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#2044102 - 03/06/13 07:28 PM A review of the Kawai CA95
Kenny J Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/06/13
Posts: 16
Loc: Yorba Linda, CA
Kawai CA95 – Piano Review

I recently purchased a Kawai CA95. It is a fine furniture digital piano made for homes. The keyboard has 80 instrument sounds with 256 polyphony. Kawai supplied the CA95 with their Grand Feel keyboard action and a soundboard in the back to enhance the sound quality. The keyboard has a simple elegance about it. The black satin finish is very pretty. The power switch and volume slider are on the right. The control panel is on the left. The control panel is very modest and unobtrusive. This design choice increases the simple uncomplicated look of the piano but creates added complications when using the interface. More on this later.

Let me give you a little background so you know where I’m coming from. I’m an advanced player but not virtuoso. The only acoustic piano I’ve ever had was an Estey spinet acoustic piano I got when I was 5. I have also had a Korg 01W/FD and I have a Korg M3-88 and a Roland BK-7M. I play mostly pop and rock roll music with a little classical music sometimes. I love recording covers and recently finished Billy Joel’s My Life. I’ve bought this Piano for our living room to replace the Estey.

Sounds

The CA95 has a built in sound board that delivers a wonderful playing experience. The soundboard adds a whole new dimension to the playing experience that I really enjoy. The keyboard vibrates while I’m playing and there is no harsh splitting of the sound that I get when playing my Korg M3 pianos. The presence is just like an acoustic piano. There are 16 piano presets, 8 electric pianos, 16 organs, 3 harpsichords, 8 strings, 16 vocals and 5 basses and 3 guitars. There is a great assortment of organs and electric pianos. The strings are of fair quality and vocal & pads are quite weak. All the piano presets are very nice and deliver a noticeable change in ambiance to the ear. There is a lot to work with when playing in different genre. But this is not a workstation. It hasn’t got a lot of voices but the core sound set is of a high quality except for the vocals. I like Mellow Piano best of all for the piano presets. But Kawai has a nice secret I just found out about that took the keyboard to a whole new level.

Virtual Technician

Inside the Menu button, Kawai has created a feature they call Virtual Technician that lets you craft the sound to your taste. You can change the Damper Resonance, String Resonance, Tone Control, Delay Time, Voicing among others. This gives you amazing control of the sound the keyboard outputs. It is a daunting task to delve “under the hood” to modify the sound you wanted most and I would bet that most people wouldn’t even try. But I found out that much of the work has been done already. The Kawai has a Dual Feature that allows you to layer two sounds together.

TADutchman has created a wonderful list of Dual Voice pianos that increase the realism of the Kawai preset for the CA93. He has detailed each setting to change. The preset include muddy, brooding monsters to shimming ethereal gossamers. I’m digging the Steinway Grand Devotion and the Shigeru Kawai Concert Grand so far. But I’ve just gotten started. This has helped me understand how the VT works and so I can work with the setting to create my own pianos. I feel that Kawai should include TADutchman’s preset in the manual. They are that good.

The other night I was just singing and playing a cover of Live and Let Die. I completely forgot that I was playing a DP. I felt that I was playing a regular acoustic. That has never happened with the Korg.

Action

The keyboard is Kawai’s Grand Feel action. This is supposed to emulate the action of a grand piano. I have almost no experience with real grand pianos. My entire life I’ve played spinets and synthesizers but I’ve enjoyed the Kawai action. The individual keys are nicely crafted and it is much easier to play then my old spinet piano or my Korg M3. My only concern is that the black keys are a little slick. It seems that there is much less friction on the black keys then on the M3 or my old Estey. It’s not good or bad. Just different. The action is very responsive. I think my playing is a little bit over the top so I’ve turned up the Touch Curve one notch to Heavy. I love the response to the light touch of Yes’ Sail Away to heavy rock N roll power chords later in the song.

Metronome and Drums

The metronome and drums feature is nice but flawed. It has 10 time signatures and another 100 Drum Rhythms. When you push the Metronome button it begins immediately clicking away. If you need to change the tempo or you want to select a drum beat that is well down the list, well you are going to hear a lot of clicking. If you want to hear the Country & Western beat you have to push the metronome button 110 times while the metronome clicks on and on. Not pleasant. I would have appreciated it being activated by the play/stop switch. Maybe Kawai could put add this on an update.

Extras

The Kawai also comes with a plethora of extras. It has the Alfred Lesson books for children and adults as well as scales, arpeggios and the Hanon studies. But this suffers from the same problem the metronome has. If what you want is well down the list you have a lot of button mashing ahead of you. But a least you don’t have to hear each song while you are going through the list. They are activated but pushing the Play/Stop button. But you could have 50 button pushes to get to your selection.

The CA95 also has a fun feature that got a few chuckles from the family. My wife is not a musician and I set up a song that would play when she pushed a key. She really enjoyed playing the song and laughed at how fun it was. But I doubt that she will ever do it again. I can see using this feature every once in a while but it seems more of a now what after you’re done.

Conclusion

I am very pleased with my purchase and would buy it again. The CA95 is a great digital piano. The instrument has wonderful presets and is a joy to play with the soundboard and quality keyboard action. The ability to craft its sounds allows me to create even better more responsive voices then the presets. The simple menu interface is easy to use but can cause you to do a lot of button pushing if you have to go deep into a menu. I wish the metronome had an on/off switch so I didn’t have to listen to it while I was setting up. If you’re looking for a quality furniture digital piano the Kawai CA95 is one of the best.
_________________________
Kenny J

Arabesque No. 1 - Debussy
Dr. Gradus Ad Parnassum - Debussy
Live and Let Die - McCartney
Maple Leaf Rag - Scott Joplin

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#2044106 - 03/06/13 07:39 PM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
adak Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/12
Posts: 282
Loc: Canada
Post pictures. Always post pictures when writing a review.
_________________________
Casio Privia PX-150


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#2044109 - 03/06/13 07:55 PM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
voxpops Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3080
Loc: Oregon
Congratulations on your purchase, and thank you for the very detailed review of your CA95, Kenny J.
_________________________
Occasional author and inveterate ivory tickler:
http://www.amazon.com/author/richardspanswick

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#2044151 - 03/06/13 08:51 PM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3835
Loc: North Carolina
Post pictures? Don't all CA95's look the same? I'll bet Kenny J's piano looks exactly like the one pictured on Kawai's web site.

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#2044188 - 03/06/13 09:46 PM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9326
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Kenny J, thank you for posting your detailed review, and congratulations on the purchase of your new piano.

Regarding the selection of metronome/drum rhythms, I believe it should be possible to press and hold the LEFT/RIGHT buttons to cycle through the available patterns, rather than pressing the same button repeatedly.

In addition, it is also possible to store preferred metronome beat, tempo, and volume settings to the CA95's internal 'User Memory' (recalled every time the instrument is turned on), or one of the 16 'Registration' memories (recalled when selected).

Regarding the selection of Lesson Function songs/etudes, in addition to cycling through the available songs using the LEFT/RIGHT buttons, it is also possible to select a song directly. To achieve this, after entering the Lesson Function and selecting the desired lesson book, press and hold the [2] FUNCTION button, then press one of the 88 keys on the keyboard. For a list of available lesson songs and their corresponding key numbers, please refer to the 'Internal Song Lists' booklet that accompanied the owner's manual.

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#2044322 - 03/07/13 03:10 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
MagicK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/12
Posts: 70
Loc: Germany
Funny, i just thought of things i don't like with my CN34 (a very short list i must say) and selecting rhythms was on top of it. This is definitely an area where Kawai could improve their interface a lot.

I think the key sentence in your review is " I completely forgot that I was playing a DP. I felt that I was playing a regular acoustic." Congratulations for finding the holy grail so many poeple in this forum are hunting for :-)

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#2044327 - 03/07/13 04:40 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
mabraman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/12
Posts: 321
Loc: Valencia, Spain
Well, with regards to Kawai's interface I think it's quite usable. True, some shortcuts would be pleasant, but keeping buttons held does it for me, and it's quick enough. It's a standard method of selecting functions and I appreciate that. Other solutions would imply a numerical list to be shown somewhere over the board or, even worse, memorized, and a subsequent set of numerical keys (as for selecting demo songs). Some models offer that (Yam. DGX i.e.) but it's a quite different design approach. CA's are DPs in disguise. No too much buttons, nor big screens.

Virtual Technician: I agree it offers some(sure they are many?) possibilities to adapt the main sound to your taste. But, at least for some lower models, there's nothing like a winning choice. I mean, every parameter you modify may have 'undesirable' consequences, therefore some combinations produce an ugly,unpractical sound, yet possible.
Setting touch to heavy makes it easier to control, preventing from undesired overtones or nuances, but then you narrow your dynamic range too. Don't you?
And so on. It would be fine some advice coming form Kawai, perhaps.
_________________________
Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
Kawai ES7.

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#2044339 - 03/07/13 05:27 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
MagicK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/12
Posts: 70
Loc: Germany
When you select an instrument, you can jump through sections and within that section you can select the specific instrument. That could have been used for the rhythm section too.
And the VT needs a "Are you really sure that you want to delve into these setting, fiddling with endless parameters, missing hours over hours that could have better been used to actually play" Message :-)

But we're straying away from the purpose of this thread. A satisfiesd customer with a CA95 that was soo way out of my budget when i was shopping :-)

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#2044341 - 03/07/13 05:41 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
Dave B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 1973
Loc: Philadelphia area
Thanks for the review. Is the MSRP a top secret national security issue?

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#2044533 - 03/07/13 02:02 PM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
Kenny J Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/06/13
Posts: 16
Loc: Yorba Linda, CA
Dave B: Nothing top secret. I posted what, where and how on the "bought a piano" thread. Short answer $3980.

As a design engineer, the interface design philosophy is interesting to me. My Korg M3 has a wall of switches, buttons and sliders and looks daunting to anyone I show it to. There's number pads to access the 1000s of rhythm and voices the M3 has. There is a knob dedicated just for adjusting the tempo. I've shown my kids how to use it yet they are still afraid to even turn it on. I've even seen on some of Korg's videos them telling people try the different buttons and switch to tweak your sounds. So it's an issue.

The Kawai, on the other hand, is simplicity itself. Clearly, the design is much more aestheticly pleasing. The designers wanted the emphesis on the piano not the computer and I think they succeeded. I didn't even have to tell my family how to use it. They just jumped right on and started playing. But that simplicity comes at a price. I found the unstopable metronome annoying and the need to mash buttons a deterrent to wanting to use the drum feature.

But these are not key features to me. I have enjoyed the information available to everyone on this website. I wanted to add my thoughts for the community. I love my new piano. I've played it for hours and hours and it's wonderful. I added the review so that the designers can make it even better when the CA97 comes out.
_________________________
Kenny J

Arabesque No. 1 - Debussy
Dr. Gradus Ad Parnassum - Debussy
Live and Let Die - McCartney
Maple Leaf Rag - Scott Joplin

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#2044619 - 03/07/13 04:20 PM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
pv88 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 2635
@Kenny J,

Yes, I too would certainly be interested in seeing a "CA97" model should one eventually be released, however, the CA95 is excellent for now as you mention:

https://www.box.com/s/gueyivgg5ybrzmk2qgtq

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#2044663 - 03/07/13 05:28 PM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3600
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Kenny J

As a design engineer, the interface design philosophy is interesting to me. My Korg M3 has a wall of switches, buttons and sliders and looks daunting to anyone I show it to. There's number pads to access the 1000s of rhythm and voices the M3 has. There is a knob dedicated just for adjusting the tempo. I've shown my kids how to use it yet they are still afraid to even turn it on. I've even seen on some of Korg's videos them telling people try the different buttons and switch to tweak your sounds. So it's an issue.

The Kawai, on the other hand, is simplicity itself. Clearly, the design is much more aestheticly pleasing. The designers wanted the emphesis on the piano not the computer and I think they succeeded. I didn't even have to tell my family how to use it. They just jumped right on and started playing. But that simplicity comes at a price. I found the unstopable metronome annoying and the need to mash buttons a deterrent to wanting to use the drum feature.


This is an unfair comparison however. The M3 is a full blown workstation/synthesizer/performance board. The Kawai is a simple piano. If you didn't have all those controls on the M3, you wouldn't be able to access all the functions it offers, and it wouldn't function as a workstation.

The Kawai is a simple beast, doesn't need many controls. The Korg isn't built for kids, so there's no reason for a child to be able to figure it out.

If Kawai made a workstation/synth it would be packed with knobs and sliders and a big screen - like every other one ever made.

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#2044682 - 03/07/13 06:15 PM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: ando]
Kenny J Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/06/13
Posts: 16
Loc: Yorba Linda, CA
I agree it is not a fair comparison. I was just trying to make an observation that having lots of buttons does have a down side. Comparing an M3 to a CA95 is like comparing a shark to lion. They're both predators. They're both superb at what they do. But after that not so much.


Edited by Kenny J (03/07/13 06:16 PM)
_________________________
Kenny J

Arabesque No. 1 - Debussy
Dr. Gradus Ad Parnassum - Debussy
Live and Let Die - McCartney
Maple Leaf Rag - Scott Joplin

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#2044835 - 03/07/13 11:39 PM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3600
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Kenny J
I agree it is not a fair comparison. I was just trying to make an observation that having lots of buttons does have a down side.


But on a synth/workstation not having lots of buttons and sliders would be a downside... wink

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#2044902 - 03/08/13 04:46 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
Jean-Luc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 322
Loc: France
Hi Kenny J. First of all thank you for the review, very well done and interesting.
I have what might sound like the weirdest of question now but I was wondering about the packaging, and more specifically, the size of it. I live in a flat, third floor and the stairs are very narrow (was quiet a problem when I moved in). So I really wonder how big the packaging is and if I would have any chance to bring it up to my home. Another related question would be, is the piano in two parts, and if so, are both parts separately protected into a main box so that I could maybe open the main box in the courtyard and carry up the separate part without encoring the risk to damage them ? Sorry for the weird questions and thank you in advance smile
_________________________
- Please, forgive my bad English smile

Jean-Luc

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#2044909 - 03/08/13 05:23 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9326
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Jean-Luc, the CA95 ships pre-assembled in a single, very large box.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#2044921 - 03/08/13 06:35 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
Clayman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/13
Posts: 300
Loc: Prague, Czech Rep.
@Kawai James, do you have the dimensions of the box handy? "Very large box" is sort of vague and I might be in the same position as Jean-Luc, though I'm fairly sure the staircase in my block of flats is roomy enough to allow for fairly comfortable manipulation.
_________________________
-- Zbynek N.

Learning to play the piano since 06/2013 on a Kawai CA-95.

Music is what feelings sound like. ~ Author Unknown

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#2044924 - 03/08/13 06:49 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9326
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
No, I'm afraid I don't have the dimensions of the shipping box, but will find out after the weekend.

James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#2044928 - 03/08/13 07:11 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
mabraman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/12
Posts: 321
Loc: Valencia, Spain
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVn5rT6aq8E

This video shows the delivery package for a CA65, hope it helps.
If you look at the floor tiles, whose standard measure is 40 cm., that gives you roughly 1,60x1,20 m. (and 100Kg!!).
_________________________
Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
Kawai ES7.

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#2044929 - 03/08/13 07:27 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
StefaanBelgium Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/12
Posts: 53
Loc: Belgium
There's a big difference in packaging between a 65 and a 95 !
_________________________
Kawai CA65

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#2044932 - 03/08/13 07:37 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
mabraman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/12
Posts: 321
Loc: Valencia, Spain
Yes, 65 has to be assembled, what makes it easier to be lifted 3 floors.
95 is just one piece, right?
But the measures should be similar, it's a palet.
_________________________
Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
Kawai ES7.

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#2044939 - 03/08/13 08:12 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
Jean-Luc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 322
Loc: France
Thank you very much for the answers smile I guess I will have to stay with the VPC1 then, it will be much easier (when moving in, a lot of my furniture had to come through the windows but it's a fairly expensive procedure).
Not a big problem I guess since I already own a copy of the American Concert D and I would have to use a headphone most of the time. It was more about the action, but I guess, quality wise, they are very similar anyway.
_________________________
- Please, forgive my bad English smile

Jean-Luc

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#2044954 - 03/08/13 08:52 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
Clayman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/13
Posts: 300
Loc: Prague, Czech Rep.
Thanks a lot for your effort, James. smile

@all: Well, considering that the CA-95 is a cabinet piano, the box will be taller but not too wide. It should be fairly well manipulable unless one's dealing with a really confined space.


Edited by Clayman (03/08/13 08:56 AM)
_________________________
-- Zbynek N.

Learning to play the piano since 06/2013 on a Kawai CA-95.

Music is what feelings sound like. ~ Author Unknown

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#2045137 - 03/08/13 03:38 PM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Jean-Luc]
StefaanBelgium Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/12
Posts: 53
Loc: Belgium
@Jean-Luc: it's actually pretty simple: look up the outside dimensions of the CA95 cabinet. There's no need to transport the DP with the surrounding package upstairs. You can take off the packaging downstairs and just take the piano upstairs.
_________________________
Kawai CA65

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#2045165 - 03/08/13 04:30 PM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
mabraman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/12
Posts: 321
Loc: Valencia, Spain
Yes, and pray your favourite one.
I'd do whay Stephan advises only if it was a fridge or a washing machine. But a wooden brand new CA95...no thanks.
I'd definitely buy a stage piano in that situation.
_________________________
Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
Kawai ES7.

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#2046646 - 03/11/13 07:23 PM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9326
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Good morning chaps,

I can confirm that the dimensions of the CA95 shipping box are as follows:

1583 (W) × 598 (D) × 975 (H) (mm)

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#2046799 - 03/12/13 02:45 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
Clayman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/13
Posts: 300
Loc: Prague, Czech Rep.
Sounds good, James. I shouldn't have any trouble getting that baby up to my flat.

Thanks a bunch again for your effort. smile
_________________________
-- Zbynek N.

Learning to play the piano since 06/2013 on a Kawai CA-95.

Music is what feelings sound like. ~ Author Unknown

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#2046822 - 03/12/13 05:08 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
Jean-Luc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 322
Loc: France
Thank you very much James, I will have to take some measurements in my stairs (what worries me actually are the bends smile I really don't feel like carrying it up without the protection of the shipping box.
_________________________
- Please, forgive my bad English smile

Jean-Luc

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#2046824 - 03/12/13 05:24 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9326
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Jeal-Luc, it goes without saying that the box is *very* heavy.

When transporting boxes for photography shoots, it's usually a four man job.

Cheers,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#2046827 - 03/12/13 05:30 AM Re: A review of the Kawai CA95 [Re: Kenny J]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
I would either negotiate free delivery and placement from a local retailer or else hire a stair-elevator or crane and bring it in through a window. The CA95 has the dimensions and mass of a lightweight piano. Getting stuck in the stairway with three of your best friends sounds like a nightmare start to owning a new instrument.

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