Unique Features

Each of these pianos can accommodate up to three pedals, which can be assigned their traditional functions or can control other aspects of the instrument. However, only the Kawai comes with a two-pedal unit (the left pedal can be set as either a soft or sostenuto pedal; the right is sustain); the others each come with one pedal. Kawai is also the only one to provide a music rack. Attractive wooden cabinet end-pieces add a touch of elegance to the Kawai.

The Roland packs a number of extras into its slender case: 200 rhythms; an Arpeggiator; a USB flash-memory connection that can play WAV, AIFF, and MP3 audio files; and the ability to upgrade with up to two of Roland's SRX expansion boards (which include, among others, the Concert Piano and Complete Piano boards, with one additional acoustic sample set per board).

The Yamaha comes with the convenience of built-in speakers, and is the only one of the three to provide onboard recording capability.

All three instruments share extras not found in most digital pianos intended for home use, such as pitch bend and modulation controls.

 Street PriceWarranty
Kawai MP8II $1,895 3 years 1 year
Roland RD-700GX $2,495 1 year 90 days
Yamaha CP300 $2,199 3 years 3 years


While these instruments are too different to rank in order of preference, there are recommendations I can make based on the user's interests and priorities.

If your preference is "plug'n'play" simplicity and you like the convenience of built-in speakers and onboard recording, the Yamaha CP300 is your ride. Basic controls are straightforward, and the sound from the built-in speakers is as good as or better than that of many "console" digitals. Get a good stand, however; the CP300 weighs 72 pounds.

If you want maximum flexibility--including lots of sampled piano sounds and the potential to add more, a large number of rhythms, and the ability to play along with MP3s--the Roland RD-700GX will take you there, and at a relatively light 55 pounds, it can be moved without much difficulty.

If the instrument is going to be in your living room and needs to look a little more elegant, if you like a quiet action with a great-feeling touch, and if you don't mind saving a little money, the Kawai MP8II is the solution. As with the Yamaha, a substantial stand is in order to support its 77 pounds.

Whichever you choose, know that "your" instrument is earning its keep every night on stages all over the world.  ¤


FALL 2009 -- page W6

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