Kawai is synonymous with luxury when it comes to pianos. In manufacturing some of the world’s finest concert pianos, Kawai knows how a high-quality piano should sound.
They have used that experience to create some genuinely exceptional digital pianos, too. In this review, we take a look at the mid-priced KDP120, a digital piano that promises much.
Our verdict on the Kawai KDP120
When buying a digital piano, Kawai is a pretty safe bet. It’s doubtful that you’d buy a Kawai digital piano and be unhappy with it; they are excellent.
The KDP120 is no exception; it looks, feels, and sounds fantastic. But, sitting at a mid-level price, the KDP120 is a serious investment, which means it has some serious competition, too.
We think it’s worth every penny; it’s a beautiful piano. But, do your research before you buy.Available at: SweetwaterAmazon
The Kawai KDP120 has 15 sounds, but the star of the show is undoubtedly the SK-EX concert grand.
Kawai is one of the very few digital piano makers who have a genuine pedigree in producing truly world-class concert pianos. It’s then about how you recreate that experience digitally, and Kawai’s Harmonic Imaging technology does so with stunning detail.
There are four acoustic piano sounds, including a Mellow Grand, Studio Grand, and Modern Piano. In our opinion, you would struggle to find a better grand piano sound at the same or similar price.
The other sounds are pretty interesting, too. Not only are they high quality, but they include some unexpected options, like the New Age Pad, Choir, and Atmosphere.
The rest of the sounds include the usual suspects, electric piano, organs, harpsichord, etc.
Max polyphony is 192 notes.
The KDP120 features two 4.72″ speakers with two 20 W amplifiers.
These speakers are as powerful as most in the price range. More importantly, they deliver impressive clarity and detail.
Kawai has made some improvements since previous models.
The KDP120 features Kawai’s Responsive Hammer Compact II keyboard. With Kawai’s experience in building high-end acoustic pianos, you’d expect them to score very well here, and they do.
The improvements come from the advanced hammer-sensing key detection, which accounts for every slight movement of a key. When playing a real piano, the upward motion of a key is just as important as the downward motion because it affects how the hammer strikes.
Kawai has done well to create that feeling of complete control that comes from articulating the most subtle nuance in your playing.
As expected, the keys are graded, meaning the bass notes are heavier, and the treble notes are lighter.
The actual keytops aren’t as luxurious as some more expensive models, but overall, the weight and feel are fantastic.
Typically, you wouldn’t buy a Kawai digital piano because it’s packed with features; you’d buy it for the sound alone. But, the KDP120 has some features worth mentioning.
The Kawai KDP120 features an internal 3-track recorder that allows up to 10,000 notes. It’s similar to many digital piano recorders in this price range; it’s excellent for recording ideas or tracking your progress.
There are some built-in effects that are all geared around making the piano sound more authentic. Sonic Enhancement effects include six Reverb types, Brilliance, and Low Volume Balance.
The Low Volume Balance feature lets you play at lower volumes without losing the expression and dynamic quality of the piano.
The KDP120 includes Beyer etudes, Alfred lessons songs, and more (260 lessons).
It also features 15 demo songs and 40 Concert Magic songs.
Pianos are precision instruments, and Kawai’s Virtual Technician app helps you get your piano performance-ready.
It allows you to do a full technical setup of the piano, including parameters like Touch Curve, String Resonance, Hammer Delay, and Temperament.
Some parameters have a more significant effect than others, but even the tiny details matter.
One of the cool things about the app is that it allows you to save custom setups and offers presets. Custom setups are beneficial for playing different types of music or more than one player sharing the instrument.
Grand Feel Pedal System
The KDP120 comes with Kawai’s Grand Feel Pedal System. That means you get a proper three-pedal setup with Damper, Soft, and Sostenuto.
The system has half-pedal support for more realistic and accurate control. The piano simulates the Damper resonance just enough to be authentic without getting in the way of your playing.
Along with the Virtual Technician app, you can use the PianoRemote, and PiaBookPlayer apps.
The PianoRemote app creates a remote control for your piano. It allows you to access and control piano functions remotely from your smartphone or tablet.
It can come in handy when using a tablet because the app’s GUI makes it easier to navigate sounds quickly.
The PiaBookPlayer app accompanies the onboard piano lessons, allowing you to view notated scores.
The KDP120 has a very minimal layout with just a handful of buttons, making it very easy to use. Cycling through the abundance of demos/lessons could be a bit tedious, but using the app makes it a much faster process.
Playing the KDP120 is an absolute joy, and any intermediate to an advanced player will benefit from owning one.
While it’s not priced for beginners, if there are any beginners in the household, it’s not a bad place for them to start, either.
From the weight of the keys to the pedals, the KDP120 delivers a more authentic piano experience than most.
The KDP120 is a piano that anyone should love to have in their home. It comes in a few finishes, including premium rosewood, and it looks gorgeous.
The slimline cabinet has also improved, like the smoother sliding lid. It comes with a matching stool that gives it a more professional look, too.
Although it’s not quite as robust or realistic-looking as the most expensive digital pianos, it’s a solid build with no flimsy materials.
There are no audio outputs at all (other than headphones). It’s not a huge deal, but it’s nice to have the option should you need it.
It offers MIDI via USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
The best thing in this area is that it comes with two 1/4″ headphone jacks. It’s remarkable how many digital pianos offer duet mode but don’t provide dual headphone jacks.
Compared to other digital pianos
As we already said, the KDP120 is a serious investment, so you must check out the competition before buying.
Kawai KDP120 vs. Roland RP701
The RP701 is a far more versatile piano, boasting 324 sounds. But, if it’s the grand piano that matters most, we prefer the KDP120.
Check out our Roland RP701 digital piano review
Kawai KDP120 vs. Kurzweil KA130
The KA-130 is another digital piano from a manufacturer with an excellent reputation. We don’t like how bulky it looks, but it’s worth checking out if that doesn’t bother you.
Check out our Kurzweil KA130 digital piano review
Kawai KDP120 vs. Korg C1 Air
We really like this Korg as a stylish digital piano choice. As much as the slim design wins us over, it doesn’t feel or sound as good as the KDP120.
Check out our Korg C1 Air digital piano review
You can also check out our picks of the best digital pianos for the best instruments overall and the best models with weighted keys for the most realistic feel.
Who is the Kawai KDP120 best suited for?
It suits every level of player, from beginner to professional. However, it may be priced a little outside of the beginner’s budget.
- Outstanding SK-EX Concert grand sound.
- Versatile sound choices.
- Improved design features.
- Useful apps.
- Onboard lessons.
- Expressive keybed.
- Half-damper support.
- No dedicated audio out.