Kawai opened shop in 1927 and since then it has been known to produce some really high quality pianos. Among those high quality keyboards is the subject of our reviews today which is the Kawai ES-100.
For the first time in its history, Kawai is releasing an 88-key keyboard with weighted keys, hammer action, and a price tag pegged below $1000. And it sure made pretty big news.
So, whom did Kawai have in mind when designing this amazing keyboard? Well, you can tell by examining this keyboard that it is made for almost every level of piano players.
The beginner, intermediate level, and pro players, all will find the Kawai ES-100 a very interesting piece to play. In fact, if you’re looking for a high quality keyboard within the $550 to $100 price range, you’ll be making a good choice betting on the ES-100.
What’s In The Box?
- 1 Kawai ES-100 88-key digital piano (can choose between the black and white finishes).
- A damper pedal: F-10H piano-style.
- A music rest.
- User’s manual.
- An AC power adaptor.
Kawai ES-100 Specs
- 88 weighted keys with Advanced Hammer Action IV-F (AHA IV-F).
- Sound Source: Harmonic Imaging.
- Built-in Voices: 18.
- Max Polyphony: 192 notes.
- Modes: Dual and Split (Volume Balance Adjustable).
- 1-track recorder with an approximate 15 000 note memory. Can record up to 3 songs.
- 2 Speakers: 8 x 12 centimeters – 7W + 7W.
- 3 Reverb types: Room, Concert Hall, and Small Hall.
- Settings: Voicing. Damper Noise, Temperament, Touch Curve, Damper Resonance, Voicing, Fall-back Noise.
- Metronome function.
- 100 rhythms.
- 12 demo songs.
- Transpose and Tuning functions.
- Dimensions: 51.6 x 11.2 x 5.7 inches.
- Weight: 33 pounds.
Features Of The Kawai ES-100
The Kawai ES-100 has quite the elitist look which is not surprising considering the brand behind the piano. The keyboard is obviously well-built and you can tell just by looking at it. Every part of the keyboard looks thoughtfully and well palnned and executed.
Now, when you get the Kawai keyboard, you have the option of the getting the Kawai stand as well. It’s a furniture style HML-1 stand and with it, you also get the 3-pedal function too.
But there’s a small catch…
If you compare the Kawai stand to stands from competing brands, you might be tempted to ditch the stand for something else. And it’s not a matter of quality, it’s actually more a matter of price. The Kawai HML-1 stand is pretty expensive. We are talking a couple of Franklins.
However, if you want our advice, we will tell you. If you can afford it, go for it. In the end, you’ll get value for your money that you won’t otherwise have gotten from cheaper stands.
Hey, we are not Kawai ambassadors, we are simply stating facts. In fact, don’t take our work for it. Check it out for yourself and if the quality of construction and elegant finish of the stand don’t sway you, then you can go for something else.
But in our opinion, it’s worth the investment and very much so.
Design – Lightweight Chassis
The chassis of the Kawai ES-100 is pretty lightweight. It weighs in at just 33 pounds. Of course, it’s somewhat heavier than the average portable keyboard which would usually clock in at about 25 pounds. But then again, the ES-100 is more than your average keyboard.
The lightweight chassis also makes this keyboard super easy to handle. But we really would love to ask Kawai is this: “How did you do it?” Like how did Kawai manage to pack a keyboard with 88 keys and graded Advanced Hammer action into a 33 pound machine?
It’s pretty impressive if you think about especially since we’ve all come to unwittingly agree that portable keyboards often skimp on certain things to deliver on the ideal compromise. That is, an ideal balance of size, price, and features.
So, to find a well-playing keyboard at 33 pounds counts as a very big deal for us.
The Kawai ES-100 comes with a very basic design which is how it maintains its sophisticated look. The interface is very clean. And you’ll only find several buttons at the most.
There’s the power switch and the volume slider, both of which go on the top part. Then there are the Function, Lesson, Play/Stop buttons too. In addition to these, there are also 3 other buttons with which you’ll be able to switch between the built-in instrument sounds available.
To access other options, you’ll have to hold down the Function button and then select the corresponding key on the keyboard.
The Kawai ES-100 also comes with a slot where the music rest rests. And alongside that, are two powerful speakers as well – 7Watts each.
And then we move on to the back panel where we find all the ports and jacks for all the amazing connectivity options. So, what’s there? There’s the MIDI I/O, a jack for your adaptor, as well as a jack for your damper pedal (speaking of which, we’ll discuss this damper pedal soon. Hang on).
Sadly though, there’s nothing for a USB as you can see.
The Kawai ES-100, of course, lives up to expectation in the sound department. The sound is terrific! Combining the Harmonic Imaging sound engine Kawai builds into this keyboard with the Advanced Hammer Action, players should get ready to experience realistic piano sounds that are surreal.
And to makes things even more realistic, Kawai actually sampled each of the 88 keys individually so that the piano tone delivered is always pure. For a piano below a $1000, this guy sounds pretty good.
But it isn’t just about the sound engine and sound sampling. There are other features that make the sound of the Kawai ES-100 beautiful. And they are: Pedal Resonance, the Fallback Hammer Noise, and the Damper Rail Noise.
With these features, you’ll be able to hear you strings echo. Plus, you keyboard will also be able to simulate all those mechanical sounds that only grand pianos can give.
Now, these features are quite velocity sensitive. So, yes the way you play will affect the volume of sound you get.
Alright to the sounds themselves… There are 19 different sounds on the Kawai ES-100. And, of these 19 sounds, 8 of them are piano tones. There’s the Concert Grand, the Studio Grand, the Modern Piano, and the Rock piano, and a few others. Each of these piano tones are beautiful, of course.
Other sounds on the Kawai ES-100 include:
- 3 Electric pianos.
- 2 organs.
- 2 Strings.
- 2 Bass presets.
The max polyphony for the Kawai ES-100 is 192 notes. And this is the highest value you can find on any keyboard within this price range.
A 192-note polyphony is a nice improvement from the more common 128 polyphony. Of course, you get to do more with this polyphony without having to fear dropped notes here and there. Definitely impressed.
In addition to having 19 sounds, this keyboard is also packed with different sound effects to help create even more unique sounds.
Of course, you have the option of splitting the keyboard into two halves and playing a different instrument sound on each. And if you want, you can also layer as well.
And you can even get more creative with the reverb and EQ. Balance the sounds, alter the mellowness, or whatever you have to do. There are sound effects to help you customize your sound the way you want them.
And then when you’re done, you can save your new sound with the touch of a button and recall it any time you want.
If you mostly perform live and you love to customize your play, you’re especially going to love this feature. So, it’s alright to make this your on-stage piano.
This is one of the biggest features of the Kawai ES-100. It is a super solid and heavy duty pedal (piano style). And it also comes with the half-pedal functionality that makes everything different.
If you were to get this separately from the piano, you might have to spend close to a hundred bucks. But thankfully, it’s already thrown into the package.
You’d hardly find a damper pedal as good as the Kawai ES-100’s under this price category. And that you can take to the bank.
Pros Of Kawai ES-100
- Comes with 88 weighted plus Kawai’s excellent Advanced Hammer Action that give a realistic playing experience.
- Quite portable.
- Max polyphony of 192 notes.
- Simple and intuitive interface.
- Comes with a lesson function.
- Box comes with everything needed to begin playing right out of the box.
Cons Of Kawai ES-100
- No display.
- No USB port to hook your keyboard to a computer.
Sincerely, many people might feel a tad disappointed because it doesn’t seem like the Kawai ES-100 comes with a lot of features. In fact it seems to be lacking on a whole lot of features like the duet mode, accompaniment samples, a USB port or an LCD display for instance.
But be that as it may, the truth remains that the Kawai ES-200 is still considered one of the best pianos for the money at this particular price range.
It gives a mean performance and is playable by pianists of any skill level at all. It even makes a great on-stage piano as well.
So, in the end, do we think the Kawai ES-100is worth the money? Yes, definitely.