REVIEW - Kawai CP1 Digital Grand Piano, Kawai CP2 & CP3 Digital Pianos - Recommended - The Kawai piano company is well known around the world for producing for producing some of the best digital pianos available on market today. Kawai's international headquarters in in Japan where all of their product design and engineering comes from. For nearly 90 years, Kawai has produced musical instruments that have been played throughout the world and are recommended by piano teachers,
prestigious universities, famous pianists, and students of all ages throughout the world. They produce prestigious 9' concert grand pianos, regular grand pianos, upright pianos, and a variety of digital pianos. They are are relatively small company compared to some of the other major Japanese brands like Yamaha, Roland, and Casio because they concentrate on building pianos rather than have all of the other products that their competitors do like motorcycles, home audio, tennis rackets, snowmobiles, calculators, watches, etc. Kawai is known for their pianos and as a long time piano teacher I have
personally played and performed on a variety of Kawai pianos over the years as have many of my colleges. There are all kinds of Kawai acoustic piano models in various shapes, sizes, features, finishes,
and price ranges. However, it seems that many people do not know about the relatively new CP1, CP2, and CP3 Virtual Orchestra digital pianos (aka: ensemble digital pianos) which are a big jump in technology over Kawai's other digital pianos, and that is why I am doing this comprhensive review...to help you get to know them better, especially because I have played them extensively. The CP1 model digital piano ($21,999 factory retail price) is in an actual full size polished ebony 5'3 Baby Grand cabinet and the only one in its class out of any major brand of digital piano. The CP2 comes in
satin rosewood ($8999 factory retail price), satin black ($9199 factory price), and satin mahogany ($9199 factory price), and is identical to the CP1 grand in features and function with the exception of cabinet and speaker system. The CP3 comes in satin rosewood ($5999 factory retail price) and satin black ($6099 retail price) and both the CP2 and CP3 are housed in vertical console cabinet models which are attractive and unlike any other Kawai models. The CP pianos (aka: Concert Performer series) are only built for and available in North America and no other countries, so if you want one you need to purchase in the US or Canada only:). It's not that the rest of the world wouldn't want these Concert Performer pianos, it just that they are specifically designed for the American and Canadian markets.
What makes these pianos unique to all other digital pianos produced by Kawai is that they are known as Virtual Piano Orchestras/Virtual bands. Unlike traditional digital pianos, the Kawai CP1, CP2, and CP3 are designed for people to sound great and have musical fun with minimal effort. Although the built-in digital technology that allows this to happen is very impressive, it is obvious that Kawai wanted these pianos to, first and foremost, be pianos. In other words, when you play a Concert Performer model you get the best key action movement and response, best acoustic type piano sound, and best pedaling reproduction in its price range for this kind of piano as far as I am concerned. So even if you did not have all of the
Virtual Orchestra/Virtual Band technology built in, the pianos by themselves would be inspiring to play just for the piano playing experience alone, and to me, that is the way it should be. After playing all of these performer models many times, I personally believe that anyone could benefit from owning one of these pianos whether you are beginner, amateur player, advanced player, professional level player, whether you are playing in a school, University, Church, recording studio, or home studio, or whether you are a piano student or piano teacher. You could be 2 years old, 10, 20, 40, 60, 80, 90 years old and be able to make music on the CP's...or you could have only one arm or one finger and make great music on the CP pianos. It doesn't matter what your musical goal is or what your past playing experience is, if you can afford the price tag of the Concert Performer Pianos then they should be a definite consideration when shopping for a piano of any kind.
OK, so what is a Virtual Piano Orchestra/Virtual Band digital piano and why would someone want one? The best way I can describe these instruments is to list some of the things they can do very well. They are grand pianos, digital pianos, a kid's player piano with interactive control, concert pipe organs, concert theatre organs, symphony orchestras, player pianos playing full length pro quality original piano songs, educational teaching instruments to help learn piano for all ages, studio recorders to help create and record your music in many ways and formats, music composition for composing music in real time, sheet music notators with printing technology, professional song arranger capable of instantly setting up the CP pianos to sound and play like some of your favorite music, an accompaniment band to play along with you in any style of music you want to make you sound better, and the list goes on. What ever you want to do with your music you can pretty much do on the Concert Performer series. It is important to for to say that these pianos are not for someone who primarily just wants to play piano along with doing a few other minimal things on the piano. If you just want the best digital piano you can get in a particular price range and don't want the extra music making technology, then you would need to look somewhere else because the CP pianos would likely be overkill and may not be something you would take advantage of. If that is the case then I can help you figure out what you want, but if you are looking for something that can stimulate your musical senses in a way you never thought possible, then a Kawai Concert Performer (CP) piano may be perfect for you.
Now it's time to talk about some of the things that make Kawai CP digital pianos unique among all other digital piano's, and the first thing to consider is key action. Everyone it seems is wanting the best key action feel and response they can get within their price range and in my opinion the CP pianos cannot be beat. The CP1 grand and CP2 console share the same 3 senor wooden grand piano type key action which is called ivory-feel GF (aka: Grand Feel). The CP3 has Kawai's second best key action is made out of an all plastic material called ivory-feel RH2 (Real Hammer 2) and it also has the 3 senors under each key. Three key sensors within the key action under each key helps the piano achieve a better recognition of faster key movement when you are playing music that requires it. It helps the piano perform more like a grand piano than like an upright piano in terms of the repetition of keys. Many digital pianos (in lower price ranges) only have 2 key sensors per key so occasionally the note will not be heard as the key moves because there are not enough key sensors to recognize faster repetition and where the key is in its position at any given moment. So without a very good, smooth moving, great feeling piano key action, all the extra digital technology (aka: bells & whistles) are really unimportant if a manufacturer cannot get the key action right. Good key actions are very complex to design and build, and if it is was easy and inexpensive to create, all the brands would have wonderful key actions...but many of them do not. This is what separates one brand and/or model of digital piano from another...key action authenticity and durability as compared to a fine acoustic piano and the way it really needs to be. If you don't play piano at all or play it well, you may have a difficult time deciding on what key action offers the most piano playing realism for the money or does it really matter? In my opinion this is one of the primary features of the Kawai Concert Performer pianos which separate them from all other brands in this price range for this type of (ensemble) piano. The GF wood key action is unique because each individual key is an authentic full size Kawai acoustic piano key installed over a metal center pin to keep each key stable and secure. This is the exact way keys are made and installed into real acoustic pianos and Kawai is the only brand that does this in their CP1 & CP2 digital pianos. Beyond the fact that each key is done in this way, the key movement balance points, fulcrum position, graded weighting and counter-weight technology allows each key to move in a more precise way giving it an authenticity that cannot be found in other brands of ensemble pianos in this price range such as the Yamaha who produces some impressive ensemble instruments but they do not have the key action design and construction that Kawai has. In the CP3 Kawai uses an all plastic natural balance graded piano weighted key action which in my opinion more closely resembles a cross between an acoustic grand and upright piano. The CP3 key action is quiet, seems to be very durable, and is really a joy to play. The movement of the keys is quick, precise, and quite responsive to a variety of music that you could perform on this instrument. Most digital pianos have plastic key actions and of all them, the Kawai CP3 (RH2) key action is among the best in my opinion. Kawai also incorporates a feature in all three CP models called let-off (escapement). This is a feeling that when you press a key you get a slight resistance or notch about half-way down when pressing any key very slowly. This let-off function is mostly found on real grand pianos and allows for a more realistic piano playing experience. Kawai is not the only brand to have the "let-off feel because Roland and Yamaha also offer this it which is a good thing, although Yamaha does not offer it on their CVP ensemble pianos. Finally, Kawai has produced a proprietary satin ivory-feel material for their white keytops on all three CP models which gives better finger control with moisture absorbing properties. In addition to the ivory-feel keys, on the CP1 and CP2, Kawai has proprietary black ebony-feel keytops that reproduces the organic ebony keys that you might find on a high priced real acoustic grand piano, and the ebony-feel keys on the CP1 and CP2 really feel great and add a connection to the piano that you may otherwise not get get playing the keys. It's these organic details and authentic construction that in my opinion gives Kawai a huge edge in piano playing over the other brands in this product category. After playing all of the major brand ensemble full featured digital pianos out there, it's the Kawai key actions that in large part keeps me coming back to their models for the natural playing experience that I get. For more info please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
With regard to the all important acoustic sound authenticity, without a great piano sound, the "coolness and useability factor" of the other instrument sounds and features on digital pianos take a back seat to having a great acoustic piano sound reproduction. Reproducing a realistic acoustic piano sound in a digital piano is no small thing. It takes expensive piano sampling technology, a proper recording sound room, qualified recording and piano technicians to make sure the actual piano sampling is done right and is going to recreate the organic tonal qualities and nuances of a great acoustic piano. Kawai uses their very expensive top of the line 9' concert grand piano as the instrument where all of the CP's pianos get their piano sound. Unlike some other brands, Kawai records the notes played by each of the 88 keys individually rather than use "stretch recording which samples a single key and then artificially stretches that note up to the next key and so on. With 88 key individual piano sampling, the piano sound will be even closer to that of a real grand piano. I noticed that the piano sound of the CP's was very enjoyable to play and tonally was quite consistent from one note to the next. The CP1 and CP2 have the best Kawai piano sound chip and the CP3 has the second best piano sound chip. Both are 88-key sampled tones from a concert grand but are different in terms piano tone computer memory which allows either more or less piano sound authenticity and organic nuances. You'll just have to take my word for it that the CP1 and CP2 acoustic piano sound is even better and more realistic than the CP3...but all are enjoyable to play. It just depends on your budget and what your musical goal is as well as your comfort level in how picky you are concerning piano sound realism:). Speaking of being picky, all CP pianos have a way for picky people to personalize and customize the piano sound for their own musical tastes. This feature is called "Virtual Technician" and it allows the user to easily adjust various parameters of the piano sound on the color touch screen just like a real piano technician would do on an actual acoustic grand piano. Some of the functions of the "Virtual Technician" include having and adjusting Damper Resonance, Damper Noise, String Resonance, Key-Off Effect (incl. Key-Off Release), Fall-Back Noise, Hammer Delay, Topboard, Decay Time, and Soft Pedal Depth. I have personally played around with these adjustable aspects of piano sound and some of them can come in pretty handy depending on the type of music you play. This is why (user friendly) adjustments to piano sound can be important because even though the CP's offer a variety of acoustic piano sounds, adjusting them yourself gives you more control over how they sound and that can be so helpful when a person is after something that may not be preset in the piano sounds. Not all people will use this feature but some people definitely will and they will be appreciative that it is there. Finally with regard to piano sound in the CP pianos, Kawai has a very intuitive feature called System EQ. This is a fantastic feature because it allows a person to further customize the piano sound and overall instrument sound by individually changing the type and amount of EQ (Equalizer) frequencies on the color touch screen in a very intuitive way. If you want more bass, more mid-range, more treble, or less of everything or adjusting other sound frequencies on the touchscreen, you can do it quickly and it can make a world of difference in what you hear coming out of the internal speaker system in the CP piano. Once you get that "perfect mix" of sound, then you can save it so it comes up that way every time you turn on the piano. It's very useful and I think most people would take advantage of what it can do because it's easy to work with. If it wasn't for the ease of use on the color touch screen, then I think few people would take advantage of it. But in the case of CP pianos, you will be glad it's there and how easy it will be for you to make these custom sound adjustments to make your music sound even better:).
When it comes to the three piano pedals on most acoustic and digital pianos, they definitely cannot be overlooked when considering a piano purchase. The three pedals include the right damper (sustain), middle sostenuto pedal, and left soft pedal. Based on my many years of teaching piano and playing professionally, the right damper pedal is by far the most important followed by the left soft pedal, and then followed far behind by the center sostenuto pedal. The damper pedal's job is to left the dampers off the strings in a real acoustic piano so the strings can sustain and continue to be hear over a shorter or longer period of time. Without an effective damper pedal, piano music would not sound beautiful and in fact could not be played properly. You could have the best piano sound and the best piano key action, but without the right damper pedal working properly or not having one at all, you might as well give up playing piano in any serious way...the damper (sustain) pedal is that important in the effect it has on the piano sound in real time. With regard to the authenticity of how the right pedal works, it should be a full size, full length pedal or as close to that as possible and also should have a particular weighted feel to it as your foot presses down. There also needs to be some resistance to the pedal when pressing down so it doesn't just flop down to the bottom when barely pressing it. The pedals should be sturdy, quiet, durable, tight fitting within the cabinet and built with good materials so the pedals don't squeak and wiggle side to side like piano pedals I have played on other digital piano brands. The Kawai CP series definitely has high quality pedals which they call Grand Feel and they do feel real based on my experience using them. When the damper pedal is depressed the sound of the piano is effected by sustained overtones, sympathetic string vibrations, pedal resonance, pedal sustain decay, and other organic elemental recreations. In other words, there's a lot of sound movement going on when the right pedal is used on an acoustic piano and Kawai does an excellent job in being able to duplicate much of this authenticity with their pedaling and sound technology. This is no easy thing to do and the result of the piano sound quality in these models is very impressive when using the pedals. It's quite real sounding along with having half-damper sustain control for different amounts of sustain depending on how far down you press the right damper pedal. If all this wasn't enough, the center and left pedals can also be programmed to do other things. Since most people will not be using the center and left pedals in a traditional way when playing on the CP pianos, they can use these pedals in a more practical way by triggering digital features which you would have to otherwise get by pressing buttons on the control panel or display screen. This allows for a smooth transition and use in functionality because using your foot allows your fingers to stay on they keys instead of taking them off to press buttons while you're playing a song. Some examples of this are bring able to control the built-in drums and accompaniments and turn them on or off, change variations, trigger intros/endings, breaks, etc, as well as create as setup a steel/Hawaiian guitar pedal glide control, and many other things. All of this simply helps you make more beautiful inspiring music and although you may not use this all the time, once you get use to using the pedals in these ways, you'll be glad you have it and will want to use it often regardless of your playing skill level. It just helps make you sound better than you really are...and isn't that what counts:)!
Polyphony is a word that is thrown around quite a bit when it comes to digital piano specifications that people think is important. Polyphony is a name given to describe how many notes (keys) can be played at the same time along with pressing the damper pedal to sustain those notes without the sound of the notes dropping out unexpectedly when playing a song. This is never an issue with a regular acoustic piano because it only has one piano sound and 88 keys so you would never need more than the 88 keys to play the piano notes. However there is more to the piano sound than meets the eye. There are all the small organic elements within the piano that make the piano sound the way that it does while vibrating on over 230 individual strings. So even though there are 88 keys on a piano, each key (except for the low bass notes) is activating a hammer which is striking more than one string at a time. Over 230 strings is a lot of strings and if you were to play all 88 keys at one time while holding down the damper pedal, to reproduce that experience on a digital piano would be difficult unless you has sufficient polyphony processing power. In the CP series, Kawai has the industry maximum of 256 notes polyphony. However, Polyphony is given in mono numbers and not stereo. The Kawai piano sound is recorded in beautiful stereo as is done on other digital piano brands too. When you have 256 notes of polyphony in the piano, in stereo you actually have half of that which equals 128 notes of polyphony because each stereo note (key) take up 2 notes of mono polyphony. Then when you add (layer) another instrument sound with the piano sound and that extra instrument sound takes up some of that polyphony away from the piano sound. In other words as you add more sounds together including rhythms, accompaniments, etc, you need as much polyphony processing power as possible to handle it all. With 256 note polyphony on the Kawai CP pianos, you won't run out of polyphony even when playing more complex music or using more complex arrangements. I have tried it and the piano sound and features hold up well with no sudden loss of notes when playing a song. When you can play complex, more advanced piano music or have professional arrangements which use multiple instruments and not run out of notes, your music will sound better and you will be able to do things musically that you have not been able to do before which will bring your musical enjoyment to a new level.
Speaking of making you sound great, Kawai has included some exclusive features in all CP models that help you sound like a pro without being one...and if you are a pro you'll be able to make music that you may not otherwise be able to do on your own. One of these very cool features is called instrument arrangement Registrations. A registration is actually a memory button where you would store your own instrument setups and combinations for later use that you created on the piano. Registrations can also be instrument and functions setups done by professional musicians from the factory that are stored in the piano registration buttons, In the case of the CP pianos, the CP1 and CP2 have 160 professionally made instrument/sound setups and the CP3 has 80 of them so there are significantly more on the CP1 & CP2. The registration memories are setup into groups of instruments such as pianos, strings, brass, pipe organs, drawbar organs, theatre organs, synthesizer, electric pianos, big band, orchestral, etc, which you access from the color touch screen so they are easy to get to. Within each instrument group are a variety of individual selections which you access from front panel buttons numbered 1-8. So there are 8 variations of each instrument group and each of those preset variations were created by those pro musicians at Kawai to give you a complex sound setup which you otherwise may not be able to do on your own and if you could, it may take you hours, weeks, months, or maybe never to figure out the best combinations of instruments, relative volumes, effects, octaves, etc to correctly come up with a great sound. These instrument combinations take their instruments from among the 1000 individual instrument sounds in the CP1 and CP2 and from among the 700 instrument sounds in the CP3. In other words, with these unique instrument registration memories you will instantly get fabulous sounding piano symphonies, brass bands, concert pipe organs, gospel church organs, old time theatre organs, contemporary synth band arrangements, woodwind and string orchestra arrangements, etc with basically just the touch of a button. These registration instrument arrangements are not just good...they're great! In fact when you play these instrument combinations, depending and how hard or soft you play the keys, some instruments will fade to the background and others will stand out which emphasizes true volume and tonal dynamics like a real orchestra or band would do. To make matters even better, the preset registration combinations are on the home page of the color touch screen showing the separate instrument names and color pictures of those instrument groups so you know exactly what is going on. In this way you can also learn to create your own registrations yourself because Kawai shows you what instruments they use and visually makes this clear through the color icons in the touch screen, so it doesn't get easier than that. These specific registrations don't have any of the one finger accompaniment chords, drum rhythms, or or other accompaniment features built in because they are only instrument combinations. After going through nearly all of them, I find that using these full setups allows me to make incredible music without being an incredible technician in having to know how to do it. All I do is press the sound category button, press the variation button within that category, and then I have an awesome sound when playing the keys and it sounds super professional even with only playing a few notes. So regardless of your playing skill level, you will sound fantastic. You have to hear it to believe it and all I can say is those Kawai musicians must have spent hours upon hours putting all that together so that you can have instrument sound setups like the pro's do. For more info please email me directly at email@example.com
There are so many types of music styles out there which I greatly enjoy listening to and I love to get the chance to hear great music performers in person playing live instruments. Whether it's watching a great symphony orchestra, a hot uptempo jazz group, a Latin band playing Salsa, Bossa Nova, Rhumba, or Latin Rock, gospel music with authentic Hammond B3 organ sounds, listening to awesome movie themes (from my favorite movies), a toe tapping country band, 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's music, contemporary rock, contemporary Worship music, theatre organ players, polkas, ragtime, and various kinds of culturally based music from around the world...whatever it is, when I'm in the mood for it then I love to listen to it, especially if it is live. With that in mind, I enjoy being able to play those styles of music for myself, but on most digital pianos from Kawai and the other major brands, you cannot do that. There is no band, no orchestra, no individual musicians playing all those instruments and certainly no way to reproduce those types of musical arrangements and interact with them for the music I mentioned, especially if you want to play it live and control all those musicians and instruments and not have it pre-recorded on audio or MIDI files. The CP series pianos solves that dilemma by allowing you access to all these styles of music with a a wide variety of interactive bands, orchestras, organists, and other musicians. Kawai calls this their Virtual Band feature which are professionally created ensemble accompaniments which allow a person at any playing skill level to play the kinds of music I was talking about with full drum percussion patterns, bass lines, guitar strumming, piano arpeggios and chord playing, organ backup, horns, etc. Basically you select the music style group you want from the color touch screen and then press a color touch button selecting from hundreds and hundreds of your favorite music styles including hundreds of intros and endings to make your playing sound even more realistic. Beyond that, when you listen to live music, those players are playing in musical patterns and those patterns change over the course of the song so they are not always the same. There are some ensemble type digital pianos where the instrument sounds and playing patterns sound "canned" and unrealistic, and you know that what you are hearing is not real. Even though there are hundreds of accompaniment variations on these CP models, most of them do sound live and very real with musically correct changing patterns for each of the interactive players along with the ability of the user (you) to customize each of the hundreds of arrangements by changing the types of musical patterns that are in the arrangements and saving them so that they sound the way when you want them to. Kawai calls this feature the Conductor Easy Style Edit system and you access it in a very intuitive way through the color touch screen...easy to do and get an instant result. If
To make things even more realistic, the CP pianos have a function called 1-2 Play which has predetermined professionally arranged right hand instrument sounds as well as song tempos and other facets of the song that correspond in a musically realistic way when playing any of the hundreds of left hand ensemble accompaniments. This means that you don't need to figure out what melody instrument sounds would go best with the left hand accompaniments...the Kawai CP 1-2 Play will automatically do that for you by you touching the accompaniment music style & variation that you want on the large color touch screen. As the piano changes style accompaniments with their variations, your right hand sounds will automatically change along with them giving you an ever changing and perfect rendition of how that style should sound for both left and right hand. No more guessing or sounding like an amateur player when trying to set up the best sounds and accompaniments. The CP will do that for you and make you sound great in the process. In fact there are many configurations and combinations that could take years to work out on your own, so having it done for you with a touch screen button is an awesome way to make the kind of music you have only dreamed of and never thought you could. These are not some cheesy renditions of fake music but they are actually stylized like real musicians would play them and I found them to be very convincing in using them with many styles of my favorite music. So there really are few barriers on the CP pianos in my opinion that would prevent you from making absolutely exciting music regardless of your age or musical abilities. Yes you do need to play some sort of song when using these features but if you happen to be a novice beginner, you can slow down the accompaniment to any speed you like and just take it a little bit at a time. Even in this way you will enjoy yourself...and if you play really well then you definitely won't want to get off the bench after trying these ensemble arrangements out...they are amazing.
Most people have a library of specific songs through the years that they enjoy listening to and it would be great to play some of them on a CP digital piano. Well you could definitely do that using some of the features I have mentioned already, but how do you set up one of your favorite songs to sound as close as possible to the original arrangement of the actual song? What rhythm accompaniment would you use, what right hand melody instruments would you use, and how would you put that altogether correctly? You would need to have an understanding of the original song and its instrumentation and rhythm accompaniment patterns and then where to find those settings on the CP piano and how to put it altogether. This could take weeks or months to figure out if you do it at all because achieving a close authenticity to the original song takes a great ear and lots of training to do. Well, once again Kawai has made even this kind of thing very easy with a feature they call Song Stylist. The Song Stylist takes the instrument sounds, rhythms, arrangements, and patterns that are in the CP pianos and puts them together in a special way so that they reproduce the style and feel of the original song that you like and has a huge library of them built in to the piano. As an example, the CP pianos have setup arrangements for songs like the Beatles "Hey Jude," Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," James Taylor's "Fire & Rain," Jobim's "Girl From Ipanema," Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night," Elvis Presley's "Love me Tender," Oklahoma's "Oh What a Beautiful Morning," and Chicago's "Hard Habit to Break," and the list goes on & on. There are literally hundreds of famous songs including Christmas, Hymns, Contemporary, Jazz, Big band, and so many more all built into the pianos and you can search for them in the color touch screen either by song category or by alphabetical letter. When you press the name of the song you want, the piano is automatically and instantly set up so that you can play your song and the arrangement of the song style will instantly remind you of the actual song. The Song Stylist does not actually play the song...you have to do that. What it does is allow you to sound like the song as far as it's original band arrangement goes. This is no small thing and certainly took hundreds of hours for Kawai to put this kind of thing together with all this music. OK, so you see the song in the screen and you want to play it but you need the notes and the chords and maybe even the lyrics so you or someone else can singalong. No worries because Kawai offers a series of five music books (purchased separately for $14.95 each) which is produced by Hal Leonard Publishing called the "Decade Series." These books have hundreds of songs among them compiled by decade and they are in the Easy Play format using easy to play in keys (C, F, G, etc) along with simple melody music with the note letter written into the musical note along with chord symbols above the staffs. Those books are a small price to pay for the enjoyment you be getting using them with the CP pianos. This means even a beginner can play their favorite music without having had much past playing experience. If you are more advanced then you will still have fun with these books or you can buy your own more advanced music and use that instead because there are no limitations. There are also other complimentary books beyond the Decade Series from Hal Leonard for other songs in the CP1 and CP2 (not CP3) so you have many to choose from (up to 15 total books) if you want to buy them. Regardless of how you do it, you really will sound like a pro with the Song stylist feature and your playing will no doubt be more enjoyable because you will sound great with little effort, and if you have more playing experience then you can put more effort into it and sound better than you would otherwise. I know that's the way it was for me when I took advantage of the Song stylist feature and I enjoyed every minute of it...it just way cool as some people might describe it:). For more info please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
In keeping with the educational and entertainment value of the CP pianos, Kawai has included a special piano learning system with a complete library of well known favorite songs throughout the decades and centuries especially arranged and orchestrated to provide hours of listening, singing, and playing fun with a self instruction program for absolute beginners of any age to play music on the keys perfectly the first time you touch the keyboard. This exclusive system is called Kawai Concert Magic (CM) and it is appropriately named. You play perfectly like magic and it sounds like a concert:). The way it works is that you select a song from the large song library which includes folk songs, popular standards, country-western tunes, internal songs, classical music kids music, patriotic songs and so on. Once you have selected the song on the color touch screen then you decide how you want to see it. There are a few different options including seeing the actual sheet music score on the display screen, seeing the lyrics to the long which has a red bouncing ball letting you know where you are at all times, or you can select the Note Navigator mode which allows you to play by rhythmic dots and plus signs indicating when to strike a key so that you do not need to read music. You can set speed and go at your own pace and when you press any key black or white, that key plays the correct note regardless whether it is the correct note or not! As a long time piano teacher who has taught thousands of individuals how to play piano, I was impressed with how intuitive and useable this system is and what it can do for a beginner to instill playing confidence while helping to teach the important fundamentals of rhythm & timing along with proper playing dynamics and note reading. The songs are preset with fully arranged orchestrations and instruments so they sound great just like pro musicians would play them and you control those musicians by playing the any keys in any order and getting that song to play. This may sound like a toy but it definitely is not. It will subliminally teach musical concepts and in the process you will sound amazing. In addition to the learning and playing aspect, the song library in these Concert Performer pianos contain 176 songs which can be heard like a player piano where the songs will play one after another by themselves and you can sing along to them with the lyrics to each song displayed in the large color screen or you can connect the piano to an external large video monitor to see the lyrics in a bigger way so they can be displayed like Karaoke music for th entire family or group of people in the room. The CP pianos can even display the sheet music notes to each song along with lyrics in the music in case you want to read and sing along with the actual notes as well. You can change the key and speed of the player music to suit your vocal range better and the tempo you want to sing at. This Concert Magic system is super great for kids, seniors, families, Mom's and Dad's, beginners or even professional players like me because it's FUN and makes you sound great and the player piano sing-along aspect of it just adds to the pleasure you will get when using these different Concert Magic features! There is so much more this CM feature can do that you'll just have to try it out and be careful that you don't loose track of time when using it because it provides hours of fun and learning for the entire family. As a teacher and performer I highly recommend it and no other digital brand has anything like it.
If all of these preceding functions and features I have already talked about weren't enough, Kawai also has created an exclusive feature called Player Piano Music which is entirely different than Concert Magic. This special feature is accessible through the large color touch screen and contains (according to Kawai) over 7 hours of original piano music composed and played by top pro pianists in full length songs that will play by themselves just like a player piano. The keys on the piano don't move but the songs will play individually one after another just like a real pianist would do. These songs are not ordinary demo songs that you'll find on so many other digital pianos but they are piano only high quality original compositions played entirely in "real time" and not done on a computer or pre-programmed. These songs sound completely live as if you had hired a great pianist to play a grand piano in your living room and entertain the audience. You know these songs are live and original just by listening to them and hearing the tempo changes, nuances, dynamics, and flavor of the original songs from contemporary mood music to jazz, blues, Latin, and other forms of music. Along with full length original compositions you can also choose from well known classical music played live in the original arrangements by pro pianists at Kawai and these well known pieces are exceptional in their movement, feeling, and quality of performance...and I should know:). Also there is a Christmas song library within the player piano which will play piano versions of well known Christmas tunes in new contemporary arrangements which are brilliantly played and can add extra enjoyment to your Christmas holiday. You can also record you playing your own piano music on the CP piano and save those songs into the player piano library to play back within the Player Piano feature...how cool is that! But when it comes to professionally composed original music played live in concert or having that musician come to your home to play live at a home event, if you personally paid a pro pianist to write over 100 song arrangements and play them live for you, it is likely you'd be paying that person hundreds of dollars and perhaps much more depending on who the pianist is so this Player Piano feature is no small thing in adding more music enjoyment to the piano. Another really cool feature of this Player Piano Music is that you can play along with any of the songs, assuming you can play by ear or have the music, and you can select any instrument sound (piano, strings, choir, trumpet, bells, etc) on the CP piano to use as your play-along instrument. This adds some very nice interactive enjoyment to the player system and allows you to participate in the playing of the song if you wish. With the exceptionally realistic grand piano sound of the CP pianos being played by the Player Piano Music Library, the combination is really outstanding. Regardless of how you use it, just listening to the piano song library as you go about your day or evening is worth the price of admission. Finally, it's important to note that only the CP1 and CP2 have the Player Piano. The CP3 does not have it which makes a compelling case to spend a bit more for the CP2 as opposed to the CP3. For more info please email me directly at email@example.com
I know there will be a number of people who will purchase these instruments but they may not be much more than beginner players just wanting to learn to play and have fun. Or maybe you do know how to play pretty well but need to brush up on a variety of music and improve your playing and fingering skills. With this in mind Kawai has a comprehensive feature built in to these pianos called "Piano Lessons." These piano lesson songs are actual lesson songs that are professionally recorded directly into the piano from well known piano lesson books through Alfred Publishing and other educational curriculum. There are literally hundreds of songs and finger exercises along with classical music which allows you to buy the actual books that teachers recommend and them play back the song or exercise recordings in the piano while looking at the music from those books. You can slow down the lesson song temp to any speed you like as well as select specific parts of the song you may be having difficulty with so you can loop that part from the start of a measure to ending at any measure you choose and then looping those measures so the song keeps repeating that part of the song over and over. In this way you can keep practicing the part that is difficult for you without needing to play the rest of the song during your practice sessions. The color touch screen and value wheel dial on the control panel allow you to easily and intuitively access the features of the Kawai "piano Lessons" so that you can access the various built in lesson book songs fro kids, adults, more advanced players, beginners, and a number of other selections to help in better being able to play a piece of music. It makes the learning and practicing of a lesson more enjoyable, gives you a better feel for the song you are playing, helps you with you rhythm and timing, and intimately makes you sound better than you are when learning the piece. Another useful component of the Piano Lessons is the ability to turn down the volume or shut off complete either the left hand or the right hand of the song playing back to you. In other words you can listen to and play along with both recorded hands (bass clef & treble clef). However if you want to isolate the right or left hand playback without hearing the other hand, you can easily do that and then when you have learned that part (bass or treble clef) you can play it live with the recorded playback of the other part so you have something to play against while making you sound good. To test out how well you have learned the right or left hand, you can actually record it into the piano by touching a record button on the color touch screen and save it and then you can play back your recording of that practice part along with the actual perfect recording so you can tell how you are really doing! This is a fabulous way to learn to play and practice as well as develop your ear to hear notes and understand rhythm & timing better. Also, aside from the built in lesson songs, the CP series can play General MIDI lesson song files from both the Alfred and Faber lesson curriculum for additional ways to interact with music education using additional lesson books beyond the songs that are already in the piano. General MIDI song files can also be purchase to go along with a vast array of music books containing some of your favorite songs. Unlike the song "styles" that I spoke about earlier that don't actually play the song but instead allow you to have an instrument arrangement style that sounds like the original songs instruments and patterns, General MIDI song files are the actual full length songs with full instrumentation that allows you to play regular piano along with the songs. The CP1, 2, and 3, are fully General MIDI compatible which means there are literally thousands of songs that you can get (some free, some you buy) that will play through your piano either one at a time so you can learn and play along, or one after another without stopping like a continuous player piano and you have control over speed, song volume, key, etc and then if you like you can play the regular piano parts over that song. General MIDI has been used for years by piano teachers, students, and pro players like me to learn favorite songs, have more fun with lesson, and overall to just make playing music more enjoyable. Go to the following link to learn more about General MIDI: General MIDI Info. If you want to play and understand music better, the Kawai Piano Lesson features are something I have not seen on any other brand before (except for general MIDI) and it's a very cool feature regardless of your age or playing ability. For more info please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to recording what you play on the piano, the CP pianos have extensive audio and MIDI recording capabilities which can be accessed from the color touch screen. It is not only fun to record yourself to hear what you sound like and how you're doing, but you can create music, write songs, and put together full musical soundtracks. There is a simple easy record mode which you can quickly access off front panel buttons where you can play a song and record it and then play it back immediately.This is perfect for people who just want a simple no hassle way of recording themselves without needing to be rocket scientists to figure out how to do it. Then for the people who want more of a comprehensive recording system, the Kawai CP's allow you to record and play back up to 16 different instruments and tracks at one time. With this more advanced recording system there are a number of editing controls and functions which you access from the color touch screen and allow to to control things like the relative volume between each instrument, the effects, actual instrumentation, and a host of recording details to help you make the perfect recording whether it's your own original composition or a cover of a famous song. You can then save those recordings as a General MIDI song file or an audio wav or MP3 file and then save that into a USB flashdrive to load it on your computer or elsewhere. In addition to recording yourself, you can also see that song in the form of sheet music on the color display screen and print that song out on your computer home wireless printer. You will see the actual notation and be able to have that as a tangible piece of music. However I will say that there are better and more practical ways of turning your recorded songs into sheet music using specific notation software on your computer which would give you better and more controls over the sheet music and the printing capabilities as well as editing the song. But for a very simple and quick approach to getting some sheet music to come up, the Kawai CP pianos do a good job with that and as far as the actual recordings themselves, I believe you will be pleasantly surprised how professional they will sound using the Kawai Song Recorder system based on all my experience with that.
As far as some of the other features that are good to know about, The CP1 and CP2 have the capability of combing four instrument sounds together whereas the CP3 can layer only two sounds. Layering two independent instrument sounds together is what you'll find most digital pianos can do. But layering up to four independent high quality instrument sounds together that compliment each other is not generally available on digital pianos and this ability to hear four instruments at one time having full control over each volume, effects, and other aspects of the sound is what helps to make the CP1 and CP2 sound so good, especially when it comes to using the registration combination presets. This is another good reason why the CP2 console cabinet model is so much more exciting to play than the CP3 console cabinet model because the realism of the instrument sound combinations are so amazing. Sure, you can enjoy playing the piano on both models and some of the other great instrument tones and dual combinations on the CP3. But once you experience the CP2 you will be spoiled in my opinion, and unless you don't have the budget to afford the CP2, there is no question the CP2 will knock your socks off when it comes to playing music up against the CP3 with regard to instrument sounds and registration combinations. Other important but secondary features of the CP models that I personally use include reverbs: Room, Lounge, Small Hall, Concert Hall, Live Hall, and Cathedral. Key Touch sensitivity curves: Light+, Light, Normal, Heavy, Heavy+, Off (Constant), User 1, User 2. Temperaments: Equal (Piano), Meantone, Pure Major, Pure Minor, Pythagorean, Werckmeister, Kirnberger, Arabic 1-2, User, Key of Temperament. Tuning: Stretch Tuning, User Tuning, User Key Volume, Half-Pedal Adjust, Minimum Touch. (Selectable Split Point), Mixer, Master Volume, Accompaniment Volume, Transpose, Octave Shift, Tune, Portamento (CP1 and CP2 Only), MIDI (16 Part Multi-Timbral Capability). Chord playing setup: Fingered, One Finger, Full Keyboard, Bass Inversion, Right Hand Harmony (10 Types), Special Effects: Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, Brilliance, Tremolo, Delays, Panning all with micro edit control, Vocal Mic Effects: Vocorder, Bear, Robot, Duck, and more,...and other cool stuff I won't talk about here. For more info please email me directly at email@example.com
In these higher price ranges all digital pianos should have good connectivity when it comes to hooking up external devices to the pianos, and the CP's definitely do have the connection jacks you need to connect just about anything you'll want. The CP1 and CP2 both have the full compliment of connector jacks whereas the CP3 has less ability. Whether it's connecting a USB computer to the piano, an iPad, external speakers, a video monitor for connection to a much larger color monitor screen for Karaoke and Digital Sheet Music sing along, a pro XLR cable connection for use at events, churches, outdoor activities, etc, standard MIDI connections, or even plugging in your MP3 player to the piano through a front panel 3.5mm mini jack (not available on the CP3), you'll find these pianos can do it well. There's even 2 headphone jacks for each piano so 2 people can practice in privacy at one time. But as I said, the CP3 does not have all the capabilities in these ways that the CP2 and CP1 has so that is another reason why the CP2 is so compelling to buy over the CP3.
The piano cabinets on these three models are very attractive, especially the CP1 full size polished ebony 5'3" baby grand..that one is absolutely beautiful in person. As I mentioned in the beginning of this review, this is the only digital baby grand of its size on the market today and Kawai uses an authentic acoustic baby grand case (including sprucewood soundboard) they make for their acoustic grand piano line and they install all of the CP1 electronics, speakers, key action, etc in this cabinet....so it is the real thing. The speakers in this cabinet are spread out through the cabinet in the wood soundboard which helps disperse the sound in different areas of the piano cabinet and allows the sound to passively vibrate through the wood grands in the soundboard. So you get both a natural occurring sound with the speakers originating and projecting that sound. The size of the CP1 cabinet helps the sound system to work well and make the piano sound beautiful. The piano lid has two opening positions along with the lid being able to lay down flat, just like a real grand. The hardware including hinges, knobs, wheels/casters, etc are all high quality materials (I tested them) and add elegance to the CP1. The specifications of the CP1 are 57” x 63” x 39” and 430 lbs in weight. The CP2 cabinet has front support legs that add design and a touch of class to the piano. The available cabinet finishes are satin black, satin rosewood, or satin mahogany and the specs are 56.1” x 22.8” x 38.1” and 190 lbs in weight. The CP3 piano does not have front legs and is a pedestal model but still very attractive and the available cabinet finishes are satin rosewood and satin black and the specs are 56.1” x 22.8” x 38.1” and 146 lbs in weight. The only slight disappointment I have with the CP2 and CP3 cabinets is that they are not offered in polished ebony like the CP1 and other digital piano models in the Kawai line. Polished ebony does raise the price quite a bit, as and much as $600-$700 or more in most cases in this cabinet style, but at least a polished ebony finish would have offered another good finish option.
I did forget to mention something that I almost never talk about in reviews and that is the built-in "demos" in these pianos. I usually don't pay attention to factory demos because most of them are boring or just typical stock demos and not very creative in showing off the piano. I happened to try out the factory demos on these pianos and was, as they say, blown away! Yikes, these things are awesome and whoever put them together at Kawai did an outstanding job. There are dozens of demos in all kinds of music styles including orchestral, Latin, Country, patriotic, jazz, country, pop, Gospel, church, pipe organ, Celtic, international, Big band, Swing, oldies, movie theme style, full concert grand piano demos, funk rock, blues, contemporary jazz rock including live sounding band arrangements and many (not all) of these songs are original music written by pro players from Kawai and saved into the Concert Performer pianos as demos. These demos (many are not complete songs) can be played one after another without stopping or you can select the one you want and just have it play. If you closed your eyes while listening to these demo songs I think you may have a difficult time saying if they were real live players having been recorded, instead of just sounds coming from a digital piano. Awesome demos....really...and fun just to listen to, like a player piano playing great tunes. The demo function also displays a live tutorial showing the user what some of the many piano functions do along with pictures of those functions and a easy to understand explanation without absolutely needing to go into the owners manual. It's a quick way to learn about the piano and figure out what some of it does and what a few of the strong points of the piano are. All of these demo features are accessed in the large color touch screen and are very intuitive to use. If nothing else, the demos will allow you to hear what these pianos are capable of doing, even if you can't do it. At least you'll know the potential of the piano instrument sounds and background accompaniments. If you were brave enough or accomplished enough, you could try to duplicate those demos yourself by recording your own demos in the 16-track pro recorder feature. Then you can make your own music:).
In the final analysis, the Concert Performer pianos offer a lot of playing pleasure for people of all ages, all musical tastes, and all playing skill levels, no doubt about that. The question is...do you need or want these upgraded technology features on the CP pianos and are you willing to pay the price for it? Is it necessary? Would you be able to use it all? Figure it all out? Take advantage of what the pianos have and make the investment worthwhile? Those questions are important and valid and should be asked. Why spend money and potentially waste it if you don't have to? There are many great digital pianos out there for under $5000 retail/discount selling price that you may be just as happy with, if not more so, but how do you know what is the best piano buying decision for you? The reason I went into SO much detail in this review is because I wanted to point out that the Concert Performer pianos really do offer many excellent ways to achieve musical enjoyment and satisfaction that you cannot get on standard digital pianos. As far as I am concerned and something I have learned in my own life, you really cannot put a "price" on something that reaches deep down into your soul...your musical soul. Ask yourself this question "do you love music and if so, how much?" If one or more of your answers are that music moves you, it relaxesyou, it stimulates you, it makes you feel young, it takes you to a mental and spiritual place that few other things can, it allows you to connect to world in so many positive ways, it gives you a personal way to express yourself, and you also believe it could do that for others in your family, church, school, studio, etc, then in my opinion the investment in the CP pianos is totally worth the price. The more these many music making features in the Concert Performers drive you to want to play music, I believe you and your family will reap great benefits from that. With all my many years teaching piano to thousands of people and playing professionally in many types of venues, I can say with certainty that playing music changes lives for the good and is one of the very best things you can do for yourself as an adult and for your children or other children that you know. The CP pianos offer the most ways of making and enjoying music first hand, up close and personal. Most any other digital piano made by Kawai as well as some other brands are simply digital pianos with a few extra instrument sounds and some recording features. The Concert Performer pianos are not only great pianos for the traditional and classically minded person, but the CP pianos are also Virtual Orchestras and Rhythmic Bands as I previously mentioned that allow you to make music in ways you could never do on the other traditional pianos. Think about this: when you go to a movie that movie is likely full of music going on throughout different scenes and that movie has theme song which is normally an original complex arrangement of instruments and rhythmic percussion, and so