Digital Pianos

 

1. Does the Soundboard Speaker System produce any sound, or is it just for decoration?

It makes sound. Most of the sound, in fact – the speakers that accompany it are only required to produce a small amount of high-frequency sound that you’ll use more when you’re listening to an MP3 than when you’re playing the piano.

The soundboard acts as a giant speaker. The audio signal is sent to a strong transducer affixed to the inside of the soundboard. The transducer converts the electrical signal into kinetic energy, vibrating back and forth – and moving the soundboard with it in the same way a speaker’s diaphragm is activated. By using thin, strong timber and reinforcing it with the same backposts you’d find on an upright acoustic piano, the Soundboard Speaker System is capable of producing extremely rich, tonally intricate sounds at high volumes without distortion.

 

2. How do I connect my piano to a computer?

There are several ways to do this, depending what you’re trying to achieve.

If you want to record audio from your piano into your computer (or other device), you’ll use the LINE OUT sockets or, if your piano doesn’t have line outputs, the headphone sockets will also work.

If you want to send your playing data – that is, information about which keys you pressed, when, how hard and for how long – you’ll be using MIDI data. Instruments equipped with a USB-to-host socket can be connected to a computer directly via a standard USB (type B) cable. You can also use dedicated MIDI sockets, but since most computers don’t include MIDI ports themselves, you will probably need to use an adapter or USB-MIDI cable.

Your computer should automatically recognise that there is a digital piano sending MIDI data through the connection that you’re using – but depending on the specifics of your configuration, it may not. If you’re having trouble, the first place to start is by installing the Kawai driver suitable for your computer’s operating system. You’ll find these drivers available for download here.

After that, you’ll just need to make sure that the software you’re using to record the data on the computer is configured to receive data from the appropriate port and channel – check the owner’s manual for the software to learn how to do this.

 

3. How do I use Kawai’s apps with my digital piano?

Apps that connect directly to your piano send data between the piano’s USB-to-host socket, and an Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit to the iPad’s lightning connector. No further setup is necessary. The app will automatically recognise your piano and customise itself, where relevant, according to the model of piano you have.

Note that not all apps are compatible will all models of digital pianos. You should check the compatibility lists included on the App Store listing for the app you’re considering before installing it.

 

4. What is polyphony?

This is the upper limit to the number of sounds that can be produced simultaneously. Bigger is better: old (and some modern, cheap) digital pianos might be limited to 32 or 64 note polyphony; higher end models are more often 192 or 256 note.

But you only have ten fingers, right? Why would you need more than 32 note polyphony? There are a couple of reasons: first, imagine playing a complex chord and sustaining it, while continuing to play other notes. You can very easily find yourself pushing 20 or more samples through the CPU at any given time this way.

More importantly, good digital pianos produce a multitude of sounds every time you strike a key, not just the sound of the note itself. The sounds of the dampers moving, the sounds of the hammers falling back, and a host of other mechanical sounds are included to help inspire the feeling that you’re playing an acoustic piano – and each of these sounds will eat into that polyphony limit.

If you run into that limit, you’ll find notes dropping out or not playing. You’ll want the highest polyphony rating you can get.

 

5. Why have wooden keys in Kawai digital pianos?

The way a digital piano’s keys feel (the touch) is one of the most important factors in transitioning to an acoustic instrument later on. Kawai’s digital piano actions are famous for their extremely high quality and realism. Because we build acoustic pianos, we have the facilities and the expertise to ensure that our digital technologies are as authentic as possible, from the depth of the keystroke to the different pressures required to produce accurate pianissimo, fortissimo, and everything in between.

As expressive and responsive as composite keys can be, there is no known substitute for real wood. Wood absorbs a small amount of kinetic energy when it strikes the keybed, it flexes slightly when compressed, and because Kawai wooden keys are each crafted from single, solid pieces of timber, they offer a consistent touch from the front of the key to the back.

Acoustic pianos have wooden keys: if you’re serious about reproducing the touch of an acoustic piano, there is no better choice.

 

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