Frequently Asked Questions

This page is to help shed light on those parts and characteristics that you may not have experienced before in other digital pianos, but have noticed when playing Kawai Digital and Hybrid Pianos. Click on the questions below to find out more:

The piano is an incredible instrument, with many parts that are often invisible to the pianist. However all parts, no matter how small, contribute greatly to the overall listening and playing experience of the instrument. As a result of our forensic commitment to detail, our Digital Pianos are designed to replicate features and the fine nuances found in some of the world’s finest concert grand pianos, namely the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX.

How can I update the firmware on my piano?

Why can I hear other sounds from notes on my digital piano, including faint overtones and string vibrations?

Your Kawai digital piano is a sophisticated electronic musical instrument and is designed to reproduce similar characteristics to that of a concert grand piano. We have sampled (digitally recorded) the various individual harmonics, string resonances, vibrations, mechanical noises, and damper resonance which all contribute to the overall tone of an acoustic piano. When you play a single note on the piano, you can hear these sounds. In some areas of the keyboard they may even sound percussive and perhaps unmusical. When they are all working together however, these sounds combine to reproduce the beautiful tone of a concert grand piano. Musicality appears as the overtones and colours of the instrument come alive.

You may notice these characteristics are more dominant amongst the livelier frequency registers above middle C. In the bass section of your piano, you will hear the different characteristics of the makeup of the bass strings as they vibrate when played with different velocities. As these notes are formed from much thicker strings in the instrument, they have a more metallic characteristic compared with other areas around the keyboard, just like the concert grand piano it is sampled from.

Kawai offers a choice of different sampled piano voices that blend these characteristics together in different ways. We would encourage you to explore the various options in your instrument as you may find that your favourite piano sound is not necessarily the first one that is selected when the instrument is switched on. Go ahead and explore!

Think of the piano like an oil painting, look closely and you will see the brush strokes, stand back and you can appreciate the masterpiece in all its beauty.

Why can I hear the keyboard action on my piano?

The simple answer to this question is that all new pianos, acoustic and digital, have a keyboard action mechanism. This action, to some extent, will have a natural percussive sound that may differ sometimes across the keyboard dependent on the cabinet construction and acoustics within and out of the piano. This natural percussive action sound can be controlled to some extent by the technique of the player. For example, acoustic pianos, when the key is played Loudly (forte) the natural percussive sound of the action is somewhat covered by the sound of the piano, dependant upon whether you play legato or staccato. When played legato, the natural resonance of the piano will cover the action sound more than when played staccato. When played softly (pianissimo), the natural percussive sound of the action is greatly reduced as the key has been played gently.

The difference between an acoustic piano and digital piano, with regard to natural percussive action sound, is that the acoustic piano has a natural balance when and how the key is played, between action noise and the piano notes resonating.

With a digital piano you are able to turn the piano down with the master volume control, however, if you turn the volume down too far, this will produce an imbalance between the volume of your piano and the natural percussive action sound and the action sound will be more prominent.

For the best result when playing your digital piano though the internal speakers, find the natural balance point with your volume control, this will also improve the control of your technique and musicality as you would have to do when playing an acoustic piano. When playing on headphones, the experience of the keyboard action sound has been captured within the piano sample and you will have total control of this, dependent on your settings in the virtual technician (VT). For more information on the (VT) refer to your owner’s manual for a full explanation.

Why does the upper register sustain without using the pedal?

The upper register of acoustic pianos do not have dampers fitted, and will therefore continue to ring out until the sound naturally dissipates and the string stops vibrating, whereas lower and middle registers have dampers that cause notes to die away quickly once the key returns to its rest position. This is because the dampers in these registers fall back onto the strings once the key is released, allowing for staccato and detached playing. Pressing the sustain pedal keeps the dampers raised, so the sound can ring on throughout the instrument.

As the upper register does not contain dampers, the strings are free to vibrate in sympathy of the frequency from other notes, adding more colour to the instrument’s tonal palate. These effects are heard from the realistic samples in Kawai digital pianos.

How should the pedals on a piano function?

Kawai digital pianos are designed to offer the most realistic experience of a Concert Grand Piano possible. A Concert grand piano has 3 pedals to assist the pianist in their performance.

The first, and most widely used, is the Sustain Pedal on the right. This pedal, when depressed, lifts the dampers from the piano’s strings, allowing them to vibrate freely. As the damper is raised, a slightly metallic sound can be heard as the felt brushes past the metal strings – this sound is even detailed in our SK-EX sample. If the pedal is pressed quickly and firmly, this sound is much louder and you will be able to hear the metallic hum of the strings that have been released. The pianist is then free to play any note on the piano with the Sustain Pedal depressed which will allow the note to ring on. As a note rings out from the vibrating string, other strings will start to vibrate in sympathy to the frequency of the ringing note, this adds colour and texture to the performance and is also included in our celebrated SK-EX digital piano sample. When the pianist releases the pedal, the dampers return to their position and those strings are no longer free to vibrate.

The middle pedal on many Upright Pianos is often a practice pedal which, in most cases, lowers a layer of felt in front of the stings to soften the hammer blow and allow for muted practice. On Concert Grand Pianos and Kawai Digital Pianos, the middle pedal is the Sostenuto Pedal which operates in a similar way to the Sustain Pedal. Unlike the Sustain Pedal that lifts ALL the dampers from the strings, the Sostenuto Pedal lifts only the dampers from the notes that are already being played (keys that are held down). The pianist can then release those keys whilst keeping the Sostenuto Pedal held, and hear those notes ring on whilst new notes that are played can be played staccato. This pedal is useful for more complex pieces where a clear harmony as well as sustained chords are required.

The Una Corda, aka Soft Pedal, on the left is used in soft passages of music where pianissimo is required. When this pedal is pressed on a Grand Piano, the action shifts very slightly so the hammer for each note is only in line with one string (Una Corda) instead of the 2 or 3 strings found in middle and upper register notes. This effect is very subtle, but reduces the maximum noise available to each note, giving the pianist greater control of the instrument. As there are no strings in digital pianos, Kawai Digital Pianos replicate this subtle change within the sample when the Una Corda is depressed.

Good pedal technique is essential for an effective performance, but they can often be over-used. Ask your piano teacher about how to best make use of the pedals in your performances.

Why does playback on my AURES sometimes sound differently through headphones or speakers compared with listening directly through the piano’s soundboard speaker system?

When playing music or recordings from your AURES piano through headphones or external speakers, the sound you will hear is purely the digital sample from the instrument’s tone generator or source file (such as an MP3), plus any digital enhancements some headphones or speakers may produce.

When that same digital sound or recording is played on the AURES (from the transducers through the instrument’s soundboard), you will hear resonances, overtones and other natural characteristics expected from an acoustic piano which further enrich the sound. These characteristics can develop from all parts of the instrument, including the cabinet, frame, strings and other surrounding parts that will start to enhance the digital sounds and deliver a natural acoustic tone, making this a realistic playback experience.

For more information and to book a demonstration on a Kawai Piano, please contact your nearest dealer here.