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#1506562 - 08/31/10 11:17 AM Kawai or Yamaha? Which one is better?
hangabounga Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/30/10
Posts: 5
I'm looking for a digital piano and I had a look at 2 that I really like.

The first one is a Kawai CL25. It's pretty good for its size. I live in an apartment so I can't have a big piano. The touch feels good because the weight is not attached to the keys so when you play it feels like there's a hammer inside hitting a string. basically, it feels like a real piano. It has 8 different sounds and I can combine 2 at the same time (e.g piano with strings). the only problem is that the sound is not loud enough (not the way I love it). probably because the speakers are not big.

the second one is a Yamaha YDP 181. It's bigger, heavier and more expensive. It has more features (record button, USB port, 8 different sounds but I can't combine 2 at the same time). The sound is not bad at all. But I think the thing is that the weight is attached to the keys so when you play it just feels heavy but doesn't feel like a real piano.

I used to have an upright U3 Yamaha piano which I love. But now I can't afford a huge, heavy real piano that takes too much place and is impossible to move. Yamaha is pretty famous but it's kinda expensive. The Kawai fits more in my budget but I don't I love it, I just like it.

So which one should I choose?
I really need some advice. Explanations along with the advices would be much appreciated.
Thank you


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#1506581 - 08/31/10 11:57 AM Re: Kawai or Yamaha? Which one is better? [Re: hangabounga]
LaRate Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 250
Loc: Germany
At the budget we are talking here, you are going to have to make some compromises.

First, both instruments have a hammer action - that means they have actually little hammers built in that try to simulate an acoustic action. Obviously there are no strings to be hit, so these hammers are just there for the feeling (they simply hit a padded surface). I find your impression of the Yamaha keyboard interesting, since it does have a hammer action (one that seems to fail to convince you, however).

With your constraints in budget and space, I would also look at stage pianos - they are technically equivalent (if not slightly better at the same price), they just don't look like a piano.

Alternative suggestions for you to try out would be the Yamaha P-95, the Korg SP-170 and SP-250, and the Casio PX-130.

To improve the sound issue a bit, you can try and hook some external speakers to the instrument. Unfortunately, in this price category you'll have to use the headphone jack for that, since these models lack a line-level output (the exception is the SP-250).

#1506583 - 08/31/10 12:00 PM Re: Kawai or Yamaha? Which one is better? [Re: hangabounga]
Kawai James Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 12867
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
hangabounga (great name by the way - reminds me of an old computer game I used to play...),

The two instruments that you have highlighted occupy different segments of the digital piano market. While they both share common features (88 keys, piano sound, etc.) they're not really directly comparable.

My recommendation would be to broaden your search and try to compare similar models.

The CL25 is the one of the oldest Kawai models, but is still an attractive instrument due to its low cost, compact size, and relatively good specification.

If you are particularly keen on a compact instrument, you should also consider the following models:

- Kawai CL35 (slightly bigger version of the CL25, but with better keyboard action and piano sound)
- Yamaha YDP-S31
- Korg LP-350
- Roland F110
- Casio PX-730/PX-830

The Yamaha YDP-181 is a brand new instrument (I've yet to try one myself, but the specifications look pretty good), however this is obviously larger and more expensive than the CL25.

If you prefer this kind of 'console' digital piano and are prepared to pay for the extra features, I suggest you also consider the following alternative instruments:

- Kawai CN23 or CN33
- Roland RP-201 or HP-302
- Casio AP-220, AP-420

Finally, I should perhaps point out that while the Kawai CL25 keyboard action features weighted hammers (just like the YDP-181 and most other digital pianos manufactured in the past 10+ years), there are definitely no strings being struck inside.

I hope this helps.

Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

#1506604 - 08/31/10 12:30 PM Re: Kawai or Yamaha? Which one is better? [Re: LaRate]
hangabounga Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/30/10
Posts: 5
La rate,
I did try the Yamaha P95. My friend has a Yamaha 85. I've tried them both but I like furniture pianos more than stage pianos. Stage pianos need stands and when I play, I feel like it's shaky (even though it's not but it's just the feeling).
Also stage pianos have way too much features that I don't need and that I don't really want to pay for.
But thanks for the suggestions.

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#1506631 - 08/31/10 01:50 PM Re: Kawai or Yamaha? Which one is better? [Re: Kawai James]
hangabounga Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/30/10
Posts: 5
I had a look at Yamaha YDP S31 but I didn't really like it.
I am considering the Kawai CN23 but I didn't have a close look at it. It seems pretty good.
But what about Yamaha Clavinova, CLP series? what is your opinion about those? (you seem to have a lot of knowledge about digital pianos so I trust your judgement).
btw I know that digital pianos don't have strings inside. I was just trying to describe hammer action but apparently I failed.

#1506674 - 08/31/10 03:05 PM Re: Kawai or Yamaha? Which one is better? [Re: hangabounga]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
The Kawai is good but Yamaha makes many other digital pianos. And have you tried any of the beter Rolands. I'd suggest you at least try a Roland piano that has the PHA (none-Alpha) kay action. It is lighter then Yamaha and has a different feel from Kawai. You may hate it but it's a third option that many people like. None of the trhee is "best".

The action in both the Yamaha and Kawai uses weighted hammers. The Yamaha GH action is heavier then Kawai's but both have the weights out on the end of a moving lever, not in the keys. Buy which ever one you like best. Both are good.

Yamaha does make some cheaper pianos which have less good key actions but I think the "181" has the better GH action.

Any digital piano can be made as loud as you like. All you need is some bigger speakers and an amplifier. Liten to the piano's sound using good headphones. Speakers just don't work well inside a large store. Souse good headphones and just know that for large volume, like you are used to on your acoutic piano you will need soe physically large speakers no mater which of these digital
pianos you buy.

Yamaha makes a CLP (clavinova) series of pianos too. These have some features above the YDP series but are not fundamentally different. Features such as slightly larger built-in speakers and on the more expensive versions, textured keytops. But the basic sound and key action in the CLP range is very much like what you find in the P155 or YDP181 or ydp161.

I own a P155 and get to play a few hours a week on an older Kawai CN. The older CNs are rather synthetic sounding but this is better with the most recent models and now I think the recent Kawais are about as good as the P155 and which to buy depends on which keys action you like, Kawai's being lighter.

the P155 is best thought of as a portable version of a CLP Clavinova.

Edited by ChrisA (08/31/10 03:16 PM)

#1506743 - 08/31/10 05:52 PM Re: Kawai or Yamaha? Which one is better? [Re: hangabounga]
Kawai James Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 12867
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan

Is there a particular reason why you didn't like the YDP-S31?
If you are considering the CL25 for its compact size, the Yamaha would arguably be the closest competitor.

Originally Posted By: hangabounga
I am considering the Kawai CN23 but I didn't have a close look at it.

Well, I strongly recommend trying it again. The CN23's keyboard action and piano sound are far superior to that of the ageing CL25, and it's generally a much closer competitor to the YDP-161/YDP-181.

[qoute=hangabounga]what about Yamaha Clavinova, CLP series?[/quote]

Certainly, the Clavinova models are also worth considering, however the current generation launched a few years ago are arguably coming to the end of their product life. Furthermore, as ChrisA correctly notes, the YDP-161 and CLP-320 already share largely the same specification, therefore at this level, if you are less concerned about the improved warranty, support, and resale value of the more expensive CLPs, it's perhaps better to stick with the newer YDP models.

Originally Posted By: hangabounga
(you seem to have a lot of knowledge about digital pianos so I trust your judgement)

Thank you, I grew up playing keyboards and digitals, and have obviously learned a considerable amount as a result of my job. To be honest, I think it's almost inevitable that I'm going to be a little biased towards Kawai, however I try to present all the relevant options as fairly and as possible, and allow folks to make up their own mind as to which instrument is best for them.

I hope this helps.

Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

#1506839 - 08/31/10 08:34 PM Re: Kawai or Yamaha? Which one is better? [Re: Kawai James]
wildpaws Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/25/07
Posts: 154
Loc: Richmond, VA
Choosing a piano, whether it be acoustic or digital, is a very subjective thing. You may not like what I think is the best DP, just as I might not like your choice. It very much depends on how it feels to you when you're playing and how it sounds to your ears, your perceptions, wants, and needs may be completely different than mine. All of the major manufacturers cover wide price and feature ranges, in the end it is up to each of us to decide what is best for our needs. No different than in acoustic pianos, some prefer Yamaha, some prefer Steinway, some prefer Kawai, some prefer Bosendorfer, they all sound/feel different from each other.
DX7IIFD, SY77, SY99, Hammond C3, Steinway L, CP300, etc.


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