Several generations ago, the mass-production of the piano (forte-piano) moved musical performance away from the concert halls and into the intimacy of people’s homes. Home performances in salon-style rooms featured family members and friends and allowed invited guests to sample the newest and most popular chamber music of the day. In today’s technology-driven world, what’s an amateur musician to choose? Consider the Kawai CE220 Digital piano before heading out to the nearest electronic keyboard store.
What Is the Kawai CE220 Digital Piano?
Home-taught musicians understand the importance of daily practice. Practice, indeed, makes perfect. While digital pianos a decade and a half ago might not have fit the bill for keyboard enthusiasts who had a traditional musical upbringing with music and piano lessons in the home, technology has finally caught up with innovations that are sure to please even the most discriminating musical ears.
The “digital” sound that was so lacking in models a dozen years ago simply didn’t approach the versatility of digital pianos that are being manufactured today. That generation of digital pianos tended to have a “tinny” sound and were not very convincing when combined with other live instruments. Whether you play in a classical chamber ensemble or are more inclined towards popular genres, The Kawai CE220 is versatile enough to be the pride of any classical, jazz or contemporary ensemble. It can even hold up to the rigorous demands of most film composers. If you’re in the market for an instrument that is durable, convincing and flexible, please consider this review of the Kawai CE220 alongside a selection of other comparable brands.
There was a time when digital piano players ran out of keys during rehearsal or performance. A grand piano, and most uprights, has 88 keys. The Kawai CE220 not only has the full range of the traditional keyboard, but its sleek design dimensions place it 35 inches from the floor so that you can continue to make your first piano teacher proud with your perfect playing posture. But for the LED display in the center, its natural-looking black satin finish can even convince the most classically trained audience member of authenticity in performance.
The Kawai CE220 boasts a 192 note polyphonic capability and easily interfaces with your computer to record and save musical sound files you just played. You can edit those files or simply send them to a friend to enjoy. Perhaps the most attractive feature of the Kawai CE220 is its genuine touch sensitivity and hammer action designed by Kawai’s reputable engineers.
The force of pressure with which you strike a key will have an equivalent output sound “effect” from the digital piano. One can play delicately, rapidly or robustly and the hammer action would reflect the pressure you use, whether with muscle or sensitivity. The manufacturer calls this technology “88-key AWA PROII wooden key graded hammer action.”
Many piano students who have spent hours upon hours refining the tactile part of their playing style will be grateful for this responsive feature, though the Kawai CE220 might not be as accurate when playing “inside the keys,” a technique of playing “very high up into the keyboard” favored by many jazz players.
At 126 pounds, the Kawai CE220 might not be the best model for moving around frequently in your home or from venue to venue, though its sturdiness surely makes up for its impracticality for quick jam sessions. There are a variety of other features that more than make up for the Kawai CE220’s heft: many different voices (including organ, strings and chorus), split keyboard ability, built-in metronome, standard digital effects, and three responsive pedals in the right proportion to the unit itself. Many digital pianos today have the traditional pedals as an accessory rather than an integral, normal part of standard playing.
Do you play modern or electric music? Is the weather affecting the tuning of your colleagues’ instruments? No worries! The Kawai CE220 has a tuning regulation feature that allows you to adjust the temperament system. You can even perform with alternative tuning systems, just like early music performance groups.
The “polyphony” of a digital piano refers to the number of “voices” or sounds that can play simultaneously. For example, if you played a 4 note chord in your left hand, and a 5 note chord with your right hand using the strings effect added on, you would be playing 14 different sounds simultaneously. The Kawai CE220’s 192 voice polyphonic ability is more than generous.
We found the Kawai CE220 to be on the high end of the spectrum of comparable digital pianos, but if what you are looking for is a unit that has the appeal of a convincing sound and touch in addition to the standard computer compatibility features, you might agree with us that its price matches its sound and durability. We found the Kawai CE220 on Amazon for under about $2000.
How It Compares
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
- "Keyboard: 88 Wooden-Key, Graded HammerAction: AWA PROII with counterbalancingSound source: Progressive Harmonic Imaging...
- Action: AWA PROII with counterbalancing
- Sound source: Progressive Harmonic Imaging sound technology with 88-key piano sampling
Ease of Use
The Kawai CE220 Digital Piano literally plays straight out of the packaging with the most minimal set up. Included in the box is a useful product brochure.
Sound & Connectivity
Whether you’re a serious classical pianist, band keyboardist or a composer and are looking for a combination of convincing sound, touch, look and MIDI integration, the Kawai CE220 is the most versatile of all the models we tried.
Simply outstanding in look, feel and sound
The Kawai CE220 comes with the company’s standard 3 year parts and labor warranty. This is a good warranty period.
- 76 piano-style keys with Graded Soft Touch Technology allow for expressive performances
- Nearly 500 Voices, 160 Preset Styles, and 30 preset songs with a built-in Recording Feature
- Yamaha Education Suite (Y.E.S.) is an advanced set of helpful learning tools built into the instrument, teaching you how...
Another consideration is the Yamaha YPG-235, particularly for musicians looking for a portable model they can bring with them to daily gigs and rehearsals. The keyboard only has 76 keys and features a “graded soft touch” keyboard action. It comes with over 30 pre-programmed songs and a CD-ROM bundle of even more songs, and its computer interface is more than sufficient for the serious composer.
Ease of Use
Though this may not be the best choice for performing musicians, the Yamaha YPG-235’s computer interface ability makes it very attractive if your primary usage is composing and sampling.
Sound & Connectivity
If you’re after realistic sound, this model might not be your first choice. The graded soft touch key feature was a disappointment. It was fairly simple to use right out of the box.
The Yamaha YPG-235 is not a sight to behold for the concert stage, but it’s design appropriately befits any home studio set up.
This model comes with standard Yamaha warranty from authorized Yamaha retailers. Purchase it from an authorized retailer.
This piano comes in your choice of ebony or mahogany finish and is breathtaking to look at. It comes programmed with 50 songs and standard effects, an impressive number of sounds, both built in and through MIDI interface, including organ and double bass. The keyboard has the full 88 keys with weighted hammer action for serious pianists accustomed to depicting nuance in their articulation and touch.
Ease of Use
Minimal assembly required out of the box though you might have to enlist the help of a neighbor to move it where you want it to stand.
Sound & Connectivity
The Williams Overture Digital Piano is an amazing instrument in this category. It has great sounds and might appeal to those who prefer a realistic acoustic piano sound.
This digital piano is the most breathtaking design of all these choices.
Standard Williams one-year warranty.
- The AiR engine provides highly-accurate grand piano sounds with seamless dynamics for a remarkably expressive and...
- The Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II keyboard has an incredible feel and captures the dynamics of a performance with...
- Features a chassis designed for an elegant look and to house a 8w x 8w speaker system that delivers the PX-160’s...
Combine the top of the line technical reputation of this company with genuinely sampled grand piano sounds and you might be looking at the Casio PX160. Compared to the other models on this list, we liked this digital piano because of the affordable price and usability, particularly for the home studio. It has a split keyboard, subwoofer option, computer interface and beautiful sounds, including organ, strings, and harpsichord and a standard 88-key weighted hammer action keyboard.
Depending on where you purchase this digital piano, be sure to note what accessories are included. Unlike the Kawai CE220, it comes bundled with a variety of different accessory options, for example, the sustain pedal.
Ease of Use
Simple to play right out of the box with minimal set up.
Sound & Connectivity
For the price, the Casio PX160 has a great sound and is ideal for church music situations and band ensembles of different sizes.
Though not as sleek-looking as other digital pianos in this review, depending on what you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with most Casio models on design quality.
3-year extended manufacturer warranty
There are numerous reasons to purchase a digital piano. Some people just need a model to help their compositional aspirations while others need a multi-purpose piano. One consideration is how it will look in the home, the church sanctuary, onstage or in the school auditorium. Another might be how versatile will the instrument be when it is combined with other live musicians.
If you have spent a long time taking piano lessons and are looking for a digital piano to reflect the long hours you’ve put into your passion, you will appreciate the Kawai CE220 and it should be on the top of your list of considerations. It will not only look fantastic in your living room, classroom, sanctuary or studio, but it will sound and play responsively to what you are doing to make any piano teacher proud.
On the technological side, it comes equipped with an array of digital capabilities to enable you to send a recording of yourself playing to a friend or to edit on your computer. Unless you’re primarily a studio musician and composer, you can’t go wrong with the Kawai CE220. For the price, reputation and ability to be adaptable to both formal and informal musical situations, this is a piano that should be at the top of your list if you are accustomed to playing on a quality grand piano.
It not only plays like a real acoustic piano: it also has an impressive sound output whether you play as a soloist or as a member of any kind of ensemble, classical or contemporary. Of the other models we looked at and tried, the Kawai CE220 is our top choice for any piano aficionado who is looking for the next best thing to an actual studio grand piano.