Jun 14, 2012

REVIEW - Kohler KD7 Digital Baby Grand PLAYER Piano - Beautiful & Very Impressive at its new lower price!



UPDATED REVIEW - March 6, 2012 - Recommended - This model is out of stock according to the Samick-Kohler company, but there may be alternatives if you contact me. 

I recommend the Kohler KD7 digital baby grand PLAYER piano at its 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' deep 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 higher discount price at almost $8000. Since then I recently found out the Kohler company has decided to reissue this piano in limited quantities with new player technology updates at a much lower discount price. The KD7 should be selling at discount price for about  $5500 (depending on the store) in selected US piano stores and is available in a limited polished ebony finish. The mahogany finish you see in these pictures is no longer available. This new lower price makes this piano very competitive in the digital grand piano market, especially 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 are usually no more than 4'1" deep and are hybrids and not real acoustic baby grand cases like the Kohler is, which makes it 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 higher 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.

The player piano "moving key" mechanism which moves the keys up & down along with its front control system was designed and produced by the PianoForce player system company which is manufactured in Europe and has been installed on many famous acoustic grand pianos including Kawai, Baldwin, Yamaha, Samick, Shimmel, Steinway, and others. PianoForce is a leader in "moving key" player piano technology also utilizing advanced remote control systems including iPod, internet streaming radio, takes a USB flash drive to load in wav, MP3, and MIDI files, has 75 full length internal player piano songs as well as player piano CD playback system including full orchestrations, vocal/voice playback and concert piano playback (WOW). The control box is a newer slimline, low profile system which blends in nicely and unobtrusively on the underside of the piano. The operating software in the player system also has been newly updated with even more features than before. The player system also includes the ability to record a one track personal performance on the piano and play it back. Normally that would not be a big deal as compared to many other digital pianos. However, the big difference is that the Kohler KD7 can also play back your performance using the moving key player system. In other words, you can see your song with the keys you played going up & down on the playback of your recording. That kind of feature is normally an upgraded option on many player systems and is included in this Kohler KD7.

The keyboard action movement is a full size individually weighted and graduated grand 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 just as a grand piano, it feels very realistic. In fact, it's enjoyable playing pure piano music on it when you are not using the automatic player piano mechanism. And the other sounds that you can play are also very cool 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. In fact, you can make it almost whisper quiet. And 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. That's very impressive to me because all of the other small digital baby grand furniture style cabinets are not authentic baby grand cabinets. They are actually smaller hybrid cabinets made to simulate the look of a small baby grand, but in reality they are not actual baby grand cabinets as far as build quality, size, weight, and construction. The Kohler KD7 is obviously much better in that regard. It has a full size pedal assembly, full size thick piano legs, a full size dual level lid, and a full size grand key cover. The cabinet also incorporates a higher quality Sitka spruce soundboard (found in regular acoustic grand pianos giving a more 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.

 KD7 polished ebony
The 3 pedals on the piano works similar a real acoustic piano with soft, sostenuto, and damper/sustain with half-pedal recognition. Everything seems to be 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.

Player system & remote
As far the 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 (including the physical parts installed inside the piano) with installation could easily cost you around $4000 - $4500 (give or take). And that does not include the cost of the piano or any digital electronics in the piano such as the instrument sounds. Taking that into consideration in my opinion shows just how good of a deal this piano is right now. And having the digital electronics in place of a regular acoustic stringed piano means you'll never need to tune it 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. And the remote control unit that comes along with the KD7 has all the buttons and features you'll need to control the piano from a distance without having to touch the piano itself...pretty cool.

If you are wanting a digital piano that 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.

Stahler Player Grand Piano
An 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:

Famous TV show theme song - 
with live grand piano and full orchestral CD accompaniment...


 Classical Piano demonstration - Live Player Grand Piano
Famous TV show theme song Player Piano demo

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