Roland Kiyola KF-10 - REVIEW 2022 | Digital Piano | Overpriced?

Roland Kiyola KF-10 piano review
🎹 UPDATED REVIEW - June 1, 2022 - Roland Kiyola KF-10 Digital Piano - At $4899, the Roland Kiyola is a very attractive contemporary style digital piano in its custom wood cabinet. However, it is essentially the same thing as the $3299 Roland DP603 digital piano dressed up in a custom style contemporary cabinet for $1600 more. Yes, you heard me right...$1600 more and it doesn't even do as much as the lower priced Roland. The Roland Kiyola has been on the market for about 8 years and sold primarily in Asian markets and other parts of the world 

However, it is now being offered for sale in the US exclusively through the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York on its web site. In past years the Kiyola (aka: KF-10) was not available at US Roland dealers for a few different reasons so you could never buy one directly in this country. But that has all changed with the famous New York Museum of Modern Art being given exclusive rights to be the on-line "dealer" for this model. 

MoMA, as the museum is referred to, has actually been selling this model for a few years or so but since I get asked about this instrument by shoppers from time to time and even though it's not available anywhere else in the US as far as I know, I thought it would be good to shed some light on this "mystery piano" in the Roland lineup that looks small but sold at such a big price.

Roland Kiyola KF-10 piano oak
So why would someone want to own this digital piano? That answer is very simple...the cabinet. In terms of digital features and technology, the piano itself falls behind the much less expensive Roland DP603 contemporary digital piano that I already mentioned which is almost 7 years old as a model. It also falls behind the newer, more traditional cabinet model called the Roland HP704 (left pic under Kiyola) which sells for about $3400 in Roland piano stores and is a far better piano with regard to features, functions, user interface...and the cabinet finishes and design available on this model are actually quite Roland Kiyola Pianoattractive...but...this model is not made out of real custom natural woods like the Kiyola. 

Also, the Kiyola KF-10 is actually made in Japan whereas the HP-704 and the DP-603 are made in other countries like Malaysia, etc. So when it comes to the Kiyola KF-10, it's visually appealing and reminds me of mid century 1950's or Scandinavian style furniture. But don't be fooled...for $4899 you are getting an older more limited model in technology terms as compared to the other two newer Roland models I just mentioned. But if you are OK with that and just love the cabinet design, construction, and color offerings of the KF-10 and you're willing to pay about $1600 more to get it, then the Roland Kiyola KF-10 may be the perfect piano for you.

Roland Kiyola KF-10 piano walnut
Since it is the "cabinet" of the KF-10 and its matching custom bench which makes all the difference in that model as compared to other Roland pianos and some other brands for that matter, then it's good to know what the Roland company actually says about it, so here's a description of the KF-10 cabinet: Karimoku-made wooden cabinet - "The feel of natural wood that makes you want to touch it. Your instrument has a unique character like no other, each with its own wood-grain and other natural marks. A lighthearted design by Karimoku furniture designers of Japan  the springiness of the bench, creating a seating surface that remains comfortable even after hours of playing. The bench is the result of twenty years of proprietary ergonomic research."

Roland Museum of Fine Art
So there you have it...it's all about the cabinet and whether you want to pay a huge premium to the Museum of Modern Art in New York (aka: MoMA) for the privilege of buying it from them. A famous art museum does have some "prestige" to it and you could say that you bought this Kiyola from an "art museum." But they did not create this model, Roland did, and then a famous furniture manufacturer in Japan designed the cabinet. There is no question that this proprietary cabinet design and finish is really nice...I like it. But at the end of the day what you'll really own is an slightly older "very overpriced" digital piano, in my opinion, but still with some very nice features. You can bet that MoMA would love you to order one from them...there likely making some good money from the sale, especially since they have no "competition" on it. 

However, for $4899 you can buy a much better brand new model digital piano in terms of a noticeably more authentic piano playing experience along with many more useful "bells & whistles" on top of that. But if you just cannot live without that Kiyola cabinet then go ahead, buy it...it's your money. You'll still get an enjoyable piano playing experience out of it but you could do the same and save a bunch of money by getting the Roland DP-603 or the newer HP-704 instead. Or...you could get the newer 2022 Yamaha CLP-745, Kawai CA79, or Casio Grand Hybrid GP-310 digital piano instead for less money and come out ahead, musically speaking.

Roland Kiyola Piano
Roland DP603 polished ebony
At this point I want to briefly talk about the features that are built into the Roland Kiyola KF-10 and what you should know about them. The Kiyola uses the same PHA-50 key action that is built into many other Roland digital piano models incl the DP603, FP90, HP704, LX705, GP607, and GP609. This keys in this key action are mostly plastic with a thin strip of wood on either side of each white key. The black keys are all plastic. The white key sticks (the entire key) measure a bit less than 9" long which is fine but in the $4000+ price range you can get new digital pianos in other brands such as Kawai and Casio with keys that measure from about 14" long to 16" long and those keys are not only 100% all wood, but they are much more balanced in movement from front to back and side to side. Regular acoustic pianos also have long keys like those digital pianos and even longer in many cases so that you can play music in a more expressive way with much better technique. So the longer the key the better off your playing will generally be.

Roland PHA-50 key action
The "weight" of the key(s) is also important as to how that key will move. When it takes too much finger force to press down the key then that heavier force can cause hand, wrist, and finger fatigue after awhile so you will definitely want a digital piano with a proper weighting to the keys so that it does not require too much force to press it down. On the Kiyola the static down-weight as measured on middle C is approx 63 grams of touch Roland PHA-50 key action weight which is actually pretty good. However, the upweight or the force the keys push back up after you have pressed them down is about 48 grams as measured at middle C. 

Normally on a digital piano that up force of the keys needs to be closer to 35 grams so that the keys don't act like a spring and push too hard up against your fingers as you are pressing down on the keys. In other words, Roland Kiyola KF-10 piano black on the Kiyola and the PHA-50 key action in general, that up weight force is too strong, especially as compared against a good acoustic piano and the force works against you when you are pressing down on the keys. 

I don't want to say that the higher up force is a real problem because eventually you can get used to it and it is playable. But...it is still too strong and can cause you to have to adjust your playing technique to compensate for it. Overall the key action is solid, moves quietly, and allows for good expression...but it is definitiely not up to the standards of other digital pianos in this price range. Roland actually has an upgraded improved key action in their newer LX706 called the "Hybrid Grand" action in which the white keys are approx 2" longer than those of the PHA-50 key action in the Kiyola and the key weight balance is also better and that. However the LX706 is a bit more money. 

The PHA50 key-tops on the Kiyola are made of synthetic ivory and ebony material and feel good to the touch. The keys also have the "escapement" feature which tries to simulate the feel of a grand piano when the keys are depressed slowly as you get near the bottom of the key travel. However, it is only a simulation and doesn't really impact a person's piano playing in a significant way.

Roland Physical modeling piano sound
As for the piano sound, Roland uses their physical modeling sound technology which tries to simulate the piano sound through "modeling" using mathematical algorithms instead of recorded sampling. This technology is supposed to get you closer to a more realistic piano sound although in reality I feel that this technology is somewhat "hit & miss." Sometimes when playing a Roland piano with 100% physical modeled piano sound it seems randomly artificial and just not real, especially when playing chords in certain parts of the Roland Kiyola KF-10 piano control panel keyboard, middle octaves as an example and using sustain pedal. For some people you may notice this happening when playing the piano. For other people you may not notice it at all...it just depends on your ears and piano playing experience. 

Overall the piano sound resonates well and has some depth to it so you may indeed enjoy it. But for me I am just not convinced that Roland has it down yet and it still has a long way to go with 100% physical modeling. A better option in my opinion would be to mix the physical modeling technology with the sampling technology such as what Yamaha, Kawai, and Dexibell are doing in some of their new digital pianos...especially in this $4000 to $5000 price range. That "mixed" technology really does sound great and the sampling technology is a much better way to go in reproducing a real acoustic piano sound as compared to to the physical modeling technology that Roland uses. In other words, I much prefer the piano sound realism in the Kawai, Yamaha, Casio, and Dexibell digital pianos as opposed to Roland.

Roland KF-10 pedals
The pedaling functions on the Kiyola are actually very good, the pedals function properly with excellent damper-sustain time and response along with impressive sostenuto pedal and soft pedal. Not all digital pianos do a good job with those pedals so in that way the Roland Kiyola is impressive. But...when using the sustain pedal on a real acoustic piano and getting a lot of natural sustain, the sustained piano sound is natural in the way the strings resonate and produce organic string vibrations and overtones. Because of the Roland physical modeling sound chip, that pedal sustain time can sometimes accent the artificial flavor of the piano sound and cause it to do things that real pianos just don't do and it's noticeable...at least it is to me. 

Roland Kiyola unlimited polyphony sound chip
The Kiyola KF-10 specifications include unlimited polyphony for the piano sounds and 384-note polyphony for the non-piano instrument sounds. Polyphony is the computer chip power to allow all notes to be played and heard without "note dropout." This means that when you are playing a more complex song with many notes, arpeggios, and chords that combine together, this type General MIDI playback of playing can be memory intensive on the piano sound chip. With Roland that will never be an issue because the sound chip can support any type of piano playing. The performance sound library on this model is limited to just 6 sounds total...4 acoustic piano sounds, a harpsichord, and one electric piano. 

Some people just want a piano to play piano on, so even just 6 instrument sounds may be enough for some students and players out there. But on the other Roland digital pianos that I have mentioned earlier in this review, those models have 307 individual tones including 12 acoustic piano sounds, 2 harpsichords, strings, orchestral sounds, violins, many electric pianos, horns, reeds, woodwinds, guitars, organs of all types, and more. 

So as far as the Kiyola goes, it is stingy when it comes to having extra sounds that you can play although it does play General MIDI song files which is nice and can be useful, but so do the other Roland digital pianos, even down to around their $1000 model. Also, the Kiyola has just 5 basic types of touch sensitivity adjustment as compared to 100 types on the other Roland pianos along with the Kiyola having no recording features at all while the other Roland digital pianos have 2-3 track MIDI recording and 1-track audio wav file recording so that you can practice your songs and/or lessons and play them back and hear how you did...a very useful "tool."

Bluetooth wireless
The Kiyola does have both Bluetooth audio streaming as well as Bluetooth MIDI wireless connectivity which can be useful depending on what you are wanting to do with your external music and devices. The internal speaker system in the Kiyola KF-10 is generally more than adequate with 60 watts of total power Roland Kiyola internal speaker system stereo sound going through 2 amplifiers powering 2 larger speakers and 2 smaller speakers for more sound dispersion and clarity. However, on the new improved and upgraded Roland HP704 digital piano at approx $3400 store discount price, the speaker system in that model has 60 watts of power going through 4 amplifiers and 6 speakers which is better than the Kiyola, and that HP704 is also $1500 less! 

There are also other stark differences between the higher priced 8 year old Kiyola KF-10 model and the newer lower priced Roland pianos such as the HP704 having almost 400 built-in entertainment and education songs whereas the Kiyola has just 30 built-in songs. Even the Roland app for iOS and Android is much better on the HP704 vs the Kiyola, although the app is the same between the $3300 DP603 and the Kiyola...but again, the DP603 is $1600 less than the Kiyola. Finally, there is no audio connectivity on the Kiyola...no audio input and no audio outputs to connect to other audio systems or to connect an external (non Bluetooth) device like you can on the other Roland models.

Roland Kiyola piano
The Kiyola cabinet itself is compact at 55" wide and 13" deep and 31" with the key cover closed up. With the key cover open up so that you can have sheet music support then the height of the piano is 36" tall. The weight of the piano is 73 lbs and the bench is just 9 lbs so it is very light relative to the other pianos in this price range. In fact the bench is measured at 20.5" high whereas most piano benches come in at 19" tall, so there is a small difference there. The piano lid does fold flat with a slight curve in it and also has a metal trim on the lip of the lid which looks very attractive and understated.

Korg G1 Air piano
Korg G1 Air
However, as an example, the famous Korg digital piano company from Japan produces an attractive compact contemporary digital piano called the G1 Air which comes in  rosewood, matte black, and matte white cabinet color. The G1 Air piano has a bigger piano sound with Steinway, Bosendorfer, and Yamaha grand piano samples along with an 80 watt, 4 speaker, 4 amplifier sound system. This  Korg home digital piano also has with Bluetooth wireless audio connectivity and 2-track recording and it has a surprisingly affordable internet discount price of just $1999 and comes with a 5 year factory warranty. The G1 Air also has a "privacy panel" on it so that you cannot "see through it" like you can on the Roland Kiyola and other compact models and many people prefer it that way. 

However if you want to "see through" the bottom of the Korg piano like the Kiyola then you don't have to attach that privacy panel to the G1 Air. So when it comes to getting the most for your money at a much lower price there are other ways to go and still get what you want in terms of a great piano playing experience in an attractive furniture cabinet. Go to the following link to my review about the Korg G1 Air and learn more about it: Korg G1 Air Review

Roland Kiyola KF-10 piano connectivity
The question for me is...what are you really getting in the Kiyola for the difference in price of better lower price digital pianos with regard to their technology and speaker systems as compared with the Kiyola? It is certainly not the internal digital features and functions because the Kiyola does not come close to the other models in that way. So what is it then? OK...you guessed it...it's still the cabinet and the bench and the fact they are unique and those cabinets are built in Japan. They are different, they look good in their oak, walnut and satin black finishes, and have excellent construction with their unique contemporary design, and you get to buy one from a famous museum! I am pretty sure Roland Kiyola KF-10 pianothat part (buying from a museum) would not matter much to me in the longrun. 

But if you do like the cabinet then you better like it at least $1600 more than the others because as digital pianos go, for $4899 that is mostly what this (overpriced, in my opinion) piano really has going for it and there are some people out there where money is not the issue and they just want a particular type of cabinet design and construction, and that certainly is fine. However, paying that much money when there are so many great musical alternatives out there (including from Roland) takes a lot of thought. 

You do have a choice of getting a MUCH better, more authentic digital piano in the same price range or a comparable and better digital piano for quite a bit less money from Roland and the other popular brands. It's all about what you really want to get for your money and what is more important to you. Also, that $4899 for the Kiyola does not include the sales tax added on top PLUS the $150 shipping fee on top of that!

As for resale value for any of these digital pianos...good luck...they all depreciate over time so the Kiyola will not give you an advantage in that way should you ever want to resell it.  Nevertheless, the Roland pianos are very reliable, well built instruments and can usually stand the test of time and that is also true for a few of the other major brands. Before you make any decisions please contact me with questions and I can help you sort it out, and with a lower price.

If you want more info on new digital pianos and LOWER PRICES than internet discounts, please email me at tim@azpianowholesale.com or call direct at 602-571-1864.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for the info! I had a feeling this was the case, just a basic engine in a pretty, wooden cabinet. Reminds me almost like mosquito zapper for rich people. Don't get me wrong, if I had 5K burning a hole in my pocket, that baby would be all mine.