Jun 28, 2010

REVIEW - Kurzweil CUP2 Digital Piano - Not Recommended at this time

UPDATED REVIEW: May 10, 2013 - Kurzweil CUP2 - No recommended at this time - I have been playing Kurzweil pianos and keyboards ever since the introduction of their famous K250 digital piano in 1984, which had the first authentic Steinway piano sample (incredible sampled sound at the time) and I still love the Kurzweil sound to this day. The Kurzweil keyboard technology is still quite competitive with other brands although some of the other brands have caught up and even surpassed them in some ways. I still use one of Kurzweil's MIDI sound modules because I can't get some of those specific sounds anywhere else.

Kurzweil piano technology was created and introduced many years ago by the the renowned American inventor Ray Kurzweil (pictured left - the pianos are named after him). The Kurzweil piano's big claim to fame was the fact that Ray was able to reproduce the sound of the grand piano, concert strings, and concert choir in a way never done before in those days. The Kurzweil sounds have been used extensively in movie & TV music production and are used by popular bands and musicians around the world. In fact, when you hear grand pianos, full concert string symphonies and choirs/voice sounds in various movies & shows, it's likely that they used a Kurzweil piano to get that. I've seen it done and the realism is amazing. 

In fact, one of the reasons Ray Kurzweil created his new digital piano technology was at the request of Stevie Wonder (left pic, with Ray K) many years ago. Stevie wanted a digital instrument that had the highest quality piano sound possible along with a great piano touch and a few other high quality instrument tones. Stevie already had an association with Ray Kurzweil because Ray invented and produced the acclaimed "reading machine" for the blind, which Stevie Wonder was using. Ray is a very smart guy and known in music and scientific circles around the world. In fact Ray even predicted the rise of the Internet back in 1988 before it was here.

Kurzweil was all about high quality piano and instrument reproduction that even the most sophisticated pianists & other musicians would love. Now after all these years, Kurzweil is still here (even though the company has been bought and sold a few times and now owned by the Hyundai company of South Korea)) and has a compact upright home digital piano utilizing select sounds and features from their PC3X pro piano series and put it into a beautiful polished black cabinet. It is called the CUP2 and this digital piano has great volume and is minimalistic in design, which many people like. The controls are located in a slide out box underneath the left side of the keyboard (see pics on left).

I have played the CUP2 quite a few times and was impressed by its attractive cabinet and big acoustic type piano sound with semi wood key action through its 140 watts bi-amped stereo power. 

Here are the specs on this new piano (pictured above left). Click on picture for bigger view.


~ New pro quality graded hammer piano action with semi-wooden keys
~ 64-note polyphonic with dynamic voice allocation
~ Triple strike stereo Grand Piano
~ 88 instrument sounds taken from the pro PC3X piano
~ Powerful 140 watts bi-amped 4-speaker pro sound system 
~ 64 higher quality sampled drum rhythm patterns
~ Layer, split, pro quality effects, and relative volume control
~ 2-track MIDI recorder
~ Recessed low profile sliding control panel box
~ Slow close piano fallboard
~ USB & MIDI connectors
~ No tuning needed
~ Designer gloss ebony cabinet with 3 full functioning chrome pedals

There are a few deficiencies in this model I did notice when playing it: The CUP2 is only 64-note polyphonic (piano sound memory) which is OK, but in this higher price range for an upright digital piano it really should have 128-note polyphony (double the memory) along with some other sound enhancements and all the other major brands have. The CUP2 is internet discount priced at $4299 which makes it lower priced than some of its competitors who make similar upscale contemporary furniture style pianos in the polished ebony cabinets. Also, when you press down a key very lightly and softly on the CUP2, the sound trigger point when you hear the sound being triggered (heard) for the first time, is about halfway down to the bottom of the keybed underneath the key instead of all the way down when the key touches bottom. This is not how acoustic pianos work because the sound is not heard at all on a regular acoustic piano until the key reaches bottom. This kind of thing can throw off a person's playing technique when trying to achieve proper dynamics and volume control. It is most noticeable when playing legato or lightly. The action key movement itself seems a bit uneven across the keys and some keys feel noticeably harder to push than others which is not a good thing. Also, the speaker system, although loud and full, is not necessarily
balanced in producing even volume across the keyboard as an acoustic piano does (or even other digital pianos). The sound gets too loud & boomy in the bass end while not having enough evenness in tonal quality & volume as you move up the keyboard to the higher octaves. These are all things that someone who has been playing piano for a little while (a few years) may notice, but a beginner may not and also would not know what to look for and that's one of the reasons I do these reviews...to help you understand this stuff. Just because a piano looks good on the outside, has a big sound, and also has a famous name on the front of it does not necessarily mean it works well...or well enough for the price. Kurzweil has made some good product in the past and also makes some excellent pro stage digital pianos and I have owned and played many of these models, but they have a long way to go in getting their home furniture cabinet digital pianos up to an acceptable level in my opinion.

If you like the way the Kurzweil piano looks and can afford to be in this price range or higher, then I would recommend you consider another piano with similar looks and a big sound but with a much better key action, key response, piano sound, polyphony, and overall better piano playing experience for sound quality & realism. This piano is by the Roland piano company and it's called a LX15. I have done a review of that model and you can find it here at this link: Roland LX15 Piano Review. In my opinion this Roland piano is definitely worth the extra money especially if you plan on keeping it for a while and want a great piano playing experience, Roland reliability which is well known in the piano business, and some very cool functions & features. 

 If you want more info on these and other pianos and lower prices than internet or store discounts, please email me at tim@azpianowholesale.com or call me direct at 602-571-1864 

3 comments:

  1. Hello this one is good!, but when it comes to buying a piano, search every other major market that you can gathered some information, ask many questions and buy what you can afford.

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  2. Hi Tim

    Thanks for the review about Kurzweil CUP-2. How about the trigger point? And what about the string resonance? Have you played PC 3X? Piano sounds are great-but I really miss all the noise besides the sounds, e.g. hammer,pedal noise.

    Best regards

    Van

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  3. The trigger point is unfortunately an issue with the TP-40W keybed by Fatar. All pianos with the TP40W have this tendency unfortunately.

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