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Kawai CA63 review
#1792063 11/19/11 03:37 PM
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Background: I am a piano teacher, conscious of the fact that not all pupils have the luxury of space/easygoing neighbours/money to have an excellent acoustic piano, so always on the lookout for a possible digital substitute to recommend for their daily practice.

It's a long time since I tried a Kawai, partly due to the fact that not many retailers seem to stock them compared to Yamahas and Rolands. And it is a pity, because I'm very impressed with this instrument.

I passed an hour and a bit playing various excerpts from Cramer-Bulow and found the keyboard action excellent, at a par with many good acoustic pianos, responsive, easy on the fingers, with a nice amount of weight, good return, nice feel, not cluncky, not plastic, lovely soft landing when pressing the key right down. The closest I've come to a similar action is the AvantGrand, and I honestly don't think the "real" grand piano action of the AvantGrand is sufficiently different and better to be worth over twice the price of the CA63.

The tone is very nice throughout the piano, with a full bodied sound which I definitely prefer to the Yamaha and Roland digitals (the Roland sound is especially weak in the top register). There are distortions to the sound (as with all digitals); I found the B above middle C particularly irksome, but this is personal taste and all pianos (even acoustics) have particular notes which just don't sound right. The speakers are nice and powerful, much better than the Yamaha and Roland speakers (I am speaking from the point of view of a pianist used to acoustics here, not from any technical perspecive).

String resonance is particularly realistic and much better than the Yamaha (particularly bad) or Roland version (quite good) (not to mention the AvantGrand, which for some reason has no string resonance at all), however still not good enough to play experimental "new" music (or even Arvo Part): try holding down a cluster of white notes at the bottom of the piano, then play a slow arpeggio of C major; the "strings" at the bottom will resonate realistically, but for some reason the resonance switches off after playing four very slow arpeggios (Kawai engineers please take note! surely you can fix this with a software patch...).

The option of having a large number of "other" sounds such as strings, guitars, etc is nice, especially for younger students who should be exploring all aspects of music making (it's also something I like of the Rolands). I think that Yamaha's decision to give the CLP470 and lower models such a limited number of alternative voices is plain mean-spiritedness as it would not cost them a penny to add this.

A note to Kawai: please improve your marketing and get in the shops that currently just stock Yamaha and Roland, I'm sure I'm not the only one who missed this gem!

So overall a very impressive machine that I will now be recommending to my pupils over the CLP470, which was my previous favourite, and which to me poses a serious threat to the vastly overpriced AvantGrand N1 (vastly overpriced when compared to what Kawai have done in terms of keyboard action at less than half the price).

Re: Kawai CA63 review
mdb2303 #1792115 11/19/11 04:32 PM
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Hello
As I have owned a Roland 307, and changed for a Kawai CA93, and can onlu agree with your opinion
By the way, did you try the CA93 ? as the sound is much better than th CA63 thanks to its harmonic table (ok, it is more expensive, but I think worth the difference)

We are then lucky in France as you can quite easily find shops for the Kawai DP pianos... cool

Last edited by enzo.sandrolini; 11/19/11 04:33 PM.

Music is a lifestyle
(Happy Yamaha N2 and Roland FP90 owner)
Re: Kawai CA63 review
mdb2303 #1792164 11/19/11 05:38 PM
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Nice review, thanks very much for posting it! Your impressions of the keys and sounds are quite interesting!

Originally Posted by mdb2303
... (not to mention the AvantGrand, which for some reason has no string resonance at all)

I looked at / listened to the AG N3 DPBSD MP3 again just now and there does seem to be some kind of string (key) sympathetic resonance, but it is slight. However, my test for that in v1.5 wasn't very sophisticated, so I'm not 100% certain.

Re: Kawai CA63 review
enzo.sandrolini #1792190 11/19/11 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by enzo.sandrolini
By the way, did you try the CA93 ? as the sound is much better than th CA63 thanks to its harmonic table


By harmonic table, do you mean soundboard? I've always been interested to see how much of a difference that makes as well. I'd like to find a shop with both the CA93 and CA63, so I could give my ears a sample of the difference. A bit ago dmd was saying he didn't feel like the CA63 (which he owns) has very good speakers, so I'd be interested to see if the difference in speaker quality and the soundboard are sufficient to finally produce a digital with really good onboard speakers.

Re: Kawai CA63 review
mdb2303 #1792198 11/19/11 06:11 PM
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Hello!
thanks a lot for your review. I'd like to start playing on piano in a few weeks time and would like to purchase either Kawai CA-13/63 or Roland HP-302/305. Hence my question: when you are talking about Roland's weakness have you tested pianos with SuperNATURAL piano feature? i.e. HP-302/305/307 supports this and some other too...
Thanks!
Karel

Re: Kawai CA63 review
enzo.sandrolini #1792214 11/19/11 06:41 PM
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Enzo - I haven't tried the CA93. A problem with retailers round here who have Kawais is that they only seem to have a couple of models, as opposed to Roland/Yamahas, of which they have a good selection from the whole range.

Re: Kawai CA63 review
KarelG #1792215 11/19/11 06:43 PM
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KarelG - the Roland I've tried is the 307.

Re: Kawai CA63 review
mdb2303 #1792245 11/19/11 07:43 PM
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mdb2303, thank you for your positive review.

I'll be sure to pass on this encouraging feedback to my colleagues, and tell them "good job chaps!"

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

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Kawai CA63 review
mdb2303 #1792628 11/20/11 03:07 PM
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Hello!
this is great! So I see first remark done by piano teacher comparing two pianos I consider here. Thanks a lot for all the information here!
Anyway, last question, you write about a little bit buggy string resonance (in comparison with AP) and in this context you talk about Arvo Part in a meaning that its not possible to play his music on this. Please let me know, what piece of Arvo Part music do you have in mind here? I know just (where piano is used!) Fur Alina and Spiegel im Spiegel which looks kind of easy as these are his first works in his tintinnabuli style and then Lamentae which is as noted by someone on youtube piano concerto? I would be a little bit sad if I'm not able to play first two pieces on this piano. :-)
Thanks!
Karel


November 2011: piano entered into my life.
Re: Kawai CA63 review
KarelG #1792765 11/20/11 05:47 PM
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Karel - the piece which requires string resonance is "Variationen zur Gesundung von Arinuschka". His other solo piano pieces, Fur Alina and Fur Anna Maria don't.

Re: Kawai CA63 review
mdb2303 #1792807 11/20/11 06:47 PM
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Indeed... a very usefull review! smile

Re: Kawai CA63 review
gvfarns #1792821 11/20/11 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by gvfarns
A bit ago dmd was saying he didn't feel like the CA63 (which he owns) has very good speakers


Yes, I did ... but keep in mind ... I am the same guy that went the software piano route because I could not live with the Kawai sound. smile

This review must mean something about my tastes ... LOL


Don

Kawai MP11SE, Focal Professional CMS 40 near-field monitors, Yamaha HS8S Powered Subwoofer, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs (Seldom Used)
Re: Kawai CA63 review
mdb2303 #1792918 11/20/11 10:06 PM
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Thanks for the review mdb2303, it's great to see another happy CA63 owner around here! I am in complete agreement with your findings. KarelG, I can tell you we researched the same Roland models you mentioned, and although I think the SN sound sampling is better than Kawai's, it wasn't enough to overcome what I considered to be the most important feature, the keyboard. You can argue how many sensors, PHAIII, etc, the CA63 playability was what really sold us. As dmd has pointed out on several other threads, you can always upgrade your sound with external sources such as Vintage D among others, but you can't beat the action, response, and overall amazing feel of the keys and keybed. Some have said the lack of the 3rd sensor on the Kawai limits repetitive action vs the Roland, but I actually felt the opposite to be true; Roland just seemed to have a "deader" feel to it. Also, the longer wooden keys and the ivory touch surface was better on the Kawai in my opinion (Roland's ivory touch was rather strange and unnatural compared to the Kawai). As enzo stated, the CA93 is the bomb, but I just couldn't spring the extra cash for it - definitely sounds better. I should point out the very subtle differences regarding key letoff: the CN33 and CA93 both have this feature, whereas the CN23 and CA63 do not - I personally didn't like it as much as the CA63; this keyboard is just plain FUN to play.

A final note to KarelG, if you want the latest and best sound sampling in this price range, go with the Roland HP305. If you want the best keyboard action in this price range, go with the CA63. If you've got even more cash, either the HP307 (which plays better than the HP305 due to the PHAIII action, although I still preferred the CA63), or the CA93 are both FANTASTIC digital pianos. Obviously, you can spend a lot more, but in the $2000 - $2500 range for a console DP, this is the conclusion I came to just 6 weeks ago. These things have really come a LONG way in the last 25 years!

PS: I did try Yamaha and Casios in this general price range, not even in the same class or worthy of further discussion IMHO, no offense to Yamaha or Casio fans intended; it's all subjective at the end of the day.


Between the drums, guitars, and my CA63, I am in desperate need of more hands!
Re: Kawai CA63 review
Jamvector #1793163 11/21/11 08:30 AM
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Hello Jamvector! Thanks for your input here. I'm curious if your recommendation of CA93 will still hold if you consider I'm going to use DP with just headphones 90% of the time probably. I (or my wife) have old upside AP here which might be used when I'm at least trained a little bit to not annoy neighbors and also while playing what I've learned for the family "review". For hard/night training/playing sessions I will solely use DP+headphones. From what I know about CA93/CA63 it looks like that just the difference is in different speakers and soundboard which is part of the sound chain you don't use at all while playing using headphones. So if this is true, then for my purpose CA93 is nearly equivalent to CA63. Am I right?
Also you have summed this roland hp versus kawai ca match nicely. I'll need to let our AP tune to see what's its sound and if it's all-right, then I'm probably going kawai route for having good keyboard action for learning. When I'll need better sound I'll have a chance to use our AP -- if it's able to surpass DP sound quality at all. :-) (well, I'm IT guy, so there is also a chance I'll "improve" Kawai's sound by 3th party solution like dmd did but just for the headphones if I end after some time not satisfied by its sound...)
Anyway, I'm very glad that thanks to all those advices here and also on other forums I've at least limited the choice of DPs on those kawai and roland models. For the beginner who would just like to start, this is great indeed!
Thanks a lot!
Karel


November 2011: piano entered into my life.
Re: Kawai CA63 review
mdb2303 #1793446 11/21/11 04:33 PM
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KarelG: With headphones, there is very little difference between the 63 and 93 (one could argue that the preamp in the 93 may be better, but I couldn't tell the difference with the sensenheimers I listened with). If I recall correctly, there are a bunch more sound samples on the 93, and I think the control layout is a little different with more sequencing and misc options. The sound sampling technology is the same Kawai latest and greatest however, just fewer choices. The wooden keys and ivory touch surface are identical, but there is a very slight difference in keyboard action. As I said before, there is a subtle "bump" about half way down on the 93 to simulate the letoff on an acoustic grand which the 63 doesn't have. For me, it wasn't a big deal, since I really only played acoustic uprights in the past.

The sound reproduction on the 93 is arguably the biggest difference between the two - the 93 just fills up the room with warm rich sound. The 63 is ok, and with headphones, should be just as good for the normal acoustic sound samples most of us routinely play.

As always, try to find both to play to see for yourself. Good luck and enjoy the search - anticipation is the best part :-)


Between the drums, guitars, and my CA63, I am in desperate need of more hands!
Re: Kawai CA63 review
Jamvector #1793469 11/21/11 05:12 PM
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Do you all know the general price difference is between a CA63 and a CA93? Also, do the prices for these pianos include a bench?
Finally, how's the quality of the Kawai tech support in the US?

I really like what CA93 likes to offer, but since it ships preassembled, it means that when I have to move it , I'd have to pay for a piano mover. This will add to the general cost.

Unfortunately, there's only 1 Kawai dealer (England Piano) in the Atlanta area and it's about an hour away. I'll try to go there either this week or next week to try these out pianos.

Nick



If you don't think too good, don't think too much (Ted Williams)
Re: Kawai CA63 review
mdb2303 #1793599 11/21/11 08:37 PM
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mrcultureshock / Nick: The dealer here in WI quoted $2200 for the CA63, and I believe around $2900 for the CA93 (can't remember exact price on the 93, as I had already judged it to be over my budget of $2k). I was able to get another $100 off by negotiation - probably because they had 3 on the floor. We had originally intended to purchase the CN33, but couldn't pass up the significant advantages the CA63 offered over the CN33 (probably a more drastic difference than between the CA63 and CA93 IMO). The price included the bench, delivery was extra but I have a truck. We got the darker rosewood version, it's gorgeous.

We transported the DP fully assembled lying on its back in the bed of my F150 (6 1/2 ft box) with a large pad, not that hard to move for me and my (weaker) 16 yr old son. Yes they are a bit heavy / solid, but I don't think its any worse than moving a sofa - certainly don't need to hire a piano mover. Two or three people could handle it with a full size minivan with all seats removed, a pickup, or even a small Uhaul trailer. There has been some mention in other threads regarding orientation of the DP during transport, and its potential detrimental effect on the keyboard, but either we got lucky hauling it on its back, or its a non-issue - can't say for sure. I should point out that the CA93 may be a bit heavier due to the additional soundboard, though the exterior dimensions are the same - others may have better information in that regard.

Can't comment on Kawai US support, but it is quite comforting to know the incredibly helpful and responsive Kawai James is always available on this forum, which is a lot more than the other mfrs can say! Definitely get to a place where you can try it out to see for yourself - don't forget to bring your favorite headphones along, and let us know how it goes!


Between the drums, guitars, and my CA63, I am in desperate need of more hands!

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