KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

General discussion about digital pianos

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joseph
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KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

Post by joseph » 29 Jan 2009, 21:52

Hi Folks, Particularly Marky as this is your bag :D

I am thinking seriously about buying a digital piano, because I am now finding with all my teaching that I am getting home just a bit too late to get a decent amount of practice done on the grand (want to stay friends with the neighbours!).

Now, I am particularly attracted to the KAWAI CA71 piano, I've not tried this particular model but I played its predecessor somewhere, a couple of years ago. I remember that it had a really nice and heavy touch (not to everyones taste perhaps but I like it) and it wasn't so different in weight from a grand. Also, I like the Kawai sound

The thing is, Kawai don't seem to have such a good presence in showrooms so I don't know where I can try the new CA71 and get a good deal on one? I will be in London the week after next so if you know anywhere that stocks them in the capital then I will go on a jaunt.

ALSO, for the same money (about 2K) what else do you think I should be looking at? The purchase is a while off but will be this year. I find Roland has a pleasing sound but is perhaps a bit unrealistic when it comes to the touch, although its very playable. I have yet to try the 3 series Yamahas.

I'm not too bothered about resale value, I'm interested in getting the most realistic piano at that price, It will probably be used for an hour a night, and all things being equal I will probably keep it for a long time, perhaps 10 or 15 years.

My last digital piano, which I sold a couple of years ago for 500 quid, was a Roland HP330e, which seemed to be the nicest I could afford at the time. I bought it in 1997 or 98 for about 1400 quid, so I had it for a long time, and it was still holding its own (against some of the lower spec models) when I sold it to a piano teacher who wanted a 'spare'

PS DON'T TELL ALL THE PURISTS I'M WANTING A DIGITAL PIANO :wink: (oh please do.....)

markymark
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Re: KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

Post by markymark » 30 Jan 2009, 17:42

Hi Joseph!

I'm not all that up-to-date on the Kawai models, I'm afraid. They are somewhat of a rarity in Northern Ireland. However, one of the reasons that the action is heavier in the models you mention is that they all use real wooden keys to reproduce the key action of a grand piano. I think the CA91 has its own soundboard and the CA111 has slightly longer keys to help reproduce an even closer replication of a grand piano keyboard action. They may also be worth looking at for comparative purposes...

I was impressed by the Roland HP207 after being a cynic for many years owing to the appauling piano voice offerings Roland tried to offer. It would be interesting to see how this model compares with the Roland grand pianos (digital obviously).

Interestingly about wooden keys, Yamaha's top-of-the range CLP370 and CLP380 used NW (Natural Wood) keys for the same reasons as do Kawai. It'll be interesting what you think when you try these. Mind you, the CLP380 may push you slightly over your £2000 price limit but certainly try these. There are more similarities between the CLP340 and the CLP370 than there are with the latter and the CLP380. This model refines many of the new features introduced at CLP340 level.

If you're going to London, you may also get a chance to look at some of those less well known models. I have never tried one but you could look out some of the Kurzweil Mark series digital pianos. The reviews seem quite good but I'd suspect they may have a slightly light action if their other offerings are anything to go by.

I think that's all though. Definitely try the Yams and Kawais anyway!

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Re: KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

Post by joseph » 03 Feb 2009, 18:41

Hello Marky

I have been round my local music shops in Dundee, and I have tried the following pianos:

Yamaha CLP330
Yamaha CLP340

Roland HP204
Roland RD700GX (I might need to gig. . . . ;-)

Kurzweill MarkOne(?)
Kurzweill PC stagey thingy that you were looking at.

Unfortunately the shops didn't have the high end Clavinovas in, nor did they have the HP207. Here are my thoughts on the pianos....

The Yamaha CLP 340 won hands down. It was very comfortable to play, and had the least obvious 'velocity switching' (when it switches between the samples). The 330 was poor in comparison and felt a bit plastic, and for the extra £150 quid, The 330 was far less real I guess. it would certainly be worth the upgrade. The keys were almost heavy enough on the 340/330 and I would be very interested to try the 370, which I believe is basically the same as the 340 but with wooden keys. I tried these pianos through headphones and the sound was actually rather nice! I would be quite happy practising on one for short periods of time. I DO of course want to try the 380, and may buy one, but it will take a bit more saving up as there is a large financial jump. The Clavinova has won me over in terms of playability.


The Roland HP204 was quite horrid actually. It had the ivory feel, but really, the sound was odd, it sounded like it was in a bathroom behind a curtain, and there were no effects processors on. With reverb it sounded worse. The touch was quite fast but was far too light to be honest. It had wider black keys than the Clavinova, which made it more comfortable in some ways, but the poor sound and action didn't convince me. At all!

The kurzweills were awful. Really nasty pianos at inflated prices when compared with even the Yamaha ARIUS which is WAY better.

I really want to try the Kawai, and the CLP380 before I decide on anything. Or I could just get a new bathroom fitted for the same money. . . . . . . .

markymark
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Re: KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

Post by markymark » 03 Feb 2009, 19:29

joseph wrote:The Yamaha CLP 340 won hands down. It was very comfortable to play, and had the least obvious 'velocity switching' (when it switches between the samples). The Clavinova has won me over in terms of playability.[
I had a funny feeling that they might. Did you get a chance to listen to them without the headphones? The signal going to the headphones does not always compare with what the speakers emulate. Some digitals have atmospheric reverbs and things to help emulate the natural reverb of an acoustic piano.
joseph wrote:The Roland HP204 was quite horrid actually.
I was at a church service over the weekend and a Roland was being played - I couldn't see the instrument because it was behind a vanity wall to help the appearance of the stage on the church. Two ways I would describe the Roland mid-range sounds would be "sudden" or "boast". Latest Roland sounds have been pleasantly surprising but, to me, still lag behind Yamaha!
joseph wrote:The kurzweills were awful. Really nasty pianos at inflated prices when compared with even the Yamaha ARIUS which is WAY better.
That's interesting but somehow not surprising. Kurzweil is not known at all for its digital pianos in this country anyway. I am also a member of the Sonikmatter forum which is basically dedicated to Kurzweils - a very good forum but filled with folk who can't see past the Kurzweil name! The brand is better known and sought after in USA for the stage pianos and performance controllers they produce.
joseph wrote:I really want to try the Kawai, and the CLP380 before I decide on anything.
As I think I mentioned, you will notice a bigger improvement as you move from the CLP370 to the CLP380 than you would going from the CLP340 to the CLP370. The wooden keys may give you enough of the added weight and interaction at CLP370 but definitely try the CLP380 for comparisons. I think this one may sway you more than the Kawais...

joseph
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Re: KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

Post by joseph » 04 Feb 2009, 00:27

I DID try the 340 without headphones, through its own speakers, but I wasn't that impressed by the sound through the speakers. I'm just so used to the real thing I guess! I mean, it was still a good sound, I just preferred it through the phones.

I am looking forward to a trip to Chappell's next week. The thing that puts me off the 380 is its hefty price tag. I COULD buy one, but can I justify that amount of money?? Will it come down in price over the year?

markymark
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Re: KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

Post by markymark » 04 Feb 2009, 17:47

Yeah, probably but you could be in for a wait before the CLP380 comes down for a while... Even the CLP280 has retained much of its original retail value from its release.

joseph
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Re: KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

Post by joseph » 07 Feb 2009, 11:20

which one do you have marky?

markymark
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Re: KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

Post by markymark » 08 Feb 2009, 00:39

I used to own a Clavinova CVP-8 which I eventually got rid of to make way for my new acoustic upright (P121N). I'm still living at home and am keeping a keen eye on the house market at the moment so I opted for a CP300 which is more portable that the furniture Clavinovas.

Mind you, it only has the mid range GHE keyboard installed which would be outdone easily by the NW action of the CLP370 and 380 but it'll do for what I need it for until I got my own place and more space!

joseph
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Re: KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

Post by joseph » 10 Feb 2009, 11:54

Ok, I tried the CLP-380, and you know what? I actually wasn't convinced by it. I'll tell you why, rather than just rant about digitals....

The 5 step sampling is a great concept, but it would seem that the 5th sample is at the fortissississississimo end of the scale, i.e. the sound you get on a real piano when you attack it with stiff wrists and tight fingers. What is more, it very quickly switches to this sample and the velocity switching is very obvious around this area. Now, it is a good clear sound apart from this, but I certainly couldn't justify spending 3K on it, because I'm not a fan. That's not to say that it isn't a good instrument, its just my personal feeling.

The 370 was nice, because it didn't scream so much, and the Natural Wood keyboard had a nice weight. One thing, although it had the same weight as a grand piano on impact if you like, the key doesn't return as quickly and I became tired playing it. However, it seems to me that the 370 is the best value instrument for those wanting a no frills digital piano.

I then went up to Chappell's piano showroom and played a C6, which made me dangerously happy..... (but at 25K it won't be happening!). These new C series pianos are hot on the heels of Steinway quality (well, apart from the C3 which was a bit disappointing).

joseph
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Re: KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

Post by joseph » 11 Apr 2009, 10:52

OK
I HAVE TRIED THE KAWAI RANGE:

In terms of tone, I think that Yamaha Clavinova have the edge over Kawai, but then I did play the 380 which retails at over 4000.

HOWEVER

The action on the Kawai CA71 and CA51 (retailling at 2300 and 1800 respectively) are far superior to any digital piano I have ever played. The key weight is the closest I have found to playing a grand piano, and although it is a little bit LIGHTER in touch than my Brodmann grand (which afew people describe as heavy but i don't find that), it is very comfortable and I was skipping through the ABEGG variations, the Pastoral Sonata by Beethoven and some Bach fugues in no time. When I played the grand pianos in the store, there was no feeling of adjustment in my touch needed. When I play the Clavinova, I am aware of the difference more.

So, for 1700 less than a CLP 380, you can get a digital piano with an outstanding action. The tone is pleasing to the ear, very responsive and warm, although the Yamaha just had the edge over it.

IF i go ahead and buy a digital piano, it will be a Kawai CA51 or 71.

markymark
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Re: KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

Post by markymark » 14 Apr 2009, 15:07

Well... do you want to put that in review format for the review forum?

D.J.Smith
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Re: KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

Post by D.J.Smith » 16 Apr 2009, 09:41

Before buying a CA Kawai you would be well advised to read the threads about Kawai's build quality problems. I had a CA91 which was nothing but trouble, particularly the keyboard/action. This was particularly annoying as I had bought the Kawai for its keyboard's similarity to a real piano.

In my experience Kawai's product support was as bad as their quality control.

I was glad to get rid of it. I now have a real piano [Estonia 168], for which there is no substitute.

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Re: KAWAI DIGITAL PIANOS

Post by Moonlight » 03 May 2009, 15:27

joseph wrote:
The 370 was nice, because it didn't scream so much, and the Natural Wood keyboard had a nice weight. One thing, although it had the same weight as a grand piano on impact if you like, the key doesn't return as quickly and I became tired playing it. However, it seems to me that the 370 is the best value instrument for those wanting a no frills digital piano.
Yes I agree the key return is slower on the 370 (That’s the one I have) then a real piano. To me though my digital doesn’t feel the same as any acoustic pianos I have played and they don’t have that springy feel to them that an acoustic piano key has. I suppose it won't do you much harm practicing on one at night only, at least you have the real thing for the day. I must admit though I don’t really like the sound of the mid range on my Clavinova it sounds so fake to me, and the staccato sound on it is just lame, you need to put in so much more effort to get that sound and even when you do its not good enough imho.

Its funny, guy like you who’s used to real pianos wants a digital and a person like me who only has a digital wants a real one!

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