It’s been about a year since I last got my hands on a Kawai digital piano, and in fact, the last one I played was the predecessor to this month’s arrival, the ES8. At first touch, I really had to ask myself, why was it so long between drinks? There is something very special about how a Kawai digital piano feels under the fingertips, and the ES8 is no exception. Stack that up with a sound bank that does the hammer action a true justice and you have a very serious unit at hand.
I know some people get put off by speakers in a keyboard; like this is an option that should only be reserved for beginners, but you cannot take a piano like the ES8 on face value. You need to consider the history behind this work of art and know that Kawai have developed a very real digital piano that will deliver amazing results both at home, in the studio or on any stage around the world. Don’t be put off by the in-built speakers, instead, have a listen to them and you’ll see, or rather hear why they have been included. With a deep low frequency response and a sparkling top end, they really show just what sounds this digital piano is capable of creating. The ES8 is a real heavy hitter, not just in sound quality but in overall weight too, as it was no easy feat loading this in and out of the car in a road case. This is not a compact keyboard you will just throw in the back of your car on the way to a gig. The 88-note key bed in this unit comes at a price, and that price can be measured in kilograms.
I’ll come straight out with it. I love the action of this digital piano. This is no ordinary weighted action, but a real hammer action feel that changes tension under your fingers as you apply pressure. Slowly striking a key will allow you to feel the engagement of the action as the key has more than half completed its journey and the hammer tension takes over. They lightly pop back into place with a definite thud like any hammer driven key returning to rest would and return to offer the same resistance again upon the next engagement. This may all seem a little over-indulgent on my behalf when considering how the keys fall, but too many years of playing so-called ‘hammer actions’ that don’t deliver really makes the good ones stand out. You can see how this keyboard would attract a serious piano player looking for a digital option for practice, recording or performance. It feels so nice to play, and sounds just as good too.
Hits and Misses
Amazing feel and response
Great sounding speakers
Handy recoding function
Incredible piano sounds
Transporting can be difficult
- Keys – 88 weighted keys with Ivory Touch key surfaces
- Internal Sounds – 34 voices
- Polyphony – Max 256 notes
- Keyboard Modes – Dual Mode, Split Mode, Four Hands Mode
- Effects – Six reverbs, three delays, two chorus, two tremolo, auto pan, classic auto pan, phaser, rotary, combination effects x4
- Internal Recorder – 10 song, 2 track recorder, approx. 90,000 note memory capacity
- Jacks – MIDI (in/out), USB to Host, USB to Device, Line in Stereo, Line out (L/Mmono,R), damper (for F-10H), Damper/ Soft (for F-20), Pedal (for F-301), Headphones x 2
- Speakers – 2 x (8 x 12 cm) Output Power – 15W
- Power Consumption – 35W
- Dimensions – 1362mm x 361mm x 149mm
- Weight – 22.5kg