For aspiring pianists, the Kawai KDP110 is a popular entry-level digital piano that offers up incredible value in the form of great keyboard action, grand piano sounds, Bluetooth MIDI connectivity, onboard lesson functions, and premium speaker technology. Dollar for dollar, by far one of the best piano playing experiences on the market in the $1000 range. We’ve covered it here in a video review & accompanying written article, and we hope you enjoy the info!
Kawai KDP110 Review Video Transcription
Hey, everybody, and welcome to another digital piano review here at Merriam Pianos. My name is Stu Harrison, and in this video, we are going to be covering Kawai’s KDP110 digital piano. We are just in love with this instrument. We are talking about the action today, we’re going to be talking about the sound, we’re going to be talking about the various connection possibilities that you have through its convenient Bluetooth. And, of course, we’re going to be doing some playing. Be sure to check out the other videos where all we do is actually play the KDP110, no talking. It gives you a really good sense of what its tones are at home in the comfort of your living room. Thank you so much for joining us, and if it’s your first time to the channel, we’d really appreciate if you subscribed. Keep you up to date on all things piano, and we do our best to reply to every single one of your comments. Let’s get started right away.
Piano Tone and Sound Engine
So, let’s dive right into the sound on this Kawai KDP110. The first thing that’s worth noting is that Kawai has loaded this up with their Shigeru Kawai SK-EX Concert Grand Piano 88-note sample bank. This is a big deal. It’s a huge sample, and it’s a really high-quality sample to be equipping with a digital piano in this price range. And we’re talking sort of between the $1,000 to $2,000 piano digital market, which is pretty crowded. So, to load that level of a sample up on the instrument, I think, immediately gives this an edge in some respects, especially for people focused strictly on tone quality. So, it’s full 88-key sampling. It means every single note has its own sample that’s been recorded on their full nine-foot handmade concert grand in Japan. Really lovely instrument if you ever have a chance to play that on its own. Kawai uses their Harmonic Imaging Technology to faithfully reproduce the sound of a grand piano.
It’s sound technology that offers up flexible Virtual Technician functions to control nuanced elements of the tone (like damper resonance, hammer resonance, reverb, etc), more control over the dynamic range through touch curves and voicing. Along the same lines, one of the most interesting KDP110 features is the headphone type settings which allows you to specify whether you have earbuds, closed, or open style headphones. These settings trigger and draw on the spatial headphone sound (SHS headphone sound for short) algorithms that Kawai developed along with Onkyo and is deployed throughout their upper range of digital pianos as well.
The other nice thing about the KDP110 digital piano is that they’ve equipped it with a 40-watt stereo amplifier, 20 per side, it’s got two speakers. And so, you have this really full, complex sample that they’ve loaded up on here, and it’s being pushed through speakers, which are bigger and more powerful than you typically find at this price range. And so, when you’re comparing it to instruments like maybe the Roland F-140 or the Yamaha YDP140 series, the bass and the mid-range presence on the instrument, combined with the complexity of the sample, is something that’s going to be a really intriguing option for you if you’re comparing to one or the other. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to love the sample, some people find the sample maybe a little bit too mellow, or a little too dark, or too broad. But I love it, and I know a lot of other people who have been quite impressed by the instrument.
Besides the main sample, the KDP110 is also equipped with several other acoustic piano samples, and you can get them simply by going through the sound select button. So, that’s the main default one. And you’re into sort of an electric piano sample set. And Rhodes. And some Hammond, which I think Kawai has actually done a really great job of for this instrument. And the left pedal actually is already preset to control the rotary function on the Leslie speaker simulator. It’s pretty fun. Kawai also has a pipe organ. Again, on a digital, I find… Like, I used to play the pipe organ as a high school gig, so I spent a lot of time, hours, and hours, and hours of my life behind real pipe organs. And, sure, I mean, you don’t have a lot of opportunities to modify that sound, but it’s a pretty true sound. And we get to the harpsichord. Harpsichord’s not a sound that I use that much, but I do know a lot of people in the classical scene where getting a real harpsichord to rehearsal is virtually impossible. Even if you had the money, where are you even going to find one? So, having something that doesn’t cost a mint with a pretty authentic harpsichord response is something that a lot of people actually use a lot more than I originally realized, to be honest. And then, some vibes and your string samples. So, you’re kind of covering all of your normal basses with the onboard sounds.
To wrap up the sound or the tone of this, we’ve got the SK-EX sample going through their Harmonic Imaging sort of algorithm. It’s 192-note polyphony on the KDP110, which is ample. Lots, and lots, and lots to play with there. And, of course, it’s being pushed through a set of very high-quality 40-watt amp and speaker system, 20 per side. So, we’ll throw the specs up on the screen so you can check them yourself visually one more time, and then we’ll move on to the action.
The Kawai KDP110 digital piano has Responsive Hammer Compact II Action (or RHCII for short). Essentially, it’s a graded hammer keyboard action. And the really exciting thing about the KDP110 is they’ve thrown the triple sensor in there. This may be something that’s not that big a deal to people, or they may not realize how big a deal that this is, but having the new 3-sensor there increases the accuracy of the MIDI output. Whether you’re using this to hook up to a computer, or a tablet for recording, or even just for your own playing within the instrument itself, that triple sensor really does increase the sensitivity and the accuracy of what you’re hearing compared to what’s going on, since its this sensor that translates downward motion on the key into “1”s and “0”s. And it’s something that’s become standard on the more expensive instruments in the industry from all of the big players. Over the $3,000 mark, it’s a given that you’re going to see triple sensors. And most of them over the $2,000 also have it at this point. It’s pretty unusual to get it underneath $2,000. And so, I commend Kawai on equipping the model with it. I think it’s a really, really great feature. It also makes it far easier to control those fortissimo and pianissimo ranges.
The keys come with a nice little texture. It’s not technically an ivory texture like you get on, say, one of the Roland models in this price range, but there is still some grip, and I like the level of grip, it’s a very satisfying instrument to play over. It also has a bit of a softer, I don’t know, bottom to the action, which I find mimics an acoustic piano a little more accurately than what I’m used to in this price range. So, that’s a good thing. So, we’ve got a really accurate output on the action, we’ve got a nice texture on the key, it does have the triple sensor as we said. And so, I think it’s a well-mated action to the sound engine and the speaker system that we’ve already talked about. Lots to like there, I think really appropriate for the first instrument for somebody just starting out or as just a nice simple stand-in for an acoustic piano for, say, rehearsal space or, you know, a casual hobbyist player at home. That action is going to feel really nice and satisfying. Best thing, of course, always get to a store, try it yourself, see if you like it. But certainly, I am a fan. Let’s now move on to features.
The Kawai KDP110 is equipped with Bluetooth, which allows you to connect certain apps to this instrument that uses convenient Bluetooth MIDI. So, that could be something like GarageBand, that could be Kawai’s own apps such as Virtual Technician that allows you to basically take MIDI information in and out of the machine wirelessly, and it’s a very simple one to set up and to get going. So, for people who are feeling intimidated by the prospect of syncing this all up with a tablet (iPad) or other smart devices using iOS or android, let me assure you, it’s far more simple than you might be worried that it would.
For those without a compatible smart device (or who aren’t feeling up to the tech challenge), the KDP110 still comes with the usb-midi connectivity for a hard-wired connection.
In terms of other functions and features on here, you’ve got several different modes to split up the keyboard. You can split it in half, you can layer two sounds at once, and that’s very easy to do, and you can also split it so that one hand is one tone and the right hand is another tone. It’s equipped with an onboard metronome, transpose function, which is really handy, a basic recorder, and it also has quite a few educational features built right into it. You can tell that Kawai has conceived of this as something that’s going to work really well in the context of a lesson system. So, all of the popular method books, literally, virtually all of them, have some type of preloaded content that’s sitting right inside the KDP110. It makes it easy as a practice companion piece. And especially, if your teacher knows that you have this at home, they may be able to use that and integrate it into their lesson structure for you, which would be a ton of fun.
Built-in Lesson Songs:
- Burgmüller 25 (25 Etudes Faciles, Opus 100)
- Czerny 30 (Etudes de Mécanisme, Opus 849)
- Beyer 106 (Vorschule im Klavierspiel, Opus 101)
- Alfred’s Basic Piano Library Lesson Book Level 1A
- Alfred’s Basic Piano Library Lesson Book Level 1B
In terms of the connections on the piano, we’re pretty limited. And this is where the trade-off comes for the price. Yes, we have great wattage outta the speakers, yes, we’ve got the triple sensor, we’ve got really fat samples coming out of the SK-EX Harmonic Imaging engine. However, we only have two audio…rather, two headphone jacks out. No discreet audio out, which means that if you plug this into a speaker, the onboard speakers of the KDP110 will shut off. You can kinda get around that by plugging one of these into a headphone and then the other one into a speaker, if you had to do that, which is actually what we’re having to do today. But otherwise, it is kinda nice when a keyboard has two separate outs. You’re not going to get it in on the KDP110…sometimes you can’t have everything.
It comes with a triple pedal system and this is worth mentioning because it’s a little esoteric, but for some people, they’re going to find this function or this feature really well thought out. They offer what they call the Grand Feel Pedal System, in which each of the three pedals have simulated the same level of resistance as what you would find on an acoustic grand piano. If you are used to an acoustic, you’ll know that the left pedal and the right pedal don’t have the same tension; they do have different levels of resistance, and then the middle pedal, which is your sostenuto, normally, is quite light. They’ve simulated that on the digital, so it feels a little more authentic when you’re using the three pedals.
The unit only comes in one finish, which is the matte premium rosewood finish that you’re seeing here on camera. But it is a pretty versatile finish, I think it’s going to work in the majority of situations. It’s also worth a mention that it’s sturdy construction and unlikely to bust apart or require warranty repair to the cabinet. It also comes with a slick-looking key cover to keep those keys free of dust and debris when you’re not using it. And you’ve got a music stand that can be in the upright position or very, very easy to just fold down.
So, that pretty much sums up everything that we’ve got to say about the KDP110 from Kawai. A really great piano substitute for people who wanna keep their budget under the $2,000 range. Almost kind of a must-research model, in my opinion, if you can get to a store that has one, and especially if they have one side by side with either a Roland F-140, or maybe one of their RPs, or a Yamaha YDP digital piano make a really, really great comparison. Please be sure to check out the playing video of the Kawai KDP110 digital piano where all we do is play through the instrument’s most common sounds. There’s no talking, so it just gives you a better sense of the tone.
And of course, if this is your first video that you’re seeing, please do subscribe. You’ll be kept up to date with all things piano, and any new reviews, you’ll get a nice little notification. So, thanks very much for watching, we really appreciate it. We’re here at Merriam Pianos. I’m Stu Harrison. We’ll see you back for next time.