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Kawai VPC1 - finally a good 88 note midi controller?

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Kawai VPC1 - finally a good 88 note midi controller?

Postby Mash » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:08 pm

I've been on the lookout for an 88 note midi controller to replace my increasingly flaky and generally not brilliant CME-UF8. The other contenders have been the Doepfer LMK2+ and the Studiologic Numa Nero - both of which I have had reservations with.

Has anyone had a go on the VPC1 yet? Looks very promising and tempted to order it 'blind' as no UK distributors that I'm aware of...

Many thanks!

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Re: Kawai VPC1 - finally a good 88 note midi controller?

Postby feline1 » Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:10 am

it does look like a quality product - I respect the design decision to "do one thing really well" - so it is focussed on being a piano controller, and so has no aftertouch, no wheels, no nothing appart from 88 wooden piano keys.
At 29kg it's not going to be easy to gig with though!
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Re: Kawai VPC1 - finally a good 88 note midi controller?

Postby Mac.Dyson » Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:44 am

Mash wrote:I've been on the lookout for an 88 note midi controller
Haven't had a chance to play this yet, but all the Kawai wooden-weighted piano keyboards from MP9000 on have been rather lovely. Also haven't ever found better than my Kawai K5000 for a superb responsive synth action. Mac
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Re: Kawai VPC1 - finally a good 88 note midi controller?

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:38 pm

Haven't had the pleasure of the Kawai, no dealers locally. Clever of them to include profiles for all of the common piano plugins. The best concert grand piano I ever played was a Kawai. Better than a Steinway for action, which IMO is more important than tone- not much point in having slightly better tone if it's not controllable.

The Roland PHAIII Ivory feel action is lovely, just a gnats better than the Korg RH3. Is the Kawai better again?

I agree about the Doepfer, I'd have reservations about that one too. My guess would be that it is actually a Fatar action? Or is it CME that makes those boards anyway?

I'm fond of my slightly elderly Akai MX-1000 though.
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Re: Kawai VPC1 - finally a good 88 note midi controller?

Postby DGL. » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:29 pm

Tomás Mulcahy wrote:Haven't had the pleasure of the Kawai, no dealers locally. Clever of them to include profiles for all of the common piano plugins. The best concert grand piano I ever played was a Kawai. Better than a Steinway for action, which IMO is more important than tone- not much point in having slightly better tone if it's not controllable.

The Roland PHAIII Ivory feel action is lovely, just a gnats better than the Korg RH3. Is the Kawai better again?

I agree about the Doepfer, I'd have reservations about that one too. My guess would be that it is actually a Fatar action? Or is it CME that makes those boards anyway?

I'm fond of my slightly elderly Akai MX-1000 though.

The Doepfers all use a Fatar Keybed, their website should tell you what one.
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Re: Kawai VPC1 - finally a good 88 note midi controller?

Postby hollowsun » Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:05 am

The lack of pitch bend and mod wheel puts me off the VPC1. A silly omission.

Tomás Mulcahy wrote:I'm fond of my slightly elderly Akai MX-1000 though.
Damned good keyboard that
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Re: Kawai VPC1 - finally a good 88 note midi controller?

Postby Persian Bit » Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:32 pm

Wonderful controller, though a bit heavy weight [I guess it needs some decent and strong stand, so the total weight would goes even higher]. with it's basic layout [no after touch, wheels,etc.] it seems completely aimed for professional piano players, so not much a 'controller' since it barely controls anything other than the keys.

Being a controller, you would need a laptop or a sampler for the sound source. at this price and weight and everything, persoanlly i would buy a digital piano with same action and size [88 keys] which would work on stage with no need for any computers or samplers, and then would use it as MIDI controller in studio.

If it's got a certain action and feel that you love, it's another story and you would take the pain and suffocation of handling this heavy beast for every gig... :-)
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Re: Kawai VPC1 - finally a good 88 note midi controller?

Postby ajhunt » Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:52 pm

Mash - I found myself in a similar position to you, with Kawai Europe giving no indications of whether they would distribute the VPC1 to the UK or not.

In the end, my GAS got the better of me and I ordered one 'blind' from Germany a couple of weeks ago, and so far I've been very happy.

I wasn't expecting a perfect simulation of a piano action at this price point, but it comes admirably close. I'd say it's on the medium-to-heavy side, but not so much at the beginning of the keystroke - more towards the bottom, because the hammer doesn't disengage from the key during its travel as it would in a real piano action.

The third sensor is definitely something I wouldn't want to be without now I've tried it, and the let-off simulation is very realistic. The feel of the key surfaces is inviting, provided you don't mind a certain 'vintage' feel from the black keys' finish being rougher than the white keys'.

The size and weight is no problem for me since I don't plan to gig with this keyboard, but YMMV!

Occasional crashes when playing very dense, pedal-heavy material are only a minor nuisance for me, but obviously a potential killer for gigging. Hope this will be fixed in a future firmware release.

Overall, then, a pleasure to play and certainly responsive enough for rapid/advanced repertoire as well as satisfyingly meaty for chordal/pop stuff. Combined with Galaxy Vintage D, it really is an instrument that I look forward to playing, and I'm very fussy when it comes to pianos!

Finally, I've just seen that UK stockists are finally appearing, with availability from late April, so maybe check if somewhere like Rose Morris will have one on demo!

Hope this helps.

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Re: Kawai VPC1 - finally a good 88 note midi controller?

Postby Mash » Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:41 pm

Thanks for the great response everyone.

Fortunately this would never leave the studio so weight not so much of an issue. Lack of pitch/mod wheels not ideal - but as others, really respect the choice for the VPC1 to place it's focus on the key action. Lack of faders/rotaries/faff to make way for dedicated controllers a huge plus point.

Maybe have one of these to control mod wheel switching for VI/VSL banks etc?

ajhunt, great to hear your experiences. I'm regularly hoping between studios around Soho so the Rose Morris shout is a fantastic one!

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Re: Kawai VPC1 - finally a good 88 note midi controller?

Postby Kawai James » Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:11 pm

Hello Alex,

ajhunt wrote:Occasional crashes when playing very dense, pedal-heavy material are only a minor nuisance for me, but obviously a potential killer for gigging. Hope this will be fixed in a future firmware release.

I'm sorry to hear that - that obviously shouldn't happen.

May I ask if you would be willing to send me a private message explaining the issue in a little more detail, please?

Cheers,
James
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Re: Kawai VPC1 - finally a good 88 note midi controller?

Postby ajhunt » Thu Apr 11, 2013 5:17 pm

Quick update re the crashing thing - my current theory is it may be to do with an (albeit powered) USB extension cable. Regular MIDI cable works fine. I've PMd this idea to Kawai James and will post if any relevant news emerges.
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Re: Kawai VPC1 - finally a good 88 note midi controller?

Postby Kawai James » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:50 pm

Thank you Alex,

After logging-in, I've just seen your messages, and will be in touch shortly.

Cheers,
James
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