🎹 Kawai CA701 & CA901 Announcement | Kawai CA79 & CA99 Upgrades | New Kawai Digital Pianos 🎹

Emergency press conference! We’re excited to pass along that Kawai has just announced that the Concert Artist CA79 and CA99 are being replaced by two brand new models; the Kawai CA701 & CA901.

We just got the press kit information on these new Kawai pianos, and we’re pretty impressed by what we’re seeing on the specs sheet so far. We’re going to do a quick run-through of everything we know so far.

The CA series CA79 and CA99 sat near the top of Kawai’s entire digital piano hierarchy behind only the Novus NV5S and Novus NV10S. As such, this is an important spot in Kawai’s lineup that they also put a lot of focus into.

We’re going to start by covering which key specifications Kawai will be carrying over from the CA79 and 99 before moving on to what’s new.

Kawai CA701 & CA901 – What’s the Same?

CA901 Digital Piano
CA901 Digital Piano

Grand Feel III Wooden-Key Keyboard Action

Kawai’s industry-leading Grand Feel III wooden key action (GFIII) is making a return here, and this isn’t a surprise given that the GFIII action was only just introduced with the Kawai CA 79 and 99, replacing the GFII which had been around for a number of product cycles.

The GFII was a very well-regarded action, but Kawai managed to incorporate a couple of major improvements into the Grand Feel III including back capstans that go right over that slip tape, resulting in a much more durable action built to withstand years of rigorous use with less likelihood of a warranty claim.

Due to its extra-long wooden keys and long pivot length equivalent to a mid-sized grand piano, the GFIII is considered by pianists to be one of the top actions in the class along with the Roland Hybrid Grand action and Casio’s Natural Grand Hammer Action (Yamaha isn’t generally considered to have a real dog in this fight).

Other specs include full range counterweights, let-off, triple sensor key detection plus ivory touch and ebony touch key surfaces.

Grand Feel Pedal System

Kawai’s Grand Feel Pedal System returns again as well. The GF pedal system is making its way into virtually all over Kawai’s upper-tier digital pianos, so again, it’s no surprise to see it featured here again.

The GF pedal system is notable for replicating the resistance of an acoustic grand piano pedal system, with the damper, sostenuto and soft pedals all slightly varying in weight.

What’s New?

Kawai CA701 Digital Piano
Kawai CA701 Digital Piano

Digital Audio Converters

DA converters essentially convert the digital audio signal from the sound engine into something audible that can be heard through the piano’s speakers and headphone amplifier.

The main reason these received an upgrade, and likely a big impetus for coming out with the new models right now as well, is the fact that Onkyo (a company from Japan), who were previously supplying the DA converters, have gone out of business.

Kawai had to find a replacement supplier, and in doing so, have been gifted with even better DA converters than what Onkyo was supplying, resulting in cleaner, clearer tone and overall better sound quality, apparent either when using the speakers or the Spatial Headphone Sound effect.

Shigeru Kawai SK-EX Competition Grand Piano

Kawai is using the same dual sound engine approach with the SKEX Rendering engine and the Harmonic Imaging XL engine present once again, however, they’ve added a second sample to the Rendering engine which before solely featured the SK-EX concert grand sample.

The new grand piano sound sample is being referred to as the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX Competition Grand, which is actually a multi-channel sampling of a newer SKEX reflecting the new rim design Kawai came out with a few years ago, whereas the original SKEX sample featured the old rim design.

The SK-EX concert grand piano they recorded for the new sample had been voiced and prepped as though it were going into a competition, such as the Chopin and Tchaikovsky International Piano Competitions which have featured an SK-EX in the past. Of course, any piano entering a competition like this gets prepped to an absolutely fanatical degree.

Speaker System Design

Next up are the newly redesigned 360-degree top speaker diffuser panels on both models. This is particularly a big deal on the Kawai CA701 digital piano because the CA79’s sonic presentation required some tweaking out of the box to optimize and get rid of some unwanted harshness. The new diffusers should help in this regard.

On the Kawai CA901 digital piano, they’ve actually added new front-facing speakers to get an even better balance between the hugely powerful Twindrive soundboard speaker and the rest of the high-performance speaker configuration.

The speaker power receives a 10-watt bump on the 701 and remains the same at 135 watts on the 901.

LCD Touchscreen User Interface

Kawai is clearly listening to their user community as they have improved the touchscreen display by adding a new anti-glare effect that makes the screen much easier to look at and use.

They’ve also now added the option of turning off the backlight on the screen as some users found it distracting and a detraction from the aesthetic experience of the instrument.

Upgraded Bluetooth

The CA79 and 99 both had Integrated Bluetooth® MIDI and Bluetooth Audio connectivity, however, Kawai has upgraded both to v5 which will improve audio quality and reduce latency. The speakers are so good on both instruments that it’s easy to see folks using them as their primary stereo at home, streaming music from a Smart Device.

Apps like the PiaBookPlayer and PianoRemote apps for iOS and Android are now easier to use, and the Virtual Piano Artisan feature is also fun to operate from the app.

Closing Thoughts

CA901 Polished Ebony Finish
CA901 Polished Ebony Finish

Both pianos boast a stunning cabinet design reminiscent of an upright piano and will be available in Polished Ebony, Satin Black, Satin White and Premium Rosewood finishes. The CA901EP in particular is a truly stunning instrument. Both also include an elegant music rest with score support pins and a bench.

Standard functions like a metronome, transpose, split, the ability to record and playback WAV files also return too, as well as the slew of connectivity including L/MONO, R output jacks and a line in.

Overall, we’re really excited to get to play both of these pianos and are expecting the greatness that the CA series is known for to continue.