Wednesday, June 13, 2012

REVIEW - Kohler KD7 Digital Baby Grand PLAYER PIANO - Excellent for the Money and Recommended


UPDATED REVIEW - March 5, 2013 - I recommend the Kohler KD7 digital baby grand player piano however, this piano is now out of stock according to the manufacturer and will not be available in the foreseeable future. If you contact me I can suggest an alternative.  

I recommend the Kohler KD7 digital baby grand player piano (left pic in polished ebony with matching grand bench) at its new lower price (see price info below). This model is a limited edition piano and is only available in the US as far as I know. I played this full size 5' digital baby grand about five years ago when it first came out and just recently again and was quite impressed with it...except for its original high discount price at almost $8000. Since then I recently found out the Kohler company has decided to reissue this piano in limited quantities at a much lower discount price. The discount price will be approx $5500-$6000 (depending on the store) and is available in very limited numbers of polished ebony. This new lower price makes the KD7 quite competitive in the digital grand piano market, particularly because it has a real, live high quality player piano "moving key" system built into it and it is a full 5' deep authentic baby grand cabinet. Other digital baby grand cabinets I have seen are usually no more than 4'1" deep and are hybrids and not real acoustic baby grand cases like the Kohler is, which makes this piano very impressive to look at. The Kohler KD7 piano is built by the Samick piano company, a well known acoustic piano manufacturer out of South Korea who has built and sold acoustic pianos throughout the world for over 50 years. Their US headquarters is based out of Nashville, TN and the Kohler piano brand is over 100 years old and is owned entirely by Samick.


The KD7 digital baby grand player piano is a very unique instrument because it incorporated a combination of things that no other piano company was doing. First of all, the 30 quality digital instrument sounds (including a good selection of impressive acoustic pianos, electric pianos, organs, strings, choir, and other sounds) were all produced by the famous Korg pro keyboard company which is well known for their very high quality instrument sounds used in their pro keyboards. That means the sounds all come from Korg (which is a good thing) as opposed to coming from the Samick company or a no name brand who are not known in the past for producing good digital instrument sounds. The sound control buttons to activate the 30 instruments are located on the left side of the keyboard and the piano volume and tone controls are on the right side of the keyboard. They are simple & easy to use as well as being "minimalistic" in design so they blend in fairly well on the piano cabinet.

KD7 player remote control
The player piano "moving key" mechanism & control box system was designed and produced by the PianoForce company which is manufactured in Europe. This system has also been installed on many other acoustic grand pianos including Kawai, Baldwin, Yamaha, Samick, Steinway, and others. PianoForce is a leader in "moving key" player piano technology (left pic - internal solenoid system) and their system can also take a USB flash drive to load in wav, MP3, and MIDI files, has full length internal player piano songs. The CD playback system can play various CD player disk libraries including full orchestrations, vocal/voice playback and concert piano playback (wow). The pre-installed control box is a newer slimline, low profile system which blends in nicely and unobtrusively on the left underside of the piano. The operating software in the player system also has been newly updated and includes a full featured remote control (upper left pic) that allows full operation of the player piano including volume, tone, speed, recording, balance, and other useful features of the player system. The player system also includes the ability to record your own personal performance on the piano and then play it back with the keys moving up & down...very cool! In other words, you can see the keys you played going up & down on the playback of your recording. Recording a performance is a common feature found on nearly all digital pianos but certainly not with the keys physically moving up & down on playback.

Kohler KD7 with lid halfway
The keyboard action movement is a full size individually weighted and graduated piano hammer key action (as opposed to an upright key action) with the escapement/let-off mechanism found in acoustic grand pianos (a very nice thing to have). It's a solid and fairly quiet key mechanism and when you play it manually it feels good. The other instrument sounds you can play are also very good and you can even combine 2 sounds at one time. Unlike a traditional acoustic piano, there is also a variable volume control over the sound whether playing it manually or using the player. This is great when you want to hear or play it but don't want it to be loud. When you want to practice in privacy, you can plug in a pair of headphones and then no one will hear you play it...great for practicing your lessons or just playing for fun when other stuff is going on in the same house or room.

The 5' deep (from front to back) baby grand piano furniture cabinet is an authentic acoustic baby grand cabinet built by the Samick piano company in its acoustic grand piano factory. It has a full size pedal assembly, full size thick piano legs, a full size dual level lid, and a full size grand (soft close) key cover. The cabinet also incorporates a higher quality Sitka spruce soundboard (for an organic natural sound disbursement) with a built-in huge sounding speaker system which includes one 10" subwoofer, 5 additional speakers of different sizes, and three separate amplifiers totaling a whopping 360 watts of power. What that translates to is a big, full, rich tone with deep bass, good clarity in the middle, and clean high notes without sounding too brassy. The speakers are built right into the sound board and blend in very nicely and seamlessly. I was very impressed.

KD7 with closed key cover
The 3 pedals on the piano works just like a real acoustic piano with soft, sostenuto, and damper/sustain with half-pedal recognition. So everything is there for a good piano playing experience including never having to tune this piano because all the sounds are produced digitally without acoustic strings. The downsides to this piano is that it only has 60 notes of polyphony, no USB direct output to computer or iPad, and is somewhat basic otherwise. With regard to polyphony, that means how many notes can be played or heard at one time if you played all 88-keys at one time. A person only has 10 fingers to play 10 keys maximum so why would you need more than 10 notes of polyphony to cover that? The answer is that when you play arpeggios, glissando's, or more complex chord arrangements along with using the damper sustain pedal (the right pedal), then you can play and hear many more notes sustaining together at the same time, and 60 notes will normally more than cover that type of complex playing. Generally speaking, 60 notes of polyphony will not likely be an issue unless you are layering two instrument sounds together at the same time and playing more complex chord arrangements with pedaling. The player piano system itself plays piano music very well with 60 notes of polyphony as you can hear and see in the YouTube demos below. Most of the other digital baby grands in this price range or less money generally have no more than 64 notes of polyphony, so the Kohler at 60 notes is about the same in that regard.

As far as the player piano moving key system goes, if you were to own a regular acoustic grand piano and get a PianoForce player system installed on it just as this Kohler baby grand has, the player system and installation alone could easily cost around $4000 - $4500 (give or take). And that does not include the cost of the piano or any digital electronics. Taking that into consideration shows just how good of a deal this piano is at its new price in my opinion. And having the digital electronics in place of regular acoustic piano strings means you'll never need to tune this piano which will save you hundreds, if not a thousand dollars or more over the life of the piano. That is a very big savings and one of the reasons I like digital pianos.

Kohler Piano KD7
If you are wanting a digital piano which has lots of digital features such as drum rhythms, accompaniment chords, big LCD screens, hundreds of instrument sounds, twin piano, etc, etc, then this piano will not be for you. However, if you want what this piano can provide based on what you have read here on my review, then the price is definitely worth it in my opinion and just the 5' deep full size authentic grand piano cabinet alone is nearly worth the price of admission. 




Stahler Player Grand Piano
Stahler Player Grand
A beautiful alternative to the KD7 digital piano would be an actual full size acoustic grand piano with the player system already built in. There is no doubt that a real acoustic grand piano will sound much better than a digital grand piano as far as pure piano sound and key action goes. This is because the organic nature of a real piano is still not easily reproduced in a digital grand piano. So if you don't mind not having the digital features, but you want a great piano playing experience for both manual play and player piano moving keys, then you should check out a real acoustic player piano. The one I suggest in a lower price range (they are more money than digital pianos like this) is the new Stahler Player Grand Piano. Go to the following link to read my review of this impressive instrument: Stahler Player Grand Piano

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

Kohler KD7 video demos below:

Peter Gunn TV show theme song - 
with live grand piano and full orchestral CD accompaniment...please note the mahogany piano color in the videos is no longer available



 Classical Piano demonstration - Live Grand Piano
Andy Griffith TV Theme Song Player Piano demo

10 comments:

  1. Do you sell these? Do you deliver or ship to Louisiana?

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    1. I can help you find a new one if you're still interested and tell you about lower prices too. Just email me for more info

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  2. Crazy. I was looking at Clavs and found this review. Steinway of Nashville happened to have a used KD7 (2 years old) so I went to look. It's being delivered this week. It's everything I wanted in an electric. Good sound and feel. Big audio for playing loud and clear. And not a lot of extra bells and whistles that I don't care about. The "player" function is nice too.

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  3. Glad you are liking this model and found one locally. This piano really is phenomenal for the price in my opinion and few people know about it because the brand isn't well known in the digital piano world. I hope others will take a look like you did before they spend a lot more money on something else that may even offer a bit less. And although there are few used ones around, I can help people get new ones for low price prices too as I know where to get them. They just need to email me first.

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  4. Where can I get one?

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  5. You may email me direct and tell me where you live and then I can provide the info you ask for.

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    1. Love this review. Perfect fit for me: an actual baby grand body without all the bells and whistles so often provided. I live in the Hudson Valley, New York (specifically near Newburgh). Any suggestions where I can get one?

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    2. You may email me direct and then I can provide the info you ask for.

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  6. How close does KD7 sound compared to acoustic grand?

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  7. The KD7 is a very satisfying instrument to play as digital grand pianos go including playing the acoustic piano sounds, electric piano sounds, organ sounds, and assorted other instrument tones. Is the KD7 a Steinway or Kawai Grand replacement with the same feel and sound...definitely not! But can a person feel good about playing this piano manually as well as using the player system....definitely and it's substantially less money than a new acoustic grand piano!

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