Welcome to another Digital Piano Shootout article and companion video here at Merriam Pianos. In today’s piece, we’ll be comparing the Roland F140R and the Kawai KDP110 – two fantastic home-based digital pianos available for under $2,000 that happen to be very popular here in North America. In fact, when it comes to the mid-range home digital piano market, these two instruments are widely considered to be two of the absolute best options available for the price (along with some Yamaha and Casio offerings as well).

We’ll be comparing the actions, sound engines, speakers, and other features. Both of these are excellent pianos, but based on your needs, by the end of this article, one should stand out over the other.

Roland F140R vs Kawai KDP110 | Digital Piano Sounds and Tone Differences

Let’s start by comparing the sound and the tone of these two instruments as there are actually some pretty remarkable differences when you compare how they sound side by side. And this is important because a lot of folks think that when they’re shopping for pianos from the major manufacturers and comparing pianos of the same price, they’re choosing from instruments that are essentially the same.

The reality is however that the major manufacturers are all approaching things quite differently, and even pianos priced essentially the same, such as the Roland F140r digital piano and Kawai KDP-110, can offer distinctly different musical experiences.

F140R is equipped with Roland’s SuperNATURAL Piano Sound Engine

SuperNATURAL-Sound-Engine
SuperNATURAL-Sound-Engine

The Roland F140R is equipped with Roland’s SuperNATURAL Piano sound engine, which is a high-quality sample that combines synthesis elements to fill out some of the sonic details, such as damper resonance and key off-resonance. On the Kawai side, they’re using their Harmonic Imagining engine, which is sample-based.

192 vs 128 Notes Polyphony

Beyond the different sonic experiences, there are some differences in the capability of the sound engines themselves as well. The KDP-110 has 192 notes of polyphony, versus 128 note polyphony on the F140r.

Unless you’re an advanced classical pianist, in normal piano playing circumstances, you’re not likely going to really notice the polyphony difference here.

40 Watts vs 24 Watts Power Speaker System

The KDP110 has a more robust full sound stereo speaker system with 40 watts of power, compared to 24 watts of power on the F140r.

Grand Piano Sounds vs Acoustic Piano Sounds

Comparing the default grand piano sounds side by side, we are hearing a little bit more midrange presence around the tone and color in the KDP-110. The F140r on the other hand offers lots of sparkle at the top of the treble with a bass register that is bright, clear, and lively.

Moving past the acoustic piano sounds, the F140r has a really wide selection of additional tones with 305 in total (some of which are drum sets and SFX sets). The electric pianos are a definite highlight, as are the synthesizers, but the strongest showing other than the acoustic piano tones is probably the various pads which sound great.

The Kawai KDP-110 has only 15 sounds, which demonstrates the fact that Kawai has positioned the KDP-110 as a practice instrument for folks mostly looking to play with acoustic piano tones. That said, the 15 tones it does have, including essentials like e piano, harpsichord, vibraphone, etc. are all very nicely rendered.

With the sound out of the way, let’s move on to discussing their keyboard actions.

Roland F140R vs Kawai KDP110 | Keyboard Action Comparison

Roland’s Standard Keyboard Action PHA-4

Roland PHA-4 Standard Keyboard Action

The Roland F140r is equipped with Roland’s PHA-4 Standard Keyboard Action with Escapement and Ivory Feel. This is the go-to hammer action throughout the Roland digital piano lineup up until about the $3,000 price point.

It’s very well built and reliable, and even though it’s been on the market for several years now, it’s still one of the better plastic actions available. It doesn’t feel too light, nor does it feel too heavy (though the touch sensitivity is adjustable across 5 levels of Key Touch), and is really quite comfortable to play on, even for longer playing sessions.

There’s a texture on the keys that provides a nice amount of grip, and the escapement adds another layer of authenticity, while also aiding in the playing of faster passages. There’s also triple sensor detection which produces high-resolution sensing.

Kawai’s Responsive Hammer Compact II Action

Kawai Responsive Hammer Compact II Action

The Kawai KDP-110 is using Kawai’s Responsive Hammer Compact II action. At the outset, this action feels a little bit more cushioned, meaning the player has a little more room to dig in.

There is no escapement, but this action also has a texture on the keys that feels quite similar to the PHA4, as well as the triple sensor for accurate dynamic output.

Wrap Up

Pitting these actions side by side, it’s pretty hard to pick an obvious winner. They both feel really good, and a preference is going to be pretty subjective. That said, the presence of escapement on the PHA4 gives it on paper edge, and some players will definitely value this feature.

Still, both are very solid actions, especially when you consider the affordable instruments they are featured on.

KDP-110 Functions and Features

Lesson Songs

The Kawai KDP-110 has an assortment of lesson books and repertoire pre-loaded making it a great tool as an educational aid for beginners.

Basic Functions

It also offers features like Transpose (adjustable via semitones), Dual, and Four Hands keyboard mode, which means a student and teacher can play side by side in equal ranges.

It also comes with a basic recorder function which is also a potentially useful practice aid, as well as a metronome.

Kawai’s Grand Feel Pedal System

The Kawai KDP-110 features Kawai’s Grand Feel Pedal System, which means that each pedal has slightly different spring pressures, just like on a grand piano. The Soft pedal takes a little bit more force than the damper pedal, while the sostenuto pedal is very light. The Kawai pedals are also continually sensing.

F140r Functions and Features

Bluetooth

Moving over the F140r, we see Roland with a bit of an edge here. Via Bluetooth, the F140r offers a very intuitive intelligent accompaniment backing band rhythm function feature with different rhythm styles that’s a lot of fun, and great for engaging new learners, easily controlled from your iPad or Android device. The KDP-110 does not have an onboard rhythm feature.

In terms of other connectivity, the F140r has a 3.5 mil in and out for the audio. This is really handy if you want to a device through the onboard speakers that do not have any Bluetooth connectivity.

Connectors

The Roland F140r also boasts discreet 1/4” line outputs for connecting to an amp or PA system for more power. This feature alone has made the F140r a very popular choice for places of worship and other venues that need a realistic digital piano without enough power to compete with a band.

Otherwise, essentially all of the features on the KDP-110 are also covered on the F140r such as Czerny and Hanon repertoire, along with an assortment of internal songs referred to as Piano Masterpieces, and Roland refers to their Four Hands mode as Twin Piano mode. There’s also a built-in recorder and you can playback WAV and MIDI files.

Cabinet Design | Kawai KDP110 vs Roland F140R

Kawai KDP-110

Kawai KDP110 Cabinet
Kawai KDP110 Cabinet

Moving on to the cabinets and the KDP110 has a more traditional upright piano look and is available in a single finish of Rosewood.

Roland F140r

Roland F140R Cabinetry
Roland F140R Cabinetry

The Roland F140r conversely has a more contemporary, industrial look (with stabilizers) and is available in both Contemporary Black and Snow White.  For a tighter living space, the F140r might be the perfect fit.

Wrap Up

Both pianos offer Bluetooth which means that you can connect to a tablet or a smartphone wirelessly to access various apps, such as music score apps, or even to view sheet music.

Both pianos have USB Ports – Type A and Type B (USB memory) as well as headphone jacks for private practice.

Both pianos also have a special auditory effect when playing with headphones that enhances the experience – spatial headphone sound on the KDP-110 and Headphones 3D Ambience Effect on the F140r which creates a cool multi-dimensional sound experience.

Both pianos have integrated triple pedal systems, with Roland highlighting the fact that their damper pedal is ‘continuous sensing’ meaning the player can achieve an acoustic-like level of finesse with the pedaling. You can also turn sheet music pages on your iPad with the pedal system.

Both pianos come with headphone hooks and are quite easy to assemble with the included screw sets.

Closing Thoughts

We have two pianos that are similarly priced with many overlapping features but ultimately go in different directions in terms of the overall musical experience they’re delivering.

On paper, the KDP-110 brings a stronger set of specs to the table in terms of replicating the sound of an acoustic piano. This is apparent with its superior speaker system and stronger polyphony count which itself is indicative of a more powerful sound processor.

While we would give the nod to the F140r in terms of the action, in our opinion, the KDP-110 is providing a slightly more realistic playing experience and better captures the authentic tone of a real acoustic grand piano.

On the flip side, the F140r has increased functionality, extra features such as the onboard rhythm accompaniments, and greater versatility by virtue of its discreet line outputs.

All of this being said, we come back to what we said at the beginning, and that’s the fact that since these musical instruments are offering such divergent musical experiences, you’ll want to try and play both to see which one should end up on your wishlist.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to visit Merriam Music for more articles and watch more piano review covers on our Youtube channel.

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