The announcement of the MP8-II was met with great curiosity on my part, and prompted me to go out and try it to compare against my Kawai MP8. I've been very happy with the MP8, having upgraded to it from a Yamaha P250
. I also own a Steinway concert grand so I'm one of those that is constantly seeking the most authentic piano feel for my main controller (in the studio).
First, I have nothing but good things to say about the Yamaha P250
, or what's evolved from that line. I opted for the MP8, however, because I really prefer the heavier feel, and to me, the MP8 simply matches up like nothing else to a real piano - again, not talking about the sounds. I don't bother with any of the onboard ROM libraries expect for "sketching out" ideas - for me piano come courtesy of either various Giga libraries or Ivory.
The one thing I miss about the P250
is the faster response in higher registers than the MP8, but overall, the MP8 has better MIDI controller facilities and simply feels much closer to a real piano... so no regrets.
The announcement of the MP8-II therefore was met with hope namely because others posts suggested that the repetitive key strike issue had been improved with the AWA PRO-II action... so I took it for a test drive the other day after a solid workout on the MP8 beforehand.
MP8-II: Big disappointment in the new action. The new action is faster, but it is also much lighter and this, in turn, degrades the overall feel. I would liken the new AWA PRO-II action to be much closer to Yamaha's S90 action, definitely not even on par with a P250
; at least that's what it felt like to me. Not sure if this was specific to just the unit I demoed, but the surface of the keys also felt strange; hard to describe but the MP8 key surfaces have a VERY nice high quality finish and there's very little slippage when you strike at high-speed. Not so with the MP8-II... it's a big step back in my opinion, and I didn't go into this hoping for or anticipating this experience.
Whilst reviewing other MP8 posts, I happened upon many that praised the special FATAR action found in Doepfer controllers. Happens that the US distributor is located here in LA so I took a drive over the try out the high-end model, the LMK4+ I thought I'd share my thoughts since many of you might be interested in this unit (especially if you play live, which I do not). In a nutshell, it's a great board! It feels VERY VERY close to the P250
action, and of course, you have the advantage of exceptional MIDI control (8 zones!) and much improved portability over either the P series or MP8/MP8-II. If I were a live player, I would definitely use this controller.
However, the LMK4+ still falls short of the MP8 in terms of overall feel and weight of the keys, and other Doepfer models apart from the higher end LMK4+ aren't in the ballpark (in terms of feel).
Final analysis (of "feel"):
- If you are looking for a master controller with the absolute closest piano feel, have reasonable MIDI controller requirements, and don't require portability, the MP8 is my recommendation. But stay away from the MP8-II. NOW, seems the right time to acquire the MP8 since everyone has recently lowered their price and new units won't be around for very long (once the MP8-II hits distribution). Should add that MIDI control capabilities have been improved in the MP8-II, but the degraded feel more than offsets the new features.
- If you are looking for a stage piano with excellent feel, faster key speed, but at the expense of the level of authenticity (feel) provided by the MP8, but with the best onboard sounds, I'd probably have to say Yamaha P series or the newer line wins out here. Not the most portable, but still lighter than the MP8.
- If you are looking for the best feel with maximum portability (in a controller), I would have to recommend the LMK4+ My impression of the LMK4+ is a portable MIDI controller version of the P250
; they feel nearly identical!
Hope this helps, and preface that everything herein is one person's opinion...