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Kawai Digital Piano - Sound Technology

New SK-EX Rendering sound technology
The magnificent tone of Kawai’s flagship Shigeru Kawai SK-EX full concert grand piano is at the heart of the CA98 and CA78 digital pianos. Widely regarded as the ‘premier pianos of Japan’, Shigeru Kawai instruments grace the stages of concert halls and musical institutions throughout the world, and are prized for their tonal clarity and exceptional dynamic range.

In order to faithfully reproduce the stunning sound of a Shigeru digitally, Kawai has developed SK-EX Rendering – a brand new piano sound engine that blends multi-channel, 88-key sampling with the latest resonance modeling technology. Multi-channel sampling captures the sound from different points of the Shigeru Kawai concert grand piano, allowing a broader range of tonal characteristics to be reproduced, and providing a more lively, authentic response to changes in dynamics. This naturally expressive sound is further enriched by newly developed resonance algorithms, which physically model the complex tonal interactions produced by the strings, damper, and various other parts of an acoustic piano, giving players the impression that they’re sitting at a living, breathing instrument.

Premium audio processing, amplification, and speaker technology – powered by Onkyo
Developed in collaboration with Onkyo, one of Japan’s leading premium audio equipment manufacturers, the CA98 and CA78 digital pianos are the first musical instruments to utilise specialist components designed for high-end audio reproduction.  With cutting-edge technologies such as 1-bit DSD processing, dual DAC signal conversion, and Onkyo’s exclusive DIRDC circuitry, the Concert Artist's optimized power amplifiers reproduce the Shigeru Kawai grand piano sound with stunning richness and clarity.

As the flagship model, the CA98 features a considerably improved speaker system that pairs premium Onkyo driver units with Kawai’s newly developed TwinDrive soundboard.  This unique acoustic projection technology harnesses the latest Onkyo transducer components to channel sound energy onto a real wooden soundboard, resulting in a richer, more natural piano tone that immerses the performer.

Both Concert Artist models also incorporate Onkyo’s brand new high-performance Discrete Spectra Module headphone amplifier, which combines with Kawai’s existing Spatial Headphone Sound (SHS) technology to ensure the finest quality and most engaging listening experience, even when playing in privacy.

Harmonic Imaging
Kawai’s highly acclaimed sound technology is called Harmonic Imaging™. Simply put, Harmonic Imaging is a blend of technology and techniques aimed at producing the most realistic recreation of our 9-foot concert grand piano possible.

88-Key Sampling
Each key of a piano has its own unique tonal characteristics. Some have only one string, others two and still others three, for instance. There are also differences in hammer felt shape and density. These and other factors create subtle differences in tone from one note to the next. By sampling and recreating each key individually (rather than “stretching” a smaller number of samples) the unique tonal character of each note is preserved.

Kawai’s Progressive Harmonic Imaging (PHI) with 88-key sampling uses a larger tonal “database” than regular Harmonic Imaging to provide greater tonal details throughout the dynamic range. Ultra Progressive Harmonic Imaging (UPHI) with 88-key sampling uses our largest tonal database, thus providing the greatest tonal detail possible.

Harmonic Imaging XL
Starting with the new Concert Artists series, Kawai will roll out Harmonic Imaging XL with 88-key sampling. Standing for “extra-long”, HI-XL extends the length of the critical attack portion of the sound by up to 120%, articulating the characteristics of each note more clearly and organically.

More Than One Piano Sound
A musician’s preference for the sound of a piano is highly subjective. Much of it depends upon personal taste. The type of music to be played is also a factor. For this reason, most Kawai digital pianos offer more than one type of acoustic piano sound.

On models featuring 88-key sampling, Concert Grand 1 is a well-rounded EX Concert Grand recorded in the standard fashion for classical and jazz music. On many models there is Concert Grand 2, which will be the original Harmonic Imaging Concert Grand sound. It has a very different character from Concert Grand 1.

Many upper models also feature a “Pop Piano” sound. Like the others, this is also an EX Concert Piano, but the recording methods and equipment were those used on many famous pop and rock piano recordings done in Los Angeles area recording studios. New Concert Artist instruments also feature a new upright piano sound, perfect for music that needs a more intimate piano sound.

So, whether your favorite piano sound turns out to be the acclaimed original Harmonic Imaging sound or one of its new counterparts, it will be one of tremendous realism and expression, worthy of the most demanding piano enthusiast.


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