VPC1: Questions & Answers

1. General

What is the VPC1?
The VPC1 is a professional MIDI keyboard controller primarily intended for use with virtual piano software. It features the 'RM3 Grand II' keyboard action, F-30 triple pedal unit, USB and MIDI connectivity, and a specially made software editor.
How does the VPC1 compare to the MP10 stage piano?
The VPC1 and MP10 share similarities in chassis construction and keyboard action. However, unlike the MP10, the VPC1 does not feature a tone generator (i.e. it does not output any sound), nor is there an LCD display, or any knobs or faders etc.
It could be said that the VPC1 is keyboard-only version of the MP10, however the VPC1 also offers additional functionality that make it more suitable as a virtual piano controller.

2. Keyboard Action

What keyboard action does the VPC1 use?
The VPC1 utilises the 'RM3 Grand II' keyboard action.
What are the main features of the VPC1's 'RM3 Grand II' keyboard action?
The 'RM3 Grand II' keyboard action features long keys, made entirely from wood, moisture absorbent Ivory Touch key surfaces, grade-weighted hammers, bass key counterweights, realistic 'seesaw' movement' with staggered balance pins, triple-sensor key detection, and let-off simulation.
What are the differences between the 'RM3 Grand' and 'RM3 Grand II' keyboard actions?
The 'RM3 Grand II' keyboard action is largely the same as the original 'RM3 Grand' keyboard action, however the new version features triple sensor key detection for improved repetition and responsiveness. In addition, the 'RM3 Grand II' keyboard action utilises an improved key frame construction.
Why doesn't the VPC1 use Kawai's latest 'Grand Feel' (GF) keyboard action?
The 'Grand Feel' (GF) keyboard action is currently reserved for Kawai's flagship 'Concert Artist' digital piano instruments. Moreover, it would not be possible to include the 'Grand Feel' action in the VPC1 without a considerable increase to the chassis size. Therefore, we decided to utilise an enhanced version of the MP10's 'RM3 Grand' action, which is widely considered the most realistic keyboard action available in a slab-type/portable instrument.
Are the keys really made out of wood?
Yes, all 88 black and white keys are crafted from wood.
What are the benefits of a 3-sensor keyboard action over a 2-sensor keyboard action?
The VPC1's 3-sensor action allows improved responsiveness, especially when playing the same note rapidly. Moreover, triple-sensor key detection allows the same note to be re-triggered without the sound of the previously played note being cut-off, enabling greater expressiveness and control when playing trills. Finally, the third sensor also measures the key-release velocity, allowing the software piano (or hardware tone generator) to produce notes with different tonal characteristics ranging from staccato to legato playing.
Does the VPC1 keyboard action support after-touch?
No, the VPC1 has been developed primarily as a piano controller, and to recreate the touch of an acoustic piano as closely as possible. Therefore after-touch is not supported.

3. Connectors

How does the VPC1 connect to a computer or MIDI device?
The VPC1 features a USB 'B' port and standard MIDI In/Out jacks.
The USB port is used for connecting to a computer (PC/Mac), while the MIDI In/Out jacks can be used to connect other MIDI devices. Both USB and MIDI can be used simultaneously, with routing assignment possible using the VPC Editor software.
It is also possible to use the VPC1 as a pseudo MIDI interface to connect additional MIDI devices such as synths, compact MIDI controllers, etc. to the computer.
What kind of USB connector does the VPC1 use?
The VPC1 utilises a USB 'B' port, and conforms to the USB 2.0 standard.
How is the VPC1 powered?
If the VPC1 is connected to a computer via USB, it will be powered by the computer's USB bus.
If not (i.e. the VPC1 is connected to a device using the standard MIDI In/Out jacks) it can be powered using the included 12V power adaptor.

4. Pedals

What kind of pedal unit accessory is included with the VPC1?
The VPC1 includes the new F-30 triple pedal unit for accurate damper, sostenuto, and soft pedal control.
Does the VPC1's F-30 triple pedal unit support half-pedalling?
Yes, the F-30's damper pedal supports half-pedalling, and sends progressive MIDI values.

5. Touch Curves

What is a 'touch curve' and why is it important?
A 'touch curve' defines how the strength of a key strike corresponds to the volume of the sound produced. This data is often plotted on a graph, and has a strong influence over the player's perceived keyboard weight and responsiveness. A well balanced touch curve is essential for the player to feel a close 'connection' with the keyboard action and virtual piano sound source.
Unlike other controllers, the VPC1 includes professionally prepared touch curves for a selection of popular virtual piano packages, to ensure the most realistic, responsive, and immersive playing experience.
What does 'Approved Touch Curve' mean?
Each 'Approved Touch Curve' is created by Kawai's renowned keyboard engineering team, in collaboration with the virtual piano developers themselves. The touch curves are optimised for the VPC1's 'RM3 Grand II' keyboard action, then tested by the developer using their own VPC1, before receiving final approval.
The VPC1 ships with 'Approved Touch Curves' for Ivory, Pianoteq, Galaxy Pianos, and Alicia's Keys packages.
What if my favourite virtual piano package does not have an 'Approved Touch Curve'?
While the 'Approved Touch Curve' is undoubtedly the optimum way to experience playing a virtual piano with the VPC1, the default 'Normal' curve still provides an incredibly responsive touch feeling.
Virtual piano developers are also invited to collaborate with Kawai on future releases, to ensure that VPC1 owners can enjoy the most realistic, responsive playing experience with their latest package.
What about the touch curve settings in my virtual piano software?
When selecting one of the VPC1's 'Approved Touch Curves' we recommend selecting the virtual piano software's default (i.e. 'neutral') touch curve to ensure the most realistic playing experience.
The VPC1 features an 'Ivory II' approved touch curve, however Ivory II includes a family of different pianos (Steinway, Yamaha, Fazioli, Bosendorfer, etc.). Which of these pianos is best suited to the VPC1's touch curve?
The VPC1's 'Ivory' approved touch curve has been developed to provide the most realistic playing experience for all of the pianos included in the 'Ivory II' package. As explained by Joe Ierardi, co-founder of Synthogy:

"I checked the VPC1 with the American Concert D and all of our products before signing off on the touch curve, and they all work quite well with the VPC1 Ivory II Touch Curve. The VPC1 touch curve is a great fit for all of our pianos because all of our pianos were developed from the same response model, using the same methodology, with the goal of having all pianos respond uniformly the same from a single given controller.

We developed *our* internal touch curves to respond similarly to Ivory II Grand Pianos, which was our first product and the standard by which we gauge the playability of all of our pianos. We're very methodical in the way we do things, and our goal has always been to produce the same playability in every instrument, so that once a person has chosen a controller that they like, it will play the same on all the pianos."

6. VPC Editor software

What is the VPC Editor software?
The VPC Editor is a Windows and Mac OS application that allows touch curves to be created and adjusted by users and developers. This software also allows individual key velocity offset adjustments and advanced MIDI routing to be specified, then stored to one of the VPC1's five internal memories.

The VPC Editor does not require additional driver software to run. However, under Windows, the Kawai USB-MIDI driver is required in order to use the VPC Editor while another programme (such as a software piano) is accessing the VPC's USB-MIDI interface.
Do I need to use the VPC Editor software in order to select one of the VPC1's 'Approved Touch Curves'?
No, the touch curves are stored to the VPC1's internal memories, and can be selected by holding the instrument's power button, then pressing one of the top-most five black keys corresponding to the desired preset memory.
Does the VPC Editor software need to be running in order to use the VPC1's 'Approved Touch Curves'?
No, it is not necessary. The desired touch curve can be set by holding the instrument's power button, then pressing one of the top-most five black keys corresponding to the desired preset memory. Once set, the memory will remain selected until it is changed.
I heard/read that the VPC1 doesn't support Macs – is this true?
Don't worry, the VPC1 performs beautifully with Macs. ;)

When the VPC1 was initially launched, it's true that the optional VPC Editor software was only available for Windows. However the instrument could still be used with Macs using standard MIDI or USB connectivity – just like other Kawai digital pianos. Moreover, it was still possible to take advantage of the pre-loaded 'Approved Touch Curves' by selecting the desired memory from the VPC1 itself.

The VPC Editor software is now also available for Mac OS X (10.8+), allowing Mac users to make changes to internal touch curves, velocity offsets, and adjust the VPC1's advanced MIDI settings.
My Mac is running OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) – does this mean I cannot use the VPC Editor software?
The officially supported requirements for the VPC Editor under Mac OS are OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and newer.
It is still possible to run the 'VPCEditor.app' application under the 64-bit variants of OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and OS X 10.7 (Lion), however these platforms are not officially supported by Kawai.
Is it possible to exchange user-created touch curves with other VPC1 users?
Yes, the VPC Editor stores touch curves in the 'User Touch Curve' folder at the following location:
Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\[User name]\My Documents\VPC Editor\Touch Curve
Windows Vista / 7 / 8: C:\Users\[User name]\Documents\VPC Editor\Touch Curve
Additional .tcv files copied to this folder will be available from the VPC Editor.

7. Latency

I read that virtual piano software isn't as good as a real digital piano because of something called 'latency'.
What is latency?
Latency is a measure of time delay in a system. Within the context of audio, and more specifically virtual pianos, latency refers to the short delay that may occur after pressing the keys of a keyboard until the sound is heard. The greater the latency, the longer the perceived delay will be, and the less 'connected' the player will feel to their virtual piano. However, it's important to note that the VPC1 has absolutely no affect on the amount of latency experienced.

It is true that digital pianos offer a very low latency playing experience (i.e. there are no perceived delays when pressing the keys), providing an excellent sense of 'connection' for the player. However, with the correct hardware and software configuration, the VPC1 and virtual piano software can also achieve a minimal latency, resulting in a keyboard-sound 'connection' that rivals the very best digital pianos.

When playing a virtual piano, the amount of latency experienced is dependent on the specifications of the computer the software is running on. The speed of the CPU and HDD, amount of RAM, and quality of audio interface can all influence latency, while the installed operating system, drivers, and running background applications should also be taken into consideration.

For more information about recommended system requirements, please refer to the developer website of your preferred virtual piano software package.
Will the VPC1 increase/decrease the latency of my virtual piano setup?
No, the VPC1 itself does not contribute to a system's latency.
Any latency experienced when playing the keys of the VPC1 is due to the hardware and/or software configuration of the computer running the virtual piano package. In such cases, please ensure that your computer's specifications meet the requirements recommended by the software developer.
Does running the VPC Editor software alongside a virtual piano package/DAW cause additional latency?
No, running the VPC Editor software alongside a virtual piano package/DAW does not cause additional latency.

8. Misc

Does the VPC1 include a pitchbend/modulation wheel, or support expression pedals?
No, the VPC1 is primarily intended as a virtual piano controller. It does not include a pitchbend/modulation wheel, nor does it support connecting an additional expression pedal directly.

However, the VPC1's MIDI input does allow expression and pitchbend/modulation data to be sent to a virtual instrument or external MIDI device. Therefore, players that require such additional functionality are free to use micro-controllers and surfaces with pitchbend/modulation wheels, knobs, faders, and pads etc. in conjunction with the VPC1.
How can I reset the VPC1 back to the factory settings?
If the VPC1 is using firmware v1.04 or above (verified and updated using the VPC Editor software), a factory reset can be performed with the following steps (while the VPC1 is turned on):
1. Press and hold the power button.
2. Press the bottommost (bass end) three white keys simultaneously.
How can I send a MIDI 'Panic' (AllNoteOff) message if my VI or DAW crashes and causes stuck/locked notes?
If the VPC1 is using firmware v1.04 or above (verified and updated using the VPC Editor software), a MIDI 'Panic' (AllNoteOff) message can be sent with the following steps (while the VPC1 is turned on):
1. Press and hold the power button.
2. Press the topmost (treble end) white key.
I often experience repeated/double-struck notes when playing my favourite VI/DAW.
The VPC1 utilises a 3-sensor keyboard action has been developed to recreate the expressive touch of a concert grand piano. However, some virtual instrument hosts and sequencing software may not interpret these triple-sensor key events correctly, potentially resulting in prematurely cut or unintentionally repeated notes, especially when playing non-piano sounds. The VPC1 incorporates a 2-sensor compatibility mode, providing a work-around for such symptoms, albeit at the expense of reduced expression and keyboard responsiveness.

To enable the VPC1's 2-sensor compatibility mode (while the VPC1 is turned on):
1. Press and hold the power button.
2. Press the bottommost (bass end) black key (A#0).

The 2-sensor mode setting will be applied to all memories globally, and will remain active even after the VPC1 is turned off. To restore 3-sensor mode, repeat the steps above.