Monday, November 21, 2011

REVIEW - Adagio KDP8826, XDP400, & KDP88 Digital Pianos - Looks beautiful but NOT Recommended

UPDATED REVIEW - March 15, 2013 - NOT RECOMMENDED - I would not buy these pianos nor recommend them for a few different reasons. The Adagio (KDP8826 - left pic) digital cabinet piano is a piano brand which is distributed by the Kaysound company of Canada. Although Kaysound is headquartered in Canada, they have a US distribution office/warehouse in New York which distributes into the US. As a distribution company, Kaysound does not actually make pianos. They buy them pre-made from a digital piano company in China and put the name "Adagio" on the piano, so the piano is purely a Chinese manufactured and designed piano (being made in China is fine as long as the instrument sounds and key actions are good, which they are not in these models) and the actual name of that Chinese company is called Ringway Tech Company. Ringway produces many different musical instruments and products for other distributors worldwide and the same Adagio named pianos are also sold under other names in different countries (same pianos, different names). All suggested list prices (not actual discount selling prices) for these pianos are set up by the Kaysound/Adagio company and in my opinion should not be seen as an indicator of the true value of these models, as that is purely subjective. 

The Adagio KDP8826 polished ebony version and XDP400 (left pic) imitation satin rosewood version (same pianos, different color and finish), are sold almost exclusively through Costco at $999 & $799 respectively in the US, and none of the Adagio digital pianos offered by Costco in the US can actually be seen or played in a store, therefore the consumer has to buy one sight unseen. Sams Club also offers the KDP8826 piano for sale, only in the polished mahogany finish at $998, but that model also has to be ordered sight unseen. In many cases it's OK to order sight unseen and/or untested if the item comes from a well known piano company with a history of creating or supplying good products. But Costco and other retail companies may not necessarily understand what makes a good piano and offers them because they look good and are a low price (this would include the Suzuki brand too, which I do not recommend at this point).

I have seen and played the KDP8826/XDP400 model and know exactly how it stands up to other brands and what is good and bad about it. Firstly, it comes in a very nice attractive polished ebony cabinet with built-in sliding key cover and matching bench. The styling is very nice, construction seems to be good, and it's fairly easy to assemble out of the box. The piano is user friendly and has a nice, easy to read LCD display screen (upper left pic). There are 128 individual instruments and sounds as well as percussion. Also included are 114 arranger chord styles with drums which can be fun to play (assuming you know how to use that feature). The internal audio system is 80 watts with 4 speakers (according to Adagio) which makes this piano plenty loud. So the good parts of this piano is that it looks great, can play loud if necessary, and there are more sounds and features then the average furniture digital piano in this price range. So far based on all that, this piano looks like it could be an excellent buy.

However, THE primary reasons someone should buy a digital piano is for the ability of the piano to accurately (as much as possible) reproduce a natural, realistic acoustic piano key touch, smooth sound response, proper dynamics & expression, and good acoustic quality piano tone along with a reasonably quiet movement of the keys. The Adagio KDP8826/XDP400 does almost none of these things well or even good in my opinion. Although it's nice having some of the other fun features, they are and should be very secondary to what the instrument can do as a piano. Here are the reasons I say this.

Firstly, there are 2 acoustic piano sounds on this model which are called Grand piano & Bright piano. When playing on a regular piano as well as any name brand digital piano in this price range, the piano sound is supposed to change not only in volume (louder/softer) as you press the key harder or easier, but the tone itself is supposed to change in character with changes in brightness and mellowness as well as various overtones and nuances in the sound. Those are just a few details that make a piano sound good and is referred to as "dynamic range."The Adagio has just one piano sound no matter how hard or soft you press the key. It does change volume from soft to loud, but no changes in tonality or dynamic range. In other words, the piano sound (either Grand or Bright piano) is the same all the time on any style of music using any dynamics. This is not a good thing and not the way acoustic pianos behave.

There are five levels of touch sensitivity that you can change and set, but this feature has to do with different levels of volume response as you play the keys, and not with dynamic range or changes in tone. Touch sensitivity levels are there in case you normally play the keys too hard or too soft and you want to have a different level of volume for your particular touch. This feature is very common in digital pianos. Also, the piano sound itself on this piano is quite choppy as you play a song using single notes and chords (multiple notes) and has more of a staccato (shorter) sound as opposed to smooth and legato (longer), even when using the sustain damper pedal. The pedal sustain does allow for a bit of half-pedaling sustain but this does little to alleviate the somewhat choppy sound that normally occurs when playing a song, especially when trying to play lightly or softly. The mark of a good piano is how the dynamics and piano sound responds when playing delicately and/or quietly, not just loud or harder. The Adagio does not pass the test at all in that way.

The piano key movement on the Adagio pianos is definitely weighted more like a regular acoustic piano, so that is good and most people think this alone is what makes for a good playing experience. However, the key action movement is quite noisy and clunky, especially in the upper part of the keyboard. This is particularly distracting when playing the piano at low volumes or using headphones. The key movement noise when the keys hit bottom or come back up can easily be heard throughout the room or house and is very annoying. It's like there isn't enough felt cushion under the keys to dampen the sound of the keys going up and down. When you play the piano at louder volumes this situation isn't as noticeable, but you shouldn't have to do that just to cover up that annoying key noise which most other good digital pianos don't have. Perhaps my ears are more sensitive than others, but I doubt it. If you have little experience with good digital or acoustic pianos, you may not notice this at first on the Adagio, but after awhile, you probably will.

This Adagio piano can be fun to play using the drum patterns and chord backgrounds but most people buying these pianos do not use those features or don't know how. The piano is able to layer and split instrument sounds together which is good, and this is more more than some other pianos can do in this price range. However, with only 64 notes of polyphony (sound memory), when you layer two instrument sounds together, the lack of memory causes the two sounds to lose notes and drop out while playing songs, depending on how you're playing. A larger 96-128 note polyphony memory that is on many other digital pianos would be better overall, but in this price range it's acceptable.

There is no USB computer plug & play output on the Adagios nor can you play General MIDI song files, which is very useful and available on the Casio PX780 cabinet piano in this price range. I use the song files in my piano studio for lessons and General MIDI song accompaniments are very useful for practicing lessons. There are separate reverb and other controls as well as 1-track recording (which is basic) and a key transpose feature, but ultimately what the piano is and has is an inexpensive sound & rhythm control panel built into a very nice looking cabinet with a functional but clunky, noisy piano weighted keyboard having very nominal piano sounds that aren't any better than popular $200 keyboards I have played recently. As a pure piano replacement...it is not. There are much better digital piano alternatives in that price range when it comes to a good piano tone, action movement, tonality, etc from brands like Yamaha, Roland, Kawai, & Casio although may not be as "pretty or impressive looking."

The warranty on the Adagio pianos is 2 years parts & labor which is good, however it is not for in-home service, which can be very inconvenient. The owner is responsible for any shipping or delivery charges of the piano to and from a service center assuming one is nearby. The KD8826 piano is large, heavy and delicate because of the high gloss finish. I would not want to move this piano if I could help it because of potential damage. So when it comes to the repair warranty, I would just ask Costco or Sams Club to replace it (assuming they can and will) if you bought it there. But doing that would require a lot of effort on your part and you'd be without a piano for awhile until that could be done.


I would also caution people in buying the Adagio KDP88 piano at Costco for $499 (left pic). Although this piano looks better and is slightly less money than the competition (Yamaha & Casio), it is very deficient in the same areas as the KDP8826, and that would not be good. Any good Casio or Yamaha 88-key piano weighted digital piano would be a much better choice than the Adagio KDP88. However, you don't have to take my word for it because this is just my opinion based on the fact I am an experienced piano teacher and musician with a good knowledge of digital pianos and how they should play. If you just want this piano because it's a cheap price and looks good, then go for it.

However instead of the Adagio, I would recommend buying a Yamaha DGX640, YDP135R, YDP142, YDP162, Casio PX750, PX780, PX850, or PX350, Roland RP301 or Roland F120, Korg LP380, Kawai EP3, CE220 or CN24. All of these Japanese companies produce much better digital pianos for key action and realistic tone as well as having a better name and numerous service agents in the United States. Casio & Kawai also offer 3 year in-home service which is really great.

There is an old saying that you cannot judge a book by its cover, and although the covering is very nice on the Adagio pianos, those pianos are sorely lacking in the areas that really count. I am sorry to disappoint some people by this negative review, but if you have low musical expectations, can live with the deficiencies of these pianos, or just like the way it looks so much that you don't care about the things I mentioned, then buy it.  But for a piano student, a player, or someone who wants to grow into this instrument as a piano, along with some fun stuff, I suggest you look elsewhere.

As for the nice shiny gloss furniture style cabinet on the KDP8826 or attractive satin rosewood or brown cabinets on the XDP400 & KDP88, that's really what these Adagio pianos are all about and that's why Costco and Sam's Club offer them because people respond favorably to attractive cabinets. They know people will order things that look attractive even if they have never tried them out. Yes, you can return these instruments to the stores if you don't want them, but everyone knows that is a very big hassle to take the pianos apart and rebox them and actually return them. These stores are counting on you to keep them and that's normally what people wind up doing with large purchases like this. If you really want a piano that plays and sounds like a piano, then just be careful what you choose.

By the way, if you see positive reviews out there (and there are some) by people who say they love these pianos and that the piano tone and touch is very realistic to them, then it would be my opinion those people have never or seldom played a real acoustic piano because if they had, they would not be so positive about the Adagio piano. But I guess the old sayings are true ..."what you don't know won't hurt you," and "ignorance is bliss." You can take your chances with the Adagio pianos and perhaps you'll enjoy your experience, but I would not recommend them to any of my students or friends because I would want them to be able to grow into the instrument and be able to play correctly instead of develop bad habits and grow out of the instrument. Perhaps in future models, this brand will be worth owning, but not now.

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.

11 comments:

  1. Thank you for this excellent review. I was considering the Adagio KDP88 piano now on sale at Costco for $499. Your review helped me to do more research.

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  2. Thanks very much for your helpful & great review!!! Maybe I am going to buy the Casio PX830 for the better price among your list!

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  3. What do you think of the Adagio MGP-1000?

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  4. The small Adagio digital baby grand models use the same technology as the models mentioned here in this blog review (as far as I can tell) and I do not recommend them

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  5. Thank you for this! I just got a Casio a few months ago, and saw the Adagio model online and was having "Satin Rosewood" envy. All for naught! Thanks for reminding me what a great instrument I already have.

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  6. I have a five year old learning to play the piano. We would like to purchase a digital piano. We don't want to break the bank but would like something more realistic than the current keyboard she is using. Any recs under $1000?

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  7. I would be happy to give piano recommendations if you email me directly at the address on this blog

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  8. Thanks Tim, I almost bought Adagio kdp 8826pe from Costco (Actually they have a model at display in the store), my wife not impressed with the sound quality or the weighted key feeling. Glad we read your review.

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  9. great review, im glad to get your insite on the adagio

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  10. Thanks very much -- very helpful review for someone considering purchasing a used Adagio! I am very concerned about the nuances of tone and dynamics, so I will be sure not to buy it!

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