The piano in question today is the Kawai ES8 Digital Piano. It’s feature-rich, it comes from a company with a good pedigree, and of course, it sounds great.
But is it for you?
This piano is receiving almost universal praise from people in the industry. However, that does not necessarily mean that it’s the right keyboard for you.
Different musicians need different instruments. Today, the objective is to find out whether or not the Kawai ES8 pairs well with you and your needs.
Read on to find out if this is the instrument for you…
Kawai ES8 Specs
- Weight 3 pounds.
- Dimensions: 58.8 x 17.8 x 11.2 inches.
- 34 instrument Sounds.
- 11 Sound Effects.
- 100 Accompaniments.
- Warranty: 36 Months.
Important Features Of Kawai ES8
Experienced musicians know that the feel and touch of the piano is a critical component of the experience it generates.
The keyboard that you get here is optimized to feel as close to the real thing as you can get. The keyboard utilizes RH3 (Responsive Hammer 3) technology to provide the best experience possible.
The weighted hammer action produces a sensation, that is almost exactly like that of pressing on the keys of an acoustic piano.
However, this keyboard does not sacrifice performance for feel.
The Kawai ES8 also features a triple sensor, which is capable to accurately detecting the movements of fast-paced play. This feature allows you to enjoy the same range of nuance, that traditional pianos provide.
Of course, the keys are also designed to be responsive to different levels of pressure. While lower-end units might accept soft and hard playing the same way, that isn’t the case here. The keyboard truly does understand and respond to what you are doing.
Of course, if you do want the notes to sound the same regardless of how hard you play, that can also be set.
An added benefit is that you can adjust the sensitivity of the keys. If you aren’t comfortable with the presets, you can always alter the touch to accommodate your playing style, or even the requirements of a particular song.
Last, but not least, you get the ever necessary synthetic ivory key covering. With this feature, you get the slip-resistant feel of a classic piano key.
Naturally, the sound the keyboard produces is going to be just as important as the key interface. Fortunately, the speakers on this unit are as well made as the keyboard.
The sound engine featured here is called the Harmonic Imaging XL. This is actually the highest end operating system that Kawai has to offer, and is used on their most expensive pianos.
The first thing that most users will notice about the sound interface is its versatility.
The Harmonic Imaging XL is able to produce ten different piano tones. With that many options, virtually all users, are guaranteed to find a sound that suits their ear.
The sound interface is also able to replicate, all of the other most important components of an acoustic piano. For example, you get the same level of damper resonance with this unit, as you would with a high-end acoustic.
There are about a dozen other ways it serves to replicate the range of an acoustic too.
It features“string resonance” for a richer sound, and it has a minimum touch range similar to that of an acoustic. This means that the keyboard can recognize even the softest strokes on the keyboard.
In short, Kawai has maximized the ES8’s potential to replicate the sound of a high-quality acoustic unit.
As for the speakers, you get two 15W units built into the keyboard. The sound quality is rich, and sounds like that of an acoustic piano, even reaching similar volumes.
You get three modes here, all of which are pretty common to most digital keyboards. You get split mode, for dividing the keyboard into two different sounds, dual mode, for combining sounds (such as piano and violin) and four hand mode, for duets.
Pretty typical, but also very useful none the less.
You can also use this keyboard to enhance your performance, the way a playing partner might.
Through the one hundred pre-programmed accompaniments.
This feature generates rhythms produced by a variety of instruments. Accompanying instruments include drums, guitars, and more.
Every rhythm can be used with each available instrument. The benefit of this feature is obvious. The accompaniments can provide the work of a soloist with a robust presence.
Of course, like any good keyboard, the ES8 makes it easy to record your performances. The system features a built-in MIDI recorder that allows the user to record ten songs.
You can also play two versions of the same song, then combine them for a richer sound.
Built-in recording options are admittedly, fairly standard in keyboards these days. Still, it is nice to see. And the ability to mix your own songs without any additional equipment is always fun.
The accessories that you get here are basic but standard. The unit comes with a single pedal—weighted to feel like the real thing, and, of course, the stand.
The stand is suitable for décor, and also benefits from being very sturdy.
The accessory offering is basic but you do get everything that you need.
In terms of concerns, there is little to mention. For some shoppers, there may be an element of sticker shock to contend with. However, if you are well-versed in instruments, the price of the ES8 probably won’t be much of a surprise.
Getting a good keyboard is always pricey. In fact, given the quality of this keyboard, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect to pay even more. Think of it this way: an acoustic piano with the same level of quality might cost several times more.
Other than that, there is little to mention. There are certainly keyboards out there with a more robust set of speakers. However, the set you get here should be more than sufficient for most situations.
Pros Of Kawai ES8
- Replicates an Acoustic Piano Very Naturally.
- Realistic Weighted Faux Ivory Keys.
- Easy to Record and Mix Music.
- Useful Modes.
- Ten Different Piano Tones.
- High Quality Build.
- One Hundred Accompaniment Rhythms.
Cons Of Kawai ES8
- Pricey Relative to Segments of the Keyboard Market.
- Heavy and Hard to Move.
This certainly is not the keyboard you get while they try and learn your scales. This is a serious piano for serious pianists.
If you are looking for a portable electric keyboard that plays almost indistinguishably from the grand piano of your dreams, this may be the one for you.
The features of the Kawai ES8 digital piano are optimized for the musician that requires a lot from their instrument.
It is true that no one would accuse the Kawai of being inexpensive. However, this is certainly a case of getting what you pay for.
If you are looking for uncompromising quality, you have certainly found it here.
1 thought on “Kawai ES8 Review”
No comment but a question if I may — I’ve seen posts where reviewers state that the ES8 with a good pair of studio monitors is a killer! I have a musical pair of Axiom M22Tis (8 ohms, 200 watts passive speakers) sitting around gathering dust that I bought from Canada a few years ago — that currently go for $700 for the pair. Do you think they could be used as monitors for the ES8? If so, my assumption would be I’d need an amplifier between them and the piano to drive them. If you think such pairing would be viable, could you recommend an appropriate amp? Thanks, Keith