Kawai KDP 90 Review
Kawai has been a stalwart name when it comes to acoustic pianos but of late they have been making a name for themselves by manufacturing some great digital pianos as well. The purists have always scorned at the idea of a digital piano because until now they have never felt and sounded as good as the real deal unless you are willing to spend a lot of money. Kawai plans to change that with the KDP90 by making a digital piano that looks, feels and sounds like an acoustic piano. That is a very high bar but if anyone could pull it off then it has to be Kawai. In this review you will find out if the Kawai KDP90 is as good as has been claimed by its makers.
A cursory glance at the KDP90 might fool you into thinking that it is just another upright piano but it is only when you look closer that you find that it is a digital piano. That does not mean that it loses any of its charm. If anything, it makes it more elegant. The looks somehow retain the classic charm of an acoustic piano while infusing it with a touch of modern styling. There is no doubting that this piano will look really good both as a musical instrument and an aesthetic object. While it might not be the most expensive digital piano it isn’t cheap either. However, this is somewhat compensated by the fact that it looks and feels like a really premium instrument. Everything has been put together with the utmost amount of care and all the digital aspects of the piano are hidden away from sight to make this piano retain that old-world charm. This piano definitely has us won with the way it looks.
This is one of the biggest issue pianists have with digital pianos. Acoustic pianos have a very characteristic feel to them. This is because of the number of strings the different keys use as well as the length and thickness of the string that each key is attached to. This makes the bass keys feel heavier with the keys becoming lighter as you move up the octaves. This has been replicated in digital pianos in the form of graded weighted keys in the past they never really felt quite as close to the real deal. Kawai has been making real advancements in this field and the way the Kawai KDP90 feels, we can attest that they are getting there.
This is the closest we have come to a digital piano feeling like a true acoustic piano in this price range. It is so good that most beginners won’t even notice any difference. The pedals also feel quite authentic making this digital piano the complete package when it comes to the way it feels. The pedals do not feel like an electronic switch but are weighted to feel like a concert piano’s pedals. You can also customize the damper resonance to a fine degree allowing you to tailor the resonance very specifically. This is a feature that is normally only found on the really high-end digital pianos and is a welcome surprise on the KDP90. The keys are all very sturdily put together and this digital piano as a whole boasts of really good build quality which exceeds expectations even at this price point.
When it is all been said and done it all boils down to how a digital piano sounds. The eternal debate between an acoustic piano and a digital piano is centered on this point. Kawai has long been boasting about how effective their Harmonic Imaging system works in recreating the original sounds of a concert piano. Their lower priced digital pianos also use this system for some reason they have always fallen short of hitting that realistic piano sound mark.
Naturally, we didn’t expect anything better on the KDP90 as it uses the same Harmonic Imaging technology to get its sound samples but thankfully and rather surprisingly, Kawai has made it work in this case. If you close your eyes and listen to this piano then you will be unable to hear any discernible differences. To our ears it sounded a lot better than many upright pianos which is a huge achievement especially for a digital piano in the sub-$1500 price range. It sounds equally good irrespective of whether you are playing pianissimo or fortissimo.
There is a very good choice of tones as well. Apart from the two concert piano sounds you get a decent selection of other sounds as well. The pop piano will appeal to a lot of rock enthusiasts while the presence of EPs, organs, strings, harpsichord, vibraphone, synth pads and a few choir sounds makes this a pretty versatile digital piano. What is even more astonishing is that none of these additional tones feel like an afterthought. Each of them have been replicated with the same care that went into the concert piano sounds and you can get some really great sounds out of the KDP90.
The in-build speakers are also very good and maintain their form even when cranked up all the way. They do justice to all the hard work that Kawai put into replicating the tones authentically. If you connect the Kawai KDP90 to an external sound-system then make sure that it is good enough to produce the right kind of tones.
With the way this digital piano feels and sounds, Kawai could have put it up on sale just like that and it would still have been a great digital piano but Kawai did not stop there. The KDP90 features a pretty authentic lid simulation that alters the sound to the way a grand piano would sound with its lids closed, partially open or fully open. This is a really neat feature that can allow you to add just that extra bit of versatility and flair to your music.
This digital piano also comes with the ability to layer 2 sounds and you can create really beautiful and deep music by pairing two different tones like a piano and strings. The concert magic is another really cool feature that allows you to transform this digital piano into a great performance tool with relative ease. You can also record your music on this piano but you are limited to just 3 songs and 15,000 notes in all.
It is also great as a learning tool. The first major feature that helps in this regards is the split mode. It allows the piano to have two identical halves allowing for a teacher to sit with his/her student making teaching and learning a highly fluid process. Kawai have also partnered with Alfred to make this piano the perfect instrument to use Alfred’s lessons to get the absolute beginner off to a great start. Normally, such educational suites that come bundled with a digital piano do not work that well but this is one of those rare exceptions that really work and can definitely give an aspiring pianist a great start to their musical endeavors.
This is where this digital piano gets beaten by the competition a little. It comes with all the audio outputs you would need including two headphone jacks allowing for two people to listen and play this piano without disturbing anyone else. However, the digital connectivity is minimalistic at best. It only has a MIDI in and out option with no USB connectivity. This is something that most of its competition offers and is available on many cheaper models. It is also very set in its ways as there is very little customizability available which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending upon what you are looking for in a digital piano.
If you are looking for a like-to-like replacement of a concert grand piano then the KDP90 isn’t the answer and you might have to spend a lot more. However, if you are looking for a digital piano that comes really close, has an awesome character, sounds and looks really cool and is packed with some great features then this is it. It will more be than adequate as a great beginner’s or intermediate piano.
For its price, it offers quite a lot of high-end features which makes it a great bargain. This is not a digital piano meant for the masses. The lack of USB connectivity makes it a no-no when it comes to digital music production. It is also not suited for people who like to tinker with their sounds and tones. However, if you want a simple replacement for an acoustic piano at a great price and do not need the extra bells and whistles then the is perfect for you.
– Excellent reproduction of the piano tones
– Additional instruments sound good too
– Great in-built speaker
– Lid simulation
– Distinguished looks
– Great bang for the buck
– Lacks the notch feeling in the key-action
– No USB connectivity
- Rated 3.5 stars
- Very Good
- Kawai KDP 90
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