01 Jan Kawai Digital Pianos | REVIEW | $700-$10,000 | 17 Models | Update
Kawai Digital Pianos | REVIEW | Under $1000 up to $10,000 | 17 Models | for 2021 | The Kawai Piano company has 17 distinct models of digital pianos for 2020 which are listed here in order from lowest to highest price. The models are called ES110, KDP70, KDP110, ES520, ES920, MP7SE, VPC1, CN29, CA49, CN39, MP11SE, CA59, CA79, CA99, DG30, NV5, and NV10. Two of the models are under $1000, 5 of the models are between $1000-$2000, 2 of the models are between $2000 – $3000, 1 model is from $3000 – $4000, 1 model is from $4000 – $5000, 1 model is from $5000 – $6000, 1 model is from $8000 to $9000, and 1 model is at approx $10,000 discount price. The newest Kawai digital piano is called the NV5 hybrid upright piano using an authentic acoustic piano key action from an acoustic Kawai upright piano.
Kawai is in the top tier of all piano companies for both acoustic & digital pianos. Kawai began to build acoustic pianos way back in 1927 so they are almost 100 years old as a company. Mr Kawai actually first worked as an apprentice to Mr Yamaha prior to the start of the Kawai piano company and in fact both Mr Kawai and Mr Yamaha were neighbors in the same city in Japan where the both companies currently have their international headquarters…interesting facts! Through the decades the Kawai company began to distinguish themselves in how they designed and built their pianos as compared to everyone else along with having a distinct tone that other acoustic piano companies like Yamaha did not have. These days the Kawai piano company is famous around the world to top musicians, universities, piano teachers, and other music professionals for producing high quality acoustic and digital pianos.
Besides Kawai’s more entry level plastic key actions which are still very good, the higher priced Kawai digital pianos use proprietary custom built key actions, piano sound chips, and digital technology that no other digital piano company has at this point. One of those special components in many of their digital pianos over $2000 are proprietary “long key” wood key actions that replicate the feeling of playing a real grand piano in terms of key weight, key movement, key balance, etc. There is only one other top name piano company out there that have this type of key movement especially with longer length wood keys installed individually over a metal “center pin” and that company is Casio with their new GP-310 and GP-510 digital pianos. So when it comes to cutting edge digital pianos with impressive key actions, piano sound, and pedaling response, Kawai definitely has them with 17 models starting at about $700 and going up to their “hybrid” digital pianos priced at just over $8,000.
Kawai ES110 digital piano | REVIEW | $699 internet price | The Kawai ES110 portable piano for 2021 (stand & tripe pedal optional) is the lowest priced piano that Kawai makes. It has an 88-key piano weighted plastic key action (all digital piano key actions under $2000 are plastic) that plays quite nicely and is on the lighter side of piano weighted keys and those keys move very fast. The piano tone is sampled from a real Kawai grand piano and each note is individually sampled as opposed note stretching like some other digital piano companies do. The ES110 has 192-note maximum piano polyphony and you can layer 2 instrument sounds together with no problem. The ES110 is lightweight at just 26 lbs and is compact to be easily transported. The ES110 has dedicated buttons to select instrument tones through tone group buttons and 4 favorite sound settings can be stored in the instrument. This model has been out for awhile and unlike other digital pianos it does not have a direct USB output connection but instead just has standard MIDI ports. We highly recommend this model if you are looking for one of the best and most realistic piano playing experiences under $700 in a portable digital piano.
Kawai KDP70 digital piano | REVIEW | $899 internet price | The Kawai KDP70 is a newer model digital piano for Kawai and therefore will be continuing on through at least 2021. The KDP70 is basically a cabinet version of the portable ES110 with a few important differences such as the ES110 having more acoustic piano sounds and those sounds have upgraded piano sound technology over this KDP70. The KDP70 does have a full furniture cabinet with sliding key cover, stand, cabinet, triple pedal unit, and small bench so it does look and work more like a piano in that way. The KDP70 has 16 watts of audio power for its speaker system as compared to the ES110 having 14 watts. However, the ES110 is more flexible in being about to take it with you and play it with a single pedal or get the optional furniture stand and triple pedal unit like the KDP70 has. Overall the KDP70 is a good entry level furniture cabinet digital piano and it comes in a standard simulated rosewood cabinet only.
Kawai KDP110 digital piano | REVIEW | $1199 internet price | The Kawai KDP110 is an upgraded cabinet version of the ES110 and KDP70. It has 40 watts of speaker power which is almost 3 times as powerful as the models below it. The cabinet is similar to the KDP70 and although the KDP110 has been out for awhile we don’t see it changing for 2021 at this point because it is still popular. Although it is a basic model and is much like the KDP70 in most ways, it has been a good seller for Kawai especially because it has a 3-sensor key action instead of the 2-sensor key action found in the models below it.
The biggest downside to this model is the user operating system which can get somewhat cryptic at times. You mostly need to look in the owners manual to figure out how to use the functions in this model and select sounds although there are a couple of apps for tablet and iPhone that can help, but overall I would like to see an improved user experience in this model, especially considering it sells for $1199. It does have USB output connection so that is a nice upgraded feature over the lesser priced models.
Kawai ES520 top and back view
Kawai ES520 digital piano | REVIEW | $1199 internet price (furniture stand & triple pedal optional) |
Kawai ES920 digital piano | REVIEW | $1599 internet price (furniture stand and triple pedal lyre optional) | The Kawai ES920 portable digital piano is a new model for Kawai under $2000 and will no doubt be a “best seller” for them in 2021 (it already is) as was the previous model ES8. The reason this model is already very popular is because it offers the most authentic piano playing experience as compared to all other brands and models of portable digital pianos under $2000 when it comes key action authenticity, piano sound realism, and pedaling response. In other words it plays more like a real piano than any other brand or model under $2000.
It has a smooth piano weighted key touch that is neither too heavy or too light and the piano sound realism is pretty amazing with organic stereo grand piano tones and sound nuances that are hard to believe coming from this compact instrument. Pedaling response is very good and sustain quality is also impressive with nice tonal range and expression throughout. The ES920 also has a lot of user friendly digital features and functions to make your piano playing even more enjoyable like Bluetooth wireless audio and MIDI connectivity, audio recording capabilities, and interactive style accompaniments. The ES920 has just come out and there is already a product shortage due to very high demand especially because people are in their homes more than ever due to Covid restrictions.
Kawai MP7SE digital piano – REVIEW | $1799 internet price | The Kawai MP7SE is a stage piano with synthesizer capabilities and is a popular model for the Kawai company. The key action and piano sound chip is actually identical to what is in the ES920, however everything else is different and suited for someone who likes to experiment using many sounds together in a variety of ways and also editing and “tweaking” each of the 256 instrument sounds inside this model. It may look a bit more complex to use and figure out than something like the new ES920, but it is actually simpler to use than it would appear. We like it because we can do musical things on it that few other digital pianos can do and yet still play it like a real piano if you choose to do it that way. It has recording and playback capabilities which are nice and it’s great for live performance, recording studio use, pro stage work, or just to play at home. It has been a good model for Kawai and we anticipate there will be no changes to it in the year 2021.
Kawai VPC1 portable “controller” digital piano
Kawai VPC1 portable “controller” digital piano | REVIEW | $1849 internet price |
Kawai CN29 digital piano – REVIEW | $1959 internet price | The newer Kawai CN29 is an upgrade over the former CN27. The key action and piano sound chip remain the same as do most of the features and functions. However, Kawai changed the internal speaker system and upgraded the quality of that system in conjunction with using Onkyo audio technology so now the piano sound comes out of its 40 watt speaker system more naturally. Kawai also improved the user interface with new button features and an OLED display screen which now reads out the actual name of the function that you select rather than having the more basic 3-segment LED screen of the previous model. It’s also available in more cabinet colors including matte/satin black, rosewood, and white so more people will be able to fit it into their decor. With the same nice playing piano key action and piano sound chip and an improved internal speaker system, the new CN29 has been upgraded in a good way and it’s only $60 more than the previous model so it’s definitely worth the increase in price.
Kawai CA49 – $2299 price in satin black, satin rosewood, or satin white | The Kawai CA49 “concert series” home digital piano has a proprietary “longer key” wood key action which no other brand or model has in this $2000 price range. This new “Grand Feel Compact” wood key action is the most realistic graded & piano weighted key action that exists today under $3000 in our opinion out of any brands of digital pianos on the market, and this is what sets the CA49 apart from all other digital pianos at $2200 or less. This piano key action also outplays any of the Kawai plastic key actions such as what is in the CN29. Beyond that, the CA49 also has a very enjoyable stereo grand piano sound going through a 40 watt 4-speaker Onkyo internal sound system.
The CA49 is focused mostly on the “piano playing experience” and does not have a lot of frills or bells & whistles, as some people call it. There are some other instrument sounds like strings, organ, harpsichord, etc which are quite realistic on the model and the cabinet looks attractive and comes in satin rosewood, black, or white with a matching padded bench. For the money this is definitely the one of the finest digital pianos we have played under $2500 when it comes to authentic key action movement as compared to a real piano. The CA49 is a relatively new model and will no doubt continue through 2021 and beyond.
Kawai CN39 digital piano | REVIEW | $2699 internet price | The Kawai CN39 is a newer model and will definitely go through the year 2021 and beyond. The CN39 is an upgrade to the lower priced CN29 in number of ways although there are some similarities, The CN39 and CN29 share the same higher end plastic key action called RH3 along with the same piano sound chip and pedaling system. So the piano playing fundamentals are the same. However the CN39 has a lot more digital functions and features along with an upgraded internal speaker system. In terms of the CN39 upgrades over the previous model CN37, the CN39 has the better internal Onkyo speaker system, a new and improved user control panel with bright OLED display screen, a few new piano and instrument sounds, new Bluetooth audio wireless connectivity, and a few more tonal features.
The CN39 has 256-note piano polyphony, 355 instrument sounds as compared to 19 in the CN29, is General MIDI compatible to play full GM song files, record and play wav and MP3 audio song files along with over-dubbing extra parts, can store 16 user registration memories, has a full array of external audio and MIDI output and input connectivity, and has the bigger and better speaker system with 4 larger speakers as compared to the CN29. The CN39 cabinet is also larger and takes up a slightly larger footprint. For those people who want some very cool fun features with extra “bells & whistles” along with a digital piano that can be enjoyable for just pure piano playing, the CN39 would be a great option and it comes in a rosewood, black, or white cabinet. However, with all of our experience in piano instruction, teaching piano, and playing professionally for many years, the key action is the #1 thing to be concerned about in any piano so with that in mind we recommend this model for its superior key action, piano sound, and pedaling.
Kawai MP11SE stage digital piano | REVIEW | $2799 internet price | The top model stage piano MP11SE is the epitome of portable, high quality digital pianos when it comes to offering the most authentic acoustic piano playing experience you can get in a portable digital piano. This piano has the proprietary extra long wood key “Grand Feel Action” that puts it way above any other portable digital piano on the market today. We have played this model many times and although there are many other very good brands out there, nothing comes close to this model for pure piano performance including the impressive stereo acoustic piano sound and very responsive triple pedal unit with optical sensors which is included with this model. The MP11SE does not have speakers built in which is typical for stage pianos so you would need to purchase a separate pair of speakers or powered monitors for piano sound. Of course you can also listen to this piano through a good pair of stereo headphones for private practice.
The control panel of the MP11SE is set up intuitively so that you have 3 main instrument sections where sounds can be accessed and you can use one sound from each section individually or put together (mix) 2 of 3 sounds at one time (1 from each section) and you can also set up 3 separate zones or splits for those sounds as well. There is a huge array of editing and recording features on board along with user friendly setups for easy storage and access of all your favorite sounds. The MP11SE looks great, plays like a dream with its amazing key action, and has very convincing grand piano sounds. Even though this model has been out for a little while we see it going on through the year 2021 because of its continued popularity and the fact that no other portable digital piano (regular or stage) comes close.
Kawai CA59 digital piano | REVIEW | $3099 internet price | satin rosewood, satin black, and satin white | The Kawai CA59 is a unique digital piano in the “concert series” line of digital pianos because it has some great piano sound using a high level proprietary sound chip through a powerful 100 watt internal 4 channel speaker system and it incorporates that special “Grand Feel Compact” extra long wooden key key-action that is also found in the lower priced CA49. Essentially the CA59 is a CA49 on steroids because other than the key action and pedaling being the same, everything else in this new CA59 model is upgraded in a big way and it is really for someone who not only wants the great key action of the CA49 but also wants the best piano playing experience they can get in the $3000 price range in terms of a natural, expressive acoustic quality stereo piano sound.
Plus, there are many more additional useful features the CA49 does not provide such as Bluetooth wireless audio connectivity, MP3 and wav file audio recording & playback, drum rhythm patterns for rhythm and timing training and fun play-along, more instrument sounds, and a number of other features including a lot of useful hardware connectivity such as audio ins/outs, USB flashdrive slot, MIDI, USB output, audio inputs, etc. In this $3000 price range the Kawai CA59 is one of our top choices for people who want to focus on the best piano playing experience they can get while also having some very cool digital technology for additional impressive features, functions, and connectivity.
Kawai CA79 digital piano | REVIEW | $4199 price matte rosewood, satin black, satin white | $4799 internet price polished ebony | The Kawai CA79 is near the top of the “concert series” line of pianos from Kawai. What sets this piano apart from all the competition at this price is Kawai’s proprietary and exclusive longest key all-wood key-action called “Grand Feel 3.” The actual length of the white keys on this model is just under 14″ long which is what makes actual acoustic grand pianos so special…the keys and the key length…they are long. In other popular brands such as Roland, not only are their keys mostly plastic with thin wood slats on each side of the key, but the key length on the newest and best Roland home digital piano selling for over $6000 is just over 10″ long for total key length.
Besides the fact that the CA79 uses all white-sprucewood black & white keys with grand piano weighted hammer action using counter-weights in all white keys, the extra long key length gives this piano the same key touch-weight whether playing towards the back of the keys or the front of the keys which then allows for grand piano playing technique which is what all piano players, piano students, and advanced pianist look for when trying to play piano music at optimum levels. It’s not that you can’t play music well on digital pianos with shorter keys, it’s just that the balance and fulcrum points of shorter keys physically cannot key up with longer keys and that’s why you’ll never see a pro piano player play an upright piano on stage because those keys are not only shorter, they are not balanced up & down the keys like grand pianos are.
When you consider its 100% natural longer wood keys that are one of the longest key lengths of any new digital piano under $8000, the Kawai Grand Feel 3 wood key action is pretty amazing. Then you have new proprietary acoustic grand piano sound with 2 distinct piano sound technologies offering 17 different grand piano sounds from a variety of actual Kawai acoustic grand pianos. Compare that technology and grand piano sounds to some of the competition (such as Roland) which offers just 4 piano sounds with one type of piano technology and there really is no comparison. All of those piano sounds come through a new upgraded Onkyo internal speaker system with new speaker electronic producing 100 watts of Onkyo stereo power going through 6 specially designed Onkyo speakers placed in strategic parts of the piano cabinet.
Kawai also offers the coolest internal user interface control panel that we have seen in a piano like this with an android based large color touch screen having touch and swipeable feature selection to quickly get to functions and features you want to use. The CA79 has a big array of interactive usable piano features, educational piano practice technology, Bluetooth audio and MIDI wireless connectivity, and all kinds of recording functions to do most anything you would like to do. There are a bunch of other impressive features on the CA79 but there are other brands of digital pianos in this price range with equally nice digital features. But the “star of the show” in this model is the key action, stereo acoustic grand piano sounds, and concert quality pedaling with a more advanced, more natural, higher level piano playing experience, especially as compared to any of the other digital piano brands in this price range. Beyond that, the cabinet design looks very attractive in all of the colors offered, especially the polished ebony (as pictured above).
Kawai CA99 digital piano | REVIEW | $5599 internet price | satin rosewood, satin black, satin white | $6399 internet price polished ebony | The Kawai CA99 is the top of the line “concert series” home digital piano. This is Kawai’s premier digital piano with the extra long key “Grand Feel 3” 100% wood key action which is the same key action as in the lower priced CA79. The reason Kawai offers this upper end model is mainly because of a more authentic piano cabinet construction process and the addition of an acoustic piano soundboard system in the back of the piano just like a real acoustic piano adding more natural piano tonal qualities and resonances to the overall piano sound. No other digital piano on the market The sound system also has 3 separate audio amplifiers on board custom designed by the Onkyo electronic sound system company along with 35 watts more power than the CA79.
Kawai CA99 continued – With regard to the acoustic piano soundboard in the CA99 which you can see in the photo above, when the piano sound is produced through the normal stereo speaker system inside the piano, the sound vibrations travel through the natural spruce wood grains in that acoustic soundboard and those natural vibrations in the wood are then picked up by special Onkyo transducer microphones placed on that soundboard. Those vibrations are then audibly heard from the soundboard along with the stereo piano piano coming from the regular stereo speakers inside the piano. The resulting sound is a much fuller, much louder, and much more naturally resonating piano sound than the CA79 or just about any other brand of digital piano in this price range.
We have personally played these pianos and heard them and that soundboard absolutely makes a huge difference in the tone quality and resonation and it is very apparent. It’s like comparing a small upright piano to a grand piano, there is that much difference in tone, bass response, and frequency range. The piano cabinet is a “1-piece” cabinet that is fully built just like a real piano so there is no need for piano assembly…it comes permanently assembled unlike most digital pianos that need to have the stand assembled. This cabinet does not have those stand assembly “lines” in it like you would see in a more common digital piano stand so it is more elegant to look at because of being one continuous cabinet instead of separate pieces like the others. The only downside to that is that is if you ever needed to move this piano any far distance, you could not disassemble it like the CA79 or other models..so it just depends what is more important to you.
The cabinet measurements are 57″ x 18″ x 37″ high which is almost identical to the CA79 cabinet measurements and the entire piano only weighs 187 lbs so it’s really not that heavy. The CA99 has 20 more instrument sounds (total 88) than the CA79 and 2 more built-in demo songs. Otherwise the CA99 and CA79 are identical in every other way, but the difference in the piano sound coming out of the CA99 speakers and soundboard is noticeable and makes the higher price justified in my opinion.
Kawai DG30 Digital Micro Grand Piano
Kawai DG30 Digital Micro Grand Piano | REVIEW | $5999 polished ebony store discount price |
Kawai Novus NV5 “Upright Hybrid” Digital Piano | REVIEW | $8500 approx store discount price | Kawai has a new type of digital piano that combines the electronics and features of the new CA99 with an actual Kawai acoustic upright piano key action called “Millennium III” in a specially built acoustic type piano cabinet from one of their best selling “K” series acoustic upright pianos. The idea behind the new NV5 is that there are some people who are willing to pay a premium price to get all the practical aspects of a digital piano like no tuning, quiet play, headphone silent practice, recording features, extra instrument sounds, USB and Bluetooth wireless connectivity combined with a real upright key action with all the action moving parts a real piano would provide.
The NV5 has Kawai’s premium concert grand piano sound chip so that when you play the NV5 with its precise acoustic key action the special hammers on that action trigger the piano sound for all 88 keys using special optical sensors which determines the movement and speed of the “unique hammers” in the Millennium III key action and translates that information in real time to the digital “brain” of the NV5 to produce a realistic, natural piano sound coming out of a proprietary Onkyo multi-channel sound system within the NV5 cabinet which directs the sound towards the player along with sending the sound out of projection speaker ports in the cabinet. The end result is that you get a top of the line upright piano with an actual advanced upright key action with full length wood keys combined with Kawai’s digital grand piano sound chip along with a real acoustic piano pedal system for all three pedals.
If you have always wanted a real acoustic piano with a real premium high definition key action and like the digital features of the Kawai CA99 including the special spruce-wood soundboard in the back of the piano (just like real upright pianos have), then with the new Novus NV5 you get all of that and more in a compact polished ebony cabinet at only 18″ depth from the wall. The NV5 is fairly new and only been out a short time in the USA and is also in very short supply. If you want one we suggest you get in line because you’ll likely have to wait. Please contact us for more info on this model..
Kawai Novus NV10 “Grand Hybrid” Digital Piano | REVIEW | $10,000 approx store discount price | The Kawai NV10 grand hybrid digital piano has been out a bit over 2 years and it’s proven to be a very successful top model for the Kawai piano company. The NV10 is the “grand piano key action” version of the NV5 upright piano. Grand piano key actions are larger and much more complex than an upright piano and therefore have a higher cost than upright piano key actions. The special grand key action combined with a larger and noticeably upgraded piano cabinet brings the price up significantly higher than the NV5…but you do get what you pay for.
The NV10 has a 7 speaker, 3 channel Onkyo sound system projecting the sound in different directions giving you the surround sound feel of a real grand piano. The piano case itself is not a :grand shape” configuration but it does look elegant and has a depth from a wall of about 25″ although it does not need to go up against a wall. The NV10 has all the digital features of the NV5 and CA98 but with the inclusion of a real, full size Kawai Millennium III grand piano action that is found in the 20,000 to $30,000 Kawai acoustic grand pianos.
For a number of people the NV10 would be a perfect combination of traditional piano playing with the latest piano sound digital technology along with all the convenience features such as no tuning, private practice playing with headphones, Bluetooth wireless connectivity to use with music streaming, connection to computer or tablets for music education, and music playing enjoyment. We see this model continuing well beyond 2021 and for some years after that.