AZ PIANO REVIEWS!: REVIEW - Kawai CS3 digital piano - Beautiful Cabinet - Digital Piano Reviews

Feb 23, 2011

REVIEW - Kawai CS3 digital piano - Beautiful Cabinet

UPDATED REVIEW - Nov 1, 2012 - The Kawai CS3 digital piano is a great one to consider if you want a piano in a beautiful high polished black cabinet for under $3000. Kawai is well known for building high quality concert grand and upright pianos for professionals and students, so they know what they're doing and they have an international reputation for producing some very nice instruments. It's really no surprise to me that Kawai has been able to produce this elegant furniture cabinet piano with a smooth, responsive key action. However, at this point the CS3 is an older model in terms of digital technology and uses an older 96-note polyphony chip as compared with the new Kawai digital pianos coming out now with up to 256-note polyphony including other sound advancments. Polyphony (or note memory) is the ability of the notes to resonate together properly like a real acoustic piano as they are being played along with getting a better pedaling sound experience and a more accurate overall piano sound. As a rule, more polyphony is always better but 96-note polyphony is typically sufficient for most beginner to intermediate players but is not going to allow you to grow with the piano as much as if you had a bigger piano sound memory chip like in the newer models. So keep that in mind.

Kawai did an outstanding job of making this digital piano look especially attractive and obviously went to great expense to do so. Next, Kawai put in their new ivory feel "Real Hammer" key action with let-off/escapement that allows for fairly authentic touch response and control which feels closer to a grand piano across the entire keyboard. The pedaling functions are very good with realistic feel allowing for graduated levels of sustain. As far as piano tone goes, it is quite nice and competes with the entry level Roland HP series & Yamaha CLP400 series of cabinet digital pianos.

The CS3 is really a simple piano. It has 15 high quality instrument tones including grand pianos, full uprights, symphony strings, concert choir, classic electric pianos, baroque harpsichord, Hammond B3 jazz organ, cathedral church organ, and more. But it's important to note that this Kawai is intended as mostly a replacement for an acoustic piano as opposed to getting a digital piano with more "bells & whistles" on it. 

The CS3 also has a basic digital recorder/player on board for being able to quickly listen to your recorded performance and store them, a metronome for timing, a transpose function for electronically moving the key up or down for singing & playing purposes, as well as the capability to layer two instrument tones together in a dual mode that has relative adjustable volume balance control. It has a duet mode so two people can play four hands at one time on the keyboard which is very cool (great for student-teacher simultaneous play or duets in general), and the CS3 even has a built-in lesson program from the Alfred lesson course which is helpful if you don't play well. Also, the CS3 has MIDI connectors (no high speed USB computer/iPad connection unfortunately) for connectivity to computers, etc. At this price range it really should have the high speed USB connectivity to interface with an iPad/tablet to take advantage of the fantastic music education apps available now. As far as the built-in audio system goes, it's OK with 4 speakers and 40 watts total of stereo power, but the sound is a bit on the muddy/mid rangy side and I would have preferred to see this model have a better, bigger speaker system considering its cost and size of cabinet. And as I said before, the lower amount of polyphony is somewhat of a deficiency as compared to the newer models these days. However, the bottom line is if you think this new model sounds like something you'd like to own (especially for the cabinet) and would fit your musical needs, I do recommend it overall and it's definitely worth your consideration.


If you don't mind doing without the polished ebony cabinet then there are some better alternatives to the CS3 including the Kawai CN34 ($2499 internet discount price) in a satin black as well as the Kawai CE220 with an actual acoustic piano wood keyboard ($1899 internet discount price) in a satin black. Go here to read my review on the Kawai CE220: Kawai CE220 review


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

3 comments:

  1. Curious.. I am considering buying a CS3 or a CN33, and I would be really grateful if you could tell if there is any difference in sound or touch quality between these two?

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  2. Hi, i also consider the Kawai CS3 or CN33. Sound engine and key response technique is the same. So almost the same instruments but the only difference is that the CS3 has less features but has a high gloss furniture cabinet, wich is very beatifull. The CN33 cost less and had more sounds etc. And the CN33 is 5 cm taler. The CNN33 is available in 3 colors. For the CS3 changing between sounds is harder. There is no button and only one button to do this.

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  3. How does the CS3 compare to the CS6?

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