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Comparing digital piano brands

Yamaha, Kawai and Roland represent the most common choices potential digital piano buyers might consider. All three are reputable brands and leaders in the industry.

Most comparisons between digital pianos focus on features and specifications. While these are relevant, they don’t capture the aspect that’s most important for buyers who are focused on the piano aspect of a digital. The main specifications on digital pianos include the polyphony, a measurement aimed at how complex the sound can be; speaker capacity which affects projection and the type of mechanism which relates to control. If comparing digitals there should be a base of similarity in these aspects.

However, for people looking for the most authentic tone and touch as a piano, the sampling methods and design philosophy make all the difference. In this respect, Kawai, of all manufacturers, apply the greatest attention to the piano function. The other functionalities are present, but the bulk of the processing power and innovation are all around the piano. Over many years we’ve had classical pianists and teachers, who know the Yamaha and Roland ranges, express surprise at how authentic the Kawai sound and feel are in comparison to the common brands in the market. This comes partly from the way in which Kawai produce their sampled sound, using a combination of both rendering and modelling techniques. The smaller scale of Kawai’s production is also important – the acoustic technicians, all Master Piano Artisans, work very closely with the digital designers and engineers, in the same facility.

The organisational and design approaches are also important when comparing brands of digital pianos. Of the three main brands, Roland doesn’t manufacture acoustic pianos at all. The company made its name in synthesiser technology, and they produce a good “digital” product that caters well to stage and studio versatility. The pianistic element is on the weak side, however. Yamaha do have an acoustic piano expertise, but their target market is for a wide user range and includes a lot of “bells and whistles”, multiple models and relatively short product life cycles. This is achieved at the expense of the piano focus. The tone is clean in a digital way, whereas Kawai have a more analog sound that is much closer to the complexity and naturalness of real pianos.

Kawai rate the best in three other aspects: longevity (we have digitals still working well after more than 15 years), with a commitment from Kawai to carry parts for up to 7 years after a model is discontinued; value retention, made in smaller quantities and sought after for their sound and touch, Kawai digitals can retain as much as 50% to 70% of their value, while other brands have an almost immediate loss of value to the point of being hard to sell at all; technical support, we have our own in-house technicians who are highly skilled in both the acoustic and digital piano fields. We also receive outstanding technical support directly from senior account staff in Japan.

For all of these reasons, Kawai offers the very best choice for customers whose interest is primarily in having an excellent piano experience in a digital format. Of course we would say this because we handle the brand, but we chose to handle the brand for these very reasons.

To view out Kawai range of digital pianos, click here.


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