It depends on what you want to do.
I believe the Yamaha XG sound engine is superior when it comes to sounds and DSP effects. Also their styles are very good.
What is missing in their Arranger Pianos is an inbuild credit card reader, if they had this feature, no computer at all would be needed ;-)
Some time ago I had to decide between CVP 403 and CP136. Finally I decided for the CP136 and I had these reasons:
I believed, Kawai's wooden Keyboard is superior. I did not like the PVC or ABS touch surface of Yamahas keyboard. (I believe, Kawai uses Acryl, and that is much less slippery if you have dry fingers, I like it very much) This has now changed a little bit, because all current models now have Ivory Touch surfaces.
The CP136 has string resonance. I did not know at this time, that string resonance is unavailable via MIDI. Because I do all recording in MIDI, and because the CP136 is a real MIDI-machine, this is a huge disadvantage.
The CP136 has a complete MIDI sequencer build in. Yamahas inbuild sequencer has not the ability to insert or delete measures in the middle or at the beginning of a song. This was very important for me, because I intend to create backing tracks in a step recording procedure with the piano. If the piano is intended for live playing only, this would would not be a criteria.
The real wood cabinet of the Kawai is nice. It looks very precious, but it has a disadvantage: It is bright wood covered with rosewood colored transparent finish. As soon as it has a little damage that is very hard to repair invisibly. (When a piano is 10 years old it should become obvious)
So, I fear, the wooden cabinet is not as precious as it looks at first sight. But I think it contributes to the sound, I like the sound very much.
Finally, I did not only want an Arranger piano, I also wanted a real classical piano with classical piano sound and I preferred Kawai's sound.
(The other sounds and effects, that are better on the Yamaha where not very important for me, because I need them for backing accopaniement only and not for solo playing)
Also I liked it very much that the ADSR Envelope, especially Sustain and Release and Brightness is adjutable for the piano sound. So far I know, Yamaha doesnt support this for the piano sound. This was also a main criteria for me.
Today, with the CVP503 in comparison I am not absolutely shure how I would decide. I would need to compare them side by side again and for hours.
If I had to compare the CVP 503 or 505 and the CP179 (with RM3 keyboard), it is possible that I would prefer the CP179.
If I had to decide between 503 and CP136 I possibly would choose the 503.
But that is a personal decision that depends on personal wishes and needs.
Whatever you choose, every choice has advantages and disadvantages, it is necessary to take a compromise. For example a complete full featured sequencer is not available from Yamaha, even their top models miss it.
String resonance that is MIDI capable or a 3 sensor keyboard is not available from Kawai, whatever you pay.
Last edited by hpeterh; 04/20/10 07:25 AM.