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Kawai KDP 120 vs. KDP 110: Excellent Quality with a Budget Price Tag

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Kawai kdp 120 vs. kdp 110: Excellent Quality with a budget price tag

Kawai kdp 120

8.4

DESIGN

8.0/10

KEY ACTION

8.5/10

SOUND

8.5/10

FEATURES

7.5/10

ACCESSORIES

8.5/10

VALUE

9.5/10

Pros

  • Excellent key action
  • Individually sampled sound
  • Very good pedal
  • Powerful speakers
  • Convenient Bluetooth® MIDI and USB-MIDI connectivity

Cons

  • Only 15 voices
  • The onboard MIDI recorder isn't multitrack

Kawai is famous for its incredible line of premium digital pianos. Still, their entry-level pianos were lagging behind until the Kawai kdp110. So what is the difference between the kdp120 vs. kdp110?

Well, recently, Kawai introduced the kdp120 as a replacement for the now-discontinued kdp110. Both pianos combine the quality that Kawai is well-known for with a price tag suitable for players on a budget. In my opinion, there isn’t much that’s changed. However, there are some subtle but significant changes to the design, key action sound, and Bluetooth.

The Kawai kdp 110 is still a very popular digital piano due to its excellent sound features and key action. It is definitely a piano that anyone can enjoy, and I have no doubt that the kdp120 will be as popular. 

So let’s get started on this comparison review and discuss why I believe the kdp 120 might be the next big thing for entry-level pianos.

Kawai kdp 120 vs. kdp 110: What’s new?


The new Kawai kdp120 has the following new features:

  • An improved Responsive Hammer Compact II keyboard action
  • Low volume balance
  • Convenient Bluetooth® MIDI and USB-MIDI connectivity with support for the latest PianoRemote and PiaBookPlayer apps
  • It also comes in satin black, satin white and rosewood
  • It weighs 37kgs (81 ½ lbs)

Let’s look at the differences in detail.

DESIGN


The look

The new Kawai kdp120 does not have any significant changes from its predecessor design-wise. However, the sliding lid has been painted black instead of chrome like the kdp110. I think this makes the design look more contemporary. The design is just as stylish and elegant as the previous model.

Kawai KDP110 vs KDP120 - the look

The cabinet incorporates gently curved side arms and wooden toe blocks for additional stability.

The Kawai kdp120 piano comes with a wooden frame that is either rosewood, satin black and satin white, which I find reminiscent of traditional acoustic pianos.  The Kawai kdp 110 was initially released in rosewood only, although you might bump into black and white in certain countries.

It has a very simple design that is more suited for home or studio use. The complete look is not bulky, but neither would I classify it as a sleek piano. The finish on the control panel is smooth and definitely appealing to the eye.

kdp120 features: control panel

The stand and triple pedal fit well with the overall look of the piano, which can easily blend with the furniture in a home. The design is relatively compact, making it well-suited for apartments and other narrow spaces. Kawai has also made the kdp120 at least 4 lbs lighter, so you can pick it up and move it around.

kdp120_features:_Kawai’s Grand Feel Pedal System

Kawai still kept the user interface on the kdp120 pretty basic, which I hoped they would improve. Although the new integration with remote piano apps makes up for this. Both the kdp 110 and kdp120 are excellent pianos, considering the price tag and other premium features. 

Music Rest

Like the kdp110, the music rest on the kdp120 is a full-size rack with a wooden finish. It is pretty wide and sits high on the top of the piano. This makes it easier to and closer to read the sheet music as you play.

It has a notch on the lower length so you can accommodate tablets, music sheets, and so on. Overall, there isn’t much significant improvement from the Kawai kdp110. 

kdp120 Music Rest

Control

As has become Kawai’s signature, they stuck to a minimalist design for the control but added a modernized OLED graphics display on the kdp120.

This digital feature allows you to change sounds seamlessly and access various features like the built-in lessons and the limited internal recording. However, I found it quite disappointing that Kawai did not improve the recording capabilities of this piano on the kdp120 model. (I will discuss more about the recording feature further in the article.)

One great thing about the Kawai kdp120 is that it is compatible with the newest version of Kawai’s PianoRemote(iOS/Android) and PiaBookPlayer(iOS/Android) control app for both Android and iOS devices. This new feature provides an easy way to adjust settings and change the sound from your mobile device.

The kdp110, on the other hand, is limited to the Virtual Technician feature. This allows you to change the character of the tone to better suit playing different music genres and your personal preferences.  As I’ve mentioned before, this is how Kawai decided to get around the minimalistic design of its control panel on the kdp120 and the kdp110.

The buttons and sliders are easy to push and use, and the placement has been well thought out. It’s easy to control the piano with a push of a button, but that means you might have to remember the sequence of buttons to press to get to specific functions and sounds.

Right side control panel of the Kawai KDP 120

It isn’t particularly cumbersome since there aren’t that many sounds to choose from, unlike what you would find in higher-priced pianos. Though having to refer to your user manual every now and again is bound to become irritating. Other than that, the control panel is straightforward and user-friendly.

Keys

One of the best features of this model is the complete set of 88 fully weighted keys and the highly authentic Responsive Hammer II keyboard action.

Kawai used their trademark simulated ivory and ebony keytops with a matte finish that gives a slightly textured feel. This stops your fingers from slipping when you are playing. It is designed to absorb as much sweat from your fingers as possible, and it is easy to clean.  

Size & Weight

The Kawai kdp110 isn’t as portable. It weighs only 39 kg (86 lbs.) and it measures 136 cm (53 ½”) wide, 85 cm (33 1/2 “) high, and 40.5 cm (16”) deep.

The Kawai kdp120 is slightly more lightweight, weighing 37kg (81 1/2 lbs). It measures 136 cm (53 1/2″) wide, 85.5 cm (33 2/3 “) high, and 40.5 cm (16”) deep. So the newer model is also slightly larger than its predecessor.

KEY ACTION


Kawai stuck to the Responsive Hammer Compact II (RHCII) keyboard action with the kdp120. This hammer action is designed to mimic the distinctive touch of an acoustic grand piano. It uses a spring-less technology and sturdy construction to deliver a consistent upward and downward motion.

You’ll end up with a very smooth, natural, and highly authentic playing experience. The RHCII uses a heavier bass hammer and lighter treble hammers, just like most real pianos. The technology is precisely graded for each playing range monitoring the speed at which each key is lifted. This provides superior stability during fortissimo playing while adjusting to the delicate control required by pianissimo passages

Responsive Hammer Compact II (RHCII) keyboard action

The Responsive Hammer Compact II keyboard action uses an accurate triple-sensor key detection system for enhanced responsiveness when playing the same key repeatedly. Another awesome thing about the triple-sensor is that it allows the sound of a single note to gradually build up without the previous tone being lost. This is very different from the standard two-sensor keyboard actions found in many entry-level and mid-level digital pianos,

Most experts agree that the Responsive Hammer Compact II is quieter, less bouncy, and a bit heavier than the RHC. So while the kdp110 and the kdp120 are entry-level digital pianos, Kawai has tried and succeeded in making them feel close to authentic premium pianos. And for the price, I think this is an impressive feat.

SOUND


Kawai once again did an outstanding job with its sound. It features a brilliant dynamic range and exceptional tonal clarity. Kawai pianos do deserve to wear the crown of “premier pianos of Japan.” The kdp110 and kdp120 are no exception. They have been able to create a budget piano with improved signal processing, amplifier, and sound quality that you can only get on more expensive models.

Kawai uses Progressive Harmonic Imaging sound technology to individually sample the rich and soft sound of the Kawai SK-EX and EX grand pianos. This process involves the individual sampling of each note on the piano. From the powerful fortissimo to the faintest pianissimo, these digital pianos can mimic the original grand piano sound with astounding precision. 

The subtle sound changes of the piano are further enhanced by the addition of the 6 reverb types that can make the sound bigger or broader depending on the acoustic environment. You can choose between; room, lounge, small hall, concert hall, live hall and cathedral. These reverb and specific resonances create an authentic grand concert sound. Complementing this technology is the inclusion of the 192 note polyphony and 15 high-quality voices.

The Virtual Technician feature on the kdp110 and kdp120 takes things to a different level when we talk about sound. As has become Kawai’s trademark, this feature allows you to play around and change the sound curve to fit your preferences.

If you want the piano to play a bit warmer or brighter, this feature lets you change all that using one button. Who doesn’t love a personalized piano sound?  It is one of the things that I love the most about Kawai’s digital pianos.

So, for example, the parameters you can manipulate and tweak are as follows:

  • Touch Curve: This mode has three options; light, normal, heavy, and off. This refers to the keyboard’s responsiveness or how much force you need to apply to play the loudest sound.
  • Voicing: You can choose between normal, mellow, dynamic, and bright, affecting the overall tonal character of the piano.
  • Damper Resonance: Adjusts how much damper resonance is applied to the sound. This happens when you depress the sustain pedal. All the dampers lift off the strings, allowing them to resonate sympathetically with the ones you actually play.
  • Key-off Effect: This refers to the distinction and length of the noise when you let go of a key, and the damper falls back on the string.
  • Hammer Delay: This allows you to change any perceived delay of the hammer before it strikes the string, i.e., a delay between when you press a key and when the sound is actually produced.
  • Top board Simulation: You can choose between partially open, half-open, fully open, and closed. This changes the position or angle of the grand piano lid, which can open up or darken the sound.
  • Decay Time: Adjusts how long the note will sound while you keep your finger on the key.
  • Minimum Touch: Changes the minimum force you need to apply in order to produce a sound.
  • Stretch Tuning: This is a feature used by piano technicians to tune the piano.
  • Half-Pedal Adjust
  • Soft Pedal Depth
  • Temperament
  • Temperament Key

Additionally, you can also adjust some parameters from the piano. For example, the Brilliance feature adjusts the brightness of the sound. Regarding power output, both the old and new kpd digital pianos have 40 watts speakers, 20 watts on each side, and a total of 2 12cm speakers.

The kdp110 and the kdp120 come with the Kawai Grand Feel Pedal System, which recreates the weight and position of the pedals found on the original Kawai SK-EX concert grand. This provides a realistic pedaling experience. This is very rare to see on a budget piano, and I really like that Kawai included it in the kdp series.

When I compare these two pianos to others in their price range, they outperform most entry-level pianos in volume and boldness. Combining the speakers and sampling technology, it is pretty impressive and maybe the best in its class. Sometimes less is more, and the Kawai kdp series is proof of that.

FEATURES


As an entry-level piano, the kdp series does not have as many advanced features as you will find on other premium pianos. However, I like that Kawai put a lot of thought into this piano so that players of all levels can use it.

While there might not be a wide selection of accompaniment styles, recording features, and built-in tones, there are still several features that you can use and benefit from regardless of your player level.

Modes

Both the Kawai kdp110 and the kdp120 have a dual-mode that allows you to layer two instrument sounds so that they play simultaneously across the entire keyboard range. You can also adjust the volume balance so that one side plays louder than the other.

There is also a four hands mode or duet play that is great for beginner players who might benefit from this feature in a class or lesson environment with the teacher sitting next to them. In this mode, you can split the keyboard into two equal parts. Each part will have the same octave range and its own middle C.

additional feature: duo mode

One thing that differs between the kdp120 vs. kdp110 is the low volume balance on the new model. This feature optimizes the sound when playing at a low volume. One thing that is missing from both pianos is the split mode. This means you can’t assign and play a different sound to any of the two sections of the piano simultaneously.

Recording and playback

This is where I feel Kawai could have done more for the kdp120. The piano features an onboard MIDI recorder, but it can only record three songs, and it’s not multitrack. While it is still useful, I feel that Kawai could have done better if they really wanted to stand out within this price range. Especially when mobile phones and tablets are able to carry an entire multitrack DAW. 

Lesson function

Both the kdp110 and the kdp120 come with an in-built lesson function which is uncommon with this price tag.  It is a self-contained lesson system that allows the players to hear any song that is played on the piano while you see it on the page. This feature can also separate the left and right hand so that you can learn each part individually. Bear in mind that the books are sold separately.

The 5 built-in songbooks are:

  • Alfred’s Basic Piano Library Lesson Book Level 1A
  • Alfred’s Basic Piano Library Lesson Book Level 1B
  • Beyer 106 (Vorschule im Klavierspiel, Opus 101)
  • Burgmüller 25 (25 Etudes Faciles, Opus 100)
  • Czerny 30 (Etudes de Mécanisme, Opus 849)

One more notable feature is the Concert Magic which includes 40 songs that you can play by playing any of the keys on the keyboard with a steady rhythm and tempo. This feature comes with three difficulty levels; Easy Beat, Melody Play, and Skillful.

Connectivity

The kdp120 features a USB-MIDI port which allows you to connect the piano to a computer or mobile device. Additionally, a dual headphone socket enables you and your teacher to study or practice together.

Read more: Best Headphones For Digital Piano: May, 2021 Review

The kdp120 and the kdp110 also have integrated Bluetooth MIDI technology, allowing the digital piano to communicate with supported smart devices wirelessly.

Other Features:

  • Sounds: 15
  • Polyphony: 192 notes
  • Virtual Technician: (13 parameters)
    • Touch Curve
    • Voicing
    • Damper Resonance
    • Hammer Delay
    • Top board Simulation
    • Decay Time
    • Release Time
    • Minimum Touch
    • Stretch Tuning
    • Temperament
    • Temperament Key
    • Half-Pedal Point
    • Soft Pedal Depth
  • Reverb:  6 types
  • Modes:
    • Dual
    • Four Hands
    • Transpose
    • Tuning
    • Low Volume Balance (for kdp120 only)
  • Internal recording: Up to 3 songs
  • Connectivity:
    • 1/4″, 1 x 1/8″ Stereo headphone jacks
    • – USB-MIDI, Bluetooth MIDI (kdp120)
    • -USB to Host
    • -MIDI IN, MIDI OUT (kdp110)

ACCESSORIES


The Kawai kdp120 and kpd110 come with a music rest, power adapter, and a GFP-3 triple damper pedal with half-pedal support, sostenuto, and soft-pedaling. 

You can buy at an additional cost any compatible bench. There are so many options available to choose from. 

WHO IT’S FOR


The Kawai kdp120 and kdp110 are very versatile instruments. The simplicity makes both versions great for beginners, and so does the hammer-action keyboard. Suppose you want to build your skills and grow with your piano. In that case, this is an excellent purchase because it can adequately manage your transition from a beginner to a more skilled player.

Professionals will also love this piano because of the ease of play from the key action and the sound quality. Still, they will struggle with the lack of advanced features. So I think it’s better to purchase the kpd120 if you’re a beginner.

CONCLUSION


Price-wise you will not get a better deal, but more than that, this digital piano has a lot of quality features to offer for beginners. I have no reservations about purchasing the Kawai kdp120 and the kdp110. As far as entry-level digital pianos go, this hits the mark in so many ways.

You get high-quality sound and one of the best key actions you can find in a digital piano for this price. Hopefully, this review has given you all the information to make a good decision.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY



Leave a comment to let me know what you think of this review. And if you happen to have some experience with the Kawai KDP 120, please share with us in the comment below.

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