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Posted By: JFP ES920 or FP90x with or without VST dilemma - 08/05/21 01:23 PM
So,….I need a stage type piano for a certain place. Having had and played most DP's in the past , I was considering the new ES920 or FP90x. Two quite different kinds of piano's in terms of touch, design, tone and weight.

The Kawai HI-XL sound I remember from my CA series Kawai in the past. I really like the basic tone of the ES920 sk5, however it starts to wear me off after a certain time as a little to static and thin (short) in the high register. The rendering engine from Kawai solved that for me (as least to my ears). Unfortunately that is still (!) not available in a none-cabinet piano design.

Than the sound of the Roland modelling. The V-Piano modelling on the FP90 was too clean, thin and lame. The BMC modelling on the LX70x series is much better (at least the European grand , the American model is pretty bad). Having had the LX706 I was still was rooting for a VST at times for a more acoustic (woody) sound. BMC modelling is a bit sterile. The FP90x has BMC modelling which I expect is similar to the LX series in sound.

Keys: the RH3 has a bit of a shallow depth, but the repetition of Kawai keybeds is unbeatable. You can retrigger keys from a low keydepth-point very fast; better than with other brands . Kawai put the 3rd sensor in the right place, whereas with other manufacturers the 3rd sensor is almost a mere marketing gimmick (hello Casio and FATAR). Roland lags a tiny bit behind in that respect. The feel is good, but effortless and fast repetition on the PHA keybeds is easier on Kawai. The Grand-hybrid keys of the LX706/08 are much better in feel - still a bit shallow - but more sturdy due to an extra stabilising pin, which the PHA lacks. Also , they don't make the swooshy noise the PHA50 makes, as if there is some damping oil, rubber or something in the keys.

Speakers of both seem to be adequate ; I had some issues with distortion and harshness on an FP90 in the past, but they seem to have 'opened up' on the FP90x a little with the added rear vents for the speakers.

Weight is much less on the Kawai. The Roland has a more pro-look due to the better casing, but hey - when you want to move it…

Whatever piano I choose, I'd play the internal sound most of the time, but still want the option to add a VST over the internal circuitry whenever needed. The FP90x now has a class-complaint audio-interface onboard , which makes adding a laptop easy. However, due to fixed internal EQ settings by Kawai/Roland to adjust for speaker setup, you never know how your own sounds will come across, since they lack these EQ adjustments for the speakers. Unless Kawai or Roland included these into the AUX-In / USB-IN signal path. I don’t expect this to be true for a digital input over USB. So a VST over the analogue input of the Kawai is perhaps more pleasant than with the Roland USB interface, if the latter has no EQ adjustment for the input and the Kawai does. Perhaps Kawai james has an answer to that. Things like that are never mentioned in the specs.

All-in-all it’s a tough choice. RH3 versus PHA50 (too shallow depth for my taste , but better repetition on Kawai). Analogue versus USB-audio in - how will it compare in sound in the end over the build-in speakers. Will it sound too much ‘off’ if not compensated for the non-linearity or the speakers. 24 kg versus 17 (?) , a warm, ambient and dynamic base sound with more static , short higher register in the Kawai versus the versatile modelling and ‘singing’ of the longer resonating mid and high tones of the Roland , but less authentic base register (which is a flaw of modelling engines IMHO. Pianoteq also falls-through in the non-realistic base sound).

My ideal portable type piano would have:
Roland Grand Hybrid keys with the repetition speed of the Kawai (lower 3rd sensor), Rendering engine of the the Kawai, or a next incarnation of BMC modelling with more authentic bases and less sterile sound, USB class compliant audio / MIDI , but compensated for the irregularities of the slab speakers when playing over the build-in loudspeakers. A sturdy plastic/carbon casing to reduce weight. Compact design. And ditch the old 300 extra garbage sounds and accompaniment etc, stick to the best AC piano you can get; people can add extras with a VST or app later if they want to.

For now , still torn between the two. Absence of models in the shops make a try and buy impossible. So I wonder how early adapters that have received units like their purchase , considering the points discussed above. Also about VST over USB or Aux audio in and how it sound over speakers. Thanks !
I'm confused by your comment about the rendering engine - which is 'harmonic imaging' and is used in the ES920, and HIXL on the MP7. Or am I missing something here?

I was excited to be able to run VSTs through my Kawai's on-board sound system, but then found I wasn't really happy with the performance. Maybe the Onkyo supported instruments will be better, but it was obvious to me the sound was being processed, and I believe there was a bit of extra latency. Maybe without headphones I wouldn't have noticed as much. I would expect this to be better with Roland since they have more of an electronics history, but that's 100% assumption.

I like Kawai's samples but they don't compete with the velocity layers of a DP. Roland's modeling might make up for that - thinking here in terms of dynamic response (I find VST way more expressive.)
Originally Posted by Joe Garfield
I'm confused by your comment about the rendering engine - which is 'harmonic imaging' and is used in the ES920, and HIXL on the MP7. Or am I missing something here?

The Kawai ES 920 has the HI-XL sounds.
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