Today we’re tackling Kawai’s CA48, the little sibling of the whole Concert Artist (CA) series, but a piano that absolutely packs a tremendous value. From the action to the sound to the cabinet, not to mention a couple of really cool apps that work with a wireless connection.
Let’s dive into why this is one the most value-packed home digital pianos on the market.
Product Discontinued: The Kawai CA48 has been replaced by the Kawai CA49 digital piano on May 15, 2020. You can watch our review on YouTube here.
Kawai CA48 Background
The Kawai CA48 Digital Piano is the entry-level model of the CA series, but it’s by no means an entry-level digital piano. The remainder of the line consists of the Kawai CA58, CA78, and CA98.
For people who are familiar with the Kawai lineup, the relationship between the CA48 and CA58 can actually be compared quite accurately to the CN29 and CN39 because the 29 and the 39 have the same piano actions, but the major difference comes down to the tones that they offer, speaker systems, connectivity and some of the features.
The differences between the CA48 and CA58 are essentially the same. For starters, the CA48 interface is very similar to the CN29 interface, and the CA58 interface is virtually identical to what you get on the CN39.
The action is the same between the CA48 and CA58, but the 58 features a more powerful speaker system, a higher fidelity sound engine, more sounds, more connectivity options, and an upgraded cabinet.
Now, these extra features come with a price premium. Some folks don’t need any of these extra features, and for the folks, the value that the CA48 offers really starts to shine through.
The fact is, the 48’s Grand Feel Compact wooden action is arguably the best piano action available for the price. For folks who need a good practice instrument with a great touch and aren’t worried about other features, the CA48 becomes a compelling option. Let’s dive into that further.
Kawai CA48 Grand Feel Keyboard Action
Kawai’s Grand Feel keyboard action has been out for years now and is notable for its full wooden construction and extra-long key-stick resembling a real grand piano.
The new Grand Feel Compact is a version with a shorter key stick, but when we compare the original Grand Feel and the Grand Feel Compact, they actually don’t feel all that different, doing a great job of replicating the touch weight and feel of an actual grand piano action.
This wooden-key keyboard action also has Ivory Touch key surfaces on the black and white keys to help with playing for longer periods of time, center rail pivot point just like an acoustic piano, and real felt here to cushion the bottom of the keybed. There’s also simulated let off or escapement, bass region counterweights, and of course, a triple sensor key detection for really accurate MIDI technology output.
You can’t find this style of action with this good of a physical feel at this price range really anywhere else in the market. If touch is your number one priority and you’re working with a budget that would allow for the CA48 and its GF compact action, we think it’s probably the best option from an action standpoint.
Progressive Harmonic Imaging Sound Engine
Moving on to the sound portion of our discussion; the CA48 is outfitted with Kawai’s Progressive Harmonic Imaging sound engine (PHI). This engine features full 88-key sampling to provide the discerning player with high-level digital piano tonal quality, and those samples are coming from their beautiful SK-EX concert grand, as well as the EX concert grand.
The Shigeru Kawai SK-EX is easily one of the top grand pianos on the planet, and this sound engine does a remarkable job of capturing the realism of the instrument. Even the sostenuto pedals of a Shigeru Kawai SK-EX concert grand are faithfully recreated.
The default concert grand piano sounds warm, dynamic, and colorful, and all of this can be manipulated through the Virtual Technician Smart Mode which allows the user to edit ten preset sound-related parameters to further customize the sound to their own liking. Things like damper resonance and touch curve are just two of the editable settings, and you’ve also got some different reverb and brilliance settings you can play with as well.
Polyphony is strong with 192-notes, but the other sound-related highlight has to do with Kawai’s collaboration with Japanese audio maker Onkyo. Onkyo helped design the amplifiers and speakers so that the sound is cleaner and more well managed, meaning no woofyness or distortion in the sound. They also contributed to the CA48’s Spatial Headphone Sound feature which creates a more immersive experience when playing with earphones.
The speaker system itself consists of two mains, as well as two small 5-centimeter tweeters at the front that is facing you as the player. We found the tweeters to be slightly brighter than we would normally like, but you can adjust this in the Voicing settings to correct the issue. We didn’t notice this issue when using headphones or when plugged into an amplifier.
In terms of the other sounds that are included in the CA48, there are 19 sounds in total. There are several acoustic piano options, including the SKEX and Kawai EX concert grand piano we mentioned, then an upright piano and several studio grands. From there we’ve got some electric piano and organ sounds.
In fact, the left pedal by default is set up to activate a rotary speaker effect for organ sound, so you can get a pretty authentic organ sound going. Other sounds include church organ, harpsichord, vibraphone, string ensemble, and synth pads.
For people who are looking for a much wider variety and selection of sounds, the CA58 will be a better option as it bumps the sounds up to 42 in total.
As we’ve alluded to, the CA48 is outfitted with an excellent integrated triple pedal array with Kawai’s Grand Feel Pedal System. The subtle effects of a real acoustic playing experience come through nicely with this pedal system as it recreates the individual weighting of the damper, sostenuto, and soft pedals.
The CA48 features some built-in music lesson books and classical etudes as well, including Alfred Lessons Basic Piano, Beyer, Burgmuller, and Czerny. This lesson function and built-in course books will be very helpful to newer players.
Staples like a metronome, concert magic, and transpose are of course covered as well.
In terms of connectivity, the CA48 is a bit light compared to the CA58 in that it has now discreet line outputs, so if you need a piano for a church or performance stage, you’ll be better off with the CA58.
That said, it does have modern Bluetooth connectivity. Wireless technology makes for hassle-free connectivity to Smart Devices for using the Virtual Technician app and of course, fun 3rd party apps as well.
The modern cabinet includes a large music rest and is available in both premium Rosewood and Satin Black finish, and the cheekblock control panel blends in nicely without ruining the classy aesthetic.
The CA48 is a value-packed instrument with an excellent action and wonderfully rendered sound technology.
It’s primarily aimed at folks who need a convincing piano experience without certain additional features like lots of sounds, top-of-the-line speakers, and discreet line outputs.
If this sounds like what you’re after, you’ll want to add the CA48 to your wishlist. Shop more digital pianos by Kawai here.
Thank you for reading!