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Joined: Aug 2022
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Hi everyone,

I recently bought a Kawai CA79 after watching and reading many reviews. I also own a Roland HP605 that I bought a few years ago. Note that the CA79 is quite a bit more expensive. I'm pretty disappointed with my purchase. Besides the recent thread about the NV5S, I'm wondering if anyone else observed similar problems with their recent Kawai purchase.

I immediately found the sound to be rather unpleasant compared to what I'm used to from my Roland, but this may just be a matter of taste. The sound is very shrill. So I set it to "warm" or "romantic" and that's a bit better for my ears, even if it sounds very artificial.

But what I find much more disturbing is that the entire keyboard is clearly crooked. All the keys are tilted to one side. The box with the volume knob and power button is extremely crooked, but that's just a cosmetic issue. However, the keys being tilted is actively distracting me while I play. In addition, the spaces between the keys are very uneven.

All of these issues are non-existent in my Roland and readily visible from the pictures I uploaded:

Keys are obviously crooked to the left. You can see how the white keys form a "ladder" around the black keys. The spacing is also uneven.
[Linked Image]

Keys are clearly not at a 90° angle:
[Linked Image]

Totally crooked box on the right:
[Linked Image]

From the side, the uneven gaps are also very obvious:
[Linked Image]

Did I receive a lemon or is this considered 'normal build quality' for Kawai? I'm stunned how this would pass QC...

Best regards,
Peter

Last edited by rollingroland; 08/06/22 12:52 AM.
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I don't know what's Kawai's quality standard for these things, but one relevant thing is that the design of the key actions are very different.

The Roland uses metal and plastic and everything should be accurate.

The Kawai uses wooden keysticks, metal pins with felt bushings etc. just like an acoustic piano, so there's more change for things to be misaligned. Then again I suppose a service technician could actually do something about it whereas on the Roland trying to move things around would just break it.

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Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
The Roland uses metal and plastic and everything should be accurate.
Not quite sure where you got this from - see below. As for Kawai QC that has been raised quite a few times on PW. I think a replacement is needed.

'The HP605 has a new type of keyboard that blends wood and molded material for the best of both worlds; beautiful wooden sides give each key a familiar, rigid mass that feels just right to play, while the durable inner frame means you can enjoy your Roland piano every day for years to come without worrying about reliability.'


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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
The Roland uses metal and plastic and everything should be accurate.
Not quite sure where you got this from - see below. As for Kawai QC that has been raised quite a few times on PW. I think a replacement is needed.

'The HP605 has a new type of keyboard that blends wood and molded material for the best of both worlds; beautiful wooden sides give each key a familiar, rigid mass that feels just right to play, while the durable inner frame means you can enjoy your Roland piano every day for years to come without worrying about reliability.'

Kawai uses wooden key sticks in the CA series, while Roland wood-plated plastic.

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I have the EB version of the 79 and all is square but the keys have 'walked' over the first year some more than others to the same effect as yours in gaping. As for the sound, I have only my old CVP Yam as a comparison and the sound of the Kawai is much more (too) sensitive and very fine very temperamental to the pressures placed when playing. I have become used to and alter my playing to accommodate the odd loud keys. I feel sure that the advancements offered by modern DP's have advantages over the older ways of producing sound. But this instrument is definitely not a pro instrument. At three grand or above it is at best an expensive toy like all the others in this bracket. Looking at your pictures I would say the alignment issues could be fixed by adjusting the beds. Kawai love their name or Brand so much they even display this by placing their sticker (note cheap sticker) on the squit for all to see, right an the front.

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Originally Posted by _sem_
Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
The Roland uses metal and plastic and everything should be accurate.
Not quite sure where you got this from - see below. As for Kawai QC that has been raised quite a few times on PW. I think a replacement is needed.

'The HP605 has a new type of keyboard that blends wood and molded material for the best of both worlds; beautiful wooden sides give each key a familiar, rigid mass that feels just right to play, while the durable inner frame means you can enjoy your Roland piano every day for years to come without worrying about reliability.'

Kawai uses wooden key sticks in the CA series, while Roland wood-plated plastic.
Well yes but that doesn't address the issues raised.


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all wood products will have some twisting over time. they should be able to square up the right cheek block for you.

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My point was that the actual mechanical structure in Roland is based on metal and plastic and parts with tight tolerances.

Yeah, they also put wooden blocks on the sides of the white keys, but Roland themselves make the point that having the plastic core supposedly is more rigid and stable.

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Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
My point was that the actual mechanical structure in Roland is based on metal and plastic and parts with tight tolerances.

Yeah, they also put wooden blocks on the sides of the white keys, but Roland themselves make the point that having the plastic core supposedly is more rigid and stable.
I don't think this is really relevant to the OP's problem. If he searches PW he will see for himself that this sort of issue has arisen before. The solution as I think Kawai James will suggest is to go back to the dealer and probably get a replacement.


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Don't know about CA79, but I owned CA17 several years ago and it's build quality was disappointing.


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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
I don't think this is really relevant to the OP's problem.

Knowing the design differences between the Roland and Kawai and getting Kawai to fix the Kawai are not mutually exclusive in any way.

I'm in no way stopping rollingroland from contacting Kawai or the dealer and inquiring about this issue.

The design difference may explain this phenomenon and is therefore somewhat relevant, but like said I don't know Kawai's standard about this i.e. will they say "It's normal" or "Oh dear, we'll take care of it immediately". I'd assume they want their keys to be more or less straight in a brand new device delivered to the end user.

The design difference is also relevant in terms of fixing the issue. In a Roland something would probably need to be broken or bent "beyond repair", but in the Kawai things can be adjusted to some degree and a complete replacement of either the whole piano or the whole key action assembly may not be needed. Who knows.

That's something for Kawai to clarify.

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I might be wrong, but for all those companies making both APs and DPs, even the top-line DPs are actually not at the top but at the bottom, if we consider all the range, the entire products line. Such a "top line DPs" are in the same price range as the cheapest beginner-level acoustics, such an acoustics have some cheap plastic details that are gonna crook or crumble within years etc.
So, what we really have to do is to stop looking at DPs as at premium quality top products.


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Thank you to everyone for your feedback!

I will be contacting the dealer to see if I can get it fixed or replaced. I can't imagine it's supposed to be this crooked, even if the design is different from the Roland.

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Originally Posted by rollingroland
Hi everyone,

I recently bought a Kawai CA79 after watching and reading many reviews. I also own a Roland HP605 that I bought a few years ago. Note that the CA79 is quite a bit more expensive. I'm pretty disappointed with my purchase. Besides the recent thread about the NV5S, I'm wondering if anyone else observed similar problems with their recent Kawai purchase.

I immediately found the sound to be rather unpleasant compared to what I'm used to from my Roland, but this may just be a matter of taste. The sound is very shrill. So I set it to "warm" or "romantic" and that's a bit better for my ears, even if it sounds very artificial.

But what I find much more disturbing is that the entire keyboard is clearly crooked. All the keys are tilted to one side. The box with the volume knob and power button is extremely crooked, but that's just a cosmetic issue. However, the keys being tilted is actively distracting me while I play. In addition, the spaces between the keys are very uneven.

All of these issues are non-existent in my Roland and readily visible from the pictures I uploaded:

Keys are obviously crooked to the left. You can see how the white keys form a "ladder" around the black keys. The spacing is also uneven.
[Linked Image]

Keys are clearly not at a 90° angle:
[Linked Image]

Totally crooked box on the right:
[Linked Image]

From the side, the uneven gaps are also very obvious:
[Linked Image]

Did I receive a lemon or is this considered 'normal build quality' for Kawai? I'm stunned how this would pass QC...

Best regards,
Peter

If you didn't test the instrument and you went straight from one electronic sound to another, you will find that your sonic expectations and the actual sound don't fit. The same can be said when you go from one acoustic piano to another: your brain becomes used to various characteristics of the sound of uour old instrument.

I have experienced this when I first brought a Kawai from owning a PSR7000 keyboard. The Yamaha sound is very bright and has certain tonal characteristics that are very different to the Kawai. After some acclimatisation (weeks later) I could hear why the Kawai sound was much better. The brain stops focusing on tonal differences and starts to hear details, then the appreciation of the sound starts. Of course, 2 decades of sampling improvement make playing the MP7 much more piano like, but if you own a keyboard, these things feel alien.

Similarly, Roland make good synths and pure piano is not their ace card. With Kawai and Yamaha, you get a much more piano focused experience which is why I think both avoid modelling because the technology hasn't matured to the degree that it's more piano like than sampling.

Then on the other foot, a week last Monday, I'm in Bonners playing in a small room full of portable and stage instruments. The Yamaha P515 now sounds ridiculously bright and thin to my ears. I am now Kawai programmed. I realise that my brain is focusing upon the crude differences. The Roland sound was hugely different to both the Kawai and Yamaha---and not really sounding similar to acoustic pianos next door either---and again, there is this sense that the brain is rejecting the sound either because of the crude differences, or because of lack of similarity tonally with pretty much all the sampled pianos.

Thus, you have probably just got Post-Roland Sound Shock and need time to acclimatise to the Kawai sound. It's worth turning on the rendering engine if you haven't already, as that sound is quite an improvement.

As for the other issue, I suggest you apply the rule of common sense. If you can play dynamically without any issues, then the key tolerance doesn't matter. If on the other hand you can't play efficiently because of the matter, then you have a problem. A replacement unit should be provided.

One key bit of advice is: don't buy without a store test. Store tests give you a baseline that allows you to judge the new instrument against. Obviously, new instruments have stiffer actions for the first month or two---you do have to play them in. However, had you played an instore instrument, you would at least know if the feeling of playing the new instrument is in the right ball park.

Having played the CA79, my impression was that the action is top end for non hybrid digitals. One of the issues with buying new is you can't vet the instrument properly prior to purchase. However, if you are able to play normally, I wouldn't care too much about minor things.

A difference is only a difference if it makes a difference.


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@Doug,

indeed I'm not too worried about the sound, I'll fiddle with some settings and I'm sure I'll get used to it. It's not bad, it just struck me as shrill.

Really I'm primarily worried about the crooked keys.

I did test the CA79 in a store (although in a noisy environment), primarily because the action matters to me most, and I think the action is fine. I enjoy the key action on both the Roland HP605 and the Kawai CA79.

But yeah, the keys are very crooked and the spacing is strikingly uneven. I don't remember noticing this in the store, and I can't imagine this to be normal. I will talk to the dealer.

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I think on the CA-79 and GF3, the keybed is typically mounted on a particleboard/MDF base. Slight misalignments can happen and in some cases would be noticeable to me as well.

My NV-10 had a very minor fallboard misalignment, which I fixed myself. But like you, I notice these little issues and they eventually bother me. I personally wouldn't accept that quality, especially the skew of the white keys to black and non-90 degree keybed.

Not sure if it is something that happened during shipping, or factory misalignment, but I would just ask for a straight up exchange. Dealing with a warranty claim/repair for a brand new product is more of a hassle (and you have to spend energy convincing your dealer, Kawai, and the tech that these small measurements matter).


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Originally Posted by Gombessa
I think on the CA-79 and GF3, the keybed is typically mounted on a particleboard/MDF base. Slight misalignments can happen and in some cases would be noticeable to me as well.

My NV-10 had a very minor fallboard misalignment, which I fixed myself. But like you, I notice these little issues and they eventually bother me. I personally wouldn't accept that quality, especially the skew of the white keys to black and non-90 degree keybed.

Not sure if it is something that happened during shipping, or factory misalignment, but I would just ask for a straight up exchange. Dealing with a warranty claim/repair for a brand new product is more of a hassle (and you have to spend energy convincing your dealer, Kawai, and the tech that these small measurements matter).

I often wonder if sellers try it on a bit: they find one of their stock is not quite right and sell it anyway, thinking some people would just accept it or get impatient and have it fixed at their own cost.


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Originally Posted by Doug M.
I often wonder if sellers try it on a bit: they find one of their stock is not quite right and sell it anyway, thinking some people would just accept it or get impatient and have it fixed at their own cost.

I won't speak for Kawai, but in the Tesla world, fit and finish issues many times worse have a guaranteed response: "It's within spec."


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Originally Posted by KawaFanboi
all wood products will have some twisting over time. they should be able to square up the right cheek block for you.


Really? This is my 35 years old AP's keyboard that has not even gone thru a single regulation or maintenance yet, and it looks like dear rollingroland's new CA79 :)))

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]


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I can only speak for myself, but my CA79 is still perfect.

I think the model itself is well made, but the manufacturing of the product does not seem to pass rigorous quality control from several complaints just here in this forum.

Hope you can get your store to fix or exchange it.


Ron

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