Many people know Kurzweil Music Systems as the company founded by music icon Stevie Wonder. Together with music innovator Raymond Kurzweil and software developer Bruce Cichowlas, Wonder established Kurzweil in 1982 to produce superior electronic instruments.
Kurzweil’s founders were inspired by the technology used in reading machines for the blind. Kurzweil himself was not only an inventor but a futurist who predicted that electronic music was about to experience a major revolution. Wonder and Cichowlas agreed. Together they created a company that was at the forefront of digital piano innovation.
The company’s K250 synthesizer, produced in 1984, is widely acknowledged as the world’s first synthesizer to successfully copy the sound of a grand piano. Wonder used it in his performances and brought the sound of a digital piano to audiences around the world.
Today, the Kurzweil company is owned by Hyundai Development Corp. and Ray Kurzweil is its Chief Strategy Officer. The company continues to be a leader in digital piano innovation, highlighted by Ray Kurzweil’s 2015 Technical Grammy.
Kurzweil produces a total 16 digital piano lines, divided into many sub-categories, plus a music teaching system and a variety of keyboards and studio gear. Here’s a look at their major lines of digital products.
CGP Digital Grand Pianos: These German grand pianos are concert-quality instruments designed for expression, tonal variety, and ability to realistically sound like a real grand piano. They have wooden keys and classic Spinet-style cabinets, but inside they’re powered by Kurzweil’s digital technology.
Andante Digital Pianos: Kurzweil calls the three Andante lines – Andante 1, 2, and 3 – “a game changer” for their ability to authentically replicate traditional piano sounds. Andantes come in a modern cabinet design that leaves no doubt they’re digital pianos, but their sounds are indistinguishable from traditional pianos.
MPG Series: These are described by Kurzweil as “next level digital grands” that combine fine cabinet craftsmanship with technological innovation. They’re elegant enough to fit into upscale home decor yet produce rich sounds that could fill a concert hall using a powerful digital bi-amplified sound system.
M Series: The M Series, which includes M, M2, and M3 pianos, goes by the tagline “engineered for performance.” These digital pianos are designed primarily for home players who want high-quality sound for small audiences. They have tweeters behind the keys, which gives a wide stereo sound that a live audience can really appreciate.
MP Series: These smart pianos can integrate seamlessly with smart homes and smart phone recording. They have a wide range of expressive sounds, which makes them a great fit for composers and lyricists in need of maximum creativity. Kurzweil recommends the MP20 in particular as a fusion of affordability and excellent sound.
MPS Series: This line of digital pianos bridges the gap between home and pro use. It’s totally portable for gigs but sacrifices nothing in sound quality. The MPS20 is the company’s first piano to feature their Graded Hammer Escapement Action Keyboard, with weighted keys like a real acoustic piano.
KAG Series: This series combines the playing pleasure of baby grand pianos with the flexibility of digital technology. These pianos have a wide range of sound presets and sleek, intuitive controls – all within a cabinet that looks just like a baby grand.
KA Pianos: With qualities of both pianos and keyboards, the KA series is ideal for someone looking to advance their skills. It has easy recording functions, built-in storage for 5 performances, and a simple, no-nonsense design.
KA and KP Portable Arrangers: These stage pianos and portable arrangers give recording and performance flexibility. They have hundreds of sounds, offering maximum creative support to musicians at all levels.
CUP Series: Don’t let their size fool you because they’re capable of powerful sound. These compact digital pianos are the result of Kurzweil’s investments in scaled-down digital components. The CUP1 upright, for example, is just 42 inches high but packed with cutting-edge technology.
KCL Controller Lab: Made for teaching, this controller console can link 16 Kurzweil pianos for instruction and two-way communication. It’s designed to be ready for multimedia, headphone, and microphone connections.