AZ PIANO REVIEWS!: REVIEWS - DIGITAL PIANOS UNDER $2500 - MY TOP PICKS! Kawai ES8, Kawai MP7, Casio AP460, Kawai CE220, Yamaha YDP163, Casio PX780, Roland DP603, Kawai CN37, Yamaha CLP525, & More - Digital Piano Reviews

Jun 14, 2016

REVIEWS - DIGITAL PIANOS UNDER $2500 - MY TOP PICKS! Kawai ES8, Kawai MP7, Casio AP460, Kawai CE220, Yamaha YDP163, Casio PX780, Roland DP603, Kawai CN37, Yamaha CLP525, & More

BEST DIGITAL PIANOS under $2500 down to $1000. For a recent review of new digital pianos under $1000 go here: New Digital pianos under $1000 including the Kawai CE220, Casio AP460, Yamaha YDP163, Roland HP504, Casio AP700, and a few others.

As an expert digital piano consultant to many people throughout the world, I like to share my knowledge of digital pianos with people just like you. There are SO many choices when it comes to new digital pianos these days and people obviously want the best piano tone and touch they can get (with some other nice features) for the lowest price possible that fits within their budget. The variations of digital pianos can make it confusing because they can come in nice full size furniture cabinets, smaller slimline modern cabinets, lighter weight portable pianos with built-in speakers and optional manufacturer built stands & pedals, and also portable pianos with no built-in speakers. There are a number of digital piano configurations because people have different musical tastes and needs such as being used for home, church, school, stage, recording studio, gigging, or other venues.


Kawai ES8
A variety of models from the top manufacturers including Roland, Kawai, Yamaha and Casio digital pianos are very good with a few being better than others. The Kawai ES8 portable digital piano (left pic - $1999US internet discount price - furniture stand & triple pedal lyre optional for $500 more) is one of my favorites for great piano sound and key action in a portable model along with flexibility to make it a very enjoyable piano own. The ES8 plays very smoothly with an organic piano feel and tone that even a pro can appreciate. I would consider the key action touch weight on this piano to be medium (as opposed to light or heavy) which gives the player excellent control over piano dynamics for the softest tone to the loudest...and everything in between. The ES8 is fairly easy to operate and has enough cool features for making music in ways that will enhance your overall playing and music enjoyment experience. So if you want a more compact digital piano with good looks, excellent key action, piano sound, and pedaling along with some useful digital technology to help your playing, the Kawai ES8 would be my personal favorite under $2500.

Kawai also makes a pro stage piano called the MP7 which can play back General MIDI song arrangements. This feature also allow the player to mute out specific instruments so that you can play those parts along with the song for full accompaniment enjoyment. The MP7 is mainly built for superior grand piano tone and a quick realistic key action touch along with some very impressive instrument sounds including vintage electric pianos, symphonic strings, B3 jazz organs with digital drawbars, guitars, brass, flutes, synths, and more realistic instrument tones. And I am very particular when it comes to some of these sounds and the Kawai MP7 certainly passes my test with flying colors. If you are an experienced piano player, advanced student, very particular in wanting an impressive piano tone & key action touch, or are a beginner and just want what the MP7 has to offer (and don't care about cabinet and built-in speakers), in my opinion this would be the perfect digital piano in that "under $2500US price range" if you don't mind an instrument with no internal speakers and would need to connect to external monitors which makes it sound great. Below is a link to my review on the MP7 with more details on this fine piano. Obviously this instrument is not in a cabinet so that can be a downside for some people and then you would need to look at something else like the ES8. Go to the following link for my review on the Kawai MP7: Kawai MP7 Review

Casio AP460
The Casio Privia AP460 digital cabinet piano (left pic) is also a great choice in a lower price range and is pretty amazing for its low internet price of $1499US because the piano has most of the features of the more expensive pianos have like 40 watts of stereo audio power, ivory feel keys, USB direct output, realistic hammer weight & graduated key action touch, and more. It also has features that many of the higher priced pianos do not have such as 256-note polyphony piano sound chip, four internal speakers instead of two, USB flash drive audio wav file recording and playback, a lift top lid for sound expansion, and other cool features. Considering all of the possibilities out there right now for a great digital piano buy in a compact furniture cabinet, I would highly recommend this newer Casio AP460. Go to my review to read more about this impressive piano: Casio AP460 Review *Casio also has a model called the PX780 in the lower price range of $899 internet discount price. It's definitely worth looking at and has some very cool features and I would recommend you read my review of that model at the following link: Casio PX780 Review

The Kawai piano company has a very popular furniture cabinet digital piano called the CE220 furniture cabinet piano (left pic - $1899) with the features that so many people want. The CE220 has actual wood acoustic piano keys (no one else has this feature in this price range) and a very realistic sounding acoustic piano tone using 192-notes of polyphony along with having many useful educational features in an attractive cabinet. This piano far surpasses anything that Yamaha has under $200 at this point in piano playing authenticity and digital features. The CE220 also has a very intuitive control panel with easy access buttons and a LED display screen to see what's going on when you press a button. Go here to read CE220 Review: Kawai CE220 Review

Kawai CN37 satin white
Kawai also makes another model called the CN37 (left pic in white) which has an internet/store discount price of $2599 for the basic rosewood color (satin black or white is $100 more). Even though this discount pricing is over that $2500 price range, it's close enough for "jazz," as musicians say:).It's a great piano for someone who wants a good looking cabinet design, lots of digital features, helpful built-in educational software & functions, and a very smooth and dynamic piano hammer style (plastic, not wood) key action with realistic acoustic piano sound using a 256-note polyphony chip. This model also has 16-track MIDI playback & recording from a menu of 324 instrument sounds along with audio wav & MP3 recording & playback. So the CN37 has lots of things you can do with it and it sounds and plays good too. For a price very close to $2500, in my opinion the CN37 offers a great bang for the buck in this price range for a traditional furniture cabinet model digital piano as compared to what Yamaha or Casio has to offer in that same price range. In fact, in my opinion, even the popular Yamaha Clavinova CLP545 digital piano which sells at piano stores
CN37 control panel
for approx $3000 discount price (for basic cabinet color) is not up to the Kawai CN37 in many ways, except for a more powerful 80 watt internal speaker system in the Yamaha. However, for most families, the Kawai CN37 is plenty loud enough with its 40 watt full range speaker system. But when it comes to the Kawai brand it would seem that the lower priced CE220 is in a better price range and offers enough upgraded features to satisfy many families. Kawai also offers a compact furniture model digital piano called the ES8 ($1999 internet discount price). This model has a few similar features as compared to the CN37 but in many other ways is quite different and upgraded including an improved piano sound chip for even more realistic piano sound authenticity and this model is equal in piano sound realism to the top of the line Kawai CS11 which sells for over $8000. So when it comes to Kawai pianos, the ES8 is definitely at the top. Go to the following link to read my review of the ES8:Kawai ES8 Review

Yamaha YDP163
The Yamaha Arius YDP163 cabinet piano ($1499US internet price - left pic) is a really fine piano overall with nice piano sound and has many features including 192 note polyphony, ivory feel keys, 40 watts of power, layer & duo, a smooth key action (although a somewhat heavy to play at times), and a more traditional cabinet. Yamaha makes a complete series of the Arius models and you can go here to read about some of them as well as my review on the new Yamaha YDP163: Yamaha YDP163 Review. Yamaha also has the Clavinova series digital pianos with it basic model called the CLP525. The CLP525 is a current model and is quite similar to the YDP163 with a few exceptions and sells in US piano stores for about $2000US. Go here for my review on the CLP525:Yamaha CLP525 Review

Roland HP504 digital piano
Roland HP504
The Roland company is well known for making some impressive home & professional digital pianos over the years and they have a few new models called the F140R ($1199 internet price, RP501R ($1499 internet price), DP603 (starting at $1999US internet price) and the HP504 (approx piano store discount selling price $2300US - left pic) that has a nice 3-part key sensing system and smooth acoustic piano style key action along with continuous detection pedaling sustain and some very useful technology features. I think these models are quite impressive for their compact size. I would recommend you consider these pianos because the overall piano sound realism and tone quality rivals the Kawai CN35 in some ways and in my opinion definitely outplays the Yamaha CLP525 and the newer Yamaha CLP535 as well. I have done a blog review of the DP603 and HP504 piano at the following links: Roland DP603 Review,Roland HP504 Review,

A person can spend a bit more than $2500 and have some other great piano choices such as the newest Roland HP603, Yamaha CLP545, Casio-Bechstein GP300, Samick NEO, and others. So there are plenty of very nice digital pianos for even more money, up to $22,000 for a few Digital Grand Pianos. But most families I speak with want to be under $3000, and any of these pianos mentioned here would be enjoyable to own. Based on my experience both past & present, I recommend that people stay away from the off-brand names like the Williams brand which is a Guitar Center house brand and is only sold by the Guitar Center company and it's subsidiaries. Also I would be careful with pianos from Suzuki & Artesia sold primarily in the US by Guitar Center & Costco. Most of these off-brands just don't qualify to called real "pianos" in my opinion. It's all about having realistic key touch action, proper dynamics, smooth key volume response, realistic piano tone up and down the entire 88-keys, no unreasonable key noise, and proper pedal response. There are basic minimum standards that pianos need to have and these off-brand pianos usually fall short.

Also, the off-brands or house brands (in many cases) are not actual piano manufacturers but simply created names produced by relatively unknown Asian factories with (what I consider to be) low quality technology and parts for a low price. Their names sound American to give you the impression that they are somehow as good or better than the Japanese brands, but they are not. They are all made in China and although generally speaking product being made in China is not an issue as far as I'm concerned because many of the top brands now have factories in China. It's what the product actually is, how it's made, the parts and construction that is used, and the quality control provided that counts. I have played all of the off brand pianos offered in the US that I have mentioned here and would not recommend them to anyone if they are looking for a good piano playing experience and long term investment (no matter what the price is). The piano cabinets themselves, extra sounds, and other features offered in these digital pianos are only important if the primary functions & features of the piano passes the test. Low price and an attractive furniture style cabinet alone is definitely not a good way to judge piano quality, although unfortunately many people do. You will likely purchase a piano that you'll want to keep for a while so be sure you do your homework and get something that is a good instrument from one of the name piano brands, you'll be glad you did.

Casio AP700 digital piano
One of the more surprising digital piano options to me under $2500 is the Casio Celviano AP700 digital piano which sells for $2499 discount price on the internet. Not only does this piano look great in its upgraded furniture cabinet, but I was impressed by how good it plays & sounds as a piano along with the useful digital features it offers. The AP700 has a powerful built in stereo sound system which does a very good job projecting its piano sound in a way that makes you feel like you are playing a large acoustic piano. The AP700 piano sound technology comes from Casio's higher priced and more advanced Grand Hybrid models with a store price of approx $4000. So the piano sound reproduction you get out of the AP700 is the same as what you would hear in the more expensive models. The user interface is easy to use and see located directly in front of you above the keys. So when it comes to a full furniture cabinet style digital piano for less than $2500 but still above $2000, I would pick this Casio AP700 as offering the "best bang for the buck."

I know it's difficult for most people to judge these various brands and models on their own when they don't have the experience & expertise. It can also get even more confusing when different piano and music instrument stores tell you different things depending on the brands they're selling. That's why I am happy to help people who wish to contact me and I will answer your questions about what might be best for you based on the actual facts about what these pianos can actually do and what you budget and musical goals are. Even though the choices I have talked about here for my top digital piano picks are good ones, there may be other options for YOU depending on your particular price range and specific needs & wants. I am committed to helping people get good digital pianos, playing good music, having good piano instruction, and enjoying the entire experience. I don't work for piano manufacturers nor do I have a favorite brand or model not do I link you to Amazon to purchase a piano just so I can make an affiliate commission off of your sale. I do it because this is my passion and I care about your (and your family's) musical well being. Go to the link below to see what music involvement should be like in the lives of children and why you should should get your children and/or yourself involved in music.
Why Kids Should Play Piano!

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

41 comments:

  1. I am debating between a casio px-330..which is very affordable or a kawai ES-6...which I really like, but the the price is 3x higher than the casio...can you help me decide?

    Thank You,
    Irene

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  2. Hi Tim,

    I really like your blog and find your reviews very helpful. I'm trying to work out what digital piano to go for. I've been looking at the Yamaha P95 for a while now. Can you tell me what you think of it (if you've played it that is)?

    Thanks and best wishes for 2012,

    Duncan

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  3. Hi Duncan,

    The Yamaha P95 digital piano is an excellent instrument in its price range. I have played and reviewed that model before and recommend them. The only other option I would recommend in that price range is the Casio PX130 and a new Casio model which will be out soon called the PX135

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  4. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for letting me know. I will check out the Casio model you recommend as well!

    Best

    Duncan

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  5. Hi there, I am looking to buy a digital piano and was wondering what you thought of the Casio AP420 compared to the Casio AP 220. The cost of the 220 seems to be a bit less from the sites I've seen it advertised on, so I wasn't sure if the 420 was worth the extra money. The case seems a bit more sturdy on the 420 as well, and I know it has bigger speakers and an SD drive where the 220 does not, but as far as sound quality and other features, how do they compare? Thanks, T.H.

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  6. I would be happy to answer your piano questions in detail if you email me directly and also indicate where you live.

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  7. I found the info on your Casio 220/420 review, thank you for all the information! I am finding your blog very helpful as we are trying to decide best value for money and are new to the digital piano market.

    Thanks again, T.H.

    (p.s. I live in Canada, am the former owner of a thousand pound full size acoustic upright that I grew up playing (loved!), but could no longer keep as it was far to heavy to even move from room to room (let alone up or down stairs or from house to house if we were to ever move again!). It is now in it's new home at our local piano studio where I also taught before I had children. As my oldest kids are nearing the age of being able to start lessons we are looking into buying a 'lighter' piano and I'm feeling much better about chosing digital now (after reading your blog) over acoustic, even though I've always thought acoustic was far superior (partly b/c it's all I've played and maybe acoustic uprights WERE better until more recently!). Anyhow, thanks and I'll continue to read your reviews as we continue to research. Cheers!)

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  8. Hi Tim
    What a find your site is. Thank you! I am in Australia and have lugged our upright grand around the country!!! I am now looking for a digital piano because I'm running the Year 2 choir and also do a lot of church music and need some more options. So, the capabilities I need are:

    Ability to record relatively simple backing tracks for the choir
    Great piano sound, 88 keys, weighted etc,
    Other instrumental sounds
    Portability
    SD card so I can easily interact with the laptop and create sound files (I'm hoping I can easily record a backing track and convert it to a mp3 track for playing on a computer or disc?)
    Potentially interaction with notation software.

    I've read through all your reviews and they were really helpful. Given I've got to think about portability

    I was hoping for something around the $1000 mark to start with.

    Any guidance you can give would be fabulous.

    Many thanks from down under.

    Catriona

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  9. Morning

    Any opinions on the Kurzweil RE-220? I'm looking to upgrade from our 20 yr old Korg Concert 3500 and have been offered the Kurzweil for $700.00 (Business closing).

    In general I'm looking for a "Piano" to expand my daughters 11 yr old "bells and whistles" that will also take her to the next levels Grade 5-8 royal conservatory.

    Would this be a good deal?

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  10. Any opinions on the Roland F-120, my 7 year old daughter is just beginning to learn piano.

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  11. Any opinion on the Roland F-120, my 7 year old daughter is just starting to learn piano.

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  12. The Roland F120 is a very basic, but nice instrument with some good features although the speaker/audio system inside is quite small which gives off a small sound in my opinion. Also, the key action is quite noisy when keys are pressed all the way down when pushing down the keys at a harder velocity. This is not an issue in the beginning but could become an issue later. A very "thumpy sound" when that happens. Otherwise a good option although there are others. You may email me for more info.

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  13. Hi Tim,
    I'm from Turkey. I'm confused so I need your advice. Which one is better? Yamaha Arius Ydp 141 or Cassio Ap420? Their price is equal where I live. So which one should I chose?
    sorry for my english :-)
    thanks for your help

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  14. Both pianos would be good but the Casio does offer more such as a better speaker system, more electronic features including a SD card function for saving recorded songs, USB output to computer for software lessons, etc, audio outputs, height adjustable bench, ivory feel keys. If you really want a Yamaha you should get the YDP135R because it's nearly the same exact piano as the YDP141 but sells in US for $150 less money

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  15. Hello, I am from the UK and am looking for a digital piano for my two young children to learn to play in. We move around lot with my husband's job, hence the need for a digital one. I don't really have a budget. I do want something sturdy. My children are 4 and 6. Hope you can help. Sarah

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    Replies
    1. Recommended: Casio PX130, Yamaha P95, Casio CDP120

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  16. My son is almost 11 and has been playing guitar for about3 years. He would now like to take up piano. Any recomendations on a digital piano for him. We are looking in the $200- $500 range. Could you give a recomendation on the low and high ends. I want to get a decent one that will keep him interested.

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    Replies
    1. Recommended: Casio PX130, Yamaha P95, Casio CDP120

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  17. Hello. As an apartment dweller, And someone who has gone back to playing after 40 years, I'm looking to replace my old spinet with a digital piano. I'd consider either a traditional or stage model. Is there an advantage of one over the other? I want the most realistic sound and feel, and will be using both speakers and headphones at times. What do you suggest? Thanks.

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  18. I bought a Korg LP-350 recently. Just wonderring if you know about the loud bang noise when swith off the speaker? Not sure if it normal.

    Thank you

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  19. There is sometimes a loud pop in instruments when the power is shut off but it would be difficult to know if what you're hearing is normal to that instrument.

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  20. due to the budget i'm facing,the only digital i can get is between the Yamaha P-95,And the Casio CDP-120 or CDP-200R. i did a research and the i think the best for the feel and touch is the yamaha P-95 but for the features,i like the Casio CDP-200R better. Any good ideas?

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  21. Hi there,
    I'm living in Belgium and I wondered if any one has heard of Dynatone DPR 2200. The descriptions looks ok, price as well but I don't know much about pianos. I'm also looking into a Yamaha YDP 161? Or should I go for a Roland
    Please help!. So much choise, not enough knowledge
    C. Belgium

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  22. Would not recommend Dynatone at this time. I have played them before and have not been impressed with build quality and sound. Go with Yamaha

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  23. Hi Tim,
    My 7 year old son has taken interest in piano and the teacher has asked us to look for one, either acoustic or similar key feel, sound with pedal action. The nearby popular music shop have advised that Yamaha Clavinova's or the Roland F120 or better models to buy as they said are recommended by ABRSM.
    Obviously I want to buy a piano to kindle and sustain interest of my child and also something to help to practice for a few levels of the exams at some point. But, my question is are the less pricey models as Casio Celviano's or yamaha YDP's not good enough for the purpose and perhaps for a few years of learning to start with?
    Are you aware of such recommended models by ABRSM? What would you suggest considering the fact that my child may loose interest having tried. We live in UK. Thank you very much for your time.

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  24. Would you recommend me some digital pianos among Roland and Yamaha under 1500USD??? (and other brands as well.)thanks!!!!

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  25. Hi Tim,
    Would you be able to comment on Roland DP90S Digital Piano?
    Thank you.

    Isabel

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  26. Hi Tim,

    Would you be able to comment on Roland DP90S Digital Piano? I have a very small apartment and this seems perfect. The piano is beautiful. I watched the video and sounds good. But is it really good? Your comment would be really appreciated. Thank you very much.

    Isabel

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  27. The Roland DP90S is a beautiful instrument and sounds great but it is substantially more money ($3000+) than the other pianos I mention in this review. The new DP90 series is basically the exact same piano as the Roland HP505 full size piano, but is more compact with much less powerful speaker system

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  28. Hello Tim,

    Thank you for your informative site. I have a couple questions...1)I am curious about the expected life span of a digital piano. Resonably, at the rate technology advances, I know that these models at the top of the line today, will often be outdated in a few years. What do you feel would be among the most enduring models?

    - about 14 years ago I bought a digital piano, and it has served me well (Technics brand)- it was not cheap and the 'hammer action' was just a very new feature available at the time. It was what helped me accept going digital. Compared to the digital pianos out there currently, it is not as precise in sound and touch but has still been very comparable over the years. I did notice last year though, that it seems to be somewhat - aged?? dying maybe?? It is actually gone off-key... Which brings me to my 2nd question: I am in the market for a new digital piano. I teach piano privately - it is more something I love to do than a profession but I still don't just want beginner/intermediate student quality. My budget is not super high, but I am willing to spend a little more if it is really worth it - because I do want quality, realistic sound and feel and want it to last for quite a while. I also have used my piano for recitals so I want it to look and sound good in a bigger room also. I have played the Casio PX-130, 135 and 735 (even recommended it for some of my students - but for me personally, I'm looking for a little more than that. Additionally, if this affects your recommendations, I also want something that will record with good quality as I often connect my computer to the piano to make gift cd's for relatives and friends. (My current piano has an old midi connection that doesn't even fit with modern comptuers now - so I can only record directly from the headphone jack as I play... the sound transfers slightly tinny) Any recommendations to point me in a good direction?

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  29. Tim, we live in Bahrain and are looking to buy a used Medeli DP 40 for our two kids, aged 11 and 12. We don't have a lot of affordable choices here but need to get them off the electric keyboard and onto something that feels more like a real piano. However, I don't want to waste our money. Can you tell me anything about this piano?

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  30. I am considering purchasing the Yamaha P105. I'm looking for something that has full amount of keys, has good touch response, comes with foot pedal, and I can plug headphone in to hear through if needed, and lastly about $650.00 is what I'd like to spend at most. (excluding tax). I was just wondering if the P105 hit my criteria above. Thanks in advance for the help. -Suji

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  31. Hi Tim
    Thanks for your site.
    After toying around for a while, I have decided on the Kawai CN34.
    To me, learning the piano should be as much fun as possible and all the different bells and whistles on this model should do the trick to keep my 12yo interested for a few years yet. Thanks mate
    Steve Australia

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  32. Hi I would like to know what would be the advantage to getting a Kawai CE220 or a Kawai CN34, which is better? Thanks

    Josef-Peter roemer

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  33. Is it possible to generalize which digital pianos tend to have a lighter touch? I have owned Roland and Yamaha "slab" digital pianos, and have preferred the lighter touch of the Rolands. Now I'm looking to purchase a home digital piano, and I'm wondering if most players find that the Rolands have the lighter touch in that category as well.

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  34. Roland HP504, Kawai MP7, and of the new Casio's have a lighter touch

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    Replies
    1. however, the black keys always have a heavier touch on most digital pianos so with regard to the black keys, Roland and Kawai do a better job with lighter touch as compared with others

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  35. Thanks for your prompt response, Tim!

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  36. I find your site very useful. What is your opinion of the Kawai CA95 & CA65? Are this sold only in the UK? I can't find a price range. We are in a bufget, but we do want to get a quality DP. Thanks uou. Alba

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  37. tim,what do you think about nord piano 3?

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