The Touch of a Grand Piano: Grand Feel II wooden key action
Embracing many of the long-established principles associated with an acoustic piano, the Grand Feel II keyboard action utilised by the CA98 combines realistic materials, motion, and mechanism to recreate the exceptional touch of the finest concert grand pianos. All eighty-eight black and white keys are crafted entirely from long pieces of wood, with finely textured ivory and ebony-like surfaces applied to absorb moisture and assist control. Each wooden key pivots smoothly on a balance pin – the ends rising and falling to replicate the familiar ‘seesaw’ motion of an acoustic piano action. When pressed, the back of the key lifts, triggering a grade-weighted hammer to strike a pressure switch. The amount of force applied to this switch is then measured, and the corresponding note played with authentic tonal character and volume.
The Sound of a Grand Piano: Shigeru Kawai SK-EX concert grand, reproduced with the newest 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 Concert Artist CA98. 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 Kawai concert grand piano digitally, Kawai has developed SK-EX Rendering. This brand new piano-only sound engine focusses the Concert Artist’s DSP power, combining multi-channel, 88-key sampling with the latest resonance modelling technology to deliver pure acoustic piano authenticity. SK-EX Rendering is enabled by selecting the dedicated Pianist Mode, which features ten differently prepared piano characters ranging from Classic and Romantic, to Pop, Jazz, and even Boogie.
TwinDrive Soundboard Speaker System
Complementing the premium quality Onkyo drivers, the CA98 also incorporates the latest version of Kawai’s highly-regarded soundboard speaker system. This unique audio technology embraces the rich, harmonic qualities of wood by using transducers to channel sound energy onto a large soundboard, in order to produce a more natural, organic tone. Long wooden ribs securely attached to the soundboard further broaden the frequency range and volume of the resonating sound, resulting in a remarkably authentic playing experience that immerses the performer, and faithfully reproduces the tonal ambience of an acoustic piano. The new TwinDrive system represents the third generation of Kawai’s soundboard technology, and features an improved primary transducer developed by Onkyo to deliver more power and volume. In addition, a brand new secondary transducer – also developed by Onkyo and mounted towards the treble end of the instrument – helps to further expand the tonal range produced by the soundboard beyond the existing low frequencies, allowing mid-low and even mid-high ranges to also benefit from the warming, acoustic properties of wood.
Sound Mode: Harmonic Imaging XL sound engine
Accompanying the dedicated Pianist Mode, the CA98 also features the flexible Sound Mode, which offers a broader selection of instrument voices, and the ability to combine sounds. Sound Mode utilises Kawai’s highly regarded Harmonic Imaging XL sound engine to showcase a selection of alternative acoustic pianos captured with full 88-key stereo sampling. The Kawai EX full concert grand piano has frequently been selected by professional pianists in such prestigious events as the Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Rubinstein international piano competitions, while the Shigeru Kawai SK-5 chamber grand and Kawai K-60 upright allow performers to enjoy the contrasting tonal characteristics of various different piano sizes and voicing configurations.
Rich sound selection
Supplementing the beautiful acoustic piano voices, the CA98’s Sound Mode also features an excellent selection of additional instruments, ranging from electric pianos and drawbar or church organs, to strings, human choirs, and synth pads, inviting musicians to add greater variety to their performances. Furthermore, the Dual playing mode also allows two different sounds, such as grand piano and strings, to be layered together for a richer, more luscious tone, while the Split and Four Hands modes divide the keyboard into two independent sections with separate sounds for each. The volume balances and other settings for each playing mode can also be easily adjusted using the instrument’s intuitive touchscreen interface.
Personalised piano adjustments with Virtual Technician
The knowledge and skill of an experienced piano technician is essential to bring out the best of a fine acoustic piano. In addition to tuning each note, the technician also performs numerous regulation and voicing adjustments that allow the instrument to truly sing. The CA98’s powerful Virtual Technician function simulates these refinements digitally, allowing discerning musicians to shape aspects of the selected piano’s character to suit their personal preferences. Perform touch weight and voicing adjustments, regulate hammer and key release noises, and fine-tune string, damper, and cabinet resonances. It is even possible to adjust the precise tuning, volume, and character of individual notes – all in real-time.
Integrated Bluetooth® connectivity
In addition to standard USB and MIDI jacks for connecting to computers or other instruments, the CA98 also features integrated Bluetooth® MIDI and Audio technologies that allow the instrument to communicate with supported smart devices wirelessly. Once paired with a phone, tablet, or laptop, Concert Artist owners can enjoy a wide variety of exciting music-related apps that enhance their learning and playing experience, or stream audio from songs and videos directly through the instruments’ premium amplifier and speaker systems without the need to connect additional cables.
Flexible USB connectivity with MP3/WAV Playback & Record
In addition to wireless functionality, the Concert Artist is also equipped with USB ports that allow the instrument to be connected directly to a computer for MIDI use, or to load and save data to USB memory devices. This latter USB to Device functionality allows recorder songs stored within internal memory to be safely preserved on USB flash drives, or for standard MIDI files (SMF) downloaded from the internet to be played back and enjoyed using the instrument’s exquisite Harmonic Imaging XL sounds without additional hardware or cables.
USB memory devices can also be used to play back MP3 or WAV audio files, allowing musicians to learn the chords or melody for a new piece, or simply enjoy playing along with their favourite songs. It is even possible to record entire performances (including external Line In and Bluetooth sources) as MP3 or WAV audio files for emailing to family and friends, or casual listening away from the piano.
Premium audio technologies, Powered by Onkyo
Developed in collaboration with Onkyo, one of Japan’s leading premium audio equipment manufacturers, the CA98 is one of the first Kawai musical instruments to utilise specialist components designed for high-end audio reproduction. With cutting-edge technologies such as 1-bit processing, dual DAC signal conversion, and Onkyo’s DIDRC filtering, the Concert Artist’s optimised power amplifiers reproduce the Shigeru Kawai grand piano sound with stunning clarity, richness, and power, while the high-performance Discrete SpectraModule™ headphone amplifier ensures the finest quality listening experience, even when playing in privacy.