight of a heavy "slab" keyboard. As long as it fits in my car it could weigh as much as me and I'd be happy -- as long as the action is good. But I appreciate that some would be glad to compromise with a lighter instrument.

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

TimN wrote:

Of course the Lachnit can be improved...it is quite compact and portable compared to a full-sized acoustic piano action, so it includes design compromises, as described on their website. One needs to judge any keyboard action for oneself, of course, ....Like your friend, many of us here are classically trained and have critical and valid opinions about instruments. I personally find it hard to understand why one would compare Lachnit to a semi-weighted synthesizer action. Does your friend approve of any portable keyboard action for "serious" playing?

My request to him was that I need some quality portable DP for traveling, so less weight and good action. Lachnit was one on my list. Unfortunately Kawai es8, mp7, Roland fp90 are too heavy. The action in Lachnit is too light. I was afraid of that because because this man on Youtube also said that in comments before my friend was in Vienna
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daQkQQdc6lo . My friend confirm that to me and we talk and we agree that there are not many choices for quality action and low weight. Low budget DPs (Casio px, Kawai es110, Roland fp30, Yamaha p) was out of question. Maybe Yamaha cp4, p255 or Roland a88 midi. Yamaha p255 was my first choice but after awhile I choose Yamaha cp4 (GH wood action, three sensor, 17.5kg) and now I am waiting for this DP. This man on video recommends Roland, but Ivory G action is not something I like and I already have Kawai es100 as a good action substitute. I have VPC1 as my main choice in my home.

Last edited by slobajudge (15-06-2017 06:55)

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

I hope you are happy with the cp4...several of my friends prefer it also.

As an aside, the issue of keyboard mechanical action/weight vs. "feel" is interesting to me. Have you ever tried playing an acoustic piano with earplugs to block the sound you hear? It can be very surprising to discover how much our sense of the keyboard action is influenced psychologically by the sound output. Another experiment is to shift the keyboard velocity curve back and forth to bias towards either the ppp timbres or the fff timbres, but keep the volume the same. The same keyboard can feel either heavy and sluggish or light and fast, depending on the responsiveness of the output. One is also sensitive to the overall volume of the output. Headphones can be deceptive. If one can set the output through speakers to the volume level and dynamic range of an acoustic piano, the keyboard action may feel very different from the intimate way (and reduced volume?) with which we listen to the output on headphones.

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

TimN wrote:

I hope you are happy with the cp4...several of my friends prefer it also.

As an aside, the issue of keyboard mechanical action/weight vs. "feel" is interesting to me. Have you ever tried playing an acoustic piano with earplugs to block the sound you hear? It can be very surprising to discover how much our sense of the keyboard action is influenced psychologically by the sound output. Another experiment is to shift the keyboard velocity curve back and forth to bias towards either the ppp timbres or the fff timbres, but keep the volume the same. The same keyboard can feel either heavy and sluggish or light and fast, depending on the responsiveness of the output. One is also sensitive to the overall volume of the output. Headphones can be deceptive. If one can set the output through speakers to the volume level and dynamic range of an acoustic piano, the keyboard action may feel very different from the intimate way (and reduced volume?) with which we listen to the output on headphones.

Interesting, I wasn`t try that and I suppose it is true that sound output change perspective about action so is velocity curve, but touch on any acoustic piano is always different then on digital because strings send feedback to our fingers from hammer strike and this is another world compare to dead response and feel that we are disconnected from digital piano.

Last edited by slobajudge (16-06-2017 13:06)

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

I went from a Kurzweil PC3x to a Roland Juno DS88.  Great 88 note weighted action.  Slightly faster than Roland's digital pianos.  Around $1,000 US new.     -Perry-

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

TimN wrote:

It can be very surprising to discover how much our sense of the keyboard action is influenced psychologically by the sound output. Another experiment is to shift the keyboard velocity curve back and forth to bias towards either the ppp timbres or the fff timbres, but keep the volume the same. The same keyboard can feel either heavy and sluggish or light and fast, depending on the responsiveness of the output.

This is what you can do in Pteq.  And when you find the sweet spot for your DP (it's never the default straight line!) you're onto a winner.  Took me a couple o' years to get it right, it definitely plays like a more expensive piano.  It's transformed my FP50 to the degree that I haven't a clue what to change it for when that time comes next year. . . .
I'm too lazy to go through all that again with a new keyboard/piano, possibly with no prospect of improvement.
I'd rather spend the cash on a Pianoteq upgrade.  Or two . . .

Last edited by peterws (16-06-2017 21:55)
I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

Studiocat wrote:

I went from a Kurzweil PC3x to a Roland Juno DS88.  Great 88 note weighted action.  Slightly faster than Roland's digital pianos.  Around $1,000 US new.     -Perry-

Perry how did you find the PC3x's action?

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

So I just ordered a Privia PX160 to see if I get on with it.  I do really like the hammer bounce and heavier-ish action, but the thing that pushed me over the edge was finding out that it supports high-res MIDI velocity signals, which Pianoteq can use.  So instead of 127 velocity levels (standard MIDI) it sends 16,383 levels.

I'm sure that's not always noticeable, but it should just feel a little more organic, and may be especially useful when playing softly.  I didn't realise they supported this, for PT that's actually a real bonus.

I'll report back how I get on with it in action, it arrives here tomorrow.

Last edited by ReBased (22-06-2017 14:10)

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

ReBased wrote:

So I just ordered a Privia PX160 to see if I get on with it.  I do really like the hammer bounce and heavier-ish action, but the thing that pushed me over the edge was finding out that it supports high-res MIDI velocity signals, which Pianoteq can use.  So instead of 127 velocity levels (standard MIDI) it sends 16,383 levels.

I'm sure that's not always noticeable, but it should just feel a little more organic, and may be especially useful when playing softly.  I didn't realise they supported this, for PT that's actually a real bonus.

I'll report back how I get on with it in action, it arrives here tomorrow.

It's also tri-sensor,

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

Lucy wrote:

It's also tri-sensor,

That's right.

So, I quite like it.  Upsides are the heavier touch complete with a bit of hammer bounce, which I find quite realistic, and the tri-sensor.  High-res velocity also works with PT (didn't notice before that you have to enable that as a special MIDI mode in PT), but I didn't get enough time with it yet to really find out how significant it is (if nothing else it's more realistic, might be more of a subsconscious 'feel' thing, still valuable for that).

Downsides is that unlike my ancient Ensoniq TS-12, it doesn't have release velocity.  From a programming perspective that is so simple to add that it's just about differentiating their models.

So as a controller it's pretty damn good - what annoys me is that, it has great speakers (apparently much improved from the PX-150), but I totally don't like the built-in piano sound.  If it didn't have speakers I wouldn't even mind, but to have the functionality (and paid the premium for this newer model) and then find the sound soulless is irritating : ).  I think the Kawai's have a much better sound.  Also theirs is sampled per-key, whereas the PX stretches each sample for several keys.  And the PX piano sounds decay far too quickly which I really don't like in software pianos.

Of course piano sounds are so subjective, but to me the Casio is just no fun to play.  So I'm considering selling/returning it and trying something else, or just buying a cheap used PX150 instead and use it as a controller only (it's supposed to have the same action).

Last edited by ReBased (30-06-2017 12:52)

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Re: Weighted controller: Kawai MP8 or ES8?

ReBased wrote:

So, I quite like it - Casio is just no fun to play. I'm considering selling/returning it - or just buying a cheap used PX150

yikes e ?

Are you alone there, how many of you are there near your Casio ? lol

Last edited by slobajudge (01-07-2017 10:08)