AZ PIANO REVIEWS!: REVIEW - Kawai CN43, Roland HP305, Yamaha CLP440 Digital Piano Comparison - Digital Piano Reviews

Sep 3, 2011

REVIEW - Kawai CN43, Roland HP305, Yamaha CLP440 Digital Piano Comparison

UPDATED REVIEW - June 1, 2013 - The Kawai CN43 and Roland HP305 are now discontinued. The Yamaha CLP440 is still being produced and is considered a current model. The Kawai CN43 has been replaced by the CN34 although the CN34 internal speaker system has been downgraded by over 1/2 half of the audio power (100 watts down to 40 watts) and only 2 speakers, but that model is also about $300-$400 less than the CN43. I think it was a bit of a mistake to have reduced the audio power and speakers in the new CN34, even with the price savings. The Roland HP305 has been replaced by the HP505 which has been upgraded in its piano playing realism and speaker system and is only approx $100 more than the older HP305. The Yamaha CLP line of pianos has seen no changes and is the same as before.

Original comparison review of the Kawai CN43, Yamaha CLP440, and Roland HP305: New digital pianos in furniture style cabinets are available in many different price ranges these days. Generally speaking, there are pianos for under $2000 and then there are the pianos for over $2000 on up to $10,000 and more. In this review, I am comparing new digital pianos in the $3000 price range (normal store discounts in standard cabinet finish) from Yamaha, Kawai, and Roland. These 3 companies (although there are a few others) are the primary manufacturers for good digital pianos over $2000 in nice looking furniture style cabinets. Roland, Yamaha, and Kawai make fine musical instruments and all have their own strengths and weaknesses. But ultimately when it comes down to it, piano tone and key action touch is an individual thing, and therefore a subjective choice. 

All three of these piano brands offer a variety of models that come in different cabinet styles, colors, and configurations. If you're looking for something that is beyond the basic digital piano and don't mind spending around $3000 (more or less), then the 3 models you need to look at and compare are the Kawai CN43 (above), Roland HP305 (left), and Yamaha CLP440 (below). All of these pianos are the latest, current model acoustic piano replacements and I have played all of them. In my opinion, any of these pianos would be great to own and would offer a generally very satisfying piano playing experience. However, as with all products, sometimes there is a brand or model that is ahead of the rest in a specific price range, and in my opinion that piano is the Kawai CN43. 

The Kawai CN43 seems to offer a more features and for less money than the other two comparable brands, and the piano tone and touch on the Kawai is quite impressive going through 100 watts of audio power with a very smooth keyboard action. The cabinet is quite attractive and comes in two colors, with my favorite being the premium satin black. The tone, touch, and furniture cabinet style & color is personal and subjective, and the Roland HP305 and Yamaha CLP 440 are also very nice. But if it were up to me, I would choose the Kawai CN43 piano because not only does it have very useful built-in piano educational and fun features, the CN43 also has a very impressive piano touch and tone that's hard to beat although I do like the Roland key action very much as far as the way it moves, responds, and the dynamic range of the stereo piano sound.

Below is a comparison chart of many of the important features of these three pianos. It is important to note that each piano model has their own unique way of generating their piano sound and piano touch and that each one is noticeably different. They use various words in their factory specs to describe the way they produce their tone and touch, but at the end of the day, it boils down to how it feels and sounds to you. Few people really care what it's called, as long as it's good and it allows the player (and the audience) to have a satisfying playing and listening experience. But as a complete package, the CN43 would be my pick and it's somewhat less money. I also really like the fact that Kawai and Roland have developed a close replication of a grand piano key mechanism creating a let-off/escapement movement inside the key action which none of the Yamaha models have. It's really the difference between what a grand piano feels like compared to an upright piano.

Take a look at my comparison chart (at left) of these three models so you can see for yourself some of the important piano features and how these pianos compare to each other. The chart does not cover all the features on each piano, as the list would be much too long otherwise.  But this will give you a very good idea of how they do compare in areas that I believe need to be considered in your piano decision. Please note that the audio power on the Kawai CN43 is actually 100 watts total (2 X 50 watts) and not 80 watts as stated in my comparison chart. This makes for an even more compelling reason to consider the Kawai CN43 as top choice in this comparison. However, these are not the only pianos to consider when looking to purchase a new instrument, but they are very good ones. I also recommend you consider pianos under $2000 as well and I have done a comparison review of some of those models which include pianos by Kawai, Kurzweil, Casio, Roland, and Yamaha. Take a look at the link below to get more information on those pianos as they may satisfy you just as well, and you will spend less money too which is always a good thing. Also, many people these days are purchasing portable versions of furniture cabinet pianos because it can reduce costs significantly. Review - Digital pianos under $2000

Update June 1st 2013: The new Roland HP505 in its price range is my new pick for best all around piano sound and key action realism in its price range. If you don't mind being in the $3000+ price range then you should consider the Roland HP505 and read my blog review here: Roland HP505 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.

16 comments:

  1. Hi Tim,
    I'm very interested in the CN43. As this model is not available in many shops in Holland, I have this question: is the touch and feel of the CN33 the same as it is on the CN43? I expect that the sound of the CN43 will be only slightly better than the CN33 because of the stonger amplifier and better speakers? Furthermore I think that the CN43 offers more features for just a bit more money.
    Thanks for your answer!

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  2. The piano action is the same in both the CN33 & CN43. However not only is the speaker/audio system much better in the CN43, it also has double the polyphony for a much better piano sound, layering capabilities, and General MIDI song recording & playback. That model is definitely worth the additional cost.

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  3. Hi Tim,
    Thanks for your answer. I have tried the CN33 an I was very impressed of the piano action and the sound. That same day I went to another shop to try different Rolands and Yamaha's but I was a bit disppointed about the noise of those 2 brands. Especially the hammer action of the Roland makes a lot of (staccato) noise. Much more than the Kawai. Also the piano sound of the Roland was less natural to me. The Yamaha cabinet does not look nice to me. At this moment I'm looking for the best offer for a Kawai CN 43 and I will order it this month.

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  4. Hi again Tim,
    I ordered for the Kawai CN43 today. It seemed that the best prices were in German internet shops, but when I asked several shops in Holland, most of them could give me a simular or even better offer.
    The piano will be delivered in 3 or 4 weeks and I'm very looking forward to try is out(as I still have only played the CN33 and haven't even seen the CN43 yet)
    Regards,
    Peter

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  5. Hi Tim,

    I really appreciate your sharing of personal experiences on the above models. I am looking at the KawaiCN43 and Yamaha CLP43 for my 10yo son who's been doing piano for 6 years with our OLD upright one (w/c is really a hard-keyed pc of instrument). For years I personally thought it's Yamaha and Steinway that makes the best sounding, long lasting and best feel pianos. As I can't afford a Steinway, we were leaning on a Yamaha until I have heard much praises about the Kawai. Having read your review I am more leaning to get the Kawai CN43. Would you say that Kawai is dependable? I know that Yamaha is, but if Kawai feels and sounds better than Yamaha and it would be a worry-free product then I must say that's what we'd be going for. Tnx in advance.

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  6. I'd like to thank you for taking the time of writing this review.

    I can't state how helpful it was, as I was considering a Yamaha or a Roland digital piano, but for some reason I wasn't convinced.

    After reading this review I discovered the Kawai CN 43, and now I know for sure that I'll go for it.

    Thanks again!

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  7. Hi Tim,
    I got my Kawai CN43 3 weeks ago. It's a beautifull instrument. Sound is super (better than supernatural..), the keys feel great and the cabinet very well made and looks really good.
    There are lots of great sounds in this Kawai and I will need a lot of time to try everyting. But I'm not in a hurry for that. Untill now I preferred to use the grand-piano sounds and some Hammond alike organs. It's also great to use the split function and use a fretless bas sound (SUPER) together with one of the grand piano sounds. I'm very happy with it. Thanks for your advise.
    Regards,
    Peter

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  8. Hi Tim,
    thanks for writing your article.
    I'm in the process of buying a new DP and can't decide between the CN43 and MP6 so I'm intrigued buy your statement "MP6 ($1499) and it even outperforms the Kawai CN43 in significant ways."

    Do you think you could explain way you mean by this.
    For me portability isn't important- it's solely for home use and the most important feature for me is the action which, as far as I can tell is the same on both.
    Thanks so much,
    Mike

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    Replies
    1. Hello, I am a Gran, and will be buying either a CN43 or a MP6, but would have loved to read your comments and comparisons on which one to go for. Can you send info please?

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  9. Hi Tim,
    great article. I'm particularly interested in your sentence about the MP6 being better than the CN43.
    I can't decide between the two. Portability isn't a requirement and more than anything else, the action is the most important thing for me and as far as I can tell, both dp's have the same.
    Sonically is the MP6 better?
    Thanks in advance,
    mike

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  10. Mike,

    You may email me direct and then I can respond better

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  11. Hi Tim,
    What's the difference between the sound sources Progressive Harmonic Imaging (like on Kawai CN43) and Ultra Progressive Harmonic Imaging (Like on Kawai CA63 / CS)? I compared the sound of these in a local piano shop and couldn't notice any difference.
    Thanks
    Paul

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  12. In simple terms, the Ultra technology makes the acoustic piano tones sound better (even more realistic) but typically this difference is heard better when using a good pair of stereo headphones as opposed to trying to hear the sound through the piano's own speaker system or in a noisier environment/room. Both sound sources are quite good but the Ultra has more dedicated "memory" devoted to the acoustic piano sound

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  13. I'm reading your comments with great interest. I accompany a singing group and we give programs around the area. Can you tell me how these three keyboards would handle being hauled from place to place in a trailer? Is it even practical to think it can be done with a keyboard in a cabinet?

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  14. Wouldn't haul those pianos at all unless you dismantled them from their stands and then was real careful.

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  15. Hi Tim,

    Thank you for all the great info your are providing. Do you have any comments on the Kawai CN24? We are looking for our first digital piano... I loved it right away but have not compared it to Yahama or Roland brands yet. Thank you for your input!

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